Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tommy's Tool Town - Chapter 33 - What Happens at Three Fellows Inn Stays in Three Fellows Inn.

Ada MacKenzie stared up at the sky.  She traced the outline of Cassiopeia with her bony finger, and waited for the angels to carry her home.

Surely she was dead.  No one ninety-nine years old, and barely one-hundred pounds soaking wet, could survive plunging into a freshly-dug hole, and wasn't the plunge alone a message from God?

"Get in the hole, I'm coming," Ada imagined God saying.

Ada chuckled, and suddenly the glow of Cassiopeia was interrupted by the head of one, Reeve Stockwell.

"Are you dead, too?" Ada asked.

"No," Stockwell replied.

"Am I dead?" Ada asked.

"Nope," Stockwell said.

"Son of a gun.  Always a bridesmaid, never a bride," Ada whined.  "This must just be a dress rehearsal.  I'm older than this dirt here.  Gotta die some time," Ada said.

"Not tonight," Reeve Stockwell said charismatically.  "Give me your hand, sweetheart.  Let's get you out of the hole."

"Let's.  I'd imagine my Miley Cyrus jogging suit is just about ruined here," Ada said.

"Tragic," Kitty mumbled from beside Stockwell.  "Grandma, what the heck are you doing?  You know it's almost one o'clock in the morning.  What is mom gonna think?  You scared the crap out of me."  Kitty rambled, as Stockwell hauled her geriatric grandmother out of the hole.

"I could ask you the same thing," Ada said, brushing dirt from her sweatsuit, which sadly, seemed to have survived the debacle.

Kitty blew off the question.  Ada's memory was declining daily, and Kitty hoped beyond reason that her grandmother would forget everything about the last hour.  And fast.

"Are you all right?" Kitty asked, taking her grandmother's hands.

"I'll be darned.  I rolled right into that hole, and I've still got my teeth.  It's like a miracle!" Ada said, sounding a bit garbled.  The teeth obviously didn't fit right, but by some act of God, they were still in the woman's mouth.  "One more thing.  I'm missing Criminal Minds, but I suppose I'll get over it," Ada said, checking her watch, and frowning.

"Let's get this thing done and get home before somebody else gets hurt," Miles Longworth suggested.

"Jeez.  I almost forgot you were here," Stockwell said.

"How could you?  I dug three quarters of the hole," Longworth complained.

"Did not," Stockwell whined.  "I did at least half if not more."

"Guys, could you bang your Tonka trucks together some other time?  My grandma is cold and tired, and I should get her home," Kitty said.

"Kitty, go home.  You've done more than enough.  Ada, always nice to see you," Stockwell said, and Kitty frowned.

"Don't encourage her," Kitty chastised.

Kitty half dragged her exhausted grandmother to the old Chevy, and Ada was asleep in the passenger seat almost immediately.

A gentle smile pulled at the corners of Kitty's mouth.  It was impossible to be angry with Ada.  She had always lived life to the fullest, and she wasn't planning to stop until somebody threw the dirt over her for real.


Ada MacKenzie emerging injury-free from the deep hole wasn't the only miracle to happen that night.  Two blocks from Tommy's, a sixty-three year old widow was walking her miserable ankle biter.  Suddenly, a women flew by on a bicycle, sobbing and wailing to the high heaven.  The dog walker, a bit tipsy from post-dinner libations, had heard of a banshee but had never seen one, and had no idea the spirits rode bicycles.  A banshee on a Schwin?  Now that was something you didn't see every day.

The woman grabbed her dog, tucked it under her arm, and swore to God and all the saints that she'd never touch the scotch again.

She never did.


Seventy miles away, Tommy's Tool Town's Regional Manager, Mick Daniels sat in front of Morty McBride's Blue Ribbon Prize Pig Farm in his nearly new BMW.

Company "fixer," Lauren Dale - known to his fellow comrades as Leisure Suit Larry and heralded for his incredible taste in mid-quality suits - sat in the passenger seat.

"You sure you put the hotel's address into the Tom Tom correctly?" Lauren Dale asked, and Mick Daniels threw him a seething look.

"This isn't my first rodeo," Daniels growled.  "I'm gonna call the hotel."  Mick waved his phone around like a newly crowned Miss USA, and swore under his breath.

"Now what's wrong, boss?" Dale asked.

"No friggin' service," Mick Daniels whined.

"And this surprises you?" Dale asked, seemingly surveying his rural surroundings.

"I'm getting out," Daniels announced.

"Don't step in pig crap," Lauren Dale said thoughtfully.

"Shut up," Mick Daniels said before slamming the door.

Lauren Dale sat quietly and fiddled with the radio, while Mick Daniels paced along the dirt road.  Suddenly the phone flashed, and Daniels screamed.

"Now what?" Dale asked, exiting the vehicle without a thought.

"It's pitch black out here, and I still can't figure out this damn phone.  The camera flashed while I was trying to get a signal, and there's something out there."  Mick Daniels pointed in one direction, then another, then another.

"Where?" Dale asked.

"I don't know.  There!" Daniels said, flashing the camera again.

Both men howled and jumped several feet into the air.  Cows, hundreds of them, lined the fence three feet away from where the men stood.

"Great God almighty.  That's a lot of cheeseburgers," Lauren Dale exclaimed.

"Those aren't pigs," Mick Daniels said, brushing the wrinkles from his suit.

"Must have cows, too," Dale suggested.

"Let's get out of here," Daniels said, wasting no time getting back into the BMW.  Dale followed.

"Where to?" Lauren Dale asked.

"Let's go back the way we came.  We'll just drive until we get service, and then we'll call the hotel," Daniels suggested.

"And what's the name of that hotel again?" Dale asked.

"Three Fellows Inn," Daniels said, wearing a scowl.

"You don't say.  That sounds like a super nice place.  Think they'll let us in?"

"Why wouldn't they?" Daniels asked, sounding irritated.

"We're only two fellows," Dale said, laughing at his own wit.

"God give me strength," Daniels muttered under his breath.

Three hours and fifteen attempted calls later, Daniels and Dale pulled in front of Three Fellows Inn.  Neither knew who the three fellows were, but they obviously weren't terribly handy.  The "hotel," looked one strong wind away from being condemned.

"You have got to be kidding me," Daniels said, wearing a stupefied look.

"Wow.  I'm about speechless here, and for me that's some kind of miracle," Lauren Dale said.

"Let's just go," Daniels suggested.

Lauren Dale sat for a moment and considered his surroundings.  "I'm gonna have to disagree.  Our options are fairly limited here.  We're been driving around for hours and this is about the first place we've seen, except for the pig farm, that is."

"Dear Lord.  All right.  Let's check in, take a look, see if there is anyplace to get something to eat, maybe grab a shower and a couple hours sleep and get back on the road," Daniels declared.  "Note to self," he mumbled.  "Fire whomever booked this hotel."

Both men exited the vehicle.  The office consisted of a ten-by-ten room with two chairs, a broken magazine rack and a black and white television with rabbit ears.  Daniels rang the bell.  "Revised note to self.  Kill whomever booked this place."

Two sleepy men, with faces worn by time and hard work, stepped through a door in the rear of the room.

"You the Tommy's fellows?" the taller of the two asked.

"Yeah.  I'm Mick Daniels, Regional Manager of Tommy's Tool Town."

"I could do without your resume, but I will need $39.95 for the room, unless you just want to rent it by the hour," the shorter gentleman said with a smirk.

"I don't find that amusing," Mick Daniel's said, pulling his wallet from the rear pocket of his tailored suit pants.

"Is that for both rooms?" Larry Dale asked.

"You only booked one room," the taller man commented.

"And the hits just keep on coming," Daniels mumbled.

Larry Dale, in full "fixer," mode, attempted to smooth things over.  "So, you two of the fellows who own this place?"

"We are," the shorter man remarked.  "I'm Buster, and this here's Ollie."

"Pleasure to meet you both.  Boy, she must've been something in her day," Larry Dale said, taking in his surroundings and appearing impressed by what he saw.

"Sure was," Ollie commented.

"So, who's the third fellow?" Larry said in a friendly tone, while Mick Daniels looked on appearing dumb struck.

"Morty McBride," Buster said.

"I'll be darned," Dale said.  "You don't say."

"You know Morty?" Ollie asked.

"We were just out by his place a few hours back.  He used to live around here, did he?" Larry Dale asked.

"Used to?" Buster replied.  "He still does.  His place is only about six miles from here."

"Seriously?" Mick Daniels said, suddenly joining the conversation.

"Sure as the crow flies," Ollie said.

"We drove around for three hours and only went six miles?"  Daniels directed his question at Larry Dale who merely shrugged.  "We're going to be murdered in our beds tonight," Daniels muttered.

"Nonsense.  That kind of shit only happens in the movies," Ollie said, and Buster clapped him on the back enthusiastically.

Daniels scowled and slapped two twenties on the counter.  Ollie handed him a key on a plastic key chain.  "Room six.  Enjoy your stay."

Daniels spun on his heel and stepped outside.  The door slammed behind him and he muttered an obscenity, that if played out in charades would go a bit like - two words, first word rhymes with truck.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Tommy's Tool Town -Chapter 32 - Intersection: A Place Where Many Idiots Meet

Kitty Richardson checked the time on the clock in her old Chevy.  The green numbers faded, grew lighter, and faded again, as the battery fought against Father Time.  The truck was dying.  10:44, the display read, set to the "all functions stopped working in the last phase of Daylight Savings Time," time zone. 

It was 11:44. 


Show time!

Kitty pulled around behind Tommy's Receiving Bay, put the vehicle in park, and exited the old truck.  She pulled her black "Home is Where the Cat Shits," sweatshirt tighter around her, put the hood up, and chuckled. 

Ada MacKenzie had a mad sense of humor.  The sweatshirt had been a gag gift for Kitty's eleventh, twenty-ninth birthday, and was only appropriate for wear beneath a winter coat, around the house, and burying strange things in the pitch darkness, behind the place where, miraculously - by some act of God - you still worked.

The darkness was interrupted only by the dim lighting of a street light about fifty yards away.  Kitty could barely make out the shape of Melvin in her hand.  The clear blue body of the pen glistened in the misty light.

"What am I doing, Melvin?  What crazy woman goes out in the middle of the night to meet her bosses, who may or may not be involved in the mob?"

The pen remained silent.

"You're no help," Kitty mumbled.

She slipped Melvin into her pocket.  It was hard to imagine either Stockwell or Longworth as part of any organized crime.  Stockwell longed to be on the right side of the law, and Longworth was too busy watching weird videos of absurd things like honey badgers.  Neither had the time nor inclination for the mafia.

Kitty popped open her hatch, grabbed the guns, and walked away.

Two minutes later, an elderly woman in a neon sweatsuit, covered with a white blanket, slipped from the safety of the old Chevy.


Sonny Brooks parked the behemoth Lincoln a block from Tommy's Tool Town.  He was a nervous wreck.  He knew Tommy's was haunted, he'd seen the video, what additional proof did he need?  He didn't need Agent Gonzales to show up with a bunch of equipment and take pictures, notes and videos.  He needed to be home in bed, with his night light on, and his closet door closed.  Evil things lurked in the darkness.  He didn't need to see them.

He chomped his gum with all the subtlety of a teenager in a Bubble Yum contest, and suddenly he bit his cheek.  He winced, and grabbed a piece of paper from the passenger seat.  He tore it in half, and shoved the gum in the larger half.

"Shit," Sonny whispered.  The paper was a note from his son.  Before Sonny had half masticated it, it held an endearment that read, "I made Mommy breakfast in bed today.  You're next."  Now all it said was "You're next."


Another year he wouldn't be getting the "Greatest Dad," award. 

Sonny snuck around the back of Tommy's.  He knew every inch of the place, inside and out, yet he still longed for a flashlight.  Armed with nothing more than half a love note from his kid, and a bad case of the heebie jeebies, Sonny unlocked the rear entrance to Tommy's and slipped inside.  Before he could close it, the wind grabbed the door, and the note from Sonny's hand.

"Son of a ....," Sonny mumbled.  Now he had no note, no flashlight, and no Tums, and his wife's chili was spinning in his gut like a merry-go-round.

He crept through the darkness with all the stealth of a jaguar and all the courage of a five year old on the first day of Kindergarten. 

"I should have my head examined," Sonny whispered, as he let himself into his office to wait.  An ethereal glow filled the small space, compliments of the numerous machines that ran around the clock.  It wasn't daylight, not by a long shot, but at least it wasn't pitch black.  It was against store policy to leave the door to his office open for any length of time, but Sonny didn't care. 

Sonny left the door ajar.

Because Sonny Brooks was terrified.


Mags Davidson  parked her bicycle in the shadows in front of the store.  Who rode a bicycle around at midnight?  A desperate woman whose baby had been squished by a pickynick table. 

Mags had gotten the text at eight o'clock. 

Midnight at Tommy's.  Don't be late.

Immediately she recognized the number, or at least she thought she did.  It was from JJ.  JJ would have never left her hanging.  JJ loved her, and wouldn't want Mags to worry. 

At 11:30, Mags had grabbed her car keys, headed to the garage, flipped on the light, and then swore like a sailor. 

She didn't have a car!  How the hell was she going to get to Tommy's?

The bike was hanging on the wall, so long it was almost rusted there.  Mags hoisted it down, sprayed the thing down with cooking spray, grabbed a helmet and hopped on. 

Twenty-five minutes later, she arrived at Tommy's, smelling like an omelet, but at least she'd made it alive.    Anxious, Mags pulled the Sour Patch Kids from her pocket, flopped down in the shadows, and waited for JJ to appear.


Agent Gonzales left her massive black SUV outside the door, as instructed by Sonny Brooks.  It was 11:51.  She was right on time.  She surveyed the contents of her duffel bag:  an EVP recorder, a K2 meter, a night vision video camera, and assorted cords belonging to each.

Agent didn't believe in ghosts, but 80% of America did, and hers wasn't a bad gig.  She was a night owl anyhow, and she provided a good service.  Sonny Brooks had sounded petrified when she'd spoken to him on the phone, as did a lot of her clients.  Agent would do her thing.  Maybe she'd dangle a carrot, tell Sonny she felt something, get him to sign her on for a session or two.  She wouldn't find anything, she'd make a few bucks, and Sonny Brooks would be appeased and no longer in fear.  It was a "win, win."  Everybody would come out on the right side of things. 

Something rustled some distance away, and Agent froze.  It was just her mind playing tricks on her.  You couldn't chase spooks for a living without thinking you saw or heard one from time to time.  Something rustled again.  Agent paused, stood still, took a deep breath. 

Then she saw it.

A figure, hunched forward, moving awkwardly, shrouded in white, moved toward the back door. 

"No friggin' way," Agent whispered, her voice quaking.

So the damn things were real.  Ghosts were real.   Agent took a calming breath and steadied herself against the side of the SUV.  She mentally cleared her schedule.  She was about to get a hell of a lot busier.


Miles Longworth was lurking around the Receiving Bay in search of Stockwell and the shovels.  He'd seen Stockwell's ancient Chevette parked half a block away.  The rascal had to be around somewhere.

He'd only poked around for a few minutes when he saw Stockwell's stash in an open cooler in the corner.

"Gotcha," Miles said softly.  Stockwell was like Hansel.  Where there were cookie crumbs, there was undoubtedly, one Reeve Stockwell.

Longworth was just reaching into the cooler for an Oreo when he heard a voice behind him.

"Get out!" Stockwell hissed, and Longworth jumped.

One hundred yards away, Sonny Brooks screamed like a teenage girl.

"Oh, no!  Kitty!" Stockwell whispered, as he and Longworth took off toward the back door.

Kitty was outside, as promised.  She held the box of guns.

"What's wrong?  Why are you screaming?" Stockwell asked, his voice sounding hysterical.

"I didn't scream.  I've just been standing here in the dark waiting on the two of you.  Where are the shovels?  Where's the money?" Kitty asked.

"Money's in my back pocket," Miles Longworth said.

"Shovel's are tucked away in the corner of Receiving," Stockwell whispered.

"Wanna get them?"  Kitty asked.  "I'm missing a terrific Cold Case rerun."

"Yeah.  No problem," Stockwell replied, before he walked away.

"Nice shirt," Longworth said, and Kitty laughed.

Stockwell was back in less than two minutes.  Even in the dim lighting he looked pale.

"What?" Kitty said.

"I saw something," Stockwell whispered.

"Like what?" Longworth asked.

"I think I saw a ghost, and I'm pretty sure I saw someone else, too.  A short person, all in black, and a bigger person, maybe a guy.  He was in black, too."

"Shit," Longworth said.  "Think they're looking for this?" Miles Longworth held the envelope of money.

"Or these?" Kitty asked, nodding her head toward the box in her arms.

"I'd say it's a relatively good guess on both accounts," Stockwell mumbled, visibly shaken.  "Let's get this done and get the heck out of here.  I'm not liking this idea much at all now that it's happening."

"Me either," Kitty whispered.

Longworth and Stockwell made short work of the digging while Kitty kept watch.  The ground was soft and wet, from the earlier storm, and it moved easily.  Kitty had just picked up the guns again when someone tapped her on the shoulder.

The box dropped and Kitty muffled a scream into her hands.

Kitty turned.

Ada MacKenzie, cloaked by a light colored blanket, stood before her.

"What the hell?" Longworth asked.

"What is it?" Stockwell said.

"It's my grandmother," Kitty said through a moan.

"Found my teeth!" Ada announced happily.

"Gran, what the hell are you doing?  You are gonna put me in my grave!" Kitty declared.

"Good news!"  Longworth said.  "Got one dug!"

"You're not helping, Miles," Kitty chastised.

"Let's get the show on the road," Stockwell said.  "Nice to see you again, Ms. MacKenzie."

"If I'd have known you were here, I'd have baked something, " Ada said, and Kitty rolled her eyes.

"Hey.  This isn't a dinner party.  Can we do this?  I'd like to get my grandmother home," Kitty whined.

"Hand me the box," Miles said, and Kitty did.

"What's in the box?" Ada asked, and everyone groaned.  They all should have figured that might come up.

"A dead cat," Kitty said, thinking quickly.

"Oh, my sweet Jesus," Ada said, sounding as if she might cry.

Miles Longworth lowered the box into the hole, and slipped the money inside without Ada seeing.  The four stood around for a moment, as Ada began to pray.

"Pray with me," Ada said, dabbing her eyes.

"Lord, please keep this kitty in your care," Ada said.

Kitty couldn't argue with that, and whispered, "Amen."

Longworth and Stockwell grabbed the shovels, as Ada stood watching.  Suddenly she stumbled, fell onto her side, and rolled into the hole.

"Shit," Kitty whispered, kneeling beside the hole.


Twenty feet away, Mags Davidson crouched beside the old dumpster.  She watched as three shadowed figures rolled the blanket clad body into a freshly dug grave.

She clutched a piece of paper in her left hand. 

The note read:  "You're next."

"Oh, JJ," Mags whispered, as tears slid down her face.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Tommy's Tool Town - Chapter 31 - The Witching Hour Approaches

Sure enough, a crowd had gathered around the ages-old freezer in the receiving bay.  It was avocado green and looked like it had been through the kitchen appliance demolition derby.  It was a wreck of a thing, with a peculiar and disturbing odor. 

Sonny Brooks was directing traffic. “Okay, folks, everybody back up a little bit. Give Stockwell some room."

Stockwell's guts were churning. It had been the longest day in Tommy existence. He'd started it by slamming a package of Oreos like a junkie, and they, along with the wad of caulk bar, were tearing up his innards. If he made it through the rest of the day without crapping himself, he was gonna consider himself a lucky man.

He needed a Pepto tablet and a cheeseburger. He imagined his sugar level was off the chart, and if he didn't get some protein into his already slight body, JJ Patricks wasn't going to be the only cadaver on Tommy property.

Mags Davidson was sobbing into a tissue.  "What's your problem?" Stockwell asked thoughtlessly, but it was all he could muster.

"I loved JJ.  She was my friend," Mags whined.

"She might not be in there," Reeve Stockwell said in an attempt to offer comfort.

"Then where is she?  We've looked everywhere," Mags said though a sob.

"That's asinine," Sonny Brooks declared, and Mags glared at him.  "JJ's only been missing a few hours.  You couldn't possibly have been everywhere in such a short time.  Have you looked in Siberia, the Australian Outback, the Bronx?"

"Shut up, Sonny," Mags said.  Her nose was so stuffed from all the crying, her words were barely intelligible. 

 Stockwell was beginning to shake again.  He seriously needed to eat.  "Mags, settle down.  Sonny, put a freakin' cork in it.  You're not helping.  Now, everyone get the hell out of the way!  I am going to open this door and prove to all of you that JJ is not in this freezer."

Sweet Mary, mother of our Lord, please don't let JJ be in this freezer, Stockwell thought as he reached for the door handle.  The handle came off in his hand, and he had pulled with such force, it flew through the air and hit Sonny Brooks square in the head.

"What in the name of hell????" Sonny yelled.

"I didn't do it," Mags said.

"Okay, I need another set of hands here.  Chewie?  Can a guy get a hand here?" Stockwell asked.

Chewie strolled up to the freezer with all the enthusiasm of a man headed to the gallows.  "I am pretty sure this is NOT in my job description," Chewie whined.

"Chewie, you've been moved through this store, from department to department, faster than a whirling dervish.  You have no job description at the moment.  On the count of three, pull!" Stockwell demanded.

"What's a whirling dervish?" Chewie asked.

"I have no idea.  I heard Kitty say it one day," Stockwell explained.

"She's a freak," Chewie declared.

"Stop that.  She's just different," Stockwell said defensively.

"Charles Manson was different," Chewie mumbled.

"What is your point, son?" Stockwell asked.

"I guess I really don't have one.  Just trying to put off seeing that scrawny little JJ, deader than a freakin' doornail, come tumbling out of this freezer," Chewie replied.

"Well, we can't very well leave her in there," Reeve Stockwell said.

"You said she might not be in there!" Mags wailed.  "You said, you said, everyone heard you!!!"  Mags bordered on hysteria, and Reeve Stockwell reached the pinacle moment when he'd just had enough.

"Shut the fuck up!" Stockwell yelled, and everyone did.  No one said anything for several minutes.  Chewie finally broke the silence.

"Sir?" Chewie said.

"Chewie?" Stockwell said.

"Shouldn't we get on with this?" Chewie asked.

"Let's," Stockwell replied.

Both men tugged on the freezer door and finally it came loose.  Stockwell pulled it open slowly, inch by inch, until something rolled out and landed on the floor in front of him.

"What the hell is it?" Chewie asked.

"No idea," Stockwell said, poking it with his toe.  It wasn't JJ, but he had no idea what it was.

"There's something written on it," Chewie said.

There was.  There was a tiny card taped to the top of the plastic-wrapped mass.  Chewie took two rubber gloves from his pocket, slid his hands inside, and pulled the card free.  He read it aloud.

"Merry Christmas, love Aunt Ethel, 1987," Chewie read.

"Good Lord, I'll bet it's a fruitcake," Sonny Brooks announced excitedly.  "It makes sense.  No one ever eats them.  My wife's aunt's neighbor makes them by the ton, gives us one every year.  We piled them out back.  Killed every plant in a one-hundred yard diameter.  Those things are toxic," Sonny offered.

"Let's get it out of here before it completely thaws," Stockwell said.

The crowd dispersed.  Evidently finding a fruitcake in a freezer wasn't big news inside the Tommy compound.  Tommy's pretty much had a fruitcake around every corner.

Stockwell got a thirteen-gallon garbage bag, wrapped it around the fruitcake, tied the end, and flung it out the Receiving Bay door.  It landed with a thud. 

Reeve Stockwell turned on his heel and walked away without another thought.  He was beyond caring what happened to the damn thing.

He took one-hundred-sixty-three steps to his office, grabbed his coat, and left the store.

He'd had enough.


Kitty had also had enough.  She watched from the back, interested but not overly concerned.  She was pretty sure it wasn't JJ in the freezer, and Kitty had been right.  Instead of weaving back through the Tommy store, she left through the Receiving door after Stockwell left, hung a right, and headed toward her old Chevy.  The guns rattled around as she drove, and she hoped they weren't loaded. 

The Buick was in the driveway when Kitty arrived home with a sigh.  Her life was a series of crazy, with a ten-minute drive in between. 

Kitty entered through the main house.  Ada sat at the table, scooping Jello out of an enormous bowl.

"Find my teeth?" Ada asked.

Kitty had forgotten about the teeth.  "No, Gran.  Sorry."

"That sucks.  Jello sucks.  Living in this crazy house with that mad woman sucks," Ada whined.

"Spoken by the bitch who whacked me with her purse," Helen yelled from behind an ice pack.

"Stop, guys.  I've had a hell of a day, and I've got to be back at midnight to help with some overnight stocking," Kitty lied.

"That is ridiculous," Helen whined.  "Why in the world would you have to go back?  Don't they know you have a family?  We have to eat.  You gonna cook dinner?"

"No, Mother.  I'm not.  Tonight you're going to fend for yourselves."

Helen moaned, groaned, and complained, her grumblings muffled by the ice pack. 

"If I'd eaten her after I gave birth to her, I'd have never had you," Ada said, and Kitty blew her a kiss. 

"I love you, too, Gran," Kitty said.


Sonny Brooks sat out back of Tommy's in his wife's behemoth Town Car.  She had blocked him in again, and left with no alternative, Sonny had to take the massive vehicle.  It was like trying to sneak out of NASA in the Millenium Falcon.  

Sonny was twenty minutes early.  He'd hit Wendy's late night drive-thru for a Frosty.  His allergies were driving him nuts, but his medication knocked him out.  He had to stay alert for the big ghost hunt.  He had a mouthful of Frosty when the last allergy attack hit.  He sneezed with such force he almost wet himself, and then spent ten minutes cleaning Frosty off the inside of his wife's windshield.  He was just finishing up when an enormous Hummer pulled in.  A petite figure dressed in back from head to toe hopped out of the vehicle.  Agent Gonzales was small but still imposing.  

"Brooks?" she asked, as she sidled up to the car.

"Agent?" Sonny replied.

"You ready?" Gonzales asked.

Sonny wasn't, but he climbed out of his car anyhow.  "I'm good," he lied.


Reeve Stockwell crept through the darkened store.  He "borrowed" three shovels from the lawn and garden department, one for himself, one for Kitty, and one for Miles Longworth.

Stockwell had decided over a one-pound steak that his days at Tommy's were numbered.  He wanted a normal life.  He wanted a wife who recognized him when he got home, kids who had his picture in their frames, instead of the photos of the happy family that came with them.  Maybe he would go to the Police Academy.  He was still young enough, and although wiry, he figured he could hold his own in the physical part of it.  He had no doubt he'd pass a psychological exam, unless he went all bat shit like Kitty, and started talking to a pen.

Stockwell had made a life-changing decision.  He was committed to figuring out what was going on in Tommy's receiving bay, but once that was over, he was out.  That was it.  The end.

He'd finally had all he could take of a life in retail.

Reeve Stockwell pulled the hood of his black sweatshirt over his head, and stashed the shovels by the back door.  He stood in the shadows.



Ada MacKenzie had eaten enough potatoes to feed every pilgrim on the Mayflower.  The Jello had been made more palatable by the vodka she'd poured into it,  but she missed her teeth.  She needed her teeth. 

Kitty wouldn't mind if she tagged along.  Surely her granddaughter would understand.  An old woman needed roughage.  An old woman needed Cheese Jax, especially during Jeopardy.  An old woman needed teeth.

Ada climbed into her blue Miley Cyrus jogging suit and clambered into the old Chevy.  She covered herself with an old blanket from Kitty's back seat, and waited for midnight to arrive.

Ada had to get into Tommy's Tool Town.

She had to get the teeth back.

Surely Kitty would understand.