The Game!

257_pokershuffle-940x626I slid out of the van into the cold dark night. My bravado had faded. I looked down at my high heeled boots and tugged on my ridiculously short skirt in an effort to cover up legs. Why didn’t I wear tight jeans? The effect would have been the same. Larry felt my hesitation. “Come on, you can do this. Too late to turn back now.”

“I know,” I replied, “I’m more worried about Jack than myself, I just feel awkward. I’m not used to dressing this way.”

Larry gave three sharp raps on the graffiti covered door. An eye appeared at the little peephole briefly, and then the door opened. A big guy let us in. He shook hands with Larry. It was one of those weird handshakes that I’m sure meant something. A secret handshake. A guy thing! “This your daughter Larry?”

Larry put his arm around me and said “Seriously, do you think I’d let my daughter go out dressed like this?”

I giggled and kissed his cheek.

“Didn’t think you had it in you old man, enjoy yourself.”

Larry took my hand and squeezed it as we walked a long a dimly lit passageway. Same process at the next door, three raps and then another guy let us in. No handshake this time. He brushed a little to close to me as I passed him by. I shivered! Not sure which made me more nervous, the implication or the cold metal that touched my thigh. I knew one thing for sure, I was going to stick to Larry like glue.

A poker table took up most of the small room. The game had not yet started, but a couple of men were already drinking, preparing for the game. On the far wall there was a small bar. A couple of girls in skirts shorter than mine sat there, well on their way to being drunk or stoned, or both. I didn’t blame them. I guessed what the night had in store for them.

Larry found a seat at the table. As he sat down he slapped me on the butt “Go get yourself a drink honey, I’m going to be busy for a while.” I wanted to slap his face, but it was all part of the act. I bent over and whispered in his ear suggestively “Don’t ever do that again.” No one heard but him, and he laughed and blew me a kiss.

I grabbed a beer from the ice box at the end of the bar and sat down with the two girls. They acknowledged me as I slid onto my stool, but didn’t show much interest in. Probably a good thing. Jack and two the nameless guys entered and took the last three seats at the table, making seven players.

“Okay guys, time to play poker.” This announcement was made by a wiry nerdy looking man who’d been sitting with his back to us when we entered. He looked like and accountant. Huge glasses, short black hair, plain pale face. “Keep the drinks flowing Petal.”

Right on cue the girl next to me slid off her bar stool and took an unopened bottle of whiskey to the table.

When she came back I leaned over to her and said “Hi Petal, I’m Sheila.”

She gave me a weak smile, nothing more.

The door behind me opened. I saw the reaction on Jack’s face and knew it must be Janie. He stood up quickly, almost tipping his chair.

Oh dear god  please don’t give the game away. 

Larry stood up too!

Shit, this isn’t good!

“You OK Pal?” the accountant asked?

You could have heard a pin drop!

“Looking for the bathroom old man?” Larry asked.

Jack recovered quickly. “Yes, don’t want to get up after the game’s started, don’t trust you guys.”

“Through the door at the back, turn right” Larry said as he sat down again.

Janie looked into my eyes briefly and then looked away. Make up barely covered her bruises. Her clothes barely covered her body. The look of fear in her eyes was raw and real. She crossed the room and sat on a chair by the door.

“Meet Rosie, she’s here to please the winner.” the skinny guy said. He leaned back and touched her leg, sliding his hand way too high on her inner thigh. “Rosie is a little wild, but after a few pills she’s a real sweetie. Show us your breasts honey.”

Rosie didn’t move.

“Come on lets play,” Jack said, “I have no time for women.”

“What, you gay old man?”

“No, just want to take your money.”

The game began, Janie looked at me across the room. There was no hope in her eyes, only fear.

 

 

 

Wanna Join my Girls?

I was nervous when I climbed into the front seat of the shabby old van, but I was also excited. As an amateur writer and budding novelist I wrote about
Gilded Lilyall sorts of weird and crazy things, but never anything quite like this. If I survived the night it would certainly give me material for my next novel. What do you mean if you survive the night?

I heard my gran’s voice, she was back at last.

Where have you been?

“I’ve been here, watching over you. You’ve been doing just fine without me.” 

With all of the doors shut and the engine running noisily, it really was an old rust bucket, Larry looked at me.

“Are you ready for this?” He asked.

“As ready as anyone can be.”

“Sheila, you don’t have to do this. We should just call the cops. Larry, let her out.”

There was silence in the van for about ten seconds, eventually broken by a husky voice from the darkness.

“You call the cops man, you’ll never see this girl again. She’ll just disappear. You aint messing with amateurs here. This is serious shit. We’re this girls only chance.”

“How do you know? You don’t know her!”

“I know who owns her. She’s money to him, nothing else. Get the cops involved and she’s worthless. She’ll be sold on, or worse.”

“Why do you care?” Jack asked, “Why do you want to help us?”

“Got a score to settle with this guy. An eye for an eye and all that!”

Larry pulled slowly onto the main road. The old van rattled and shook. I hope we don’t have to make a quick getaway ‘cos this van won’t do it.

We drove through the darkness in silence. It was thirty minutes or so before the skyscrapers of Denver lit up the horizon ahead of us. I should have been scared, but I wasn’t. I felt warm inside. Gran you’re there aren’t you? “Yes hinny, and I brought friends.” 

I closed my eyes and for a brief moment I saw my Gran’s face. Her piercing blue eyes looking into mine. She did indeed have company. I recognized their faces from the locket we’d found in the bar. I looked over my shoulder at Jack. “I think we’ve got company,” I said. He didn’t reply, just sat with his head in his hands. I think he was crying.

 

What happens next? Follow my blog and find out. I’m a budding (late starting) writer. I published my first book ‘Dead of July’ back in 2013. There’s been a gap, where life has been to busy for me to write, but I’m back in the saddle and writing up a storm. Stay with me and enjoy the ride. 

Dead of July – A Ghost Story with a difference

Guns for Hire

1349149576_207110572717748_346456661_nI went to work the following day, but couldn’t concentrate. Dear God let me survive tonight! Honestly, I was more worried about Jack than myself. I spent my teenage years on the wrong side of the track. It’s a wonder I lived to see twenty, but I did. I talked myself out of so many bad situations I couldn’t remember them all, but Jack, well he didn’t look that strong. I left work early, we’d planned to meet Larry, the old guy from the bar, at eight o clock. I wanted to get home and have a couple of hours to myself first. I hoped to get a few words of wisdom from my gran. She had a habit of appearing when I needed her, but she’d been silent for a while now.

I looked at myself in the mirror, not sure dressing like a hooker was a good idea, but I didn’t want to stand out and the only women in a bar we were going to, were working girls. I honked the horn outside Jack’s house. He appeared immediately and we drove to the Stage Coach in silence. We walked through the door to see Larry already waiting for us at the bar. He looked me up and down as I entered, but said nothing. Jack hadn’t noticed my outfit until now. His face told me what he thought.

Larry ordered a round of drinks. He and Jack ordered a shots, I stuck with beer.

“It shouldn’t be too busy tonight, it’s the beginning of the week, but for Gods sake be careful. Be pleasant in a rough sort of way. These folks look after their own and don’t care about anyone else. Women have one use to them and one use only. Sheila, you’re with me. If you have to sit on my lap all night, do it, it’s for your own safety. Giggle a lot and kiss my cheek if you feel like it, but you’re with me. Let them think I bought you for the night.”

Jack ordered another shot, he didn’t like this one bit.

Bonnie looked concerned. I followed her as she cleared tables at the far end of the Saloon. “What do you know about this guy, Larry?” I asked.

“Larry’s a good guy, drinks too much, but he’s OK! I’m not sure if he’ll be able to protect you if things go pear-shaped though. You’re going to a rough bar on East Colfax. Even the cops leave that place alone.”

“We have to do it! We have to try to save this girl. I think we’re her only chance of a normal life.”

The door opened and four guys walked in, they were big and rough-looking, I hadn’t seen them before. Larry raised his arm when he saw them and they pulled out chairs alongside him at the bar. Bonnie went to served them and I went back to my seat.

“I brought reinforcements.” Larry said. “I thought we might need them.”

Jack swallowed another shot, I don’t think it touched the sides as it went down his throat. I smiled and stuck my hand out “I’m Sheila and I’m really glad to see you guys.”

“You don’t need to know our names, in fact its better if you don’t.”

I looked back at the four strangers. They all grinned at me, showing lots of teeth, not all of them white.

“Drinks all round.” Larry said.

Bonnie obliged, then leaned towards me and whispered in my ear. “I feel a whole lot better now.” she tilted her head towards the guy standing closest to me. He had a gun tucked in the back of his jeans.

Guns for hire, I hope they don’t have to use them!

She worked hard for the money

We sat in silence, the car engine idling. “Where did it go? How can a truck just disappear?”

“It was a dark color Jack. All they had to do was pull off the road and switch off the lights and it would just blend into the night. What shall we do?”

“Drive slowly back up the dirt road as far as my house, maybe its prostitute_in_newyorkone of the driveways.”

I did as Jack told me, but worried what we’d do if we actually found it. “If we see the truck what do we do? We don’t know who’s driving it. I’m guessing we’d be no match if it came down to a fight.”  I needn’t have worried. The truck was gone. I pulled up on Jack’s drive way again, thinking we’d maybe wait in his house, hoping she’s find her way back.

“Lets go to the Stagecoach! She’s expecting us to be there.” Jack said.

“Great idea. All of those big burly bikers! They’ll look out for us.”

Jack laughed. “I think the big burly bikers are only weekend visitors. On a week night its full of locals who stop for a drink and a bite to eat on their way home from work.” He was right of course, but at least we’d have witnesses if anything did happen.

There weren’t many cars outside the Saloon when we arrived, but there were a few. Jack and I found a seat at the bar.

“Want anything to eat?” Jack asked.

I shook my head, food was the last thing on my mind.

Bonnie appeared from the kitchen. “Hi, I was thinking of you. Someone was in here earlier asking about a young girl. They showed me a photo. It looked like that girl we saw the other night. The one who lost the pendant. Have you seen anymore of her.”

Jack and I froze!

“Who was looking for her?” Jack asked.

Bonnie looked from me to him. “It was a guy. Maybe in his forties, rough looking. Big! Had a young girl with him, probably late teens. She was bruised up, swollen lip.”

“How long ago?” I asked.

She looked at the clock behind the bar. “Maybe an hour, maybe a little more.”

“Damn!” Jack put his head in his hands.

“Whats the deal” Bonnie asked.

“Long story, but I think the young girl is homeless. We don’t know her story yet. She was living in the old barn. Have you seen this guy before? Would you recognize…..” I didn’t finish my sentence.

“I’ve seen him before!”

I looked around. It was one of the old guys I’d seen many times in the Stagecoach. “He hangs out at a bar on Colfax. Sleazy place. I play poker there every once in a while. Rough place.”

We all looked at him. “Whats the guy do there?”

“Not sure you want to know.”

Jack and I looked at each other. “What now?” I said.

“Could you show us where this place is?” Jack asked.

“I could take you there, but I don’t think you should go alone.”

“Hey guys, think about this.” Bonnie said. “Doesn’t sound like a good place to be.”

“We have to help her. We can’t just turn our backs on her now.”

“Lets call the police!” I said.

“And tell them what? What can we say? We met a stranger, tried to help her and now she’s gone. I don’t think they’ll do anything.”

I said nothing. He ordered a shot of whiskey. I sipped a glass of wine.

The old guy sitting at the bar spoke again. “Do either of you play poker?”

“I do.” Jack said.

“OK, I’ll try to get a game down there tomorrow night. You need to keep your mouth shut though. It’s a rough place. I want to leave by the front door, not feet first in a fucking coffin!”

 

Help ME!

131286-aaa-tests-shine-high-beam-headlight-limitations.2As I walked home, my temples began to throb. Goddam this day! Why don’t I feel good about helping this girl? 

“Give it time!”

It was my Gran’s voice. I was comforted to hear it. Gran who is this girl.? There was no reply. The phone rang as I walked through the front door. I ignored it. After taking a couple of aspirin, I lay down on the sofa and slept. My dreams were a troubled mess of sirens and anxiety. When I finally woke up it was dark and cold. I was disoriented. Where am I?

Looking around, I focused my eyes and thoughts. At home of course. I’d slept for six hours. It was almost time to meet up with Jack and Janie again. Was that really her name? I doubted it. More likely she’d done her research on a poor lonely old man and chosen the name to take advantage him. But why do I feel the presence of his dead wife and daughter?

I washed my face and changed my rumpled clothes. The phone came to life again.

It was Les, “where have you been? I’ve been calling you at work and at home.”

“I stayed home, had an awful nights sleep and just couldn’t face work. I heard the phone ring once here, but I didn’t answer because I was trying to sleep.”

“Once, I rang about six times.”

Maybe the sirens I heard in my dreams was the phone ringing. 

“Well I never heard it.”

“Good news, I will be home this weekend after all. The system isn’t going live until next week.”

“Great,” I said, not sounding the least bit enthusiastic. “Look I’m not feeling well, I’ll call you later.”

I was becoming more agitated by the second. My heart was beating fifty to the dozen. I grabbed my coat, and jumped in the car, almost forgetting to open the garage door before I drove out. Something felt wrong!

Jack’s house was lit up like a beacon, porch light, bedroom lights, and the door stood wide open. As my car crunched along the driveway Jack appeared.

“She’s gone!” he said

“Is anything missing?” I asked without thinking.

He looked hurt. “I didn’t check and I don’t need to. We have to find her.”

“OK, jump in, we’ll go to the barn first.”

“No need, I already checked there, no sign of her.”

I closed my eyes and tried to collect my thoughts. Had she ever really existed? Was she something I’d conjured up? No, Jack has seen her too.

I started to speak, but my words were drowned by the noise of a truck passing by, music blaring from the windows.

“Help me!”

Icy fingers closed around my heart. I looked at Jack.

“Did I imagine that?”

He shook his head and jumped in the passenger seat.

“Go!” He yelled.

 

Dead of July  is my first novel and its available on Amazon for $0.99. It’s set in 1982 in Dortmund, Germany. If you’re enjoying my short blog stories, give it a try.

 

Confusion!

image0012I watched, hypnotized, as Janie and Jack warmed to each other. Janie didn’t say much, but her fear melted away. I became suddenly drowsy, all I wanted to do was sleep. My eyelids were so heavy I could hardly keep them open.

“Are you alright?” Jack asked. “You look exhausted. You can go upstairs and lie down if you want.”

I thought of the voices I’d heard in the bedroom, voices from the past, from the long dead. I wasn’t afraid of them, but I didn’t want to share a room with them. I wanted to be alone. I was tired and confused and I wanted to rest and think. Who was this girl? What was happening. “I’ll go home if it’s all the same to you. I’m tired, didn’t sleep well last night.”

My voice sounded unnatural and distant. It echoed around the room and seemed to hang in the air. Jack wasn’t paying attention anyway. He was focused on his new guest. Did he think she was his daughter? Surely not! His daughter was dead. “Janie do you want to come home with me?” I asked. “You’re more than welcome. You can take a shower and I can find  you some fresh clothes.

She shook her head.

“OK then I’m going.”

Jack walked me to the door. “You know this isn’t your daughter right!” I said, “This is some poor kid living rough, you need to be careful.”

“I know that, but this girl has been sent to me. She’s here to give me a second chance. I know we’re connected somehow. I have to help her. When she’s here I feel Janie, my Janie. I feel Miriam too.”

“Do you hear them or see them?” I asked.

“No I don’t, but I know you do, I’ve seen you looking upstairs. I’ve seen you listening. My family is here and you know it. I wish I could see them too, but I can’t. They are reaching out to me through this girl instead.”

Jack looked unsure of himself, vulnerable. “I don’t know your family Jack, but there is certainly a presence in your home. They’re here for you not me. What if they’re here to warn you about her? Just be careful OK! You know nothing about this girl.”

“I know nothing about you either,” he said, “but I trust you.”

I looked over Jack’s shoulder and saw Janie stand up. She she stood alone in the empty kitchen. A couple of the stairs creaked from the weight of unseen footsteps. A chill passed though my body. Footsteps crunched on the gravel behind me. I turned around, no one was there.

“I’m going home to take a nap, I’ll be back later though, maybe we can grab dinner in the Stagecoach, I’ll drive!”

“Sounds good,” he said, “Stop by around six.”

I walked along the drive way, my legs barely supporting me.

Who is this girl? 

Where did she come from?

What comes next?

 

Janie’s Home

JOY1690.0LJack and I stood still, holding our breath, thinking she’d turn and run at any moment. She kept coming though. When she was a few paces away from us she stopped and looked around frantically as though she’d suddenly remembered something.

“Walk, I’ll follow you,” she whispered.

“Your house or mine?” I asked Jack.

“Mine,” he replied, “It’s closer.”

I wanted to hurry. I wanted to get her inside to safety. She was afraid of something or someone and looked like she could turn and run.

“Do you think she’s in danger?” I asked Jack.

“Not sure, but somethings wrong.”

The footsteps behind us stopped, Jack and I continued walking slowly, hoping we’d hear them again. We did! When we approached Jack’s front door I was smothered with emotion. Not sure what was causing it, but it was overpowering. Maybe it came from Jack’s wife and daughter. Their presence was all around us. It felt good. I stepped onto the porch and turned to gesture Janie into the house ahead of me. She was smiling, her face was glowing. She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. “Mama!” she said.

Jack was already inside and didn’t hear her, but I did.

The wind chimes hanging from the porch, whispered  gently in the breeze. The sound comforted Janie. She looked like a different person as she stepped inside the house. I stood on the porch and watched her walk into the kitchen. She pulled out a chair and sat down as though she’d lived there her whole life.

Jack beckoned me to join them, he was smiling too. “Come on in Sheila. Janie’s home.”

I joined them, greeted by the smell of coffee and fresh bread.

“Mama brought me here,” Janie said, “She brought me home.”

Janie clutched the locket to her heart. “Mama and Granmama.”

 

The Girl in the Bushes!

pine trees“This photo doesn’t look odd to you?” I asked.

“No, it’s faded, but it’s as familiar to me as the day I took it. So much love, so much happiness.”

I handed the locket to him, “Here, it’s yours Jack, I’ve a feeling I was supposed to give it to you anyway.”

He took the locket from me without looking, his eyes focused on something over my shoulder. I made to turn around.

“No, don’t move, just keep talking to me, I don’t want to alarm her. She’s not hiding anymore, she’s watching us.”

Jack smiled and raised his arm in a wave, “I don’t want to hurt you,” he said.

I turned around slowly. The girl was closer, and no longer hiding, but she didn’t move. “Hey, I’m Sheila, I saw you in the Stagecoach the other night. You left something behind.”

Jack held up the locket, “Is this yours?”

She still didn’t move, just watched us from a distance. Although there was no breeze the bushes around her rustled and moved. She turned her head as though she was listening to someone close by.

“Jack, do you feel that?”

“Yes,” he answered, “what is it?”

The dead January grass moved in front of us, as though making a pathway to the girl. “Someone is showing us the way,” I replied.

He took a step forward, the young girl tensed, ready to run. Jack stood still again.

She cocked her head to the side, listening to words only she could hear, and then relaxed again.

I took two steps forward, Jack followed. We stood still for a few seconds and waited, expecting the girl to bolt. She didn’t.

“Come on Jack,” I whispered, “lets keep going.”

Slowly and carefully we walked forward until we were close enough to see her face. Her eyes were huge and frightened, her hair matted, straw on her clothes from sleeping in the barn. She was painfully thin, her well-worn clothes hanging on her body.

The world around us became silent, the air still, almost like we were in a vacuum. We were in the eye of the storm.

Finally Jack spoke.

“I think someone sent you to find me.”

He held his hand out, the open locket lying in his palm. “Did you lose this? It belonged to my daughter. I don’t think you knew her because she died long ago. Did someone give this to you?”

She darted forward a couple of steps and snatched the locket out of his hand. I expected her to run, but she didn’t, she backed away a few paces and then looked at Jack, and then at me.

“Why are you living in a barn?” I asked

She looked down at the ground, as though ashamed.

“Are you hungry?”

She looked up at me and nodded.

“Come with us, just for a hot meal, you need to eat.”

“Do you have a name?” Jack asked.

“Janie!” she whispered and then turned and ran.

Jack stared after her as she disappeared into the barn.

“Janie,” he whispered, “My Janie!”

****************************************

My First Novel is available on Amazon.

Dead of July – A Novel by Sandra Thompson

 

Homeless and on the Run!

old barn

The barn door only opened a couple of feet. It was hanging precariously off its hinges, the bottom wedged on the uneven ground. The light that flooded the barn came from a window at the far side, a window that had been covered with boards the last time I visited.

“Looks like someone left in a hurry,” I said, “They smashed the boards from the window to escape.”

“Look at that.”

Jack pointed to a bundle of clothes on the floor under the open window. It was neatly folded and tied with string.

Next to the clothes was a plastic grocery bag bulging with empty water bottles and candy wrappers and a flashlight, which was still turned on.

“Doesn’t look like they have a very healthy diet. Why would they need a flashlight, it’s not dark in here?”

Nothing moved in the barn, whoever had been there was gone, but only just. We’d scared them away. As I looked around, Jack walked to the window. Without turning around he beckoned me and quietly said. “Someone’s watching us. Don’t scare her away.”

I walked to the window slowly and casually looked outside. “Do you see someone?” I asked.

“Yup, over to the left, by the scrub oak, behind the old trailer.” I didn’t move my head, but moved my eyes to see what he was talking about.

Even from a distance I could see it was the young girl from the Saloon!

Jack knew it, “It’s the girl who left the locket isn’t it?”

“Yes, we need to talk to her.”

“I think we’ll scare her away if we try to talk to her now. She needs to see us leave before she comes back for her clothes.”

Jack turned his back to the window, I backed away from it a few paces. The young girl inched out of her hiding place, but only a little.

“Come on.” Jack said, “Lets walk back to the road.”

“What if we lose her?”

“We won’t.”

“How can you be so sure?” I asked.

“Janie’s here!”

“What?”

“Whenever I’m with you I feel Miriam or Janie. This time it’s Janie, my daughter. She’s tied to this girl somehow and with your help, she drawing us together.”

“Jack I don’t feel anything right now. I’m in an old barn, watching a girl I saw in the Saloon, but I don’t feel anything.”

I followed him out of the barn, confused, but trusting his judgment. When we crossed the field and got to the dirt road he stopped and held his hand out to me.

“Look at this. I didn’t put it in my pocket, but here it is.”

The locked lay in the palm of his hand. It popped open in front of my eyes. I gasped. The photos had changed again.

“Look at the photos.”

Jack looked down at the locked and smiled. “Yes, Janie and Miriam.”

“Don’t you see what I see?”

He shook his head confused. He didn’t see a young girl with matted hair and sad eyes. That image was reserved for me.

 

This story is almost over. I hope you enjoyed reading it. I have many more short stories and novels up my sleeve. Some are waiting to be written. One is already available to purchase on Amazon for $0.99. Give it a try. Dead of July – eBook on Amazon.

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