Friday, October 22, 2010

FFF3-Deadly Coincidences

 Joining in with the other fine folks at Flash Fiction Friday.  This week was a themed word list with a suggested genre of suspense or horror.  I got the words, but I'm not so sure on genre.  I do know I'm not feeling the current title.  Here's my piece anyway.

Deadly Coincidences
A Bo Fexler Story
by Clair Dickson

The death of my car battery turned out to be an omen of the disruption death was going to cause in my life the next few days.  I had to cancel a meeting with my client and get a battery delivered from an auto parts place to the grocery store parking lot where I was stranded.  Canceling the next meeting with my client only bothered me in that my client was hiring me to find her missing niece, who she cared about greatly.  

As soon as the delivery hit showed up, it started to rain.  And the rain was predicted to continental for the next several days.  Regardless, I still had work to do, and to do it, I needed my car back from the dead.  I lost my umbrella in the hasty move to the new apartment, so I just stood in the rain while I installed the battery.

A couple people stopped and stared.  It’s rare enough to see a woman working on a car, let alone one who is tall, attractive, and standing in the rain.  To my surprise, the only comment was from a matronly woman who told me that I was going to catch my death of pneumonia out there.  I wondered what Louis Pasteur would think of such an enlightened comment.   

When I went inside, I found a shallow puddle of water on my bed.  It took a moment for the implication of that to set in.  My bed is fairly absorbent, so for there to be a puddle, there would have to have been an unfortunately large quantity of water.  A deluge. 

With a sigh, I went down to the land lord's unit and knocked.  And knocked.  The nosy old lady across the hall poked her head out.  “He's gone,” she snapped.


She glared at me. 

“I'll try later then.  Maybe he’ll be home tonight.  He likes to watch the Late Shows.” 

Her eyes narrowed and nearly disappeared in the wrinkles around them.  “He's gonna be gone all weekend.  Death in the family.”  She slammed the door on my incredulous response.

I debated between spending money on a hotel room or just sleeping on the couch.  The couch-- or rather my spendthrift ways-- won out.  I did flip the mattress up against the wall and put the bedding in the wash.  I was centering a bucket under the continuing drip when my cell phone rang. 

“This is Bo,” I answered. 

“Bo.  It's Raquel.   I'm gonna-- I mean-- I guess I don't need you any more.”

“Okay.  Why not?”

“They-- the police were just here.  They found McKayla.  Her car went off the road into a swamp.  The think it happened two weeks ago.”  She cried as she spoke, her voice wavering every few syllables.

“I'm so sorry for your loss,” I replied, the words automatic because my feelings were still sorting themselves out.

I was fired because the young woman I'd been hired to find was found already, and found dead.

After I hung up the phone, I sat on the couch a moment.  Then I grabbed my coat and went down two blocks.

The church was old, styled in a Gothic sort of way with narrow arches and tall stained glass windows depicting scenes from Jesus's life.  I hadn't been to church since I was a child and I couldn't articulate what I thought my visit would do or get.

But it seemed like a good idea.


Friday, October 8, 2010

FFF: Knowledge of Good and Evil

I'm feeling a little rusty at this fiction thing, but I decided to take a shot with the Flash Fiction Friday folks. 

Knowledge of Good and Evil
A Bo Fexler Story
by Clair Dickson

“Mom said I was going to be something one day.” She smiled as she said it, a big toothy grin that revealed a missing front tooth. She twirled the end of her blond pig tail around her finger.

"And what would you like to be?” I asked. If anyone had bothered to tell me just how much small talk I would do as a private eye before I got licensed, I probably would be in a whole different vocation-- for better or for worse.

She shrugged.

“Is Carrie home?” I asked.

“Nope. Not until 4. She's my sister, you know.”

“I do know,” I answered. I had also been reasonably sure she wasn't home. “Can I come in and talk with you for a little while?”

Jaimie hesitated, chewing on her lower lip. “I dunno.”

“I brought some ice cream that I was hoping you would help me eat.”

She grinned “I love ice cream. Chocolate chip cookie is my favorite.” But she still blocked the doorway.

“Can I come in?”

She nodded, hesitated once more, then finally opened the door to let me in. She led me to the kitchen and got two bowls and two spoons from the dishwasher.

“How long have you been living with Carrie?” I asked scooping a large bowl of ice cream for Jaimie and a more reasonable sized bowl for myself.

“Hmmm... Since March. Sisters are like friends but better, right?”

It was either the statement or the way she said it, but something about that bothered me. “You like living with Carrie?”

She looked around and made thoughtful faces before answering, “Yeah.”

“It's better than living with Aunt Tara?”

More thoughtful faces. “Sometimes.”

“When is it better?”

“When she takes me places or buys me a new movie. I have a TV in my room so I can watch my movies. Aunt Tara never let me have a TV in my room.”

“When do you like not like being at Carrie's?”

“When Jeff comes over.” She frowned.

“What don't you like about Jeff coming over?” I didn't really want to hear the answer. I never do, but my job requires that I ask the questions anyway. Some days, I would gladly trade that for the stupid paperwork or clueless bosses that other people complain about.

“When Jeff comes over to spend the night, I'm supposed to stay in my room. I don't like always being in my room. Carrie said if I lived with her, then we'd do fun things. But we don't do fun things when Jeff comes over. And he comes over a lot.”

“Do you ever get to play with Jeff?”

She shook her head. “No. Carrie says that he’s her friend so they play together.” She shrugged. “I just wish he didn’t come over so much.”

“Does Jeff ever come over when Carrie isn’t here?”

“No. He’s Carrie’s friend, so he wouldn’t come to play with me. He never plays with me.” She finished the last of her ice cream and licked the spoon clean.

“Did Carrie say anything about what the court thought about you living with her?” The main reason I was there. I wasn’t particularly threatening, nor was I part of the justice system. My client and I had both figured that might make it easier to get information out of Carrie.

Jaimie licked her spoon. “Well, she said that since she wasn't married, that the court wouldn't send me checks any more. She helped me get a job so I can still buy things that I want. I'm saving up for a Wii. I got almost a hundred dollars.”

I smiled. We talked—or rather, I let Carrie tell me about herself and her life with Carrie for several minute more. Then I stood up and told her, “You can have the rest of the ice cream.”

“But you're going to miss Carrie.” Her brow furrowed.

“You know what, you did such a good job answering my questions, that I don't need to talk to Carrie.”

Jaimie beamed with pride.

I stopped by my client's house on the way home to give her an update before I finished my report. “So Jaimie thinks she's not getting the checks any more, but she is,” my client said. She was Jaimie's aunt and, until the previous year when Jaimie has turned eighteen, her guardian.
I nodded once in confirmation of the facts.

“I fought the courts. Fought them hard, particularly because I don't trust anyone in that family. She may be nineteen years old, but she has the mind of a child.”

“Seems all Carrie had to offer was that they would do fun things together. Jaimie adores her sister.”

My client shook her head. “How do you stand learning these things about people-- or stand meeting people like Carrie who would con her own developmentally disabled sister? It makes me sick...”

I gazed out the window while I figured out the best response. “Because of people like you that are just the opposite,” I said, even sounding sincere.

Truth was, I also had learned to detach myself, distance myself from a young age. Jaimie, with her simple mind, couldn't imagine anyone deliberately doing harm-- but me, I could hardly bring myself to see anyone doing good.

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