Thursday, February 21, 2019

The Wedding Dress Curse


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Oh mom, this is beautiful,” remarked Gigi as she held the wedding dress out.

Your grandmother was given that dress by the woman she worked for. She wore it at her wedding, and I wore it at mine.”

I'd love to wear it at my wedding,” replied Gigi.

There's something you should know about this dress.”

Something good?”

No, something not so good. The dress is cursed. Bad things happen to those who wear it, or should I say, bad things happen to the husband of those who wear it.”

Really? Like what?”

The woman who gave your grandmother this dress did so because she couldn't stand to see it hanging in her wardrobe. She had wore it at her wedding. For their honeymoon, they had booked a cruise ...on the Titanic. When the ship went down, it took her new husband with it.

The woman made it home, but was never the same. When your grandmother told her she was getting married, the woman gave her the dress as a gift.

She married an enlisted man who was sent overseas. One month later she found out she was pregnant, with me. She sent word to her new husband thinking he would be thrilled. She received a letter back asking her for a divorce. He had met a young French girl and was madly in love with her. My mother was devastated.

I first saw the dress when I was about your age. I was engaged to your father at the time. We didn't have much and the dress was beautiful. I wore it at my wedding. Your father and I were so in love. We hadn't been married for more than two months when one day I received a knock at the door. It was a police officer. Your father had been hit by a bus. He was dead.

I was pregnant with you. I put the dress in this trunk and it's been in the attic ever since. It's cursed. I should have thrown it away years ago. I would advise you not to wear it.”

I still want to try it on. I want to see if I can fit into it,” replied Gigi.

Gigi was amazed that it fit her perfectly. “I know you think it's cursed, but I think it's beautiful and I don't believe in curses. I'm going to wear it at my wedding.”

She did look beautiful in it, so against her mothers better judgment she allowed her to wear it.

Two months after the wedding Gigi's husband was killed in a workplace accident. The dress was thrown into the garbage. The garbage man retrieved it and gave it to the Goodwill.

Not long after, a young girl saw it hanging on display. “Oh my God, mom. It's beautiful.”

It sure is dear, I think you should wear it at your wedding.”

They bought the dress and took it home.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Glass of San Sebastian


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

The horse drawn wagon rolled into the small village and up to the little church under construction. Several workers walked out to meet it and its precious cargo. It carried a very old stained glass window all the way from France. It was a gift from an old friend of the new pastor.

As the cargo was being unloaded, the pastor told the men a story about the new window.

When I was a young boy I was a shepherd. I had my own flock that I would graze in front of the remains of a stone church. It was very old and had been burned by the enemies of Gods word. The roof was gone, the walls were crumbling and all the windows were missing. Still, I would always walk inside and say a small prayer thanking God for the safety of my flock.

The owner of the land befriended me. We kept in touch over the years, even after I grew older and moved away to study my vocation at a far off mission. After I had received my cloth and was sent to this small village, my friend contacted me.

He knew we were building this church and informed me that many years ago he had found this very window carefully buried beneath the floor within the crumbling walls of the old church. The pastor had removed it and hidden it from those who wanted it. He refused to tell them where it was. They destroyed the building and killed him because of his silence.”

Why did these men want this window?” Asked one of the workers.

The window was said to have certain qualities about it. Many believed it had miraculous powers. These men thought they could use these powers for their own evil purposes. I haven't seen the window myself. Lets unpack it and have a look.”

When they removed it from the crate, they all marveled at the beauty and craftsmanship of the glass. It was the image of the Son of God, standing next to the Tree of Life. The noonday sun shone brightly upon the glass. It was indeed beautiful.

Everyone from the village came to admire their new crown jewel.

That evening, one of the workers sat alone within the walls of the new church and gazed upon the colorful glass. Then something moved. He wiped his eyes and stared back at the window. Again, the Son of God turned his head to look directly at him. The worker became frightened. He superstitiously made the sign of the cross, hoping it would protect him from anything evil.

He quickly left the building and went directly to the pastor to tell him what he had seen.

This is the very reason the window was saved,” replied the pastor. “Consider yourself blessed. Very few people will see this miracle.”

Over the years the “Glass of San Sebastian” became well known. The little village prospered as a result.

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Leo and Cleo: Leo on the Lam


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Leo the cat was relaxing on Rita's lap when they were rudely interrupted by a knock at the door. She carried Leo with her as she got up to see who it was. Leo could see who it was through the door's glass. “Oh no,” he thought. “It's...the fat woman from down the street where Brutus lives. She's going to try to squeeze me. I need to get the hell out of here fast.”

Rita answered the door. “Well hello Chloris. How are you today?”

Why I'm just fine, thank you. I was wondering if... oh my goodness, is that Leo? Can I hold him. I wish he and Brutus got along better.”

Fat chance in hell,” thought Leo.

Rita started to hand Leo to Chloris. “Good God in heaven. Don't do it. Maybe if I go limp I can slide out of her arms.”

As Chloris grabbed Leo he hung from her hands like a limp dishrag. She pulled him close to her overly plump bosom and sucked him in tight. “I just love this cat.”

Leo couldn't take it. He sprang to life and sunk his claws into her chest as he pushed away. The woman screamed and let him go. Leo ran for his life. He went through the cat door and kept going to the field next door where he hid under a bush.

His friend, Gunther, saw Leo streak by. “What's up, Leo?” asked Gunther. “You look like you've seen a ghost.”

Worse. The fat lady got her hands on me.”

Ooo, that's bad”

That ain't the half of it. I'm sure I scratched her trying to get away.”

Oh, that's real bad. Brutus is going to be on the prowl for you.”

As they talked, they could see Chloris leave the house and head toward home. It only took a few minutes before they spotted Brutus heading their way.

Oh shit, here he comes,” remarked Leo.

Don't worry, Leo. I have your back.”

Me too,” came a voice from behind. It was Cleo. “The fat lady was bleeding and crying when she left the house. You got her good.”

Maybe she'll know better than to squeeze me next time.”

Brutus made a bee line for Leo. “I hear you clawed the woman I live with. I'm gonna rip you a new one just like you did her, only worse.”

Gunther and Cleo stepped up next to Leo. “You're going to have to take on all three of us then you big bully.” replied Cleo.

Brutus backed down. “You ain't getting off the hook forever, Leo. Watch your back 'cuz I'll be stalking you.” Brutus sprayed the nearby bushes and walked off.

You two want to back me up when I go home,” asked Leo.

No way buddy. You're on your own with Rita.” Gunther and Cleo walked off.

Leo decided to postpone the inevitable. He spent the afternoon hunting for a mouse.

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.


Monday, February 18, 2019

The Bench


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

He sat on the bench down close to the water. It was his bench. He had claimed it. At least for now. If he got off the bench, it would be up for grabs. That was OK. That's the way it worked. But for now the bench was his.

Most people ignored him as they walked by. Kids on bikes and skateboards whizzed passed without giving him a second thought. He was invisible to them all. Just a dirty, raggedy old man who had fallen through the cracks of society.

No home, no friends, no money. No chance of climbing out of the dirty cellar. He spent his days picking through dumpsters looking for food mainly. Every so often he would come across something good, like a piece of clothing that fit him, or a bottle or can worth a nickel or a dime.

He gladly accepted handouts whenever they were offered. Money was always good. Real food like a fresh hamburger or a burrito was a real treat. They didn't come along that often though. Mostly he just picked through dumpsters.

He did recall a time not too long ago when he was walking along a downtown street. He came across an old upright piano. It had been set on the sidewalk hoping someone would stop and play it. He watch for a time as several people plucked at the keys. Most couldn't play more than a crude rendition of chopsticks. What a waste of a good piano.

He recalled the years of lessons his mother had given him. She was a player in her time. Gone now, up to heaven and the great beyond. He had gotten pretty good. He even played keyboards with a band for awhile. The booze finally got to him. It was a slow miserable downhill slide. Hard for most of his friends to watch. They tried to help, bless their hearts. He was just more than they could handle. He eventually slid out of their lives and out onto the street where he remained to this day.

He couldn't hold it in any longer. The urge was too great. He wandered up to the piano. Ran his hand across the top. Caressed the ivory from one end to the other without making a sound. Positioned himself on the crude bench and lost himself in his music for a time. He didn't know how long he played. When he came back to his senses he realized there were people standing all around him, clapping. Someone had put a jar on the piano and it was filling up with change and even dollar bills.

He was moved to tears. For a moment he regretted his life. Regretted the hurt he had caused so many. Regretted what he had become. Everyone moved on when he stopped. He took the money and bought himself a decent meal and a bottle of good scotch.

He laid down. The bench kept him off the ground. Tonight it was his.

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

An Unsuspected Shark


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Jack Gilbert and his friends played poker on Tuesday nights. They had played regularly for several years. Whenever they got tired of trading their own money between themselves, they would invite some poor sucker to sit in with them. They would gang up on him all night long and when the poor guy went home broke, they would split what they took from him.

One evening as the men were playing, the conversation came around to a new couple who had recently moved to town. It was decided that Jack would find out if the guy played poker. If so, they would invite him to sit in on their game.

Jack found his opportunity one day when he ran into the guy at the local hardware store. The man's name was Bert. During their brief conversation, Jack asked if he was a poker player. Bert told Jack that he had played a time or two, but he wasn't all that good.

Jack invited him to sit in on their game some evening. He let Bert know that the buy in was one hundred dollars. Bert agreed to think about it.

Bert's wife, Doris, happened to be friends with the wife of one of the other men. She had heard that Jack had invited Bert to sit in on a game. She warned Doris about how the men would try to fleece Bert. Doris thanked the woman for her warning.

That evening Doris informed Bert about what she had been told. “Sounds like I need to sit in on this game,” replied Bert.

The following Tuesday Bert showed up at Jack's house and met the rest of the players. They assured him it was a friendly game. Bert assured them that he was prepared to lose what money he had brought with him, and not to hold back on his account. They all agreed they would play to win.

Within the first hour, Jack and the boys let Bert win a few hands in order to build his confidence. As the evening progressed, Bert showed a little spunk and won a couple of nice pots. Jack and the boys decided it was time to start cleaning up on ol' Bert. They took the next couple of hands taking Bert back to what he had when he started.

Bert decided he was done fooling around with this group of amateurs who thought they could clean him out and split the winnings. For the next two hours he played like the shark he really was. When all was said and done, Jack and the boys were tapped out. Bert had taken all their money.

Why do I get the impression we've been had,” remarked Jack.

Because you have,” replied Bert. “I've been a professional player for the past five years. I heard how you boys played. Looks like your plan backfired tonight. Next time think twice about who you invite to your table.”

Bert scooped up his winnings and went home.

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

A Hunters Dream


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Oscar Welsh was elk hunting high in the coast range of Oregon. It was an area he was familiar with as he had taken several elk from these woods over the years. It was his third time out this season and he hadn't seen more than a few scattered piles of scat. This year was shaping up to be a lean one.

It was late afternoon. Oscar planned to make camp for the evening and work his way back to his vehicle the next day. He found a likely spot and set up a small tent, then began searching for dry wood to make a fire when he came across what looked like the tip of an airplane wing under a stand of tall fir trees.

He looked up, and even though the light of day was almost gone, he could just make out what seemed like a small plane lodged among the branches of the trees about fifty feet above his head. It was getting too dark to do anything about it. In the morning he would find a way to get to the plane and see if there were any remains or identification he could relay to the authorities.

The following morning Oscar had forgot about hunting. He had other things on his mind. He rigged a rope into the tree and worked his way up to the first branches. From there he had to free climb the rest of the way.

Once he reached the plane he had to be careful not to dislodge it. The last thing he wanted was to have it drop to the ground. He carefully worked his way around to the cockpit and peeked inside. The remains of the pilot were still there. It looked like he had been there for awhile as it was mostly clothing on bare bones. He suspected the plane may have been on a drug smuggling run and ran into some bad weather.

In the back of the plane were some small packages which pretty much confirmed his suspicion. The fuselage had protected them from the weather. His curiosity had gotten the best of him and he felt like it was safe enough to climb in and retrieve one, which he did.

Written on the package was 100k. He opened it and almost fell out of the plane when he realized it wasn't drugs, but money. 100K labeled the package as one hundred thousand dollars.

By the end of the day, Oscar had stuffed his backpack with all the packages of money. He left the packages that contained what he figured was cocaine. His pack held a little over two million dollars. He made camp one more night, then hiked out in the morning. He knew no one would be looking for the plane, so he didn't bother to tell anyone about it.

Oscar retired early He gave up hunting and now spends his winters enjoying his new sport, snorkeling off the coasts of different tropical islands.

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Friday, February 15, 2019

The Devil Runs the Show


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Eddie Hardy sat in his music studio sipping a cold beer while his manager tried to talk some sense into his stubborn head.

Eddie, you can't keep saying the things you say on stage. Just go out there and play. People don't want to hear this crap. They just want to hear your music. You're at the top of the charts right now. Don't blow it with all of this satanic nonsense you've been spewing lately.”

It's not nonsense, Jake, and you know it. The music industry in in the pocket of satanists and devil worshipers. Half the musicians I know are involved and the other half are being pressured to do the same. Me included. I'm not playing that game.”

The thing is, Eddie. None of them are talking about it.”

Sure they are. You hear it.”

But they're not talking about it on stage like you. Record labels will blacklist you if you don't shut your mouth. Keep it up and you'll be selling encyclopedias for a living.”

Jake, I ain't worried about it and you shouldn't be either. The controversy can only do me good. People are talking. Isn't that what we want? To be talked about?”

Only if it's in a good way and this ain't it. I'm telling you. Knock it off or you may be found dead from an 'accidental' overdose or a successful suicide attempt one of these days. It's not like it hasn't happened before, and you know exactly what I'm talking about.”

I don't do drugs and I'm not about to kill myself.”

The conversation was interrupted by a knock at the door. When Jake answered it, he was asked to leave. Jake didn't argue. He left Eddie and the stranger alone. The stranger leaned against the studio's control panel. “Do you know who I am?”

No, why don't you tell me.” quipped Eddie.

I'm the man who wants to own you. Follow after my organization and I'll make you a mega star. Keep talking trash about me and you'll suffer the consequences.”

What organization are you talking about?” Eddie knew. He just wanted to hear him say it.

You said it yourself on more than one occasion. Half the music industry has agreed to the terms. Now it's your turn.”

Like hell it's my turn. Pardon the pun. Get out of my studio. I'll never sell my soul to this industry. What I do is my game, not yours.”

I'm real sorry to hear that, Eddie. Real sorry.” The stranger left the studio.

Eddie didn't know what to think. The stranger had unnerved him. When Jake came back into the room, he seemed to be a changed man. He was calm and told Eddie everything would be alright. He pulled a small electronic device from his pocket and touched Eddie with it. Eddie grabbed at his chest and slumped in his chair.

Sorry Eddie, Game over.”

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Making of a Valentine


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Their paths first crossed in a small Oregon town. The local theater was playing Coal Miner's Daughter. She worked the concession stand. He was hired as a doorman. His boss told him not to flirt with the girls, but he paid him no mind.

His attention went toward others, but his eye was always on her. She was dating another so he kept his distance. She didn't. Soon they were dating each other, but it was short lived. She abruptly broke it off and married her former lover. He was devastated.

He left the theater and found full time work as a carpenter. He thought about her from time to time and wondered if she ever thought of him. One day, by chance, they ran into each other. Seems they frequented the same local laundromat. They small talked while her laundry ran through the dry cycle. He helped her fold her sheets. They parted company. He realized that deep down inside, he still missed her.

Several months had passed when one evening his phone rang. He answered it and she was on the line. Her marriage had fallen apart and she needed someone to talk to. He was thrilled that she had called him. They talked for awhile and decided to meet. Soon they started dating again. He was in love. They soon moved in together but it was too fast for her and the arrangement was short lived. She moved back to her parents house. Once again, he was devastated.

She wanted to keep seeing him. He was wary, but love is a funny thing and his feelings for her were too strong, so he agreed. This time they moved much slower. In its own time, love blossomed, the stars aligned and they once again lived under one roof.

They married on a Friday afternoon. It was a simple ceremony at the county courthouse. Within the year, they moved to Southern Idaho where they worked together in a potato factory making french fries. After several years she grew homesick, so they moved back to Oregon where they raised two children. Both boys. The kids grew up fast, or so it seemed. They were good kids. Handsome and talented. Both went on to college and became successful in their chosen fields.

They both started lives of their own and soon the nest was empty. The two had a chance to deepen their relationship. They did some traveling. They reconnected with each other. They laughed.

After thirty-eight years they're still together and still in love. Like most relationships, they've had their share of ups and downs and weathered many storms. The path may not have been straight or easy, but they took it together, always managing to keep their wits about them and their heads above water.

After they retired, they moved to a warmer climate where to this day they remain deeply in love and live an idyllic life. They are growing old together and living life... happily ever after.

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

A Bad Day for Billy West


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Billy West was an nine year old punk. His parents gave him a long leash and he freely roamed the city where he lived. He spent time hanging around the downtown area where he could shoplift from several stores. He was good at stealing candy, but every so often he would grab a piece of merchandise and sell it to an older kid for some change. Billy was all about getting his hands on some money.

One day as he was hanging out at a department store, an old lady approached him. “Excuse me young man. Are you here with your mother?” she asked.

No” Billy stubbornly replied.

I could use some help,” she continued. Pointing to a couple of shopping bags on the floor. “I have to take these bags home and I'm too old to carry them by myself. You seem like a nice young boy, would you be willing to help me?

No,” he replied. He started to leave when the old lady upped the ante.

I'll give you two dollars?”

Billy stopped short. “Two dollars, Really? All I have to do is help you get these bags to your house?”

That's right. I do have to take the bus for a couple of blocks, but only because I can't walk that far. I'll pay your fare.”

Even at eight, Billy was street smart. Something didn't seem right. The old lady looked funny and he didn't like the idea of riding the bus with her. “I don't know if I want to do that,” he replied.

I know I'm asking a lot,” she replied. “How about if I give you three dollars? One now and two more when we get to my house.”

Three dollars was more than Billy could turn down, so against his better judgment he agreed.

The bus ride was further away than the old lady had said. When they got to the house she invited Billy in so she could give him his two dollars. Billy was reluctant, but he had gone this far and he wanted the money, so he went in.

Once inside, the old lady closed and locked the door. She pulled off her wig revealing the fact that she was really a man. Billy tried to run but the man grabbed him. “Not as smart as you think, are you?”

Billy began to scream, but the man muffled him, then slapped him on the side of the head and told him to shut up.

Just then, the front door burst open. Several police officers stormed into the house and wrestled the man to the floor. Seems Billy wasn't the first kid to fall for this mans ploy. They had the house under surveillance.

Are you OK, son?” Asked one of the officers.

Billy tried to answer through a veil of tears, but couldn't.

Let's call your parents. Today's your lucky day.”

Billy agreed. It was a day that changed him forever.

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Retribution


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Good God man, what went on here?” Alex Sweet was in a state of bewilderment bordering on all out shock. The two men at his side were slack-jawed. They had never seen such a thing as this. Their law offices had been brutally ransacked.

It was more than a typical burglary. Everything from the file cabinets to the wall hangings were emptied, torn apart and thrown down. Drawers were removed from the desks, computers were in the salt water fish tank. The glass was broken and the water had drained onto the floor. Exotic fish were flopping around in an inch of water at the bottom of the tank. The curtains were torn from the windows and ripped to shreds.

The three men climbed over the debris field looking for any sort of clue. “Check the computers,” ordered Alex. They were pulled from the tank and as Alex had feared, the hard drives were missing.

It was Monday morning. The office thrashing could have happened at any time over the weekend. Alex called the police to see if they could come up with anything. Before they showed, Alex thought of the security cameras around the building. Maybe the tapes would give him a clue. The men took a look before the police arrived. The one camera that might have showed them something had had a sign in front of the field of view. It had one word, “Retribution”.

Retribution? Retribution for what?” Questioned Alex.

One of the other men chimed in. “We are divorce Attorneys. We represent clients whose spouses can get pretty upset. Maybe this is someones revenge?”

You may be right,” replied Alex. “We'll let the police sort this out.”

Alex Sweet knew better. He knew exactly why this had happened, but he wasn't letting on.

It was one month ago he had borrowed money from Jerry”Big Boy” Lemming. He was a local hood with a few connections trying to make a name for himself in the town's loansharking business. It was a short term loan that was to be paid back with interest over a week ago. Big Boy had warned Alex, but he had shrugged it off, telling him he'll have his money in a couple of days. Alex gave Big Boy a threat of his own, telling him he had enough evidence to put him behind bars if he tried anything stupid.

It was a threat Big Boy wasn't ready to accept. He had the offices thrashed and the computer's hard drives removed hoping to get his hands on any evidence in Alex's possession. Now it was Alex Sweets turn to respond.

The following day Jerry Big Boy Lemming was killed by police officers as they raided his office in the back of the Tic Tac Saloon. Alex walked in just before Big Boy died. “Retribution”, was all he said as he stood over Lemming. He looked over at the officer in charge. “He thought he had connections. He didn't have squat.”

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Monday, February 11, 2019

An Altered Reality


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Chad Marley had special powers. He didn't realize it until he was in his teens. As a youngster, his classmates thought he was a little weird. Even Chad thought so, but that was before he realized his latent abilities.

They came to light one day when his parents were in another one of their heated arguments. He sat on the couch in the same room, listening to the insults being flung at each other. He knew he needed to get out, so he did what he so often wanted to do but was never quite able to accomplish. He shrank himself down to a pint sized image of himself and then made himself invisible.

It was easier than he had ever thought possible. He walked right past his parents and they never even knew he had left the room.

This is great,” he thought. “I can do this any time I like. Whenever I get into a situation that starts to stress me out, all I have to do is shrink and become invisible.”

Chad used his new found ability every chance he got. All he would have to do is say, I'm out of here, snap his fingers and he would shrink down in size, then disappear from sight. Most people pretended like it didn't happen. They didn't want to acknowledge the fact that he had special powers and they didn't.

One day during a class assembly, Chad decided to play a trick with the speaker on the stage. As the guest was speaking, Chad made himself invisible and walked up on the stage. He started messing with the guy. Poking at him and rumpling his papers.

Something must have went wrong with his invisibility powers because a couple of the teachers grabbed him and removed him from the stage. He wasn't very happy with the way that turned out. He kept questioning them about how it was that they could see him. He wanted to figure it out so he could improve on his ability. He didn't want that happening again.

On graduation day, Chad decided to make himself invisible and sit on the stage with the school administrators. He thought it would be great fun. Security didn't think so.

Chad decided that authority figures had the unique ability to see him. He needed to figure out how to fix that.

One day he found himself in an unfamiliar building. There were others in the room with him. They seemed different. Like they had mental issues or something. Chad knew he had to get out, so he made himself invisible and headed for the door.

~~~~

Two interns stood in the corner of the room monitoring the patients. It was the first day on the job for one of them. “See that guy there? The one heading for the door? That's Chad, He's been lost in a dream for a couple of years now. He thinks he's still in high school and he can make himself invisible.”

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

A Bail-in Dress Rehearsal


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

It was Friday. Tom Stanford stood at the ATM machine outside his bank. It wasn't working. The screen was flashing an out of service message. He decided to go inside for his money, but was surprised when the door unexpectedly didn't open. He looked at his watch. “It's only 2 o'clock,” he thought. “What gives.”

The bank's security guard stood on the other side of the door. “Are you closed?” Asked Tom.

The guard replied without opening the door. “Yes, we're closed,” was all he said.

Why?”

The guard pointed to his phone. “Check the bank's website. It'll explain.”

Tom had a bad feeling about this. “Was his bank in trouble and this was part of the dreaded “Bail-in” process?” Tom went back to his car and pulled out his phone. “They better not be taking my money,” he thought as he looked up the banks site.

There was a notice on their home page. Due to technical difficulties with our computer system, all branches, nation-wide, are closed for the day. We should have the situation resolved soon. If you wish to make a deposit, you may do so at any branch. Unfortunately, withdraws are not possible at this time. Have a nice weekend.

Have a nice weekend??? You've got to be kidding me. They have my money and I can't get at it.” Tom was fuming.

Another customer walked up to the door. By now, the guard had taped a notice to the glass. The customer began to bang on the door, screaming. “You have my money and I want it.”

Soon, several others had read the notice. Most were in a panic. Except for one older man.

You don't seem too excited about the bank being closed,” commented Tom.

Why should I be?” He replied. “The notice says they'll be open again on Monday. I don't have any reason to believe otherwise. Besides, It's not our money locked up in there, it's theirs.”

What do you mean it's theirs? I made the deposit with my money. They're holding it for me in my account, right?”

Wrong,” replied the gentleman. “What you did was loan your money to the bank for them to use as they see fit. They keep track of how much you've loaned them and give you a pittance of interest in return. The interest proves that you loaned them your money. You can ask for your money back, but it's to their discretion as to whether you get it or not. You should have read the fine print when you opened your account. Your signature told them you were willing to play their game.”

A woman overhearing the conversation chimed in. “I think this is a test to see how we'll react to a real bank shutdown. Their conditioning us for the real thing.”

Tom didn't like what he was hearing. On Monday morning he closed his account. From now on, he would be his own banker.

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

The Man From Piney Woods


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

He came out of East Texas. The Red River area, land of the piney woods. His roots were well established in the deep South, Louisiana bayou country. Some considered East Texas an extension of that area. He had made his way into Texas five years ago. Now he was heading further west, looking for adventure.

His name was Tyler Jones. He was the wondering type. Never satisfied to settle down in any one place for too long. Five years was long enough as far as Tyler was concerned.

Moving on to California was something that had been on his mind for awhile. He had been chewing on the thought of giving his notice for the better part of a week, but he needed to drum up the courage to tell his boss. He finally found it one morning after breakfast, before he was to start a full day branding calves.

The ranch foreman didn't appreciate the timing and made him cough up four bits for the breakfast. It was worth it. He gathered up his bedroll from the bunkhouse and strapped it to his saddle, then mounted up. He purposely meandered past the corrals where the branding was taking place. Several of the men cursed him for leaving and several others secretly wished it was them. Only one gave him a proper farewell.

Orley Boggs was a good man. Everyone called him “Ornery” even though it was far from his nature. When he shook Tyler's hand, he let him in on a secret. “I'll be right behind you in a week or two.” They agreed to meet up in a small town called Jasper, just short of the California line.

Tyler waited in Jasper for a long month, but Orley never did show. “Maybe he got cold feet, or maybe it just took him longer to chew on those quitting words. He either swallowed them or spit them out. Either way, he ain't here,” Thought Tyler on the morning he packed it in and hit the trail once again.

~~~~

It was true. Orley did chew on those quitting words. He chewed on them for so long that they finally dissolved in his mouth. A full month after Tyler had left, Orley did the same. He had gone out early one morning searching for maverick's and just kept on going.

He knew he was too late to find Tyler, so when he came to Jasper, he blew right on by, only stopping long enough to pick up a few supplies.

Once in California, he rode into a small town called Shedd. It wasn't much more than a mining town. As he rode down the street he heard someone call out, “Hey Ornery.”

It was Tyler, calling from a barred window. Orley was glad to see him. “What the heck are you doing behind them bars?” He asked.

I've been framed for murder. Get me the hell out of here.”

That night two good friends rode north toward Oregon territory.

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Friday, February 8, 2019

A Snake in the Grass


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Her name was Daisy. She was an older woman who lived alone. Her husband had died years earlier and her relatives couldn't be bothered to help her right when she needed them the most.

Charles had met Daisy through an acquaintance. He knew she was alone, so he took it upon himself to befriend her. He began to visit her once a week. They spent the afternoon together talking and sipping coffee. Daisy loved her afternoons with Charles. He was so charming and knowledgeable about world affairs. They seemed to have a lot in common.

In her younger days, Daisy was interested in the stock market. She had built up a large portfolio worth close to 750 thousand dollars. None of her relatives were aware of her net worth and she didn't volunteer to tell them. Charles was an investor himself. Their conversations about money and the market were always enjoyable.

The weekly visits went on for three years. The family talked among themselves about Charles and how close he had gotten to Daisy. Some even speculated he might be trying to get at her money, but they weren't concerned enough to step in, mainly because they didn't think Daisy had much to steal. Plus, as long as Charles was checking in on her, they didn't have to.

During their time together, Daisy unknowingly gave Charles much more of her personal information than she realized. When legal matters came up or bills needed to be payed, Charles was right there to give her a hand. Over time, he knew exactly what she was worth.

Daisy eventually ended up in the hospital. When her relatives heard, they came to visit. That's when they found out that Daisy had (unknowingly) made Charles the executor of her estate. He had the say in both her health and legal matters.
The family was furious. They accused him to his face of exploiting her. Charles assured them that that was not the case. He only wanted what was best for Daisy and since no relative had come forward to help, he took it upon himself to take on the responsibility.

Charles was a smooth talker and he managed to calm down the relatives who were making the biggest fuss.

Daisy never left the hospital. She passed away in her sleep. Charles notified the relatives and let them know and that they needed to make arrangements for her burial. They were sorry to hear the news and glad Charles had informed them, but what they really wanted to know was what Daisy had left them in her will.

A meeting was set for the coming weekend. They would all meet at Daisy's house to discuss the will. That weekend the family members showed up, but Charles never did. Daisy's bank accounts had been drained and all of her financial assets had been sold off. The relatives were left with nothing.

Charles had disappeared. He had moved west and quickly befriended a nice older woman named Beth.

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Matters of the Heart


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Zig Waller lost his wife to a sudden stroke a year ago and now here he was, heading to the operating room for a heart transplant. What a difference a year makes.

The operation was a success and after a two week hospital stay, Zig was back home. He took it easy for several months. During that time, he noticed some strange things taking place with his memory.

Flashes of scenes from a past he didn't recall kept popping into his head. As did the names of people he never knew. He wrote them down as they came to him. He thought he was going crazy, but after some investigation he came across several stories of heart transplant patients taking on habits and cravings of the heart's previous owner. “This must be what's happening to me,” he thought.

One morning he woke up with a craving for a Starbucks Americano with cream. He hated Starbuck's coffee, but the urge was too great to ignore. He hopped in his car and drove, not to the closest one, but to one all the way across town.

Zig entered the shop and went to the counter to order. The young woman waiting on him was named Lisa Mae.

The name struck a chord. “Lisa Mae, Lisa Mae, Where have I heard that name before?” He racked his brain trying to remember. Then it hit him. “Lisa Mae is one of the names on my list.”

He ordered his drink and sat down at a corner table. While he drank his coffee, he kept thinking about some of the other names on his list. He noticed Lisa kept taking quick glances in his direction as she worked. Finally, after twenty minutes, Zig was feeling like he was being watched, so he got up to leave.

As he got up, Lisa walked over to his table. “Do I know you?” She asked. “I keep getting this weird feeling that we've met before but I can't figure out where.”

I don't think so. I've never been in here before.” replied Zig. “Although, you may find this weird. I knew your name before I came in here. Let me ask you a question.” Zig picked a name from his list. “Do you know a man named Charley Barba?”

Lisa's eyes grew wide and she lost the color in her face. Then she turned red. “Is this some kind of a joke or something? Are you stalking me? Who the hell are you?”

Zig sat back down. “I'm sorry. My name is Zig Waller. I had a heart transplant several months ago and I've been having these strange cravings for coffee at this shop. And several names keep popping into my head. Yours, Charley Barba and someone named Jack Masson.

Lisa's knees grew weak and she sat down at the table with Zig.

Jack Masson is my Uncle, and Charley Barba. He died about four months ago. His heart was donated for transplant. He was my father.

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

No Heavy Lifting


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Travis Calhoun was a Texas millionaire several times over. His money wasn't given to him by some dead relative. He came about his money the old fashioned way. He earned it.

Not by the sweat of his brow. Travis was never a blue collar laborer. No, he earned it by being smarter than the average person. He had brains. He could figure out how to improve on those everyday items that begged to be improved upon. Once he latched onto an idea, he would disappear into his shop until the idea became a reality.

Travis's current project was figuring out how to levitate heavy objects. In spite of what he had learned in history books, about such things as Mayan temples and the pyramids in Egypt. He knew they weren't built by thousands of primitive people dragging and lifting huge chunks of stone. There was more to the story than what historians were willing to reveal. He knew there was some sort of levitation involved.

Travis had heard the story of the Coral Castle in Florida. Built in 1920. It's a modern day example of the same technology the Egyptians had used, but on a much smaller scale. When he first heard the story, he knew he had to see it for himself. Once there, he immediately became obsessed with figuring out how Edward Leedskalnin did it.

Travis spent a year doing extensive research, following leads and searching through old manuscripts and ancient texts from several different countries. He worked on the project day and night.

He had a huge limestone boulder moved into a spare building on his property. He tried several hand held prototypes. Nothing seemed to levitate it. Undeterred, he kept at it.

One day, he took his latest device out to the rock to give it a try. To his amazement, it actually worked. He easily lifted the two ton boulder a foot off the ground and moved it to the other side of the building and set it down.

He had done it. He had figured out how to levitate large heavy objects with ease.

He phoned a friend to tell him of his achievement. He emailed another who he thought might be interested in investing in his new project. They were both excited and wanted to see his achievement first hand. It was a Thursday. Travis set up a meeting for the following Monday. He had three days to get his notes in order.

On Saturday there was a knock at his door. Two men in suits were paying Travis a visit. They were from the NSA. They had heard about Travis's breakthrough and offered to pay him for the technology. They said it was a matter of National Security and it needed to be kept under wraps. What they offered wasn't nearly enough and he turned them down.

That Monday, his friends found Travis dead from an apparent heart attack. The place had been stripped clean. All that remained was the limestone boulder.

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The Almost Lynching of Toby Hill


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

It was 1933. Jimmy Towns and his guitar were heading to Chicago. It was a cool evening. Good travelin' weather in the South. Jimmy was coming up on a bridge crossing the Tombigbee River when his suddenly slammed on his brakes.

Up ahead were four men. A rope had been tossed over one of the bridges trusses and a noose was being draped over the head of one of the men. There was a lynching taking place and he had drove himself smack dab into the middle of it.

Not giving it much thought, he stepped out of the car.

“Who the hell are you?” Asked one of the men.

“My name's Jimmy Towns. I'm on my way to Chicago.”

“Well why the hell don't you just keep on goin'. This ain't none of your concern.”

“I'd like to, but you're blocking the road. Why you hangin' this man?” Asked Jimmy.

“I heard he whistled at my sister. Ain't no nigga' gonna git away with that,” replied the man with the noose.

“Did you see it or just hear about it?”

“Don't make no difference. This boy is as good as dead.”

Jimmy pulled a gun from his back pocket. “I say it does make a difference. Why don't you take the rope off his neck and let him go.”

All three men began to protest. “Who the hell do you think you are coming at us like that? Are you a damn nigga' lover?”

“I just don't like seeing a man get hung for no good reason. That's all.”

Jimmy took a shot and hit the man with the noose in the leg. “I said, let him go.”

One of the other men took the noose off the kids head. “You're both dead men. You know that don't you?”

“Get over here and get in my car kid,” ordered Jimmy.

The kid did as he was told. Two more shots rang out and two tires from the men's car went flat.

“Now git the hell out of my way or I'll run your asses over,” barked Jimmy.

The men moved over and Jimmy took off down the road.

“Thank you sir, for savin' my life,”

“What's your name kid?”

“Toby, Toby Hill.”

“You got family around here, Toby?”

“No sir, Just me and sunshine.”

“Who's sunshine?”

Toby pulled a harmonica from his pants pocket. “This here is sunshine. Used to play with my daddy while he strummed his guitar, back when he was alive.”

“Is that so? Are you any good?”

Toby started in and played a few licks. Jimmy was impressed.

“You're good kid, real good. How about you head up to Chicago with me. Maybe between the two of us we can make a few bucks. What do you think?”

“I'd like that, sir.”

“I'm no sir, Toby. Just call me Jimmy, OK?”

“Yes sir, Jimmy”

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Hill House Treasure


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

He lived a palatial life in Sherman, Texas, but according to his neighbors, he didn't seem to work for a living.

He wasn't the recipient of an inheritance of any significance. He didn't deal in illegal drugs. There was no oil well in his back yard. No savvy investment strategy and no booming internet business to account for his apparent wealth.

His friends were mysterious. They came only occasionally and didn't stay long. Seems his relatives had disowned him, at least he never talked about them and none were ever seen.

He traveled a lot. Always off to some foreign country, bringing back expensive hand made gifts for his neighbors. They always accepted his offerings with a thankful heart and open hand. If this was his way of keeping them from prying into his personal life, it was working.

So where did his money come from?

~~~~

His name was Arland Morgan. Five years ago he had moved into the 150 year old Victorian manor known as the Hill house. It had sat vacant for over 20 years and was in need of a major renovation. Arland took on the project. He worked alone. It was a slow going venture from the start. Then, suddenly, the pace picked up. Workers were hired and the project was finished at a much faster pace.

~~~~

When Arland first found the house, he fell in love with it. He had just left a job in San Francisco working for a dot com company as their top graphic designer. When his stock options came due, he cashed them in and left for Texas. His plan was to renovate the house and start his own freelancing business.

Part of the renovation required him to do some repair work in the basement. As he tore into one of the walls, he opened up an old root cellar. The entry had been sealed off for decades. He shined a light into the damp room. It wasn't completely empty.

He explored it a little further and found a case of old wine and a trunk filled with precious stones and antique jewelry. It reminded him of a pirates treasure he had read about in a book when he was a kid. Not knowing the value of the items, he did some research.

He knew the house was once owned by a reputed jewel thief. It was never proven and eventually the old man passed away. Now Arland had the proof, but no way was he going to give it up.

His research showed the wine to be valuable. He discretely had the bottles auctioned off and was shocked when the total proceeds came to over one million dollars.

The jewels could be identified, so Arland found someone who could sell them for cash to private collectors. They brought him another ten million which he hid from the IRS.

Arland now keeps his wealth in the same old root cellar. Hidden behind a false wall in moisture-proof plastic buckets.

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

The Delivery that Almost Disappeared


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

Wow, 15 million,” remarked Kyle. “I've never carried this much cash in one trip. This has got to be a new record.”

I've carried more, but it always makes me nervous,” replied Jeremy.

One driver and one guard doesn't seem like much for this kind of cash. You'd think they would have added at least one more guard.” noted Kyle.

We're only going across town. Lock me in and we'll be OK.”

Kyle locked Jeremy into the back of the armored car and jumped into the cab. A mile down the road they hit a detour. Kyle got on the intercom. “Road construction ahead, Jeremy. We're being detoured. This wasn't on the route report this morning. I don't feel good about this.”

Just stay alert. Call it in and let dispatch know what's up,” replied Jeremy.

Before Kyle could get on the radio, the construction brought them to a stop just as they turned onto the detour road. A maintenance worker walked up to the truck. “Hey, I used to work for this outfit. I know you guys get nervous sitting like this. I sure did. One of our guys dumped his gravel in the wrong spot. The detour's going to be blocked for a few minutes, but I know there's enough room for you to get through before we start to scoop it up. Why don't you go on ahead. I'll let the guys up front know you're coming. They'll let you past.”

Thanks,” replied Kyle. “We appreciate it.” Kyle started moving again. They were the only ones allowed to pass the barrier.

About a half mile down the road they hit another road block. “Oh shit,” barked Kyle into the intercom. “We're in trouble.”

The road was blocked by a backhoe and a small crane. Next to the road was a large hole. Several men in body armor held assault rifles. One of them walked up to the cab. Kyle locked himself in.

You can get out now or be buried alive along with the truck. The choice is yours,” the man remarked.

Kyle got on the radio but the signal had been jammed. The crane moved in and started to pick up the truck. Once it was in the air, the two men were given one last chance. Neither men relished the thought of being buried alive so they decided to take their chances with the robbers. Kyle opened the door and the truck was put back onto the ground.

Kyle turned over his key. As soon as the back door was opened, two hand grenades rolled out onto the ground. they exploded killing all three men.

Jeremy stepped out. “That was too easy. You can bet the others at the main detour are involved in this. Get in and let's get the hell out of here.”

Kyle radioed their location as soon as he could. They were met by several squad cars who safely escorted them to their final destination.

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

An Unlikely Friendship


A 500 word short story by Scott A. Gese

When Alex walked into the restroom he saw Boomer with Jared pinned up against the wall. He was tormenting the kid. Alex got after him.

Boomer, get your hands off him. That kid's never hurt you.”

Mind your own business, Alex. This retard shouldn't be in this school or my graduating class,” replied Boomer.

Just because he isn't as smart as most kids doesn't mean he shouldn't be here, or graduate. So like I said, get your hands off him.”

Alex took a step toward Boomer and he backed off with a warning to Jared. “You're on my shit-kickin' list, retard.” then left the restroom.

You touch him and you're on mine,” Alex warned Boomer as he went through the door.

You OK, Jared?”

I'm fine, thank you,” replied Jared.

Jared, do you have any friends?”

Not at school. I'm the 'retard' and no one wants to hang with me.” Jared started to leave.

Alex stopped him. “Listen Jared. You're no retard and you do have a friend here. I'm it. You can hang with me all you want. Any time I hear that someone's giving you a bad time, I'll stop them. This bullying is going to end, starting today.”

I'd like that,” replied Jared. Thank you.” They both left for class.

~~~~

Over the next few months Alex and Jared hung out together. Alex let it be known that the bullying Jared days were over. He had to get “up close and personal” with a couple of his classmates, but once word got around that there would be dire consequences if you messed with Jared, the bullying stopped.

Alex and a couple of his friends would even be Jared's escorts at school sporting events. Without the added pressure of being picked on, Jared's grades improved enough to graduate. Alex knew Jared wouldn't find a walking partner, so he offered to walk with him.

After graduation, Jared told Alex that he was moving out of state with his parents. He was pretty upset about it. Alex did what he could to calm him down.

Listen, Jared. You and I are friends, right? And friends are always there for each other, right? I'm here for you any time you need someone to talk to. Any time you need a friend to listen to your problems, I'm here. Don't ever forget that. Now wipe those tears off your face.”

Jared took a piece of paper, wrote on it and then handed it to Jared. “Here's my email address and my phone number. I mean it, Jared. Any time you need a friend, remember, I'm only an email or a phone call away. I also want to know when you get a girlfriend.”

Jared smiled at the prospect.

Over the years they kept in touch, and as promised, Jared let Alex know when he found the woman of his dreams.

They were reunited at Jared's wedding when Alex was his best man.

© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.