We Danced an Irish Reel

Are you going to stare at me all night, or are you going to ask me to dance?

Photo by Johnny McClung on Unsplash

This final entry for the #writingsprintchallenge given by @tuftin.reads is prompted by The Lobster, a wordless tune the Irish supergroup, The Gloaming. Below is my offering.

Some memories fade with age, becoming frail and full of holes, less and less real with each recollection. Other memories are etched in stone and you will take them with you to the grave. Such is my memory of that night so very long ago. I must have been barely 14, just a lad. My cousin had dragged me off to a céilí, to keep her company. I had no business being there—I couldn’t dance to save my life!

But there I was. Sitting with my back against the wall, a warm mug of beer before me that I had little interest in. Brigid had been quickly recruited by one young man after another to join them on the dance floor, where everyone wheeled about to the reel being played by the band. The music was grand, so I had succumbed completely to my natural glumness.

I looked about after this last round of dancers hit the floor and suddenly noticed the most beautiful redhead I had ever laid eyes upon. She sat two tables away and had to be close to my age. Her eyes were fixed upon the stage and I followed her gaze to the young man playing the fiddle with such skill and instantly felt a twinge of jealousy. Unreasonable, I now know, but there it was, me wishing that I were the one to whom she had given her attention.

I don’t know how long I sat there staring at her, lost inside my own imagination. It took me a moment to realize she was speaking to me. I snapped out of it and asked, “What?”

“I said,” she said, “Are you going to stare at me all night, or are you going to ask me to dance?” Her voice was as melodious as the music and it enthralled me to hear her speak. It took a moment to realize the meaning of her words.

“You want to dance with me?” I asked.

“Well, I don’t want you to put yourself out,” she replied sharply, a spark in her eyes.

I have two left feet, but my response to her is to shake my head up and down, at which she holds out her had to me. I found myself moving from my chair to her side and taking her hand, a lovely hand, and following her as she led the way to the dance floor, already beginning to twirl to the music and laugh the most spectacular laugh that ever left the mouth of a human being.

Here’s where memory fails me, for I cannot tell you a bit at how I performed that evening as a dancer—I’m sure I was terrible. I don’t think I mimicked the dancers around us, for I never took my eyes off of her. She moved with such grace and abounded with such joy! Heaven had come and landed right here before me, an angel with red hair, green eyes, perfect lips, graceful curves and music in every move.

One dance after another went by, the evening stretched out and we never left the floor until it was all over. Only then did I ask her what I should call her. “Caitlyn,” she said, “With a Y.”

“I’m Finnigan. But my friends call me just Finn.” I said.

“Thanks a million for the evening, just Finn!” she said and smiled.

She left with her companions. I left with my cousin. And I never laid eyes on her again, though I have often wondered what became of her and if she’s still alive, whether she married, was she happy, did she still dance?

I will never know. But I will always have the memory of a heavenly creature coming down from above to spend the most lovely evening with me.

I will always have that.

Lost Leaders, the Betrayed, & Wild Escapes

Photo by note thanun on Unsplash

This is the fifth day of #writingsprintchallenge from @tuftin.reads on Instagram. The prompt today is a quote from James Joyce from his compendium of stream-of-consciousness writing, Ulysses.

Yesterday I lay upon a gurney in a makeshift operating room in the back of an abandoned building not too far from my home, but today I take my place with my fellow classmates as we prepare to meet the 51st President of the United States, Allen P. Alcorn. It’s an honor, our teacher says. Especially, she pointed to the twelve of us who were actually going to be onstage with the President. We need to be on our best Ps and Qs—whatever that means. Today, I finger the button on my insulin pump, careful not to press the button. Not yet. Not until I’m on the stage and the president has shaken my hand. Then I press the button. But not before. Before today, my life has been a meaningless compilation of hospital visits and one surgery after another as doctors and nurses shook their heads over my frail little body. It has always been so, from back and back and back, since the cradle. I know, though they wont’ say it. There’s no hope for me. I will never live to see my twenties. I’ll never drive a car, kiss a girl, go on a date. I may not even reach manhood at the almost universal age of thirteen. Someone like me is given one shot, one tiny little window of opportunity to make a difference, to make my mark on the world. I could ride the wave until it carries me to that not too distant shore, or I can choose to take matters into my own hands—with a little help. What was it, a month ago? Two months? I can’t remember. But we were approached by someone who gave my poor mother a way out. As an immigrant in this unwelcoming country, they offered her a new name, a new start and all the money she could want. That, and a quick ending for her boy. She didn’t want to do it, but I piped in and had my own two cents worth. It’s my life, isn’t it mama? Should I get to decide? She finally agreed, though she didn’t want to, she did, for me. Now the President is finishing his speech and the crowd is clapping, the cameras flashing, he’s flashing that famous smile and turning towards us, starting with the first student in line. The stitches in my side ache from where they cut me yesterday. But that won’t matter soon. He moves to the next student, exchanges words, half turns towards the cameras and smiles. Click. Flash. Moves on to the next. One more, then it’s my turn. I’m not political. I don’t dislike this man. I don’t really care. I just want to be remembered. I want everyone to say my name. It doesn’t matter what they say after that. Shake. Turn. Smile. His smile is nicer than in the pictures. I can smell his cologne. His voice calming. Shake. Turn. Smile. It’s my turn. He stands before me. Takes my hand. “How are you, young man? I understand you’re quite the fighter. They say you were in the hospital just yesterday.” I mumble softly my reply. “What was that? I couldn’t hear you.” he said, bending closer. “I said, ” I say, looking him right in the eye, “My name is James Joyce O’Brien.” I press the button. I feel nothing, but the pump, instead of pumping insulin, pumps some liquid that acts like a lit fuse, touching off the explosives sewn into my body the day before. I grip his hand tightly and say, “Boom!”

Rock Star

Photo by Sam Moqadam on Unsplash

Today’s prompt was a musical one. Warsaw by Dessa. I listened to it several times and decided to address the prompt from the perspective of a rock star. For those who are new, this is Day 3 in the #writingsprintchallenge issued by @tuftin.reads on Instagram. Below is my take on this one.

I’m standing backstage, just behind the curtain.

Onstage the opening act is hitting their final number. The crowd is whipped up into a frenzy. The band eats it up. They’re young. They haven’t been sucked dry. There’s still some soul left in them. Pieces of themselves.

Not me. I’m buzzing. I hit it hard right before I go onstage. Something to carry me through. I’ve been at this so much longer. I can’t remember… How long ago did I start this nightmare? I remember it started as a dream.

Fame. Fortune. My name on the billboards. My songs on the lips of others. My songs—that was true once. Myself—that was true once, too.

Now nothing is mine—not my name, not my music, not my privacy…not my life.

I am no one. I am nothing. I am sucked dry.

I am fueled by nicotine, pharmaceuticals, sex, pain… Anything that will tell me I’m alive. But I am not—I am the walking dead.

I’m sorry that the young band on the stage will endure what I have endured. If they were smart, they’d drop out before it’s too late.

If I were smart, I’d drop out. But it is too late. There is nothing left.

The crowd roars and the band bows and walks off the stage triumphantly.

It’s my turn—meat for the feast.

Never Grow Old

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash.

Grandparents are those warm, caring old folks that spoil their grandchildren with candy and overnight stays where you can do whatever you want. That is, most grandparents, but not mine. My grandparents were a darker sort. Granny, as we called her, was one tough, hard-working woman who chain-smoked and cussed like a sailor. She was kind enough to us, but never had a nice word for Gramps. But then, who would?

Gramps is a drunken sob—not a pleasant drunk, a foul, angry drunk. He was a hard worker in his day, working the swing-shift at the paper mill. Back in the day, they paid out cash on Fridays, and Gramps would pocket his, head straight for the nearest pub and blow most of his cash. The drinking would continue until they closed the place down, or he’d gotten in a fight, which happened with great frequency. Either way, he would stumble home and God help the soul who was awake when he got there.

My father never spoke about it, but my aunt has told me stories of the beatings their brother would endure. Even once nearly dying as Gramps straddled him and choked him with both hands. It was my father who pulled him off and basically saved my uncle’s life.

Gramps grew old. He didn’t grow kinder. One day, Granny just up and left him. No one was sure where she went, nor did we ever hear from her again, but it came as no surprise to anyone. The surprise was that she’d lasted as long as she had.

After she left, Gramps grew even more foul, his moods dark and violent. That was 15 years ago. Today, Gramps is being trundled off to a convalescent center. Against his will, but it has been determined that he is too feeble to care for himself, and too unsound in mind to make decisions for himself. Since I’m a real estate agent, it has fallen on me to put the old homestead on the market. So I hired a crew to put the place into tip-top shape.

The place is looking great and early this morning the lawn crew came out to put in the finishing touches. Granny had been a ardent gardener and the raised beds have long ago become weed jungles. I ordered them to remove the raised beds, and the huge compost bin in the back corner filled with rotted leaves and trash.

I got a call about an hour ago, the crew used a tractor with a bucket on the front to scoop up the pile of rotted compost. Time they got to the bottom, they found something unexpected. I jumped in the car and headed straight there.

By the time I got there, police cars were pulled up in the long driveway and the forensics team had already begun work. There, at the bottom of the compost heap, was a skeleton of what the coroner said was a female, aged 60 to 70 years, with one leg noticeably shorter than the other, leather corrective shoes still on her bony feet. Red matted hair still clung to the skull.

There was no doubt—this was Granny. Apparently, she didn’t just leave. One of their violent arguments apparently grew too heated and Gramps buried her remains in the compost pile.

Not sure what will happen to Gramps. He’s too far gone to even remember he did this and too unhealthy to serve any time. I tell you, it sucks to grow old.

A Tiger is Set Loose

I love prompted writing! So I took up the challenge thrown down by @tuftin.reads to do a 15 minute or so writing sprint each day for the next week starting tonight. The prompt for tonight is A Tiger is Set Loose, which is the title for my piece below.

Herman stood at the dining room window, a glass of bourbon in his left hand, his fifth for the evening. Work was taxing lately, what with tax season in full swing. As a CPA, he worked long hours trying to jam as many returns into one day as he possibly could. The tedium threatened to overwhelm him, thus the bourbon.

Nancy, his wife, still puttered about the kitchen, tidying up after a late dinner, and already planning for their company on Saturday, when her brother and sister-in-law were coming in from Austin. For her, it was a thing to look forward to.

For Herman, it was not. It meant that not only would he have to listen to her bombastic brother, and his wheedling little wife, but there would be the double whammy of her father and mother, too. Darla, Nancy’s mother, hated everything about Herman. Oh, she would deny it if asked directly, but one would not have to observe for long her acidic remarks and withering glances all aimed in his direction.

Herman rocked the ice back and forth in the glass and remembered the hell their first three years of marriage had been. That they were still married, going on 25 years now, was a testament of his own ability to suffer long the slings and arrows of such a witch of a woman. When the twins came, things cooled down a bit, but Herman lived to displease and it wasn’t long before Darla found other things to complain about. Herman didn’t advance in his career like George had—George being Nancy’s military career father, who retired as a Sergeant Major from the Army after 30 years. He wasn’t half bad, but he tended to back his wife, so if she was displeased, he felt duty bound to reinforce her position.

Herman tossed back the rest of his bourbon, and decided he needed another. But as he turned from the window, something caught his eye—a movement in the backyard. Dusk had settled, casting deep shadows, especially under the heavily oaked fence line. He peered into the shadows, straining his eyes.

There it was again, a movement along the wooden privacy fence, a lighter shadow among darker ones. To his amazement, the shadow turned and began advancing into the middle of the yard. In the fading sunlight, barely any light at all, there stood a tiger. Herman dropped his glass with a plunk on the linoleum floor.

“Nancy! Nancy! You’re not going to believe this!” he said, his speech a bit slurred from his libations. “There’s a tiger in the backyard!”

“Of course there is, dear!” Nancy answered glibly. She shook her head. Herman could be quite the drunk and lately, he’d been at it early and at it hard. She continued to organize the pantry, the result of checking to see what they had on hand for the weekend.

The tiger strolled right up to the window and sniffed, as if it were trying to determine whether or not Herman was worth breaking through the glass to eat.

Herman backed away, stumbling and landing on his butt. He knocked a dining room chair over in the process, which fell to the floor with a much louder crash then had Herman’s rather well padded posterior.

“For Christ’s sake Herman! What’ve you done?” she cried, turning from her can stacking.

Herman was winded. The tiger curled its lips back, baring his teeth, which were sharp and numerable.

“Nancy, call somebody! Call 911! Call the police!”

“And tell them what, dear? That you’ve had one too many night toddies and are seeing things?”

“No, dear,” he said sharply, emphasizing dear. “Tell them there’s a tiger set loose and it’s in our backyard.”

Nancy turned from the pantry and strode into the dining room, ready to reprove her drunken husband. As she stepped through the door, two things happened simultaneously. She spotted the tiger, whose massive size filled most of the dining room window and the tiger let loose a most horrific roar. At that, Nancy fainted dead away, falling forward and landing in Herman’s lap.

Whether it was because it wasn’t hungry enough to eat two, or it didn’t like the look of the meat available, the tiger turned and disappeared once again beneath the shadowed oaks and over the fence.

Photo by Efe Yağız Soysal on Unsplash

#writingsprintchallenge #amwriting #writersofinstagram #writingsprint #lovewriting

Rupert’s Maiden Flight

Arial view of a neighborhood by Nathan Queloz on Unsplash.

Enclosed within a bubble, Rupert lifted off the back porch; his bare feet at first dangling only inches above the gray-painted deck.   Then, as the breeze caressed the transparent cocoon, he was carried up ever so gently—over the railing and out across the backyard.  The porch stood a half-story off the ground, so he had a head start on putting distance between himself and the earth.

He could see into the neighbors’ yards on both sides of his house, and into the woods behind.  The wind shifted east and he began to drift along the fence line that marked the end of the newly created subdivision and the remains of the forest that once covered all of this county, now only a small wooded space of a few dozen acres.

Two yards down, Jimmy Doric was playing with his beagle, Horatio.  He had the dog seated at a table, with a party hat tied to its head — a sad reenactment of the birthday party that few had attended, only a handful of kids whose parents made them.  Jimmy was known for his tantrums when things didn’t go his way, which was rarer than one might imagine, as he was an only child and his parents lavished a good portion of their income on buying him the latest and greatest.  All the toys gave him no advantage.  The other children were either jealous of his latest acquisition or frustrated because Jimmy never shared anything.

Soon the street bent to the right, but Rupert continued straight, out across the now thinning trees.  A stream wound through the wood and disappeared beneath a street that dead ended at the edge of the wood.  A huge iron storm gate rusted partway open and mostly blocked by all sorts of debris, from fallen branches and tree trunks, to grocery baskets and broken glass.  It hadn’t been very long ago at all that this wood was as thick as the rest.  Rupert and his brother had played here scores of times, catching crawdads, skipping stones, sailing out over the water on a thick grape vine hanging off the branches of an ancient oak. 

It was the broken glass that caused his parents to forbid them to enter the wood and play along the creek.  Just last summer, Eric, Rupert’s older brother, had cut his foot badly when he’d jumped into the water and landed on a broken jar, half buried in the sand.  It had required tetanus shot and 13 stitches and had left an ugly scar across the instep of his left foot.

Now, where they had once played, there was a mountain of dirt dumped truckload after truckload by some construction company.  A dozer had come through, pushing down the trees and piling the dirt up ever higher and higher.  At first, the thrill of heavy machinery was too exciting to even think about the loss of the wood, but that wore off quickly enough when the dozer left, followed by absolutely nothing at all—nothing happened afterward, no construction, no more loads of dirt, no more heavy equipment—nothing.  It had been almost six months since Rupert had ventured anywhere near the new wasteland and even longer since he’d seen the creek.

A sudden rush of wind caught him and twirled him around as it pulled him higher and higher above the ground.  He could take in the entire neighborhood now, the six blocks of houses, the twisting street that turned this way and that through the subdivision, then passed through a stretch of country properties, where old farmers had not yet sold out to the developers, and finally it terminated at a wide boulevard to the south.  Way to the west was his school, and beyond that, even further west and a bit north was his sister’s junior high.

 The creek glinted below him still and he could barely see the shiny spot where the sun reflected off of the windshield of an abandoned car, some rusting heap from a time before even his father had learned to drive.  He remember this little junk yard, probably not a sanctioned junk yard and certainly no longer fed or even though of by anyone.  Here he and Eric had spent many a long summer afternoon climbing in and out of old panel vans, and over stack of freezers and washing machines that looked like the one his grandmother still had, a funny device that featured a round tub with an electric ringer mounted on top that you fed the clothes through, over and over until you were satisfied that they were clean.  Rupert had got his finger caught in that a couple of years back.  It hurt just thinking about it.

His eyes wandered eastward and southward, where more houses, older ones, stood, not part of the crazy, frantic subdivision frenzy that had swallowed up so much once fertile farmland.  Some of these homes had been there at least a hundred years.   Right in the center of them all was a collection of rectangular and square multistoried buildings with a wide green expanse in the middle.  At the very heart of it all, a great church building, with its spire gleaming in the sun.  Even it was beginning to look a bit dwarfish from this height.

That thought made Rupert wonder what would become of him.  For the first time he questioned what was happening to him, this flight across his city.  What was this bubble?  How did he come to be in it?  Would it pop?  If it did, would he plummet to the earth below and land pinioned by some pointy pine in the wood or crash through a neighbor’s roof and land in a heap upon their living room floor.  Either way, it didn’t bode well for him. 

He was suddenly filled with dread.  He didn’t want to die.  He was way, way too young for death.  His great-grandparents had died only last year.  He remembered them as two oddly dressed but kind strangers who had come to visit in a car not unlike the ones in the junkyard, only theirs ran.  He knew nothing else about them, except that his mother cried and went away for a week after a phone call late one night.  His father had said that her grandparents had passed away and she’d gone to bury them.  It meant late nights in front of the television, and lots of boxed meals and restaurant take-outs.

Other than them, Rupert had never known anyone who’d actually died.  He’d heard of plenty of deaths, since his father was glued to the news each weeknight, and it was all about someone shooting someone else, or about how many soldiers had been killed in the war.  Death was for grownups.  Of that, Rupert was sure.  But he was in no doubt of what would happen to him if this bubble popped.

A bird flew by and made a sharp turn to come back around for another look at Rupert.  Wisps of clouds began to drift across his view and he could now see the river way to the west, a large winding river that he knew ended up in the bay.  He knew this, because he and his father had poured over maps last summer when they were planning their vacation, a trip to the beach.  For all the excitement he’d felt, all he could readily recall of the trip was the jellyfish sting he’d gotten within minutes of entering the water.  After that, he’d contented himself to watch everyone else take their chances.

The memory of that warm sun on his skin suddenly made him aware that he was cold, very cold.  His teeth began to rattle together and he tried to rub his arms.  For some reason, he couldn’t pick his hands up to take hold of his biceps.  Try as he might, they were stuck beside him. 

Would he float all the way into space?  That terrified him.  He knew from school that no air would fill his lungs once he left the atmosphere, and even now, it seemed too thin to take a decent breath.  He cried out, or tried to, but nothing escaped his lips, there wasn’t enough breath to make the smallest peep.  In an absolute panic, Rupert began to thrash about within the bubble, his only thought was to escape, to break free!

As he stretched out his legs and straightened his body, the bubble burst with a loud pop and all at once he shot downward, like a bottle rocket after it had achieved its apex.  The city rushed toward him, the cold wind biting into his face.  His own house appeared to be his target and he hadn’t even the time to imagine what a mess he would make when they met.  He squeezed his eyes tightly shut and braced himself for impact.

With a crash, he cracked his head on something hard and found himself sprawled on his bedroom floor, his sheets and blanket all entangled with his limbs, his breath completely knocked from him.  First he felt stunned—he was alive! Then came the pain—an unbelievable pounding at the back of his head.  He brought a hand to his head and felt a sticky wetness.  Next there came a lungful of air, rushing all at once into his lungs, and immediately erupting in an unearthly howl of pain.

His brother sat up groggily, rubbing his eyes.  A light turned on in the hallway.  Soon his father gathered Rupert in his arms.  “You must have fallen from the bunk,” he said softly.  “It’s going to be alright.”

Last Christmas

The Challenge:

Create a written piece from one or more of the following prompts.

Don’t save me Prince Charming, I’m busy |  Jig on tombstones |“Uh oh! Someone’s….FABULOUS!”

Here’s my attempt…

_______________________

Christmas Party

Sharon stood on the ledge, her eyes squeezed tightly shut.  Her chest heaved as she sucked in air between sobs.  Her intent had been to jump, but she hadn’t found the courage.  As she had worked her way away from the window, she nearly lost her balance when she stepped on a loose brick.  In that instance, she realized she didn’t want to end it all.  Unfortunately, going back inside seemed as scary as plunging over the edge, so she stood frozen in place, crying.

“Sharon!” a voice spoke from the window.  It was Ron.  Mr. Head Stuck Up His Butt Ron, the office Romeo.  The sounds of the office Christmas party drifted past him.

Don’t save me, Prince Charming!  I’m busy!” she shot in his direction.  He was such a baboon, she thought.  He thinks he’s God’s gift to women.  She couldn’t stand him; he was a wart on the face of humanity.

“What are you doing out here?”

“What does it look like?” she said, sniffling now as her sobs subsided.  “I’m taking a walk, Einstein!”

“If this is about last night, I’m sorry!”

“You conceited prick!  A girl contemplates suicide, and naturally you have think it has to be about you,” she swore.  “Believe me, you’re not worth the trouble.”

“Well then, what is it?” he asked, one foot now on the ledge.

“Why should you care?” she dared to open one eye and shot a glance towards the window.

He had both feet on the ledge now and was cautiously straightening up, his back pressed against the window.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” she warned.

“Look, I know I wasn’t very…nice, last night.  I…I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

“Oh, what did you mean to do?”

“I didn’t mean anything.  I wasn’t thinking.”

“Ah, a moment of honesty!” she exclaimed.  “Is this a breakthrough?”  She scooted further down the length of the building, as he began to make his way toward her.  “You’d dance the jig on tombstones, you’re so thoughtless,” she added.

“Sharon, I’m sorry!  She didn’t mean anything to me.  I don’t even know how it happened!”  he said as he moved closer.  “Her husband has been so bad to her.  I  felt sorry for her.  I was trying to help.”

Uh oh!  Someone’s…” she began, as he stepped on the loose brick.  With a shout, he flailed his arms, and plummeted to the ground.  “FABULOUS!” she finished.  Having reached the next window, she slid it open and stepped through.  Moments later, she joined the growing crowd on the sidewalk.

“Who is it?” she asked innocently of Bill from Accounting who stood at the edge of the throng.

“Ron Strake, Sales.”

“Oh, what a shame!” she exclaimed.

“No kidding!  He had so much going for him!  Who could have seen it coming?” Bill commented.

“Really!” she agreed.  “Who could have?”

Must Come Down

The Challenge:

Create a written piece using one or more of the following prompts:

She could fly! | 10 minutes later he bought the largest suitcase he could find \ Rock solid conviction

Here’ my take on it…

________________________

falling

She could fly!  He was sure of it.  And so, based upon this rock solid conviction, he launched her over the edge of the balcony.  Or at least, that was how he played it. For a brief moment though, it appeared she would indeed fly—that terrible moment when she seemed to hang suspended in the air.  Their eyes met, terror and disbelief bulging hers to insect proportions.  Then gravity kicked in and she plummeted to the pavement four stories below.

Of course he would plead insanity, if anyone ever caught him.  He had carefully laid the groundwork for such a plea over the last several months.  He had filled notebooks full of nonsensical, pseudo-scientific babble about human flight and unleashing the hidden power of the mind.  He’d even published one such paper online.  Everyone said he was crazy.

He had intended to sit quietly at the desk, revising his notes.  He wanted to appear calm and unsuspecting when the police arrived.  But he was restless and unsure his plan would work.  He argued with himself for a moment.

“Stick to the plan.  It’s a good plan.  It will work!” said one part of his brain.

“You’ve got to run.  You’ve got to get out of here!” said another, perhaps more reasonable part of his psyche.

Ten minutes later, he bought the largest suitcase he could find at Wally’s World.  He’d go back to the apartment and stuff it with as much as he could fit and take off.

By the time he returned, there was already a crowd gathering at the complex.  This new plan was flawed, he now saw—he’d never get back to the room without being seen.  Sitting in the car, he watched the activity.

An ambulance arrived and the paramedics leaped from the vehicle and rushed through the crowd as police officers urged people to back up and let them through.  For a moment, he panicked.  Why an ambulance?  Could she be alive?  Was it even possible?  But then he thought that it wasn’t unusual for an ambulance to be called to such a scene.  No, she was dead.  She had to be!

As he mused, a neighbor at the back of the crowd spotted him.  Grabbing a police officer, she pointed to him.  He noticed.  “Stay calm,” he thought, rolling down his window as the officer approached.

“Are you Mr. Schlimmer?  Alfred Schlimmer of 18101 Crowely Street, Apartment 401C?” the officer asked.

“Yes, sir.  What’s going on?” he asked.  It occurred to him that he might bluff his way out of this yet.  “Is someone hurt?”

“Sir, there’s been an accident.  I need you to shut off the motor and step out of the car, please.”

“What’s this got to do with me?”

“If you would just shut off the engine and step out of the car, sir.  I’m sure we’ll clear everything up.”  The officer looked past him to the large suitcase on the back seat.  “Are you going somewhere, Mr. Schlimmer?

“Oh, that?  That’s just an old suitcase I was going to take to Goodwill.  I’ve been toting it around for ages, I just keep forgetting to drop it off.”  He lied smoothly.  He liked the sound of it; it came across so matter-of-factually.

Suddenly, the officer unholstered his gun and leveled it at the window of the car.  “Mr. Schlimmer, step out of your vehicle now.  Open the door slowly.  Step out and place your hands on the hood.”

“But I don’t understand?  What’s going on?  What did I do?” he was beginning to panic now.  Other officers, noticing the kerfuffle, swarmed to join them.

“This is the last time I’m telling you this… Get out of the vehicle.  Now!”

“But, but, I…” he stammered.  The officer ripped the car door open and dragged him from his seat and throwing him against the car, kicking his legs apart and pressing his face against the still hot hood.  First one arm was bent behind his back, then the other, as the cold steel of handcuffs encircled his wrists.  “I don’t understand?  What’d I do?”

“You are under arrest for suspicion of murder.  You have the right to remain silent.  Everything you say…” the officer droned on, but he was no longer listening.  What had gone wrong?  How did they know?  This couldn’t be happening!

“What’s up?” a newly arrived officer asked.

“This is the husband of the victim,” was the reply.  “He just told me that the large suitcase in the backseat there was some old thing he was supposed to have given to Goodwill.  It’s still got the tags from the store on it.  I think he’s lying and that he had plans of running away somewhere.”

The words echoed in his ears as they walked him to a squad car and tucked him away in the back seat.

“But she could fly!” he sobbed.  “I know she could!”  In his mind he thought, better go for insanity.  He blubbered all the way to the police station, too stupid to realize it was over.