Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Tommy's Tool Town - Chapter 80 - A Holiday Shindig to Remember

4 Weeks Later

The holidays tend to bring out the nostalgic side of everyone, and it was no different at the Tommy holiday party. 

The store was only closed three days a year.



The first Friday of August for International Beer Day.

The original Tommy always had a sense of humor.

Corporate was pissed.

Faulkner thought it was great.

At 5:30, things in the store were winding down.  Last minute screwdrivers were sold to customers who wouldn't know a screw from a loaf of bread, and procrastinators found it fitting to swear at associates because the only Tommy gift cards said, "congratulations on your new home." 

Some took it light hearted.

Kitty Richardson sold the last gift card at 5:32 to an older gentleman wearing a Santa hat.

"You are aware that this isn't a holiday card," Kitty explained thoughtfully.

"Yup," the older fellow said.

"Okay.  Some people got a little upset that this was all we had left," Kitty said.

"Well, it's for my grandson.  Kid's a real shithead.  Just bought a 98 Chevy, and if history repeats itself, he'll be living in it before long."

"That's putting a positive spin on things," Kitty commented.

"I'd let him live with me, but he can't keep growing the Mary Jane in my attic.  My other grandson is FBI.  Too bad you don't have a card that says, "sorry your brother's a felon.  Buy yourself a new wrench."

"I'll put it in the suggestion box," Kitty said, and the customer left with a chuckle.

Grandma Ada showed up just before the store closed at six.  Kitty sighed when she walked in.  "Grandma?  What are you doing here?"

"Got myself a date," Grandma said.

"With whom?" Kitty asked hesitantly.

"That nice Mr. Stockwell told me about the party, and I told him I didn't have any plans."

"You're Stockwell's date?" Kitty asked.

"Not exactly," Grandma said, looking at her feet.  "But I'll find someone.  The girl's all look prettier at closing time."

Grandma continued staring at her feet.

"What's wrong?" Kitty asked.

"The elastic's worn out in my pantyhose.  Just making sure they aren't draggin' the ground."

Kitty rolled her eyes.  Grandma Ada had raided her closet again.  She wore a sheer blouse, one of Kitty's best from the Kohl's Vera Wang line, but she'd rather ruined the effect by wearing a Metallica t-shirt underneath.  Her skirt was flowered with every flower known to the finest horticulturalist, and her yellow Chuck Taylors appeared to have a dingleberry attached to the heel.

Kitty let that one go.  The store would be a mess by midnight, with party fare covering every inch of the conference, training and break rooms.  A little dog doo would blend right in.

"Are we closed yet?" Grandma asked.

Kitty checked her watch.  "Yup.  I'll make the announcement."

"I'll do it," Grandma said, and before Kitty could stop her, she'd grabbed a phone and hit the paging button.

"Attention Tommy customers.  The Christmas shit's been out since September, and you've had your chance.  The store's closed.  Now get the hell out.  We've got to get the party started."

Kitty cringed.

"How'd I do?" Grandma asked.

"Fabulous," Kitty groaned.

"KITTY!" Stockwell yelled.

"Stay here!" Kitty demanded, looking at her grandmother.

"What the hell was that?" Stockwell asked, plowing through the front end with fire in his eyes.

"That was my grandmother."

"What the hell is she doing here?" Stockwell asked.

"Well, SOMEONE invited her to the party," Kitty declared, hands on hips.

"I did no such thing.  I merely mentioned..........."

"She'll be one hundred years old in a little more than a month.  A mere mention is an invitation," Kitty explained.

"She'll be fine," Stockwell said, distracted by his closing duties.

"I look forward to this party all year.  I drink and laugh, and usually end up singing and doing something that ends up on Youtube.  Someone drives me home, and people point and whisper for a week afterward.  I'm okay with that.  It's a night away from the two old biddies who drive me bat shit 365 days a year.  So, what do you do?  You invite one of those biddies."

"Did you remember to get the money from the outside register?  There were a couple of half dead trees out there," Stockwell asked, and Kitty gasped.

"Seriously?  Did you hear anything I just said?" Kitty roared.

"I rented a karaoke machine," Stockwell said.

"You're forgiven," Kitty said with a smile.

"I am?"

"Almost.  You're singing with me."

"I am not," Stockwell said, as he laid twenties and fifties out on the table in the cash office.

"You are."

"We'll see."

An hour later the party was in full swing.

Slick Mitchell handed out the Christmas bonuses an hour into the party.  If he hadn't waited until everyone had pre-gamed a bit, someone might have shot him again.  The bonuses were pretty pathetic.  He struggled with his crutches, and didn't notice when Alejandro flipped him off.

Daisy Cates drank scotch from a mason jar.  It had a red bow on it.

Aaron Faulkner granted himself a night off from the wagon.  For once, he drank openly, although he still had a stash in his locker.  He stayed close to Kitty's side.  He'd asked her to be his date.

Grandma Ada had paid him $250.00 to do so.

He'd have done it for free.

Mags dressed up.  She wore new jeans and a t-shirt that said, "real chicks drive fork lifts."  She'd purchased one for Wilton Scott as a gag gift. 

Lucy Goosie had returned from a limited engagement as a lounge singer on a cruise ship.  She was tanned and smiling, and she'd brought tiny packets of complimentary peanuts for all the employees and a portable shuffleboard game.

Bernice dressed up as one of Santa's elves. 

No one found it odd.

Miles wore orange coveralls that said "Department of Corrections."  He'd lifted it from his weekend gig, picking trash from the town's medians.  He'd kept a sense of humor about the whole thing, and Tommy policy called for leniency for misdemeanors. 

Alejandro and Gutz stood on one of the tables, acting out a scene from Julius Caesar.  No one was sure who was who, with Gutz in his General's costume and all, but the entire thing was entertaining, until Alejandro stepped in a pan of baked ziti and slid off the table with a thud.

"Who put that there?" Alejandro barked.

"I only set it there for a moment," Grandma Ada said.

"I almost broke my neck," Alejandro whined.

"Well, you didn't, so grab a plate and go get some cake," Grandma said, and Alejandro obediently did as told, tracking ziti into the next room.

By nine o'clock, the karaoke was in full swing.  Kitty put in her request, and grabbed Stockwell when her name was called.  Tommy associates would be talking about their rendition of Grease's "You're the One That I Want," for a long time to come. 

Stockwell was quite entertaining.

Faulkner vowed to take singing lessons.

Wilton Scott had hit the gin.  Hard.  An hour into the karaoke show, he got the bright idea to set fire to the shirt Mags had given him.  The polyester blend went up like a singlewide, but Grandma was fast on her feet for a near centenarian, and she had the thing extinguished in less than a minute with a king-size can of Redi Whip.

"Works just like a fire extinguisher!" Grandma exclaimed.

Stockwell was so grateful for her quick thinking, he pressed a kiss to her cheek, beneath the mistletoe.

She blushed through her bright red rouge.

Kitty wiped a tear from her cheek, moved by the act of kindness she'd witnessed.  She knew her grandmother was holding onto life with all the strength someone so old could muster, and for once, she thought not of the bickering, the odd outfits, or the occasional kitchen fires.  She thought only of the laughter, and the blessing of having a grandmother who'd defied the odds, medical expectations, and the DMV, who threatened annually to take the old lady's license.

Just before midnight, Wilton Scott dragged a blanket behind him and climbed onto the table in the conference room.  Mags dimmed the lights, and the room grew quiet.

Wilton smiled at his crowd and spoke in an even voice.  He offered no quirky facts.  For once, he was totally serious.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them,

Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Little Christmas Cheer for the Tommy Followers.

To my devoted fans: Please join us on December 24th for a hilarious Tommy Christmas party.  See all your favorite characters dolled up in ugly Christmas sweaters, and hitting the eggnog hard.  Will Faulkner fall off the wagon?  Will Miles take a bet as to who's the first one to toss their cookies?  Will Grandma Ada steal a kiss under the mistletoe?

Tune in next week to find out....

In the meantime, enjoy this tender story of renewed spirit by yours truly, Kitty Richardson.  This story was penned in 2007 during a difficult time in my life.  I was mourning the passing of my father, of my best friend, and sweet feline child.  My daughter had moved away to chart her own course, something I gave her the courage to do, but momentarily regretted.

I hope you all remember the true spirit of the season, the families we love, and the friendships we so thoughtfully nurture.  May this heightened sense of humanity stay with you all year long.

With deep love and devotion.

Your writer;


The Carolers

Christmas. The time when troubles that lay just outside our doors are held at bay by twinkling lights and swirling flakes of snow. It was December and the world that surrounded me was white, but no amount of timeless beauty seemed to allay the darkness that had settled over my spirit. It was the season of magic and miracles, but that glorious feeling of wel...l being that would normally knock at my door about this time each year, had failed to arrive. And so, I walked through this joyous time with my face set in a frown wondering where my Christmas spirit had gone. I suppressed the urge to scowl into the smiling faces of passersby, and the Christmas songs that I normally sang this time of year were not to pass over my lips. I was not myself, and I didn't much care for this person I had suddenly become.

I was lonely and sad, and scared, if I am to be honest. My world was white, its ugliness temporarily forgotten under a sparkling blanket of snow, but it was black at the same time. Sounds of laughter filtered into my ears, but yet my world was silent. Did I still believe? Had I mysteriously become a non believer? Were the words I'd spoken to others, words of faith, of hope, suddenly lies? I wrote of miracles, I spoke of miracles, but had miracles suddenly become fiction to me? I wasn't sure, and so I pondered as I set out to walk, my feet leaving deep imprints in the freshly fallen snow.

I missed my father, and my daughter, and while my house was filled with love, I felt unloved. I had a house full of family, perhaps not in the conventional sense, but family to me nonetheless. So why was it that I felt alone? I felt a connection to this world, to this place, to my life, but yet I felt disconnected. The world around me was familiar, but yet I felt as if I were a stranger in it, as if suddenly I had lost my place. It had changed, perhaps while I wasn't looking, or perhaps while I was. I had been a daughter to my father and a mother to my daughter, but I suddenly felt as if I were nothing, without identity, as if I could just disappear into the swirling snow, and the world would simply go on, as if I had never left it, or never been here at all. I was ashamed of these thoughts, ashamed to entertain nothingness, ashamed to abandon hope, faith, and the possibility in each new day. I had forgotten that time is promised to no one, that life in itself, is a gift. We allow time to pass almost without thought while we live our busy lives. The sun rises and sets, each moment magnificent, but who of us stops to relish in it? Each breath is a gift, but do any of us stop to unwrap it, to appreciate it for the splendor that it is? As I walked along the road I knew so well, the pathway that was my life, I glanced at the trees, their limbs sagging under the burden of heavy snow, and I wondered why they too looked unfamiliar. When was the last time I had even looked at them? When was the last time I had paused, and stepped away from the stress, and allowed the beauty to bring me peace? And why, although I had paused to look at this moment, did the peace not come?
And suddenly I knew. While my heart longed to give, my wallet refused, and I wondered if by allowing this to become the gauge by which I measured this blessed time, had it lost its true meaning? I sat for the remainder of the day, writing in my corner of the world, troubled by these thoughts, and my loneliness, trying to make peace as the words appeared on the screen in front of me, as if by magic. As I did, the snow fell steadily, its fresh white blanket erasing any trace of my journey through the woods. The sun set, it too leaving me behind, but I had been too lost in my thoughts to look, and so, I had missed that too.

Over the sounds of home, the hum of the furnace, the gentle mew of a waking cat, suddenly I thought I heard music. I stopped typing, the steady tap, tap, tap ceasing, the sudden silence giving way to harmony and a rich bass voice, that was new, yet familiar. It was music. It was voices, few or perhaps many, mixed together, their voices raised in songs of faith and hope. Carols, those reserved for this blessed time, were being sung outside my window. I raced for the door, not hesitating, for I needed to discover the source of this comfort. There, among the snow flakes, stood a group of carolers. Their faces were lost in the shadows, but their voices reached to the tops of the trees and beyond. Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Glory to the Newborn King, they sang. I don't know how long they stood there, or how long I listened, but I know that eventually I heard my voice mixed with theirs, and I too was singing the songs that I had loved for as long as I could remember. Without warning the wind suddenly picked up, blowing the freshly fallen snow toward me in an icy rush, and I turned only for a moment to reach for a coat, or a scarf, or something to ward off the winter chill. I was singing as I did, and when I returned to the doorway, the carolers were gone. 

I pulled my coat around me, slipped my feet into the boots that were never lonely, and plunged out into the darkness, armed with only a few lingering bars of Silent Night, and a candle to light my way. The carolers were gone, although I was certain that I could still hear that rich bass singing "Sleep in Heavenly Peace". They had left no footprints, no impressions in the snow, nothing to indicate that they had ever been there. But they had. I had seen them, I had heard them, and my voice had mixed with theirs, and in those moments, my heart was filled, and my spirit restored.

As I laid down to sleep, again I heard the bass voice singing "Sleep in Heavenly Peace", and that night I did. I dreamt of a man into whose ear I once whispered, "Daddy wake up, Santa came". I dreamt of a little girl who had once risen me from sleep with those same words. I dreamt of Christmases past, of feet pajamas shuffling along a red kitchen floor worn by age and time, and tiny fingers reaching for colorful packages, and red and white stockings. I dreamt of times to come, when once again my home might be filled with the sounds of family. And as I slept, I smiled, and softly in sleep, I whispered....

 Merry Christmas Daddy, Merry Christmas to my beautiful daughter, Merry Christmas world.

Happy Birthday Savior; your gift has been received.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tommy's Tool Town - Chapter 79 - On The Count of Three

"You bitch!" Mickey Burger yelled, once he'd regained his ability to speak.

"Yeah?  You got something to say about it?" Daisy asked, still holding the nail gun.  "Get up and take that stupid mask off.  I want to see the man who killed my bird!"

Burger stood on shaky legs, clutching his bloody neck.  In retrospect, the thug gave the performance of a lifetime, gagging and shuddering, for as he stood to his full, yet minimal height, he suddenly regained full composure and control, and pulled a revolver from his ankle holster.  He pointed it at Daisy, who didn't flinch.

"Shit," she whispered.

"Gotcha," Burger said. 

Mitchell raised his gun and pointed it at Burger.

"You'll never do it, bro," Burger hissed.

"Damn straight I will," Mitchell said.

"You couldn't hit a paper plate at fifty yards on a cloudless day," Burger said sarcastically.

"How do you know that?" Mitchell asked, feeling less confident.

''Think about it,'' Burger said, as he took half a step closer to Daisy.

"Go ahead, asshole," Daisy roared, startling everyone.  "Let's face it, the best years are probably behind me.  My best friend is a goat, and my favorite conversationalist just got shot.  In what are supposed to be my golden years, I'm slaving away in retail hell, working a schedule that's a bit like working on one continent one week, and working on one halfway around the world the next.  I got a bunion.  That damn thing hurts like a mother bugger.  The other day I put scotch on my Wheaties.  It was the only way I could cope.  So, you want to shoot me?   As Nike would say, 'just do it'."

"Aww, don't say Nike.  Don't say that," Kitty whined, and everyone turned.

"What's wrong with Nike?" Grandma Wonder Woman asked.

"They endorse that Michael Vick dude," Kitty explained, as all other activity ceased.

"Oh, the guy who hurt all those dogs?" Grandma asked.

"Yes.  He barely got a slap on the wrist," Kitty said.

"I don't like Nike's," Daisy said.  "They pinch my bunion."

"He's a douche bag," Grandma complained.  "They should use him on some agility course."

"What?" Kitty and Daisy said simultaneously.

"That Dick person," Grandma began.

"Vick," Kitty clarified.

"Same thing," Grandma said, and a few of the associates clapped.

"What agility course?" Kitty asked.

"If they put him on some agility course, let him exercise dogs.  Put him out there stark-ass naked, hands tied behind his back, maybe with some peanut butter on his ding dong, or bacon taped to his butt.  Teach him a little bit about vulnerability," Grandma said.

"She is vicious," Daisy said.  Her tone suggested some level of concern, but she wore an enormous grin.

"PETA power!" Grandma exclaimed.

"Dear God, her, too," Stockwell moaned from his prone position on the ground.

"Hey!  Shitheads!  Remember me?  The guy who's gonna pop a cap in the Tool Queen?" Burger said, waving the gun around like a cheerleader with a pompom.

Everyone went silent.

All eyes were on Burger, who still wore the mask.

Suddenly a roar broke the silence, and Mags, who'd seemingly recovered nicely, drove an enormous forklift around the corner and into the receiving area.  The room went dark and the safety lights came on, dimly lighting the space.

"Drop it, jerk face," Mags said, and Burger laughed.

"What are you gonna do?  Put me in top stock?  Oooo, I'm scared.  I'm shaking," Burger said, chuckling an evil chuckle.

Stockwell began crawling out of the line of fire, as Burger took another step toward Daisy, gun still raised.

Mags moved the forklift forward, at an agonizingly slow speed.

Burger shot at the ceiling.  The bullet ricocheted and hit Mitchell in the thigh.  He dropped.

"I'm gonna shoot this crazy bat on the count of three," Burger said, as Daisy pulled a flask from her Tommy apron.

"Last meal," she mumbled, amazing calm.  Kitty began to cry, as did Bernice.  Grandma Wonder Woman began to pray softly.

"One," Burger hissed.

"I think I'll miss the scotch most of all," Daisy said.

"Shut up," Burger demanded.  "Two."

"THREE!" Stockwell yelled, as he raised Mitchell's pistol and dropped the bad guy in one shot."

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tommy's Tool Town - Chapter 78 - A Town in Crisis

"Show yourself!" Gutzenheimer screamed, and Burger stepped further from the shadows.  The monster wore a mask, but it wasn't the mask that first grabbed everyone's attention. 

It was the woman with whom the monster protected himself from the angry masses.

Mags Davidson had become a human shield.

Kitty lunged forward, but Stockwell grabbed her before she could risk life and limb to rescue her friend.  He grabbed with his left hand.

His right had four broken fingers, which he clutched to his chest.  His thoughts raced.  He shuddered at the thought of Mags being in harm's way.  His breath caught when he considered that Kitty might be killed trying to intervene.

He wondered if he could open a Snickers with one hand.

He thought of his own mortality and he sighed.  He didn't want to die tonight.  He had a fresh Mountain Dew chilling in the break room.

Gutz raised the bayonet.  "I will kill you if you harm her," Gutz said in perfect English and amazing calm.

"You'll never get the chance," Burger said, his voice disguised.

"What do you want?" Slick Mitchell asked Burger, as he stepped forward to stand aside Gutz.

"What is rightly mine," Burger replied.

"And that is what?" Mitchell asked, raising his gun and pointing it at the masked monster.

"Everything you have," Burger whispered.  The voice was still disguised.  It was eerie and disturbing, and Mitchell paled as his hand trembled slightly.

"You're not leaving here with anything," Mitchell hissed, and Mags whimpered, as Burger pressed the gun to her temple.

"You rotten little son of a bitch," Wonder Woman said, shaking off Bernice and breaking free from the pack on wobbling legs.  She pulled something from her purse and held it in front of her.

"What the hell is that?" Kitty asked.

Grandma Wonder Woman hit a button and a plastic probe shot from the device.  Electricity shot from the probe as it made contact with Stockwell, who fell to the ground like a sack of shit.

"Wonder Woman used a boomerang," Bernice hollered, and Grandma turned to stare at her.

"Do you think you can save anyone with a stupid boomerang?" Grandma asked, as the pile of Stockwell continued to twitch.

"You've killed him," Kitty whined, kneeling beside Stockwell who had become disturbingly still.

"Nah, he'll be all right," Grandma assured.

"Hello?  Anyone remember me?  The woman with a gun to her head?" Mags yelled, and everyone returned their attention to her.  The recovering Stockwell was momentarily forgotten.

"Me for the girl," Mitchell said, laying his gun at his feet.  "I'm unarmed.  I'll go with you, give you whatever you want, but I'm not going to stand here and let you harm one of my employees."

"Look at you, little Peter, being all noble," Burger hissed, as he practically threw Mags to the floor.  She fell hard, but got up quickly, and ran to Kitty, who threw her arms around her.  Both women began to sob.

"I have no idea who you are," Mitchell admitted.  "I have no idea why you think you're entitled to what I have, and I'm pretty sure it's not what you think.  I know these people think I am some wimp who does nothing, but I manage this entire place.  I work my ass off, trying to keep Mags from getting killed, and Kitty from losing an ear by catching her enormous earrings on a J hook.  I somehow keep Stockwell from going into Diabetic shock, and Miles away from the track, and then there's Wilton, who I have to manage with Wikipedia, because I never know what the hell he's talking about.  You want this mess, Burger?  You want my life and everything that goes along with it?  DO YOU?  IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT, YOU WORTHLESS PRICK WHO ISN'T EVEN BRAVE ENOUGH TO UNMASK HIMSELF IN FRONT OF THE PEOPLE HE'S TORTURED FOR WEEKS.  YOU WANT MY LIFE?


Mitchell put his arms out to his side, like a modern-day Jesus.  "Take it," he whispered, as Burger raised the gun.

Bernice screamed.  Kitty hugged Mags as a mother would comfort a child, covering her face and shielding her from what was about to happen.

Burger cocked the gun and Mitchell closed his eyes and prepared to die.

Before Burger could fire, Astro flew from the ruined racks and plucked the almost-lifelike toupee from Burger's round head.  Flustered, Burger momentarily lost control of his weapon.  It fired into the air, and Astro screeched and went silent.

"You did NOT just kill my bird!" Daisy wailed, emerging from the shadows and wielding a large tool.

"Whatcha gonna do, you crazy bat?  You gonna drill me to death?" Burger asked, as hatred dripped from his tongue.

"It isn't a drill," Daisy said, as a single tear slid down her face for the winged friend she'd lost.  "You killed my bird, you bastard."

"So.  I'm going to kill you all before the night ends," Burger hissed.

Daisy raised the tool and fired a single nail into Burger's neck.  He screamed like a school girl, grabbed for his throat, and fell to the ground in a heap.

"They don't call me the Tool Queen for nothin'," Daisy said.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Spanksgiving from Christian Grey - Aww hell, Happy Thanksgiving from Kitty!

A very happy Thanksgiving from Kitty and the staff of Tommy's Tool Town.  This deserves a repeat, as it talks of the woes of the Black Friday onslaught. 

Join us next Tuesday, when we resume Tommy Tuesdays, and return to a new post each week.

Have a pleasant and safe holiday season, and hug a retail worker.  They spend a lot of time making sure you get what you want this year.

Kitty's prayer for Black Friday.

Now I head me off to work.
I pray that God won't send a jerk,
Who wants to buy a sold-out deal.
And gripes because his cart might squeal.

Oh Lord I pray that no one yells.
And tells me I should go to hell,
Because the Shop Vac sold out fast.
Black Friday deals don't always last.

I'll hide in the latrine at dinner,
And confess to times I've been a sinner.
By taking breaks I didn't need,
To get away from Front End deeds.

We'll focus on a workday done.
When we might finally have some fun.
A drink or two from the appliance guy,
And brownies that might make us high

Never mind that one.

So, shoppers we would beg of thee....
Forgive us if we have to pee.
We've stood to serve you all day long,
And listened to the Tommy song.

And later when the blitz is over,
We'll get into our old Range Rover.
And head back home to loved ones dear.
And think about a new career.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tommy's Tool Town - Chapter 77 - Will The Real Mickey Burger Please Stand Up

''ASTRO!" the bird yelled, as everyone, except the parrot, mistook the forklift's backfire for a gunshot.

Mitchell held his gun in shaking hands.  He'd only fired it once, and he'd damn near taken his buddy's ear off trying to kill a paper plate.

Stockwell had hit the deck. His chin bled from where it had made contact with the cement.  The blood wasn't chocolate.

Daisy stood with her hands on her hips.  "You stupid son of a bitch!" she yelled, as Wilton paled.

"Why are you insulting me?" Wilton wailed, as the disco lights began anew.

"I am yelling at my bird," Daisy said.  "I've had it with that thing.  I'll bet it tastes like chicken!"

"Don't even think about it," Kitty said.  As the resident PETA member, Kitty's position wasn't odd, but seeing her hand in hand with a geriatric Wonder Woman lent a bizarre feel to what was already surreal.

"Ease off, Sarah McLaughlin," Daisy hollered, referencing one of the ASPCA's celebrity endorsers.  "I'm not going to hurt the bird, I'm just trying to get it under control."

"Apologize to my granddaughter!" Wonder Woman yelled, and Daisy guffawed.  She'd just about had it.  She'd rather have been at home in a scotch stupor, cuddling a goat in a milk coma.

"EVERYONE SHUT UP!" Miles yelled, and everyone did.  When Miles grew a pair and spoke up, everyone listened.  "I've had it up to here!" Miles screamed, although no one really knew where "here," was, as they could barely see him in the disco lighting.  "I've been arrested for this damn place, and I AM NOT GOING TO JAIL FOR TOMMY'S TOOL TOWN!"

The receiving bay went silent and the lights stopped.

Miles stood in the middle of the bay, surrounded by dumb-struck Tool Towners.

"You've been defiled by our justice system?" Wilton asked, and Miles rolled his eyes.

"Seriously, dude?  Just once, one time, on the night when I've disappointed a father long dead by being booked and printed, on this night, could you please speak English????" Miles ranted.

"I've dabbled in law.  Perhaps I could be of some assistance," Wilton said defensively.

"You cannot assist me.  The best you can do is shut the hell up!" Miles wailed.

In the shadows, Mickey Burger smiled. It was falling apart.  With any luck, Mitchell would shut the place down by morning.

"Stop, Miles," Slick Mitchell said, sounding amazingly calm.  He held the gun upright, in front of him, although at present, it wasn't pointed at anyone.  "I came here tonight to kill Mickey Burger. Burger has kidnapped my sister, a poor woman who couldn't do anything right if life came with instructions, but nonetheless, the screwed up, strung out, Thanksgiving-crashing disaster is the little girl I played with in a baby pool back when the Mitchells drove old cars and ate hot dogs."  Mitchell's voice caught on the last sentence, and it was this, this seeing of the humanness of the Tommy Godfather, that brought the crowd to a subdued calm.

"Sir?" Wilton said softly.

"Wilton, I am delighted by your individuality, I truly am, but I cannot deny I've spent hours in my office trying to decipher your emails, and your rantings.  Unless you have a firearm directed at Mickey Burger, know Mickey Burger, or can actually use the force to bring this monster down, I need you to be quiet.  I need you to be quiet until I give you permission to speak.  Please."

Across the bay, two racks began to shake, and everyone froze. Cartons flew from the racks, and Sonny Brooks screamed and went running.  The forklift roared to life, and Mitchell didn't hesitate.

He shot the damn thing.


It hissed, and rumbled.

And died.

Evil laughter filled the area again, and Bernice threw herself at Kitty's grandmother.  Bernice didn't care if she was being embraced by Wonder Woman, she only knew that Kitty's grandmother had lived through ninety-nine years of crazy shit, and that was enough security for Bernice.

The disco lights extinguished, and the bay was pitch black.

"I love rockin' boats," the bird sang, and Daisy had nothing left.  She didn't have the energy to roll her eyes.

Kitty screamed when a hand gripped her ankle.  She shook it off and stepped on its fingers.

Stockwell wailed like a baby.

Someone heaved.

Everyone was certain it was Faulkner.

The bay was eerily silent.  Someone whimpered.  It sounded like Penelope who'd been abandoned in favor of Wonder Woman.

The lights came on after a long, long minute.

Gerald Gutzenheimer stood center stage, in a military uniform, holding a bayonette.

No one knew where he'd gotten it from.

No one cared.

Gutz screamed in German.  Only two words were understood by the masses.

"Mickey Burger."

Prepared to meet the general, Mickey Burger stepped from the shadows.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tommy's Tool Town - Chapter 76 - All Hallows Eve

By 11:30, the store was a flurry of activity.  The entire night crew had been called in, including Wilton Scott, who'd evidently volunteered for PVC cleanup, seeing it as some sort of missionary adventure.

"They could build schools from PVC in Nigeria, and perhaps run water through them for hydration," Wilton said, and Kitty rolled her eyes.  "What?"

"Wilton, where do you get this crazy stuff?" Kitty asked.

"The Internet.  Did you know that most of what occurred in Star Wars is so realistic it could happen?" Wilton proclaimed, changing the subject drastically.

Only Wilton could travel from Nigeria to the Death Star without missing a beat.

"I don't think so," Kitty remarked, taking a moment to sit on a toilet display.

"It's futuristic, I'll admit, but even so, we aren't that far from making intergalactic travel a reality," Wilton declared.

"Hey, Wilton," Stockwell yelled.  "Why don't you go into the Receiving Galaxy and hop on a forklift."

"I'm not certified," Wilton said sullenly.

"Well, maybe you'll find Yoda back there.  Perhaps he can drive a forklift," Stockwell suggested, looking immensely pleased with himself.

"Drive a forklift, I can," Wilton stated impressively.

"Sonny Brooks is floating around somewhere.  He showed up with Mitchell about fifteen minutes ago.  He's probably rusty, but he's certified." Stockwell shook his head and walked away.  He was lacking in caffeine and sugar, and he'd have sold his own mother for a King Sized Snickers.

Kitty frowned as Stockwell passed by.  "What?" he said.  "You want a Snickers, too?"

"I'm sad and worried," Kitty mumbled.

Stockwell knew he'd regret it, but he asked anyway.  "What's wrong?"

"It will be Halloween in a few minutes, and I always wear my Great Pumpkin pajamas the night before, and wish for a husband who likes dogs and karaoke, Renaissance festivals, and long walks on the beach......"

Stockwell began wishing JJ had killed him.  He hated this woman stuff.  It was reserved for soap operas and Danielle Steel novels.

Kitty looked forlorn, and as if she had more to say.


"I can't reach my mother or grandmother," Kitty whispered.

"Dear God, you don't think?" Stockwell asked.

Kitty looked at him.  "Of course I do."

"You think they're here?" Stockwell asked, feeling the blood supply cut off to his head.  He felt dizzy and his blood sugar was plummeting.  He couldn't imagine where Daisy had gone.  Perhaps she'd planned to butcher the burgers herself.

"Kitty?" Stockwell said very gently, almost lovingly.

"What?" Kitty whimpered.

"Do you have a Snickers anywhere?  Your purse, your locker, stashed under self checkout?"

"I bare my soul to you, I tell you about the Great Pumpkin pajamas, and you ask me if I have a candy bar?" Kitty asked incredulously.

"What can I say?  I'm a real catch," Stockwell said.  He obviously had the jitters, and Kitty figured the request was more a survival mechanism, and less a lack of bedside manner.

"I have food!" Daisy announced suddenly, and everyone flocked to her as if Jesus had just shown up with a basket of fish.

The food was gone in five minutes, and sedate, the Tool Town crew prepared to take on the night. Bernice and Penelope watched the clock intently, counting the minutes until the showdown at midnight.

Daisy Cates did the same, knowing Hannah was skulking around Receiving, planting bugs like the Orkin man.

Kitty set out to walk the store, certain a grandmother lurked somewhere in the shadows.

Slick Mitchell sat in his office, playing with the gun in his ankle holster.  He hoped he wouldn't shoot his foot off by mistake.  He hated the idea of wearing only one wingtip.  He planned to put a bullet in Mickey Burger, whoever he might be.  If it was Stockwell, he wondered if the wound would ooze chocolate. 

Midnight was upon them, and everyone was ready.

Everyone but Wilton.

He was in Receiving, talking to himself, and trying desperately to start a forklift.

He gave up after a few minutes, and hopped off the machine.  He could hear the hum of other machines, and figured everyone who could run a forklift was probably on one.

He turned and faced the machine.  He assumed the stance of a Jedi, and called upon the force.

The forklift roared to life.

Wilton almost shit himself.

"It freakin' works," he whispered.

The receiving area went dark immediately, and the forklift's lights flashed on.

"Shit," Wilton whispered.  The Jedi moment took on a Stephen King feel, and he felt like he was looking at the Christine of heavy lifting.  "This isn't happening," he mumbled, although it was.

"Astro!"  The word wailed over the sound of mechanical humming, and despite his fear, Wilton was offended.

"I am not an asshole.  I am a nice man, with a family.  I read!  I MEDITATE!" Wilton screamed, as the machine came toward him.  "WHAT DO YOU WANT?"

"Make it a daily double," the bird screamed, reciting one of Daisy's most beloved phrases.

"Jeopardy?  You want to play Jeopardy?" Wilton yelled.  "I'll take STAR WARS FOR TWO THOUSAND, ALEX!" Wilton wailed, challenging an unknown force.

The forklift went dark.  The lights came on.  Evil cackling filled the expansive space.

"What the hell?" Wilton whispered, thankful for a young bladder.

The lights went off again, then began flashing in disco fashion.  Wilton felt an unexpected vertigo assault him, and he wondered if he'd died.  He figured his hell would include disco and insults.

From the shadows, Wonder Woman walked toward him, a very old Wonder Woman with chicken legs and garish makeup.

Yup!  He'd died and gone to hell.

"Where's my kitty?" Wonder Woman yelled.  "What have you done with my kitty?"

Wilton wondered if he'd fallen asleep.  Perhaps this was just a nightmare.  He closed his eyes, opened them quickly.  Wonder Woman was still there.

"I don't have your cat.  I have my cat.  She'd old, and her name is Princess Leia, and she pees behind the couch," Wilton said through a sob.  He wasn't sure what was worse, being assaulted by a geriatric Wonder Woman, or being killed by a possessed forklift.

He chose neither.

Wilton screamed like a banshee, like a teenage girl who'd mucked up her manicure leaving the salon.  His screams drew the troops.  Everyone was there, and he found safety in numbers.

Miles had returned, although no one knew when, or from where he'd come.  He had black powder on his fingers, although it was concealed by the darkness.  He'd been arrested and booked, and printed, and blissfully released.

The Dollar Stores were all closed.

That was okay.

Miles had an overnight reprieve from needing soap on a rope.

Kitty showed up.  She was unmoved by Wonder Woman, as if she'd expected to see her there.

Stockwell staggered in.  He had Snickers on his shirt.  No one knew where he'd gotten it from, but they figured there were a couple of IOU's at self checkout.

Gary Gutzenheimer stood at attention, waiting for the battle to begin.

Aaron Faulkner decided not to give up drinking. 

At least not tonight.

He pulled a flask from his back pocket, and killed the contents in one gulp.

Daisy arrived, using the same insult Wilton had heard during the forklift apocalypse.

Wilton had no idea why SHE thought he was an asshole.

Sonny Brooks stood in the corner.  He looked scared to death.

Bernice and Penelope held hands.  Somewhere between discovering the note and the disco lights, they'd both lost their love of detective work.

Mitchell stood in the shadows, holding a gun.  He planned to kill someone, especially if it meant he could reclaim his sister, and his store.

Mickey Burger stood in the shadows, holding an IPad.  Little did anyone know the true capabilities of the Iris system.  He hit a button.

Receiving went dark, then light, but dimly.

Boxes flew from shelves, and racks shook as if they were dancing in the throes of a hurricane.

Everyone screamed, even the men.  Sonny Brooks dropped to his knees and prayed.  He was thanking God.  The place was haunted as shit, and he'd just doubled his money.

Something else pierced the darkness, something that rose about the screams of frightened humans.  The wail of a bird, a bird whose prey had been located.

Astro flew from the rafters, the man in the shadows his target.

A shot rang out.

Everything went dark.

Monday, October 28, 2013

See You on Halloween Night!

The creators of Tommy's Tool Town are putting the finishing touches on the new chapter coming this Halloween night.  Don't miss this spooktacular event, the likes of which are reserved for the finest in literary comedy.

Not caught up yet??

You'll want to be, as a few old times stop by to participate in the mayhem, as Mickey Burger wreaks havoc on the store in an overnight event not to be missed!

Thanks for reading, and don't forget to tell your friends to stop by for a dose of laughter.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tommy's Tool Town - Chapter 75 - A Bug in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush

Daisy Cates had absolutely no choice.

She had to leave Astro in the store, or she'd miss the meeting with Hannah and Toothless Louise.  Five minutes after hanging up with Hannah, Kitty had called in a panic and asked her if she'd come into the store to clean up an enormous plumbing mess.

Kitty had assured Daisy it had nothing to do with shit, and Daisy agreed to help.

The PVC pipes had covered nearly every inch of the store when Daisy had arrived, but with a lot of work, and a little dancing, they'd gotten nearly half replaced by ten minutes before eleven o'clock. 

Astro had been miraculously quiet, and Daisy could only imagine what the little bastard was cooking up.  He was, without a doubt, the most ingenuous and deviant bird alive. 

Five minutes later, Daisy faked a low blood sugar attack, which Stockwell totally bought, and she'd offered to do a food run.  She texted Louise, asked for a dozen burgers and twice as many orders of fries, and told her she'd be at Bitsy's in a flash.

If everything went according to plan, she'd run to Bitsy's, get the skinny from Louise, grab a greasy sack of cholesterol, and head back.  If everything went according to plan.

Which it never did.

Daisy let herself out through Receiving and walked through the dark to where she'd left her old truck.  The truck turned over three times and sputtered to life.

She tore out of the parking lot like a bat out of hell and hit the road.

All went well for three minutes, then someone pulled out in front of her.

Daisy let out a string of profanities that would have paled a navy man.

"Watch out, Astro, you trucking stream of Schlitz," the bird screamed, and Daisy damn near ran the truck off the road.

"No way," she grumbled.  The bird's enormous head filled the side mirror.  The damn thing was in the bed of the truck, but at least he'd left the store.

"Astro, Astro, Astro!" the bird yelled, and Daisy rolled her eyes.  She was an animal lover, a lover of all creatures, but she couldn't help but wish a piano would fall on that damn bird.

A few minutes later she arrived at Bitsy's.  The parking lot was full, which she found odd.  Didn't anybody work?  Why was everybody in a bar at eleven o'clock at night?  Didn't they have to get up early?

Daisy suddenly realized she didn't care.  She had enough on her plate.  She had a mystery to solve, and a bounty to collect.  She had to get herself out of retail before it killed her.

She texted Hannah, and went around back as previously instructed, but not before suggesting to the bird he stay put. 

Louise met her at the door.  She was wearing a new set of ill-fitting dentures.  She smiled like the Cheshire Cat.

"What the hell?" Daisy asked, recoiling.

"Won 'em in a hot game of hold 'em.  I knew I had it when I got pocket aces," Louise said, as the teeth clacked wildly together.

"You look ridiculous," Hannah said, from behind them.

"They feel great!" Louise said with earnest, as the bottoms flew out of her mouth, hit the edge of the sink and fell to the floor.

"They don't fit," Daisy advised.

"I'll glue 'em," Louise said, shoving the bottoms back into her mouth without rinsing them, an act that made Daisy and Hannah shiver.

"How's that food coming?  I have to get back before anyone suspects anything," Daisy said.

"You're gonna need to be back by midnight anyhow," Louise said, smiling the horrid grimace again.

"Says who?" Daisy asked.

"The putz with the designer jeans.  He says everything is going down at midnight," Louise advised, as the top denture launched.  "Shit, they really don't fit," she agreed, as she pulled the teeth from a pot of chili, and threw them in the sink.

Daisy made a mental note never to eat the chili at Bitsy's again.

"What did you hear?" Daisy asked, as she and Hannah sat on a couple of filthy stools.

"The putz called some guy, said 'Burger, if you hurt the girl I will kill you,'" Louise said.  "Then he says he doesn't know anything about any guns or any money, but he thinks some cat lady is up to something strange, says something about her grandmother lurking around."

"That would be Kitty.  She's a nut job but I don't suspect her of anything but loneliness and an obsession with shiny shit," Daisy explained.  "I don't think she's in on this."

"He mentioned some Stockwell guy, in fact he called Burger "Stockwell," and then, "Miles," almost as if he was looking for a reaction," Louise went on.

Daisy was impressed and said so.

"I watch a lot of crime shows.  When you look like I do, you don't go out much in the light," Toothless Louise said, and Hannah grimaced.

"You look fine," Hannah offered.

"You're a damn liar.  I have no teeth, frizzy hair, no boobs, and a butt that looks like I sleep on a sheet of plywood.  Don't lie.  Society has no place for an old biker who never gave herself a thought, but if I can help you solve this, maybe my life will mean something," Louise offered with a sigh.  "Here," Louise said, handing Daisy a small box.

"What's this?"

"The rest of the bugs.  I saved a fortune buying them in bulk.  If nothing shakes out tonight, you can put them in the store.  I'll monitor the whole thing.  We'll solve this thing and we'll do it together," Louise said.

"You're damn right we will.  Louise, you stay here and monitor the bugs.  Hannah, you come with me," Daisy demanded.  "We're gonna solve this thing, and we're going to do it tonight.  We've got fifty minutes to get back, get some bugs planted, find you a place to take cover, and see if we can solve the crime of the century."

"I thought that Lingburgh shit was the crime of the century," Louise said.

"It was.  It's a new century, and we're gonna make the news of this one!" Daisy declared, tucking the bugs under her arm, and grabbing two greasy sacks.  "Let's go, Hannah!"

"Do good, girls!" Louise said, offering hugs to both, who took great care not to touch her apron.

"There's a makeover in this for you!" Hannah offered, and Louise smiled a toothless grin.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tommy's Tool Town - Chapter 74 - Bicentennial Larry

Slick Mitchell was pissed.  His sister had been kidnapped, his confidante was a wuss, and he was no closer to solving the mystery of who this Mickey Burger idiot was.

He'd gotten the text telling him to be at Tommy's at midnight.  He'd almost missed it between all the rants and complaints from Reeve Stockwell about some ridiculous PVC incident, and some exotic dancer bologna.

He didn't care about exotic dancers, not much anyway.  Granted, he always wondered when he got a wadded up sweaty pile of one dollar bills, from some toothless guy who looked likely to be arrested while lurking around a college campus, but it wasn't his business.  Money was money, regardless of whose thongs it had been tucked into.

Slick sipped his beer from the bottle, something he normally didn't do, but Bitsy's was the ultimate dive, and he didn't dare drink from a glass.  Louise, the star witness in what was likely a variety of crimes, was tending bar, waiting tables, and lurking around like a stalker.  Slick didn't like her, but figured she was harmless.

Sonny Brooks was ten minutes late.  Slick watched as he came into the bar, looking like someone who expected to be mugged any minute.  Sonny's eyes were wild and he looked terrified, and Slick imagined he'd spent more than a few minutes stuffed into his locker with his undies pulled up to his ears.

"You're late," Slick said, and Sonny sat down, but not before wiping the booth with a hand wipe he peeled from a little white wrapper.

"I know.  I wanted to make sure I wasn't followed," Sonny whispered.  Slick only heard half of what he said, and he rolled his eyes.

"Don't make fun of me," Sonny whined.

"I'm not, but if we're gonna do this, we have to speak in a volume that humans can hear," Slick advised.

In the kitchen, Toothless Louise's ears perked up like a rabbit in a game of prey and predator.  She listened closely.

"Larry isn't here yet, so you're off the hook," Slick said, taking a long pull from the bottle.  He called for Louise, who scurried over like a rat, and ordered another beer.  "You want one?" he asked, looking across the table at Sonny.

"No.  My wife hates it when I drink," Sonny said.

"You always do what your wife says?" Slick asked, and Louise circled like a vulture.

"You met her?" Sonny asked.


"Then don't criticize.  She's a peach as long as I behave myself."

"No beer for you, Sonny?" Louise asked, then paled.

"How'd you know my name was Sonny?"

Louise paused but barely missed a beat.  "I call everyone Sonny."

"Oh," Sonny said.  "I'll have a milk.  Chocolate."

Slick Mitchell rolled his eyes again.  If he didn't stop, he'd be facing some ocular disease, but after what he'd seen, he didn't think he'd mind being blind and led around by an actual dog.

"Do I look like I serve milk?" Louise asked.

"No," Sonny said softly.  "Can I get a Shirley Temple?"

"What are you eight?" Slick asked.

"Shut up," Sonny mumbled.  "I'll have a Coke."

"Certainly," Louise said, leaving in the same disturbing manner as she'd arrived.

"Who's Larry?" Sonny asked, recovering from the emasculation served up by the world's worst waitress.

"Larry Dale.  I'm bringing him into our confidence," Slick said.

"Bad idea," Sonny mumbled.

"There you go, talking in that grumbly shit I can't understand.  Speak up or leave.  I can do this without you, but I'd rather have your help."

"Larry Dale is a bad idea.  Kitty's crushing on him, and he says he's married, but I don't think so.  He doesn't act married, and he admitted to sleeping with Mick Daniels.  Maybe he's bicentennial," Sonny said.

"He's what?" Slick asked, trying not to laugh.

"Bicentennial," Sonny repeated.

"He's two hundred years old?" Slick said, nearly gagging on his laughter.

"No.  He's probably like forty two or so, but he sleeps with more than one species," Sonny said, and Slick let out a ferocious bellow of laughter.

"You mean bisexual and more than one gender," Slick said when he'd recovered.

"That is what I said," Sonny mumbled.

"Right," Slick said.

Back in the kitchen, Toothless Louise rolled on the floor clutching her sides, as Coke spilled over the top of an almost-clean glass, onto the floor.

"Sonny, I don't mean to sound like a jerk, but are you medicated?" Slick asked.

"Maybe a little," Sonny admitted.

"You are acting like a genuine dumbass," Slick said.

"The doctor says it's stress.  It's a situational disorder from working in a haunted location," Sonny explained, and Slick pounded his fist on the table.

Sonny jumped and almost peed himself.

"That is the kind of stuff that upsets me," Sonny whined.

"My store isn't haunted," Slick said.

"Is so," Sonny mumbled.

"Look it.  Larry Dale just walked in.  He is willing to help us crack the case of what's going on in the store, and he's willing to do it for the thrill of the chase.  If we solve the mystery, the money is yours.  You in, or are you too STRESSED from ghosts and shit to give this your all?"

"I'm in on one condition," Sonny stated.

"What's that?" Slick asked.

"If I hear any spirit voices coming from anywhere, like the intercom system, the walls, the phone or the computer, I'm out and I get the money," Sonny declared.

"You want the money if you hear weird voices coming from the paging system?"

"Yes.  It would prove I'm right, and the place is haunted," Sonny declared.

Larry Dale stood at the bar.  He waved when Slick looked over.

"I'll tell you what, Sonny.  If I hear weird voices coming through the paging system, thus proving your theory that my business is haunted, I'll give you the money and I'll double the offer, but that is never going to happen."

Somewhere a rambunctious parrot with a love of parodies was preparing to prove him wrong.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tommy's Tool Town - Chapter 73 - Boom Chicka Boom

Reeve Stockwell made quick work of disengaging from JJ Patricks.  JJ was still irked, but she hadn't killed him, and that was a good sign.  He was headed back to Tommy's, and driving like a maniac, which was hard work in his old beater.  The thing sputtered and spitted, and backfired.

"Excuse you?" Gutz said from the passenger seat.

"Pardon?" Stockwell replied, not taking his eyes from the road.

"It's customary to excuse yourself when you've broken wind," Gutz advised.

"I didn't.  That was the car," Stockwell advised.

"Are we going to make it back?" Gutz asked.

"We are," Stockwell assured.

They did.  Stockwell and Gutz arrived at Tommy's Tool Town ten minutes past closing.  Stockwell knocked on the door and cringed when he saw Kitty approach.

She looked like she'd come through a hurricane.

"Hey," Kitty said.

"What's happening?" Stockwell asked.

"I rallied the troops, and we have about half the pipes cleaned up," Kitty said.  "A bunch of people stayed past closing."

"Seriously?" Stockwell asked incredulously.  It was difficult getting his staff to stay UNTIL closing.  He couldn't imagine the bribery involved in getting them to stay late.

"What did you give them?" Stockwell asked.

Kitty looked away.

"Kitty?" Stockwell asked.

"Well, Bernice and Penelope had to stay because Bernice lost her keys. Wilton offered to stay if he could have Saturday off," Kitty said.

"He offered to stay an extra hour in exchange for eight hours off?" Stockwell asked.

"Yeah," Kitty mumbled.

"You need to work on your negotiating skills, Kitty," Stockwell complained.

"You weren't here.  You weren't running the show.  I did what I had to do.  Mags came in, and Daisy came back.  Alejandro stayed, and Aaron Faulker came back even though he was out somewhere when I called him.

"And I'm here!" Gutz quipped.

"How did you know about it?" Kitty asked.

Gutz paused.

Stockwell didn't miss a beat.  "I called him."

Suddenly the paging system squealed, then went silent.  The store was filled with provocative music, the kind one usually heard on Saturday night Cinemax.

"What the hell is that?" Stockwell asked.

"Dunno," Kitty mumbled.

"Kitty?" Stockwell asked.

"I don't know!"

"Where is everyone?  I don't see a soul," Stockwell said, as the music blared on.  "Kitty, what the hell is going on in here?"

"They're in plumbing.  Everyone is concentrating on plumbing.  If we can get that cleaned up, we can move more pipes from other areas of the store," Kitty explained defensively.

"Good.  Now you're thinking.  Let's go check on them, and find out where this ridiculous music is coming from," Stockwell said.  "I feel like I'm in a Gentleman's club."

"There were some fine establishments during the war," Gutz said, and Stockwell just stared at him.

"Look it.  I've got my hands full.  Could you not start that war shit again, just for tonight?" Stockwell rather begged.

"I suppose I could give it a rest," Gutz said, as the trio walked.

"What war?" Kitty asked, and Stockwell shot her a look that not only got her to shut her mouth, but made her want to tape it shut.

"That's a story for another time," Gutz said.

"Thank you, Jesus," Stockwell whispered.

No one said a word for twenty steps or so, but as Stockwell rounded aisle twelve, he gasped.

"What the hell?" he whispered.

Granted, some of the pipes had been restored to their rightful place, but one slim, twelve footer had been fashioned into something not normally seen in tool stores.  Alejandro and Bernice were entertaining the others with their pole dancing prowess.

"WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?" Stockwell roared.

"Shit," Kitty whispered.

"Is this it?  Is this what you offered them?" Stockwell said.


"No, Kit?  You didn't set up some strip club in my plumbing department?"

"We are not strippers, we are exotic dancers!!" Alejandro quipped, gyrating to where Stockwell and Gutz still stood.

"Shut up!" Stockwell demanded.

"May I interest you in a lap dance, sir?" Alejandro asked, in a demurely sounding female voice.

"Get away from me, you freak!" Stockwell roared.

"Stop the name calling!" Daisy Cates yelled, and everyone shut up.  Bernice fell from her pole position, and someone cut the music.  "That isn't necessary.  These kids have been through hell tonight, and if they want to have some fun, I say we let them.  They're willing to stay until midnight to help get this cleaned up, and that says a lot, considering it isn't anyone's fault this happened.

Bernice and Penelope shot each other a knowing and relieved glance, which thankfully, nobody noticed.

Wilton Scott stepped forward.  "Did you know, sir, that pole dancing is considered to be wonderful exercise?  In fact, I once read something about church ladies who were dancing for Jesus."

"That's wonderful, Wilton.  Thank you for sharing that.  Does anyone else have anything?" Stockwell asked.  He seemed calmer, but he was that controlled angry, the kind normally seen right before one went completely insane.

"Did I miss the lap dances?" Aaron Faulkner slurred.

"Dear Lord, have you been drinking?" Stockwell asked.

"What I do on my free time is my business," Faulkner said defensively.

The paging system squeaked and squealed again, as if someone was playing with it.

"Who is doing that?" Stockwell demanded.

No one moved, and no one took responsibility, and everyone in the store was accounted for. 

"Alejandro, is there anyone else in this store, anyone that you know of?" Stockwell demanded.

"No, sir.  There's only thirteen of us, fifteen with you and Gutz, and the gang's all here," Alejandro explained.

"Daisy?  Can you walk the perimeter?  Let me know if you see anyone who shouldn't be in here," Stockwell asked.

"I will," Daisy said, lumbering away.

"Alejandro, Wilton, I am going to give you five minutes to get this damn pole down and back where it belongs.  Anyone who can drive a forklift, get back to Receiving and let's get the machines moving.  If we can get this cleared up by midnight, I'll let you all leave alive," Stockwell said, still sounding a bit like a madman.

"Anything I can do, sir?" Faulkner asked.

"Yeah.  Get yourself back to the break room and get yourself some coffee, and for God's sake, get a sponsor and get your act cleaned up," Stockwell said, and although he sounded pissed, he placed his hand on Faulker's arm.  "Honest to God, Faulkner, you're a great guy, with a good sense of humor, but you smell like a brewery, and you're going to rot your innards with that shit."

"Thanks, boss.  Means a lot coming from someone like you," Faulkner slurred, although not nearly as bad as before.

The paging system crackled again, and everyone turned their gazes toward the ceiling.

Daisy returned a moment later.

"Anything?" Stockwell asked.

"No, sir.  It's just us," Daisy assured.

"Then who in the hell is messing with the paging system?" Stockwell wondered aloud.

The crackling stopped for a moment and the store fell silent, but the silence lasted only momentarily.


Daisy Cates went pale.

"Shit," she whispered.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Tommy's Tool Town - Chapter 72 - Rockin' the Boat, Astro Style

Reeve Stockwell looked down at his feet.  He knew he was about to get a lickin' from JJ Patricks.

"So, let me get this straight," JJ began.  "There are about a hundred thousand people within reasonable distance of where we're standing right now, and you chose that knucklehead for a partner?"

"Jeez.  When you say it like that," Stockwell mumbled.

"Well? I've got a point, right?"

"You do.  He's a good guy, JJ," Stockwell said, defensively.

"He thinks he was at the Invasion of Normandy."

"No one is perfect," Stockwell remarked.

"Are you for real?  That's your defense?  No, no one is perfect, but most people don't think they were killed in WWII, and then floated around in the clouds for a while, before being born into the Gardner family,"  JJ blurted.  She arched a brow and looked curiously at Reeve Stockwell.


"Gardner," JJ replied.

"Who's that?" Stockwell asked.

"Your Gutzenheimer's father.  His name is Richard Gardner.  He had one son, an odd boy, but bright.  He was obsessed with WWII.  They named him Jerry."

"Gutz is Jerry Gardner?" Stockwell asked.

"He is.  Gutzenheimer doesn't exist."

"Wow," Stockwell said in amazement.

"He spent some time in a facility," JJ said.

"How do you know?" Stockwell asked.

JJ smiled.  "I text faster than you walk."

"I didn't think anyone did anything faster than I walk," Stockwell said.

"Your CI partner was institutionalized," JJ said, and Stockwell frowned.


"He believed he was a German soldier in WWII," JJ said.

"Shit," Stockwell whispered.

"He was arrested once, too," JJ announced.

"Dear God.  For what?"

"Trying to break into Area 51," JJ explained.

"Terrific," Stockwell replied, sounding forlorn.

"We have a problem, Stockwell," JJ barked.

"I guess."

"You're stuck with him.  You brought him into this, but I am telling you, keep the reins in on him.  If he starts talking about the FBI, you need to commit him."

"I couldn't do that," Stockwell whined.

"You'll have to.  If you blow my cover, I'll kill you."

"Jeez.  You're vicious," Stockwell said, as a chill ran through him.

Stockwell's phone vibrated in his pocket, and he was reminded of the mess that awaited him back at the store.  He opened the phone and checked the text.

It was from Mitchell.

If you hurt Rachel, I'll kill you.

"What the hell?" Stockwell said.

"What?" JJ asked.

"Now two people want to kill me," Stockwell said.

He had no idea who Rachel was, but if he saw her, he'd steer clear.

"I'm sure that's not true," JJ remarked.


"I'm sure a hell of a lot of people want to kill you, Stockwell," JJ said with a smile.



Daisy Cates plopped down on the upside down bucket in the little barn she found heavenly.  A small goat laid by her side.

She hadn't told Hannah she already had a growing goat family.  She hadn't told Hannah much about her life now, but that was fine.  She'd reveal things when and if they were needed, or she'd just show up at the RV rendezvous spot one day soon with a bunch of goats, a bulging knapsack, and a very ungrateful macaw.

The bird had followed her into the barn.

"Astro!" the bird screeched, announcing its presence by using its name.  His name wasn't really Astro, but evidently, that's what he heard every time Daisy yelled at him when he insisted on singing in the wee hours of the morning.

"Shut up, Astro!" the bird hollered, and Daisy rolled her eyes.

"It's asshole," Daisy whispered, chuckling at herself.

Her phone rang and the bird began to dance excitedly.

"Hello, hello, hello," the bird screeched, and Daisy left the barn momentarily, slamming the door and trapping Astro inside.

"Damn bird," she mumbled, not realizing she'd already answered her cell. 

This had better be good.  I've only been home for thirty minutes, Daisy thought.

"What damn bird?" Hannah asked.

"Never mind.  It's just a crow," Daisy said.

In the distance, she could hear the bird freaking out.

"Astro! Astro! Astro!"

He'd pretty much nailed it.

"What's up?" Daisy asked.

"Louise called.  She's got more dirt.  Wants to see us at Bitsy's about eleven.  She said something's going down at the store about midnight.  Some well-dressed-preppy-looking putz was in the bar, yacking up a storm with some Burger guy, yelling and stuff.  That was all she'd say, but said she'll whip us up some sweet potato fries and homemade ranch dressing if we come on down and hear her out.  She says we have to be there," Hannah rambled.

"I've got stuff going on," Daisy said, knowing she shouldn't leave the goat.  He was new, and she wasn't sure what was going on with him.  And then there was Astro, who'd begun singing Joan Jett songs inside the barn.

"I LOVE ROCKIN' BOATS," the bird hollered, and for a moment, Daisy wished she didn't love animals.  She'd have liked to send the damn bird packing.

"What's that?" Hannah asked, and Daisy moved farther from the barn.

"Nothing," Daisy mumbled.

"I hear singing," Hannah said.


The bird was on a roll.

She had to get off the phone.

"I'll meet you at Bitsy's at eleven.  I gotta go," Daisy said, hanging up the phone.


"SHUT UP!" Daisy screamed.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Tommy's Tool Town - Chapter 71 - Blue's Clues

Ten minutes after the failed jousting, the final PVC pipe came to rest just outside the appliance department. Kitty Richardson sat behind Stockwell's desk, staring at the security camera views of the entire store. Nearly every square inch was covered with pipes.

"Son of a ....-" Kitty mumbled. She opened her cell phone and called Stockwell.  He answered on the first ring and sounded distracted.

"I think I should close the store," Kitty said.

"Why?  Is your grandmother there?" Stockwell asked.

"Honestly?  She could be.  She could be buried in a sea of PVC.  I don't know how I'd know," Kitty whined.

"PVC?  What the hell are you talking about?" Stockwell asked, sounding suddenly interested.

"All the pipes fell in plumbing," Kitty explained.

"What do you mean they ALL fell?" Stockwell roared.

"I mean what I said.  Like every pipe fell and is on the floor," Kitty whimpered.

"Where are they?" Stockwell asked.

"The better question might be 'where aren't they?'" Kitty clarified.

"Who did this?" Stockwell asked, although he suspected he already knew.  Someone was trying to sabotage the store, or get everyone out early, but that wasn't happening.  Stockwell was already hatching a plan, and when Gutz was done being interrogated by a severely hormonal JJ Patricks, Stockwell was prepared to bring the conspiracy theorist into his confidence, and share his plans for the hours ahead.

"I have no idea who did it.  I think they just fell," Kitty said.

"How long have we stacked pipe like that?" Stockwell asked.

"I don't know," Kitty admitted.  "At least a hundred years.  That's how long I've been here."

"Nice, Kitty.  Fifteen years.  Fifteen years and this has never happened," Stockwell grumbled.

"I'll get it cleaned up," Kitty groaned.

"With what?" Stockwell asked.

"I don't know.  This shit is above my pay grade.  You need to come back.  You need to fix this," Kitty nearly demanded.

"I'm coming, but I'm still an hour away.  I'll be there in an hour and fifteen.  Don't screw anything else up before I arrive."

"Asshole," Kitty whispered, before hanging up the phone.  She was glad she was alone.  She really didn't feel that way about Stockwell, but he tended to overreact, and spent his wrath on whomever was in hearing distance.  She wondered if she should order a dozen fritters and have them delivered.

She didn't.

She did however, order a pizza and have it delivered to two old biddies who were probably fighting over primetime television.

There was no way in hell she could cope with that bullshit after a day like today.


Mickey Burger was having a hell of a good time.  This was almost as good as the Slim Spin 5000, and that thing hadn't been easy to tamper with.  He was wreaking havoc, and he felt no remorse.

An eye for an eye, or so they said, Burger thought.

The PVC thing was amazing. 

He hardly had to do a thing.

He'd compromised the shelving, making the disaster imminent, but he hadn't planned on those two cart-riding ding bats to help his plan along.

And so well.

Thankfully they hadn't been hurt, although the skinny one looked like someone who'd just dreamed she was naked at school.

Burger made quick work of leaving the scene, pocketing a drill bit along the way, just because he could.  He still had a few hours of screwing with Slick Mitchell and his pathetic mother ahead of him, and he desperately needed something to eat.

Destroying someone's life and livelihood was hard work.

Bernice Lord still had the presence of mind to ask him if he needed help as he passed.

"May I help you, sir?" Bernice asked.

"I was having trouble locating PVC," Burger said, bursting into a fit of giggles as he walked away.

"Douche bag," Bernice said, loud enough that he could hear.

Burger didn't care.  He was having a fine evening.

"Who was that?" Penelope asked, crawling from beneath the PVC pile.

"Some douche.  You okay?" Bernice asked.

"I seem to be.  I may or may not have broken a nail," Penelope said, wrinkling her nose and examining the third finger on her left hand.

"All good?" Bernice asked.

"Yeah.  Just a chip," Penelope replied.

"What do we do about this?" Bernice asked.  She didn't have to explain what this was, not even to Penelope.

"We should call Kitty," Penelope said.

"Nope.  We are not admitting to anything.  As far as she knows, we're in Receiving."

"Are we?" Penelope asked.

"Are we what?" Bernice replied.

"Are we in Receiving?"

"Of course not.  We're in Plumbing."

"Then we're guilty.  They will blame us," Penelope said, sounding panicked.

"Disneyworld," Bernice mumbled.


"It's what I say when I'm stressed," Bernice admitted.


"It's the happiest place on earth," Bernice explained.

"It is?"

"Not really.  It's all smoke and mirrors.  Underneath all the glitter, there's garbage everywhere.  People are rude, and the whole place smells like sweat and vomit, and don't even get me started on the rest rooms.  They all look like a shit bomb went off. 


"No kidding.  I don't know why anyone in their right mind would eat Indian food and then ride a rollercoaster.  Talk about testing your bowels," Bernice ranted.

Penelope turned a slight shade of green.

"Shit," Bernice said suddenly.

"What?" Penelope asked, no less green.

"I lost my keys.  They're gone.  They're in this mess somewhere.  Come on, help me dig!"

"Seriously?" Penelope whined.

"Yeah.  You have to.  You rode with me.  You wanna be stuck here with this mess?  They might expect us to help or something," Bernice said.

"Jeez, Louise.  You're right.  Where should I start?"

"Here," Bernice said, dropping to her knees.

She dug frantically and came up with a quarter, a gum wrapper, a busted pen and a piece of paper with some doodling.  The pen was everywhere, and she found herself covered with ink. She flipped the paper over, trying to wipe her ink-covered hands on it.

"Whoa," Bernice said, standing up quickly.

"You find them?" Penelope asked, without turning around.

"No, but I found this!" Bernice said, waving the paper.

"You're all covered in blue."

"I know.  It will come off eventually.  Look at this."

Penelope grabbed the paper and read it quickly.

"What should we do?" she asked.

"We go.  It's a clue, and we need that money more than ever," Bernice said.

"Why?" Penelope asked.

"Because here comes Kitty and she looks pissed.  Now we're surrounded with PVC pipes, some of which are covered in blue ink.  We're totally fired," Bernice announced, taking the paper from Penelope's outstretched hand.

Bernice read it again before wadding it into her fist.  The clue was clear.

Receiving at Midnight.  If you're late, someone dies.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Tommy's Tool Town - Chapter 70 - I'll Take Complete and Utter Nonsense for Two Hundred, Alex

As an enormous rolling sea of PVC pipes filled every orifice of Tommy's Tool Town, Reeve Stockwell sat blissfully unaware across from a very pissed off looking JJ Patricks.  Gerald Gutzenheimer just stared.

"I thought she was dead," Gutz finally said, once coffee was poured.

"Do I look dead?" JJ asked, her angry expression unchanged.

"You're a little pale," Gutz remarked.

"I'm pregnant," JJ griped.

"Someone slept with her?" Gutz whispered to Stockwell, as JJ drew a sharp hiss.

"I can hear you," JJ growled.

"My apologies, ma'am," Gutz said softly.  "You just never struck me as a man eater."

"I'm not.  It was artificial insemination," JJ said, although she wasn't sure why.

"Oh.  The turkey baster method," Gutz said.

"Yes, and thank you for that most clinical visual," JJ hissed.

"You're welcome," Gutz mumbled.

"Mr. Stockwell, please tell me why you've chosen Gerald for your partner," JJ rather demanded, pronouncing "Gerald," with a long drawn out J.

Gutz spoke before Stockwell could open his mouth.

"Ga," Gutz barked.

"I beg your pardon?" JJ asked.

"Ga!" Gutz repeated.

"Are you choking?  Do you need 911?  The Heimlich maneuver?" JJ asked.

"It's Gerald with a G.  No J.  You can keep your J's," Gutz explained.

"Very well," JJ said.  "You were saying, Stockwell?"

"I never got a chance to speak," Reeve Stockwell grumbled.  Gutz picked up his coffee cup as JJ watched carefully.  He took a luxurious gulp.

"He's occupied.  Speak now!" JJ demanded.

"Gerald is a conspiracy theorist," Stockwell began.

"You chose a conspiracy theorist for a partner?" JJ asked.

"He's occasionally right," Stockwell said defensively.

"I believe the Tommy schedule was created to keep everyone just awake enough to serve, and tired enough to be incapable of questioning that which seems unreasonable," Gutz declared.

"The schedule is bad?" JJ asked.

"Let's just say we're the only company with the words 'chronic fatigue' in our mission statement," Stockwell admitted.

"It may be in ours, too," JJ commented.

"Look it," Gutz began.  "Everyone thinks I'm crazy, but harmless.  I blend in.  No one would be overly cautious about speaking openly around me.  The worst they might expect is I'll attempt to create a conspiracy theory from whatever it is they're speaking of," Gutz explained.

"And this benefits me how?" JJ asked.

"I am a magnet for information," Gutz said.

"How so?" JJ asked.

"Folks like to mess with me.  They'll tell me their secrets just to see how I spin them.  I'm like the Julia Child of conspiracy theorists.  Give me some butter and beans, six taters, and a dead chicken, and I'll whip you up a seven course conspiracy theory."

"Wow.  Is this dude for real?" JJ asked, attempting to hide a smile.

"He is," Stockwell said.

"I'd like something in return for my service," Gutz declared.

"What?" JJ asked.

"A pass into Area 51," Gutz whispered, looking around.


"A pass into-"

"Shut up.  I heard you the first time.  Is he serious?" JJ asked, looking at Stockwell.

"Absolutely," Stockwell said.  He was thoroughly enjoying this.

"There is no such place," JJ said.

"She drank the Kool-Aid," Gutz whispered.

"I heard that, too," JJ quipped.

"You are a liar," Gutz said, looking under the table.

"What the hell are you doing now?" JJ asked.

"Checking to see if your pants are on fire," Gutz said, matter of fact.

"What?  What is the matter with you?  Are you medicated?  Do you drink?  Are you mentally unstable?"  JJ rambled.

"I am all three.  I take one aspirin a day.  I drink two beers on Friday, three on Saturday and none on Sunday," Gutz explained.

"You live by a three-day calendar?" JJ asked.

"She is a genuine smart ass," Gutz whispered.

"I HEARD THAT!" JJ barked, quickly losing her patience.

"You didn't let me finish!" Gutz complained.

"So finish," JJ said, sounding defeated.  She glared at Stockwell, who look away quickly.

"I am likely mentally unstable by definition, but not because of any modern-day mumbo jumbo, like my mommy didn't hold me.  I have suffered a head injury," Gutz said.  "I took a hit to the helmet during the Invasion of Normandy."

JJ dropped her coffee cup.  The amber liquid spread quickly and dribbled onto the floor.  No one moved.  Gutz included.

"What?" Stockwell whispered.

"War wound," Gutz said, sounding incredibly proud.

"World War II?" Stockwell squeaked.

"Yes," Gutz said.

JJ said nothing.

"That was in 1944," Stockwell said, sounding horrified.

Gutz slid a sugar packet across the table in Stockwell's direction.  "You're correct!" Gutz declared, sounding almost exactly like the beloved Jeopardy host.  "Too bad it wasn't a daily double, I'd have given you two sugars."

"May I see you outside?" JJ said, glaring at Stockwell.  She stood quickly, and although she was barely taller than the booth, she looked imposing.

"I wasn't finished," Gutz said.

JJ sat with a thud.

"Go on," she mumbled.

"I know what you're thinking.  Surely a fella of my obvious youthful prowess wasn't in World War II, and you're right, but I was there.  I am confident I was a soldier, not an American, and when I was killed, I went into a holding pattern, and there I waited until I was reborn as tiny, little Gerald Gutzenheimer."

"That's just super.  That's a hell of a lot better explanation than the suggestion that you were actually IN the Battle of Normandy!" JJ practically shouted.  She stood and took several steps toward the door.

"Stockwell!" JJ hollered.

"Coming," Reeve Stockwell responded glumly.

"I think she likes me," Gutz said, sipping at his coffee.

"Yeah.  She seems thrilled," Stockwell said.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Tommy's Tool Town - Chapter 69 - Glad the Impaler

Kitty Richardson practically threw her arms around Miles Longworth when he walked through the door, but she didn't want to push it.

Miles stood just inside and looked around.

"Who's in charge in this dump?" Miles grumbled, not sounding like his usual self.

"Me," Kitty whispered.

"Seriously?" Miles asked.

"Yeah, and don't say it like that," Kitty replied, sounding offended.

"Like what?"

"Like you can't believe no one died," Kitty mumbled.

"Did they?"

"No," Kitty said.

"Then it's not a bad day."

"Is something wrong, Miles?" Kitty asked.

"Where should I begin?"

"You could begin by looking outside," Kitty said, taking a step back.

Miles did.  Flashing lights could be seen in the distance, and as they grew closer, Miles felt his Moe's burrito spinning around like a carnival ride in his gut.

"Shit," Miles whispered when two cop cars pulled into Tommy's parking lot.

They didn't slow up and Kitty wondered if they were going to crash through the front doors.  "I really hope my grandmother doesn't have anything to do with this," Kitty mumbled.

"For once, I doubt she's involved," Miles said, looking pale.

Both cars stopped just short of the door.  Officer Lowell stepped out of the first car, and Miles began looking for a garbage pail he could toss his cookies into. 

"You okay?" Kitty asked.

"I have a feeling I am not," Miles whispered.

Lowell plowed through the front door, and the chicken shit in Miles wanted to run, but he held his ground.  He was going to the clink.  He accepted it as an absolute truth, like knowing the world was round, and knowing that burritos gave you the runs, and knowing that a bird will fly miles out of its way to crap on a freshly washed automobile.

"Mr. Longworth?" Lowell said, sounding like he meant business.

"Officer," Miles said, praying to the intestinal Gods.

"I'd like you to come with me," the officer said.

"Oh, crap," Kitty whispered.

"Why?" Miles asked.

"I wasn't done with you," Lowell said.

"I came forward voluntarily," Miles said, and Kitty arched a brow.  This was getting interesting.

"I didn't give you permission to leave," Lowell barked.

"Are you going to arrest me for leaving?" Miles asked.

"I could."

"You could not.  That isn't a crime.  It's not like I left the scene of an accident."

"Didn't you?" Lowell asked.

"No," Miles mumbled.

This was going somewhere, and Miles had a feeling it was nowhere good.

"You left your notepad.  It was blank," Lowell said.

"I didn't mean to," Longworth said.

"So you left it by accident?" Lowell asked.

"I did."

"So, you left the scene of an accident," Lowell said.

"That is asinine," Longworth complained. "You're going to arrest me for leaving my notepad?"

"I am asking you to come back to the station of your own free will," Lowell said.

"And if I don't?"

"This is going to get ugly," Lowell advised.

"Kitty, you're in charge.  Clearly I have to go," Miles said, sullenly.

"No," Kitty whined.

"You'll be fine.  You are a competent woman.  I know you can handle this," Miles assured.

"Are you coming back?" Kitty whined.

"I have a feeling I am not.  At least not tonight.  I'm sure this officer has some unsolved murder he can charge me with," Miles said.

"I heard that," Lowell quipped from near the door.

Lowell held the door for Miles Longworth, despite the fact that it was an automatic door.  Longworth followed.  He looked back, and his eyes met Kitty's.  He looked like he might cry.  "Behave, kiddo," he whispered.

And then he was gone.

"Shit," Kitty whispered.

At first she'd been intrigued, but suddenly she was frightened.  The Tommy compound was mammoth and there was no telling what might go wrong on her watch.  She dialed Stockwell's cell phone.  He answered on the first ring.

"JJ?" Stockwell said.

"Why would you think I was JJ?" Kitty asked.

"Sorry.  Wrong number," Stockwell said.  And he hung up.

Kitty immediately redialed.  Stockwell answered.

"Why would you think I was JJ?" Kitty asked.

"That's what it says on my phone when the store calls," Stockwell said.

"Why?" Kitty asked.

"Because JJ used to call me all the time," Stockwell said.  "She was almost the only person who called me, so it was just natural for me to label it JJ."

Kitty totally bought it, but she wasn't entirely satisfied.

"Why would she call you?" Kitty asked.

"Because you guys missed her break, or sent her to lunch late, or asked her to sweep.  Dear God, why wouldn't she call me?" Stockwell asked.

"Oh, right," Kitty mumbled.

"Why did you call me?" Stockwell asked.

"I am pretty sure Miles just got arrested," Kitty explained.

"Seriously?" Stockwell asked.

"Yes.  You need to come back," Kitty begged.

"I am an hour away."  This time, Stockwell was being truthful.  He was waiting for JJ at the same restaurant they'd had dinner at the night she'd asked Stockwell to be her CI.  Gutz was inside, probably talking to the waitress about a salt and pepper shaker conspiracy.  He had to get back inside.

"Kitty.  I can't make it back much before closing.  You'll be fine.  It's only a couple of hours.  I have to go, but I have faith in you.  I'm sure everything will be fine."

Stockwell hung up.  He couldn't have imagined how wrong he'd been.


Bernice Lord was skulking about the receiving area when Kitty paged her.  She sulked and picked up the nearest phone.

"Hey, Kitty," Bernice said.

"I need some help up front with closing duties, Bernice," Kitty said.

"Okay, can I bring Penelope?"

"From where would you be bringing her?" Kitty asked.  It wasn't uncommon for Bernice and Penelope to wander off.

"From wherever she is, I suppose," Bernice said.

"Bernice.  You couldn't be more elusive if you tried," Kitty declared.

"Thanks," Bernice said, hanging up.

Three minutes later Bernice and Penelope arrived on the front end.

"Where were you, Penelope?" Kitty asked.

"In the toilets," Penelope responded.

"Oh?  Are you ill?" Kitty asked.

"No.  I was selling this old fart a toilet," Penelope said.  "He said his wife had too much wine and stepped on the lid of the toilet to get some aspirin from the shelving unit above the toilet.  Turns out the lid was up.  Her foot got stuck in the bowl in he had to use a shovel to break the toilet and free her."

"That sounds like a noble guy," Kitty said, wishing she could find one for herself.

"Not so much.  He looks at me dead serious and says, "'I should have hit that old bat with the shovel years ago when I had the chance.  I wouldn't have to buy the toilet, and I could throw all those ugly Hummels away.'  You should be glad you're single, Kitty," Penelope said.

"Yeah.  It's a blast," Kitty said.  "Okay, speaking of plumbing, I need you guys to take those long gray pipes back to plumbing.  Guy didn't want them."

"We have to put plumbing stuff away?" Bernice whined.  "Plumbing sucks."

"Yes, but I can sweeten the deal.  Two of the electric carts have to be serviced tomorrow.  If you behave and take the plumbing stuff back, you may each ride a cart back to receiving."

"Deal!" Bernice said.

The two girls left, and took the plumbing parts back.  Along the way, they hatched a diabolical plan.  They were both grinning widely when they returned for the carts.

"What are you up to?" Kitty asked suspiciously.

"Nothing," Bernice assured.

"Keep it that way," Kitty demanded.

Bernice and Penelope headed deep into the store, and when they were out of sight of the front end, both stopped.  "Get them," Bernice said.

Penelope did.

"Let the jousting begin!" Bernice said delightedly.

Each girl picked up a long gray pipe, at least twelve feet long.

"You know how, right?" Bernice said.

Penelope nodded.

"Okay, the first one to fall off the cart is out.  The other one wins!" Bernice declared.

"Falling off sounds painful," Penelope said, frowning.

"You should be more worried about being impaled.  I could be Vlad the Impaler."

"Who?" Penelope asked.

"Vlad the Impaler.  He used to impale people and hang 'em on sticks," Bernice explained, giving a less than historical account of Vlad's barbaric deeds.

"Jeez.  Why?  This Glad guy sounds horrible."

"He wasn't Glad!" Bernice said.

"I wouldn't think so," Penelope said.  "He must have felt bad afterward."

"Nevermind," Bernice said.  "You ready?" Bernice asked.

"I think this is a bad idea," Penelope said.

"Nonsense.  On your mark.....," Bernice said, not waiting.  She began to approach Penelope, pipe held like a jousting stick. 

Penelope, feeling cowardly, drove her cart forward, pipe held high, with her eyes closed.  She felt the pipe hit her cart, and hung a sharp left.


The sound of seven-hundred PVC pipes falling could be heard almost half a mile away.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tommy's Tool Town - Chapter 68 - The Dynamic Duo

"Before the crumbs even had a chance to settle on the plates of Stockwell and Gutz, word of Stockwell's involvement with the FBI had already traveled to the back room of Bitsy's.  Toothless Louise sat doing the New York Times crossword puzzle, and listening to the monitor on the desk beside her. 

Gutz wasn't the only conspiracy theorist on the premises, and Toothless Louise couldn't remember when she'd first thought of bugging the tables.  She'd heard some weird shit since she had, normally little more than clandestine meetings between lovers, and once, a conversation between a police officer, and an old fellow who thought his neighbor was messing around with his sheep. 

She'd never regretted placing the bugs, and she certainly didn't regret it now.  She was on the phone with Hannah Bandana, faster than you could say boo.  Hannah answered on the first ring, and Toothless was quick.  She hung up and smiled.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Kitty was perched by the front door on the lookout for a grandmother in a prom dress.  When none appeared, and Miles Longworth was seen sauntering toward the front door, Kitty breathed an enormous sigh of relief.  She'd been left in charge and nothing had gone wrong.

It was nothing short of a miracle.

Daisy Cates passed by on her way to answer the bell next to the drill bits. 

"Hope it isn't some crazy mother looking to do a lobotomy again," Daisy mumbled.

"Did that really happen?" Kitty asked.

"Twice.  This place is an insane asylum," Daisy declared.

"Good luck," Kitty said.

Daisy moseyed onward, toward the shriek of the bell.  No one was there.

"Dammit," Daisy mumbled.

"Down here," a voice whispered.


"Daisy.  Look down," the voice insisted.

Hannah Bandana was crouched on the floor, between two tool boxes.

"What the hell are you doing on the floor?" Daisy asked.

"I had to see you," Hannah whispered.

"You couldn't just come in the door like a normal person?" Daisy asked.

"Not this time," Hannah said, trying to stand.  She unfolded herself like an aging, somewhat arthritic pretzel.  Finally she achieved success, and stood beside Daisy.  She panted for a moment, then recovered.  "Toothless called, had some information for me.  I might have mentioned that I was teaming up with you to solve a mystery here."

"You told Toothless this?" Daisy said, cringing.

"Yeah," Hannah said, not quite meeting her friend's eyes.

"She will tell everyone.  Are you stupid?" Daisy asked.

"I may have been at that moment.  It might be from years of wearing this bandana so damn tight.  Do you think maybe it's affected how my brain cells move?  Do brain cells need sun, because I wear this bandana almost every damn day."

"I was really just busting you.  I don't think you're stupid," Daisy said defensively.

"No?  I've done some really stupid things, and it started quite a while ago.  Do you remember that one Halloween when I dressed up like Princess Leia and I wore those Little Debbie Honeybuns in my hair?"

"That was great," Daisy said, smiling nostalgically.

"Until we got to the party, realized it was outside, and my head began attracting every insect this side of the Mississippi," Hannah recounted.

"Did you come here for a trip down memory lane?" Daisy asked.

"No," Hannah admitted.

"Then what?" Daisy asked.

"I heard something about Stockwell," Hannah whispered, so softly Daisy couldn't hear her.

"You need to speak at a level that humans can hear," Daisy said.

"Sorry," Hannah said.  She repeated herself, and Daisy's ears perked.

"Follow me," Daisy said. 

She led Hannah deep into the store, into the break room.  Two young associates sat at a single table, munching Doritos like they were in a Frito Lay All You Can Eat contest.  "You two.  Out!" Daisy commanded.  Both left without question.

Daisy crossed the room and pressed every button on the Wheel of Death.  Food started spinning like miniature carnival rides.  The noise was deafening.

She returned to the table, and sat down hard.  "Sit," she commanded.  Hannah did as told.  "Spill it!"

"I cannot hear myself think," Hannah whined.

"That's the point.  Talk!" Daisy ordered.

"Area 51 is real!" Hannah barked, and Daisy sat up straighter.

"It is?"

"Yes," Hannah said.  "Toothless heard Stockwell making a deal with some Gutz fellow, some conspiracy theorist who wants to see Area 51.  Guy took the deal, so Area 51 must be real.  He didn't say anything about aliens, but what else could be there?  I don't think there's all that propaganda hidin' a WalMart.  Do you?"

Daisy arched a brow.  "You said Stockwell made a deal with this guy."

"I did."

"Do you care to tell me what Stockwell had to offer?  I mean, come on, Hannah, this Gutz fella, and I know this guy, he thinks everybody's in cahoots with everybody else, so I cannot imagine why Stockwell would want to wheel and deal with him.  This Gutz fella is out there, and I mean, I grade on a curve, so he's really out there.  He doesn't see six degrees of separation between any one thing and Kevin Bacon, but I bet he could connect any one thing to Kevin Bacon with six different conspiracies."

"Wow," Hannah said, then frowned.

"What's wrong?"

"There was a question in there.  I can't remember what it was," Hannah admitted.

"Sheesh.  What was Stockwell offering?" Daisy asked.

"A partnership, and a connection."

"A connection to what?" Daisy asked.

"CBS," Hannah said.

"CBS?  The network?" Daisy said.  "Stockwell has a connection to CBS?"

"That doesn't sound right," Hannah said, scratching her head.  "It was three letters."

"You forgot?"

"I may have," Hannah admitted.  "I'm telling you.  I'm losing brain cells to these tight bandanas."

"I don't think that's it," Daisy said, "but you tell yourself whatever makes you happy."

Hannah went silent, and Daisy watched as someone turned on the lights in her gray matter.

"FBI," Hannah whispered.

"What?"  Daisy mouthed the word.

"I knew it was three letters," Hannah said.

"Stockwell is in the FBI?" Daisy said.

"I think so.  He's a conditional informer."

"Confidential informant," Daisy said.

"Yes.  That," Hannah agreed.

"This is amazing information," Daisy said.  "Hannah, do you know what this means?"

"I should see a neurologist about my brain?"

"No.  You should see an RV dealer.  Reeve Stockwell just became my new best friend, and our duo just became a trio.  Call Toothless and let her know what's cooking.  We need a third man."

"She's a woman," Hannah said.

"I know.  I might be time to get an MRI," Daisy recommended.

"Three letters," Hannah said through a sigh.