Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Darkening Sturgeons: Chapter Seven

The wayward voice-activated internet search inspired piece of fiction continues...


Chapter Seven

by John L. Harmon

    The widow Waterbottom sways gently on her porch swing, keeping time with the country/gospel blaring from window speakers.  It is a near-perfect summer evening in Sturgeons, in one of her many opinions.  The sun is beginning to set, a gentle breeze floats lazily around, and there is a glass of homemade iced-tea in her hand.

    She observes with mild interest the Sheriff’s SUV pulling into the neighboring driveway.  Out of the vehicle emerges Benjamin Straker, a young man she doesn’t really know, but would gladly relate her version of his biography to anyone within earshot.  Speaking of earshot, the widow Waterbottom decides to stop the young man from wasting his time.

    “He’s gone!” she hollers over the country/gospel.

    Acting Sheriff Ben Straker, barely hearing the old woman’s voice, stops and faces the music.


    “He’s gone!”

    Ben walks over to the Waterbottom front porch and asks the widow to turn down the music.

    She complies and then reiterates, “He’s gone.”

    A dark, worrisome fear creeps underneath Ben’s skin, conjuring the names of Bob Kinney and Tommy Schroder.  “Where did Sheriff Lawrence go?”

    “Don’t know.  He just packed up and left in a hurry,” Bertha Waterbottom answers vaguely.  Much like some of her neighbors, she doesn’t ask questions, she just simply observes and judges.



    Lester Lawrence obviously wasted no time in vacating not only his position but Sturgeons, as well.  This does not detour Ben from going forth with his original plan.

    “Thank you, Mrs. Waterbottom,” he gives a nod and turns away, but then stops and turns back, always an officer.  “By the way, please keep the music down.  As Lawrence always tells the teens with their rap/metal, not everyone likes your kind of music.”

    “What does aluminum foil have to do with it?”

    “Never mind, Mrs. Waterbottom.  Never mind.”

    Ben turns away again, not knowing if he should smile or scream as Mrs. Waterbottom brazenly ups the volume of her country/gospel.  The twangy reverence serenades him to the next-door porch.  Once there he reaches up, removing a spare key from the light fixture, and quickly enters the house of Lawrence, muffling the blaring music as he shuts the heavy door.

    Switching on lights, Ben is confronted with the truth.  Empty, abandoned rooms are what he finds upon a search of the familiar house.  Only one space, the living room, shows remaining evidence of the man who had lived there.

    Two items are propped up on the fireplace mantel, the smaller leaning against the larger.  Ben approaches the scene curiously, but cautiously, uncertain of anything after the events of this weekend.  He suddenly recognizes his own name written on a white envelope in Lawrence’s loose-style scrawl.

    He impulsively grabs the envelope, hastily opens it, and pulls out a letter, hoping it will provide answers.  Reading it aloud, his voice echoing in the surrounding emptiness, Ben is dismayed at its brevity.

    “Ben—You are a good man and you will make a great Sheriff.—Lester Lawrence.”

    The parentally abandoned man slips the letter, more note really, back into the envelope and the whole thing into a back pocket.  He then picks the second item off the mantel.  It is a decades-old high school yearbook.  Ben flips aimlessly through the black & white pages, shaking his head in confusion and disappointment.

    Sheriff Benjamin Straker leaves the house of Lawrence, once again serenaded by the widow Waterbottom’s country/gospel, and unilaterally decides that he could use a drink.  All the while, unbeknownst to him, binoculared eyes have been watching from behind blue velvet curtains.
Click CHAPTER EIGHT to continue.

Until next time, Readers, be well and Freak Out,

1 comment: