Homeward Bound –Part Two

Today we learn the fate of our friends introduced to you in yesterday’s Micro-Fiction Monday.

*     *     *

“Homeward Bound”
Part Two
By: Rachel A. Carrera

When Lloyd arrived at Grand Central Station, he looked as frazzled as he felt.  He eagerly approached the New York Central Railroad counter.  “Hi.  Do you have any tickets left to Chicago tonight?  My flight got canceled, and I have to get home.”

The ticket agent checked at his register and adjusted his glasses.  “We have a couple rooms left.  We have room 343 and room 210.”

Lloyd pulled his wallet out of his coat pocket then hesitated as he remembered the gypsy’s prediction.  “Uh, I’ll take room 343.”

The agent took Lloyd’s money then handed him a ticket and change.  They turned as a woman in a blue suit and a black hat with a small netted veil joined them.  She said breathlessly, “Hello.  I was afraid I’d missed my train.  I’m Ruth Zeilman.”

The agent winced.  “Oh, Miss Zeilman, I didn’t think you were coming.”  He glanced at  his pocket watch.  “We’re about to take off.”  He looked to Lloyd and blushed.  “I’m sorry, sir.  I’m afraid room 343 isn’t available, after all.  You’ll have to take 210.”

A chill traveled up Lloyd’s spine.  “What?  No!  I was here first, and I’ve already paid you.  Let her take 210.”

The woman’s eyes narrowed, and her cheeks flushed.  “I’ll have you know I purchased my ticket last week!”

The agent nodded.  “That’s right, sir.  And hers is a premium room.  She paid extra.”  He offered six dollars to Lloyd.  “Here’s your refund for the difference.”

Lloyd held up his hand and pursed his lips.  “No!  I can’t take room 210.  I’ll pay anything.  I just can’t take that room.”  He reached in his coat pocket for his wallet.

The woman waved her hands.  “Forget it.  I’ll take the other room.  I just want to get on board before the train leaves without us.”

The conductor leaned out of the caboose.  “All aboard!”

Lloyd blushed, and the muscles in his neck tensed.  “Thanks.”  He took the money from the agent and offered it to Ruth.  As they reached the platform, he removed his fedora and gestured for her to go up first.  “My name’s Lloyd Hartley.  I know I must sound crazy, but I really appreciate you trading rooms with me.  Maybe I can buy you a drink to show my gratitude?”

They boarded the train and gave the conductor their tickets.  Ruth smiled sweetly.  “It’s no problem.  I’d be happy to take you up on your offer.  Why don’t we meet in the club car in about thirty minutes?  I’d like to go to my room first and freshen up a bit.”

*     *     *

A half hour later, Lloyd was seated in the club car when Ruth entered.  She’d changed into a deep emerald dress that enhanced her auburn hair and sultry eyes.  Lloyd stood and smiled.  “What’s your pleasure?”

She sat beside him and crossed her long, lean legs.  “Gin and tonic, please.”

He held up his finger.  “Barkeep, two gin and tonics.”  He turned to her and forced himself to look up from her buxom breasts.  “So, are you visiting Chicago, or do you call it home?”

The bartender brought their drinks.

Ruth smiled seductively as she took her glass and licked the swizzle stick.  “Thanks.  I live in New York, but I grew up in Chicago.  I’m going home to visit my mother.”

As she twirled her swizzle stick in her drink, Lloyd noticed her gold ring was in the shape of a serpent with two ruby eyes.  His body tensed, and his heart thumped loudly.  The red-eyed snake!  He shot out of his seat.  “No!  Noooo!”  He threw his glass to the ground, and it shattered.  The color drained from his face as he raced out of the club car.

Ruth gasped and jumped to her feet.  “Lloyd!  Mr. Hartley!”  She set down her drink and chased after him.

As Lloyd turned the corner, he practically ran into the door with 210 in large brass numerals.  His throat tightened and threatened to suffocate him.  He turned and saw Ruth approaching.  He gasped for air.  “No!  Get away from me!”  He rushed down the narrow corridor until he reached the wall.  He looked over his shoulder and saw her at his heels.  “Noooo!”  His eyes squeezed shut as he grabbed blindly at the emergency cable.  As the train screeched to a halt, the metal wheels grinded on the track and made a piercing sound in the otherwise quiet night air.  Lloyd fell forward and hit his head on the wall.

*     *     *

Nearly a half hour later, Lloyd’s eyes fluttered open.  He was lying in the dome lounge, and a bright light shone in his eyes.  Ruth towered over him with a small smile on her lips.  Something red covered her hands.  It’s blood!  He gasped and made a gurgling noise as he attempted to sit up.

A man gently grabbed Lloyd’s shoulder.  “Just lie back and relax, Mr. Hartley.  I’m Dr. Milton, and I’ve given you a mild sedative.  That’s quite a bump on the head you’ve got there.  I’m afraid I had to give you stitches.  You’re just lucky that Miss Zeilman here is such a skilled surgical nurse.”

Ruth wiped her hands on a towel.  “You’re going to be just fine, Mr. Hartley.  We all owe you our thanks.  How’d you know to pull the emergency cord?”

Lloyd’s head spun as he attempted to focus on Ruth’s hands.  “What?  What are you talking about?”

She tossed the bloody towel aside and grabbed his shoulder.  “There was damage to the tracks on the bridge about ten yards ahead of where we stopped.  If you wouldn’t have pulled the cord when you did, the train would’ve derailed, and we would’ve plummeted into the river below…”

THE END

Time to talk:  Have you ever ridden on a train?  Have you ever been afraid of someone as soon as you met them with no particular reason?

Homeward Bound –Part One

It’s time for another Micro-Fiction Monday.  Because today’s story is a little longer than normal, I’ll be dividing it in two.  You can find Part Two here tomorrow.  Now don’t be afraid…  This is only fiction…

*     *     *

“Homeward Bound”
Part One
By: Rachel A. Carrera

The bumper to bumper traffic screeched to a halt as fine raindrops misted the windshield and the sounds of car horns flooded the night.  Lloyd looked at his watch and frowned.  “I’ll never make my flight at this rate.  Can’t you go any faster?”

The cab driver flipped on the windshield wipers and blew a puff of cigar smoke.  “I’m doing the best I can, mac.  City traffic’s a nightmare…  So, what do you think about Truman getting reelected?”

Lloyd sighed and slumped in the back seat.  “I think it’s a good thing.  I just didn’t feel that Dewey had it in him.  I know he’s your governor, but I just didn’t think the White House was the place for him.  Truman really stepped up to bat after we lost F.D.R., and I think he should have the opportunity to stay in Washington as long as he can.  Are you sure there’s not a side road you can take that will get us there any faster?”

“Like I told you, I’m doing the best I can.  Idlewild’s only been open a few months, and traffic’s murder.  So, what brings you to New York?”

“I’m a salesman.  I sell Hoovers.  You don’t need a vacuum, do ya?”

The driver chuckled.  “Not today, thanks.  Oh, it looks like we’re moving now.  So, where you headed?”

Lloyd anxiously leaned forward against the front seat and straightened his fedora.  “Chicago.  My company’s based there, and I live in the outskirts.  I was out here meeting with some bigwigs in PanAm about buying a bunch of our machines.”  As they approached the airport terminal, he frowned.  “What’s the commotion over there?”

The driver snuffed out his cigar and rolled his eyes.  “That’s a bunch of gypsies.  We’ve been seeing more and more of them since the war.  Usually they stay in the suburbs, but since Idlewild opened, some of them hang out here to panhandle.”  He pulled by the curb and turned in his seat.  “Alright, mac, that’ll be a buck sixty.”

Lloyd handed him two dollars and opened his door.  “Thanks.  Keep the change.”  He grabbed his suitcase and briefcase, then slammed the door.  As he headed inside, a woman approached him.

Her long, colorful skirt rustled, and a dozen necklaces around her neck jangled as she walked.  The green scarf tied around her head added to her mysterious appearance.  She smiled a crooked smile and spoke with a thick accent and raspy voice.  “Hello.  I tell your fortune?”

“Uh, no, that’s okay.”  Lloyd checked his watch.  “I don’t mean to be rude, but I don’t want to miss my flight.”  He attempted to step around her.

She stepped sideways and blocked his passage.  “For six bits, I tell your fortune.  You no make your flight to Chicago tonight.  You go by train.”

He chuckled and dug in his pocket, then thrust three quarters at her.  “Here you go.  I don’t know how you knew where I was headed, but I’m afraid you’re wrong.  I will be taking my flight.  I’ve got twenty minutes to get out to the tarmac.  Now, if you’ll excuse me…”

She dropped the coins in a change purse and strode swiftly to keep up with him.  “No, you no make your flight.  You take train.  On train, you must stay away from room 210.  That room is bad omen.  When you meet the woman with the red-eyed snake, you beware.  She carries your blood on her hands.  You beware!”

Lloyd narrowed his eyes at her and hurried his gait.  Without replying, he turned a corner and jogged toward the gate.

She stopped walking.  Her voice was ominous as she called after him.  “You beware!”

As he arrived at the gate, he pulled his ticket from his suit pocket and offered it to the stewardess.  “I’d like to check in for my flight to Chicago Municipal.  I was afraid I was going to miss my plane.”  He chuckled nervously and straightened his tie.

The stewardess perused the ticket then returned it.  “I’m sorry, sir, but that flight’s been canceled.  With all this fog tonight, the entire airport’s grounded until morning.”

The hair on Lloyd’s arms stood on end.  “What?  Canceled?  But I have to get home.”

“I’m sorry.  You might consider taking a train.  They’re still running.”

His chest deflated, and his temples started to throb.  “Alright, thanks.”  Thanks for nothing.  He sighed and headed back outside to flag down a cab, going out of his way to avoid the band of gypsies.

*     *     *

Well, that’s all for today, friends.  Be sure to come back tomorrow to see what happens.

Time to talk:  Have you guessed the year in which the story takes place yet?  Have you ever ridden in a taxi?

Like Father, Like Daughter – Part Two

Today, we learn the fate of our friends introduced to you in yesterday’s Micro-Fiction Monday.

*     *     *

“Like Father, Like Daughter”
(Part Two)
By: Rachel A. Carrera

Tony took a huge bite of chicken then let out a hearty guffaw, revealing the food in his mouth.  “Yeah, your backward esses looked like snakes.”

Jennifer raised an eyebrow.  I can’t believe how head over heels I was for him, and look at him now.  He eats like an animal.  She shook her head and forced a smile.

Sophia’s angry façade started to ebb.  “Really?”

Jennifer nodded.  “That’s right.  And look here.  This purple paint is from when you two painted your tricycle.”

Sophia grinned.  “Oh, cool!  I remember that!”

Jennifer’s eyes grew large.  “You do?”

Tony puffed up his chest and reached across the table and proudly grabbed Sophia’s wrist.  “Sure she does.  We had a lot of fun with that project, didn’t we, Baby?”

Sophia patted his hand then interlaced her fingers into his.  “We sure did, Daddy.”

Jennifer took a deep breath and searched for a large ding in one the table’s legs.  “See here where this red paint is rubbed in this groove?  That’s where you used to have your dad push you in your wagon from the back, and you’d steer.”

Tony leaned forward and inspected the flawed mark.  “Yeah.  You steered right into the table here.  I always said women shouldn’t drive.”  He laughed loudly and slapped his leg.

Toward the end of the meal, a car pulled into the driveway, and its horn beeped.  Tony looked over his shoulder.  “Oh, that’s my aunt.  I guess she’s done with her shopping.  Well, I’d better get going.  My mom’s house is four hours away, and my aunt doesn’t like to drive during rush hour traffic.”  He stood and grabbed his daughter’s shoulders.  “It’s been great to see you again, Baby.  You’ve grown into a beautiful young woman.  Have your mom drive you up to Grandma’s some time, and we’ll hang out just like we used to, okay?”

Sophia grinned and jumped to her feet.  “Okay, Daddy.  It’s good to see you again, too.  I’m gonna miss you.”  She hugged him tightly, and he twirled her, then she looked at her mother.  “Mom, can I go over to Lindsey’s house?  I wanna tell her all about my dad’s visit and our special table.  This is so cool!”

Jennifer stood and smiled as she patted Sophia’s back.  “Sure.  Just be home in time for dinner.”

“I will.  Thanks.”  Sophia kissed Tony’s cheek then raced next door.

Tony watched her go and waved, then he turned his focus to Jennifer.  “Well, at least my daughter still loves me.  I guess there’s no shot of you giving me another chance, is there?”

Jennifer sighed, and the smile melted from her face.  Her stomach tightened, and she blushed.  “Tony, look, we’ve been through all this before.”

He shook his head and held up his hands.  “I know, I know.  I just had to ask.”  He hugged her and kissed her cheek.  The car in the driveway beeped again, and he turned.  “I’ll be right there.”  He grabbed Jennifer’s hand in both of his.  “Look, if you ever change your mind, you know where to find me.  I’m not that same guy anymore.  Call me, okay?  I wanna set up a time when I can see Sophia again.”  He kissed her cheek once more then her hand, then jogged to the car.  As they pulled away, he waved out the window.

As Jennifer watched him fade into the distance, she hugged herself and took a deep breath.  “Gosh, he’s still such an arrogant jerk!”  She grimaced and wiped her face where he kissed her, then started cleaning up the food.

She wiped the table, and her thoughts drifted back to a decade before.  I can’t believe I was ever stupid enough to be in love with that idiot.  When he wasn’t out robbing liquor stores or screwing around, he was home beating the crap out of me.  I’m surprised Sophia fell for my story about this table.  I guess if she knew the truth, that her dad never even bothered to speak to her except to yell at her to get out of his way, she’d hate him for sure.  She jumped when a car pulled into the driveway.

A man got out of the car and joined her on the patio.  His smiling eyes twinkled as he kissed her cheek.  “Hi, Sweetie.  I see your soiree is over.  How’d it go?”  He tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear.

Her heart fluttered at his touch.  She felt more relaxed than she had in days as she hugged him tightly.  “Oh, Brian, it was perfect!  I can’t believe you thought of marking up an old table just to give Sophia something to believe in.”

He wrapped his arm around her shoulders and kissed the top of her head as he ran his hand over the table.  “Yeah, well, I don’t deserve all the credit.  I mean, people abandon all kinds of crap in their storage units.  If the folks who owned this wouldn’t have scratched it up so badly, I could have auctioned it off with the rest of their stuff.”  He picked up the potato salad bowl and kept  his other arm around her as they headed toward the house.

As they approached the back door, her cellphone rang, and she stopped walking.  She looked at the phone, but didn’t recognize the number.  She furrowed her brow.  “Excuse me, Honey.  Hello?”

“Hey, Babe, it’s Tony.  Listen, I wanted to thank you for hanging onto that table for me.  It means a lot for my daughter to know how much we used to do together before I got locked up.”

The color drained from Jennifer’s face, and her jaw dropped open.  “What?”

“Yeah, I’d almost forgotten about some of those stories, but when you showed me the proof, well, I just wish we’d have had a video camera back then.  I’d have loved to have seen when me and Sofia painted her tricycle and when I taught her to write her name.  …What?  …Oh, my aunt says I have to get off her phone.  She pays by the minute.  Anyway, thanks again for keeping our table.  Bye.”

The End

*     *     *

Sometimes, I’m like Alfred Hitchcock… I build you up to expect there will be something chilling about to happen, and the twist is that there isn’t.  I hope you weren’t too disappointed with my red herring.

Time to Talk:  Have you ever known someone with a Swiss cheese memory?  Have you ever known someone who was so susceptible to the power of suggestion that they actually remembered things that never happened?

Like Father, Like Daughter – Part One

It’s time for another Micro-Fiction Monday.  Because today’s story is a little longer than normal, I’ll be dividing it in two.  You can find Part Two here tomorrow.  Now don’t be afraid…  This is only fiction…

*     *     *

“Like Father, Like Daughter”
(Part One)
By: Rachel A. Carrera

Jennifer felt like a bowling ball sat in her stomach as she stood in the back of her pickup truck and looked around the storage warehouse facility, her green eyes searching for some lost item.  When the man rounded the corner and jogged toward her with a length of narrow rope, her tension ebbed, and she smiled.

The man jumped up on the tailgate then grabbed her arm to steady himself and blushed.  “Sorry I don’t have anything stronger.  This should do it.  It’ll hold, but don’t get crazy going around the corners.”  He tied a table securely against the rear window, then jumped down and extended his hand to her.

Jennifer jumped down and closed the tailgate, then focused her gaze on his name tag.  “Thank you, Brian.  I appreciate your help.”

Brian smiled and tipped his head.  “Are you sure you won’t need any help unloading this thing once you get it home?”

“Nah.  I’m just gonna back right up to my patio and dump it out there.  It can’t possibly get any more dinged up than it already is, and if it does, it’s not like anyone will notice anyway.”  She checked her watch.  “Well, I’d better get going.  Thanks again.”  She fished her keys out of her pocket, then climbed in the driver’s seat and started the truck.

He patted the driver’s door and raised his hand in a motionless wave.  “Alright.  Drive safely.”

As she drove home, she chewed the inside of her lip.  I can’t believe Tony’s getting out of prison today.  These last ten years have flown by.  I hope this table helps Sophia remember some good things about her daddy.  A girl shouldn’t feel as resentful toward her dad as she does.  It could hurt the way she views men in general. 

She pulled into her yard then climbed into the back of the truck.  After she untied the rope, she took her cellphone out of her pocket and dialed her mother’s phone.  “Mom, I’m home.  I got the table.  Can you go ahead and bring Sophia back?  I think Tony should be here any time now.”

She hung up then maneuvered her way behind the table.  She examined the numerous tally marks etched into the wood.  In one set, she ran her finger over the four vertical lines crossed with a single diagonal line then shook her head.  She sighed then winced as she pushed the heavy table over the tailgate.  It made a loud thud as it fell to the ground.

She jumped down, then closed the tailgate and moved the truck to the other side of the yard.  She hurried back to the table and struggled to roll it upright.

“Hey, Babe.  Can I give you a hand with that?” a deep voice said.

Jennifer gasped.  She looked over her shoulder and saw Tony approaching her.  Her knees felt weak, and she willed herself not to swoon.  “Uh, Tony.  Hey.  It’s been a long time.”

The car he rode in backed out of the driveway.  He grinned and easily flipped the table up, then kissed her cheek.  “Too long.  Where do you want this?”

Her hand flew to her cheek where she still felt his kiss linger.  I remember how one of his kisses used to make me simply giddy.  She cleared her throat as she looked him over.  He’d filled out more since she’d last seen him, and had added at least fifteen pounds of muscle.  He was hardly the skinny kid she fell in love with so long ago.  His eyes met hers and snapped her out of her thoughts.  “Oh, uh, I’m just going to put it in the patio here.”

He lifted the table and followed her into the patio.  “This thing sure is beat up.  Where’s the kid?  I thought she was gonna have lunch with me to welcome me home.”

Jennifer forced a smile.  “My mom’s bringing her.  She took her to the mall while I went and got this table.  I thought we could eat out here.”

“What’s so significant about this old thing?  Can’t you afford something new?”  He followed her into the house.  “”Look, I know I owe you a few years’ back child support.  My aunt’s helping me get a job, and as soon as I get on my feet, I can–”

“Tony, no.  It’s okay; we’re fine.”  She grabbed a bucket of potato salad and some fried chicken out of the refrigerator, then handed him a pitcher of iced tea to carry and headed back toward the patio.  “Sophia doesn’t have the best memory.  I just thought this table would help her to remember all the things you used to do with her.  You know, it’s been a long time, and she was barely three when you got locked up.”

He chuckled as he snatched a piece of chicken skin and popped it in his mouth.  “I see.  I guess she inherited my memory, huh?  What’s that you used to call it?”

Jennifer half-smiled.  “Your Swiss cheese memory.”

He snorted.  “Yeah, that’s it.  See, I already forgot!”  He laughed loudly and slapped his leg.

They both turned as a car pulled in the driveway and Sophia stepped out.  She scowled as she shuffled toward the patio.

Jennifer’s mom beeped the horn, then backed out and drove away.

Sophia frowned as she approached her parents, her arms folded tightly against her chest.  “Hey.  What’s this ugly table doing here?”

Jennifer smiled and pulled a chair up, then sat.  “Go ahead and sit down.  Honey, I got this out of storage today to show you just how much your daddy used to do with you before he had to go away.”

Sophia furrowed her brow.  “What do you mean?  I don’t remember us doing anything together.”  She narrowed her eyes at Tony and clenched her hands into fists as she sat across from him.

Jennifer passed out the paper plates and dished up the potato salad, then fingered a set of tally marks.  “Look at all these tally marks.  There must be almost a hundred here.  You used to ask your daddy to keep track of how many times he put you on his shoulders and carried you to bed then read you the story of Winnie the Pooh.  Remember how much you loved that book?”

Sophia bit her lip.  “Yeah, I think so.  Eeyore was my favorite, right?”

Jennifer nodded.  “That’s right.”  She cut her eyes to Tony, then looked back at her daughter.  “And look here where he carved your name.  That was how you finally learned to make the letter S.  Before this, you always made them backward.”

*     *     *

Until tomorrow, folks…

Let’s Talk:  Have you ever kept anything in a storage unit?  Have you ever had to move furniture by yourself?

“The Moment of Truth” – Part Two

Today, we learn the fate of our friends introduced to you in yesterday’s Micro-Fiction Monday.

“THE MOMENT OF TRUTH”
Part Two
By: Rachel A. Carrera

One week later…

Kevin kept his arm tightly around Jen’s shoulders as the white casket with marble corners was lowered into the ground.  He wiped his red eyes with his free hand.

Jen stared blankly into the distance.  Her face was serene.

After the service, Pastor Sills shook Kevin’s hand.  “I’m so sorry for your loss, Mr. and Mrs. Young.  Have the police turned up any suspects, yet?”

Kevin shook his head and sniffled.  “No.  Their lab didn’t find any DNA, and Jen’s still catatonic, so she can’t help.  I just checked her out of the hospital this morning.”

The pastor sighed and lowered his voice.  “The doctors couldn’t make her talk?”

“No.  They said she’s in shock, but she’ll eventually snap out of it in her own time.  She’s going to start seeing a psychiatrist next week.  I’ve taken some time off work so I can stay with her.  After my leave is up, I guess I’ll have to hire a nurse.  Neither of us have any family left, ya know.  By the way, I appreciate you coming all the way out here to Dobbin to perform the service.  I knew Jen would want Alisha buried next to her parents.”  Kevin wiped his eyes and forced a smile, then grabbed his wife’s hand and laced his fingers through hers.

“Of course.  I was happy to oblige.  Well, listen, I’m so very sorry for your loss.  I’ll keep you both in my prayers.”

*     *     *

On their way home, Jen stared blankly out the windshield.

Kevin sighed and patted her knee.  “Jen, come on.  Can’t you talk to me?  Baby, please.”

Silence.

A few minutes later, a loud bang from within the vehicle startled him from his thoughts.  As the car rolled to a stop at a red light, he looked over and saw Jen’s casted arm hit the door of the car again.

Her mouth formed a silent O, and she leaned forward as she glared out the side window.

His eyes grew large.  “What is it, Baby?  What do you see?”

Jen’s breath came quickly.  “That’s him!  That’s the man that killed Alisha!”  She pointed to a man heading into an alley.  Her voice was loud and high pitched with urgency, and tears welled in her eyes.  “That’s him!”

Kevin’s stomach lurched as he hurriedly parallel parked the car.  “Are you sure?  I should call the cops.”  He took his cellphone out of his pocket then saw that the battery was dead.  “Shit!  I’m gonna go talk to him.  Wait right here.”  He jumped out of the car and raced to catch up to the man.

The man stepped out from behind a dumpster, gripping an old pizza box like a long lost treasure.  He wore a shabby, black knitted cap and a threadbare, blue windbreaker.  His crooked smile revealed several broken teeth.  “Hey, buddy, can you spare a couple of bucks?”

Kevin scowled as he noticed the new burgundy and black plaid scarf tied around the man’s neck.  That’s the scarf Jen got me for Christmas!  His eyes narrowed, and his face turned crimson.  “How come you’re asking for a handout when you’re wearing a cashmere scarf?”  His nose twitched at the man’s stench.

The man chuckled.  “You’d be amazed at what people throw away these days.  Some jerk was probably banging his secretary, and she got it for him, and he didn’t want his old lady to find out.  So, how ‘bout it, man?  Can you spare some change?”

Kevin felt fire rise from his chest to his face, and his heart thumped loudly.  He lunged at the man and shoved him against the brick wall with all his might.

The man dropped the pizza box and attempted to push Kevin back.

Adrenaline pumped through Kevin’s veins, and he literally only saw the color red.  “You bastard!”  He effortlessly pulled the scarf tightly around the man’s neck until the man’s face turned blue.

The man made some gurgling noises as he tried to gasp for air.  Then the noises stopped, and his eyes bugged out as his head flopped to the side.  He slumped to the ground as if in slow motion.

Reality slapped Kevin in the face.  Hard.  He gasped and stepped backward, then looked at the scarf still in his hands.  Damn.  What have I done?  He shoved the scarf in his pocket and rushed back to his car.  His hands shook as he pulled onto the road and sped away.  After several silent minutes, he willed himself to remain composed as he asked, “Jen, are you okay?”

Jen stared silently out the window for the next several miles.

Kevin breathed deeply and tried to gather his bearings.  I can’t believe I actually killed a man.  I’ve never even struck another person in my life.  He willed his breath to slow.  I only did what I had to do.  If I would’ve waited for the police, he’d have been long gone.  His teeth chattered as he drove.  “Jen, can’t you talk to me again?  Huh, Baby?”

As they passed the sign that said, “Welcome to Brighton,” the car rolled to a stop at a downtown intersection.  Suddenly, Jen gasped and pointed out the window.  “That’s him!  That’s the man that killed Alisha!”

The well-dressed man walked on the sidewalk toward them then passed the car.  He wore an expensive, black ivy cap and a fitted, blue pea coat.

Kevin’s stomach churned as he looked over his shoulder, and his jaw dropped open.  As he stared out the back passenger’s window, he caught a glimpse of his burgundy and black plaid, cashmere scarf draped across the backseat.  The color drained from his face, and he felt lightheaded as he absentmindedly reached in his pocket and his fingers touched the other scarf.

*     *     *

THE END

Time to talk: Would you ever take justice into your own hands?  Have you ever been guilty of mistaking one person for another?

“The Moment of Truth” – Part One

It’s time for another Micro-Fiction Monday.  Because today’s story is a little longer than normal, I’ll be dividing it in two.  You can find Part Two here tomorrow.  Now don’t be afraid…  This is only fiction…

“THE MOMENT OF TRUTH”
Part One
By: Rachel A. Carrera

Kevin chuckled at Larry’s joke and shook his head.  “Dang, dude, that was lame.  Where do you hear these things?”

Larry smirked.  “You’d better learn to appreciate them, or at least act like you do.  Mr. Edmund tells a lot of these stupid tales, and if you don’t laugh and act like you like them, he pouts and threatens to take his account over to Sterling.”

Kevin rolled his eyes, then looked at his vibrating cellphone.  “Oh.  Hold on, man.  It’s my wife.  Hey, Baby.”

“Mr. Young, this is Officer Victor with the Brighton Police Department.  I’m at your house with your neighbor, Mrs. Stanley.  Sir, I regret to inform you that an intruder broke into your home.  Your daughter was killed, and your wife was attacked.  She’s in serious condition.  She was taken to Brighton General.  I’m very sorry.”

The color drained from Kevin’s face, and he felt a bit of vomit rise to his throat.  “Wh – what?  Shit!  How’d it happen?  Are you fucking serious?”

Larry pulled the car to the side of the road, and his smile ebbed.  “What happened?”

The cop cleared his throat.  “I’m sorry, sir.  Mrs. Stanley woke to the sound of screams coming from your house, and she called us.  By the time we got here, the door was open, and the intruder was gone.”

“Did – did this happen just now?”

“No, sir.  It was several hours ago when we got the call.  We’ve been here at your house looking for evidence.  The forensics team just finished up.  The lock on your front door is busted, so I stayed behind to try to contact you.  Mrs. Stanley just found your number.  She said you’re out of town on business.  Do you know when you can be home, sir?”

“Yeah, I was on my way to the airport right now.  Damn.  I’ll be there as soon as I can.  I have to get to the hospital to see Jen.”  Tears welled in his eyes, and his hands shook as he disconnected the call.

Larry turned in his seat, and his tone grew serious.  “What happened, man?”

Kevin swiped his hands over his face and sniffled.  “Someone broke into my house and attacked my family – Alisha’s dead!”  He slammed his fists onto the dashboard of the rental car and let out a seconds long, bone chilling, guttural scream.  Then, drained of all energy, he buried his face in his hands, and his chest and back heaved as he sobbed.

Larry gasped.  “What?  Shit!  I – I, um, let’s get you to the airport.  Do they know who did it?  Did Jen get a good look at him?”

“I don’t know.  She’s in the hospital.  Our neighbor was who called the cops.”

Larry pulled back onto the road and sped toward the airport.  As they waited to board their plane, he called Brighton General, then replaced his cellphone in his pocket.  “Sorry, man.  They said Jen’s still sleeping.  Maybe the sedative will have worn off by the time we get home.”

Kevin nodded and wiped his red rimmed eyes with the back of his arm as he paced back and forth in front of their gate.  “Thanks.”

*     *     *

The following day…

Kevin stood outside Jen’s hospital room with Detective Barkley.  His knees felt weak, and his stomach was in knots.  “Do you have any leads on who did this, Detective?  I can’t even believe this is happening.  My daughter was only thirteen years old.”  He sniffled and swallowed the lump in his throat.

Detective Barkley adjusted his glasses.  “I’m very sorry, Mr. Young.  Is your wife any better?  I’d like to talk to her.”

Kevin shook his head and rubbed his bloodshot eyes.  “No.  She’s awake, but she hasn’t said a word since I got here last night.  The doc says she’s in shock.”

Barkley nodded.  “She was catatonic when I tried to speak to her yesterday.  I really need her to snap out of it so she can give us a description of the perp.  The longer we wait, the less likely we’ll be able to find the bastard who did this.”

“One of the other officers told me there weren’t any fingerprints at my house.  Was there any DNA or anything?”

“So far, we don’t have any leads.  We’re still testing, but without a physical description, it doesn’t look good.”

Kevin sighed, and his knees felt as if they would buckle.  He leaned against the wall.  “I can’t believe no one saw anything.  Did you talk to my neighbors?”

Barkley took a notebook out of his pocket and flipped it open.  “Your neighbors to the right are out of town.  The gentleman across the street wears hearing aids and takes them out at night, so he didn’t hear anything.  Mrs. Stanley heard the commotion and called the station.  She said a muffled scream was what woke her.  After she called us, she said she looked out her window, and a few moments later, she saw him leave.  But since it was still so dark out, she didn’t get a good look at his face.  He had on a blue jacket and a black hat.  So far, that’s all we’ve got to go on.  That’s why we really need to talk to your wife…”

*     *     *

Until tomorrow, folks…

Time to talk:  Have you ever had to fake liking a joke in order to preserve a job? Have you ever had to call the police because of sounds you heard coming from a neighbor’s home?

 

The Feud – Part Two

Today, we learn the fate of our friends introduced to you in yesterday’s Micro-Fiction Monday.

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“THE FEUD”
(Part Two)
By: Rachel A. Carrera

Close to an hour later, Ron whistled as he headed out his back door.  “Brody!  Come on, boy, it’s time to eat!”  He curiously looked across the hedge to Steve’s back yard.

Steve smirked as he stepped out of his car and made a beeline to his grill.  He fanned a puff of smoke that smelled of charred meat.  He cut into the meat and blew on it, then took a bite.  As he chewed, he stretched his back and eyed Ron.  “Your dog’s dead, Crane.  I told you to keep that mutt away from here.”  He cut into the meat and shoved another bite in his mouth, then chewed it heartily.

Ron stepped toward the hedge.  “So, you did see him.”

Steve sneered and cut another bite.  “See him?  I tasted him!  He’s delicious.  You want a bite?”  He held up a forkful of meat then thrust it in his mouth and smiled wickedly as he chewed.

Ron’s nostrils flared as he glared at his neighbor.  Then he took a deep breath and folded his arms as he smirked.  “Well, I’m glad you’re enjoying that barbecue so much.  But that’s not Brody you’re eating.  It’s Laura.”

*     *     *

EPILOGUE

The color drained from Steve’s face as he digested Ron’s words.  His knees buckled, and he steadied himself on the back of his lawn chair.  He spit the meat on the ground and felt a bit of vomit rise to his throat.  “What?”

Ron threw his head back and cackled wildly.  “You didn’t notice that meat looked a little different than when you left?  Or that it was seasoned a little differently?  Oh, there was no break-in at your store, was there?  Heh heh.  Yeah, I know all about it.  Yeah, as soon as you got that call from the police and left, Laura was happy to let me in your house.  I don’t think she even knew what hit her.”

Steve’s stomach lurched, and he willed himself not to faint.  “Wh— What did you do?  Where’s my wife?”  His eyes grew large, and his breathing quickened.

Ron pointed to the grill and chuckled.  “I just told you, man.  She’s right there.  She put up a little bit of a fight, but in the end, it was easy to overpower her.”

Steve’s hands trembled, and his face felt prickly, then he leaned over the chair and vomited the contents of his stomach.  He clutched his belly and took a few deep breaths.  As he stood upright, he turned and lunged toward Ron, then changed his mind and raced inside his house.  “Laura!  Laura, where are you?”  He ran from room to room as he searched for her.  “Laura!”

*     *     *

Laura smiled and stood just as Ron walked back into his living room.  “Thank you both for being so understanding.  I’m so sorry Steve took things this far.  I hope you know he would’ve never hurt Brody.”  She knelt down and petted the dog.  “He loves dogs.  He was just so upset ever since Murray died last year, he’s held a grudge ever since.  I think he just doesn’t want to blame himself for allowing Murray to stay out for so long unsupervised.”

Katie nodded and patted Laura’s shoulder.  “Well, thank you for bringing Brody home.  And I’m so sorry he bit your hand.  Are you sure you’re okay?  We’d be glad to pay for you to see a doctor.”

Laura shook her head and pulled the hand towel more tightly around her palm.  “No, it’s not deep.  And it’s not Brody’s fault.  Steve had him locked upstairs in our bathroom.  I think he wanted to worry you or something, and the dog got scared.  He didn’t mean to hurt me.  I’m just glad the police called when that alarm went off so I could bring him back home.”

Ron smiled and scratched Brody’s head.  “Well, thanks again, Laura.  I’m sorry all this got out of hand last year.  I really do miss hanging out with you guys and having all our great barbecues.”

Laura gasped.  “Oh!  Speaking of barbecues, I’d better get home.  Steve’s grilling some porterhouse steaks, and I’m afraid they might be the last ones we have for a while.  His business isn’t doing too well these days, and we’re behind on our mortgage.  If something doesn’t change, I don’t know what we’re going to do.”  She patted her tummy and half-smiled.  “And to top it off, I haven’t told him yet, but we’re gonna have a baby.”

*     *     *

Steve burst into the master bathroom and found a small puddle of blood on the floor and a bloody handprint on the sink.  He fell to his knees, and tears welled in his eyes.  “Laura, shit!  I can’t go on without you!  Our credit’s gone.  I’m losing the store.  You were the only good thing left in my life!”  He held his head in his hands, and his chest heaved as he sobbed.  “What have I done?  Why did I threaten that stupid dog?  Damn, Baby, I’m so sorry!”

He cried for a few moments then wiped his nose on his arm and pulled himself to stand.  He tried to catch his breath as he headed into his bedroom and stood in front of his dresser.  He opened the top drawer and pulled out a Glock 38.  He pulled the cartridge out of the handgrip and examined it.  He took a deep breath and pushed the cartridge back in, then wiped his eyes with the back of his hand.  “Laura, I’m sorry.  Please forgive me.”

He rushed downstairs and flung open the back door.  He stormed to the hedge separating his yard from the Cranes’.  He squeezed through an opening and headed toward his neighbors’ house with a determined gait.  His face was on fire, and he narrowed his red rimmed eyes.  As soon as the back door flew open, he fired blindly into the house.  “Take that, Crane!”

Laura gasped and clutched her chest where the bullet entered.  She made a gurgling noise as she melted to the floor of the back porch.  “Steve?  Why’d you—”

THE END

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Let’s talk:  Would this post have been too long if I combined yesterday’s and today’s?  Would you ever trick a neighbor who had been unkind to you?