Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tommy's Tool Town - Chapter 44 - The End is Near

Mick Daniels inhaled deeply and thought of Disneyland.  The scene before him looked like something from a freak show. 

He'd had it.  Never before had he admitted defeat, but this battle was one he knew he couldn't win.  He'd never seen such a mass of idiots assembled under one roof.  The mere fact that the store even ran inefficiently was a miracle the likes of the Virgin Mary appearing in the dirt on the side of a back hoe.

He felt his blood pressure rising, felt heat in his face.  Larry Dale stood still by his side, his mouth agape.  If Dale couldn't fix this, no one could.  Their best hope was to be hit by a meteor, fill the hole, and sell the land to WalMart.

Daniels was a praying man.

He prayed for a meteor.

"Whatcha thinking about, boss?" Larry Dale asked, his voice gentle.

"A meteor, or an asteroid," Mick Daniels admitted.

Propriety had gone out the window.  Mick Daniels had finally begun to manage his own expectations, and at this point, he hoped to survive the day.

"Why, boss?" Larry Dale inquired thoughtfully.

"I was thinking it would be a good time to get hit by one," Daniels admitted.

"Don't give up, boss.  Let me see if I can get this under control.  We'll see what we dig up, which is likely something an animal buried, then we'll see if we can counsel these folks, get this back in order."  Larry Dale appeared unshaken, if not a bit shocked.  His faith in his own ability calmed Mick Daniels, but only slightly.  Daniels finally lost it.

"EVERYONE SHUT THE HELL UP!" Daniels yelled.

Surprisingly, everyone did.  The silence was almost deafening.  No one moved for better than three minutes.  Finally, the silence was broken by the backfire of an arriving Tommy delivery truck.  Aaron Faulkner was at the wheel.  Ada MacKenzie was in the passenger seat.

"What in the sam hell?" Kitty Richardson whispered.

The last thing this party needed was a geriatric maniac dressed like Miley Cyrus.

Kitty ran to the truck and collided head on with a disembarking Aaron Faulkner.  Both fell to the ground in a tangle one might liken to a failed game of Twister, or Saturday night Cinemax. 

"This is just terrific.  Let's pause for an orgy," Daniels growled.

"It was clearly an accident, boss.  Let 'em get up before you start passing judgment," Larry Dale said, his voice tinged with an anger and frustration Mick Daniels hadn't heard before.

Aaron Faulkner looked toward the sky.  The scenery was broken by the lined face of Ada MacKenzie.  Kitty Richardson lay by his side with her eyes closed. 

"You break it, you buy it, young fella," Ada said, before turning her face to the sky.  "Dear Baby Jesus, please bring a fella for my Kitty.  She's a fine girl, and she mixes a mad margarita.  A little light on the Patron, but no one's perfect.  She'd be good for a drinkin' man."

"Grandma, put a sock in it," Kitty whispered, and Aaron Faulkner exhaled in a rush.  He tortured himself every day about the fire in Albuquerque.  He'd never be able to forgive himself if he killed a woman.

"Don't you be petulant with me, child," Ada growled.  Kitty sat upright and removed Aaron Faulkner's hand from a place it shouldn't be, unless he came bearing flowers, a ring, and a nice place in the country with a couple of cats.

"Why is she here?" Kitty said to Aaron Faulkner, whose face was a nice shade of crimson.  Kitty brushed a dirty handprint from her already stained Tommy shirt.

"She climbed in the truck and wouldn't get out," Aaron said, getting to his feet.  He offered a hand to Kitty, who took it. 

"How in the world did she get in the truck?" Kitty asked.  "She can barely climb stairs."

"It was rather a miracle of sorts," Aaron said.  "It was like something clear out of the Senior Citizen Olympics.  One second she was on the ground, and the next she was in the truck.  You should offer up a word of thanks.  She tried to get in my side, but couldn't get the door open."

"Great God, now do you see what I go through?" Kitty asked in a whisper.  "Now do you see why I am such a freak?"  Tears welled in Kitty's eyes.

"You're not a freak," Aaron said in Kitty's defense.

"Yes, I am.  You don't think I know what people think of me.  I am that aging spinster who has a lot of pets and lives with her mother and her grandmother.  I am the most undesirable of creatures."

Aaron Faulkner was a thoughtful guy, but he was beginning to get uncomfortable.  He never knew what to say to a crying woman, and in desperation he did the unthinkable.

"I live in my mother's basement," Aaron whispered.

"You do?" Kitty said.  Her tears stopped in an instant and she smiled.

"It's a real chick magnet," Aaron Faulkner admitted.

"Don't feel bad.  My relationships all end after the meeting of the family," Kitty said.

"All right!" Mick Daniels yelled from just behind Aaron.  Kitty jumped, and Aaron reached out to steady her.  "Why don't you two desperados just join EHarmony.  We've got business to attend to!"

"My grandmother!" Kitty said, looking around her.

"What about her?" Mick Daniels said, his patience finally fully spent.

"I don't see her!" Kitty yelled, her voice rising toward hysteria.

"Dear Lord in heaven," Mick Daniels complained.  He walked away and climbed on top of a stack of pallets.  "Everyone listen up!  Kitty's grandmother is among us and she's lost track of her.  She's here somewhere.  Let's find her and then we're gonna dig this place up.  If you've got something buried out here, you're going to be exposed.  Then you're going to be fired."

Before Daniels could climb down from the pallets, the growl of a running back hoe filled the air.  Everyone turned. 

Kitty gasped.

Daniels went pale.

Larry Dale took off running.

The backhoe was on the move with none other than Ada MacKenzie at the wheel.

A single customer stood at the back of the pack, his face set into a smile that looked more like a sinister sneer.  This was all going far better than he could have ever expected.

Tool Towners scrambled.

Ada squealed with glee and shouted in a voice that rose high above the clatter of the backhoe.


By some miracle, Ada managed to drive the backhoe to the where the ground was disturbed.  She maneuvered with a skill that paralyzed everyone.  One by one, buckets of dirt were removed.

Kitty stood like a corpse. 

She was going to prison.

For a long time.

She'd probably end up in a cell with a woman named Wanda who only knew sixteen words, and couldn't spell any of them correctly.

She'd die.

In jail.

Stockwell began to shiver.

He was going to prison, too.  He wasn't worried about his cellmate.  He'd be dead by the end of the first day.

Longworth nearly peed himself.  He began wishing for a day of shopping with his wife.  Anything was better than being beaten in the prison yard like an eight-year-old boy with glasses.

A few more buckets and the boxes would be visible.

Boxes covered with the DNA of three prison-bound Tool Towners.

Larry Dale screamed at the top of his lungs.  He moved frantically, and tried unsuccessfully to grab Mick Daniels as he ran by.  Daniels was on the move like a streaker at a European sporting event, and Larry Dale's fingers barely touched the fabric of Daniels' now soiled dress shirt.

"Get off that thing!" Daniels yelled.

The Hell's Angels stood together.  Toothless Louise still clutched the greasy bag.  Stockwell grabbed for it.  If he was going to prison, he was going with a full stomach.  The fries were cold.  He ate them anyway.

Miles Longworth began to pray......  "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.  He maketh me to lie down in the prison yard and play dead......."

Ada MacKenzie swung the backhoe's bucket around after dumping a load thankfully free of anything that resembled guns or stolen money.

The hole was about four feet deep.  The bucket cut the air with a gentle "whoosh," and made contact with a frantic Mick Daniels.  Daniels flew like a rag doll and landed in the hole with a thump.

"Holy shit," Longworth said.  All thoughts of prison were momentarily abandoned. 

The backhoe fell silent, as did the group.  One by one they approached the hole.

Daniels lay supine.  His eyes were closed.  One hand covered his bloodied face.  The other held a small object, dirtied by its condemnation to the earth.

Larry Dale helped Ada exit the backhoe.  She toddled toward the hole.  Kitty couldn't speak.  Her grandmother had finally done it.  She'd killed a man.

The Tool Towners stood silently over the makeshift grave.

Larry Dale tried to call 911, but his hands were trembling too much to dial even three numbers.  Instead, he dropped to his knees, the phone silent in his fist.

Bernice cried and held tightly to Penelope's hand. 

Mags stood in awe, knowing in another life, she'd been the one in the hole.

Stockwell tossed his cookies.

The Hell's Angels clung to each other.  Hannah Bandana removed her hat and placed it over her heart.

No one said a word. 

No one could.

Kitty clung to Aaron, who was as pale as a ghost.  Finally she broke the silence, her voice laced with grief and fear.  And disbelief.  "Grandma, what were you thinking?  Do you see what you've done?"

"Sure as shootin'," Ada said, without a hint of regret.  "I've found my goll darned teeth!"

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

We now pause for a commercial break

Due to unforeseen circumstances, and time constraints the equivalent of trying to shove two pounds of Ada's magic brownies into a one pound baking pan, Tommy's Tool Town will not be posted this week.

Tommy's will return next week, and you won't want to miss it!

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

Rock on, Tool Towners!!



Heaven has acquired a new Holden.  Godspeed, old fella.  Say "hello," to Kitty's daddy when you see him.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tommy's Tool Town - Chapter 43 - Hell's Angels? Can You Dig It?

"All set, boss!" Larry Dale said, sporting a satisfied grin.  "H.D. Diggers sounds a bit like he has a nasty head cold, but he said he'll be by in about thirty minutes.  What shall we do while we wait?"

"Well, we could gather all these dimwits together and lead them toward a cliff, and hope they all go off like a bunch of freakin' lemmings," Mick Daniels said, as he surveyed the offerings of the break room vending machine.

"Jeepers, when you have a bad day, boss, you have a bad day," Dale remarked.  "Try the Skittles, boss.  It says they make mouths happy."

Daniels turned away from the vending machine and headed toward the lockers. 

"Whatcha lookin' for, boss?" Larry Dale asked.

"I swear I smell scotch.  I figured it was coming from that Faulkner guy's locker," Daniels surmised.

"Really?" Larry Dale asked.

"Let me tell you something, Larry Dale.  That Aaron Faulkner is a heck of a guy, but, - and I'm only telling you this because I know you'd like to advance in the company one day - when you got a fellow that drinks and sets stuff on fire, you've got yourself an enormous problem."

"He said the fire was an accident.  I was standing right there," Larry Dale said, in obvious defense of the appliance manager.

"I heard him," Mick Daniels said.  "Look, Dale.  I give the guy a fair shake, but he was in the break room, he was tipsy, and suddenly he was running like Forest Gump, and the break room was on fire."

"Let me ask you this, boss.  If you looked to your left and noticed a fire, would you run?" Larry Dale asked.

"I might, Dale," Daniels said with a groan.

"I rest my case," Dale replied.

"Let's go see if my lemming theory might work.  You're beginning to irritate me," Daniels commented, with an obvious frown.

Mick Daniels rather stomped from the break room - which was not on fire - and Larry Dale obediently followed.  Both sped up when they heard commotion from the front end.

"Great," Daniels said.

Three men in Mad Mike's Electrical Service jumpsuits had gathered at self checkout.  Self checkout number five was shooting sparks. 

"What is going on here?" Daniels demanded.

Reeve Stockwell was in heated discussion with all three men.  One of them waved his hands in frustration.

"That one must be Mike," Larry Dale said, pointing to the hand waver.

"What makes you think that?" Daniels asked.

"He looks mad," Larry Dale said, sounding delighted by his own wit.

"Pretty soon I'm going to ask you to wait in the car," Mick Daniels said, and Larry Dale chuckled again.  "Stockwell, what's happening?" 

"Well, sir.  I was in my office waiting on my lunch, and I heard Bernice scream.  I came out and this was happening," Stockwell said, pointing at the still sparking self checkout five.  "We've used Mike's guys many times, and they happened to be here getting parts for another job."

"The Universe works in mysterious ways," Larry Dale muttered.

"Dale, put a cork in it," Daniels said with frustration.

"Where might I find a cork, boss?" Larry Dale asked.

"Check Faulkner's locker."  Miles Longworth had just sauntered up front, and offered his two cents.

Without warning, the power went out.  Almost immediately, it was back.  Self checkout five rebooted itself in thirty seconds, and flashed into the "on," position.

"Whatever they did, it seems to have worked," Longworth surmised.

Everyone's head turned as a distinctive whirring became more pronounced.  Every ceiling fan in the lighting area was spinning fast enough to launch a Space Shuttle. 

"Holy shit," Larry Dale whispered.  "That can't be good, boss."

"Mike!" Reeve Stockwell yelled.  "Something's not right!"

All the jump-suited guys turned, and one ducked.  "Incoming," the man yelled frantically.

The fans had taken all they could and were coming apart at the seams.  A pink and white fan decorated with dainty strawberries exploded, and Penelope screamed and dove for cover. 

One unit caught everyone's attention.  A beautiful special order piece with chrome plated blades was spinning like a helicopter's propeller.  "Sweet Mary, mother of God," Daniels whispered, as he began inching toward the door.  Mags Davidson was shuffling customers into the vestibule.  One blade let loose, missed Mags by a fraction of an inch and hit the door.  Glass shattered, and Mick Daniels screamed like a Girl Scout in a haunted house. 

"Everyone out!" Daniels yelled when he had composed himself.  This insane asylum is closed until further notice!"

"Not bad timing, boss.  Diggers just pulled in," Larry Dale said.

"Great.  Longworth, get everyone out, then come out back.  Stockwell, you find that Kitty woman and Mags, unless she gets killed first, and report out behind the building.  Provided we find nothing that puts you all away for twenty-five to life, we may reopen tomorrow.  If my memory serves me correctly, this is the second time in less than a month this store had been closed during working hours."

Five minutes later, a forlorn group, some dressed in neon green, was assembled behind the building.  With the store closed until further notice, several Tool Towners had shown uninvited.  Bernice and Penelope were perched upon a pile of pallets.  Daisy Cates was chewing the nail on the middle finger of her left hand.

Those present by request looked far more uneasy.  Kitty rocked from one foot to the other, and shot terrified glances in the direction of Longworth and Stockwell.

Stockwell hadn't gotten his burger, and had unsettling thoughts of Toothless Louise banging on the front door of the now closed Tommy's, while her Ford Escort sputtered in the parking lot and further damaged the environment.

Longworth was regretting the third cup of coffee he'd had and desperately needed to find a men's room.

Mags stood quietly with her hands shoved in her pockets.  She was still shaken after narrowly escaping "death by fan."

H.D. Diggers had unloaded the backhoe, and approached the group.

"Larry Dale?  Is there a Larry Dale here?" H.D. asked in a raspy voice. 

"Mr. Diggers?" Larry Dale said, from where he stood alongside a seriously ticked-off Mick Daniels.

"Mister?" H.D. said, sounding suddenly feminine. 

"My apologies, ma'am," Larry Dale said, as H.D. slipped out of a Carhart, revealing that Diggers was definitely not a mister.

"The name's Hannah.  H.D. Diggers is the company name.  Diggin's what we do," Hannah said.  "You were brief on the phone.  Wanna give me the low down on the purpose of my visit here?"

"One of the staff believes they saw something illegal taking place out here," Mick Daniels said authoritatively.  "Ground's been disturbed.  If something was buried here, I'd like to know what."

"Seriously?  I don't want no monkey business, and no trouble.  I left that life behind.  I live by the book nowadays.  I get the urge to get into somethin' and I go dig somethin' up.  Why, I don't even go to Sturgis anymore.  Last time I got arrested," Hannah rambled, and Daniels rolled his eyes.  His lemming idea was sounding better and better.

Maybe I can get her to dig me out a huge cliff, Daniels thought.

"Did I hear someone say Sturgis?" Daisy yelled from amongst the crowd.

"Color me nostalgic, is that Crazy Daisy?" Hannah yelled.

"Is that Hannah Bandana?" Daisy yelled back.

"You are a sight for sore eyes," Hannah said, pulling Daisy into a fierce hug.

"You are a sight for sore everything.  Did you ever think we'd get this damned old?  You still ride?  I'd like to, but nowadays I can't even swing my leg up over a curb, let alone a bike."

"What the hell is going on here?" Mick Daniels asked.

"We used to ride together," Daisy said.  "Believe it or not, we used to be Hell's Angels," she added, and Hannah guffawed enthusiastically. 

"We were so hot!" Hannah said.

"We sure were.  My God, those were the days.  Nothing out in front of us but open roads.  Hair blowin' in the wind," Daisy reminisced. 

"Dear God," Mick Daniels muttered.

Hannah screeched again, and jumped up and down.

"Now what?" Daniels growled.

"Holy crap, it's Toothless Louise!" H.D. said.

"Thank God.  My burger," Reeve Stockwell mumbled.

"She's a Hell's person, too?" Daniels said.

"Sure as shootin'," Hannah remarked.  "It's a Hell's Angel's reunion!"

"Well, this is just grand," Daniels yelled.  "It's a God forsaken reunion.  Anyone have anything they'd like to add?  Is it anyone's birthday?  Anyone want to have a freakin' Bar Mitzvah while we're out here celebrating?  ANYONE?  SURELY SOMEONE MUST HAVE SOMETHING!!!"

"I recently did a cleanse and lost five pounds," Larry Dale said.  "I feel pretty great.  If I was at Weight Watchers I'd get a pin.  Maybe I could get a sticker or something, boss?"

"Shut up, Dale."

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tommy's Tool Town - Chapter 42 - Into The Lion's Den

Larry Dale looked stunned. “You aren't serious about hurting folks, are you, boss?”

“Of course not,” Mick Daniels replied. “I'm a nice guy. I know people don't always think that, especially since I normally show up when things are so out of control I have to deliver the wrath of God, but I'm a nice guy. Don't you think so, Larry?”

“Of course, boss,” Larry Dale replied. “I sure didn't think you meant you wanted to kill your employees, but for a moment, and it hurts me to say this, you looked a little like a madman.”

“I could use a vacation,” Mick Daniels said, pouring himself a cup of coffee from the sewage left over from the morning's meetings. He grimaced at the acidic taste.

“Where would you go, boss? Where would you go if you could go anywhere?” Larry Dale asked thoughtfully.

“I'd go to Disney World,” Mick Daniels said. The words were out before he could stop them.

“Seriously?” Larry Dale asked.

“That cat's out of the bag,” Mick Daniels admitted with some hesitation.

“Why there, boss?” Dale asked.

“Never went. Always wanted to. You know how life is, Dale. One day flows into the next and the next, and before you know it, you're fifty, and you've never even been to Disney World.”

Larry Dale frowned.

“What?” Mick Daniels asked.

“I've never been there either, sir,” Larry Dale admitted.


“Perhaps we could go, boss. Take a little trip. Lord knows we sure could use it, and I hear Disney has some of the finest accommodations of anyplace on the planet. Wouldn't be nothin' like that nasty Three Fellows Inn we found ourselves at last night.”

Mick Daniels just stared at Larry Dale.

“Something wrong, sir?” Larry Dale asked.

“You're a heck of a guy, Larry Dale, but two grown men do not go to Disney World together. It would seem a little odd, don't you think?”

“Now that you mention it, boss.”

“You go with your family and I'll go with mine,” Mick Daniels said. He lifted the coffee to his lips again, took a timid sip, and nearly vomited into his own mouth.

“You got a family, boss?” Larry Dale asked.

“No,” Mick Daniels said softly.

“Come with us then. You could be like Uncle Mick. We'd have a terrific time. The heck with hotel living. We could camp.” Larry Dale paused as his blue eyes danced. “I got it!! Wait for it. Wait for it. We could rent an RV. How much fun would that be? We could take a road trip.”

Larry Dale spoke animatedly as Daniels threw his coffee down the sink. “Stop, Dale,” Mick Daniels said.

“Pardon?” Larry Dale said.

“We're not renting an RV and driving to Disney World. We're renting a back hoe and figuring out what's going on here. When that's done, I'm going to put in my two weeks notice and consider a future in goats,” Mick Daniels said, without humor.

“Goats, boss?”

“Goats. Gonna raise me some goats, make me some milk and some cheese, and give 'em all names. I'm gonna be a goat farmer,” Mick Daniels rambled. All grammar, professionalism and etiquette had gone out the window.

Figuring his boss had finally lost it, Larry Dale picked up his smart phone and got down to business. His fingers flew over the keyboard. “The backhoe company is HD Diggers. Sounds like a respectable place. Let me get them on the phone,” Larry Dale offered.


Reeve Stockwell ran through the events of the last few days in his head. There was something he needed to talk to Ada MacKenzie about, but he couldn't possibly remember what it was. He was almost certain it had something to do with brownies, but he just couldn't put his finger on it. What he desperately needed was a double cheeseburger from Ernie's Filthy Bar & Grill, a large coke, and an hour nap. Ernie made the best burgers in town, and while the place was a dive, and the service lousy, for the burger, you just put up with it. If Ernie's girlfriend, Toothless Louise was working, she'd deliver. Toothless Louise had lost her teeth playing ice hockey in college, and later fighting in dives similar to the one she now worked in. She was proud of her dental challenges, and didn't mind the nickname – which, rumor had it – she'd given herself.

Stockwell picked up the phone and dialed the number he'd long ago committed to memory. He sighed when he heard the voice.

“Toothless Louise, how's it going? Reeve Stockwell here. I'll take a number three with a side of ranch, and can you deliver?” There was a pause. Toothless Louise mumbled “twenty minutes,” and promptly hung up. Stockwell smiled despite the fear that picked at him. With a belly full of beef, fries and Coke, he might survive the day after all.

That feeling lasted two whole minutes. He opened his office door and saw Alejandro pushing a stove on a neon green Tommy flat cart. Ada MacKenzie was perched on top of the appliance, and held the bailing twine like reins. She whinnied like a horse. Stockwell slammed his office door and pretended he hadn't seen it.

It was just easier that way.


Aaron Faulkner punched out, covered his Tommy shirt with a Seymour's Redemption Center Bowling Team sweatshirt, and headed toward the front door. He could swear he still heard Miss Ada whinnying, so he figured she hadn't paid for the appliance yet. He really wanted a beer, but it was a new year and he'd promised himself he was going to stop drinking, at least during working hours. He'd been doing pretty well until he met Miss Ada. She'd make a teetotaler want a shot.

The whinnying stopped, and Aaron figured they were finally outside, or Miss Ada had suddenly died. He supposed when one was ninety-nine, one could just die at any moment, even while sitting atop a brand new stove.

Aaron shuffled through the store, approached the exit doors, waited while they parted, and stepped outside. Alejandro was helping Miss Ada dismount, Kitty was dabbing at her stain with a hand sanitizer wipe, and an older fellow, whom Aaron was left to assume was Mike Hammer, stood beside a blue compact car, talking a blue streak to – Aaron concurred – a dead president or the invisible rabbit from the movie Harvey.

“Ready?” Ada asked.

“Let me get this on the back of the truck and we'll head out,” Aaron said.

“We'll lead,” Ada said, pointing to Mike Hammer, who was still jabbering away. “Excuse me!”

Mike Hammer turned.

“Who is it this time?” Ada asked.

“Roosevelt,” Mike Hammer replied.

“Darn it. I had a message for Kennedy,” Ada replied, shrugging her shoulders.

Aaron loaded the stove onto a dolly, and pushed it up the ramp into an enormous Tommy delivery truck. Kitty approached him.

“This is the address. You lead,” she suggested.

“Gotcha,” Aaron said. He climbed into the truck, waved to Kitty, and headed out, but not before plugging the address into the truck's ancient GPS. Aaron figured with any luck they wouldn't end up someplace like Mount Vernon, but Aaron figured Mike and Ada would probably be just as happy if they did.

By some miracle, ten minutes later, Aaron was parked in front of Kitty's house. From the exterior, it appeared to be a well kept ranch with an enormous addition on the back. Aaron assumed it was where Kitty made her home.

The interior was another story all together.

Aaron stood quietly on the porch while Ada fumbled to get the key in the door. Finally successful, she swung the door open wide, and Aaron exhaled in a rush. The kitchen was straight out of the seventies, red carpet, white counters with gold fleck, and paneled walls. The entire house smelled like burning rubber.

Aaron gagged.

From the next room a voice loomed.

“Mother, is that you?”

“That is Helen,” Miss Ada whispered. “She is watching her stories. Do NOT bother her. She's like a dangerous animal. If you don't let her smell your fear, she'll leave you alone.”

Aaron shivered a bit, and nodded that he understood. “Miss Ada, do you drink?” Aaron whispered.

“I might have a little cooking sherry and some Robitussin. You feel a cough coming on, son?” Ada asked.

Aaron nodded, as his gag reflex triggered again.  "I think I feel a pneumonia coming on," he said.
"I'll hook you right up," Ada offered, with an enormous smile that revealed half a set of very white teeth.