Reasons For Seasons

1000 words –

It wasn’t that Alto Morelli didn’t believe the best revenge was served cold, but at times he was sick and tired of waiting for his chance.

How long had it been since the bastard killed his brother Joey? Two, three years? It seemed like forever. But you can’t just knock off a Mafia capo and expect to live…unless you wait until just the right moment and no one can trace it to you. Rule one for successful revenges; live to tell the tale.

Alto was an independent contractor. He hired out his gun, but never his loyalty to many of the denizens of the underworld in 1932. The press referred to his kind as a “Hit Man.” But very few people in New York, New Jersey, or Chicago knew that he was one. Mostly Mafia crime bosses and leaders of other gangs like the Irish Mob.

The other thing about Alto was no one knew what his last name was. Only his brother Joey knew it, and he was dead now. His killer, Johnny Dancer, was a capo for the Bonnano crime family in New York. He was also a paranoid schizophrenic who surrounded himself with bodyguards at all times. Johnny knew there were plenty of people out there who wanted to see him dead…for a whole host of reasons.

Still, it was hard to wait. Alto was a man of action. At times he felt like a coward, taking so long to extract his pound of flesh because he wasn’t ready to die doing it. It felt like he was desecrating Joey’s memory at times. He shook those thoughts off and forged ahead looking for the perfect opening.

The bible said there was, “… a time for everything, a season for every activity under the heavens.” That encouraged him because he was a Catholic, even if he didn’t go to confession.

Faith in that quote kept him going. He knew there would be a season to kill, and his family burden would be forever lifted.

The season to kill finally arrived when Alto’s paid snitch in the Bonnano family told him Johnny and two of his rich friends were going upstate to the Catskills for a weekend of fishing and hunting. He gave Alto the directions, who thanked him and then shot him point blank! No witnesses. Number Two rule of survival.

Hunting season in the Catskills. How appropriate.

When Alto arrived at the hunting lodge he took his time sizing up how many occupants were there. He quickly spotted Johnny and what he took to be his two rich friends. Not far away were two alert-looking bodyguards watching the three men eat a meal outdoors on the open porch.

It took a few more hours before he discovered the other two bodyguards who were patrolling the perimeter of the lodge. Six people who he had to kill, but it was worth it to get Johnny. He was already envisioning where he would dispose of the bodies afterward. No one would ever know what happened.

His inner survivor briefly questioned if this was the right season, after all the odds were against him. Then he focused upon the task. He waited until late at night, past midnight, and snuck up on the first guard outside the front door, slitting his throat neatly and professionally.

The second guard was nodding in a chair in the living room. He looked up in time to see Alto for a moment, then a hand went over his mouth while his throat was slashed open. Then Alto cautiously went into the first bedroom. Saw someone in a bed. Went right over, checked his face briefly in the light of the full moon streaming through the window. Another guard. Slit his throat.

He went to the second bedroom. This time the sleeper was one of Johnny’s pals. Slit his throat. The next room had the other pal. Slit his throat. That left Johnny and one guard. Was that guard in Johnny’s bedroom? He opened the last bedroom door slowly. Inch-by-inch. His keen ears attuned to any sound.

Then he heard a click! Without thinking he dropped down to the floor as the shotgun blast tore into the door! Alto pulled his .45 Colt Automatic out and fired from the prone position in the direction of the blast! A man screamed and collapsed directly across from him. Then another shotgun blast hastily fired over his head from the right near the bed! When he rose up Johnny was trying to reload, but was fumbling with the cartridge.

Instead of immediately killing him Alto jumped up and rushed him, knocking the old twin-barrel shotgun aside as he grabbed his neck with one hand and hit him alongside the head with the pistol in the other. He stood over the bleeding and semi conscious man and considered how he wanted to kill him.

He thought about when he found his brother, just before he died, and how badly he suffered. His tormentors took a drill to both his hands and feet. They pulled out all of his teeth. There were numerous burns and cuts from head to toe. They blinded him with a hot poker and cut his tongue out.

In the end, he took Johnny outside for a short walk from the lodge and tied him to a tree. Then he cut him from sternum to groin so his guts leaked out while he was still alive. He stayed long enough to listen to and savor his screams which deteriorated to moans as his lifeblood soaked the base of the tree.

Two novice hunters heard the screams. They followed them through the forest. Both were teenagers and eager to find the source. Suddenly something big burst through the undergrowth and they both panicked and fired their rifles!

Alto spun around when one of the shots hit him in the chest, falling to the ground heavily. His last thought made him grin at the irony, “There’s also a season for dying.”

The Phone Booth

400 words –

The lone phone booth stood out in stark contrast to the arid Mojave desert surrounding it. But was it a mirage?

Jason Brant tried to focus on the lone object in the distant horizon. He was lost, hungry, thirsty, and desperately trying to survive. Two days had passed since the accident. He was lucky to be alive.

He’d been driving through Mojave National Preserve at a high speed (100 mph) on interstate 15 when he drifted off the pavement for a moment. It was enough to cause him to loose control. The car rolled onto the sand and landed upside down in a patch of creosote bushes.

When he woke up he was upside down, still held by his seat belt. It took him a few frustrating minutes to get free and crawl out. That’s when he felt the pain. His right knee had ballooned to three times its size and he could feel the bone splinters stabbing his nerves.

The pain was so great he passed out several times crawling towards the road. When he regained consciousness he looked around and saw what he thought might be a phone booth in the distance.

“What a crazy place for one,” was his first thought. His next thought was, “What if the phone works and I can call for help?” He eyed the phone booth for an hour before deciding he had to try and reach it.

After two days his strength was giving out. Crawling was exhausting and slow. When he finally was close enough to see that it was real his heart started pounding with excitement.

The door was gone and he wedged himself in and looked up at the dial tone phone. A pay phone. A sense of panic gripped him as he realized he didn’t have any change! He tore the phone off the receiver and listened to the dial tone in dismay.

“Operator!” he screamed as delirium took hold of his frayed senses. When a recorded voice asked for money Jason pleaded for his life.

When the Park Ranger found Jason the next day he gently sprinkled some water from his canteen onto his lips and sat him up against the outside wall of the phone booth.

He woke up and greedily grabbed the canteen and nearly drowned himself pouring water into his parched mouth. Afterwards. “Quick man! Do you have any change” he babbled…again and again.

Stupidity and Me

100 words –

Early on in my life, I found that stupidity was good for laughs.

I embraced stupidity as my excuse for going on risky adventures and going where sane people feared to go. My stupid grin, honed since I was five after realizing it got laughs, helps me get through my days.

Stupidity conveys humility to unsuspecting observers unaware that it can be feigned for effect. Stupidity can be a cloak worn by the wise with all- knowing eyes. A perfect disguise.

Then there is sheer stupidity, a condition unencumbered by any excuse other than a person is born with it.

The Great Jackalope Hunt

200 words –

“Here’s one! It’s plain to see this animal is half rabbit and half antelope,” Long Tom Silver assured the greedy easterners who eyed the tintype photo and looked around at the vast prairie.

“Come gentlemen! Where is your sense of adventure? These creatures are all over the Western plains. Their meat is an exquisite treat! With your fine rifles you can shoot all you can eat.”

The four dandies looked at one another. The train they just got off let out a robust whistle and rolled down the tracks into the horizon. Long Tom had their horses and gear ready.

“I gotta tell you boys, there were a lot of applicants for this hunt. But like I said in the newspaper advertisement, only four men would be selected for the hunt of a lifetime. You boys made the grade.

“One last thing,” Long Tom said. “I’ll be requiring my fees for this expedition now.”  

The men didn’t looked surprised. It was what they all agreed on. Each handed Long Tom a sack of gold coins.

He took each one with a smile and gave a word of advise, “You boy’s should make a day camp. Jackalopes only come out at night,” he suggested while pointing his horse south towards Mexico.

 

A Paean For Trash

100 words –

What you call trash is another person’s treasure. Be not proud throwaway consumer, for you created trash as surely as Auguste Rodin was a sculptor without peer.

Leftovers have a future when imagination is given free rein. Digging through ancient trash gives us insights into other cultures and what they used on a daily basis. It puts us in touch with the common man who history rudely ignores in favor of kings and queens.

Alley cats fight over scraps of food mingled with trash.

What a tale my trash tells until my wife can stand it no longer, and yells!

Something In A Dark Corner

200 words –

The interior lights were all turned off and a sense of something ancient lingered in the room. The lone resident was huddled next to the nearly dead fireplace holding onto a black iron poker. One charred log was still smoldering and a faint trail of smoke slithered into the darkness.

“Come out and show yourself,” the old man said in an unsteady tone tinged with fear.

No sound issued from the dark corner where the old man’s eye’s struggled to see what was lurking there. He sensed a presence. Whatever was in the corner, it was watching him.

Once he fancied he saw two glaring eyes. After standing for hours his legs were getting weak. It wasn’t responding to his repeated question, “What do you want?

Polarized with fear and indecision, the man grew weaker. The black iron poker became too heavy to hold and fell onto the wooden floor with a loud thud.

No response from the dark corner.

A faint light slowly filtered through the curtains bringing a new day. In the yellow glow the corner revealed it’s occupant. A cat on a chair.

But the old man didn’t know that. He was sprawled on the floor, dead.

Sleep Denied

When Morpheus, one of a thousand sons of Somnus couldn’t sleep the rest of the gods were troubled.

Without healing sleep, anger began to creep into casual conversations that turned to fights among the stressed-out gods. Sleep-deprived Zeus shattered the heavens with violent lightning followed by thunder that shook the earth.

Mankind trembled and prayed.

Another son of sleep, Icelos the long serpent, wrapped around Morpheus’s mind and kept him awake speaking of strange things in archaic languages. There seemed to be no hope for him.  

Finally, Thanatos, god of death, called out to Morpheus and offered him eternal sleep.