Stories

The Two Bill’s – Part 3 of 4

Edmond Gagnon

The Way Back

 

Usually, going somewhere is more fun than coming back. Whenever I plan a trip I try to take that into account. I don’t know how everyone else feels, but I hate covering the same ground twice. I’d much rather make a loop and go out of my way, than drive down the same road more than once, unless something is worth seeing again, from a different perspective.

Cathryn and I had a great ride getting to Vancouver, but I knew I had my work cut out for me trying to find an eventful and scenic way back home. The whole idea of the trip was to cover new ground, since both of us had been out west before. Seattle came to mind. Although I’d been there twice, I never had time to see more than a few token attractions on the waterfront.

I loved what I’d seen in the city before, and I knew it had a lot more to offer. Cathryn had not been there. From Surrey, my sister and her boyfriend suggested taking the truck route south, across the border to the states. Seattle was only a couple hours from their home, depending on traffic at the border and on the highway.

On Tuesday, July 19th, we crossed back into the states of Washington. Our Nexus cards made the border a breeze, and we enjoyed about thirty miles of quiet roads, before being dumped on Interstate 5 South. I’d called ahead to our hotel for an early check-in, figuring we’d arrive around noon.

Merging to the right put us on Highway 99, which parallels the Interstate, and is an express route to downtown Seattle. Our motel was right on the highway, and it soon showed up on the GPS. Sometimes the machines are a pain in the ass—this was one of those times. There was a cement barrier down the middle of the highway, leaving us no access to the opposite side of the road where our motel was.

Cathryn got a bird’s eye view of downtown from the elevated highway, because I couldn’t turn around for a couple of miles. Turn’s out there was a way to do it earlier, but it was cleverly hidden under the highway. Live and learn. Checking in at the Marco Polo Motel was a hoot. The Chinese owner/operator should have been a comedian, kind of an Asian Gary Shandling.

The man loudly repeated everything I said, and even though I’d called ahead and was promised an early check-in, our room wasn’t ready. He yelled at another Chinese man to get it ready. It wouldn’t have been a big deal, but I’d made arrangements to meet an old friend downtown for lunch, at 1:30. It was noon.

After showering and changing clothes, I asked the manager if he could call us a cab. He suggested Uber. I got frustrated fiddling around and trying to download the app. I asked him again for a taxi.

He said one would be there in ten minutes. After waiting twenty, I went back into the office to ask him if he could check on our cab. He was on the phone with someone who called to reserve a room. He yelled back to them, telling the caller it was first come, first served. He repeated that at least three times without taking a breath. He nodded yes and waved me back out the door.

When the cab finally pulled up, Gary came out into the lot. He held the phone to his ear and yelled at someone from the cab company. We laughed and waved, and went on our way. Even with the delays, we walked into the restaurant right on time. My friend was impressed at how we drove across the whole country and managed to be so punctual. (more…)

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Hole in the Wall: The Fifth Monday Three – Part Four

By Edele Winnie

“Jocelyn, is it really you?” Carol asked the white-coated woman up on the catwalk. “I am so…. muddled.” Carol ran her hands through her brown hair but the confusion remained. They were surrounded by buzzing machines, tubes and metal catwalks. “What is this place?”

Jocelyn laughed. “It’s definitely not the bank. The Jocelyn who works there with you is just one version of me. A sister, if you like.”

Carol pointed at one of the large glass tubes. It was filled with green liquid and an exact copy of Carol herself, floating languidly. Beside that there were more tubes and copies. Carol shook her head, unable to find words. Beside her, Gary shifted into a quivering red cylinder shape.

“I see you’ve met Gary. He’s a portal jumper. A creature that can transfer between dimensions without decomposing.”

“You make me sound so dull.” Gary complained and transformed into a star shape. “I’m actually a star.”

Everything seemed to be swirling in her head and Carol looked for a place to sit. She settled on the bottom step of a metal ladder that led to a catwalk above.

Gary changed into a rhombus. “There was a cloh enforcer right behind us.” (more…)

2016 Mission 6, 443, 273

By Edele Winnie

There were always four. That’s why this didn’t make sense. Wherever you went- corporation, village, unit, class, whatever- there were always four. But this time Melanie found five.

Melanie was a pro- not only highly trained and a weapons expert but she also had 12 years hard experience to back it up. She knew the ins, the ups and was careful enough to never even have been wounded. She was fast, thorough and deadly.

She had discovered them on her first day. It was at the Belcon Corporation head office, employing 350 with a fine dining cafeteria and company swimming pool. She’d had new employee orientation in the morning and then gone to the cafeteria for lunch. She was the new girl- short bobbed blonde, natural makeup, blue skirt and jacket- and all the company wolves took note. Clothes can’t hide real power- and Melanie was extremely fit and capable. Every wandering male eye was drawn as if by a magnet. But she ignored it. She had to. Not only was it an inconvenience, but the four would be unaffected. It might even make her stand out too much, and her cover would be blown.

Tray in hand, plate heaped with the salad of the day, Melanie strode into the cafeteria seating area prepared for the stares. She swayed her hips just a little bit more for those hungry eyes. She had to play the part if she was going to survive. She’d done it too many time before for it not to work. The men in suites looked up, the females scowled, and she was invited to sit beside a corporate vice president alpha wolf who was practically drooling. She flirted as she picked at her salad but her eyes were scanning for the four. They might be in hiding or they might be elsewhere- usually they were so used to being ignored that they were easy to spot. And there they were. (more…)

In a Perfect World

By Edele Winnie

“Are you Mrs. Dununzio?” The doctor asked. At lease she assumed he was a doctor. He was wearing scrubs, had a pulled down mouth mask around his throat and a smear of blood that was just disappearing from his white coated chest.

Carol Dununzio nodded. “How is she?”

The doctor shook his head sadly.

“She’s not dead then?” Carol had to be certain.

“No.” The doctor said, frowning. “She lived. She’s going to be fine. I’m sorry.”

Carol Dununzio tried to swallow the lump in her throat. Her daughter still lived. Jessica, aged eleven, had survived. What was she going to do now?

A moment later another doctor wheeled Jessica out in a wheelchair. The young girl looked dazed, and the brown hair on the side of her head was matted with dried blood. The doctor tipped the chair and Jessica slid out and landed at her mother’s feet.

The doctors walked away, commenting on how awful the sunny weather currently was.

Carol grabbed Jessica by the arms and hauled her to her feet. The girl wobbled, but her legs held and so Mrs. Dununzio tugged her towards the emergency room doors.

The family car was easy to spot, for it was the least damaged in the lot. It was a fiery red and only the passenger side had been crashed in. The car in the spot next to it had been in so many accidents that it was now a patchwork of different colours as replacement parts had been added. One door was light blue, the next black, the roof was orange and there were other colours and some rust too. The car on the other side had been in a head on and all that remained of the windshield was jagged glass.

Mrs. Dununzio pushed Jessica into the back seat where the dead cocker spaniel was.   They’d found it by the side of the road about a week ago. It was long dead though and there were barely any insects in it anymore. Jessica was still bleeding lightly from her head wound. She lay down on the ripped seats in the back and wrapped her arms around the dead dog. (more…)

The Two Bill’s – Part 1 of 4

Edmond Gagnon

Westward Ho

Cathryn’s big question was, “How do I pack for a whole month?” She was faced with the dilemma of how to get her clothes, shoes, and toiletries into one small suitcase, that fit into the trunk portion of our Harley Davidson motorcycle. I had laid out a plan to ride all the way to Vancouver, and back, within a month…or so.

“You only need to pack for five to seven days,” I offered, “We can do our laundry along the way when we stop for more than a day.” I broke the trip into segments, staying in a few different places for more than one night at a time, so we could take a rest from the bike, and not have to be on it every day of the trip.

We met with our friends Greg and Brenda, to discuss the first leg of the trip. They changed their final destination, deciding to only ride as far as Milwaukee with us. It didn’t matter, we were going on with or without them. Figuring traffic would be lighter, and a hotel in downtown Milwaukee cheaper, we left at 9am on Sunday, July 3rd.

The border traffic was light, but they didn’t have the Nexus lane open and we had to wait with all the other peasants. We jumped on Interstate 94, and headed west to get out of the city, with a plan to take the back roads as far as we could. I got carried away, and hit Michigan Avenue (US 12) around Dearborn. It was definitely the scenic route, all the traffic lights allowed us plenty of time to look around.

The road opened up after Ypsilanti. It was a beauty day with lots of sun and a big blue sky. We stopped for an early lunch in Cement City, where Brenda had a chicken quesadilla that could have fed all of us. I really wanted to help, but I was trying to adhere to my low carb diet for as long as I could. I didn’t even have a beer. (more…)

Hole in the Wall: The Fifth Monday Three – Part Three

By Christian Laforet

Carol stared at the wall. She wore an oven mitt on one hand, a baseball glove on the other, and a Kiss beach towel wrapped around her face. Clutched in the oven mitt was the biggest knife she could find in her silverware drawer. She wasn’t sure what she would do with the weapon if the ball-thing returned. Thanks to the fact that the towel kept sagging, blocking her vision, she was just as likely to stab herself as anything else.

The wall were the thing had disappeared looked the same as ever, sunflower yellow with a framed picture of a horse wearing a stovepipe hat hanging off to the left. But she knew what she had seen, and whether it was visible now or not, there was a hole in her wall.

She edged closer to the spot and slowly leveled the knife until the tip of the blade was half an inch from the yellow surface. Taking a deep breath, she pushed the rest of the way. The point of the knife did not stop at the wall, but slid right in. At first she told herself that the knife had cut through the wall itself, but there was no resistance. Besides, that theory was put to bed when she retracted the blade only to find the end of the knife gone. (more…)

Dead Bus

By Edele Winnie

Ellen cursed and tried to start the school bus again.  The morning was cold and it was starting to rain.  The motor coughed and choked but did not catch.  The last of the other school buses had just left the muddy lot.  She pounded the steering wheel angrily while the rain began to drum on the roof.

All the grade school kids would be waiting in the storm.  She had no way of contacting anyone at this point.  Ellen considered giving up, but shook it off.  She just wasn’t made that way.  She was a fighter.  She found herself staring at number 13, the bus at the back of the lot that was never used.

It had begun to pour. The dull grey sky dumped a slurry of rain onto the bus lot.  With her coat over her head, Ellen hurried to the little building- they called it the key shack- where things were stored.  The keys, all gone now, had labelled hooks.  The hook labelled thirteen was empty.  It had always been empty.

There was no phone in the shack and Ellen had forgotten her cell phone.  She could drive somewhere, she thought, and phone her boss.  By then all the kids would be wet and late for school.  Thunder cracked overhead and startled her.  The rain was pounding down and she did not want to rush out.  There were cupboards in the shack and she began to look through them.  She found the keys in the old table with the battered drawer.  The key fob read thirteen.  There were two keys, one was obviously for the ignition and the other appeared to be for a padlock.   There was a raincoat by the door and Ellen pulled it on quickly.  If she was going to get those kids to school on time she had to leave now.  She opened the door and ventured out into the storm to number thirteen.

She did not look long because she was hurrying in the rain but the bus looked fine.  The tires looked good and there was less rust than on her usual number 42 bus.  The door was padlocked.  Ellen fiddled with the keys and popped the lock off and climbed the steps.  The bus did not smell like feet, or lunches, or little girl nail polish.  It smelled a little musty.  Outside the storm hammered on the bus roof, lighting punched the sky and thunder howled.  Ellen was safe inside.   (more…)