Keeping It Short

It’s Wednesday’s Word, and you know what that means: write something – an essay, poem, or flash fiction – based on Wordsmith.org’s word of the day and post it by midnight. Past results from this fun writing exercise can be found under Wednesday’s Word on the sidebar to the right.

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There’s a lot to be done on the day before Thanksgiving.

Clean the house, tame the laundry, stock up on books and movies from the library. Bake a few pies, wave to the neighbors, watch the sky for signs of snow. Nevermind that it’s Wednesday, and I’m supposed to be writing.

Today’s word from Wordsmith.org:

shamus. noun. 1. A private detective. 2. A police officer

With all that’s going on in the next few days, I’m keeping this short and sweet.


An Eye for Detail

Eddie oozed “Detective.” He stood six feet tall, with broad shoulders. His hair was thick and his stare heavy. He approached everyone with the same suspicious eye.

He’d been studying the skinny kid in the corner of the room for the last ten minutes: the hair was disheveled, the hands shifted in and out of pockets, and the air smelled of stale booze. Eddie moved in.

“Robert McKenny?” he asked.

“Yes sir,” the kid stood up straight. At least the kid had that going for him.

“You were out last night.” Eddie said.

“Yes sir. To a bar. Just until midnight.” He brushed his hair out of his face.

“The bar on Fifth Street?”

“Well, yeah. I mean, yes. Sir.”

Eddie took a step closer to Robert. “Is there something you’re not telling me?”

“No sir!” Robert pressed his back to the wall.

“That shop was robbed twice last month,” Eddie scowled.

“Twice? What? I…no! It wasn’t me!”

Eddie’s wife, Myrna, appeared from around the corner and slapped Eddie on the shoulder.

“Oh, Eddie,” she said, “you act like he’s been brought in for questioning. Let the boy alone. Go make another pot of coffee.”

Myrna hugged Robert and kissed his cheek. “Don’t let your uncle intimidate you, dear. He doesn’t know how to drop the Detective routine.”

She’s too soft, Eddie thought, as he walked into the kitchen. He stood at the sink, with his hands behind his back, and stared out the bay window that faced their back yard. He and Myrna were hosting Thanksgiving this year, and Eddie didn’t like it. He didn’t like the crowd, the small talk, all that gratitude.

He thought maybe a walk outside would do him some good. Just before he turned away from the window, he saw movement. The dried stalks of Myrna’s wildflowers swayed and fell over in succession as something made its way across her garden. The sun was almost out of sight, and the lack of light made it difficult for Eddie to see clearly. He slipped out the back door.

From the patio, he made out the shape of a round mass that inched its way towards the corner of their house. Eddie was glad he decided to wear his moccasins for the family gathering. Myrna had waved him off in disgust when he put them on that morning, calling them “slippers, for crying out loud.” But, Eddie didn’t need formality; he needed stealth.

He slid along the side of the house, around the bay window, and stopped a few feet from the corner. The mass was gray, furry, and it was digging. Myrna won’t like that, Eddie thought. He peered down at the animal and took one more step, one step too many. A stick cracked, the animal turned, and two yellow eyes bored up at him. It hissed and it waddled – too fast – towards Eddie.

He stumbled backwards, turned and ran. Inside, he slammed the back door. He was gasping for breath.

Myrna stood in the back hall with a large knife in one hand and a fork in the other. “Eddie! I was carving the turkey and I heard such a ruckus.” She flipped the light switch with her elbow.

“A monster, Myrna! Rabid!”

“What in Heaven’s name are you talking about, Eddie, and why are you shivering?”

“I was outside. I forgot my jacket.” He held Myrna’s shoulders and whispered, close. “In the garden. I saw it from the window. I stepped outside. It lunged at me.”

Myrna cocked her head. “Here, take these.” She handed him the knife and fork. “Where’s the flashlight?”

“You can’t go out there! Look at you, savory juices dripping from your hands. It’ll eat you alive!”

Myrna marched past him. He poked his head out the door and watched the flashlight beam bounce across the yard. He cupped his hands around his mouth.

“In the corner,” he whispered.

He heard a rustle, then a hiss, and Myrna was back on the patio in a second. She was laughing.

“A badger, Eddie, a badger!” She pushed him inside and shut the door. “Look at you, so frightened. All those people out there have no idea.” She kissed him on the lips and swathed Eddie in mixture of Thanksgiving and comfort.

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10 responses to “Keeping It Short

  1. Happy Thanksgiving, Christi. Nice story… I like how Eddie drills the kid at his T-Day holiday dinner. Ha! Funny.

  2. Ha, ha. Don’t judge a detective by …

    Have a happy thanksgiving, Christi.

  3. Ha! Just what I needed. Enjoy your happy busy 🙂

  4. What a character! I love the opening interrogation 😉

    Happy Thanksgiving~

  5. It seems his wife was the better detective in this story! Thanks for a fun Thanksgiving flash.

  6. LOL! Love the T-day flash. Wishing you and yours a lovely day, Christi.

  7. Thanks, everyone. Glad you enjoyed the tale! Hope your Thanksgiving left you full and rested 🙂

  8. Hehee. Just got to this today, Christi, but it totally gave me the giggles. Myrna reminds me of Miss Marple, but with a carving set instead of knitting needles. Love that the badger scared the hardboiled detective. Great story!

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