Friday, August 30, 2013

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

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

Miles stood just inside and looked around.

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

"Me," Kitty whispered.

"Seriously?" Miles asked.

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

"Like what?"

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

"Did they?"

"No," Kitty said.

"Then it's not a bad day."

"Is something wrong, Miles?" Kitty asked.

"Where should I begin?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

"You okay?" Kitty asked.

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

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

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

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

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

"Oh, crap," Kitty whispered.

"Why?" Miles asked.

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

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

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

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

"I could."

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

"Didn't you?" Lowell asked.

"No," Miles mumbled.

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

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

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

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

"I did."

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

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

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

"And if I don't?"

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

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

"No," Kitty whined.

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

"Are you coming back?" Kitty whined.

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

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

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

And then he was gone.

"Shit," Kitty whispered.

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

"JJ?" Stockwell said.

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

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

Kitty immediately redialed.  Stockwell answered.

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

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

"Why?" Kitty asked.

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

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

"Why would she call you?" Kitty asked.

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

"Oh, right," Kitty mumbled.

"Why did you call me?" Stockwell asked.

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

"Seriously?" Stockwell asked.

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

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

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

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


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

"Hey, Kitty," Bernice said.

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

"Okay, can I bring Penelope?"

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

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

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

"Thanks," Bernice said, hanging up.

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

"Where were you, Penelope?" Kitty asked.

"In the toilets," Penelope responded.

"Oh?  Are you ill?" Kitty asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Deal!" Bernice said.

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

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

"Nothing," Bernice assured.

"Keep it that way," Kitty demanded.

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

Penelope did.

"Let the jousting begin!" Bernice said delightedly.

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

"You know how, right?" Bernice said.

Penelope nodded.

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

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

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

"Who?" Penelope asked.

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

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

"He wasn't Glad!" Bernice said.

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

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

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

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

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


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

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

It was nothing short of a miracle.

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

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

"Did that really happen?" Kitty asked.

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

"Good luck," Kitty said.

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

"Dammit," Daisy mumbled.

"Down here," a voice whispered.


"Daisy.  Look down," the voice insisted.

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

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

"I had to see you," Hannah whispered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"No," Hannah admitted.

"Then what?" Daisy asked.

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

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

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

"Follow me," Daisy said. 

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

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

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

"I cannot hear myself think," Hannah whined.

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

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

"It is?"

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

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

"I did."

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

"Wow," Hannah said, then frowned.

"What's wrong?"

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

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

"A partnership, and a connection."

"A connection to what?" Daisy asked.

"CBS," Hannah said.

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

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

"You forgot?"

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

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

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

"FBI," Hannah whispered.

"What?"  Daisy mouthed the word.

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

"Stockwell is in the FBI?" Daisy said.

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

"Confidential informant," Daisy said.

"Yes.  That," Hannah agreed.

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

"I should see a neurologist about my brain?"

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

"She's a woman," Hannah said.

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

"Three letters," Hannah said through a sigh.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Tommy's Tool Town - Chapter 67 - In Cahoots with Gutz

Miles Longworth had a pain in the butt - a real one -  the kind that comes from sitting in the lobby of the police station for hours.

He was starving.

He hadn't eaten in hours.

Even the phone book was starting to look appetizing.

His stomach growled.

He checked his watch.


He still held the notepad on which he was supposed to have noted the money trail.  The page was empty.  Miles had no idea what to write.  He wasn't a writer, he was a retail manager, and lately not a very good one, although it was hard to tell a good one from one not so good.  It was retail, after all.

He opened his cell phone and dialed Officer Lowell.  His call went to voice mail.  On the list of Lowell's priorities, Miles had to figure he ranked pretty low.  Lowell's voice mail invited him to leave a message.

He burped into the phone and promptly hung up.

Sometimes it was miserable to be a human, and sometimes it wasn't so bad.  The burp-on-demand feature made the other nonsense almost tolerable.


Miles looked to his left, then to his right.  He saw no one.

Two minutes later he walked out.


Reeve Stockwell made what he hoped wouldn't be a life-changing decision.

He left Kitty Richardson in charge.

He had to.

Longworth had called to say he needed a burrito or he was going to die, and he'd be back to the store by 7:15, but Stockwell couldn't wait.

He needed to get to Bitsy's by 7:00 to meet Gerald Gutzenheimer, his conspiracy theorist of choice.  Kitty looked shocked.

"I'm in charge?" she'd asked, her eyes as huge as saucers.

"Yes," Reeve Stockwell said, as the hair stood up on the back of his neck.

"I'm supposed to leave at 7:00," Kitty said.

"Miles will be here by a quarter past," Stockwell replied.

"That's fifteen minutes late," Kitty whined.  "I'm on dinner duty tonight."

"Meaning?" Stockwell asked.

"I have to feed two crazy old ladies by midnight or bad things will happen," Kitty whispered.

"Like what?"

"Did you ever see the movie Gremlins?" Kitty asked.

"Sure," Stockwell said.

"Like that," Kitty mumbled.


"I'm afraid they'll come to the store," Kitty said.

"Seriously?" Stockwell retorted.  "This is not good."

"I know."

"If your grandmother comes here, shut off the lights and lock the doors."

"Really?" Kitty asked.

"I cannot have that woman in here tearing the place apart while I'm not here."

"What about the other customers?"

"Make an announcement," Stockwell suggested.

"Like what?"

"Just say those crazy things from the movie Gremlins are outside the door.  Customers will understand."

"Of course.  Of course they'll understand," Kitty said, arching a brow.  "Have you been drinking?"

"Not yet.  Do you have your list?"

"I do," Kitty said.

"And you're clear?"

"Crystal," Kitty said.  "If anything happens involving a customer, call you.  If anything happens regarding the police, call Slick Mitchell.  If anything arrives to check in, pretend you don't see the truck.  If anything happens involving horses, call Miles.  If my grandmother shows up, lock the doors, shut off the lights, and announce that horses are outside the door."

"No.  Gremlins," Stockwell said.


"Horses are Miles' department," Stockwell reminded.

"This list is asinine," Kitty said.

"I know," Stockwell said.  "Just bear with me.  Nothing will happen.  Miles will be here shortly."

Stockwell stood up from his desk, and left his office.  He made a sign of the cross and exited the store.  His beater miraculously started on the fifth try, and he made it to Bitsy's by 7:02.

Gutz was already there.

"You're late," Gutz said.  He was holding a Pabst Blue Ribbon.  He looked pissed.

"Two minutes," Stockwell said, sitting down, and sticking to the booth.  He preferred not to know what he was sitting in.  He'd just deal with his pants later.  Maybe he could score another pair of waders.

"Time's a conspiracy.  Probably those Timex folks came up with it," Gutz said.

"Seriously?" Stockwell asked.  He motioned to a waitress who wasn't Toothless Louise, but was likely on the same dental plan.  He figured the biscuits must be free, and the staff must dine on them religiously.  They were like a rock, and Stockwell had nearly lost a crown to one, a few years back.

Stockwell placed his order.

Gutz was still looking at his watch.

"Rolex," he mumbled.


"Maybe it was Rolex.  Those things cost a fortune."

"Come on, Gutz.  You really think that Rolex came up with the theory of time to sell a lot of expensive watches?"

"Could be," Gutz said.

"I don't think so," Stockwell said.  His beer arrived and he poured it into a glass.

"What's wrong with the can?" Gutz asked.

"Rat shit."


"Again?" Stockwell said, as beer dribbled down his chin.

"The rat crap thing is just a ploy to sell glasses," Gutz said.

"I don't think so," Stockwell repeated.  "Didn't you own glasses before all those emails started circulating.

"Sure.  My wife and I got a couple of fine sets back when we got married."

"Then it's debunked," Stockwell said.

"I'm not sure I like where this is going," Gutz said, taking another long pull on his Pabst can.

"Can we start again?" Stockwell asked.

"All right."

"Hey, Gutz.  Nice to see you.  Thanks for joining me," Stockwell said.

"You're late."

"I'm sorry.  I'll make it worth your while."

"Oh?" Gutz said, sounding interested.

"How would you like that money?  How would you like a years' salary just sitting in your bank account?"

"I'd like that a lot.  I'd like to do some research on chem trails, and planes are expensive," Gutz said.

"I have no idea what you're talking about and I'm okay with that."

"Chem trails are chemicals introduced into the atmosphere......"

The food arrived, and Gutz shoved a French fry into his mouth.  Stockwell started wishing it was a bottomless order.  It might be the only way he'd get a word in edgewise.

"I want to partner with you," Stockwell said, when he was certain Gutz's mouth was full of potato.

Gutz arched a brow and chewed furiously.

"I need your absolute discretion.  And I need an answer before I tell you why I want to partner with you," Stockwell said.

"That sounds like a load of crap," Gutz said.

"I know."

"But I'm okay with it," Gutz said.

"You are?" Stockwell said.

"You fascinate me," Gutz mumbled through a bite of a burger.


Gutz swallowed.  "You are an absolute knucklehead on the fast track to success.  I smell a conspiracy in there somewhere."

"I don't know what to say."

"Tell me why you want me to partner with you, and I am especially interested in why you need my discretion."

"I am a Confidential Informant with the FBI," Stockwell said softly.

Gutz laughed like a maniac.  Stockwell wasn't sure he had ever heard the man laugh.

"It's true.  I need to take someone into my confidence.  I'd like that person to be you," Stockwell said.

"You got an in with the FBI?" Gutz asked.

"I do.  You remember JJ?"

"The woman who was murdered and stuffed in that refrigerator?" Gutz asked.

"There was nothing in that fridge, Gutz.  You were there," Stockwell reminded him.

"There was nothing in it when you got there.  Thing probably had a false back," Gutz surmised.

"The thing was sixty years old.  It barely had a front," Stockwell quipped.


"So JJ is an FBI agent," Stockwell said.

"That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard," Gutz said.

"She was deep under cover," Stockwell said defensively.

"What was her previous assignment?  Did it have something to do with the undead?"

"That's rude, Gutz."

"Is not.  You met her."

"All right.  So, you in?"

"I'm in," Gutz said, stuffing a fry into his mouth.  "On one condition."


"You get me into Area 51 when this is all resolved."



"I'll see what I can do.  I'll mention it to JJ."

"Best not.  She might be one of those aliens," Gutz said, draining the last of his Pabst.