Thank you 121 Words for publishing my short short.
Louie had a drink waiting for me.
“Don’t mind if I do.”
He nodded. “New hat?”
I removed it and laid it on the bar. “Twelve bucks.”
Louie whistled. “Must be nice.”
“Big money in detective work. Nothing but fur coats and limousines.”
The grin died on his face. “Fat Rico was in asking about you.”
“What did you say?”
“Told him I didn’t know nothing but it looks like he figured it out on his own.”
Fat Rico stood in the doorway.
“Do me another favor, Louie,” I said, nodding at the hat. “Put that somewhere safe, will you?”
He stood in a large hole, perhaps four feet deep and five or six in diameter. The digging was strenuous, the ground comprised of gravel and sand. With each thrust, the shovel stopped dead, sending a jolt through his arms, his shoulders, his back. Every few minutes, he dropped to his hands and knees to dig by hand. With his fingers, he unearthed heavy rocks, straining to wrestle them from the hole and heave them aside. The rocks dented and dulled his shovel, slowing his progress.
The air was crisp and the moon full; his body steamed through his shirt. He lifted the shovel from the hole, flat to the ground and perhaps a quarter full, and tossed its contents over his right shoulder. The sand made a brushing sound as it fell on dry leaves. He plunged the shovel into the earth again.
She stood behind him and said, “Why are you doing this?”
He stopped and let the shovel stand by its blade as he removed his cap and drew his arm across his forehead. The shovel stood upright for a moment then fell. “I have to find it,” he said.
She shook her head. “I don’t need it.”
Bending over, he grasped the shovel. “If I don’t find it now, We’ll have to wait until Spring.” He shook his head. “I can’t dig through the frost.”
She wrinkled her forehead and said, “Leonard, you’ve been out here for days! Weeks!” She moved close and he pulled away. She stopped and said softly, “Perhaps it’s not God’s will that it be found.”
“I don’t believe that. If He wants me to leave it out here in the wild, He needs to tell me plain. I ain’t interested in deciphering hints from The Almighty.”
She raised her eyebrows. “He is telling you. I’m telling you. Take the shovel home and draw yourself a warm bath. Put on dry clothes. Make a fire! Do the things you need to do to move on.”
He shook his head.
She smiled with sad eyes and said, “The landslide was not your fault. You don’t need to find my body.” She smiled. “It’s already buried.”
He fell to his knees in the dirt and covered his face with his hands. “No, no, no…” he cried.
“I have to go now, Leonard,” she said softly. “It’s time for us both to go home.”
She drifted away into the trees…
Leonard awoke with a start, his eyes wet and the television still on. Beside him, she lay sleeping, breathing deeply. He spooned her, and buried his face between her shoulder blades, pulling her close.
She faced the wall, smiling. “These dream pills were worth every penny,” she thought. “I am SO going shopping today.”
Now try this: The Predator
Since his accident last year, Myron’s short-term memory abandoned him at random. This caused him no small measure of anxiety and his life was spent trying to piece together hours-long blank spaces of which he had no knowledge.
This time, he couldn’t remember driving Ward home.
Prior to a few moments ago, the last thing Myron remembered was sitting across a table from Ward in a dead bar, picking at soggy beer bottle labels and trying to think of things to say. It was clear the night was a bust.
Just now, Myron awoke to find himself unlocking the front door to his house, his phone buzzing in his pocket. It buzzed again and again.
The first text read, “OMG what happened?” and the next, “So sorry” and there were more.
He began stabbing out a reply to one before opting instead to check Facebook where, after scrolling a bit, he found a post from Ward which read: “I am deeply saddened to say that Ward passed away tonight in an apparent homicide. Please keep us in your prayers and respect our privacy at this time.” It was signed, “Ward’s family”.
Then Myron heard tires screeching into his driveway and there was an aggressive slamming of car doors. A man’s voice barked orders in serious, short bursts.
Myron dropped his phone and fled through the back door.
I was twelve when Shemp ran away. It’s been 35 years but the memory is burned into my brain with vivid clarity. Glen and I biked to the lake that morning, the dogs chasing each other in circles. We held fishing poles outstretched beside us like lances and a forest green tackle box was bungeed to Glen’s banana seat. It contained a myriad of lures and assorted wares, most of which he never used. Now it bounced and clattered along behind him.
The morning air was chilly. It was mid-September and just getting light. The dogs scampered in front of our bikes and we could barely see them. I said, “Shemp, knock it off!” but he didn’t care. Neither did Glen’s dog, Herman. They frolicked about causing us to lock the brakes repeatedly.
There was a stiff breeze blowing in from the lake as we laid our bikes down at the landing. I could see cars dotted about the lot and, through thick fog, the tiny red and green lights of a boat on the horizon. Otherwise, we had the shore to ourselves. I impaled a squirming worm onto my hook and cast hard but the wind caught the bait and it splashed into the water twenty feet out.
I noticed an area of violent bubbling to the right of my bobber of maybe three feet in diameter. I pointed this out to Glen saying, “Look at those bubbles over there. What do you think that is?”
He was wrestling with a lure. He always used exotic lures but never caught anything with them. Inevitably, he’d switch to live bait but I knew better than to tell him this. “Aerator?” he said without looking up.
“No, the aerator is over there,” I said pointing down the shoreline to the left.” And they turn it off after Labor Day weekend.”
He swore at his rod and ignored me.
“Can’t be plants,” I continued. “Plants don’t make bubbles like that.”
Glen had pulled several feet of line from his reel and was trying to wind it tightly. He insisted on using an open faced reel which he wasn’t very good with. As often as not, his casts fell dead at his feet with a pathetic thump. This was followed by frustrated swearing and, ultimately, tears but I didn’t try to intervene. Once, I had told him to switch to a closed faced Zebco like mine, that it was easier. He sneered at me and explained that he was a “real” fisherman.
“Have fun with that,” I told him.
Shemp and Herman splashed after each other on the shoreline, neither willing to swim, it was too cold.
Deciding I’d re-cast at the bubbles, I began to reel.
They followed my bait.
“Dude!” I said. “The bubbles are chasing my line.”
This got Glen’s attention. He looked up from his snarled reel. “What?”
“The bubbles, they’re following my line. Watch.”
I began reeling and the bubbles inched closer. When I stopped, so did they.
“It’s probably a turtle,” Glen said but he didn’t sound convinced.
“That’s a pretty big turtle,” I said. “Have you ever seen a turtle make bubbles like that?”
Glen shook his head, staring quietly as I began to reel. The bubbles moved toward the bait again. “Go slow. See if you can catch it.”
When the bubbles were a just a couple feet from my line, they stopped and Glen swore loud. He picked up a stone and hurled it into the water.
Then Shemp was in hot pursuit, throwing himself into the lake.
“Shemp, no!” I yelled. “Here, Shemp!”
The bubbles were on him with remarkable speed.
And he was gone.
“That was the last time you saw her?” she demanded.
She was bawling, snot dripping from her nose while she questioned me. It wasn’t a good look. “Have you talked to her since that night?” she said. “Have you texted?”
Predictably, she flew into hysterics, hitting me in the chest and calling me bastard.” I can’t believe you did this!” she said. “You bastard!”
“You’re overreacting,” I told her grabbing her wrists and walking her back a step. “Don’t turn this into the end of the world.” I knew this would set her off but I was frustrated, every day with Karen is drama.
She pulled a handgun from her purse and pointed it at me.
Shocked, I showed my palms. “Karen, take it easy. Where did you get that?”
“You bastard,” she said through her teeth. “You bastard.” She said it over and over, spitty and accusatory.
“Put it down before you shoot me,” I told her. “Are there bullets in that thing? Hand me the gun, Karen, I mean it.”
Mascara had smeared black down her face and her eyes were wild. She fell silent for a few beats and we stood looking at each other.
She squeezed the trigger.
In disbelief, I watched as the gun clunked to the floor. She sagged to her knees sobbing into her hands.
This was it.
“You’ve got the part,” I told her. “Rehearsals are at 5 o’clock sharp.”
He stared in disbelief as fire consumed the world. On every side it raged, roaring through century-old trees like a blowtorch through dry straw. He watched detached, as animals scampered to and fro in terror and he realized in an offhand way that he was completely surrounded now, the heat an impenetrable wall. Still he remained frozen, bearing witness to the horror as acres of forest were incinerated.
Then, a massive branch fell flaming from the sky landing just feet away with a heavy crash and it was this near-miss that jolted him to his senses.
“Later, Dudes,” he said, scales glinting in the firelight. He swished his tail and and dove deep into the cold depths of the lake. “Sucks to be you.”
Now try this: Magnificent Discovery – Short Short Story