And the hits just keep on coming, folks. Fire up the Keurig, put your feet up and enjoy.
First, from Pegoleg:
Frank pulled into the club lot and headed for his usual parking space. Bob was always there first, but today the adjacent spot was empty.
“Damn!” Frank thought sourly. Wasn’t it just like that SOB to be late today?
Bob was his oldest friend. At least that’s how Frank would have described the relationship. It would be more accurate to say the two men were competitive, slightly antagonistic business acquaintances who cheated at golf against one another every Saturday. Frank lacked the mental subtlety to understand the distinction,
He brought the Lexus SUV to a stop and sat for a moment, enjoying the custom-fitted leather bucket seat. He mopped his beefy, sweating face and breathed in the distinctive new car smell. The temperature gauge read 71, but to Frank it felt like 90. His stomach clenched and he popped a couple of Tums – hell, he’d been eating them like candy lately.
The car purred; damn it was a fine automobile.
It aught to be. An icy finger stroked his spine at the thought of the $90,000+ price tag. The total bill, presented 3 days ago along with the keys, had caused him to swallow – hard. His monthly payment, added to his mortgage and his wife’s unrelenting spending; well, it was enough to give any man indigestion. The burning feeling in his gut intensified.
He needed this car. He deserved this car. It was practically a business necessity. Who wanted financial advice from a guy who drove a junker? Certainly not Bob. He was Frank’s biggest client. That man was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He always had the best and had no idea what someone like Frank went through just to keep up.
A sharp stab in the solar plexus doubled him over for a moment. The pain passed, leaving him gasping for air and sweating even more profusely. It might be time to go back to that doctor, though he knew just what he’d say. He’d give Frank the same old line: too much rich food, too much liquor, and too much stress.
Frank got out of the car and wiped an imaginary smudge off the Black Onyx hood. He’d really wanted old Bob to be standing here when he drove up. That bastard would be impressed for sure.
A sharp blast on a horn a few feet away made Frank jump. He spun around as an unfamiliar vehicle nosed into the space.
“Sorry I’m late. I had to stop at the dealership on the way over to pick up my latest toy. I wanted you to be the first to see it, old friend.” Bob had to raise his voice to be heard over the thrum of the powerful engine. He hopped out of the sports car and made his way around to the front where Frank stood, frozen to the spot.
“Yup, I says to myself, Frankie boy would want to be the FIRST to see this. I ordered it months ago…” Bob’s laughing, mocking voice went on and on, but Frank couldn’t hear it over the roaring in his ears. Searing pain in his chest squeezed like an anaconda as a lifetime of “too much” caught up with him.
Frank pitched forward onto the gleaming, Serpent Green hood. His senses were shutting down. Now he could feel his bare arms sliding down the warm, smooth metal. Now his vision narrowed to a pinprick as he crumpled to the pavement. Frank’s last sight on this earth was the distinctive emblem on the front of the car’s hood – the Lamborghini bull.
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Now, from Elyse at fiftyfourandahalf:
We were out walking the dog the other day, my husband and I, in our neighborhood. The one we planned to live in when we win the lottery. Given that these houses are all worth at least $5 million, it better be a big jackpot.
There was finally a break in the clouds from five straight days of pouring rain and area-wide flash floods.
“Which house do you want today?” my husband asked, starting our usual game.
I looked around. Rolling hills, lush trees and perfectly coiffed lawns all led up to magnificent mansions of various types. There’ss a lovely stream that winds its way around the neighborhood, forded by stone bridges, here and there. Somehow, each one of these ten houses on our 2.5 mile dog walk is at the top of a hill, because, of course, mansion are supposed to be on top of hills, aren’t they?
“I don’t want that one,” I said. “There is dog poop on the lawn.”
“That’s our dog and our dog’s poop. If it were our house, there would be more of that.”
“But it wouldn’t be poop belonging to the dog of folks that come to gawk,” I responded.
“Then we will include an anti-poop covenant in our purchase agreement,” the lawyer in my husband responded.
“Good thinking! I want that one,” I said, pointing to the expansive New England faux-farmhouse on the hill just past the next stone bridge.
“The lawn is a horrible mess after all the rain and flooding. Wouldn’t you rather have one where the stream is a little farther away?”
“Nope,” I responded. “My fantasy house must have a stream. A moat would be better, but I’m willing to settle. And if it floods, so much the better. It will keep the rabble away.”
“OK, you can have that one. We’ll stop and get a ticket on the drive home.”
“You are such a good provider,” I said with a kiss.
The stream was still pretty high. Had we come an hour earlier, we wouldn’t have been able to cross the bridge. The stream had obviously flooded worse than we’d ever seen it before. And debris lay everywhere.
“I’m not sure I want to live on that side of the bridge,” I told John, reconsidering. I do like getting home even in a rainstorm.
“Don’t worry, Sweetheart,” my husband said in his best Bogie voice, “I’ll make sure it never rains. Or I’ll buy you a helicopter.” He continued on about all the things we’d buy so that we could always get home.
As we got a little closer to our future house, we realized that there was much more debris than we’d seen after previous storms.
“Think there is an Ark parked around here?” I joked.
“Oh my God!” shouted John as we surveyed the debris. “There’s a car in with all the tree branches and crap — its sunroof is open. You don’t think …”
There was no one in the car.
“Oh, God no,” I said covering my mouth and pointing. There, up against a stone pillar that served as a lamppost and mailbox, a man had clearly been flung.
We rushed over him; I called 911 and held the dog as John checked in vain for vital signs.
The EMTs arrived, as did the police who were curious as to why we were there.
“We love walking through this neighborhood,” I said. “Or we did.”
“Yeah,” responded the cop. “This guy apparently thought it was to die for.”
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And this one from last round’s winner – Dave at 1pointperspective:
Nick Valenti – Swim Club Gigolo
Nicky V. hustled. He went to community college and worked at the bowling alley. He’d been there long enough to be able to run the whole show. He sprayed disinfectant in the rental shoes when he had to, but where he really shined was shmoozing the moms who came in to have birthday parties for their little brats. He’d make sure the bumpers were up and that they kept off the hardwood with the pizza and soda. Nick couldn’t help but look at those moms with their shiny SUV’s and wish he had some better wheels.
In the summer months, business fell off at the alley and Nicky worked over at the Delcrest Swim Club. His cousin Jimmy “One Thumb” Valenti was officially the manager, but Nicky did the work. Jimmy just picked up a check – nine fingers or not, he had no problem with that skill. Nicky should be so lucky.
Nick was a bit of a player with the lovely young ladies at the pool. This summer was different. Nicky was tired of the teenagers, he had his eye on bigger game.
Nicky figured the woman was in her 30’s, and she had him in some kind of trance. She was built like a centerfold. Strippers should have studied the way she moved. Her name was Crystal Light, just like the diet drink mix. Funny, because her old man looked like he’d never been within a mile of lo-cal anything. Nicky looked at that fat slob and dreamed of having his life. As if having a knockout like Crystal wasn’t enough, the round man owned a classic Caddy. It drove Nicky crazy that this guy had it all, and more chins than a Chinese phonebook.
When Crystal started chatting with Nicky down by the diving well, he thought maybe she was going to hit him up to work on the Caddy. The trunk lock had been popped and it was held closed with clothesline. He couldn’t believe that tub of Beefaroni would drive a number like Crystal around a classic car rigged like that. Where was the justice?
He was trying so hard to look cool that he wasn’t sure he heard her right. She smiled, then turned and walked away to find her husband at the snack bar. Nicky tried to recall her exact words, but the sight of her walking away wasn’t helping his thought process. He was convinced that she wanted Mr. Light turned off for good.
Nick was no murderer, but he kept imagining driving the Caddy with Crystal snuggled up against him. He pictured himself pulling into the driveway of the Light’s split level over on Belmont Terrace. He deserved that life. He’d do it.
That’s how he found himself crouching in a cluster of rhododendrons at the edge of Light’s property, his fingers sweating as his grip tightened on the handle of the gun he’d lifted from One Thumb’s desk at the swim club. That 500-pounder-with-cheese was bound to come out of his house eventually, and Nicky would be waiting, swatting mosquitoes.
Nick felt the presence but didn’t even have a chance to turn around before the bowling pin cracked across the back of his skull and knocked him into dreamland.
The man stood over Nick, wearing torn jeans and a badly scuffed leather jacket, scrapes on his hands and face.
He said, “Sorry kid, but there’s already a line formed for guys who want to kill that fat bastard.”
Willie Prader pulled out a Lucky and leaned back down into the shadows of the bushes to light it without being seen.
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