Mean

[Today’s word of inspiration from The Daily Post: Mallet]

“Mind handing me that hammer?”

“What hammer?”

“The one in the tool box, to your right.”

“Sorry hon, there’s no — ”

“For crissakes, you blind? I can see it, laying right there!”

“Oh, you mean this tool, with the round head?”

“Yeah, that’s what I mean, the hammer!”

“Actually, what you mean is mallet. And just to be clear, it was lying on top of the toolbox.”

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Mightier

[Returning to the Writing Prompt Generator on The Story Shack for today’s inspiration]

Anne Droid sighed as the professor handed her the capsule. “After searching, all these years… my creator’s final gift.”

The professor responded in her typically aloof demeanor. “You’ve earned this, Anne. After two centuries of selfless service.”

Anne touched a square button on top of the box, and the locking mechanism recognized her electronic signature. The capsule opened.

The professor looked inside, and chuckled — “A pen?”

Anne lifted the capsule’s sole object. “But robots have been forbidden from writing, since before Dr. Power built me.”

“Maybe she believed, you would need to be mightier than even she had imagined.”

The Prompt

Word count: 100

Genre: Comedy

Character: A superhero

Material: A pen

Sentence: “Who needs friends?” [Well, five out of six ain’t bad]

Bonus: The story takes place two-hundred years from now

Where the Heart Leads, Part 3

“I apologize for being short with you on the phone,” Eddie said in a rasping voice, as if his throat had shriveled in the Arizona heat. “I didn’t know you were working for Clara.”

Micky cleared his throat again. “All she wants, is to know what happened to her husband.”

“Husband?” Eddie laughed wearily. “Well there’s your first problem, detective. Jonas Haart, was never her husband.”

Micky couldn’t help looking surprised, as he suddenly realized he hadn’t checked this basic fact.

“Jonas was a hit man. The electrical company he worked for was owned by the mob, his job an excuse to infiltrate homes and businesses, his ‘marriage’ to Clara a part of his cover.”

“But if Clara knew this — why’d she hire me, to find him?”

“Because she figured out what was going down. Jonas’ identity had been compromised, and the mob needed to relocate him. When he disappeared without a trace, Clara knew the mob didn’t trust her, and she’d eventually be removed. But if she could find him, that knowledge could be used to strike a bargain. You, detective, were her last hope.”

Micky felt his forehead perspiring. “I take it, you’re not going to tell me where Jonas is?”

Eddie waved a dismissive hand. “I called Clara right after I hung up with you, and told her not to worry. She was loyal to Jonas, and generous with me. I told her I’d take care of her — I even told her, ‘I love you.’ Because I do love her, detective. We’ll relocate her, to here. She’ll be my caretaker.”

Micky stood up. “That’s great, Mr. Clague. I think my work here is done, so if you don’t mind — ”

“Oh, I do mind,” said Eddie, as Micky felt a meaty hand slam down on his shoulder, pushing him back down on his chair. “You should have given up on this investigation when the trail grew cold — that would have been the intelligent move. But you couldn’t control your curiosity — you let yourself be led by the heart, not your mind. And that decision has taken you to a place you should never have gone. And can’t ever leave.”

End of “Where the Heart Leads”

Where the Heart Leads, Part 2

[Continuing my flash fiction story from yesterday]

Micky’s call to elderly man was greeted cooly, and when the private investigator mentioned Jonas Haart, his contact ended the call abruptly.

Going to the police was never a consideration — years of working with the authorities gave Micky confidence that it would take more than the sales receipt for a fuel can to re-open the investigation. Neither was dropping the case. Instead, Micky booked the next flight to Phoenix, and upon his arrival contacted Uber for a ride to his contact’s home.

The sedan pulled in to a retirement community, tiny one-floor homes with white paint and red clay stains. Micky’s expectations rose as he saw the interior lights were on at his destination. He rushed to the front door and rang the buzzer; a moment later, feet shuffled towards him, and the door opened.

From behind the screen door, Micky cleared his throat, already dry from the desert heat. “Mister Clague?”

Eyes that had seen enough of this world looked up at him. “You must be that detective.”

“I’m not with the police, sir. I’m just a private investigator, working on behalf of my client — ”

“Clara.” Energy blossomed in his tired eyes. The man pushed the screen door open, and beckoned Micky to enter. “She always treated me well, like she did everyone. She never deserved any of this.”

As soon as he entered the home, Micky blinked as a wave of ammonia fumes came over him. The elderly man shuffled towards a cushioned arm chair, and waved towards a sofa at the far end of the room.

“I don’t want take too much of your time, Mr. Clague — ”

“Eddie, please.” Reaching the arm chair, Eddie turned, and smiled. “If I’m going to tell you this story, we need to be on a first name basis.”

Where the Heart Leads, Part 1

[Something a little different and fun today, using the Writing Prompt Generator from The Story Shack to set the parameters for today’s flash fiction story. I’m going to cheat on the word count — the story is supposed to be no more than 300 words, but I’m going to write this in 300-word installments.]

Jonas Haart kissed his wife Clara, walked into his garage, reversed his car into his subdivision… and had not been seen since that morning three years ago.

A week after Clara notified the police, his car was found in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart 217 miles to the south. The vehicle was undamaged, and a forensic scan only uncovered DNA evidence from Jonas and his wife. There hadn’t been, and would not ever be, charges on any of his credit cards, or withdrawals from his sizable bank or investment accounts.

Frustrated by the police’s seeming disinterest in her husband’s disappearance, Clara hired Micky Waldenburg. The private investigator reviewed hours of security camera videos, and interviewed gas station attendants within a hundred mile radius (the car’s tank was nearly full), but when Micky became as befuddled as the police, he returned Clara’s money along with an apology.

But he never forgot the case.

And two years later, a lead had fallen into his lap.

A violent rainstorm unearthed debris from ditches along the interstate, and among the detritus was a five gallon metal fuel can, with a gallon of stale automobile gas at its bottom. A county worker picked it up and contacted the police, but when they showed no interest he called in a favor from a friend in the forensics lab.

When his lab friend told reported whose fingerprints were found on the can, the worker called his uncle Micky, who nearly dropped his phone when he heard his nephew say, “Jonas Haart.”

Using the can’s manufacturer and model, Micky traced its sale to a Home Depot a few miles from Haart’s home. It had been purchased not by Haart, but rather an elderly man who now lived in Mesa, Arizona.

Permit

[Using today’s prompt from The Daily Post to develop an encounter from one of my story drafts]

“Just fixing to be on my way, once this log’s been cleared.” Jimmy squinted as the officer pointed the beam of his flashlight onto Jimmy’s face. “Say, John Law, mind getting that light outta my eyes?”

Without acknowledging Jimmy’s request, the officer moved the beam down to the lower edge of the van’s windshield. “Your county permit’s out of date.”

Jimmy scoffed. “Mailed my check in the other day, sticker ain’t come back yet.”

“Has to be there by the 31st — ”

“Check was mailed the 30th.”

“You’re late — ”

“It’s the goddam second of February!”

The officer brought his flashlight up to the side of his face, and flashed its beam across Jimmy’s face again. “Need to see your license and registration.”

Sitting in the passenger seat of the van, Rex reflexively reached for the glove compartment — but was immediately stopped by Jimmy’s right arm, reaching across his chest.

“Officer, you wanna gimme a ticket for an out of date county permit, go ahead. Do what I done last year — go to the registrar, show ’em my cancelled check for the permit fee, get them to waive the fine. People do it all the time. No need for you to see no — ” Jimmy spat out the next words — “license, no registration.”

The officer grasped his flashlight tighter. “There’s no need to get angry. I just need to see — ”

“You don’t need to see nothing!

Jigsawed

[A response to today’s prompt from The Daily Post]

Coach Dan approached the young fencer. “You look puzzled, my friend.”

Rune, a junior in his second year in the sport, shook his greasy head. “Last week you told me to extend my arm when advancing, to establish right of way. Now Annie’s telling me to keep my arm back, to prevent beat attacks. Every time I think I understand what I need to do, somebody tells me I’m all wrong. ‘Puzzled’ doesn’t really describe how I feel about all the contradictions — more like, my brain’s been jigsawed, and the pieces have been scattered all over the place.”

Friday Fictioneers: Darrel Icks

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

“You taking the car too?”

Darrel chuckled, then turned back to look at his younger companion. “Realtor’s paying for the tow. It’ll be gone in the morning.”

“Huh.” Simeon rubbed his chin, like he was admiring a portrait in a gallery. “I dunno. Kinda adds something, you know? Abandoned house, abandoned car… ” His face then lit, and he pointed at Darrel. “If only you’re last name were Icks!”

Darrel thought a moment, then groaned. “Derelicts. Got it. Remind me, again, why I brought you here?”

Simeon shrugged. “Hey, if you can’t laugh after buying this dump, you got problems.”

Rochelle Wisof-Fields is the host of Friday Fictinoneers, where the objective is to write a complete story in 100 words or less in response to a photograph. I encourage you to learn more about Friday Fictioneers.