Mystery and Crime Fiction posted April 25, 2019 Chapters: 1 -2- 3 


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Makai gets blackmailed

A chapter in the book Umatilla

Bug

by Brett Matthew West


CAST OF CHARACTERS:

Makai - Narrator (The correct pronunciation of his name rhymes with pie. Makai is a popular Hawaiian name that means seaward)
Edna Whitehurst - proprietor of the Rinalta Movie Theatre
George Olson - VW Beetle driver
Ryan Mooney - a boy Makai claims he is going to visit
Doctor Lamfort - Makai's doctor
Mel Carver - Owner of Carver's Merchantile


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LAST TIME:

Nothing, and I do mean nothing, could prepare our little town for what transpired. Pots of gold are not always found at the ends of rainbows.


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I glanced over at the marquee in front of the Rinalta Theatre to see if a new movie was playing there yet. Nope, it was still a Harry Potter flick. And yes, we'd all seen it at least three times.

Many nights patrons would complain, "The same ole show every day is boring!"

The proprietor of the cinema, Edna Whitehurst's pat response as the cash register rang again for another ticket sale was, "I only change movies once a month."

She never explained why. Somehow the place was packed about every night. I guess there's not a whole lot to do for entertainment in a small town.

A dust devil pirouetted down the middle of Braxton Street. These weren't common weather events in Umatilla. But, generated by a swirling wind, formed from time to time.

George Olson drove up in his chartreuse VW Beetle. The car's color resembled a pale apple. George lived by himself, with his tiger-striped cat Roxie, in a dilapidated one-bedroom trailer on First Avenue. I often wondered if he had a limp wrist? I'd never seen him with a woman and not much of anyone talked to him in town. I didn't like him, or his devious eyes, and hoped he'd pass me by.

To my regret, George stopped his car and rolled the window down. Isn't that the way things go when you're in a hurry to get some place you need to be?

Making small talk he asked, "Where are you headed, Makai? Most of the time, I see you munching on a dust-covered ice cream cone somewhere."

True, I did like my chocolate Bluebell ice cream, and knew I needed to think of a lie and think of one quick, or talking to George would become a lengthy exercise in futility. Another character trait George possessed was being a busybody who'd rat on a youngster in a heartbeat.

Needing a haircut, I brushed long blond bangs out of my eyes and responded, "I'm going over to Ryan Mooney's house. He got a new Lab puppy and wanted me to come pet it. Then, we might shoot some hoops," I shifted my weight from one foot to the other.

George noticed the slingshot in my pocket. "You boys be careful you don't put your eyes out with all your dad-blamed shooting," he warned. His remark was gruff.

I didn't bother to tell him what I said meant we might get up a game of basketball. Let the old codger believe what he wanted to as long as he left me alone doing whatever he did. That's when George observed the Harley parked in front of the courthouse.

"I wonder what no good that troublemaker is up to this time?" he sneered through his teeth. "He never could leave well enough be."

Before I could speak, George rolled his window up in a huff and drove away. The car's engine sputtered. A grey plume of exhaust billowed from the tailpipe and rolled up around the dented rear bumper. He'd backed into a post at the VFW a week ago.

I reckoned George headed to the Chevron on the corner of Petunia and Pike to purchase lottery tickets. He won just often enough to acquire them when he received his weekly welfare check. No doubt he'd also buy a case of Miller Lite beer.

The fish bragged to whoever listened, "One is always too much and twelve ain't ever enough."

Marlboro Red's were his other treasures. These he smoked like a chimney on steroids, inhaling one right after the other. Is there any wonder he smelled like a dirty ashtray?

After George departed, I sped over to Carver's Merchantile. I climbed the three steps leading up to the business in a single bound. An antique Coca-Cola vending machine stood like a lone beacon in the far corner of the wooden porch that fronted the establishment. A loose plank raised between me and the prize I sought. The trip hazard needed to be nailed down. A hammer would resolve that problem.

This self-respecting barefooted boy did not want to stub his toe on the beam. That would hurt! Then, it'd be tetanus shot here I come. Hypodermic needles and I weren't the best of friends. Doctor Lamfort would vouch for that. He'd doctored me from the day he delivered me with Epsom salt, a little iodine, and an occasional Band-Aid.

The Coca-Cola machine had seven slots for bottles to roll down into whenever the one before it was bought. They only cost fifty cents. Once, when I noticed no one on the street, through my ambidextrous finagling, I filched a bottle out of the machine without paying for it. I wasn't as clever, or sneaky, as I thought I was. Mel Carver, the shop's keeper caught me red-handed.

Stern, he told me, " Makai, you know better. I should report your shenanigans to the hogger and let him handle this situation in his own special way. But, I'm not going to do that."

"You're not?" I asked in surprise and a bit of relief. I knew what the hogger's consequences of my illegal activities would be.

"No, I am not. Instead, you and I are going to have our own agreement and settle this theft between us. Two days a week you'll come into the shop and sweep the floor, stock the shelves, throw away empty boxes from the storeroom, or do whatever chores I need done. In return, you can help yourself to as many sodas as you want," Mel told me.

Put that way, I didn't have any alternative. Now when I have a powerful thirst, I can quench my desires without any fear of repercussions.

"Okay, I'll do it," I accepted Mel's offer.

"This will be our little secret and the hogger won't have to find out," Mel assured me.

I whiffed blackmail. Three months into our agreement, Tuesdays after school, and Saturdays when I have a boatload of free time on my hands, are the days I fulfill my obligation to Mel. The little bit of pocket money Mel provides me also keeps me coming back.

With a bottle of soda in hand, I raced over to the basement window of the courthouse. I wanted to watch the hogger in action.

(TO BE CONTINUED)



If you have not read Chapter One you may not understand a lot of what this chapter is about. To read that chapter, click on the blue number 1 above.








Local Bug, by Mr Jones, selected to complement my story.

So, thanks Mr Jones, for the use of your picture. It goes so nicely with my story.

Mr Jones is not a nit. He did not place a period after Mr and neither did I.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by Mr Jones at FanArtReview.com

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