Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tommy's Tool Town - Chapter 53 - A Shot in the Dark

Kitty Richardson arrived at the Tommy compound just in time to miss Jeopardy.

"Crap," she whispered, as she checked her watch.  The clock in the old Chevy no longer worked.  In Chevy land, it had been 6:83 for about two years, a time that existed only in Kitty's world.

She gently shut off the ignition and prayed the truck wouldn't backfire.

Her prayers went unanswered.


"Dammit," Kitty whispered, as a dog began barking a block or two away.

Something registered in her peripheral vision and Kitty turned.

Her blood chilled.

A man in a long raincoat and what appeared to be waders, seemed to disappear into the shadows.  "What the hell?" Kitty whispered, wrapping her arms around herself in response to the sudden terror.

The Chevy was completely out of sight, buried in an ink black darkness, far behind the Receiving Bay.  Only a portion of the parking lot and the residential area beyond was visible.  Raincoat Man had disappeared, but the hairs stood up on the back of Kitty's neck, nonetheless.

She was almost willing to let Faulkner suffocate in the freezer, but the humanitarian in her spoke loudly. 

Get him out before he dies.

He was a single man in a world full of married and gay men.

Kitty couldn't afford to let a single man die.

She had to get Faulkner out.

"Dear God," Kitty whispered, as she exited the vehicle.  She held a tiny LED flashlight in her hand, a flashlight she had purchased at Tommy's after the tornado.  Despite her abject terror, the flashlight remained dark.

She clutched a key in her hand, a key she wasn't supposed to have.  She'd had it for six months, since attending a conference with Reeve Stockwell.  They'd rented a vehicle, and Stockwell had left the key in the console.  Kitty had discovered it one day later.  It wasn't that Kitty had planned to do underhanded things with the key, it was more that Kitty was forgetful, and was a committed procrastinator.  She'd forgotten all about the key until Faulkner called to say he was being murdered by a Frigidaire.

Only when Kitty was a few inches from the door did she turn on the light in her hand.  The door was ajar. 

Don't go in, her gut screamed.

She went in.

I'm here, she paused to text Faulkner.

She waited a few seconds.


Faulkner was already dead.

"No, no, no," Kitty whispered, as she raced through the darkened store, paying no mind to the shadows around her.

The phone buzzed gently in her pocket.

Hurry!  I'm scarred.

So, Faulkner wasn't dead after all.  Although he'd spelled the word wrong, and the man was obviously terrified, she figured the text was partially right.

Faulker was scarred.

Then again....

Everyone was.

Scars were nothing to be ashamed of.  They were proof that someone survived something very bad.  They were more like medals. 

Faulkner probably had more than a few medals.  He had a drinking problem, and he occasionally set things on fire, but no one was perfect.

And no one deserved to die in a freezer.

Besides, Kitty talked to a pen, and her closest companion was her ninety-nine-year-old grandmother, who was crazier than a shithouse rat, and who dressed like a valley girl.  All her relationships had ended in tears and debt, except for one.  She didn't talk about that one.  No.  Kitty wasn't perfect.

"Perfection is overrated," Kitty whispered, as she approached the appliance department.  Something moved two aisles over, something that sounded large enough to be human.  Kitty hid behind Faulkner's desk.

She began to shake.

Where the hell are you  In what freezer  You're right  Someone's in the store

Kitty failed to punctuate, but she figured the Gods of good English would forgive her. 

One over from Susan.

Who?  Kitty responded.

The big stainless, the one we just marked down to $1399.00.

You name them? Kitty asked.

Can we talk about that later?  I think I'm almost dead.


Kitty waited a few seconds, certain that Faulkner would survive just a bit longer.  She heard nothing and crawled out from the safety of her hiding place.

Faulkner was exactly where he said he'd be.  He was covered with sweat, his eyes were wild, and he was panting like a dog.

"Thank you," he whispered, as Kitty helped him from the huge freezer.

"You owe me.  Big time," Kitty replied.

"What do you want?"  Aaron Faulkner asked.  He didn't have much.  He had a Barcalounger, an Xbox, some old golf clubs, and a really nice bowling ball.

He was grateful, but he really hoped Kitty didn't like bowling.

"Dinner," Kitty said.  Faulkner smiled.

"You want me to take you out to dinner?" he asked softly.

"What I'd really like is for you to take Helen and Ada, and then I'd have the house to myself for a night, but I think you'd rather go back into the freezer."

Faulkner chuckled, then froze.




More than one.

"Shit," Faulkner whispered.  "Hide."

"Where?" Kitty whispered.

"I don't know.  No one should be here.  I don't want to die," Faulkner said through a whine.

"The Lord is my Shepherd," Kitty whispered.  "I shall not want.  He maketh me to lie down-"

"By a liquor store," Faulkner whispered.

"Seriously?" Kitty said, a little too loudly.


"Is that all you think about?" Kitty asked.

"No, but if I'm gonna die tonight, I'd like a drink first."

"No one's going to die.  We just have to find a place to hide."

It was too late.  Two men walked into the aisle, directly in front of Kitty and Faulkner.

"What the hell?" the taller man said.

Slick Mitchell?

"Who's there?  I demand you show yourselves." the voice said sternly.

Kitty and Faulkner stood upright. 

"What the hell are you two dingbats doing here?" Slick Mitchell asked. 


"My roommate threw me out, so I planned to sleep in my Jeep in the parking lot.  I got thirsty," Faulkner lied.

"And you have booze hidden in your locker?" Mitchell asked.

"Of course not.  I snuck in to buy a soda."  Faulkner continued the story.

"And what about you?" Mitchell said, turning to look at Kitty.  "You thirsty, too?"

"No.  I came to rescue Aaron," Kitty whispered.

"From what?  A killer vending machine?" Mitchell asked.  Sonny Brooks, who stood beside Mitchell, and had until now remained silent, chuckled.

"I heard something.  I assume now it was you two.  I hid in one of the freezers.  The latch caught and I was trapped.  I texted Kitty and asked her to come rescue me."  Aaron Faulkner, now being truthful, was amazingly convincing.

The look on Mitchell's face, which had begun as anger, took on the appearance of pity.

"You couldn't make this shit up," Mitchell remarked.  "How'd you get in?"

"The door was open," Kitty said, which wasn't a lie. 

Faulkner said nothing.

He didn't have to.

Something crashed halfway across the store.

Mitchell took off like a shot.

Sonny Brooks looked scared, and froze on the spot.

Faulkner looked at Kitty.

"I've already played hero tonight," she whispered.  "I'm staying put."

"Oh, my God," Sonny Brooks whispered.  "I knew it.  I knew it all along.  Look!"

Faulkner and Kitty followed Brooks' pointed finger.  A figure in white passed through the glow of one of the security lights.

Kitty screamed and threw herself at Faulkner.  He held her.  She was shaking.  He was shaking, too.  Sonny Brooks looked like he might faint.

The ghost turned.

"Holy crap, it sees us," Sonny mouthed silently.

The ghost waved.

"What the hell?" Sonny Brooks said out loud.

"Mother of God," Kitty said.

"You recognize it?" Sonny asked.

"It's my grandmother," Kitty groaned.

"Man alive, you gotta get that shit under control," Sonny said, without thinking.

Slick Mitchell arrived about the same time as Ada.  "What the hell's this?" Mitchell asked, pointing to the ghost.

"Ada MacKenzie," Ada said, holding out her hand.

"Who?" Mitchell asked.

"My grandmother," Kitty said.  Ada smiled.  Obviously, she'd found her teeth.

"That's enough!" Mitchell said, his voice rising.  "Get the hell out of here!"

Two shots rang out.  Everyone ducked.  One additional shot followed, hitting an appliance, altogether too close to where they all stood.

Faulkner got to his feet and cried out.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tommy's Tool Town - Chapter 52 - Guns, Money, and Idiots. One dangerous combination.

Kitty Richardson had just hunkered down with an almost inedible Lean Cuisine when her phone vibrated.  She dropped the forkful of caulking-covered noodles into the convenient serving tray and picked up the device beside her.  Ada was learning to text.

LFMT.  The text read.

Kitty responded almost immediately.  What?  Do you mean LMAO?

Kitty set the phone aside and took another bite of the sickening concoction.  Ada's response took less than 30 seconds.

I'm looking for my teeth.

"Dear God," Kitty whispered.


The phone vibrated again.  Kitty reread the text three times before reacting.

What the hell???

The horror of the Lean Cuisine was momentarily forgotten.

I am locked in a freezer.  I'm afraid I am going to die.  Can you come get me out?

Kitty threw the disgusting entrée into the trash, let the dogs out, and quickly typed.

Who is this?  Grandma?  Is this you?  How did you get yourself into the freezer, and do you really think you left your teeth in there?

The phone buzzed ten seconds later.

 It's Aaron Faulkner.  You texted me the directions to your house when I delivered your Grandmother's stove.  That's how I got your number.  I snuck into Tommy's to get my scotch, Faulkner lied.  Someone else is inside the store, so I hid in a freezer.  Now I'm trapped.

In nobody else's life could this possibly happen.  Kitty laughed out loud, and looked down at her choice of evening wear.

She supposed she should rescue Faulkner, but her Winnie the Pooh pajamas were not appropriate for rescuing anyone, save Christopher Robin.  She let the dogs back into the suite, and rushed to the bedroom closet.  Ten minutes later, she was on her way.

She should have checked the rearview mirror.


Reeve Stockwell held the weapon in front of him, and felt adrenaline surge through his veins.  He grinned like a teenage boy.  He couldn't believe it.  He'd been deputized.  For all intents and purposes, he was an FBI Agent.  His dream had come true.  In an instant, his life had a purpose.  He was no longer just a guy who managed people who sold nuts and bolts, and lawn tractors, and commodes.  He was working for the FBI.

He'd lied to his wife, something he rarely did.  He'd told her he had a meeting, an important meeting, a meeting to talk about a promotion.  He knew that would get his wife into an agreeable mood, and buy him some time.

The miraculously transformed JJ Patricks had left him in the Tommy parking lot, but Reeve was smarter than most gave him credit for.  He'd driven to Mort's Hardware, Tommy's closest competitor, left a few Tommy flyers in Mort's mailbox, just for fun, and then driven to a deserted park.

He'd left his beater parked out of sight, and hiked back the mile or so toward the Tommy compound.

The last quarter mile took him through a residential area.  He heard a clang to his right, and hit the ground like a soldier.  The gun bounced along the sidewalk and skittered out of sight.

"Shit," Stockwell whispered.  He'd only been an agent for an hour and he'd already lost his weapon.

Something clanged again and he froze.

He'd been made.

He crawled silently toward a row of shrubbery, moving through something slimy in his travels.  The pungent odor assaulted his nose.


He'd crawled through dog crap.

This wasn't going well.

He'd been made, he'd lost his weapon, and now he was covered in shit.


Reeve Stockwell had seen every James Bond movie ever made.  Bond never hid in the shrubbery, covered in crap.  Bond drove around in an expensive sports car, gun in the console, and a beautiful woman in the passenger seat. 

Stockwell peeked through the shrubs.  A heavyset man in a bathrobe was desperately trying to cover his metal garbage can with an ill-fitting lid.  Maybe Stockwell should leave a Tommy flyer.  Garbage cans were ten percent off, now through the end of the month.  It looked and sounded as if the guy could use an upgrade.

So, he hadn't been made.

He breathed a sigh of relief.

That left two problems.

The missing gun, and the shit all over his trousers.

Stockwell waited until the bathrobe-clad homeowner went back inside, removed the penlight from his pocket, and shined around his immediate vicinity.  The gun was nested inside a group of yellow tulips, two feet from the pile of crap.

He reached for the gun and sighed.

One problem down, one to go.  He wrinkled his nose.  He smelled like an outhouse.

It was garbage night.  Stockwell was confident he could find something to cover himself with.  He stood upright, and his slacks stuck to his knees.  He had to find something. 

At the end of the third driveway, Reeve Stockwell struck gold.  Someone had discarded an old pair of waders, and a battered rain slicker.  Stockwell peeled off his trousers and his jacket, and threw both in the trash.  He climbed into the waders and shrugged into the slicker.  He looked ridiculous.

The waders were significantly shorter than he'd hoped, leaving his white tube socks and black dress shoes clearly exposed.  The slicker was almost as long as the waders. 

He looked like an idiot, and he was pretty sure somebody knew what he'd done last summer.

He slipped the gun into his pocket and it hit the ground with a plunk. 

The gun fired.  The bullet hit the garbage can with the ill-fitting lid.  One by one, lights came on in the houses that surrounded him.

Stockwell ran like hell.


Sonny Brooks sat in the desk chair in Miles Longworth's office.

He felt like a thief.

How was he to know what was incriminating and what wasn't?

And where was Mitchell?

Slick had left him alone in the locked office.  He'd told him to confiscate anything that looked suspicious, but to make sure it didn't look as though the office had been tossed.

Mitchell was a moron.

How could Sonny confiscate anything that looked suspicious and still make it look like no one had confiscated anything that looked suspicious?

Did Slick Mitchell really think Longworth was so stupid that he wouldn't notice half his stuff was missing?

Sonny Brooks shook his head.

This was ridiculous.

He wanted out of the deal.

He ran his hands through his hair, and gritted his teeth against the frustration he felt.

His tooth began to throb.

He couldn't get out of the deal.  He needed the dental.

He opened the drawer to his left, and began to rummage through Longworth's things.  It felt dirty.  Sonny hated how it felt.

He pulled out a book.

Gambling for Dummies.

That seemed suspicious.

Unless you knew Longworth.

Sonny pulled out a small notebook.

He opened the front cover.

The first page was filled with notes, notes about horses, and money Longworth seemed to owe someone.  Someone who Sonny hoped he'd never know. 

Again.  Not suspicious.

Sonny flipped through the notebook.

One entry caught his eye.

Dumpster money - $88,720.00

What the hell was that?

What was dumpster money?

The next entry was equally disturbing.

Stockwell's box of guns.

What the hell was up with that?

Reeve Stockwell was the one guy least likely to have guns.  The world at large wasn't safe if Stockwell had one gun, let alone a whole friggin' box of them.

Sonny faced a conundrum.  He couldn't take the notebook, but he certainly couldn't leave it. 

He had an idea.

He fired up the small copier in the corner of Longworth's office.  He made a copy of the page in question, and put the notebook back where he'd found it.

Sonny found nothing else questionable.  He made a quick decision, took a deep breath, and texted Mitchell, as he'd been ordered to do.

Nothing suspicious in Longworth's office. 


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tommy's Tool Town - Chapter 51 - Aaron Faulkner - The Stove Guy's Goose is Cooked

Aaron Faulker clutched his empty flask.  He needed a drink desperately.  He thought he remembered the gentle glug, glug, glug, as the vodka emptied into the flask this morning, but now the damn thing was empty.

Had he drank it?

He didn't remember drinking it.

He felt no calming effects from it.

Perhaps he drank it in Kitty's truck.

That had been horrifying.

He was sure he was going to die.

And the grandmother?

Faulkner shook his head and stared through his windshield at the hulk of a building in front of him.

Did he dare?

Did he dare sneak into Tommy's Tool Town while it was closed?

He knew how to get in.

He paid attention, although no one would likely believe that.

He was the adorable drunk.

Faulkner looked in the rearview mirror and flinched.


That might be pushing it.

He had an angry welt on his face where he'd whacked the passenger seat, and his eyes were wild and bloodshot.  The circles beneath them, ever present from an exhaustion that never subsided, had been gray only this morning.  Now they were black as ink.

At least his hair looked combed.

By an egg beater, perhaps.

Faulkner didn't look adorable.

He looked like a homeless man turned serial killer.

He reeled in his thoughts.

Everyone thought he was a clown.  Harmless, despite his dependency, and his propensity for accidentally lighting fires.  They all laughed at his silly jokes.

No one knew what really went on in his head.

He should have said no, but he'd been scared half to death.  And, he needed the money.

Cheap vodka was disgusting.  Expensive vodka was disgusting, too, but easier on the palette. 


He should have said no.

"Dammit," he whispered.

He left the safety of his vehicle, parked far beyond the complex.  He stuck an old undershirt in the slightly open window.  No one would doubt that the beater was disabled. 

Faulkner skulked across the parking lot, toward the Receiving Bay door.  His footsteps were light, and he was silent as a tomb. 

He knew there was one window that didn't lock properly, but this time he had a key.  He slid the key into the door, turned it, and the lock released.

Faulkner slipped inside.

He knew the cameras would be deactivated for the night.  He'd been assured.

Nonetheless, he pulled the ski mask from his back pocket and slipped it over his head.

It itched.

And it smelled.

It smelled like booze and sweat and fear.

Faulkner gagged.

He wanted to remove the mask, but he couldn't take any chances. 

He carefully made his way from the bowels of the Receiving Bay into the retail area.  The store was dark;  only a few safety lights were left lit.  Shadows followed him, and reached for him from the darker aisles.  He shivered.

He hated this.

He should have said no.

He wasn't a brave guy.  He was a coward.  He didn't bungee jump.  He didn't sky dive.  He didn't want to.

His bucket list simply said:

Avoid any situation that might require bungee jumping or sky diving.

That was all he wanted to do.

Avoid danger.

He rode a roller coaster once, with his sister and her kids.  He'd stolen two Xanax from his sister's purse and popped them both before the ride.  He'd passed out on the first ascent, and had wound up in the medical tent.

He hadn't been scared.

He'd been unconscious.

He was a weasel.

Something moved in the next aisle and Faulker froze.

"Shit," he whispered, although he made not a sound.

He'd stopped breathing.

Two shadows passed.  Two big shadows.

He was sure he wasn't alone.

What had he heard about the Tommy complex?

Wasn't it something else before it was Tommy's?

Had it been a prison, a mental hospital, an Indian burial ground?

Maybe it was haunted.

Maybe he'd disturbed the undead by coming into the store at night.

It wasn't his time to be here.

Perhaps it belonged to the spirits of the night!

Shit.  Oh, my God.  Breathe!  Breathe!  Breathe!

Finally, Faulkner did.  He inhaled with such force, he should have been top stocked with the Shop Vacs. 

He moved wildly through the dark aisles, successfully avoiding the shadow people.

Who were they?


Faulkner had to calm himself.  If he didn't, he'd have a heart attack, and they'd find him dead in rough plumbing, or some other retail hell, in the light of day.

He was already headed down that road.

He didn't have internal organs.

He had an internal micro brewery.

His liver was probably ruined.

He was almost dead already.

By some miracle, Aaron Faulkner had made his way to the appliance department.  He was surrounded by refrigerators, freezers, stoves.  Washers and dryers were to his left.  He loved appliances. 

They were strong.

He was weak.

Sometimes he named them.

He felt at home with his silent friends.  They never judged. 

Refrigerators were his favorite.  They kept his beer cold.

Something moved deep in the store, and the noise, despite its distance away, was crystal clear in the otherwise silent warehouse.  Faulkner had to get out of sight.  He squeezed behind a behemoth stainless refrigerator.  He'd named her Susan, for Susan Sarandon, one of his favorite actresses.

"Hello, Susan," he whispered. 

He was safe.

Faulker bravely looked behind him.

"SON OF A ....." Faulkner said, forgetting to whisper.

He was an idiot.  The spot behind Susan was empty.  He wasn't concealed at all!  He was completely visible from the next aisle. 

He should have known that.

He'd sold Carol Burnett, a huge side-by-side, just the day before, to an adorable older couple.  The husband couldn't hear much, and the wife wore a lot of really cheap perfume.

They'd paid cash.  He'd marked Carol down ten percent.  She was the last of her kind, a floor model he'd had since his first day.

He had hoped they were worthy of Carol Burnett.  He'd really loved her.

Aaron Faulkner imagined how he must look.  A crazy, quivering man in a ski mask, hugging a refrigerator.  He chastised himself, and took a few seconds to think about his life.  He had to get it together.  His behavior was a real chick magnet.  He wanted what other men had, someone to ask how his day was.

"How was your day?"  he imagined his wife asking.

"I hid in appliances, wearing a ski mask, and hugging a refrigerator."

It sounded ridiculous, but the symbolism was nice.

No woman would want him like this, save Kitty.  Kitty might like him.  Surely she must grade crazy on a curve.

Faulkner sighed and dropped to his knees.  He froze again, certain he'd heard a voice, a whisper, something that shouldn't be piercing the silence in an empty place.

He crawled to the freezers.  The noises were getting closer, and he no longer doubted himself.  The store wasn't haunted, and he wasn't alone.

Someone else....

Some other living person....

Somebody else was inside.

Aaron Faulkner had to find a place to hide, or risk being found.

He liked the hiding idea.

Anything else only worked for a far more courageous man.

He crawled to the back wall, to the chest freezers.  He had one with a broken lock, one that didn't quite catch right when closed.  One from which he might escape once the danger had passed.

He searched the shadows for just the right one.

He slipped inside.

The freezer latched.


Faulkner was an idiot.

He'd sold the broken freezer, Chilly Willy, just the previous week, to a middle-age woman who had recently discovered the joy of the Schwann's man.  She had a son in college, and a daughter who was married.  She was divorced.  She'd told Aaron four times.  The third time, she'd opened the top button of her blouse.

He'd been a little freaked out.

He didn't want to date her, and he didn't want Chilly Willy going to her crazy house, but he couldn't say no.  She wanted the freezer, so he'd sold it to her.

Now he was going to die.

If his high school yearbook had had a category for the student most likely to be found dead in a freezer, Aaron Faulkner supposed he would have won that honor.

Now the prophecy was about to come true.

Aaron Faulkner prayed.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tommy's Tool Town - Chapter 50 - Sonny Brooks, Inside Man

Slick Mitchell stood outside the Receiving Bay door and waited for his confidant to exit his vehicle.  Sonny Brooks stepped out of the behemoth car and walked to the building with all the swagger of an inmate on his final walk to the death chamber.

Perhaps Slick was mistaken.  Perhaps he shouldn't have taken Sonny into his confidence.  All that said, Sonny nearly shouted with glee when Slick assured him Tommy's wasn't haunted, and that alone made him a good candidate for the job.

"Ain't haunted?" Sonny said as he approached.

"I am absolutely certain," Slick assured.

 Sonny had stopped ten feet from the door and Slick was sure he'd seen the grown man shiver.

What did Sonny think?

Did he think ghosts would come flying out of the closed door?

"And what is the basis for this air of certainty?" Sonny asked, and Slick arched a brow.

Sonny spoke with such finesse, he'd seemingly evolved from a frightened adolescent to someone who ought to be auditioning for Jeopardy.

"I might ask you what your basis was for determining the building is haunted," Slick said.

"Off the record?" Sonny asked.

"Consider the events of the next hour or so off the record," Slick replied.

"I saw something disappear before my very eyes," Sonny said.

"What?" Slick asked.

"A Dunkin Donuts cup," Sonny whispered.

"Speak up."

Sonny did.  He repeated himself and Slick smiled.  "I saw it, too," Slick quipped.

"And you don't think the place is haunted?  Stuff doesn't just disappear.  When stuff disappears on TV, it means the place is haunted," Sonny explained.

"And on TV, a bunch of teenagers would go into the basement and get hacked up by a madman wielding a chainsaw," Slick commented.  "It's just TV."

"They probably stole those chainsaws from Tommy's.  Do you think that's why so many are stolen?  I mean, if you were gonna hack up a bunch of unfortunates with a chainsaw, you wouldn't want to be linked by a receipt."  Sonny seemed to be in deep pondering mode and Slick groaned.

"Focus, Sonny."

"Sorry," Sonny mumbled.

"Besides, the cup didn't disappear," Slick said.

"What do you mean?" Sonny asked.

"Someone moved it," Slick suggested.

"Yeah.  Someone dead," Sonny said, again with the almost unnoticeable shiver.

"No.  Someone who'd shut the security cameras off," Slick said.

"You don't say.  How'd you figure that out?" Sonny asked.

"I zoomed in on the clock," Slick explained.

"Seriously?  That's brilliant."

It wasn't, but Slick smiled anyway.

"So, as I explained on the phone, something underhanded is going on here.  I need an inside man to help me investigate my staff.  You in?" Slick asked.

"Does it pay?" Sonny asked.

"I suppose.  How much do you make now?" Slick asked.  He supposed he should know, but he didn't.

"I made about 37 on my taxes last year," Sonny said.  "How much does this pay?  This "inside man," business?"

"About 37," Slick said.

"37 more?" Sonny asked, his pupils like saucers.

"No.  About 37."

"So, still 37?" Sonny said softly.


"And what if I say no?" Sonny asked.

"You get paid zero."

"I'm in," Sonny conceded.

"Good," Slick quipped.

"Why'd you choose me?" Sonny asked.  Slick was hoping he wouldn't have to explain himself.  He couldn't respond honestly.

I chose you, Sonny Brooks, because you are basically an idiot who thought, based on a disappearing cup, that my store was haunted.  You didn't do any research.

Cup disappeared.


Sonny was like a book with a few missing chapters.

A harmless nincompoop who wouldn't steal a penny if he was alone on a deserted island.

No.  The truth would definitely NOT work.

Slick paused for another ten seconds.  "I chose you, Sonny Brooks, because I believe I can trust you, and I think you're smarter than you appear.  Perhaps smart enough to pull off something underhanded, but honest enough that you'd never try.  That said, I am concerned by how quickly you jumped to the conclusion that the store was haunted.

"I didn't notice the clock," Sonny whispered.

"How could you not?" Slick asked, without a hint of the frustration he felt.

"I could use new glasses," Sonny admitted.

"Don't you have the vision insurance?" Slick asked.  He checked his watch.  He had to get busy.  He promised his mother he'd return, and the day was waning away quickly.

"I couldn't afford it," Sonny said softly.

"I'll throw it in," Slick offered.

"So, 37 plus vision?" Sonny asked.


"How about dental?  I got this one tooth that bugs me from time to time," Sonny admitted.

"Okay," Slick said in a huff.  "Dental, too."

"How about two extra vacation days?" Sonny asked.

"For what?"

"To go to the eye doctor and the dentist."

"Do it on your own time," Slick said, his tone terse.

"Okay," Sonny mumbled.

"We done?" Slick asked. 


"Are we square?  Is the deal now sufficient?"

"I guess," Sonny said in a near whine.


"One day?" Sonny asked.

"All right!"  Slick barked.  "37, plus dental and vision and one extra vacation day."


"Thank the Lord above," Slick said.

"So, what are we doing here?" Sonny asked.

"We're investigating."


"We're going to search Stockwell's office and Longworth's office," Slick advised.

"That feels wrong," Sonny complained.

"You in this or not?"


"Look it.  Shit rolls down hill.  Always has-"  Slick began.

"What does that mean?" Sonny asked.

"If you'd let me finish.  As I said, shit rolls down hill.  We start investigating at the top.  Stockwell and Longworth are at the top."

"So are you," Sonny whispered.

"I beg your pardon?"

"You own the place," Sonny said timidly.

"What are you suggesting?"

"It could be you," Sonny suggested.  He felt like a Chevette at a stop light.  He'd gone from thirty-seven to zero in about two seconds.

"It isn't me," Slick said.

"How do I know?  How do I know you aren't asking me to help investigate everyone else to keep the suspicion off of you?" Sonny asked.

"Because I told you so," Slick said.

"You sound like my dad," Sonny said.

"Dear God above.  Forget it.  Go home and forget the whole damn thing, Sonny."


"What did you say?" Slick asked.  He was nearly shaking with rage.

"I said 'no.'  I'm in.  I believe you," Sonny lied. 

"Okay.  We're going in.  For the next hour we're going to investigate Stockwell and Longworth.  You'll stay by my side and do what I ask, and if anyone asks you what you did here tonight, you were never here.  Got it?"

"Yeah.  Because if I say anything I'm fired."

"If you say anything you're dead.  Deal?"

"Deal," Sonny whispered.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tommy's Tool Town - Chapter 49 - On The Road With The Mansons

Kitty Richardson pulled up in front of the police station, where Aaron and Ada stood waiting.  Her old Chevy let off an enormous backfire, and Aaron Faulkner nearly pissed himself.

"Jeez," he said, as he helped Ada into the front seat, and then climbed into the back.

"I didn't do that, did I?" Ada asked, sniffing the air.

"No, Ma'am.  That was the truck," Aaron replied.

"Oh.  You're a real nice fella.  What do you think about my Kitty?" Ada asked, and Kitty groaned.

"She's something special," Aaron said, and Kitty rolled her eyes.

"You wanna marry her?" Ada asked, and Kitty stopped the truck.

"Stop, Grandma," she said, trying to keep the anger from her voice.

"I am merely looking out for you, Kitty.  I am not going to live forever, and I cannot imagine leaving you with Helen."

"We'll be fine," Kitty said, putting the truck back in gear and pulling into traffic.

"I just think you should have a husband," Ada said. 

Everyone jumped as another backfire sounded.

"That one was me," Ada said, and Aaron laughed out loud.

"I don't need a husband," Kitty said.  "I'm fine just as I am."

"You ain't gettin' any," Ada said, and Kitty stopped the truck again.  Aaron Faulkner inhaled sharply, and felt the heat rise in his face.  He calculated the distance back to the store, and wondered if he'd survive the walk.

"Grandma, please.  That is none of your business."

"Women have needs," Ada said thoughtfully.  "Hmm," Ada added, scrunching her face.  "This woman needs to use the bathroom."

"Jeepers.  Can someone crack a window.  My cranker is broken," Aaron said, covering his face.

"There's pills for that now, son," Ada explained, and Aaron laughed nervously.  Kitty opened her window and pulled the truck back into traffic. 

"Dear God give me strength," Kitty moaned.

"Oh boy.  I have to go all right," Ada said, fidgeting in her seat.

"While we're on the topic of crap, what kind did you tell the deputy?  He wants to talk to me at the store tomorrow and he told me not to leave town," Kitty said, sounding tense.

"I told him about the night at the store.  Out back," Ada said.

"You told him WHAT?" Kitty said, stopping the car so fast Faulkner nearly flew through the windshield.

"What night?" Aaron Faulkner asked, from where he half lay on the armrest in between the bickering women.

"Grandma, what did you tell them?" Kitty demanded.

"Please.  I really have to poop," Ada whined.  "You know me, you know I can't hold it."

"I'll stop at McDonalds," Kitty said, swinging a U-turn so forceful, Faulkner almost flew out the back this time.

"McDonalds sounds great," Aaron Faulkner mumbled, figuring he could make a run for it  He'd situated himself again in the back seat.  He rubbed his neck, and checked his shoulder for dislocation. He found himself miraculously unscathed, but he knew his luck would eventually run out.

"He thinks you're a murderer," Ada said, and Kitty went pale.

"Why would he think that?" Kitty asked.  She hit the gas pedal, and Faulkner grabbed for the handle above the rear window.  It was missing.

"Can you slow down?" Aaron Faulkner squeaked. 

"No.  She's gotta go," Kitty replied. 

Faulkner rolled into a ball, and wedged himself against the back of the passenger seat. 

"I told him you dug a hole to bury something, and he assured me if something was there, he'd find it.  I told him about Helen," Ada admitted.

"Why?" Kitty asked.  Faulkner searched the night for any sign of the golden arches, but nothing yellow pierced the black ink around them.  He began to pray, wondering if he'd survive.

"Maybe we can find a way to pin the whole thing on her," Ada quipped.

"That's horrifying.  You two have to stop this insane fighting.  Mom means well, she's just a negative nelly, and a lot of bad things happened to her in the eighties.  You prance around dressed like Madonna, and it's a constant reminder to her of the worst decade of her life."

"I can't help it, Kitty.  The eighties were the best years of my life.  You were my sidekick, all braces and zits, toting that stupid flute around and playing that Smurf tune until I wanted to take that instrument and beat you to death with it," Ada said, sounding nostalgic.

"Well, thanks for not killing me, Grandma," Kitty commented.

"You're welcome.  I could control myself a lot better back then.  Can't really control anything anymore."  Ada let one rip and Kitty chastised her.

"That's gross," Kitty whined.

"Sorry," Ada mumbled.

Faulkner plugged his nose and tried to make himself invisible.  He crammed himself further into the tiny space behind the seat for added protection.  He felt like he was on the drive from hell with the Manson clan.

Were they all murderers?"  Faulkner wondered.

Or just Kitty.

"Aaron?  Where'd you go?" Kitty asked, sitting up higher and searching the rearview mirror.

"I'm down here," Aaron Faulkner said from his hiding place.

"Why?" Kitty asked.

"Because I'm scared shitless," he replied.

"Oh, for God's sake.  Be a man," Ada said, trying to turn to peer at their passenger. 

"Why are you scared?" Kitty asked.

"Because you're a couple of maniacs, talking about murder and such," Aaron explained.  "And you're a very bad driver."

"Am not," Kitty barked.

"We all have our faults," Ada remarked.

"I agree.  I drink.  Alone.  In my mother's basement, and sometimes I grab a little bit at lunch.  That's a lot different than murder," Aaron said.  His voice was partially muffled by the back of the passenger seat.

"Now look it!" Kitty said, her voice rising.  "No one killed anyone.  We are NOT murderers.  Mom isn't a murderer and neither is my grandmother.  This entire thing is getting way out of hand."

"I ran over a squirrel right before they took my license away," Ada said.

"Shut up, Grandma.  You're not helping.  And for the love of God, stop it with the farting."

"Sorry," Ada mumbled again.

Aaron Faulkner relaxed and carefully removed himself from his hiding place behind the seat.  He gagged, and knew if he didn't come up for air, he might actually die.  He stuck his head out the window like the family dog, and breathed deeply.  Despite the horrors he'd endured in the past two hours, he liked this girl, thought she was pretty cool, but he couldn't risk getting involved with someone who might be wanted by the police for something SHE might have buried behind the store that HE might eventually set fire to.  Faulkner was sweating profusely, and really needed a drink.  Finally, the arches appeared ahead.

One mile later, Kitty pulled into McDonalds, and Ada exited the vehicle like someone half her age.  She half ran, half staggered to the rear door by the rest rooms.  Faulkner was left in the Chevy with Kitty the felon.

"Did you kill someone?" he asked, and Kitty turned.

"Of course not," she replied.

"So, you're not gonna kill me?" he asked.

"Of course not," Kitty said, flashing a huge grin.

"What's buried out back?" Aaron asked.

"I can't tell you that," Kitty whispered.

"Why?  Is it that JJ person?"

"If it is, I have no knowledge of that.   I don't know what happened to JJ.  She's officially missing, or so the story goes," Kitty explained. 

"She's not in your basement?" Aaron asked, and Kitty laughed out loud.


"And you didn't kill her?"

"No," Kitty said softly.


The Chevy got quiet.  Kitty stared out the window.  Faulkner mopped his brow, stared at the yellow sign, and tried to imagine over a billion burgers.  The thought was nauseating.

Ada emerged from the restaurant with the back of her dress tucked into her knickers.  Kitty rolled her eyes, chuckled, and exited the truck.  Faulkner got out, too.

"Your skirt is tucked into your undies, Gran," Kitty said, and Ada turned around and tried to look.

"I'll be damned.  Thought I felt a breeze," Ada said, righting herself within seconds.  "Let's get a Big Mac."

"I'm a vegetarian.  You know that," Kitty said.

"So am I," Aaron Faulkner offered.

"Well, terrific.  You two have a great future making tofu burgers together.  For now, I need to be fed.  What happened in there about wore me out.  Must have been the nerves.  Interrogation looks a lot more interesting on the Criminal Minds," Ada explained.  "Sure is different when it's you.  Sends your bowels into absolute chaos."

"There goes the appetite," Kitty groaned.

"I don't know about that," Aaron commented.  "I could eat."

"Let's go in.  We can plan a wedding," Ada remarked.  She took off toward the door, leaving Kitty and Aaron standing in the glow of the parking lot's single light.

"Should she eat that?" Aaron asked.  "I mean, at her age, is it good for her?"

"Not really," Kitty replied.

"So, what are you gonna do?"

Kitty smiled devilishly.  "I'm gonna buy her two of them."