I Can’t Believe I Didn’t See That Coming

Write a story that starts with the line “You’ll never get me to tell you where the jewels are,” and ends with the line, “I can’t believe I didn’t see that coming.” Be as creative as you can.

Post your response (500 words or fewer) in the comments below.

writing-prompts

Download from our shop right now!

You might also like:

229 thoughts on “I Can’t Believe I Didn’t See That Coming

  1. BlueBoulder

    “You’ll never get me to tell you where the jewels are!” Rock said, as if it was some simple child’s game. But I knew that this wasn’t some matter of the jewelry as he thought; I came for the entire trunk. The case had in fact been hiding the valuable seeds to finish my mission of creating the largest forest the Earth had seen in millions of years, restoring its old glory. But they had clumsily been stuffed with stolen jewels, in the trunk Rock did not know to be mine.
    “Rock, this is dumb. Hand me the trunk.” I smirked, hand held out. He looked at me scared and confused, until I continued, “I’m not here for the jewels, I just want the case.” His mouth turned into a smile.
    “It’s useless now, Crane.” My old companion said, clutching the jewels. “I already got rid of the seeds.” Rock was shaking violently as he said this.
    “Where are they?” I yelled, “They could cover the entire country by now!” Typical Rock to mess up my plans. That’s why I dismissed him.
    He hit the ground suddenly, and I noticed something green rapidly leaving his ear. Soon he had sprouted a whole branch.
    The idiot had eaten the seeds. He ATE them! I watched silently but in horror as the seeds overtook his body quicker than a blink with each leaf.
    Suddenly i saw a vine creep up from the cement. Its growth was accelerating, and I knew that I would never escape from the dimly lit room as the forest grew around me. I saw Rock’s unmoving body as I was pressed to the ground by various trees and vines. As I scratch this onto the forgotten wall, I still can’t believe I didn’t see that coming.

  2. pdiddle

    “You’ll never get me to tell you where the jewels are!”
    A stunned silence fell over the church as I finally answered the minister’s repeated question.
    “Do you have the rings?”
    Seeing Jay’s smug grin as he stood with the love of my life on the precipice of matrimony; a dam broke inside me and I realized I couldn’t stand idly by any longer.
    “Alicia, before you marry this slug, there is something you need to know. I have loved you since before I knew what love is. When we would watch the sunsets as children, my only hope was that the sun would never set on my time with you. I couldn’t bear the thought that you might turn me down, so I ever told you that my love for you is like a bottomless well; never ending and waiting for you to draw from it.”
    I watched as tears streamed down her face.
    “Alicia, this man can never love you, he has proven it to you ten times over. If you choose me, I’ll never stop proving my love and devotion to you.”
    This was it. I laid my cards on the table and bared my soul to Alicia and the dozen or so confused and angry guests, bridesmaids, and groomsmen. I searched her eyes for the “yes” that I yearned for with my entire being. What I found in her gaze brought tears to my eyes.
    The pity and shame present in her stare was enough to baptize me in the reality that was wrought by my own hand; she could never return my love. I was so enamored with the vision of my beloved’s hand in mine as we broke through the doors of the chapel together that I blinded myself to the truth; I was far, far too late.
    Reeling with the shock of my realization, I whispered to myself.
    “I can’t believe I didn’t see that coming.”

  3. DillBagner

    “You’ll never get me to tell you where the jewels are,” I said to the man.
    “Oh. Okay.” He was defeated.
    “I can’t believe I didn’t see that coming!”

    The End.

  4. I love writing

    “You’ll never get me to tell you where the jewels are.” I hissed. “I am the ruler here and I saw what to do.”
    Well maybe that isn’t true… A week earlier I had been banished for taking the crown from this island’s rightful owner Prince Liam.
    But that banishment came with a cost for them. I had taken 6 precious stones that belonged to the kingdom
    The keeper made an irritated grunt, “You don’t know when to stop.. Do you lad?”
    Stop? What a pathetic thing to say. I have and will spend every second of my life rising the the top. No matter what it takes.
    The keeper gets up and leaves. Leaving me to think about it myself.
    I ponder about yesterday. Joni should be leading all the soldiers to war.. And K-
    The footsteps become louder, I expect it to be the Prince. After all who wouldn’t be mad about a kingdom loss?
    But I recognize these footsteps… light, sorrowful, and toned with power.
    The figure stops when they see me in sight and hesitate.
    “You kept the promise.” they said.
    It is most definitely them.. Their here, that means.. Joni is dead.
    My oracle Hethia warned me of this.
    I can’t believe I didn’t see that coming.

  5. itsonlymonaayh

    “You’ll never get me to tell you where the jewels are!” I heard Miley scream at Tom. I was about to put my key in the door when I heard them arguing. I immediately halted and just listened.
    “But, we had a deal!” Tom spewed venom in his words.
    “I don’t care what our deal was, it is over now!” Miley screamed in between sobs. “How could you sleep with her; how could you have sex with my sister! I trusted both of you!” She shrieked this time, showing no emotion.
    “I have no clue how she found this out. I did not tell her, and I know Tom didn’t tell her, he would never risk all the jewels Miley has stashed away.” I whispered to myself nervously.
    “Baby, she came on to me I swear, she threatened to tell you that I made a move on her if I didn’t have sex with her! You have to believe me!” He was on his knees at this point. Pathetic. I put my key in the door and joined the party. I dropped my bad on the floor and took my jacket off. Miley staring at me like I killed her kitten, and Tom on the floor, pleading like a peasant.
    “Hey guys, what’s up?” I smiled, trying to walk to my room before hurricane Miley got me too.
    “WHATS UP? I WILL TELL YOU WHAT’S UP! I KNOW ABOUT YOU AND TOM, WHORE!” She shouted so loud that I think the house shook.
    “Woah, calm down hulk. Let’s just talk about this, I did you a favor. I showed you that you deserve better. Really you should be thanking me. Not yelling. Cheer- Tom would you get the hell off the floor, you look like a fool. Actually just get out.” I did not want to have this conversation. I was already bored.
    “You think that no one can touch you. Do you honestly believe if you keep pushing people they aren’t going to push you back?” Miley was so calm at this point. It was kind of scary. “I am so tired of you and all your crap I have to deal with. You’re so sick in the head. You think you’re above everyone but you’re not. I am not giving you any jewels either!” She scoffed at me. I just laughed. She was so naïve it was just getting pathetic.
    “Little girl, little girl.” I laughed some more. “What ever I want is mine, when will you understand that. When is the last time you checked on OUR jewels? My guess is not recently because I moved those babies last month.” I chuckled for the last time. Then Miley started laughing and Tom just stared.
    “I know you moved them. But, I found them. I sold them. Every single last ruby and diamond. Two million dollars’ worth. You can both go to hell.” She smirked and walked towards the door.
    “Oh my god.” I gasped loudly. “I can’t believe I didn’t see that coming.”

  6. Critique

    “You’ll never get me to tell you where the jewels are.” Ashley looked at Garnet through the veil covering her face.

    Garnet snorted as he placed the last honey filled frame in the tub on the ground. “You sound as batty as Uncle John and Aunt Tilley.”

    “You’re despicable. They left us the farm. The bee business.” Ashley secured the lid on the beehive. “We should be thanking our lucky stars.”

    Garnet hoisted the tub into the back of the pickup truck alongside the other tubs then encompassed the land with a sweeping arm and turned to her. “I never wanted any of this and what makes you so sure there’s jewels?”

    Ashley pulled her sweaty gloves off then the protective cap and tossed them in the back.

    “You haven’t read the diary.” She said.

    “What diary?” He said.

    “Aunt Tilley’s. Be assured dear brother there is one and it’s in a safe place.”

    They didn’t speak as Garnet drove the truck into the farm yard.

    A sturdy farmworker in overalls came out of the shop bearing the sign: John and Tilley’s Apiary and Craft Shop.

    “I have a right to see it.” Garnet white knuckled the steering wheel.

    “I checked the machine shop when I came out this morning Garnet. It’s empty. You selling the farm off behind my back?” She looked over at the farmworker coming towards them. “Gerry called me on Thursday very upset. He says you’re laying him off? What gives you the right to do that?”

    Ashley opened the passenger door and got out.

    “Expect a call from Barry, Garnet. Aunt Tilley’s jewels are mine until we get this sorted out.”

    “Oh, the lawyer boyfriend.” Garnet sneered. “Nice try with the fake diary jewellery thing. The will never mentioned any of that.”

    A month later the For Sale sign lasted one day before a Sold sign appeared.

    “The cheque for your half of the sale is at the farm.” Before she could reply Garnet hung up.

    Her cellphone rang again.

    “He signed off everything.” A male voice said on the cellphone. “It’s done babe.”

    A smile played on Ashley’s face as she pocketed the phone.

    The air had turned cool and the leaves were changing color. Winter was coming.

    A truck sat idling next to the shop and Garnet leaned out the open window watching Barry and Ashley stroll across the yard.

    “What are you doing here?” Ashley asked.

    “I was in the neighbourhood. Thought I would swing by and see the place.” Garnet narrowed his eyes at Barry. “Surprised to see you guys here.”

    “The farm is ours Garnet.” She linked arms with Barry.

    Garnet’s eyes widened and his jaw dropped.

    “I can’t believe I didn’t see that coming.” He said as he jerked the truck in reverse and peeled down the driveway in a cloud of dust.

    Later Ashley carried two glasses of wine out to the patio that overlooked the picturesque farm land and handed one to Barry lounging in a chair. She held up her hand and an exquisite diamond ring sparkled on the ring finger.

    “I had it appraised. It’s a good thing you’re sitting down.” She said.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          I came back to read this. You’re hitting on all eight on this story. God bless our families, otherwise what would we write about. Excellent job here. I’m proud of you.

  7. cjhall338

    “You’ll never get me to tell you where the jewels are,” she said. Karen slowly began to walk her tiny five feet, two-inch frame backwards, one small step at a time, until she felt the cold metal wall of the musty warehouse behind her.
    Karen felt trapped as she looked up at Dave, who closed in on her. She tensed as he reached for her slender arms and pulled her into his chest. She let out a screech.
    “Dave, no!” She yelled as tears welled in her swollen red eyes. He held her so tightly she could barely breathe. Dave turned brutal toward her recently. He wouldn’t let her go until he got what he came for.
    He squandered his inheritance years ago, when he and Karen first met. No doubt he tried to impress her by jetting cross-country for romantic dinners and lavish vacations to exotic places, all along gambling and drinking excessively. He was widowed and Karen supposed his extravagance was an attempt to mask the pain of his loss.
    She unexpectedly inherited an expensive diamond wedding set and some other precious jewelry pieces when her parents were tragically killed in a car wreck. She hid the jewelry in a safety deposit box when she caught Dave trying to sell them to a dealer at an office Christmas party at his job.
    “Tell me, Karen, now,” Dave demanded as his grip on her was becoming more painful.
    “Dave, I can’t tell you because I don’t have them”, she murmured in an almost inaudible childlike voice.
    Dave loosened his tight grip on Karen’s arms and shoved her backwards into the wall, knocking the breath out of her momentarily.
    “You killed me!” He shouted the words with his whole body, and Karen shrank back in fear of what he might do next. But he did nothing like what she thought. She saw Dave go from tyrannical to pathetic right before her eyes.
    She pulled herself upright to as tall as she could stretch, as if trying to summon up courage from deep within her soul and body.
    “Dave,” she whispered softly. Her voice became firm with confidence. “The jewels are gone! I’m gone! It’s over!” Karen knew her jewels were safe. She would still have the restaurant she dreamed of for her future.
    Dave now looked weak and small in her eyes. He was lowly and poor, financially and in spirit. His large body crumbled to the floor. He lived life too extravagantly and he knew things were about to catch up with him.
    As Karen walked passed him, reaching for the sliding metal door to freedom, three rather seemly men walked in. One she knew as Carmine, the bookie.
    “Karen”, Carmine said, tipping his hat and nodding as if to say goodbye and good luck.
    With great relief, she walked through the dank, dark warehouse, into the bright sunlight. Feeling as though she had her life back, she thought aloud, “I can’t believe I didn’t see that coming”.

  8. Everlasting

    “You’ll ‘ever get me to tattle! Those damn jewels are long gone by now, anyhow. Wouldn’t ‘elp you a bit if I told you where I last knew them to be!”

    “Language, mate.” Hissed the Captain, stroking his bushy beard thoughtfully, “…Your mother know ya talk like that…?”

    “No. ‘nd please don’t tell ‘er.” Muttered the man before him, before returning to his earlier confidence. “Cap’n Blackbeard, you’ll ‘ever get Davy Jones’ treasures. Not now. Cap’n One-Eye’s already got it.”

    A feminine figure stepped up next to Blackbeard, a grin flickering across her freckled face. “…What if I threaten you with a kiss, mate? Would that get you to jabber in a hurry?”

    The man glared from his position, tied against the ship’s mast. “Damn you, woman.”

    “Language, Stumpleg!” Snapped both pirates.

    “Sorry.” Stumpleg mumbled. “My father always was a bad-mouthed man.”

    “So I see.” Murmured the woman, tracing her finger enticingly beneath the man’s chin. “…I don’t believe we’ve been introduced. I’m Rose Poisonthorn. Pleasure to make your acquaintance.”

    “…Does any pirate ever talk like you do?” Inquired Blackbeard.

    “I refuse to use that dumb accent.” Shot Rose.

    “It’s not dumb!” Objected Stumpleg.

    “Is too.” Rose hissed.

    “Why are you even here, then? If you think Pirates are dumb?”

    “No, pirates are awesome. It’s the accent that’s stupid.”

    A new voice broke through the cacophony of crashing waves and drunken pirates singing sea shanties a floor above the three pirates, effectively ruining the scene.

    “Rose! Blake! Shaun! It’s time for lunch!”

    The three young pirates exchanged glances as the world around them faded back into existence, and the sound of crashing waves and singing pirates morphed into the heavy wind blowing through the oak trees in Blake’s backyard, and eighties music flowing softly from the kitchen window.

    Two out of three of the children’s stomachs growled as the smell of grilled cheese filled the air.

    “…Shall we continue this later, Blackbeard…?” Inquired Stumpleg, from his position leaning up against one of the thinner oak trees in the yard.

    “Awe, but I hate grilled cheese.” Lamented Blake, “…Why does Mom always make it for you guys?”

    “Because grilled cheese is tasty, you weirdo…!” Retorted Rose, racing into the house.

    “Yeah… Sorry, Blake, but I’m really super hungry.” Shaun apologized, jumping up and racing after Rose.

    Blake shook his black maned head. Sarcasm seeped into his voice as he mumbled, “…Totally didn’t see that coming.”

    1. pvenderley

      I was going to have a field day whinging on about the accents, and then the corny plots and names(fine, fine, maybe I wasn’t), and then you perfectly charmingly tied it all together by exposing your narrators to be children. It makes that line “No, ‘nd please don’t tell ‘er,” fifty times better than the first read.

      I only hope others weren’t turned off by the opening lines. In the world of split-second judgements, this wouldn’t make for an enticing entry simply because we don’t know the speakers are children; folks would more likely jump to a worse conclusion. I’m not sure how you could get around that — perhaps hiding other clues in age when referring to “bushy beard,” or “the man” or “feminine figure?”

      1. Everlasting

        Oh dear…
        I’ll admit I didn’t put much thought into that before, but you are absolutely right, Pvenderley.

        I’ll admit that pirate accents and/or names aren’t my strong suit in writing. But when this idea came to me, I remembered that when I was little and playing ‘Pirates’, I didn’t think twice about my friends calling themselves ‘Captain Gold Hook’ or ‘Yellowbeard’ or some such name, or cutting off their words/sentences in jarring ways in an attempt to sound like a ‘seasoned sailor’ for their part in the game.

        And as little kids themselves, I figured these main characters wouldn’t know any better, either.

        I suppose I got a little carried away in the imagination factor, but I do see your point.
        I will certainly try to improve on my clues and hints for next time around!

        Thank you very much for commenting~!

  9. Loopmoo

    “You’ll never get me to tell you where the jewels are!” I spit blood at him, a cruel smile spreading across his lips. My wrists and ankles were rubbed raw from the ropes, and I had exhausted every option I had. The only thing I could do was keep my comrades safe.

    “Oh you think I’m done, how…cute.” His hands glowed a dark black and I could feel his power welling within him. Every muscle in my body was screaming at me to run but I couldn’t move, even without the ropes I wouldn’t have been able to move.

    I felt myself going weak, my muscles convulsing. Whatever this was, it wasn’t human. I could feel my hands start to burn as though they were placed in lava. The sensation slowly spread through my arms and down my torso. It felt as if the ropes would have just burned off. I heard an ear piercing shriek bounce off the cave walls, and I realized it was my own pained scream. My entire body felt like it was burning.

    “Now now, no need for all of this,” He placed a finger under my chin, his eyes sending dread twisting into my stomach and his voice putting ice in my bones, “All you must do is tell me where the treasure is dear.”

    I could feel my tears streaming down my face, and I heard footsteps pounding against stone. The next thing I knew my friends were all standing around me, swords poised and ready. “Oh look, more children with more mouths to tell me.” He cackled and the pain became so intense, my vision had gone dark.

    When I came to, I was on the ground, untied, and there was a gentle smell of roasting meat. I looked around and noticed my friends and I were all in a different cave. Catherine, my older sister, shook her head and mumbled, “I can’t believe I didn’t see this coming…”

  10. MCKEVIN

    You’ll never get me to tell you who I work for!”

    Washington screamed at Tracy. He’d been drugged, stripped naked and handcuffed. Unmoved at Washington’s words, Tracy turned up his stereo to drown out the chatter while staring at Washington as he hung by his feet from a beam in the ceiling.

    “Why did you lie Wash?”
    “Trace let me down I’ll tell you everything you-”
    “You do know you’re in no position to negotiate right?”

    A deathly silence filled Tracy’s living room as Washington’s muscular body swung slowly in the air. First Tracy picked up a fluid filled hypodermic needle,he held it to the light and then smiled. Then Tracy grabbed a silver
    handle 45 to check if the chamber was full. It was. Washington wished he had closed his eyes when he saw Tracy pick up a 9 inch hunting knife and kissed it like an old friend.

    “Would you have left Doug for me if I had told you all I had to offer you was me?” Washington pleaded.

    Tracy walked to the kitchen, poured a cup of coffee and removed a Krispy Kreme donut from its box. In his preferential vision Washington struggled to free himself. Tracy returned to the living room, sat in a large red wing tip easy chain and placed his cup and donut on a table close to where Washington hung which was not far from his weapons table.

    “So you lied thinking what?”Tracy asked.
    “I thought I could impress-‘

    Tracy threw the coffee. Washington screamed as the hot liquid scalded and burned his skin.

    “How can an FBI agent be so STUPID?”
    “I-“
    “No that’s it. YOU THOUGHT I WAS STUPID DIDN’T YOU?”
    “Trace No-“

    Tracy bit into the donut like a wild animal biting into its prey. Brown liquid dripped from Washington’s body cooling as it pooled on the carpet. Blisters and tears formed but Washington believed the coffee loosened the ropes that bind him. Secretly he tried to free himself. A lone tear rolled down Tracy’s face.

    “YOU USED ME! You knew Doug asked Robyn for a divorce the night you came here. You knew I was vulnerable because Robyn told him noo. The two of you planned it didn’t you?”
    “Honestly no-“

    Tracy stuffed a sock in Washington’s mouth.

    “You knew I was scared, helpless and lonely. That’s why you came on to me and used the situation to get me in bed DIDN’T YOU?”

    The more Washington struggled to get free the tighter the now dried ropes became. The sock muffled his screams as Tracy came closer to him. Tracy lifted Washington’s limp testicles as he jerked to get free. He grunted weird sounds as Tracy picked up the hunting knife.

    “You won’t be needing these anymore and just so you know, I would never leave Doug. I’ll kill you and his wife before I let him leave me.”

    Tracy squeezed Washington’s testicles together and in one swift move, he lopped them off with the hunting knife. Washington’s woke up from his nightmare and the first thing he thought was “I can’t believe I didn’t see that coming.”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Scared the left over s— out of me. I’ve had nightmares before that I thought were extreme. But one like this would finish me before I woke up. Good thing I read this befire eating anything., How in the world did this get through? Probably you’re the cause the web site was down this morning, it was kicking itself.

        1. MCKEVIN

          Oh my dear Kerry…. Love has scared the s___ out of many people including myself. Lol! I decided a while ago to write Tracy and Doug’s story. It has been one hell of a ride. . I think you and the others here will like it. Thanks you made my day.

    1. Pete

      There’s really no rhyme or reason that I’ve found. Last week I could post comments but not my story. I took our cursing, and got it under the word count, still wouldn’t post. This week I’ve posted twice. Frustrating.

      1. Flynnie

        Tried two different computers, two different networks. Can’t post the story so’s you cats can beat it up and make me better but I can post comments? Makes me not want to take the time to write. Sorry, got a little whiny there.

        1. Tysheena Jackson

          I had this problem a couple weeks back. I tried using the work $3X in front of trafficking and it wouldn’t let me post. But once I changed the word, it let me. So if there are any possible profanities in your writing or words that seem taboo then definitely think about rewording them. Also, you can contact Brian Klems, the online moderator for help, at his email: brian.klems@fwmedia.com. Hope things work out for you!

          1. Flynnie

            Well changed a couple of low level, suspect words but still no go. Sheesh. So much for getting the benefit of all of your expertise.

  11. Beebles

    Couldn’t resist a second one. Maybe cos its means I’m not writing what I should be writing. Bad boy.
    ———————-
    ‘You’ll never get me to tell you where the jewels are.’

    ‘That’s what you think,’ Alfredo said. He gave the deftest flick of his wand and spoke the softest of incantations. The next thing, the girl was spilling the beans like a Heinz lorry going off a cliff. An hour later in the pub, Alfredo carefully unwrapped his handkerchief on the table.

    ‘Wow, Dragon Gems! Nice haul. I know a number of people who’d be interested in those. Usual cut?’

    Alfredo nodded. Daemon was expensive, but he was the best fence for magical items Alfredo knew. And he was totally reliable. Creepy, but reliable.

    ‘So what did you use?’ Daemon asked licking his lips.

    ‘Oh, just a persuasion charm. Fancy another?’ Alfredo swept the stones back into the pocket of his coat and went to the bar, returning two minutes later with two pints of Theakstons and a couple of whisky chasers.

    The pub was quiet, even by Streatham Wednesday afternoon standards, only a couple of girls tucked away in a booth at the far end. Alfredo guessed they would be office temps on their lunch. Daemon was casting furtive glances in their direction.

    The two men sat in silence for a few moments. A double decker bus trundled past on the high street, its advertising for a new film visible above the frosted faux Victorian glass of the pub window. Alfredo wondered if the second drink had been a mistake. Beyond business, he and his short shabby acquaintance had little in common.

    ‘So what did you make of all this Harry Potter business?’ he said at last.

    Daemon pulled his eyes away from the temps. ‘Exciting, shook us up a bit. Blew out some of the complacency. I think it’s been good for the wizarding world, in general.’

    Alfredo was a little taken aback by the man’s erudition. ‘You think?’

    ‘Sure,’ Daemon licked his lips and drew his gaze back to Alfredo once again. ‘I think it’s shown that magic isn’t to be messed with. You got to admit, Voldemort was pretty cool.’

    ‘Yeah, but it almost exposed us. Too close for comfort, if you ask me.’

    ‘Nah, none of them ‘muggles’ suspect a thing.’ Daemon smirked and went back to his leering.

    ‘Do you think she knew?’

    ‘Who?’

    ‘Rowling.’

    ‘Nah.’ Daemon drained his first drink and depth charged the whisky into the new pint. ‘Just got lucky is all. And now it’s all firmly in the realms of fantasy. Who would believe there really were wizards living among them?’

    ‘I didn’t get all that about pumpkin juice, though. Why should wizards drink pumpkin juice?’

    ‘You know, witches, Halloween, pumpkins.’

    ‘Oh yes, now I see it. Christ, all the witches I know dress like dykes.’

    ‘Anyhow, it’s lovely to talk,’ Daemon said, gaze flitting to the girls again, ‘but just run that persuasion spell past me and I’ll be off, I’m feeling lucky. I’ll be in touch when I’ve got a buyer lined up.’

    ‘Oh, right.’ Alfredo replied, a little taken aback. He demonstrated, and then watched the slightly tipsy wizard shuffle across the patterned carpet, pint in one hand, reaching inside his leather jacket with the other.

    ‘Tch, pumpkin juice,’ Alfredo muttered to himself, ‘I can’t believe I didn’t see that coming.’

  12. pvenderley

    “You’ll never get me to tell you where the jewels are!” shouted Dr. Von Spinel’s lab assistant, straining at the zip ties that cut into his wrists.

    “Easy, fella,” soothed Special Agent Dinofrio, patting the bound man on his jet black hair. “Either you tell me, or my agents find them when they tear this lab apart. But your boss is gone, so why not make things easy on yourself?”

    “Sir!” an agent emerged from the top of the spiral staircase at the north edge of the lab. “There’s a door here!”

    “Where’s that door go?” Dinofrio asked his captive.

    “The… the observatory.”

    “See? It’s not that hard to cooperate, now is it?”

    The room shuddered, and a low groan emanated from within the laboratory walls as the ceiling pulled apart to reveal a swath of lapis lazuli. Dinofrio pushed the lab assistant onto a chair up against the wall and shouted to his team. “Did anyone press anything?”

    Everyone shook their heads in denial.

    “Boss! I didn’t tell them anything! I swear!”

    “Calm down, Peridot. I know.” Dinofrio tracked Von Spinel’s soothing voice to a cluster of holes drilled into the copper walls.

    “Tell me, Agent Dinofrio. Have you ever wondered why us ‘evil’ scientists are always stealing jewels?”

    “Question occurs to me now and then. Prevailing wisdom was for the money, but you never sell them, do you?”

    “For the money…” Von Spinel’s voice mocked. “No, Agent Dinofrio. We study them, refine them. Grind them down, apply Draenor recipes… What are we doing? Where is our research taking us?”

    Dinofrio shrugged. Two clouds drifted across the sky, looking close enough to touch were it not for the concave transparent observatory roof.

    “Refraction!” The ceiling shuddered to a halt, nearly fully open, a slight overhang at the edges of the room, making the room looked more like the interior of a telescope than a functioning laboratory. “Refraction and focus.” Four small oblong shadows rose from the edges of the room and danced upon the floor.

    “Sir,” whispered one of the agents. “There are four drones up there. The gemstones appear to be attached on top of them.”

    Motioning for his team to follow, Dinofrio stepped out into the middle of the room and searched the edges of the catwalk for the scientist.

    “Four drones!” confirmed Von Spinel. “One with the Eagle Diamond, one with the Hope. And, of course, the Twin Citrine. Now tell me, agents. What’s so important about refraction and focus?”

    Dinofrio motioned to an agent, who fired his weapon at one of the drones. The bullet ricocheted off the drone, the wall, and nearly struck the lab assistant, who let loose a little shriek. Dinofrio motioned to the agents to stand down.

    “Hey, Von Spinel. Let’s have this guessing game face-to-face, eh?”

    The drone that had been shot stopped circling the room and began moving up a few inches, then down.

    “Energy!” shouted Von Spinel. “Power!”

    The diamond atop the drone caught a beam of sunlight and shot it at a second drone’s jewel, which refracted the light into three finer beams that struck the crystalline ceiling.

    “What are you doing, Von Spinel?”

    “I have no idea!” The scientist made no effort to disguise his glee. “It’s an experiment! Exciting, isn’t it?”

    Rather than dissipate, the beams appeared to be trapped between two layers in the ceiling, streaming in a circle around the inverted dome, faster and faster until they coalesced in the dome’s center as one large ray that shot straight into the middle of the room. Dinofrio and his agents barely had time to scream before they were incinerated.
    Von Spinel stepped out of the shadows next to Peridot’s chair and looked at the agents’ smoldering remains. A drone fell to the ground in front of him, a twist of melted metal around a large diamond. He picked up the wreckage and sighed.

    “I can’t believe I didn’t see that coming.”

  13. MCKEVIN

    You’ll never get me to tell you where the jewels are,”
    Washington screamed at Tracy. He’d been drugged, stripped naked and handcuffed. Unmoved at Washington’s words, Tracy turned up his stereo while staring at Washington as he hung by his feet from a beam in the ceiling.

    “Why did you lie Wash?”
    “Trace let me down I’ll tell you everything you-”
    “You do know you’re in no position to negotiate right?”

    A deathly silence filled Tracy’s living room as Washington’s nude muscular body swung slowly in the air. First Tracy picked up a fluid filled hypodermic needle, held it to the light and then smiled. Then Tracy grabbed a silver handle 45. He checked to see if the chamber was full. It was. Washington wished he had closed his eyes as Tracy picked up a hunting knife and kissed it like an old friend.

    “Would you have left Doug if I had told you all I had to offer you was me?” Washington pleaded.

    Tracy went to the kitchen, poured a cup of coffee and removed a Krispy Kreme donut from its box. In his preferential vision, he saw Washington struggling to free himself. Tracy returned to the living room and sat in a red easy chair. He placed his cup and donut on a table close to where Washington hung and not far from his weapons table.

    “So you lied thinking what?”Tracy asked.
    “I thought I could impress-‘
    “How can an FBI agent be so STUPID?”
    “I-“
    “No that’s it. YOU THOUGHT I WAS STUPID DIDN’T YOU?”
    “No-“

    Tracy threw the coffee. Washington screamed as the hot liquid burned his skin. Tracy bit into the donut like an animal biting into its prey. Brown liquid dripped from Washington’s body and pooled on the carpet. Blisters and tears formed. Washington felt the coffee had loosened the rope that bind him. He secretly tried to free himself as lone tear rolled down Tracy’s face.

    “YOU USED ME! You knew Doug had asked Robyn for a divorce the night you appeared at my place. You knew I was vulnerable because Robyn said no. The two of you planned it didn’t you?”
    “No Trace. Honestly no-“

    Tracy grabbed a sock and stuffed it in Washington’s mouth.

    “You knew Robyn told Doug she would never let him see his kids again if he continued seeing me didn’t you? You knew I was scared, helpless and lonely. That’s why you came on to me and used the situation to get me in bed DIDN’T YOU?”

    The more Washington struggled to get himself free the tighter the now dried ropes became. The sock muffled his screams. Tracy lifted Washington’s limp testicles as he jerked to get free. He grunted weird sounds as Tracy grabbed the hunting knife.

    “You won’t be needing these anymore. And just so you know, I would never leave Doug. I’ll kill you and his wife before I let him leave me.”

    And in one swift move Tracy lopped off Washington’s testicles with the hunting knife. Washington’s last thought was “I can’t believe I didn’t see that coming.”

  14. jdecast1

    Hello everyone! This is my first time with a prompt, any feedback is greatly appreciated.

    “You’ll never get me to tell you where the jewels are. They’re mine, not yours Maggie.” My twin sister Annie hissed.

    I was always jealous of Annie. She was always so beautiful and magnetic. It seems silly now as I look at the shell of the woman she once was. She was thinner than I had ever seen her and I was convinced her once vibrant red hair was falling out. It certainly hadn’t seen a brush in days. As I looked at her I couldn’t help but feel guilty. I hadn’t seen her in years. It’s not that I didn’t want to, it’s that I was scared to. Mom knew how to handle Annie but I didn’t. And now Mom was dead. Now Annie was my problem and mine alone.

    She was pacing back and forth in front of the barred window mumbling. She was wringing her hands so hard I was starting to get nervous. It was the start of another outburst, another disaster like the one that had landed her in the Meadowbrook Psychiatric Center to begin with.

    I tried to calm her down but it only made her more upset. After a while I knew I didn’t have any other option but to call the orderlies. They came rushing in past me, shoving me in the corner. I was wedged behind a cart of medical supplies as I watched them restrain Annie and stick the needle into her neck. After the syringe emptied her breathing calmed until I became convinced she wasn’t breathing at all. They told me to leave then and I walked out not knowing what the hell I was going to do with my sister.

    Later as I laid in bed staring at the ceiling of my old childhood bedroom I knew what I had to do. I was the only family Annie had now. So the following week I drove Mom’s old Volvo wagon back down to New York, cleaned out my shoebox of an apartment and returned to Maine to be with Annie.

    She’d have good days and bad, but eventually the bad days started to become further and further apart. The orderlies started to know me by name, they’d whisper encouraging words after good days and share in my disappointment after the bad. Annie was once again the woman I knew before the incident. She’d even let me brush and style her red hair to mirror my own.

    More often than not she would ask me to read to her. The orderlies told me she would spend hours at the Meadowbrook library selecting the perfect book for each visit. With each new book we discovered a world where Annie wasn’t ill and I wasn’t taking care of her. Annie had gone so long without an outburst, Dr. Ramsey, Annie’s doctor, started to ween her off some medications. She did well.

    Then I got the phone call. It was May 4th, Mom’s birthday. Dr. Ramsey told me he needed to talk to me immediately. I rushed to Meadowbrook as quickly as I could. I knew something was wrong, I just didn’t realize how bad it was. Then the flashing lights of the cop cars and the ambulance told me all I needed to know.

    I threw the Volvo into park and ran over to the ambulance. As I looked onto Annie’s crumpled body on the sidewalk I overheard the orderly behind me say “I can’t believe it. I can’t believe I didn’t see that coming.”

  15. jhowe

    “You’ll never get me to tell you where the jewels are,” the smirking small shouldered man said, tugging at the scarves that bound him to the bedposts.

    “You still think this is some sick game don’t you?” The woman wearing a black cat suit tugged at the tights that rode up her ample behind.

    “No, it’s not a game,” he said with a purr. “I’ve been a very bad boy.”

    “Shut up with that, cripes.”

    “Maybe I need a spanking.”

    “Maybe you need some steel up your eye,” she said, snapping open a gleaming switchblade.

    “Hey, I paid for the non-violent bondage.” He writhed on the bed, twisting against the restraints. “I’ll report you to Madam Bovine.” She pricked the point of the knife into the indentation under his rapidly convulsing Adams apple.

    “If you tell me there are no jewels, so help me I’ll cut you open.”

    The man whimpered and tears streamed down his face, filling his ears. The scent of urine filled the stale air. The woman closed the knife and shook her head. “There are no jewels, are there?”

    He shook his miserable head, crying openly.

    “Then I guess I’ll tell Madam Bovine that Operation Upgrade doesn’t work.”

    “What?”

    “She thought she’d give away free violent bondage scenarios to get you miserable pricks to pay more next time. She didn’t realize what wimps you all are.”

    The woman untied the scarves and strode out of the room. He rubbed his wrists and thought, ‘I never saw that coming.”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        If it were I , my rear end would be disappearing at first chance. No funny stuff for me. Eyes and knives don’t set well with a gentle soul. But I enjoyed the story a lot, John. As usual, packed with color, excitement and action.

  16. Pete

    “You’ll never get me to tell you where the jewels are.”

    Harold grinned after the kid said it. A Camel between his teeth, he craned his neck as he unclasped a hoop earring. A full day’s worth of stubble cracked the facade of his press powder foundation.

    “Honestly, Frank. You believe this kid? Such a drama queen.”

    Frank sat stiff on the couch, racking his brain for a plan. His own dress was in tatters from the explosion and getaway, his ripped pantyhose revealing a blackened gash in his leg. Beside him, Jake garbled through a slop of blood and loose teeth, still mumbling about jewels and whereabouts, too incoherent and terrified to know that Harold had other plans. Something much better worse than money or jewelry. Now he had a cop to mangle.

    Things had gone off the rails rather fast. A crew of four down to three. Then two. Frank managed to breathe carefully, keep focused, but the kid was a mess. The right side of his face was slop, like the inside of a shiny cherry pie.

    That Harold had not yet made Frank was of little importance. Frank would rather die than watch what was planned for Jake. His nephew started with the crying again, and Harold reached out and smacked popped him across the cheek with the sole of a high heel shoe.

    Still in the wig, with a smear of a smile, Harold’s exterior derangement matched that of his soul. His shoulders bulged like a couple of cantaloupes under the slip dress, rippling with movement. Frank tried to hide his wince as he leaned close and the Camel dug into Jake’s face.

    “Frank, would you tell this hero that I don’t care about jewels.”

    Visions of blow torches, power tools, razor blades danced through Frank’s thoughts. And they’d been so careful, meticulous. Eight months of planning, now it was gone.

    Harold tore out of the dress, his bare chest scarred and tattooed. “Enjoying the show, Frank?”

    Fifteen boxes drilled. In and out in forty minutes. No guards. No problems. Then that security guard had to be a hero. Frank could only hope the guy was going to make it.

    Then Jake had opened his mouth. Even as they were only three blocks away. But where was the team? Backup?
    Someone had to have heard something.

    Harold was ecstatic, finding out he had a cop to play with. His voice leaped to a sing-song shrill. “Jewels are great. But money and valuables are only a means. But a cop…” Harold whistled, coming to life. His eyes widened. He snapped and pointed at the kid. “You know what? I need my knife!”

    Stark naked, Harold clomped over to the kitchen and started rifling through the drawers. Frank tried to grab the boy’s eyes with his own as the drawer clamored open, Harold, still singing showtunes. “What do you say we carve him up, carve him up, carve him up good now…”

    Frank’s blood recoiled when he heard the electric knife. He stood, remembering what he’d told his sister. He’d promised Jeanie he’d look out for her little boy. Harold, the blades jigging along in his hands, stopped, seeing Frank between him and his cop, a two-for-one look in his eyes, a satanic smirk curling the edges of his mouth.

    “Oh now, this, is lovely.”

    Harold came for him in a blink. Frank went low and felt a jolt of pain before two shots ripped his ears open. He fell, the floor muted beneath him. He saw his grandmother in chapel. The folds of her hands over-top his own. Gave them a squeeze and suddenly Frank could hear the rain outside.

    A nudge at his back. Frank looked up to find the destroyed face of his nephew. A small, .380 in his hand.

    Harold lay on his side, his mouth an oval, blood leaking over his chin. He coughed, or laughed rather, rolling onto his back. In his hand he still clutched the carving knife, even as the cord had stretched, coming unplugged from the wall.

    “I can’t believe I didn’t see that coming.”

  17. snuzcook

    Here’s the story I mentioned. PapaTroll and I were apparently on the same wavelength, but I think they are sufficiently different that I’m posting anyway.

    “You’ll never make you where the jewels are.” The captive lifted her chin defiantly and gave him a withering glare.

    “Oh, yes, you will.” The figure in a clown mask waved his wicked-looking knife through her field of vision and pressed the flat of the blade against her cheek.

    “You‘ll ever get away with this,” she said bravely.

    “Who’s going to stop me? You must realize you are entirely in my power.” He slowly moved the knife until its tip pressed into the tender flesh beneath her jaw.

    “Tell me where they are.”

    Her eyes shifted involuntarily beyond him, then back to his face. He turned his attention to her backpack in the corner. “You have them with you?”

    She struggled against the ropes that bound her to the rickety chair as he pawed through the backpack, turning its contents out on the concrete floor and testing all the pockets.

    “You won’t get away with this.”

    He threw the backpack to the floor in irritation. “Tell me where you hid the jewels. I know you took them.”

    “Eat sh*t and die.”

    He hit her with the hilt of the knife on the pressure point on her upper arm. “Hey!”

    At the sound of her yelp, there was thumping in the house above. She yelled again, and her captor locked his grimy hand over her mouth. “Shut up,” he hissed.

    A door opened above them, and footsteps thundered down the stairs.

    “What is going on down here? Untie her!” Amanda, the babysitter, could really make her voice big when she wanted to. Her pimply boyfriend stood behind her, like a silent enforcer.

    Petey dragged the clown mask off his head. As he fumbled with the ropes, trying to conceal the knife in his pocket.

    “He tied me up and wouldn’t let me go,” Jessica spit out the words with righteous venom. “And he hit me right on the arm. And he put a knife by my eye. He coulda poked my eye out.”

    “A knife? What knife. Come on, hand it over.”

    “It’s just my army knife. It’s not real.” He dropped the hard rubber knife into Amanda’s outstretched hand. “I was just trying to get her to tell me where she hid the jewels. I knew you were looking for them.”

    Jessica, free now, smirked.

    “So where are they, Jessica?” Amanda asked quietly.

    “What?”

    “The necklace you took from your mother’s dresser. I know you have them. They’re not something to play with.”

    “They’re in the teddy bear.” Jessica pointed to a small stuffed animal on the floor where Petey had dumped it. “I didn’t hurt ‘em. They’re safe. I saw it in a movie.”

    Amanda scooped up the bear and extricated the elegant creation of gold filigree and glowing emeralds.

    “We’re going to play another game now,” Amanda said, her eyes still riveted to the jewels. “Boyd!”

    Two hours later Amanda and Boyd dropped the children off, hooded and tied up but unharmed, at a deserted rest stop off the highway just short of the border. It took a few minutes struggling to get free.

    “What are we going to do now?”

    “Find a phone and call Mom, I guess.” Jessica said. “I can’t believe I never saw that coming.”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Your conversations shown like jewels in a strong light. They certainly were real enough. And the double double was a kick at the ending. Clever story and writing.

      1. snuzcook

        Kind comments, McKevin–but did you see how my typo-itis is worsening? Now I am dropping several words at a time. The first sentence could only be understood because it’s the obligatory first sentence in every other story for this prompt. 🙁 It’s bad enough when I get one word stick to my shoe and track it through several sentences in a row; now they’re MIA.

        But glad you enjoyed it, warts and all.

  18. snuzcook

    I submitted a second story, but it had a common mild four-letter word in it. I’ll wait until this evening and if it doesn’t post, I’ll try try to asterix it out.

  19. cosi van tutte

    Captain Jinjerry Zrish shook his head. “I can’t believe I didn’t see this one coming.”

    His first mate, Squishie, tightened the rope. “I told you to get your cyborg eye implants checked. But did you listen to me? NO!”

    “Squishie darling—”

    “Don’t ‘Squishie darling’ me. I tell you to do stuff and you just ignore me. You…you…Ignaojfiaoiaiuadshaihda!”

    Captain Jinjerry sighed. “I really wish you’d swear in Proper Language instead of that cheap Andromedian rubbish slang. I also really wish you’d untie me. That would be nice.”

    “Oh, well. If we’re going to talk wishes. I wish you’d tell me where you stashed the Izmarg Devil Jewels.”

    “Squishie. Squishie. Squishie. If you want the jewels all that bad, you could untie me and—”

    “Don’t try sweet talking me. It won’t work.”

    Captain Jinjerry smiled – a smooth, flirtatious smile. “Oh? You scared that it will work? Come on, Squishie hon.”

    “Calling me ‘Squishie hon’ won’t work either.”

    “Hey, why don’t you tell me what will work so I can give it a try?”

    “Just tell me where you put the jewels.”

    “Ok. I jettisoned them into Platnes’ atmosphere. Now, how about—-”

    “Do you think I’m that stupid? You would never jettison treasure.”

    “Well, Squishie. There’s always a first time for everything.” He winked at her. “So, how about a first kiss?”

    “Are you serious?”

    “Hey! I never joke around about kisses. That’s some serious—-”

    “Idiot. I was talking about the jewels.”

    “And the crowd goes wild with booing. Come on. I know you like me. I know—”

    “Okay. I’ll take your game piece.”

    “My what? Wait. What?”

    She flipped open her comm-link. “This is First Mate Squishie. I’m requesting a change of course. We are going back to Platnes.”

    Captain Jinjerry gaped. “Wait. What? What? What?”

    Squishie gave him a pointed look. “We are going to search Platnes’ atmosphere for the missing jewels.”

    “Uhh…Can I say I was just joking?”

    “No. Because I don’t think you were.”

    “Darn.”

    1. snuzcook

      Sounds like Squishy Darling is going to get her way. Poor Captain never saw it coming.
      As always, great dialogue. I confess I had to go back on this one and reread to make sure I got who was surprising who, but I think that was reader error, not story. Fun story, Cosi!

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Cosi, I’ve responded to this story five times and it’s not posting. All I said was, it was a made up story between two people who play games before hitting the feathers on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Let’s see if this one posts.

  20. igonzales81

    “You’ll never get me to tell you where the jewels are.”

    Hans chuckle, a low, menacing sound. “My dear, you can’t imagine how many times I’ve heard those words, or others to the same effect.” He calmly started pulling off his gloves, one finger at a time. “They were all mistaken, in the end.”

    Jane swallowed, glaring up at the figure looming over her. She had to be strong, couldn’t afford to break. Those jewels were everything, a way out, a future. If her partners hadn’t crayfished her… no use thinking about that now. She just had to hold on, get them to put her back in the cell, and the bobby pin tucked into her pony tail would win her freedom.

    “You see,” Hans walked slowly around behind her. “I am something of an expert in—how to say this?—extracting information.” She heard the slap of leather as he tossed his gloves onto a table she couldn’t see. There was a faint jingle of metal, and she could just see him running his fingers across the various tools and implements that her imagination had conjured up. “But, really, that isn’t the most important part for me. That is, after all, just part of the job.”

    He reappeared, holding something that looked like a cross between a pair of pliers and a set of spurs. Jane felt her pulse quickening, sweat trickling down her face.

    “For the real professional, the job is only part of it,” Hans continued, leaning closer, close enough that Jane could smell the coffee on his breath. “For the real professional, the job itself is the reward.”

    Jane leaned away, the movement instinctive, the last desperate defense of the cornered animal. “You won’t break me,” her voice wavered. “I won’t give you what you want.”

    Hans laughed again, a sickening sound. “Oh, maybe you won’t tell me where the jewels are,” he held up the cruel-looking implement, turning it so that the light of the single, naked bulb glinted off its jagged edges. “But you will give me what I want.”

    Jane squeezed her eyes shut, waiting for the pain to start. Before the screams started, she had one last coherent thought.

    “I can’t believe I didn’t see that coming.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Sounds like a scene from ‘Inner Sanctum’ [look it up. ] Boy, you scared the dilly out of me and I wasn’t even there. Wow, double wow! Her imsaginary thoughts when she couldn’t see what he was doing, set the mood for the rest.

  21. Papa Troll

    “You’ll never get me to tell you where the jewels are,” Bonham said struggling to free himself from his bonds.

    “You will talk, matey,” Jacob said.

    “ARRRR!” Molly yelled, leaping up and down for emphasis.

    “Yes,” Aaron said in agreement. “Err.”

    “No, it’s ‘ARRRR!’” Molly affected a pouty look as she scolded him.

    “Who told you that you can play with us?” Aaron argued back.

    “Mom did,” Molly said sticking her tongue out him.

    “Guys”, Jacob said. “We be pirates. Let’s quit the arguing and get our booty back.”

    “Booty”, Aaron said as he giggled.

    “Boys”, Molly sighed deeply. “Can we play something else?”

    “Hey guys,” Bonham said. “These ropes are tight.”

    “Quit your whining, swab!” Jacob said whacking Bonham in the head with his Nerf sword.

    “Ouch! Hey!”

    “Sorry,” Jacob apologized. “Did that hurt?”

    “Yes,” Bonham’s brown eyes became saturated with tears.

    Meanwhile Molly and Aaron were in a tug a war with a teddy bear. Both swearing up and down that the teddy bear was their first mate.

    “Mine!”

    “Mine!”

    “Guys!” Aaron’s and Molly’s mother called. “It’s lunch time. Come on.”

    “Mom said it’s lunch time,” Aaron announced.

    “We heard,” Molly snapped, and she yanked at the teddy bear freeing it from Aaron’s grasp.

    Aaron face went white, and then he became to whimper. “Mama,” he cried.

    “Oh, stop being a baby,” Molly said. “He’s my teddy.”

    “But he’s my first mate,” Molly stated. “I picked him first.”

    Jacob shrugged. “Who cares? It’s lunch time. We can figure it out afterwards”

    “Can someone help me with this?” Bonham asked looking helpless. “I can’t get out.”

    Jacob went over to assist Bonham. After a few minutes, he gave up, and sighed.

    “This is tough,” Jacob protested. “Who tied these?”

    “I’m taking rope tying class in the Cub Scouts,” Aaron announced proudly.

    “Well, genius,” Molly said. “How about you untie him then?”

    Aaron went over to Bonham and inspected the rope. “What you have here is a double knot, tied into a slip knot, into another double knot,” he said critically. “I did a great job. I’m good at knots.”

    “Great,” Molly said. “So? Can you get him out?”

    “No,” he answered smoothly.

    Bonham’s lip quivered. “You mean I’m stuck here forever?”

    “No,” Jacob said. “Until we cut you free.”

    “It’s Dad’s rope from the garage,” Molly gasped. “We can’t cut it. He will get mad.”

    “Oh no,” Aaron wept. “He’s gonna get so mad at me.”

    “Quit crying,” Molly snapped.

    “Guys!” Their mother called. “I said it’s lunch time.”

    “We’re coming,” Aaron called back. “But Bonham is stuck.”

    “You’re in trouble,” Molly beamed.

    “Am not!”

    After a few moments, their mother came into the room. “What’s going on?”

    Bonham was tied to the bunkbed. They all looked at her innocently. “Bonham is stuck.”

    “We were playing pirates,” Jacob began to explain.

    “I tied him up good, Mommy,” Aaron said proudly.

    She looked worried. “I knew I should have listened to that inner voice when you asked for the rope. Is he stuck?”

    They nodded innocently.

    “Molly,” her mother took command. “Go and fetch me the scissors from my desk, and be careful.” She inspected the ropes and muttered to herself, “I can’t believe I didn’t see that coming.”

    1. Kerry Charlton

      This is really a cute story. You laid the children’s banter perfectly. Probabvly from years of experience listening to the babble. Good writing here.

    2. snuzcook

      “It’s Dad’s rope from the garage,” Molly gasped. “We can’t cut it. He will get mad.”
      What kid hasn’t had that experience! And what parent hasn’t had the 20/20 hindsight about what the kids just might cook up. Nice story, PapaTroll!

  22. Beebles

    ‘You’ll never get me to tell you where the jewel s are.’

    ‘Just tell him! Tell him already, For Christ’s sake, then we can have something decent on!’ Malcolm shouted at the television.

    ‘Shh, I’m watching. We’ll never know, even she does tell him, with you making all that racket.’

    Malcolm grunted, throwing up his hands. His wife’s eyes never left the screen.

    ‘How can you watch this tripe, Jeannie?’

    ‘It’s not tripe, Malcolm. She’s an heiress and he’s trying to blackmail her.’ She placed a hand on his arm across the deep divide between their arm chairs. ‘Oh, God Malc, d’ya think he’ll hurt her if she don’t tell ‘im?’

    ‘I couldn’t give a monkeys fart in a back alley.’ He picked up the newspaper – local pensioner robbed in his own home. He opened it theatrically, not reading it. He grumbled on. ‘I don’t know how you can watch these soaps, I really don’t. It’s all so unrealistic. If it was real he’d have just knocked her unconscious and taken her iphone, or sum’at. Who has jewels these days?’

    ‘For heaven’s sake, Malc, it’s not these days. It’s called a periodical drama. Anyway, I’ve got jewels.’

    Malc looked up from his newspaper. Jeannie was looking over her glasses at a man in a top hat on the screen who laughed and rubbed his hands as a steam train shot past.

    ‘Since when?’

    ‘My ring. And the necklace upstairs, with the earrings. They’re jewels.’

    ‘Cheap paste, probably,’ he grunted. She smacked him in the face with a Union Jack cushion.

    ‘They are not paste, they’re diamonds.’ She turned back to the telly and folded her arms. ‘They were my mothers.’

    ‘Well I’ve never seen ‘em.’

    ‘That’s cos they’re hidden, numpty. I don’t just leave diamonds lying around.’

    ‘You never wear ‘em, what’s the point if they’re just hidden all the time?’

    She peered at him over her glasses. ‘Well where would I wear them to, Malcolm Hardcastle? Where do we ever go that I can wear diamonds?’ She pointed a finger at him. ‘And don’t say the end of season football prize giving or I’ll deck you.’

    ‘Where are they hidden then?’

    ‘I’m not telling you,’ she said turning back to the screen.’ Most likely you’d have ‘em out and be down the bookies before I could say Aunt Alice’s toaster.’

    ‘Say what?’

    ‘Aunt Alice’s … oh never mind, it’s something me mam used to say. Look, now I don’t know if she told ‘im or not.’

    ‘Who cares? I’m going to make a cup of tea. Want one?’

    ‘Please, love.’

    He drew the curtains on his way past, a backdrop of ex-council housing drenched in sodium vapour orange. He shut the living room door to keep the heat in. He felt along the wall in the dark for the switch and became aware of breathing at his ear. His own breathing stopped. He flicked the switch.

    The figure stood right in front of him, black clothes and a balaclava, a weighty looking cudgel in his hand.

    ‘Right mate. Where’s your money, phones, jewels?’

    ‘Jewels?’ Malcolm blurted out. ‘Jewels? You’ll never get me to tell you where the jewels are.’

    Startled eyes stared at him through two black woollen holes.

    ‘You’d better go ask my wife.’

    The man grunted and pushed past him into the lounge. Malcolm shook his head and mumbled as he wandered off to the kitchen.

    ‘Jewels? I can’t believe I didn’t see that coming.’

    1. Kerry Charlton

      A hearty Ha! I loved it, really taken by surprise. I suspect the intruder is about to meet his maker. Lord, it’s going to be messy, certainlt it’ll stain the carpet.

  23. Kerry Charlton

    JIM HAWKINGS .

    “You‘ll never get me to tell you where the treasure is.”. The minute Jim uttered the challenge, he began to regret it.

    “Ay lad, that you will before I‘m done with thee.”

    The old pirate made a lunge for the boy but Jim managed to dart from the stockade and run for a row of old scraggly pines toward the end of the island. He heard the musket fire from Long John’s ragged band of scoundrels and could hear the rifle balls as they whizzed past him. Behind him the one legged pirate sped across the sand at an amazing pace and leveled his pistol at Jim’s back and fired.

    As a young boy of fourteen, Jim had witnessed pain before but wasn’t prepared as the musket ball passed through the outside of his left arm. His arm fell to his side as a useless appendage. He still carried the sword that Dr. Livesey had given him on the ship prior to the mutiny that Long John Silver had organized as they approached the island.

    Jim waited in the cover of trees as Long John approached. The pirate hadn’t taken time to reload but had drawn his sword as he approached Jim.

    “Hold your fire lads,” Long John hollered to his crew. “I can handle it, he‘s just a boy and we don‘t want to kill him“. .

    Despite his young age, Jim had other ideas. Dr. Livesey had worked with the young lad aboard ship until he had mastered the sword. As Silver drew close, Jim charged him and caught him off guard. For some reason, Jim hesitated to ambush the old pirate and decided to fight fair. He put his sword down,

    “You old bag of rot, why did you try to kill me?“

    “Ha boy! I could have blown your head off but why? You know where it is, now tell me.”

    “Why bother with the treasure Silver ? Where you’re going , you won’t need it. I thought you were my friend.”

    Jim found himself parrying fierce blows from the pirate’s sword and backed across the hot sand. He quickly jumped behind the pirate, lifted his sword up with a mighty swing and cut Long John’s peg leg off. The old man teetered for a moment and fell like a pile of stone as his sword clattered to the ground. Jim placed his blade to Silver’s throat,

    “Call your stooges off or I’ll slice your head off.”

    “You haven’t got the guts Jim.”

    The boy drew his sword lightly across the old pirate’s throat, drawing blood from the scratch.

    “Once more call your crew off. I’ll not tarry further.”

    “Aye Jim boy, think lad, we both could be rich from the gold and silver.”

    Jim backed suddenly, as the pirate’s fist lashed out to knock him down. Quickly, the boy thrust his sword through Silver’s hand pinning his arm to the ground.

    A look of severe pain chased across the old pirate’s face,

    “I can’t believe I didn’t see that coming, lad?”

    [Scene ending.].
    .
    .

    .

    1. igonzales81

      That’s an interesting take on a classic. Funny thing I heard, pirates never actually talked like they did in Treasure Island. Stevenson made up the whole lingo. I was bummed when I heard that, it’s just so unique and interesting. Still, a good story, well imagined and well told.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Critique, I’m happy you enjoyed it. I immersed myself as a boy in pirate stories and stories about the sea for a lot of years. I place Treasure Island at the very top.

  24. Bushkill

    Writing in the spare time at a workshop…. This was a nice break from legalese.

    “You’ll never get me to tell you where the jewels are.”

    Guy looked at me. “Yes. Yes I will.” He took a swig of his Mountain Do and shuffled through several papers before looking back at me. “So the Minotaur isn’t interested in your dialogue. He roars and charges, throwing aside the party’s surprised fighter and leveling a savage punch at your cleric.”

    “Oh no you don’t.” Chris says. “My fighter has lightning fast reflexes. No way he just gets pushed aside by some man-cow hybrid without not so much as a by-your-leave.”

    “Sure he does, Chris. And you’re mumbling into the block wall you lie crumpled against. Roll for initiative or another turn will pass you by.”

    Chris scowled over the top of his player reference sheet and cast the die.

    Fail.

    The rest of us stared, equally dismayed.

    Guy laughed, a disturbing and haunting sound in this dingy back office of the Apex Law firm. The whole campaign had been like this. A collection of bad rolls, shoddy player characters, and stubborn individualism all took turns bashing the party. Now, their cotton robed cleric was battling a mythic beast and the best fighter they had lay in a heap against a wall.

    Guy continued, “Well, looks like your warrior is cowering in a safe space. The Beastmaster asks again, ‘Where are the gemstones.’ And then prepares his mace for a little medieval work. The Minotaur has done eight points of damage to your cleric.”

    My magic user still has some spells up her sleeve so I choose a particularly nasty little incantation and prepare to cast it. It’s also time for some background info on these darn gemstones. “What is it about these stones that makes them so interesting and in demand?”

    Guy looks crestfallen and hands me a slip of paper that describes what the stones can do. It is character specific so the other players don’t know. Apparently, these are the legendary Magestones that can magnify spells and their outcomes … handy that I lifted them from our party’s thief last night while she slept.

    Finally. A break in our favor.

    “I’m casting Arrows of Apollo at the Minotaur and his boss, but before I send the spell forth I put a gemstone in each hand.”

    Guy isn’t happy and is mumbling to himself as he selects a pair of dice. I hear them clatter on the table behind his stacks of books and references. “The stones ignite in a blue-white glow and lightning dances between them. You take a point of damage from that. Your spell erupts forth in blinding incandescence and my lovely baddies disintegrate into dust.”

    “Woah.” Says Kara, the thief.

    “Yeah, well, the cleric’s robes are smoldering around the edges and the fighter against the wall has a tendril of hair on fire. Kara’s thief is patting all around her person looking for the gems and staring at the Mage with a defiant eye.”

    Another moment went by and then Guy shook his head again. “I can’t believe I didn’t see that coming.”

  25. niki101

    “You’ll never get me to tell you where the jewels are,” I exclaimed dramatically at the mirror while judging my expressions and tone. I hoped I’d do well today at least. Of all the auditions that I’d had so far, I’d received callbacks for none. Serves me right for thinking I could be an actor. My parents had repeatedly told me I wouldn’t make it in the field and should pursue a doctorate instead.

    Walking along the street to the coffee shop where I worked, I passed several well-dressed and affluent-looking young adults. Maybe I could’ve been one of them, but there was no point thinking about it now. 25, working part-time at a coffee shop is not where I would’ve pictured myself 5 years ago.

    Suddenly I hear yelling across the street, a man sprinting along the empty street had an expensive wallet in his hand. “Thief! Thief! Somebody help” I heard a distant woman’s plea. Next thing I knew I was running in the direction. The man stopped after a few meters with a puzzled expression on his face. I didn’t think twice. I tackled him and sat on his chest while pinning down his arms. “What do you think you’re doing lady? Are you Crazy?” exclaimed the man. Ignoring his rambling I felt quite pleased with myself. I’m an upstanding citizen of the state. So what if I hadn’t achieved much in life, I was a real life heroine indeed.

    I saw a few people along with a lady running up to me. Awaiting their praises with the most humble face I could put on, Boy was I surprised when the first thing the lady shouted at me was “Idiot!”. Wait, What. “You ruined our perfect shot! What were you thinking?” she went on. In my daze and lost in thought, I had forgotten that this was the street they shot a lot of movie and commercial sequences on. Embarrassed, I got up, handed her the bag and fled the scene. “I Can’t Believe I didn’t see that coming”

    1. snuzcook

      How embarrassing! At least, maybe our heroine was seen in the take, albeit for the wrong reasons, and is discovered. Crossing fingers that it launches her into success!

  26. Amaria

    “You’ll never get me to tell you where the jewels are.”

    Those were the last words my mother-in-law spoke to me before she fainted. At the time I didn’t know it was serious because she was always a high strung, dramatic person. How was I to know she just had a massive stroke?

    The days afterwards were all a blur. The condolence telephone calls and home visits. The decisions on the service, prayer cards, coffin, flowers, and the dress. I tried to stay strong for my husband and daughter Lily. She was only four years-old and didn’t comprehend what was happening.

    The funny thing was that my mother-in-law and I were never close. She made it no secret that she didn’t care much for me. She made snide remarks about how my husband should have married his previous girlfriend. She would say I wasn’t a good cook like her sister. I even heard her whisper to her sister, on more than one occasion, that I always wasn’t a pretty as her daughter. Never mind that that I was the only one who came to her house to help her out when she became ill. Yet despite all of her insults, she always brought me beautiful Christmas gifts. She was very hard to figure out.

    As for the jewels, my mother-in-law always raved about fine jewelry she inherited from her grandmother and great-grandmother. She told us stories about how the pieces were hidden during the Great War and were worth a high price. I always told myself that I didn’t care about those things. But deep down, it stung my heart that she did not find me or my daughter worthy of her heirlooms.

    Even though I was the least like daughter-in-law, I somehow got roped into packing and organizing my mother-in-law’s house, who was a borderline hoarder. I’m sure no one else wanted to do the task. The house, once loud and warm, was now too quiet and cold. I looked at pictures on the mantle, which displayed a life well lived. I wrapped her china that she bequeathed to her daughter who never volunteered to do anything. But the biggest surprise was found upstairs.

    While rummaging through a closet that seemed to hold a thousand blankets, I came across a small black box. I took it out and placed on the nearby dresser. Surprisingly, the box was not locked. When I opened it up I found a small white card. Recognizing my mother-in-law’s fancy handwriting it read:

    “To Joyce. I am sure will find this box, because you’re the only one who will volunteer to clean up my house after I’m gone. Keep them safe for Lily.”

    When I looked into the box the first thing I saw was a diamond necklace. As I sorted through the box I also found various rings, earring and bracelets. It was clear that I had found my mother-in-law’s prized jewels. Overwhelmed with emotion, I sat on the side of the bed and whispered to myself, “I can’t believe I didn’t see that coming.”

    1. Rene Paul

      Well written story, Amaria. I didn’t see it coming either. Well thought out ending. I’m glad you wrote it in the 1st person, I could feel her dismay and then her surprise. Well done.

        1. Kerry Charlton

          You know, I tipped myself off when you wrote about the MC having to clean out the house. That’s what I call a clever aunt. Boy are the turkeys going to fly when the daughter finds out. I’d like to be there to see that. A very good story with a real kicker as an ending.

  27. ReathaThomasOakley

    “You’ll never get me, uh, to tell you, LINE, thanks, where the diamonds are!”

    “Jewels, jewels, not diamonds!” Mel stood and walked from the first row to the apron. “Didn’t you hear the promoter?” She slammed her script against the stage floor. “Twelve days and we open.” Behind her she could hear movement. Rats leaving the sinking ship, she thought. “Why do you insist on changing that word?”

    “Well,” Laurie, leading lady of the Lone Pine Senior Community Theatrical Troupers, beamed, “I just love diamonds. A girl’s best friend, you know.”

    “But, Laurie, remember what I told you yesterday? About the jewelry store robbery? About the emeralds and rubies, all uncut?”

    “And, diamonds, yesterday you said diamonds, I know you did.”

    Oh, Lord, give me patience, give me something, Mel silently prayed.

    “Yes, you are correct, I did say diamonds as well.” She took a deep breath. “Let’s move on.” She smoothed the wrinkled script. “Richard?” The man on stage looked away from his phone. “You are ready to torture Sally, your former lover and partner in crime, to find the jewels. You must be more forceful, more evil, she has to be afraid of you.”

    “Ah, Mel, I don’t know, we usually do comedies, this is kinda serious, don’t ya think?” Richard ran his hand over his bald spot.

    Well, I asked for this, Mel thought. How silly to volunteer to direct a play as a way to get to know people. Retirement, bah, humbug.

    “Richard, I didn’t know that, no one told me. I just thought this script sounded good–”

    “Plus, it was free!” Laurie, Trouper board member, interrupted. “Free is always good.”

    “Right, right,” Mel went back to her seat, “now let’s just get through this scene. The square dancers need the hall at four.”

    Twelve days later Mel watched in horror as the production lurched from opening line to final curtain. Laurie added ‘a girl’s best friend’ every time she said ‘diamonds’, Richard’s phone rang, twice, the torture scene ended with Richard tickling Laurie and them both giggling. The final blow was when Laurie called for a line in the last scene and someone yelled from backstage that the prompter was asleep.

    I’ll just sneak out, Mel told herself as the lights went up for curtain call, but then something unexpected happened. The house erupted in thunderous applause as Laurie and Richard came and dragged Mel on stage.

    “Our new director,” Laurie yelled over the noise as Richard handed her a bouquet.

    What on earth, she thought as she stood surrounded by cast and crew, looking at the audience, all standing.

    “I can’t believe,” Mel started, then cleared her throat, “I can’t believe I didn’t see that coming,” she said, and meant it.

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Well, I have directed three plays in our retirement community, somewhat different from previous community theater work. While the things described are true, in mine and in others’ plays, the audiences were very forgiving and loved whatever was done.

    1. Beebles

      Gosh that brought a lot back. I was directing a uni revue once and the dress rehearsal was so bad I did what i always told the cast not to – I went and had a couple of drinks! Needless to say I was the worst of an awful performance, but the crowd loved it! Thanks for the memories.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Aha! Are you telling me this is what I’m supposed to look forward to when the children dump me in a senior living place? . Oh no, I’ll escape in my two-wing Spad with rotating machine guns. The last time I flew it, I shot off both propellars because the gun’s timings were off. Luckily I glided down into an insane asylum and climbed over their wall and escaped. Try to catch me!

        1. ReathaThomasOakley

          Now, Kerry, as you can see from Beebles’ comment (thanks, Beebles, you understand) community theater, whatever the ages involved, can be both horrifying and rewarding. I think you are fearing another type senior living. But, you do have that escape plan…

  28. wildefire

    She glared at Aiden through swollen eyes as she spit blood from her mouth. She could feel her head throbbing but her pride was still ringing strongly in her veins.
    “You’ll never get me to tell you where the jewels are!”, she screeched.
    His lips pursed and then formed into a tight grin.
    “I was hoping we could come to some sort of- mutual agreement.”, he mused as his face inched closer to hers.
    Tears began to form in her eyes and she quickly turned her head, avoiding the closeness of him.
    “I hate you.”, she hissed.
    Laughing hysterically he said, “I know you wish that were true.”
    His lips gingerly kissed her cheek an she couldn’t resist. She turned her face so his lips touched hers and they mingled effortlessly together.
    Gasping for air he said, “Maybe I should untie you. No one will have to know.”
    His finger lazily traced the outline of her collarbone and she shivered beneath his touch.
    “Tell me.”, he whispered seductively.
    “I can’t.”, she moaned.
    Instantly his hand was tightly gripped around her throat and she was struggling to breath.
    “Well there’s no use in waiting for the inevitable.”, he snarled viciously.
    “WILL YOU TELL ME NOW?”, he was practically yelling.
    Meekly, she nodded her affirmation.
    He released his hold on her throat. Gasping for air, she lifted her head up and met his gaze.
    “There are no jewels-”
    “LIAR!”, he stepped towards her.
    “No Wait! You misheard me on the phone. I was not telling your brother that I was hiding jewels from you I told him I was hiding Jewel from you. Our daughter.”
    His face resembles a statute as he process this information.
    “Our daughter? We have a daughter?”
    Her head was hung low as she whispered, “You can kill me now. You’ll never find her.”
    BANG!
    The gun went off and she lay limp, still tied to the chair. Derek came in shaking his head and with an evil glint in his eyes he said, “I can’t believe I didn’t see that coming.”

  29. Rene Paul

    “You’ll never get me to tell you where the jewels are, Dick.” 

    “I’m not asking.”

    “What… you don’t want to know where I hid them, Copper?”

    “I didn’t say that.”

    “What are you asking, Fuzz?”

    “I’m not asking anything.”

    “Then I won’t tell you anything, Flatfoot.”

    “That’s all right with me. You can take the rap for your partners.”

    “I never said I had partners, Man.”

    “I didn’t ask who he is.”

    “Well, I won’t tell you who he is, because he’s not a he, you dumb ass cop.”

    “So, there’s only one other person that has the jewels and he’s a she?”

    “I didn’t say that, you’re putting words in my mouth, Gumshoe.”

    “The only thing I’d put in that mouth is soap.”

    “Like I said… I won’t tell you where she’s hiding the jewels, Pig.”

    “Again, you can take the rap and end up with nothing but lost years from your miserable life. That might be a good thing.”

    “How do you Town Clowns figure out anything, being so ignorant?”

    “Because by the time you get out of the slammer, she’ll have lifted those jewels from her hiding place and be long gone.”

    “Wrong again, Barney, mom would never do that to me.”

    I stared into the glass mirror behind the interrogation desk, lifted my arms in disbelief, and said, “I didn’t see that coming!

  30. choppyisdead

    You’ll never get me to tell you where the jewels are.

    OK fine I’ll tell you. There in this desolate spot in an attic within a horror game I once saw. It’s an unbelievable place haunted by a spooky ghost I once saw while high on LSD. It’s a fascinating realm of pure consciousness mixed with everything that’s not consciousness.

    Anyway. The jewels aren’t important. The real story is behind how I got the jewels, and why I hid them in the first place. And especially about why I hid them THERE.

    So, where do I begin. I was walking down an alleyway that smelled of piss and cheap liquor when I saw it glinting there. There were two bodies there. I should’ve been concerned for the well-being of what seemed like an unconscious and soon-to-be-hungover hobo and the dead hooker cold and dead over his body, with her jeans skirt and eyeliner smeared over her face. But there was something pulling my eye that made the man using a dead hooker as blanket an after thought.

    Something about these topaz jewels pulled my eyes in.

    Next thing I know, I’m running naked through an abandoned forest, dodging old trees enstrangled by vines, unable to make out where I came from or where I’m going. Smelling the pollen in the air and smell of vegetation, I come across a wave of rotting wood and dust. My eyes probably dilating outside of my eye sockets at this point, I see the house, and come to it pounding on the door. I’m scared out of my mind, looking for any direction as to where to go. The hunger that rumbles through my belly also seems like a distant curse because of the sheer loneliness I feel, too.

    Unable to see what’s going on at this point, I just feel my fist bang against the gold white-painted door, with the golden socket at the top. I think I see a giant eyeball expand outside the eye-peeper, then think better as I blink a few times and see nothing. But then I see the man open the door, with giant eyeballs that were the size of my fist.

    Next thing I know I’m hiding in a closet in his house. I have no idea how I escaped him or how I got there or even if he was malicious and intent on killing me. But I do know that I felt safer hiding in this portion of the attic, inside this wardrobe of his. Feeling beneath me for security, I then realize there’s this little “edge” to the bottom, that I didn’t notice before. Feeling around, I notice that the edge only takes up half of it. Hearing the man’s footsteps just outside the wardrobe, I realize I’m still holding the magical topaz jewel in my hand that I ripped out of the cold, dead hooker’s hands that wouldn’t let go. Looking atm y hands, I realize that I now have two of the jewels. Hmmm, when did I get two?

    Anyway, I feel the edge and press down. The other half of the half of the elevation in the wardrobe lifts up. I I notice a false bottom. I see a skull down there and depressed baby girl down there. Not thinking twice, I throw the 2 topaz stones, both sticking into her, as she wails in terror and pain. Why did I do that? Why did I hurt that beautiful baby girl?

    I don’t know. I close the false bottom as I feel the wardrobe lift up. Next thing I know I’m bashing against the sides of the wardrobe as I feel weightless for a moment, until I see wall of the wardrobe splinter and pierce my chest as the doors crash into my faces and split open as I’m onto the ground below, looking up at the window that the giant-eyed man looking at me from apparently threw me from.

    My body feels cold.

    I can’t believe I didn’t see that coming

  31. Pete

    “You’ll never get me to tell you where the jewels are.”

    Mom’s little party is popping. Candles, wine, drunk wannabe writers. Mom-the-truly-awful-playwright likes to get buzzing and have people “bring her writing to life.” Now, Sci-Fi-Eddie is fending off the advances of Lydia-the-memoir-writer. Eddie’s has the role of Clyde Clisbee, from my mom’s latest scrawling. Lydia’s playing a flirty old spinster, not much of a stretch.

    Jewels and bandits. Enough already, I make for the door when I find Kylie, the-out-of-my-hemisphere-girl-next-door in the foyer. She motions back at the door. “I tried the doorbell, but I guess you guys didn’t hear me.”

    Kylie’s got that same, innocent expression in her eyes that’s been there since the sixth grade, only now my attention falls elsewhere–to her tank top, khaki shorts, the glow from porch light shining off her shoulders–but I’m still cracking up about Eddie in that cowboy hat.

    Kylie smiles, leaning her head forward as she approaches. “What?”

    “You’ve got to see this.”

    An eruption of laughter. Kylie grabs my arm. “What’s going on?”

    I lead her to the living room, just at the doorway where Lydia sips a Margarita from a flower vase and exclaims, “Okay, I’ll tell you, just please don’t ravage me.”

    Kylie snorts so loud that everyone turns to us. She ducks behind me as Mom stands.

    “Kylie?”

    “Hi Mrs. Reams. I was just stopping by, I…”

    “I’ve told you, it’s Miss Reams, now. Oh, over here, both of you.” She turns to the guests. Walter-the Editorial-guy smooths what hair he has left over his scalp. Mom flutters our way. “This is our neighbor Kylie, isn’t she something? She’s headed to Wake Forest this fall!”

    The guests all nod and appraise her. Cozy-Mystery-Carol rattles her gin and tonic. I roll my eyes. Mom yanks Kylie and I into the room. “Okay, I have just the lines for you two.”

    “Mom, we’re not, no.”

    “What, you don’t want to partake?”

    Kylie arches her brow, gives me a nudge. “Yeah, don’t you want to partake, Nat?”

    Nat-the-loser–played by me–is suffering from a case of leaky armpits. Suddenly the living room is a stage. Mom, the tyrannical director, of course, suggests one of her little sappy romance scenes.

    “Okay, Nat, you’ve just returned from Denmark. You’ve made your fortune and now you yearn for what you sacrificed.”

    I look around the room. “Mom, really?”

    Mom shushes me and turns to Kylie, clasping her hands, eyes welling like she’s watching Meryl Streep on the Globes again. “Kylie, you, my love, are Victoria. A woman left in the lurch, now engaged to an oil tycoon but still deeply in love with Bartholomew. Your one true love.”

    “Bartholomew? Mom, I—”

    This time it’s Kylie shushes me. A smile spreading like wildfire behind her finger.

    Mom claps. “Now, lines.”

    I close my eyes, take a breath and reenter the room, jerking back dramatically. “Victoria!”

    Mom whispers something to Kylie, who gasps. “Bartholomew?”

    I approach Kylie, reading from the wine stained script. “I thought I’d never see you again.”

    Kylie leans forward to read. She smells like flowers. I’m kind of lost in the shine of her hair when she takes my forearm and looks up at me. “Oh Bart, I never, I thought you were gone.”

    Mom, sipping wine, whispers, “Pull her close.”

    Kylie scoots closer so I pull her in. Her waist in my grasp. She stifles a giggle, but sweaty pits or not, I’m pretty sure I’ve never been so happy in my life. Back to my lines. “No my dear, I was caught up in the war.”

    Kylie leans back to Mom, her neck all sorts of perfect. “What war?”

    “The Freedom War.”

    Kylie, flings herself back to me. “Huh.”

    My heart finds a new gear as I wonder how we’re supposed to manage the inevitable kiss. That’s when Mom, her voice low but clear, gives direction. “Okay Kylie, now you stab him.”

    We both look at Mom. “What?”

    I look at the script.

    *Stabs Bartholomew.

    Kylie places the imaginary knife in my gut. I fall to the floor.

    “I can’t believe I didn’t see that coming.”

  32. R.W.Wise

    “You’ll never get me to tell you where the jewels are”, mocked the water, swirling in foamy waves around my ankles, tickling my feet as it shifted the sand. My eyes searched the tormented surface of the sea, trying to estimate where they might be, other than hopelessly lost. I had turned away for just a second, to watch a seagull voraciously set upon a hermit crab, and when I looked back, to my dismay, the straw basket with the jewels and my lunch were gone, swept away by the cold, salty, blue waters. Just like that – gone – without a trace. Nothing but a contented sigh from the unsteady water as it embraced the spoils of its plunder. Not that the jewels would benefit the sea, nor would the soggy lunch I had prepared, but the distress it brought to me was enough. Yet one more stolen object of happiness to add to its long list of treasures from mankind, all part of the object of revenge it desired, payback for man’s victory over the seas and oceans.

    The jewels were for her; made of shining rubies and emeralds, all attached delicately to a pure, silver necklace. It was an ornament fit for a queen of the purest blood and the richest of hearts. And now, the sea, jealous and bitter, had stolen those precious jewels from me as I had been walking along its edge to meet her, and bestow her with my gift.

    Her name was Miurín, which meant ‘child of the sea’. She was Irish, with flowing long locks of fiery red hair, which made the sun jealous of her. Her heighth and charm made the mountains of Ireland envious, and her beauty contested against all of nature, leaving the earth weeping in shame at its woeful failure to compare to her evervescent beauty. With eyes that sparkled a deep, gushing blue, filled with such serenity and goodness as you never did see, the night sky filled with those many stars would be beside itself when people would turn their gaze from it, to the eyes of Muirín. There was not one aspect of her that was not pure and radiant, whether it be her soul or her body. She was perfect. And she was mine. This woman that made nature want to hide in shame, had chosen to love me, a simple man, and to accept only my love and admiration.

    I smacked the water’s surface, causing ripples to expand from the water’s edge out into its depths, before being overcome by another wave. It was jealous of me. The ocean was jealous that it was I, John McConnell, who was most dearly loved by this woman of heavenly beauty. And it wished to try steal my correspondence of love.

    But it did not understand love. Love was not the jewels. Love was what encouraged the creation of the jewels, but they themselves were not love. It had in reality, taken nothing from me. I still had Muirín. Unless those jealous waters could take hold of her and drag her down into its cold embrace, there was nothing it could take from me. Despite its bitter attempt to grab at something of worth to me, it had no power over me.

    I dropped the handful of sand I had been molding, and stood up, taking in the sea with a long, deep look, watching as the sun started to retreat behind the horizon. A gentle breeze rustled my hair lightly, licking the water ever so slightly. I stooped down to wash the sand out of my hands, and then I saw it. It was glinting slightly, catching the last few rays of the sun, and it was moving slowly through the water, up to the beach. Silently I waited, my breathe in my mouth, until I could see it clearly.

    “Oh my God.” The words escaped through my mouth slowly, as I watched a small hermit crab struggle up the sand, with the jewels dragging from his shell. Quickly, I reached down, and grabbed the small creature, removed the necklace from its shell and placed the crab back down on the sand. A smile crept across my face, and I ran a wet hand through my hair. Then I laughed, loud and clear, so that the sea could hear me without fail. I held the dripping necklace high, and whispered, “You poor miserable monster. You have no power. And you have no love.”

    With the necklace in hand, I sprinted down the beach, anxious to reach my love, my Muirín, and as I ran, I could almost hear the waves whisper, “I can’t believe I didn’t see that coming.”

    1. Tysheena Jackson

      This was utterly beautiful! BEAUTIFUL! The story, your writing, it drew me in from the first sentence. I could sense the jealousy of the sea. I could make out the beautiful, fiery red hair of the beautiful woman. This is probably my favorite piece on this here prompt. Just amazing! Wonderful work.

  33. cosi van tutte

    “You’ll never get me to tell you where the jewels are. Not ever. I don’t care what you say or do. The Zedrexxi jewels will never be yours.”

    Lord Deama sighed. “Always the same stupid line. You are wrong, serf. They will be mine as well as the Zedrexxi throne.” He pulled out his slinth dagger.

    The serf tensed up. “Please, Lord Deama. Understand, please. I can’t. I’ve sworn an oath. An oath!”

    Asree entered the interrogation chamber.

    “I know you have. And you’re going to break it for me.”

    Asree cleared her throat. “Lord Deama.”

    He shot an impatient glare at her. “What do you want, serf?”

    “I beg my lord’s pardon, but there is an uprising in the town’s square. They are calling for your head.”

    He scoffed. “They are always calling for my head. What else is new?”

    “They’re serious about it this time.”

    “Serious.” He turned to face her. “How serious?”

    “Last I saw of them, they were in the process of collecting pyrofrons and pitchforks.”

    “That is serious. Well. Send out my guards. Have them secure the premises.”

    “I beg your pardon, my lord, but your guards…”

    He pinned his gray ears against his head.

    “All of your guards have defected. There is none here to protect you.”

    “That’s ridiculous. What of my bodyguards?”

    “They were the first to defect.”

    He paced around the room.

    “Your massacre of the Nileapo people made the wrong kind of impression on the fiefdom, my lord, as I had warned you.”

    “I suppose you’re happy to be proven right.”

    “No, my lord. I am not.”

    “Why didn’t you join them? You were so set against that land cleansing. Why did you stay here? Or are you here to drag me to your leader?”

    “No, my lord. I am not. I stayed here because…”

    “Why?”

    She bowed her head. “I am not at liberty to say.”

    He held the dagger against her gray and black striped throat. “Why?”

    She raised her gaze to his face. Her cat-like eyes glowed bright. “Do you not know, my lord?”

    He bared his fangs. “I could kill you for thinking that a dirty serf like you could have a chance with a lord like me.”

    “If you wish, my lord.”

    He considered it. “Maybe later. If they’re all that serious about an uprising, we need to get out of here now.”

    “We, my lord?”

    “You and I. I assume you’re coming with me.”

    Her mouth stretched into a smile. “It would be an honor.”

    “Of course, it would.”

    “Hey!” yelped the serf bound to the table. “What about me? You can’t just—”

    Asree grabbed the dagger from him and stabbed him.

    Lord Deama startled. “I didn’t see that one coming.”

    Asree smiled at him. “You’ll find that I am full of surprises, my lord.”

  34. MacZEducator

    You’ll never get me to tell you where the jewels are. I’ve been fighting you and your kind for over a century” Clem told the Trumpette at the polling place. They were so rude when they saw her with a Rosie the Riveter t-shirt. Always asking her the secret of family’s resilience. Since May, Clem had those constant thoughts in her mind. “My history in this country started over 100 years ago. The blood, sweat and tears of millions of laborers before me is at hand.” Up until 1970 her family line was linked to the rich and marvelous Middle Class. Before Reaganomics, contract concessions and Steve Jobs, her family always felt secure. She grew up believing she would live that same dream. The 21st Century ushered in a nightmare for her kind, the union kind. Automation replaced her brothers and sisters in factories across the Great Plains, up the East Coast and in even in the dreaded South. Friday nights used to be Wonder nights as unionists gathered in corner bars and VFW Halls. Every week she’d watch her mother and father change from dirty jeans to crisply pleated slacks and momma’s Macy’s specials. They reminded her Clark Kent. A quick telephone booth swish and they were off. Momma and Pops were union stewards. They’d meet up with her aunt’s and uncles and cousins of all kinds to remind them of their rights. On and off the job, their goal was spreading the American Dream. One union job at a time.
    “There’s no time to reminisce. The Trumpettes are coming strong. Stronger than off shoring, more devious than on shoring and quicker than any automated robot. Clem, think Clem”, she said aloud. The second American Civil War was being fought with Twitter shots, red or blue crosses on old wooden doors and loading war ships with the powerful senior votes for the polls. The blood of the mines spreading to every blue wallet. Tonight was finally the night. The pure exhaustion of a hundred year war left Clem asleep as the numbers rolled in. An eerie sound rustled her awake. Silence. As she turned to see the TV she was in utter awe. Shock, surprise yet knowing. The same silence that woke her had finally spoken. The Silent Majority bled across the entire US map. A state of emergency shade of red. All she could think was didn’t see that coming.

    1. MCKEVIN

      I really enjoyed this. It is so current with the events happening in our country right now. I come from a strong union family and this really home. Good job and thanks for sharing.

    2. Beebles

      I had to wait for a proper keyboard to comment on this piece. I found it compelling and I’ve read it several times. It stands out in this week’s prompt for me, so efficiently written and yet dripping with backstory, a feel reminiscent to the mining communities of northern England. But the persective strikes me as interesting, if I am reading it correctly, and if not this may be down to my limey misunderstanding of the nuances of US society. I saw it from the persepctive of a rust belt worker, who is not a Trump supporter, but who feels that her way of life has been drained by Democratic corruption and neglect, which is a view so easy to ignore given the silo style reporting of such political events, particularly from this side of the pond and in the face of such a large shadow cast by personalities in the election. It represents for me the same sense of fatigue and disengagement felt by large sections of the abandoned British electorate, branded as racist after Brexit and yet wholey misunderstood in their motives by the mainstream media, politicians and Brexiteers alike. I may be taking this way to far, but your piece made me stop and think for a while. And that must be good writing.

  35. smogden97

    “You’ll never get me to tell you where the jewels are!” a small voice booms.

    I sigh. “Lucy,” I start to sweetly beg, “Mommy really needs that ruby necklace for a dinner party tonight. Please tell Mommy where you hid the necklace.”

    “Never!” my preschooler shouts, stamping her foot to emphasize the severity of her answer. “And my name’s not Lucy! I’m Barefoot Betsy, the greatest thief in the Wild West!”

    Lucy, as you can tell by now, is many things: imaginative, confident, and stubborn as all heck. Admittedly, she gets that from my side of the family.

    My son Evan walks into the room, absorbed in an iPad game. “It’s with Sarah,” he halfheartedly announces.

    “What is?” I ask obliviously, then my eyes widen in realization and I make a dash to Sarah the baby’s playpen. The ruby necklace has replaced her favorite teething toy, and as I gently yank it out of her tiny mouth, I polish off the slobber.

    I turn to Lucy, who grins like the cat that ate the canary, and shake my head. This is the third time this month she’s stolen an item of mine, and the second time she’s hidden it with the baby. The first time, she’d hidden one of my best lingerie panties in our cat’s litter box.

    There are still thirteen years to go of living with this little mastermind. I’ll have to try and keep up.

    “You almost won this round, baby. I can’t believe I didn’t see that coming.”

  36. dustymayjane

    “You’ll never get me to tell you where the jewels are.” Childish voices shouted and pretend guns went bang bang. The victim groaned as he fell to his pretend death.  

    Shirley rolled her eyes at the noise and clatter of what sounded like beads rolling around the floor. “I should know better than to try to watch television with those two monsters here.” 

    Jimmy and Donny played cops and robbers while Shirley kept her eyes glued to the soap opera channel. After yesterday’s cliffhanger, Shirley waited anxiously to see if Ross will find his wife Eva in Derek’s arms. 

    Derek O’Connor and Eva Deveroux were in the throws of passion, when in walked Ross. The husband of one and lifetime foe of the other. 

     “Quiet down you two! I’m trying to hear the television.” Shirley dug around for the remote control, finally  pulling it out from under the couch cushion.  “I should have known it would be under there.” She turned up the volume. 

    “Ha! I could have guessed I’d find you here Derek.” Ross pointed his gun at the lovers.  

    “Ross. How did you find me?” Eva glared at her husband while Derek shielded her with his naked body. 
    “I warned you about seeing Derek Eva. How could you? My worst enemy. Now, you are a dead woman.”  A shot rang out. 

    Eva screamed as blood seeped from Derek’s wound and through the apricot colored, satin sheets of the motel bed.  

    “Ross! You’ve killed Derek!” Eva scrambled from the bed and quickly wrapped herself in a filmy negligee. “I didn’t see that coming.” 

    Ross snarled at Eva and walked across the room, closer to his terrified wife. “A happy accident. And I have plenty more bullets Eva. I’m sure you wouldn’t mind joining Derek now would you?” 

    He didn’t care to wait for her answer and again pulled the trigger.  Eva’s beautiful body collapsed next to Derek’s lifeless form.  

    “You should have seen that coming Darling.” Ross grinned an evil grin as he walked away from the motel room and straddled his Harley. It rumbled to life and quickly sped from the lot.  

    The rain had stopped falling and the gleam of the street lights glowed yellow on the wet pavement as the closing credits rolled up the television screen. 

    Shirley gaped in shock as her favorite characters were killed off by the hateful villain Ross Deveroux. “Oh crud, I didn’t see that coming.” She said disappointedly.  

    A loud crash sounded from the other room, interrupting her thoughts. Shirley angrily jumped to action.

    “Jimmy, Donny, I told you to be quiet! Now what part of that don’t you understand?” 

    When Shirley found the two boys in the playroom, she also found  her jewelry strewn over the floor, most of it in pieces. “I should have guessed it was my beads I heard earlier.” 

    Tommy stood sheepishly by and admitted. “We were playing cops and robbers. I was the robber and your necklaces broke when Donny, I mean the cop, caught me.” 

    Shirley was livid, but her experience with two five year olds should have given her insights to the potential for such disasters. “I can’t believe I didn’t see that coming.”

    1. Tysheena Jackson

      Such a cute story! I could definitely see the entire soap opera in my mind as I read it. I’ve had my fair share of enticing soap opera characters being killed off. Anyway, wonderful job on this one!

  37. Tysheena Jackson

    “You’ll never get me to tell you where the jewels are–” The actor suddenly stopped mid-line and started hacking up a nasty cough.
    “All right, CUT! Someone get this man a bottle of water please.”
    “I am terribly sorry.” Cough. “I swear this won’t happen again.” The actor then refused the water the female assistant offered him in which she shrugged and quickly hurried off the set.
    “OK. Places, places people!” The actor and the actors playing his captors shifted back into their roles and waited for the executing words. “And… ACTION!”
    “Tell us where you hid them!” demanded the first villain.
    “Reveal to us their hiding place or we’ll gouge your eyes and tongue out until you plead for mercy!” threatened the other.
    The actor, or Jackson Thorne in the movie, let out a throaty laugh. The first villain, who was holding him up against the brick wall in the dark alley sent a rehearsed blow to his stomach in which Jackson Thorne doubled over in pain. He pulled him back up and the second villain, who greatly suffered from halitosis, pressed a pocket knife beneath Jackson Thorne’s left eye. For it was the man’s stenchy breath that made the actors eyes water and not the blade pressed against his skin. In turn Jackson smiled at his captors and delivered what would be his award winning line, “You’ll never get me to tell you where the jewels are! You might as well just –” the actor’s words cut off when a cough escaped his lips. “You might as well…” Annoyed, he wiggled his way out of the grip of both supporting actors and hunched over as cough after cough racked his body. “Get off of me!”
    “CUT!” The director shouted and to himself, he mumbled, “Looks like we’re not getting this scene done today.”
    “It’s this man’s horrid breath!”
    The second actor, a young slender man named Stephen who got the gig while working at a Starbucks one day; came to defense. “I do too! And let’s not pretend it isn’t the fact that you were out pretty late with a certain someone until the early hours of the morning, knowing full on we had shooting the next day.”
    “You shut your mouth, Dog Breath!”
    “Ooh, was that a threat?” Stephen mimicked the ways of a bashful two year old child. “Is Mr. Big Time Movie Star threatening me? Should I be afraid?”
    And before anyone knew it the two men were going at it with full insults. Standby’s rushed onto the set and tore the two apart and the director’s words went unheard. During the hassle the big time actor began to cough again, only this time he could not stop. They came quicker and hurt much worse. Suddenly the actor fell to the ground and the people around him even out. His coughing slowly became choking and the choking soon turned into heaving. It would be fifteen minutes later that he was rushed out of the Metro-Goldwyn Mayer studios onto a stretcher and into the back of an ambulance. The entire studio became a nervous ruckus. Everyone was dying to know what would happen to the beloved actor?
    A week later after news got around that the actor had suffered and a massive stroke due to an allergic reaction. The cause?
    “Ginger. The guy is allergic to ginger?”
    “Yes,” the director said with finality in his voice. “Apparently he inhaled your ginger-infused breath which sent his allergies into overdrive. He’s expected to make it but I’m afraid we have to let you go, Stephen. It’s the studio exec’s pushing for it and we really can’t risk this project any further.”
    “No, no.” said Stephen. “I totally understand that. Smart move. It’s just– I didn’t have any ginger that day.”
    The director sat back in his swivel chair. “Oh, well… I can’t believe I didn’t see that coming.”

    1. snuzcook

      You’ve written a real film shoot from hell. I like you cast of colorful characters.
      I confess, I am not 100% clear on the ginger significance–if Stephen didn’t have ginger breath, what caused the stroke? Or was there a plot by one of the other actors?

      1. Tysheena Jackson

        The idea is Mr. Big Time Actor, who stayed out late the night before and into the early hours of the morning, got drunk enough to drink everything that was given to him. Especially when eye catching vixen’s were serving it to him. Stephen’s halitosis just happened to upset the actor’s already upset stomach — 🙂

  38. Papa Troll

    Well I’ve tried to post stories for two weeks now. Is there any sites like this one that you can actually submit to? This site is losing it’s luster with its faults. Getting frustrated.

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Hey, PT, I could share the words that have blocked me, but that probably wouldn’t work. Maybe I can get one through if I use a number for a letter: C0CKTAIL

  39. ReathaThomasOakley

    (Since I’m not certain I’ll ever catch up, and since this has been floating around my brain, I’m cheating.)

    Worse Memoir Opening Line

    Cordelia sighed as she watched the stiff back disappear around the corner, a view she’d predicted seven minutes before. Cordelia always checked the clock when the future was so clear. If only the girl had not laughed. Well, she mused, hardly a girl, but they were all so very young these days.

    The book was her publisher’s idea, a memoir, he’d said, a glimpse into the life of the woman behind the food, behind the “lifestyle”.

    “Lifestyle?” Cordelia’d sputtered. “What a stupid, People magazine, concept. I never thought I’d hear you–” He did have the grace to laugh as he interrupted her, so she agreed, to the book and to the ghostwriter. She even agreed to start making notes.

    The interview started well, the girl, Trude, what a stupid, insipid name, came with an iPad, a notebook, and the smile. But, even with the smile she did not speak as if Cordelia was five or hard of hearing or demented, the sin that had caused a glance at the clock too many times before.

    The first questions were easy, background that could have been found on line, but Cordelia sensed Trude was trying to make them both comfortable. But, then she’d asked for the notes and started reading. And, then, she’d laughed.

    “Is this serious?” Trude shook the red spiral bound pad. “A joke? I mean…” Her voice dropped. “Oh, sorry, I just assumed…”

    “What did you assume?” Cordelia was back in one if her kitchens, standing over a new line cook. “That I would make a joke about my life?”

    “But, the working title, your publisher told me, said you had a title.”

    “And you assumed this book is to be about food?”

    Trude nodded.

    “Cooking is what I did, not what I was.”

    “But, your public, your fans, your children. For goodness sake, your grandchildren! Just this sentence, I mean…”

    Now Cordelia sat with the notepad in her lap, traced the word SALT she’d written with black marker on the cover, and thought. Then she opened it to the page, to the sentence, that had apparently offended Trude.

    “His back was cool,” Cordelia read aloud, “from the water, from the night, from the rays of the frozen moon. My tongue traced patterns in the tiny crystals forming on his skin, and I tasted his sweat, the sea, and the salt.” Cordelia inhaled deeply. “Great first line.”

      1. ReathaThomasOakley

        Thanks, but I see I should have used a semi-colon rather than a period. I cheated with this, putting last prompt’s story here, because I’ve been thinking recently about ageism and didn’t want to muss an opportunity to make a statement.

    1. snuzcook

      Trude just learned a big lesson, I think. Can’t help but draw the connection between a life with spice to an appreciation of the sensuality of food. I think that would be a great one word title for such a book!

      1. snuzcook

        In fact, you just sent me off on a long and winding path of all sorts of chapters, i.e. “a pinch of…”, ‘worth his weight of…’, ‘grains of…’ Argh! too much fun!

  40. jhowe

    “You’ll never get me to tell you where the jewels are,” Dimitri said. “Because I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

    The detective sat across from him, tapping her lacquered nails on the table. “You’re sticking with that?”

    “Look, Detective… Peterson is it? Tell me what you’re charging me with or kindly allow me to be on my way.”

    “You know your way around the interrogation process, I’ll give you that, Mr. Evangilitis.”

    “I know what’s right and what’s wrong, if that’s what you’re saying.”

    “Regardless, you can kiss the jewels goodbye,” Peterson said. “If it’s the only thing I accomplish in what’s left of my career, you’ll never get a chance to recover them.”

    For two years, Dimitri lived frugally, staying in a small apartment on the east side. Almost everywhere he went, he caught glimpses of Peterson. Sometimes she turned away when she was spotted, other times she smiled and gave a little wave. Did this woman ever do anything else?

    He took a part time job at a locksmith shop and was greeted by the detective on most afternoons on his walk home.

    “Hello, Mr. Evangilitis,” she’d say and smile.

    “Detective,” he’d say. “Good to see you.”

    He missed his old life immensely. He was tired of Ramon Noodles and day old cabbage. Gradually, he devised a plan to throw the relentless woman off his trail. One afternoon, instead of walking home, he hopped on a midtown bus. A woman with lacquered nails sat a few rows back with a newspaper covering her face, but he recognized her demeanor. Once downtown, he got off the bus and circled around the disembarking crowd only to hop back on as it was getting ready to pull away. He saw Peterson running after them but the driver didn’t stop.

    For an hour, he rode random busses and finally took a cab to an address on West 54th Avenue. He made a call from a pay phone, glancing nervously around. Taking his time, changing directions frequently, he walked into a drycleaners shop owned by a man he did time with in the eighties. His heart almost stopped as Detective Peterson stood behind the counter wearing a magnificent diamond necklace. She fingered the twelve carat feature stone with her candy red nails.

    “Where’s Joe,” he said. “I have some shirts to pick up.”

    “Kind of out of your way, I’d say.” She wiggled her fingers, displaying multiple rings from the heist.

    “I’ll get them later.” He turned and hurried from the shop. He stepped onto the sidewalk and literally ran into Peterson, but it wasn’t her, not quite. Her face was slightly longer, her nails a deep maroon and her necklace was different. The other Peterson walked out of the shop and stood next to her sister.

    “What’d you do to Joe?” he said.

    “He’ll recover.”

    “So what do you want… half?” Dimitri said, his mouth dry.

    “I’m willing to give you your freedom.”

    “I’ll talk. I’ll tell them what you did.”

    “What do you have… two strikes now? You’ll never see the light of day again.”

    “Give me something, please.” His hands shook. “I’m dead broke.”

    “Just walk away, Dimitri.”

    He did what she said. Under his breath, he said, “I can’t believe I didn’t see that coming.”

    1. snuzcook

      Looking back at this story, John, I really appreciate its balance. I mean, the way you gave different weight to the parts of dialogue and narrative they are nicely composed so the story flowed with a certain acceleration that was very effective. And fun in an entirely amoral sort of way.

  41. snuzcook

    The Truth Will Out

    “You’ll never get me to tell you where the jewels are.” The puny little man screwed up his moon face and glared with as much venom as a stuffed rabbit. The man was flushed and he gasping for breath just from being snatched and thrown in the trunk. Now that we were at the hideout, I was giving him the courtesy of an interview. I hadn’t even touched him yet.

    “Look, this isn’t personal, Jack. I’m just doing my job. You can make it easy so we can all get out of here and go have a beer. Or you can be a fool and make me hurt you.” He shook his head and a thread of spittle swung from the corner of his mouth. “Either way, Jack, I’m going to get what I came for.”

    “You want me to give him some incentive?” Boyd cracked his knuckles, which wasn’t easy, wrapped in strips of leather like they were. Boyd didn’t have many brains, but he had enthusiasm. I liked it best when just his enthusiasm produced results without having to use his considerable skills.

    “I don’t feel well.” The little man had folded in on himself, one arm across his gut. “I’m gonna to be sick.”

    “Put him in the tank with a bucket for a while.” Boyd lifted him to his feet with one hand and walked him down the hall. “Strip him and bring me his clothes.”

    A few minutes later Boyd tossed a bundle of clothes at my feet. “Ugh, They’re wet.”

    “Hey, I didn’t put a hand on him,” he shrugged. “He’s the nervous type.”

    There was no sign of the twin rubies in his clothes or in his case. “Maybe he didn’t have ‘em on him, boss.”

    “Maybe.” We had snatched him within two blocks of where he emptied his safe deposit box. He stopped at the cigar store right outside the bank, and then he bought a paper at the news stand a block up. We had eyes on him the whole time. Maybe he was smarter than I thought, and handed them off or stashed them.

    I opened the door to the tank. He was perched on the bucket with his tidy whities around his ankles, moaning. “You don’t look so good, Jack.” He only coughed. “Must’a been something you ate.”

    Just then he let out a squawk. There was a metallic ‘plunk’ ‘plunk’ in the bucket.

    “Gee, boss,” Boyd said, wrinkling his nose. “I can’t believe I didn’t see that coming.”

COMMENT