Green Olives

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“Oh, this is great, just great!” James stared at the dead man in his trunk and wondered how the hell he was going to explain this. “A lovely way to start the day. A dead man in my trunk and a woman I don’t remember in my bed. Anything else you wanna throw my way?” he yelled as he looked up at the sky. Then he heard the police sirens coming his way.

 

Running from the sound James came to the bridge that crosses the bay. Determined to avoid being caught up in some weird murder-mystery event, James decided to cross over the bay. With the sound of the sirens receding behind him, James slowed to a walk.

At least it’s a nice day for a walk. He thought to himself. I don’t even remember going out last night, I was just watching the game and.

 

James noticed a familiar woman standing against the railing on the bridge, the wrong side of the railing.

 

“Excuse me, is everything alright?” James asked.

 

The woman turned her head, she had eyes of a dark brown, darker than James remembered, and they were filled with such pain. Recognition came to the woman quickly.

 

“Don’t try to stop me James, you know how I try to stay out of your affairs. Now you stay out of mine,” the woman stated with a tone that James remembered all too well.

 

“Mom?”

 

“Back away James, this doesn’t concern you. Your father is waiting for me, now let me finish this.”

 

“Dad? Where is he? What the heck are you doing on that side of the guardrail? What the heck is happening to me today?”

 

“See, it’s always about you, isn’t it James? You told your father and myself not to meddle, so we didn’t. Look, see what it got us. Now, you will be on your own. I hope you’re happy.”

 

With that James’ mother jumped from the bridge. He rushed to her, too late, and watched as she turned her head and slammed into the water below. The splash was large enough that James could see a rainbow

in the residual mist.

“What the…”

 

The sirens seemed to come from nowhere, and James didn’t have any time to dwell on the death of his mother, and apparently his father, over the side of the bridge.

 

James turned and ran away from the scene and headed to the forest preserve, across the bay from the city. Figuring that he would be able to hide out in the woods for a while to think things out.

 

“This has to be the worst day of my life.”

 

“Why is that mister?” asked a young boy.

 

Where did he come from?

James was startled by the sudden appearance of the kid. “What are you doing out here in the woods?”

 

“Same thing as you mister, — hiding?”

The kid reminded James of someone, but he couldn’t put his finger on it.

“Oh yeah, what are you hiding from, kid?”

 

“Well, you know, it’s hard to explain, but, like my parents are real mad at me and don’t like, understand what it’s like to be a kid.”

 

“Oh, I’m sure it can’t be that bad,” James consoled, ignoring the improper use of the word like.

 

“Oh you don’t know my parents mister. I broke the front window, and like it’s going to cost a million bucks to replace, so they’re going to be pretty upset with me.”

 

“A million dollars, eh? That must be some window.”

 

“It is, my mom always told me that the best thing in her life was that window. It had a picture of some lady on it, and now it’s broke.”

 

That was weird. James did the exact same thing when he was a kid. In fact, he ran away to the woods then as well.

 

“You know what kid, I did something like that when I was young. My parents were pretty steamed about it, sure. But they still loved me.”

 

Did they?

 

Of course they did don’t be stupid.

 

And they showed their love for you by leaping off a bridge to their deaths.

 

That is NOT the point!

Really, what IS the point then?

 

Fighting back his own thoughts, James was going to tell the kid it would all work itself out and not to worry, but the kid was gone.

 

“What the…”

 

The sound of police sirens stopped James’ thought and reminded him that he was on the run himself, and to not worry about some kid with issues.

 

“Now where was I headed?”

 

“To your old tree house. That’s where you always run away to.”

 

The voice brought back memories of a time gone by, but how did she get here?

 

“Darla?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“What are you doing here?”

 

“Helping you of course.”

 

“Uh, aren’t you married and living in New York?”

 

“Of course not silly, you are the only one for me. Just like I am the only one for you.”

 

“But…”

 

“You told me that before our first time, don’t you recall? I needed that reassurance and you said it so sweetly and with what I thought was such sincerity.”

 

“Yeah, but…”

 

“Oh that’s right. I was just another notch on your bedpost. Isn’t that what you told Gary and the rest of your friends?”

 

“But, that was like fifteen years ago, and like, I was in love, really.”

 

“Tsk. Tsk. Still don’t know how to properly use the word like I see. I thought you would have fixed that by now.”

 

“What the…”

 

The sirens sounded like they were right on top of James, so he ran again.

 

“That’s right, keep running!”

 

Running blindly through the trees, James looked back to see if there was any pursuit and how close it might be. Turning back around, James had just enough time to discern that he was going to feel a lot of pain, when he hit the tree.

 

James woke up in a motel room. Lying on his back he noted the water stains from the room above. They looked like a picture fit for the Renaissance. Okay, maybe not that good.

 

“Amazing artwork, those water leaks.”

 

“Ah, you’re finally awake. I thought you might be dead.”

“What? Who are you?” James stammered.

 

“Oh, no one special, remember?”

 

James suddenly realized that his arms and legs were tied to the bedpost, leaving him spread-eagle across the bed, naked.

This is definitely not what I need right now.

 

“Why am I tied to the bed like this? What is going on? Where are my clothes?” James asked, looking at the eyes of this stranger. Despite the heat of the room, James felt a chill running down his spine.

 

“Now, now, Jimmy. Don’t you remember asking me to do this for you?” looking at James the woman saw a discernable shake of James’ head. “No, of course not. Had one too many I guess. Lucky for me, I get paid whether you can get it up or not, right?”

 

“You’re a hooker?”

 

“I like to call myself an escort, thank you very much. Sounds a little more professional, don’t you think?”

 

James started to sputter, “What? How? Where? –“

 

“When and why?” she finished. “My goodness you need to get yourself some of that ginkgo memory-booster stuff. Okay, let me try to refresh your memory. You said that you were having issues at home and needed my services, to take away your pain and anger. We ended up here, you asked me to tie you up, and then you passed out. Like I said, I get paid no matter what, so in this case it was a win-win I guess. I get paid and you didn’t cheat on your wife. I was just making sure that you would wake up, and maybe, you know.”

 

“Yeah, but–” James tried to think clearly, ignoring the obvious proposition, “I was just in the woods, running from the cops…”

 

“Cops! You brought the cops here?”

 

“I don’t know. I just said I was…”

 

The sirens sounded like they were coming from just outside the door.

 

“That’s just great! Now they’re here.”

 

“But, I didn’t, uh, –” James started, as he felt a sharp pain in his side.

 

“You okay?”

 

“Now that is about, the, uh, –.”

 

James felt the sharp pain against his ribs, this time, and noticed that his arm was going numb.

 

Oh great now I’m having a stroke.

 

James noticed that his vision was starting to cloud up, and he felt like he was floating.

 

What a way to go, my wife is going to kill me.

 

Another sharp pain on his side brought stars to his eyes.

“James!” his wife was yelling at him. “James, I swear if you hit that snooze button one more time, I’m going to start kicking you!”

 

“What?”

 

“I said wake up! You are going to be late for work, if you don’t get up soon. You kept hitting the snooze button, so you brought it on yourself.”

 

“What?”

 

“Wake up dummy! You have to get ready for work.”

 

“Oh, right.” As the realization of what just happened hit him. James turned off his alarm clock, thinking that he needed to get a different alarm.

 

“Hey honey.”

 

“Yes, dear.”

 

“I love you.”

 

“I love you too. Now get up and get ready, you still have time to catch your train.”

 

“Okay. Honey.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Don’t let me eat green olives right before bedtime anymore.”

 

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Red Light

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The house has been abandoned for nearly three years. The windows are covered in dust from years of not being cleaned, yet the structure remains sturdy and there are no broken windows or doors. Even the cellar door is locked and latched shut. Whoever left this house wanted to make sure no one got in there apparently. If you were to look inside the house you would see sparse floors that have a Berber carpet that hides any dust that may be collected, and looks like it has been undisturbed for as long as the house has been empty. The yard gets attention from a landscaping company, who makes sure that the grass is cut every couple of weeks in the summer and that any fallen tree branches or overgrown shrubbery is taken care of.

No one has ever seen the landscapers, but they had to have been there at some point.

There are three rooms in the house that you cannot see in due to them being covered with heavy construction paper that has been painted black, either to keep the light in or out. Since the house is abandoned, one would suspect that this was just something the former owners overlooked when they decided to abandon the house.

Is the house really abandoned if the heat is still on and the yard is maintained and the electricity is still humming through the wires to power anything that requires power? Obviously someone is paying some bills to keep these things online. Someone cares enough to ensure that the yard still looks nice and that the outside appearance of the house makes it looked lived in, as best that it can be.

The house is situated on an old farm road that is now used to access newer homes of the people who want to live in the country, yet still have modern city amenities like running water, cable, garbage pickup all the comforts of the city right there in their old country home. The house sits alone and has a barn in what can be considered the backyard, that looks like it is ready to collapse on itself. The neighbors tell the kids to stay away from the barn.

The kids rarely listen.

Thankfully no one has been hurt from a collapsing barn, yet no one has ever called the county regarding the safety risk it involves while barely standing there on its own power, if barns had power. If anyone did call the county, the county determined that there was minimal risk, and since they have engineers trained to ensure the public’s safety, the public goes on believing the barn to be safe. Since no children, or adults for that matter, have been harmed by the dilapidated barn, the county has considered that case closed and will review the case again on an annual basis, promising the people that if the need does arise in the future where the barn must come down for safety’s sake, the county will step in and take care of it.

I walk my dog most nights, when I feel up to it, or maybe just want to get out and enjoy the fresh air for a while, along the road and most nights I don’t even notice the house. That is not the case this evening. This evening the house has caught my attention fully, to the point where my dog starts to tug nervously on his leash trying to get my attention. A little yelp come from his mouth almost as if he is trying to harshly whisper at me to “get a move on it big guy, let’s get home” and I stare a moment longer in amazement and finally snap out of my dazed state and turn to look at my dog in a manner that says I’m not happy.

I turn back to the house and it is back to normal. Almost like nothing has changed, yet I know what I saw.

There was a red light on in the picture window of the house and a shadow behind the light.