Short Story Saturday

21 11 2010

I found a random website that gives you an opening sentence for a short story and you go from there. So here we go!

Their ability to abscond was severely hampered by Gerald’s insistence that they bring the goldfish.

Harold sighed heavily, tainting the air with a fetid mixture of stale coffee, garlic and cheap cigar smoke. He’d tried to talk Gerald out of bringing Sally along, but Gerald had insisted. Gerald was a little dim, but his massive muscles and thick brain had proved to be an asset more than once so Harold gave him his way. Well, that and Gerald would probably have put a meaty fist through Harold’s remaining teeth if Sally were left behind.

Being the brains of the operation was a heavy burden, Harold reflected and he searched his pockets for his lock pick.

The rain pounded down inches from the two men who sheltered in a doorway. A surging river composed of equal parts water, garbage and mud surged down the street past their feet. Gerald moved uneasily, pulling his shiny shoes farther away from the water.

He would never admit it but Gerald labored under a petrifying fear that Sally would run away given half a chance.

Even half a chance wouldn’t be enough since Sally was just a goldfish and a rather stupid specimen of a stupid species. Besides which fact, she was sealed tightly in a mason jar zipped into Gerald’s inside pocket.

But Gerald was not really aware of Sally’s limited chance of escape. He only remembered a childhood hamster who, his mother told him, had run away one summer day. He’d never noticed the tiny mound of dirt in his mother’s flower bed and would not have drawn a connection between the two things if he had noticed it.

Harold cursed as the lock pick fell, slipping through his wet fingers. He reached down to grab it just as Gerald shifted his feet again, kicking the lock pick into the nearby gutter.

“Gerald! You ox-brained-son-of-a-camel-driver’s-aunt! Look what you did!” Harold sputtered in frustration.

“Wha?” Gerald put a hand around Sally’s jar and leaned over, staring dimly at the dark and shiny pavement. “What’d I do, Harold? What’d I do?”

“Only ruined our whole plan, that’s what! You freeze-dried-nincompoop!” Harold shoved ineffectually at his partner.

Gerald didn’t notice the shove. No more than a mountain notices a cloud passing by, anyway. “I’m sorry, Harold! What’ll we do?”

Harold grabbed his beardless chin and thought hard. They were running out of time. If they didn’t get the job done tonight all the goods would be moved before they could get back. Like a lightning flash it came to him.

“Gerald!”

“Yeah Harold. I’m right here.”

“Break down the door!”

“Ok, Harold.” Gerald moved backwards slowly until he felt cold water running into his boots. With a yelp he leaped forward and landed right back near the door. Water meant an escape route for Sally….

“What’s wrong?” Harold grabbed the bigger man’s collar and shook it.

“Harold I can’t! I’ve got Sally and if I run into the door her jar’d break and then she’d swim away in all this water.” Gerald’s beefy face crumpled in despair. “I just can’t let her swim away!”

“Oh you three-toed-excuse-for-a-guttersnipe, just hand me her jar and I’ll hold it while you break the door down.”

Between baritone hiccuping sobs Gerald moaned, “I dunno Harold. You’re always breaking things and dropping things and who knows what might happen? You dropped the lock pick and you might drop Sally.”

“I promise I will not drop her,” Harold’s voice was getting desperate. Their time was running out and a cop on beat could come by any minute. “Just give her to me. Now!”

Gerald looked miserable but obeyed. He unzipped his pocket, pulled out the jar and handed it to Harold with careful hands.

Harold gripped the jar and stepped out of the way. Unfortunately he stepped out of the way onto a garbage can lid which slid and dropped him on his rear with a thump and a crinkle of broken glass.

Harold screamed, to be sure, but his partner screamed louder.

In a blinding flurry of water, clothing and garbage the two men fought, Gerald screaming “YOU KILLED SALLY!” at the top of his lungs.

A beat cop heard the ruckus (as did everyone else on the block) and came running. After three of his buddies showed up to force Gerald’s hands away from Harold’s neck they arrested the two men and dragged them off to the local jailhouse.

No-one noticed a jar in which swam a goldfish, surrounded as it was by the remnants of a broken beer bottle.

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