Archive for : February, 2015

It’s Short Story Thursday! Enjoy! Jordan’s Choice

Part One…

Jordan Riesling had just finished work but wasn’t tired. Her shifts had been whittled down to four day weeks, five hours per day, and that’s not enough work to tire out a 26 year old. That left her with only one thing to do at 3:30 in the afternoon. The Get-Go was crowded with workers from the Perry Candle Company which employed over three-fourths of the population of Pittney Pennsylvania, including Jordan; just not Jordan’s close friends. All Jordan could think to do was to pick out a cheap beer and go home to watch TV. She grabbed a six of Pabst and took a place in line. Old man Ritter was buying his daily lotto ticket at the counter. He was well past 75 years old and Jordan knew he had spent most of his life hoping to win. She wondered why he didn’t find another way to spend his hard earned money. Shirley Finney was gathering a cart full of disposable diapers and wet naps for her three babies. Her husband had been a stay-at-home dad since the iron mill closed five years ago. Now it was up to Shirley to support them on her small income.

Rob Thompson, past class president from their senior year at Fillmore High, was browsing the men’s magazines in the corner of the store. Right after, he would surely head to Hudson’s Bar across the city limits to a “wet” town, as he had every day since he was voted Most Likely to Succeed. He bragged about the different girls he had nightly, but the truth was he never brought anyone home.

Jordan’s attention was drawn to a couple of strangers in the snack isle who stood out like two burning candles in a dim room. The taller of the two, wearing aviator sunglasses low on his nose, was reading aloud from a package of chips.

“Kettle chips have nine grams of fat and 180 milligrams of sodium compared to the Lay’s which have ten grams of fat and 170 milligrams of sodium.” His voice low, but each word enunciated with clear diction.

The other man wearing, a tattered Giants ball cap spoke up. “You make too much of that crap. Neither one of them are good for you. Just grab a bag and let’s get going.”

Aviator’s friend didn’t appear as polished. His baggie jeans sat low on his hips revealing the band on his Geoffrey Beene underwear. A tight washed out tee hugged his ripped muscular arms and chest. His square jaw line carried a couple days black growth which gave him a scruffy, but somewhat appealing look.

Jordan watched as they made their way to the checkout line. Aviator spoke directly to Ballcap. “Did you know that the potato chip originated in Saratoga Springs, New York in 1853 by restaurant owner George Crum? Mr. Crum had a chronic dissatisfied customer that complained about the restaurant French fries being too thick. Mr. Crum sliced his potatoes real thin and deep fried them to a crisp chip just to piss off his customer. Mr. Grumpy customer liked the chips and the word spread through town until everyone was asking for them”

“Fascinating story,” Ballcap remarked sarcastically.

“Okay, I’ll change the subject. Did you catch the game last night?”

Ballcap didn’t answer. He was eyeballing a woman bent over looking at the magazines on the bottom row at the counter. The smile on his face gave away his thoughts.

Aviator punched Ballcap on the shoulder. “Hey. I asked if you saw the game.”

“Man, you are persistent.”

“Just awaiting an answer.”

“I didn’t answer on purpose. If I tell you I didn’t see it, you’re gonna give me a blow-by-blow and I don’t really care. If I tell you I did, you’re going to want to go over the highlights and I really just don’t give a crap.”

“You wear their hat.”


“Your Giants’ hat.”

“Just a hat.”

“Next,” the clerk called out. The voice startled Jordan, but she quickly moved forward to pay for the beer.

She accidentally brushed against Ballcap, trying to squeeze past the line on her way to the exit. Once in her car, she decided to wait for the guys to come out of the store. Their black BMV sat at the pumps. Aviator flipped the keys to Ballcap and they took a right off the lot. Jordan’s house was to the left, but she turned right and followed. Two miles short of city limits they pulled into the state park. Jordan hesitated to do the same, fearful they might spot her following. Curiosity got the best of her.

The park road was wooded and winding. The trees ablaze with fall color. They pulled into the parking lot of what was known as Crooked Creek Trail. Jordan knew it well from her high school days. She and her friends spent many week-end nights hanging out after park hours. The police never patrolled the park, or if they knew the kids were there they didn’t bother them.

Only two other cars were in the lot and Jordan parked far in the corner. The guys got out of their car and headed on the trail that led to the river. Jordan grabbed the beer and took a short cut through the trees. If she got there first it wouldn’t look like she was following them.

A couple minutes after she arrived the guys came strolling out from the trail, Aviator leading the way. Jordan tried to look nonchalant and gazed across the river. Aviator wasn’t shy and called out to her.

“Hello. Beautiful day”

“Yes,” she answered. She wondered what they thought of her, standing along the river, drinking a beer and holding onto the plastic ring with the rest of the six dangling from it.

Ballcap picked up some small rocks and through them one by one into the moving water. He didn’t acknowledge her.

“I didn’t think alcohol was allowed in the parks,” Aviator was trying to be funny. Ballcap pulled a flask from his pocket and took a swig.

“I’ve lived here all my life and drink in this park a lot.” The words left her mouth before she had a chance to think about it. That sounded so lame. She tried to cover quickly. “Want one?”

“Don’t mind if I do.”

Aviator pulled one loose from its plastic holder and offered it to Ballcap. He took it without a word. Aviator took another for himself.

“I’m Frank and my friend is Dodger.”

“Jordan.” She offered her hand. That felt lame as well, considering the circumstances, but he took it. “You’re not from here.”

“It’s that obvious?”

“No, it’s just that I know almost everyone that is from here. Small town and all. Is Dodger your first name?”

He nodded. “My old man was a fan.” He popped the beer tab and took a drink.

“What do you do here for fun?”

Jordan laughed. “You’re pretty much looking at it. You all on vacation?”

“We took some time off to travel.” The sun ducked behind a cloud and Frank put his aviators in the pocket of this long winter-white overcoat.

Jordan had noted how sharply dressed he was for travelling, especially compared to his friend. Underneath his woolen coat he wore black dress pants with black wing tip shoes and a collared purple dress shirt with a pinstriped vest.

“You from New York?”

“How could you tell,” Frank looked over at Dodger and laughed.

“I mean, I guessed because his father is a Dodger fan and he’s wearing a Knick’s hat.”

“You are right.” Frank commended. “The City can get loud at times and we need a break.”

“You did the right thing then.” Jordan smirked.

Frank gave a questioning look.

“Pittney is just the opposite of loud.” Jordan laughed.

They finished the six pack, Jordan and Frank doing most of the talking. Dodger disappeared into the woods once during that time, maybe to use the facilities. The day grew into night.

“You’re telling me the entire county and Pittney is dry? No bars, and you can only purchase beer and liquor from a state store?”

“That’s right.”

Dodger spoke up. “You bought the Pabst at the convenient store.”

“I did, but that’s on the reservation and the owner pays somebody to sell it there. Everyone local knows it and they just let it go because we can get it when we need it. The state store has lousy hours.

“This is America and you should be able to get what you want, when you want it.”

“Dodger, we are not in New York City. It’s different here.”

“It’s still America.” Dodger took the last drink from his flask. “How far we have to go to get more?”

“About twenty miles, but it closed two hours ago.”

“Sucks.” Dodger said.

“It does, but people around here know that and buy accordingly.”

“You have any alcohol at home?”

Jordan thought for a minute. She didn’t and besides that she was living with her parents again. She was forced to move back when the company cut her hours.

“I’m not ready to call it a night yet.” Dodger tapped Frank on the shoulder. Let’s go have a look at that liquor store.”

Dodger withdrew the car keys from his pocket and tossed them to Jordan. “You drive. You know the way.”

Subtle Sovereignty

Hi Friends!

Subtle Sovereignty is a short-short that I have been working with for many years. I completed it, let it sit, did a rewrite and have edited it many times after. It’s more prose than it is a short story, but there is a beginning, a middle and an end. This is one of my favorite pieces that I have ever written. I literally hand-picked each and every word so that the meaning of the sentence was in clear detail and every word giving meaning to the next.  It’s not a piece for everyone, but I hope all of you can find some enjoyment from it.  clh

Subtle Sovereignty

In the center of a dense forest, in an unnatural clearing of land, stands a sixteen-foot statue of Colonel Buford W. Simcox III. He was the third Simcox to have served in the armed forces, but the only Simcox to become a Colonel. The statue’s weathered frame looms as a watchman for the smaller, weaker headstones in the family cemetery.

In autumn, the Colonel’s favorite of the seasons, the cemetery entertains fewer birds. Grave blankets of newly fallen leaves provide less pecking areas. September’s depressed air had turned bitter with an early northerly movement, a rarity in the south. The Sycamore and Elms, the Oaks and Sugar Maples, and even the beloved Cypress, barely had the chance to follow God’s intended cycle to slowly evolve from shades of green, to shades of red, yellow, orange and brown. Early brownies broke away from tree limb to earth in one night’s darkness.

The separated leaves seemed alive, not yet suffering the lack of moisture that cycled leaves would have endured. Piles of leaves pushed down against the heads of blooming chrysanthemums that had been planted generations earlier to adorn granite markers of deceased loved ones. These leaves would remain longer than those of previous years, not easily moved by fall winds.

Colonel Simcox’s surviving wife sat upon a chilled garden bench, wrapped in her heavy wool-blend coat she had purchased years ago at the Montgomery Ward Department Store in nearby Bennington Bay Village. Her mittened hands held a worn out copy of The King James Old Testament. Dementia moved through her like a tortoise, time the hare. Mrs. Simcox became agitated that she had selected mittens instead of the deerskin gloves that the Colonel had made for her over fifty years earlier from the hide of his six-point kill. With her fingers confined, she was unable to turn the pages of the Good Book. Several frustrating minutes later, she gave up trying, completely unaware of the option to remove the mittens to accomplish her goal.

Mrs. Simcox’s attention diverted to a Monarch butterfly as it gracefully fluttered in front of the Colonel’s statue, flirting with the idea of landing on the Colonel’s raised sword. Instead, it caught a down draft of wind and rode it in toward Mrs. Simcox. It circled above the Bible that she held on her lap, making the circle smaller with every round, until its microscopic feet landed on the sun-warmed black cover. Mrs. Simcox removed her mitten and gently touched finger to wing tip. After what seemed a still moment in time to Mrs. Simcox, the Monarch lifted in flight, fluttering upward with apparent delight, and came to rest upon the tip of the Colonel’s sword. Mrs. Simcox opened the Old Testament to the passage she read to her husband ever afternoon since his passing five years ago. Not too long ago she would have had to use the book only as a comfort tool for her hands to fondle while she recited the scripture from memory. But time had passed and that the memory snatching disease forced her to finger every word while she read them aloud. When she came to her favorite line in the passage she raised her voice softly. The butterfly responded by lifting himself high in the air. He danced around the Colonel’s large frame and descended to where she sat and did the same, right in front of her face.

Mrs. Simcox watched the movement with joy. “Colonel, is that you?”

A gust of northerly wind followed immediately and Mrs. Simcox lifted her hand from the Bible to hold her hat down and keep it from taking flight. The pages of King James shuffled in the swirl causing the pages to fall open to a new page. The wind ceased the circle of dried leaves calmed and once again the birds landed to the ground.

A slightly disheveled Mrs. Simcox cleared her throat and blinked quickly to regain moisture in her eyes so she could continue reading. She looked at the pages of the book to place her finger on the familiar words but ending up sitting motionless as if lost in time. The tortoise creeping through her thoughts. The unfamiliar words on the not so familiar pages of King James had temporarily paralyzed her. As if on cue, the butterfly reappeared and fluttered wildly around the open pages. With the help of a gentle breeze the pages mysteriously shuffled back to open on the page where Mrs. Simcox had been reading. She sun came out from behind a cumulous cloud, behind the Colonel, causing the statue to cast a shadow over Mrs. Simcox. She looked down at the pages and saw the shadow, the shadow of the tip of the Colonel’s sword marking the very word she had left off on before the wind had taken over. She placed her finger upon the word and continued to read.

The sun had warmed the garden area. The birds pecked and fluttered while Mrs. Simcox began to read once again to the Colonel. When she had finished, she closed the book and her eyes, tilted her had upward and smiled as the warm sun fell upon her skin. She stood to leave and the butterfly reappeared. He wind danced around and behind her, all the way up the garden path to the house.

First Date

Hello everyone!

I am going to put out the entire story today because it is a short one! It’s also appropriate for the Valentines Day week.  Enjoy!

“I can’t believe I am going on a date. It’s been eight years.”

“It’s been over two years since Ronny’s death. It’s time.

“Thanks for watching the kids. Will you zip my dress?”

Sonja went to help her sister.

Rachel giggled. “I feel twenty again.”

“You’re well past twenty my dear.”

“What do I do if the night ends…well, you know?” asked Rachel.

“You think? On the first date?”

“We’ve worked together for over a year and we have lunch together. It’s not like we hardly know each other. Do I ask if he has protection?”

Sonja laughed. “I’m an old married lady, what do I know about such things? What I do know is that you’re going to need someone to unzip your dress.”

Rachel smiled, and then shuddered. “Ahhh, this is weird. Maybe I shouldn’t go.”

“And waste this perfect little black dress? Not on your life. Go have a good time. I have all night, so if you don’t come home…”

Rachel slapped her sister’s shoulder. “Stop it. I can’t do that.” She pretended to be fussing with her hair in front of the mirror, but was really checking for her sister’s reflection “Can I?”

“Hey, that’s entirely up to you darlin’. I can be here tonight or in the morning. Makes no difference.”

“I can’t believe we’re talking about this. Maybe I should call and tell him one of the kids got sick.”

“Really?” Sonja grabbed Rachel’s arm and swung her around and pushed her clutch purse at her. “Take your purse. He’ll be here any minute.”

Rachel hesitated.

Again, Sonja pushed Rachel gently from behind.

“Rach, it’s like riding a bike, getting back on the horse, um, reciting your time tables. You know…it’ll come naturally for you.” She practically shoved Rachel through the bedroom door.

“I’m light headed.”

“I know, but that has nothing to do with tonight.”

“Very funny. Quit pushing. I can move on my own now, thank you.”

The sister’s went to the living room where the two children were watching TV. Rachel went to the kitchen and came back with a cloth and began dusting the furniture.

“What are you doing now?” Sonja yanked the cloth from her sister’s hands. “Give me that.”

“I don’t want him to think I keep a dirty house.”

“Too late for that,” Sonja teased. “Besides, he’s not gonna be looking at the house when you’re wearin’ that dress.”

“What do you mean?”

Sonja raised her eyebrows and pulled at her blouse button near her breasts.

Rachel slapped her hand over hers. “Is this neckline too low?” she whispered, trying not to attract her five and seven year olds’ attention from the TV show.

“What neckline?’ Sonja made her eyes really big.

“Ohmigod, ohmigod. I’ll go change.”

Sonja had to grab her sister’s arm again. “Get back here. I was only kidding. You look amazing. But he will be looking at you…a lot!”

“You’re making me crazy.”

“Yeah, ain’t it fun?”

Rachel turned to leave again.

“Where are you going now?”

“I can’t remember if I brushed my teeth.”

“You must have. You’re wearing lipstick. You wouldn’t have put it on without brushing.”

“I suppose you’re right.” She cupped her hand over her mouth and blew out a breath for a simple check. “Maybe I’ll use the restroom one last time.”

“You’ve gone two times since I got here. You’re not that old yet.”

“Almost middle aged.”


“Well, thirty-four. That’s middle aged.”

“Maybe if it were the 1800’s. Hey, do you remember our very first date together?”

Rachel smiled. “We went out with the Melford twins.”

“I went with Pete and you with John.”

“Afterwards we decided we were with the wrong brother. I should have been with John and you with Pete.” They laughed.

“Those boys sure were horny.”

“Shhh!” Rachel put a finger to her mouth and made a gesture toward the kids for her sister to see.

“Like they’d know what horny is. That is, if they were listening, which they aren’t.”

“Well, I don’t need something like that to come back to haunt me some day. Kids are always listening, especially when you think they aren’t.”

Rachel checked her hair again, this time in the living room mirror. “You know what? I’m just going to go out, have a nice dinner with another adult, and call it quits from there. I’m not ready for a dating kind of thing.”

“That’s just nerves talking.”

“No really. I can’t see myself even having a good-night kiss. There could be hand holding, walking arm-in-arm, smiling and laughing at jokes. All that is so stressful.”

“Oh, I know what you mean sister. Why, all that love and attention. It’s grossly overrated and belittling. You should stay at home and pout.” Sonja rolled her eyes.

Rachel rebutted. “Remember when you and Chuck were dating, before you married? You’d come home from dates blurting out the details, sometimes telling too much information.”             “He was a good lover.” Sonja smiled and looked away in dreamy land.

“I’m talking about before you slept with him. You used to say you were so tired at the end of the evening from thinking up things to talk about all the time.”

“Rach, you know Chuck doesn’t talk a lot. We get a good story at Christmas and Easter. That’s all we really need from him anyway. Besides, he does his talking in bed, if you know what I mean.” Sonja raised her eyebrows and shifted her eyes from side to side.

“Stop that. A good relationship is not always just about that.”

“Agreed, but it sure can help.” The women laughed. “Anyway, you’ll find plenty to talk about. You’ve apparently found things to talk about when you have lunch together.”

“But this is a date. A real date!”

“Don’t make it different. Just be yourself and stop worrying about things that aren’t happening.”

“Everything comes easy for him. He’s so natural, so charming. He’s soft spoken and his every move precise. He’s very nearly perfect.”

“What an awful thing to say,” teased Sonja.

Rachel laughed, “I guess I make him sound too good to be true.”

“He’s probably thinking the same thing about you. That’ll change when he gets to know you better.”

“Hey, I thought you were here for support.”

“I’m here to watch your kids.”

“Seriously, you have been a great help to me since Ronny’s died, and a big confidence booster of late.”

“Just don’t let it go to your head. You may appear too aggressive.”

“I could use a little aggression tonight.”

“Oooo, now you’re talkin’.”

“Stop that! I’m going to send you home to your hubby.”

“No, no, please don’t.”

The door bell rang and Rachel froze.

“I’ll get it.” Sonja started for the door. “You should go back to the bedroom and make a grand entrance like in the movies.”

“Stop teasing. Just get the door.”

“I’ll do that while you breathe.”

Sonja opened the door, introduced herself and let Paul inside.

“I’ve heard a lot about you. Nice to meet you,” answered Paul.

“Can I get you something to drink?”

He looked at his watch. “No thank you, we have dinner reservations.”

Rachel moved forward to greet him and the heel of her shoe got stuck on the carpet. She tripped. Paul immediately stepped in to catch her as she stumbled.

“Are you all right?”

“Fine, I’m having the carpet removed on Monday.” A rush of adrenaline made her laugh louder that normal and she quickly changed the subject. “Paul, I’d like you to meet my children. Kids, come meet Mr. Cline.”

They jumped to their feet and stared at their guest.

“This is Justin and Sara. This is Mr. Cline.”

Seven-year-old Justin stuck out his hand like he had been taught. “Hello, Mr. Cline.”

Paul took his hand, “Justin, nice to meet you, and this must be your sister, Sara?”

“She doesn’t shake hands yet, she’s too little,” Justin noted.

“That’s all right, we can just say hello.”

“You’re charming just like mama said,” Sara said.

“Oh dear,” Rachel blushed.

Justin added, “Aunt Sonja says you’re horny too. Is that your job?”

“Wha…” stuttered Rachel.

Sonja and Paul laughed. Rachael stood in shock wishing she could disappear into the wall.

“Well, Justin, it’s not exactly my job, but it is something I aspire to.” Paul gave a wink.

Sonja took the children by their hands, “Just look at the time kids. Let’s go watch Barnaby, or Dorrie, or whatever TV show you watch.”

Justin turned back around for one last comment, “Mommy said she’s going to ask you for protection.”

“Oh Paul, I’m so sorry. I think that’s our cue to leave.”

Rachel looked back as she hurried Paul out the door. Sonja was practically doubled over in laughter.

“Very funny. Oh yeah, I probably won’t be coming home ever again so you can finish raising my children. See if you think that’s funny. Rachael takes her sister’s advice and makes a sweeping exit like in the movies.

For those who have kitties…..

When our previous cat passed away we spent a little bit of time without a pet, but after a few weeks had passed, I kept thinking about all the unwanted, needy cats out there. I explained to my hubby that I had lots of love to give to a kitty without a home, so our search began.

Our daughter, Karen, who was away at college was part of the search. We went to a couple of local shelters, but I just couldn’t get a good feel for the right kitty. We used the internet after that and stumbled on the Save Ohio Strays site (SOS), where we could see picture of kitties and get profiles too. I came across a litter of kitties just a few weeks old that were being cared for at foster home in Homervlle. I felt more comfortable with the idea of foster homes instead of shelters too, so we made an appointment and took a drive.

We were met at the door by maybe three barking dogs, can’t really recall the exact count, and foster mom Margaret. She took us to the kitty room, where we found the litter of kitties that had been posted on line. When they post the online kitties, they give them names for their profiles. Adoptive parents are not forced to keep the names, it just makes it easier to depict which one people are talking about. This particular litter was named after the royal family; Charles, Diana, William, Harry, Fergie, Beatrice and so on.

We sat on the floor with the kitties and let them do their thing, walk on us and we pet them. They were all very beautiful. Most of them were dark gray and white, Fergie was different with kind of a calico thing going on, and lighter fur. It didn’t take Karen and Randy to get attached to Harry, and I could see why. He was probably the friendliest out of the bunch. I was having a bit of trouble. I agreed wholeheartedly with them about Harry, but I had a hunch and hit it off with another little one. I was pressing Randy to take two kitties, but he didn’t want to do that.

Margaret’s two teen age sons came into the room and I asked them about their individual personalities. The one son said Beatrice had the best personality, liked to play a lot. When the boys spoke to us I understood the royal kitty names. They both had British accents. We left about an hour later with Harry. Margaret eyes welled up with tears when she found out we were not going to change his name. This was the end of October. We had made the right choice, but I continued to watch the litter disappear one-by-one as they were adopted. Every time saying to hubby that another one was adopted maybe we should get another. Nope. Then it was down to three left, and even hubby was watching the process. I stopped watching because it was starting to get to me. I shook it off and let it go.

The first week of December Randy and Karen came into the house with my early Christmas gift. Little Beatrice. She was so tiny compared to Harry, about half his size. She still is. Harry is long and lean, Beatrice not-so-much. She is short and round with the tiniest little head and Margaret’s boys were right, what a personality. Harry is a lover and Beatrice likes to play. We found out through the SOS newsletter that a couple of their brothers and sisters were adopted in pairs as well. All were placed and doing well. That was five years ago.

Unfortunate Circumstances – Part 2

“Tell me Mike’s plan.”

Mike hired eight guys for each club. He knows the clubs have four bouncers per shift, so its eight to four in Mike’s favor. Plus Mike has the element of surprise. Mike and the guys wait outside the club until the last customer is gone then they go in through the back door. They round up the bouncers. Just like Mike said, there’s hundreds in the cash register, and Mike knows how to get into the wall safe where he suspects Yeager has lots of money from doing stuff on the side.”

“What kind of stuff?”

“Drugs and prostitution, I guess.”

I can tell Patterson is getting excite now. He’d probably get a promotion from busting the councilman and this information is putting me in good standing with him.

“When Johnny gets back to the motel he has a bag full of money, more than five grand. It seems Councilman Yeager was about to buy a load of cocaine. I get scared and I want to leave the money and get out of town. We are about to leave town when one of the bouncer’s brothers shows up at the motel. He has three guys with him and they all have guns. They don’t want the money, they want revenge and they force us to go with them. We wind up back at Mike’s where they have collected all but one of the men that were involved in the hits. All of them holed up in the house. Mike and the guys are pretty beat up. I still can’t figure out how they knew Johnny and I were at the Seagull unless Mike told them.

“They start beating the crap out of Johnny. His so-called Karate is worthless against three or four guys. I’m crying and start looking for a way out. Mike’s shack is one room, living room, kitchen and a sofa bed and a bathroom. I figure that’s my way out so I ask to use it. First they say no, but I tell them I’m going to be sick and I start gagging. Let get disgusted and let me go.

I get in the bathroom and there’s a small window above the toilet and a two-story drop to the beach. I know I can’t stay so I jump. Once I’m free I make a run for the police.”

Patterson’s silent for a minute and taps his fingers on the table.

“Did you leave anything out?”

I take a minute too like I’m thinking. “No.”

Patterson looks up for the first time since the beginning of the interview.

“Are you sure?”

I wonder why he’s asking me this. I don’t answer.

“I’m going to give you a second and maybe something will come to you.”

I don’t like where this is headed.

“I can’t think of anything,” I say, but my voice starts to shake.

“You didn’t come straight to the police, did you Lisa?” The fact is, you went back to the Seagull Motel first, right?”

“Oh, yes. That’s right. To get my suitcase.”

“Don’t you think that’s a little unusual when your husband is in so much trouble?”

“I guess I wasn’t thinking straight. I was—and still am, in shock.”

“Um.” Patterson leans forward in his chair.

I start getting hot, perspiration hot. Beads of sweat form on my upper lip. I want another cigarette but I don’t want to ask now.

“Does the name Robin Walker mean anything to you?”

“That Walker’s wife? Johnny said he was married.”

“Yeah, that’s right. Have you ever seen her?”

“I can’t recall.”

“Okay, perhaps I can help with your memory lasp. There’s a bit of the story missing.”

All the hot spots on my body are wet now wondering what he think he knows.

“Let’s back up to the night you were at the motel lounge. While Johnny’s shooting pool and making plans with Mike Walker, Mike’s wife Robin Walker approaches you. She tells you how she married Mike to get away from an abusive boyfriend, and you tell her that you married Johnny to get away from your mother. She tells you Mike wants her to think they were broke, but she knows better. She tells you that she knows how to get her hands on a lot of money.

“She tells you she is involved with Councilman Yeager and that one of the clubs is in her name, but Yeager won’t let her run it. She tells you she needs the cash inside the club, inside the safe. She tells you she wants to use the money to get some help to push Yeager aside and once she is in control of the club she will make you the manager with a very large salary. How am I doing so far?”

All of the sudden, I find it hard to sit still so I bounce my leg at my knee. I think it best not to say anything right now.

“I’ll continue,” Patterson says. “You saw this as an opportunity; an opportunity to get rid of dead-beat Johnny and start over. That night in the lounge, Robin told you Mike was going to recruit Johnny for the job. You made an agreement with Robin. Didn’t you?

Patterson didn’t wait for me to answer.

“After the heist, when Johnny was asleep, you were going to take the money and meet her.”

“That’s not what happened,” I blurt out.

Patterson looked at the two-way mirror. “Detective Franks, would you step inside the room please?”

A lady comes inside and I realize it’s a set up.

“Lisa, I’d like you to meet Detective Sandy Franks, aka Robin Walker.”

I’m screwed.

“You and Johnny have been building a reputation in the past six months moving across country. When we heard you were coming our way, we decided to be ready for you. We built the kind of situation you like to get involved with.”

“Was any of it true?” I ask.

“Only that the clubs were taken over by Councilman Yeager, but he’s already doing time

for drug trafficking and running a prostitution operation.”

“So was Johnny beaten up by your cops?”

“No. That was an unfortunate circumstance. Those men were actually avenging the bouncer’s attack. They got to you before we did. At that point we were forced to play out the hand.”

I took another cigarette, this time without asking. “An unfortunate circumstance. That’s what I’d call hooking up with Johnny.”

“You won’t have to worry about seeing him for a long time. You’ll be spending your time in separate prisons.” Patterson smiles.

“Unfortunate, indeed.”

The End

February 2015