I belong to a local writers’ group called Sleuths’ Inc. The name draws attention to the fact most of us write mysteries or crime stories. Every couple of months we have contests. In June the rules were the piece had to start with a nursery rhyme, it had to contain a crime and it should ignite feelings of some sort. With recognition to Dr. Seuss, here is the flash fiction I wrote. I hope you enjoy it on Friday the 13th.
A Creepy Story
“One fish, two fish, red fish, blue... Right foot, left foot, one foot, two..."
I lounge on the park bench, my right ankle balanced on my left knee. My arms spread along on the top of the back rest. Today’s paper, folded to the crossword, sits beside me. I fill in the blanks in ink. It has, so far, bested me. The author has not suddenly increased in talent. I’m struggling to concentrate. My mind wanders to the little girl playing hop scotch not more than ten yards away.
Sunshine colored hair, and even from this distance, I see her eyes are a deep blue. Her smile is pure and her giggle speaks of complete innocence. I’ve heard it a few times as the breeze carried it past me. She’s petite, and her inattentive mother, also blonde, sits on a bench opposite me. An open book rests on her lap. Her daughter is between us. They have Nordic heritage, I’m sure. Their skin is flawless and their bone structure fine as porcelain dolls.
I allow a small smile. No one can see where my eyes are focused, thanks to my wrap around shades. I’ve mastered the art of looking in a direction other than where my head is turned. I’m patient. I’m a hunter. The voice in my head tells me, “not yet.” Relaxed, I wait.
Her skirt is pleated, with a kitten design. The cut is loose, the hem is knee length and coordinates with her blouse. It billows as she hops and jumps from one space to the next. Twice I have caught the flash of underpants as she twirled and leapt along the pattern, landing on one foot, the other, or both. Her puzzle is drawn with chalk.
Her mother calls, and she runs to stand beside the woman. She’s rewarded with a juice box, and she drinks with vigor. The mother places a hand on the small of the girl’s back. I wonder how it feels. I scan the area. “Not yet,” the voice reminds me. I wait.
I wait on a slight rise above the asphalt path that winds through the park. Trees stand strategically planted to balance the sunshine and shade. The grass is lush, and bushes are scattered about. It’s almost Eden. The path separates me from the mother, other women, and their children. People stroll past, unaware. In the open area, a father and son try to fly a kite. They are failing. The son is close to tears and the father wishes for a beer. I smile at their frustration.
A couple, next bench from me, are wrapped together and oblivious to their surroundings. They appear inattentive, like the mother. I am never inattentive. Left of me, twenty yards away, on the far side of the path is a red brick public restroom. Stand-alone style, it’s rest area size, and it’s clean. I know it well. “Wait,” says the voice. I obey.
The girl returns to her game and my eyes follow her. She is angelic delight.
“Go,” screams the voice. “Go, go, go.”
I launch myself from the bench and three large strides carries me across the path. I charge in the direction of the restroom. As I approach, I hear shouting and fighting from behind the building. The couple from the bench go one way around, and I the other.
A mere second before impact, I see him. I brace myself and lower my center of gravity. Didn’t learn that move in the police academy. Taught in high school football practice. We collide, solid tackle. I bite my tongue. My shades fly from my face. I wrap my arms around his middle. We crash to the ground. I feel the impact on the side of my head and know my eyebrow is bloodied.
Over we go. I land on my back. He lands on top. My breath is gone, but I hang on. I gasp to breathe.
He hits the ground face first, with no way to break his fall. His arms are wrapped inside mine. I hear his grunt of pain. The impact stuns him. I scrabble out from underneath and kneel over him.
“Hands,” I scream, “Show me your hands.” Adrenaline shrilled my voice and I don’t like it. I release my hold and crawl to sit atop his prone body. He squirms, resists, and tries to lift himself from the ground. Sweat in my eye and I wipe it away. Not sweat, blood smeared on my hand. I push the man’s face into the grass with a handful of hair, used as a rudder.
“Hands,” I scream again. My voice is closer to normal. Anger does that. I can’t help but grin, adrenaline will do that. I grab the left hand, twist the arm to the lower back, and cuff it. The right hand is pulled back to meet the other, also cuffed.
I stand and notice my hands trembling. Adrenaline again. I take a deep breath. The man struggles to stand, I hold him in place with a foot to the small of his back. I’m not ready to let him up.
“What the hell happened to you?”
It’s the male half of the couple. He also has a suspect in custody.
“Everybody okay?” I ask. He nods.
“Battle scar?” he grins, indicating my forehead.
I’ll settle for that.
“We got the money and the drugs.” He waves a “thumb’s up” at me.
“Good bust,” I agree.
From inside the neck of my shirt, I pull a beaded chain. From it hangs my shield. I removed my ear piece from my ear. No more voices for a while. It goes inside my shirt pocket.
The girl hands me my glasses. They’re fine. I put them on. On lookers clap and shout congratulations, as we “perp walk” the suspects. The blonde girl smiles at me.
I smile back and think, “One fish, two fish, red fish, blue, I’ll soon be seeing you.”