Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tommy's Tool Town - Chapter 57 - Strange Strangers in the Night

Miles Longworth had no idea how long he had laid on the floor before being discovered by the Grim Reaper standing in the doorway.  He closed his eyes and his life flashed before him.  The horses hadn't always been his enemy.  Once, they'd been his friends.  He remembered his first encounter with a horse.

He was just a young boy.

Eight years old, if his memory served him correctly.

He'd learned about the gentle, if not somewhat mischievous, quality of the majestic animals that day.  He'd learned to love them.

And he'd learned about Karma. 

He was a quiet child, undemanding and grateful.

His father had asked him if he wanted a ride.

He'd said, "yes, sir.  Thank you."

The horses had been tethered in a circle, like a makeshift carousel.  A carousel that smelled like cut wood and the outhouse at a KOA campground.

He'd happily climbed aboard, and his father had placed a few coins in the hand of an old man with a weathered face.  The man had thanked his father, and patted the horse lovingly.  He'd also patted Miles' shoulder.  "Don't be afraid, son.  She's a good old girl." 

Miles hadn't been afraid.  The ride had lasted only a few minutes, a mere blink in the life of a child, not long enough for a boy who had just met his first love.

His father had helped him down from his perch in the saddle.

Miles brushed off his trousers and smiled.

Before he could fully digest the enormity of what had just happened, a little girl grabbed his attention.

She demanded another ride.

Her harried mother told her no.

She had screamed, stamped her feet, swatted at her mother with sticky hands.

Miles turned to watch.  He looked at the little girl, looked at his father.  He looked at the mare from which he had just dismounted.

The horse seemed to wink at him.

She whinnied, shook her head, and then promptly crapped all over the screaming child.

"What happened back there?" he'd asked his father, later that same day.

"Karma, son," his father had whispered.


As Miles lay on the pile of crappy ceiling, he supposed it was Karma that was visiting him now.

He opened his eyes.  The figure in the doorway still stood in the shadows.

It laughed, then shook its head.

"What in the Sam hell are you doing, Miles?" Slick Mitchell asked.

The relief coursed through Miles so quickly, he nearly wet himself.

He wasn't going to die.

Not tonight, at least.

Miles thought fast.  "In the chaos of this afternoon, I'd forgotten my I Phone."

"And you left it in the ceiling?" Mitchell asked.

"Of course not," Miles replied, searching for some logical excuse.  "The light went out.  I climbed up to take the bulb out so I could go to the janitor's closet for a replacement."

Smartest thing I have said in a year, Miles thought.

"I merely grabbed the grate to steady myself, and then boom," Miles explained.

"Why are you on top of the mess?  Shouldn't it be on top of you?" Mitchell asked.

Shit!  Think, think, THINK!

"I was under it.  I started climbing out of the mess when I heard the shots."

"So it wasn't you doing the shooting?" Mitchell asked.

"Of course not.  What was I going to shoot you with, an I Phone?" Miles asked.  "What are you doing here?" Miles asked, although he had no right to question the store's senior manager.

"I had work to do," Mitchell said.

"What were you shooting?" Miles asked.

"It wasn't me," Slick Mitchell said, sounding casual.

Miles had the urge to take cover under the pile of ceiling tiles, but didn't.

"So, the shooter is still in the store?" Miles whispered.  He felt relatively safe with Mitchell in the doorway.  He figured as long as Mitchell didn't fall forward with a hole blown through him, it wasn't too likely that Miles would end up like Swiss cheese.

"The shooter isn't in the store.  He's gone."

"How do you know?" Miles asked.

"The gunman whacked me with his gun on his way out.  Gave me a shiner."

Miles said nothing.  He'd like to thank the guy who clobbered Slick Mitchell, but he had no desire to come face to face with him.  Maybe he'd just send a card.

Thanks for punching my boss.  We've all thought about it.  Have a nice day.

"So, what are you doing here now?" Miles asked.

"I called the cops.  They're on their way," Mitchell said.

"You gonna have me arrested for ruining the ceiling?" Miles asked.

"Of course not, you dumb ass.  They're just going to search the store," Slick Mitchell explained.

"Right," Miles said.


The adrenaline rush of climbing into the pickup wore off after a mile or so, and Reeve Stockwell was terrified.

What have I done?  I am going to die, and no one is ever going to know what happened to me.

Stockwell had no idea who Burger was, or what he wanted, or what he might have done, or would do, but he had to get away.  He couldn't throw himself out of the truck, he might be killed.

Die if you stay.  Die if you try to get away.

"Great," Stockwell whispered in the dark.

For a thug, Burger had odd taste in music.  Celine Dion blared from the inside of the cab, and although he threw threats around casually, clearly Burger was a romantic.

A romantic with a gun.

The worst kind.

A criminal who liked Celine Dion.

Rather a crime in itself.

Stockwell's mind went wild as he bounced around in the back of the truck.  He'd covered himself with an old tarp, and the smell of the waders was making him sick. 

Suddenly he remembered the phone.  He pulled it from his pocket, and held it in his hand.  He'd put JJ's card in the pocket of his shirt, and he still wore the shirt under the old slicker. 

He'd call JJ.  Maybe she could "ping," the phone, find out where he was, come and rescue him.

He pulled the card from his pocket, used the light from the phone to memorize the number, then made the call.  JJ answered on the first ring.

"I'm in the back of someone's pickup truck, JJ.  I have Mick Daniels' phone.  Can you put a trace on it and come find me?"

"What the hell are you doing?  I'm in bed," JJ whined.

"Sorry," Stockwell said.  "Look it.  I went to do some investigating.  This guy was in the store, shooting the place up.  I climbed into the back of his truck."

"That's pretty courageous," JJ said, sounding more annoyed than impressed.

"Thanks," Stockwell whispered.

"You're scared shitless, aren't you?" JJ asked.

"You have no idea," Stockwell admitted.

"All right.  Stay where you are.  The number came up on my cell.  I'm gonna get your location, send a car, and have them stop you for a bogus infraction."

"What do I do?  Just stay in the truck?" Stockwell asked.

"Seriously?  If I send a car, they stop this truck you're in, and you don't find a way out of there during the process, I will find you and kill you myself."

Stockwell had no doubt she would.

"Thanks, JJ."

"You're welcome.  Send me a full report tomorrow, got it?"

"Got it," Stockwell said.

Reeve Stockwell lay still under the tarp.  Suddenly the music began to fade, the truck slowed, then stalled with a bang.

He heard Burger yell a string of profanities that made Reeve blush, as he struggled to restart the pickup.  "If you're out of gas, you worthless pile of metal, someone is gonna die," Burger hollered.

"Shit," Stockwell whispered.  He was in no position to offer himself up as a sacrifice to help quell Burger's anger.

The truck restarted, and took off like a shot.  Stockwell held on to something he was grateful he couldn't see, something slimy he hoped wasn't Burger's last victim.  He saw slivers of light through the tarp and thought he might be in a residential area.

The truck sped along even faster, and took a hard left, sending Stockwell flying from the back.

He hit the ground with a thud and the waders basically split in half.  He sat upright and found the source of the light.

His worst fears were realized.

He had landed in a Home Depot parking lot.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Tommy's Tool Town - Chapter 56 - Stockwell Goes Fishing For Clues

Reeve Stockwell went pale.  Notwithstanding the fact that an armed crazy person lurked about the store, he couldn't let Mitchell call the police.  Stockwell had a gun, a weapon issued by the FBI.  A weapon he knew nothing about, a weapon that might exactly match the shooter's weapon.  How did he know?  Were weapons like Garanimals?  Match the zebra gun to the zebra ammo?  Did he have a zebra gun?  Did the shooter have the same one? 

Oh, my God! 

Stockwell's thoughts spun about the like the final phase of a shiny new washer, appropriate given his proximity to the appliances.  He felt the weight of the piece, hidden somewhere in the numerous pockets of the crappy waders.

He couldn't even try to hide it.  Mitchell was watching him like a hawk.

If he was discovered with the gun, he might go to jail.  He couldn't go to jail.  His wife got mad if he put the dishes in the dishwasher the wrong way.  What would she do if she found out he got arrested?  He could see her now, standing in front of the courthouse, as he was led out in his best suit.  He could see her raising a weapon of her own, and shooting him dead on the spot.

Why did I ask for the gun?

JJ Patricks hadn't wanted to give him the weapon.  He'd basically begged for it.  He had no intention of shooting anyone, but if he'd been recruited to go after a madman with a weapon, it seemed only right that he would be able to defend himself if the situation called for it.

But could he?

It looked so different on television.  It looked cool.  No one on Criminal Minds showed up at a crime scene in moldy waders.

He wasn't cool.

He was Reeve Stockwell. 

Resident shithead.

Perhaps he could redeem himself.

Solve the whole darn thing.

But could he?

Could he take on a madman?

Could he shoot someone?

He gazed around him.

Aaron Faulkner sat at his desk, sweating up a storm.  Stockwell figured he probably had the shakes from withdrawal.

Kitty Richardson held the hand of the near octogenarian who'd practically castrated him.  Ada winked at him, and he recoiled. 


He could definitely shoot her.

Sonny Brooks looked terrified, and picked at his nose. 

No one would miss that idiot.

And, Mitchell.

He looked smug.

Stockwell had no doubt.

He could definitely use the gun.

As much as he felt disgust in his gut, these were his people.  He couldn't shoot them, but he'd protect them if the need arose.

He glanced at Kitty.

She looked like hell, poor thing.  Her makeup had run, and she looked like a failed attempt at replicating The Crow.  She smiled weakly at him, and he tried to message her with his mind.  Hadn't she laid claim to some kind of sensitivity?  Some minimal ability to read minds? 

He concentrated, and held her gaze, and - in the single moment of his life when he needed a miracle more than he ever had - it seemed to work. 

"Don't call the police," Kitty whispered.

"What?  Why not?" Mitchell retorted, clearly angry.

"Let us leave," Kitty replied.

"What?  Why would I do that?" Mitchell quipped.

"It's been a hell of a night.  My grandmother needs to go home.  Poor Aaron nearly suffocated in a freezer, and look at him," Kitty said, pointing at Reeve Stockwell.  "We can't let anyone else see him like that."

Mitchell glanced to his left, where Stockwell sat on the desk.  He looked like a maniac, and smelled like rotten fish.

"What about the shooter?" Mitchell asked.

"I'm willing to risk it," Kitty said softly.

"I'm damn near dead already," Ada remarked.  "I'll go for it."

"I'd already made peace with dying tonight," Aaron Faulkner whispered.

"I very nearly did die," Stockwell offered, glaring at Ada.

"All right," Mitchell said.  "I'll lead you out, call the cops, and wait for them here."

"Thanks, sir," Reeve Stockwell said, offering his hand to Mitchell.

Mitchell shook it reluctantly.  "You're welcome, but this isn't over, Stockwell.  I know you lied.  You and I are gonna have a "sit down."  You are going to tell me exactly what happened tonight, and I am going to check your story."

"I understand, sir," Stockwell said.

Slick Mitchell leaned in close.  He held his breath against the assault to the senses that being this close to Stockwell provided.

"I'm on to you, Burger," Mitchell whispered.

Fear flashed in Stockwell's eyes.  He didn't know why Mitchell had called him "Burger," or how Mitchell knew about the FBI thing.  Maybe "burger," was some FBI code word.  After all, Stockwell's experience with all things FBI was still in its infancy.

Stockwell said nothing, but he shivered inside the old slicker.

Mitchell walked away, stopping a few feet from the appliance desk.  "All right, gang.  We're going to walk.  Slowly.  Stay together," Mitchell suggested.

"We should hold hands," Kitty said.

"It's not Kindergarten," Mitchell commented.

Mitchell took the lead, and the veritable chain of freaks made its way through the darkened aisles.  The first two minutes went well until Ada let one rip.

"What was that?" Stockwell whispered.

"Sweet Mary," Sonny Brooks whined.  "Smells like something died."

"Put a sock in it.  I'm nervous.  I get the gas when I'm nervous," Ada explained.

"Everyone shut the hell up!" Mitchell said from his position at the lead.

The posse stopped in the middle of rough plumbing, approximately halfway through their journey to freedom.  The sharp crack of a gunshot sliced through the silence, and a toilet shattered behind them.

"Shit!  Run!" Mitchell screamed.

Everyone did.

Mitchell held tightly to Kitty's hand, and practically dragged her through the plumbing department, in the direction of the lumber aisles.  Another gunshot pierced the silence, and something crashed at the front of the store.

"They're tearing the place apart," Mitchell whined.

The group finally reached Receiving, and one by one they exited the store.  Faulker had carried Ada the final fifty yards or so, and he was pretty sure he'd be losing his spleen.

Kitty burst into tears, and clung to Sonny Brooks, who stood mumbling like someone in a severe state of shock.

Stockwell kept running.  Faulkner took chase.  Mitchell reached to stop him.

"Let him go,"  Slick Mitchell whispered.  "Is everyone okay?"

Miraculously, everyone was.  For the most part.

Sonny Brooks had been hit with a piece of flying toilet, and blood ran down the side of his face.

Ada MacKenzie was exhausted, but had miraculously held on to her teeth.

Kitty was shaken, and had wet her pants in aisle twelve.  Nonetheless, she was thankful to be alive.

Aaron Faulkner mopped his brow, and vowed to quit drinking.  Just not tonight.

And, Slick Mitchell?

He was raving mad.

"Go home.  Everyone go home.  None of you were here tonight, got it?  I was here alone.  That's what I am going to tell the police," Slick Mitchell said.

He watched the group disperse.  They looked like a bunch of apocalypse survivors, bloodied, but alive.  He had no idea where Stockwell had gone, and frankly, he didn't care.  He'd get to the bottom of the Mickey Burger thing, but first, he had to deal with his store.


Miles Longworth was an idiot.  He knew the ceiling tiles were crap when they began disintegrating in his man cave.  He knew better than to expect them to support his weight.

The entire ceiling gave out just after a single gunshot killed a perfectly good, water-conserving, high efficiency, commode.

Longworth lay on his office floor, surrounding by debris from his ceiling, and a pile of twenty, fifty, and hundred-dollar bills.

He was surprised he was alive, but he was in serious trouble.  He was almost certain he was paralyzed, completely unable to defend himself against whoever was shooting up the place.

Maybe he could buy his way out.

He had plenty of money.

Then again, he supposed he didn't care if he got killed.

After all, he couldn't imagine spending his life as a paraplegic, riding around the racetrack on his Hoverround. 

His habit had gotten the best of him.

If he'd been a bad man, a greedy man, he'd have taken the money and spent it.

He'd wanted to.  He'd hid it, figuring eventually he'd have the guts to just take it.  He'd only had a few thousand in the envelope when he'd set out to bury it with Kitty and Stockwell.  The rest he'd kept hidden in the shitty ceiling in his office.

He tried to move his arm, amazed that he could.  He scooped up most of the money and shoved it into his pants.  Only a few twenties were now visible.

His heart rate returned to normal and his breathing slowed.  He'd just begun to feel a sliver of hope when his office door opened.  A formidable form, little more than a shadow, stood in the doorway.

Miles closed his eyes.

He didn't deserve this.  He wasn't a bad guy.  He'd just made a lot of mistakes, mistakes born of stupidity, and foolish wanting.

Now he was going to die.


Stockwell wasn't sure why he kept running.  It just felt right.  He didn't feel an ounce of cowardice.  He felt free, liberated, like a man running toward something.

Moments later, he tripped, and plunged into a hole.

He'd forgotten the damn thing was there.

Kitty's crazy grandmother had dug it earlier in the day.

Daniels had nearly died in it.

The adrenaline he'd felt moments before faded away, and idiocy replaced it.

He sat upright.  The rubber waders had little give, and he found himself with the wedgie of a lifetime.

"Good Lord," he whispered, and he tried to wiggle about in the muddy hole.  Something poked his hip. 

Daniels' cell phone.  He held it tightly to his chest.  He was certain a mountain of secrets lay within the phone, but it wasn't why he felt victorious.  The phone was top of the line, not at all like the crappy Track Phone his kids had gotten him for Christmas the year before.  This kind of phone could do anything, and more than anything else, Stockwell needed a technological ally.

He clutched the phone to his chest, and fell silent, but the silence lasted only a moment.  It was broken by a voice, a voice he didn't recognize, a voice only a few feet away.

"Burger," the voice quipped harshly.  "What's up with all the yelling?  Well, keep her quiet.  Shoot her if you have to."

Stockwell shivered.  He was witnessing one side of a conversation, and from the sounds of it, not a very nice one.  Bravely, he raised his head from the safety of the hole.  A man stood several yards away.  The clouds had shifted just enough to allow a sliver of moon to light the otherwise blackened night.  A large black pickup truck, which had almost disappeared into its inky surroundings, was parked not ten feet from the hole where Stockwell hid.

"I'm calling him now, and then I'm headed out.  Keep her quiet until I get there."

Reeve Stockwell made a split-second decision, one he prayed he might live to regret.  He hoisted himself out of the hole, and crawled to the truck.  The clouds shifted, and the moon disappeared.  He was bathed in the safety of darkness once again.

Stockwell peered into the back of the pickup.  It was cluttered with junk, and little room remained.  There was just enough for a man in fishing waders, with an FBI issued weapon, and the world's most advanced smart phone, hidden deep in his pockets.

With all the grace of Baryshnikov, Reeve Stockwell climbed inside.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Tommy's Tool Town - Chapter 55 - Tommy's Finest - Speaking in Tongues

Reeve Stockwell hauled ass like a man being chased by ninjas.  He sped through the electrical department, past the hoards of light bulbs, and then picked up his pace as he sprinted through the power equipment department, past the dozens of lawn tractors, each of which appeared to be striking a pose like something straight out of John Deere Vogue.

Something slapped against his leg, and he slowed his gait enough to pat his pocket.

My gun!

Somehow in the plethora of pockets in the waders, he'd missed the weapon.  He was armed, and an image of tomorrow's sunrise flashed in his head.

I might live!

"I am armed!" he screamed, although his words were barely discernible through his ragged breathing.

He rounded the final corner toward the back of the store, toward the looming shadows of thirty-some display appliances.

A bullet whizzed past him and struck something metal to his right, the sound reaching his ears with a metallic ting.

"Lord help me," he screeched, his words and timbre that of a desperate man.

Someone screamed.  More than one person screamed, and he could have sworn one of them was a woman.

Stockwell lost his footing.  He flew forward, hit the ground, and slid like the winning-run man in a ninth-inning baseball championship.

He didn't collide with home plate.

He collided with Ada MacKenzie.

He found himself tangled in a chiffon nightgown that smelled like moth balls and old lady.  Bony limbs assaulted him.

"Sweet Jesus!" he screamed, as Ada punched him in the throat.  He coughed and sputtered, and tried not to lose consciousness.

The woman had a mean right hook for someone with nearly both feet in the grave.

"Take that, you hoodlum!" Ada screeched, kneeing him in his nether region.

Stockwell yacked up half of what he'd eaten at Denny's, where he'd been only hours before, in the safe company of FBI Agent, JJ Patricks.

"Someone stop this crazy woman, she's killing me," Stockwell attempted to screech.

"You puked on my best nightgown," Ada yelled, as Aaron Faulkner helped her to her feet. 

"You kicked me in my private parts," Stockwell groaned.

"Private parts?" a male voice asked.  "What are you, eight years old?"

"Mitchell?" Stockwell said, lifting his head like an old hound dog who'd baked too long in the August sun. 

"What in the Sam hell?" Slick Mitchell asked, offering a hand to a badly wounded Reeve Stockwell.  "What the hell are you doing here, and.........  what the hell are you wearing?"

In the chaos of almost losing the family jewels, Stockwell forgot about the ridiculous outfit.

"It was all I could find," Stockwell mumbled through a moan.

"Where you been?  On a fishing barge?" Aaron Faulkner asked.

"You wouldn't believe it if I told you," Stockwell remarked.

"Try us," Mitchell, Faulkner, and Ada MacKenzie said in unison.

Stockwell tried to think fast on his feet, but he was basically numb from the waist down, and his head was pounding like a bass drum.  He throat constricted like someone who'd just survived a strangling, and he had a fleeting thought that didn't just border on insanity, but crossed into a sociopathic abyss.

I could shoot everyone and just walk away.

It wasn't a bad idea, with the exception of his DNA being all over an old lady's nightgown.

"Shit," Stockwell whispered.

"Start talking, Reeve," Mitchell said, his tone short.

"I gotta sit," Stockwell said softly.

"You can use my desk," Faulkner said.

Stockwell wobbled as he walked toward the desk.  Everyone had seemingly forgotten that somewhere inside the store existed a madman (or woman) with a gun.  The crowd gathered.  Until that moment, Reeve Stockwell hadn't noticed Sonny Brooks, or a pale, seemingly shaken, Kitty Richardson.

"Where did you come from?" Stockwell asked Kitty.

"She came from my daughter, and if you make some smart remark about her, I'll bean you in the throat again, you punk," Ada barked.

Sonny laughed.

Stockwell could have sworn that Mitchell did, too.

Stockwell tried to clear his head.  He cleared his throat, which hurt like he'd just had his tonsils removed with a box cutter, and began to weave his tale.

"I got reports due.  I was thinking about it when I left the hospital.  Daniels is alive, by the way," Stockwell said, attempting to deflect attention away from himself.  "He's pretty much amnesic, at this point, and doesn't remember anything."

"And this has something to do with your fishing trip?" Mitchell asked.

"In a roundabout way.  I caught a ride with Larry Dale, and decided to grab something to eat before I let myself into the store.  I was eating in the park, but my car wouldn't restart.  I cut through that residential area over there...," Stockwell said, pointing in the direction of wherever, "and I fell when some old fart banged his garbage can lid.  I lost my.... my keys, and I was crawling around in somebody's shrubs trying to find them.  I found the keys, but managed to get dog crap all over my good pants.  This thing was all I could find," Stockwell said, pointing to the waders.

Mitchell eyed him suspiciously.  He knew Stockwell was lying, because he knew where Larry Dale was and where he'd been, and he hadn't given Reeve Stockwell a ride back to his all-weather beater.

"I don't believe you," Mitchell said. 

"Why not?" Reeve Stockwell asked.  He really didn't care if Mitchell believed him.  Of course he was lying, but he couldn't tell anyone the truth.  Stockwell began to wonder if he'd live long enough to fulfill his duties to the FBI, and he began to wonder if he'd be better off if he didn't. 

"Because I know you're lying," Mitchell said.

"Who would lie about crawling through dog shit?" Ada asked.  "I think he's telling the truth."

"By what method have you drawn your conclusion?" Mitchell asked.

"I'm older than dirt, and I've heard some cockamamie stories," Ada said.  "Why, I remember this one time I concocted a story about Woodstock.  I told my husband my sister was ill, and I, like half of the lost souls this side of the Mississippi, took off for some unknown field, in an unknown town, to commune with a bunch of pot-smoking, naked, and mud-covered hippies.  Worked out okay until a few hours became a few days, and my sister showed up at the house with a Rhubarb pie."

"That's my favorite," Aaron Faulkner said.

"Mine, too," Ada said.  "Let me tell you, it was a damn good pie.  I showed up a few hours later, looking like something that crawled out of a swamp, smelling like something that crawled out of a sewer, and there was your granddad, sitting at the table, with a rifle in one hand, and a fork in the other," Ada said, turning to Kitty. 

"Did he shoot you?" Stockwell asked.

"Shut up," Ada said.  "I ain't done with my story."

Stockwell shivered and shut his mouth. 

"Anyhow, my husband accused me of lying, until he got the Sunday paper, and there was my picture.  I was on the cover of the paper, wearing nothing but mud," Ada declared proudly.

"Eww," Stockwell said, before he could stop himself.

"Watch yourself, or I'll castrate you.  I didn't look like this back then.  I was hot.  That was probably the best make-up sex of my entire life."

"Grandma," Kitty cautioned.

"Everyone shut the hell up!" Mitchell yelled.

Something crashed, deep within the store.  Everyone froze.


"I'LL CASTRATE YOU," Ada yelled.

"SHE WILL!" Reeve Stockwell hollered.  Ada leered at him.

I'M CALLING THE POLICE!" Mitchell practically screamed.

"You are?" Stockwell asked.

"Of course, you moron.  Someone is shooting in here.  I am going to find out who.  No one is going anywhere until the cops get here, and once they leave, everyone is going home, and coming back tomorrow, unless I call you and fire you first," Slick Mitchell declared.

"ME LLAMO A LA POLICIA!" Grandma Ada yelled, and everyone fell silent.

"What?" Kitty whispered.

"Spanish," Ada said, with a toothy grin.

"Why did you say it in Spanish?" Stockwell asked.

"Look around.  Everything in here is in Spanish and English," Ada explained.


"So, the hooligan with the gun might be a Spanish-speaking hooligan," Ada said.

"Jesus, give me strength," Mitchell mumbled.

"Prayer doesn't hurt either," Ada commented.

"Where did you learn Spanish?" Kitty asked.

"Where else?  Rosetta Stone.  I got it from the Ebay.  I drown out that crazy mother of yours, and yell at her in Spanish.  She wants to get an exorcist," Ada complained.  "Thinks I'm speaking in tongues."

"Sweet Mary Mother of God," Kitty whispered.

"I'M CALLING THE POLICE!" Mitchell yelled in English, once more, just for good measure.


Half a store away, Miles Longworth froze.  He had just entered his office, and moved the ceiling tiles to reveal his secret hiding place.

He hadn't heard the shots being fired, but he'd felt confident he wasn't alone in the store.  He'd crept through the darkness like a cat burglar, and he'd remained undetected.

Until now.

Now someone was calling the police, someone who sounded a lot like Slick Mitchell.

And someone was going to castrate him, someone who sounded a whole lot like Kitty's crazy-ass grandmother.

And someone was speaking Spanish.  Longworth couldn't even venture a guess, who, or why that might be.

And someone was whining like a teenage girl, someone who sounded a lot like Reeve Stockwell.

They were on to him.

He knew it.

He hoisted himself into the ceiling, prepared to test the structural integrity of Tommy-brand ceiling tiles. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tommy's Tool Town - Chapter 54 - By the Process of Elimination

Reeve Stockwell crept through the darkened aisles of Tommy's Tool Town.  He was certain he heard voices, and he felt a deeply rooted terror that no agent of the FBI should feel.

He steadied himself against a rack of PVC pipe, which in hindsight was a very bad choice.  The pipe shifted and before his mind could process what was happening, thirty pipes crashed around him.

"Sonova.....," Stockwell whispered, hiding himself far behind the seventy-some pipes that miraculously hadn't fallen. 

Pounding footsteps approached, and Stockwell held his breath.  He wasn't visible, and as long as he wasn't an idiot, he probably wouldn't be discovered.  He dropped to his knees, and a plethora of dust bunnies took flight.

He was disgusted.

What did his Tool Towners do when he wasn't around?

They sure as hell didn't clean.

He crouched in the center of a veritable dust bunny snow globe, as the filth spun around him like a funnel cloud.

He felt the tickle.

It was unmistakable. 

Oh, no.  Oh, no.  Do NOT sneeze.

Stockwell held his nose and willed the sneeze to pass. 

It wouldn't.

It happened.

The sneeze.

He managed it soundlessly.

His head damn near exploded.

He was momentarily deaf, and he'd nearly passed out from the pressure inside his head.  He heard voices, but the sounds were muffled, the speakers unrecognizable.   

Reeve Stockwell suddenly recalled his youth.

He remembered warm summer days, nearly forgotten.  The clear blue water of his grandmother's pool.

He'd spent hours in the pool, until the day his cousin's tacos had come back to haunt the poor lad, and the pool was ruined forever.

He remembered skimming the bottom, as the adults sat by, talking and laughing.

The muffled voices inside the store took him back to that nostalgic time, to the wonder he'd experienced as the water shielded him from the noise of his family, to the beauty of the cool water, before Cousin Wallace had crapped his swim trucks.

Stockwell wondered if he'd always be deaf, and although the thought horrified him, he'd never ever have to listen to the endless gripings of fifteen estrogen-filled cashiers, the outlandish and presumably fictional stories of that wacko Kitty Richardson, or the piercing screech of Tommy's antiquated paging system.

He could navigate a soundless world.

He taught himself sign language in college.

He remembered little of it, and only enough to navigate the freeway during rush hour traffic.

Stockwell got to his feet and patted himself down.  He was rewarded with nothing but contact with the slimy old waders.  His gun was missing.


For the second time in less than an hour, he'd lost his weapon.

He'd been rendered incapable of defending himself.

And he was deaf.

Reeve Stockwell was the worst FBI agent in history. 

He waited.

He heard nothing.

He wasn't sure if it was because he was deaf, or if the voices existed only in his imagination, or if whoever had spoken was gone.

He crawled through the mess, careful not to make contact with the pipes surrounding him.

He peeked from inside the plumbing aisle.

Something caught his eye.

Something white.

A ghost.

He reached for the gun, knowing it wasn't there.

Besides, what would he do with it?

Shoot a ghost?

The ghost was already dead.

Wasn't it?


Stockwell almost flew out of the waders.

He wasn't deaf, but he was scared shitless.

Someone was shooting.

A man screeched, screamed as if in agony.

Someone had gotten killed.

Reeve Stockwell suddenly became someone else.  He became a stronger man, a braver man.  A man worthy of the title of....

FBI Agent.

Reeve Stockwell did something he'd never understand.

He ran toward the danger.

He hoped it wouldn't be the last thing he'd ever do.


The intruder stood in silence, in the shadows, visible to no one.

He moved nary a muscle, registering only slight surprise when he saw Stockwell run past him.

Stockwell ran toward the point of impact from the gunshot, instead of fleeing from it.

What was he doing?

And what the hell was he wearing?

Stockwell was a spineless weasel.

The type to flee from danger.

The first guy gutted on Elm Street.

This behavior was unexpected, a kink in an otherwise perfect plan.

This could be a problem, the stranger thought.

Stockwell was like the cowardly lion, after a visit to the Great and Powerful Oz.

When had that happened?

The intruder frowned, his face twisted into an expression of hatred and disgust.

So, Stockwell wanted to be a hero?

This plan had no room for a hero.

The intruder fingered the gun in his pocket, as a new plan formed in his mind.

Reeve Stockwell would have to be dealt with.


And swiftly.

Reeve Stockwell faced a new and certain fate.