Weekly Writing Challenge #14 – The Business Trip

Prompt – And to top it all off, they give you a medal for it

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John Ang looked up as I entered his office and plopped down on his sofa, “Hey Harry, how did it go?”

“Oh man, you don’t want to know”, I sighed

John arched his eyebrow at me from behind his desk.

“Okay, but you aren’t going to believe what hell I’ve been through.”

“Did you destroy another computer again?”

“Give me a break, man. I didn’t mean to do that. No, this was supposed to be a sweet corporate espionage gig. In and out, no problems. However, it was anything but that.”

John put his hand under his chin, “I’m all ears, you got to tell me all the details.”

“Getting in was no problem, from the roof into the top of the elevator shaft. I was climbing down and the elevator started rising. I didn’t know they had hi-speed elevators in that building. I panicked a bit and saw a ventilation grate and busted through it like a Mack truck.”

John chuckled, “If you had told me about it before you left, I could have researched all that for you.”

“I know, I know, but I didn’t want to bother you after that incident with The Universe. Anyways, in the process of getting into the ventilation system, I tore my pants pocket which had my map of the building and all the details and they fell out.”

“Don’t tell me, you got lost in the ventilation system.”

Closing my eyes and nodding, “Yep, wasn’t long before I was completely lost. And let me tell you, the vents in the building were nothing like you see in the movies all shiny and pristine. Nope, dusty and grimy, I had to fight to not to sneeze the whole time. But that wasn’t the biggest problem. I could only remember that I was to break into the PC of a guy whose name was Scofield and get his financial sheets. I couldn’t remember what floor or office he was in.”

“See, this is why you should never go solo. Why didn’t you call me?”, John said as he grabbed a couple of cokes from his fridge and tossed one to me.

Taking a big swig, I belched, “The damn building was like a Faraday cage, I couldn’t get a signal and I had to be super quiet in the vents as it echoed any noise I made. About six hours in the vents, I was tired, hungry and thirsty, I finally came across an opening into a kitchen break area. By the way, the openings in each office were small, again nothing like the movies.”

“Of course, especially the older building you were in. So what happened next?”

“Well, the opening into the break room was big enough that I could get through and I started rooting around for something to drink and eat. Then I heard the ding of the elevator. Oh crap, it’s a security guard. Because at 3 in the morning, who else would it be. I hid behind the door and when he came into the break room, I snuck out and headed for the elevator as quick as I could. Once in, I punched a number at random.”

Finishing my coke, I deftly threw it into the trash bin by John’s desk.

John laughed and said, “Let me guess, Harry Gruen, the luckiest bastard in the world just happened to get the right floor for Scofield’s office.”

Chuckling and looking at the ceiling, I said, “Yep. Right on the floor directory outside the elevator was Scofield’s name. I quickly located his office and picked the lock. Once inside, I saw he had a laptop on his desk.”

“Wait. Didn’t you say it was a PC that you were supposed to break into?”

Nodding my head slowly, “Again, yes. But I figured maybe they wrote PC on the instructions meaning the laptop. Anyways, easy peasy to break into laptop and I saw he had an encrypted folder. So I plugged in my flash drive and started my hack of the folder. While I was waiting, I leaned back in his chair. You know, one of those super comfy executive chairs.”

“And you fell asleep.”

“Oh god yes, I was tired, grumpy and filthy, of course I fell asleep.”

Laughing, John said, “I got a feeling this is going to be good, what happened next.”

“Well”, I said slowly, “I woke up when Scofield banged his door closed. He yelled at me and grabbed the phone on his desk and called security. I had jumped up and backed away from the desk, trapped like a rat. Thankfully, security was real quick.”

“Wait? What?”

“Yep, I happened to look down at his laptop right as security came in and I yelled out to them to arrest Scofield as he was also yelling for them to arrest me.”

“Okay, now I’m confused.”

“You would think that Scofield was a pretty unique name, right? Well, turns out there were two Scofield’s in the building and of course I had picked the wrong one kind of. Remember that encrypted folder I told you about?”

“Yeah, so?”

“Turns out this Scofield was a major ring leader in child pornography.”

“You have got to be kidding me?”

“Nope, I swear on all that is holy, I saw images I wish I could un-see. One look at the pics on his laptop and security grabbed Scofield until the cops got there. I did some fast talking telling them a B.S. story about how I was an investigative reporter after they had hauled both of us to the local precinct.”

“They let you go?”

“Yep, seems they had a bigger fish to fry with Scofield. And to top it all off, they gave me a medal for exposing Scofield.”

John roared with laughter, “Only you would land in a pile of crap and come up smelling like a rose.”

Want to be part of the Weekly Writing Challenge? Using the prompt above, write your story and publish it with a link to this story. Make sure you tag it either md-wwc or #md-wwc

All stories of Harry Gruen is now linked on the Storylines page if you wish to read them all.

Weekly Writing Challenge # 11 – The House

Prompt – Begin your story with a character having a gut feeling that they cannot explain.

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As I drove up to the house, I could see that it was beautiful. A big picture window with a balcony on the second floor. Just from the outside, it looked to be perfect. Why was I hesitant then? I knew that I only had a few minutes to poke around the front of the house until the relator showed up. For once, I was early to see about buying a house and then flipping it. Somehow, I couldn’t make myself move toward the house.

Ashley drove up in her BMW M3 sedan. I went over and opened her door like the gentleman I am.

“Ah, you’re early and you must be Mr. Walton.”

“Please, call me Chuck, only my dad is called Mr. Walton.”

“Of course, so shall we go inside and see this beautiful home?”

The sense of foreboding grew as we walked up the steps to the front door. What a front door! It was an oversized custom oak door that was simply gorgeous. When we walked in, I stopped in amazement. The floors were solid oak and the bannister going upstairs I recognized as red mahogany. This didn’t make sense at all.

Ashley led me into the kitchen area where there were solid black granite marbled countertops and from my experienced eye, the kitchen was stocked with top grade cabinets. This was a dream house and I should have been feeling like I hit the jackpot but instead my stomach was knotting up.

“Ashley”, I said, “Tell me again what they are asking for this house.”

“Well, the sellers are very motivated to sell and have reduced the price in order to make a quick sell. Normally a house like this would go for no less than a half million, but they are in a cash flow situation so it is greatly reduced.”

“I get that, but the asking price is way low for something like this, only 150 grand? What’s the deal? Did someone die here?”

With that, Ashley face fell and she looked down. I got it then why the price was so low. When a death occurs in the house, it lowers the price as most people won’t even consider living there. I’ve been in this type of house before and as long as the deaths weren’t too recent, I usually could make some money on the house.

“By law, I’m required to disclose to you that there have been some murders here.”

“Wait? Did you say murders with an s? As in multiple murders?”

“Yes.”

“Well, how many and when was the most recent?”

Ashley grimaced and I almost felt bad for her. She was trying hard to sell this house, but obviously this house was an albatross house, one that no one wanted. She reached into her bag and pulled out a folded paper and placed it on the island countertop.

I had to go around and stand next to her as I unfolded the paper, I noticed at the top it said in bold letters; DISCLOSURES. Underneath that in small print filling the rest of the page were details of the murders. After reading the first few, I looked up at Ashley. Her face remained downcast.

“How about you just give me the total instead of me reading this entire thing.” I said.

Ashley shook her head and said, “There is a summary paragraph at the bottom. You need to at least read that.”

I looked at the last paragraph and had to squint the letters were so small. It said that 22 murders had happened in this house and that on April 13, 2022 a house flipper with the initials of C.W. was found stabbed to death. I was confused as today’s date was April 13th. Just as I looked up in confusion toward Ashley, I spied a knife arcing down at my chest.

The pain was immense. My last thoughts were I should have trusted my gut and stayed away from the house.

Want to be part of the Weekly Writing Challenge? Using the prompt above, write your story and publish it with a link to this story. Make sure you tag it either md-wwc or #md-wwc

Coming Home

I realized when I got home that I had accidentally forgotten to feed my best girl. This was going to be a catastrophe. I had been in a rush this morning as I wanted to get to work early. The boss had given me a hard deadline on a report that was due. Honest truth, the report was in my opinion a B.S. report, but corporate demanded it every month.

Not only had I forgotten to feed Gracie, I had also forgotten my umbrella and even worse my coffee. I was soaked head to toe from the daily afternoon rains. My mood was rotten this morning from having to drink vending machine coffee. I don’t know what they put in them, but they always taste like something that came out of a monkey’s butt.

I braced myself as I opened the door and paused for a moment in a silent plea to the heavens that Gracie had not acted out while I was gone. I took a quick peak. Nope, the house was a complete disaster. She is definitely a girl with a grudge when I forget to feed her.

The hallway was strewn with shreds of toilet paper. This was going to be bad. I entered and took a look into the kitchen. I don’t know how she did it, but every lower cabinet door was open and pots and pans were scattered throughout. Damn, I had really screwed up this time.

The living room was filled with stuffing from the sofa cushions. Ouch, this was going to cost me a bunch. But wait? Is that… is that pieces of the remote control? She ate the remote control! Now I’m worried. I haven’t seen or heard Gracie since I got home. Did she overdo it and is now lying in pain? Or even worse, is she dead?

I tore through the rest of the house calling for her. I looked under the bed, in the closet where she had left me a present of half-eaten shoes. I checked the bathroom and found the shower curtain torn from the rod. No Gracie anywhere. I went back to my home office and my desk chair was lying on it’s side with great gouges of the leather ripped.

Then I noticed that my back door was open. I don’t remember if I had locked it this morning. As I stepped out onto the patio, my foot came down on something squishy. I looked down and it was dog vomit. Disgusting for sure, but also a good sign.

“Gracie! Gracie! Where are you?” I called out.

I looked all around the back yard and then spotted her lying on her side under a bush. As I went closer to her, I saw with a relief that she was breathing. I reached out to pet her and she growled and snapped at me. I guess I deserved that. Gracie had been my faithful companion for many years and I had done her wrong by forgetting to feed her.

“Come on, Gracie, let’s get you something to eat.”

She scrambled up and shot into the house like a rocket. Even though she had destroyed my house, I couldn’t be mad at her. I just hope I never ever forget to feed her again.

Written for two prompts:

Fandango’s Story Starter – I realized when I got home that I had accidentally

OLWG #241 – a girl with a grudge

Carry On

Written for OLWG #240 prompt – “you lost more than your hair”

Personal Photo Collection

The sky was overcast, a typical late fall day. Winter was coming and it looked to be a bad one this year. Farmer’s Almanac had forecasted multiple days of snow. With all the many chores I had to do around the homestead, I had neglected to put in a sufficient amount of firewood. I could order up a cord or two of firewood from the Delany brothers, but money was tight. Plus they charged way too much for the firewood. Heaven help you if you asked for credit. Scorn and derision would be heaped upon you for the rest of your days by the brothers.

I looked at the elm tree leaning over the bunkhouse. It had been slowly dying the past few years. Elm is not the best firewood as it brings out an odor even when dried for a year or two. Having to chop down this one and split it into firewood for this year was sure to smell up the house. Plus the wood is notoriously hard to split. I knew my axe wasn’t going to be up to the job. Over the years after many sharpening’s, it was about worn out. It would take a coon’s age to chop down the tree not to mention getting it down to chunks of firewood.

I knew I needed a chainsaw to get the job done in time. With all our money saved just for food and utility bills, there wasn’t any left to buy a chainsaw. I took off my cap and rubbed my mostly bald head. It somehow helped me to think. There was only one thing to do but I knew my wife wouldn’t like it. I had to do it, no, I needed to do it. I’ve exhausted every opportunity.

I slowly limped back to the house with dread in my heart. I steeled myself before opening the door. This was going to be hard. I walked in the back door to the kitchen. As I reached into the top shelf of the cabinet over the sink, I heard my wife come into the kitchen.

“What are you doing?”

I pulled out my .45 Colt M1911A pistol from my service days. Ignoring her question, I popped the magazine out of the pistol and checked to see how many rounds I had left. Two, only two, but that would be enough.

I sighed, “What’s the saying sweetheart? Desperate times call for desperate measures.”

She sank down on the chair with disbelief in her eyes.

“Are you . . . are you . . .”

I hung my head and quietly said, “Yes, there is no other way.”

“Jerimiah, you lost more than your hair, you’ve lost your mind. After what happened last time? How could you even think about doing this.”

I slowly turned around while shoving the magazine back in the pistol with a click. My wife, my soulmate looked panic stricken. I smiled at her and then gave her a wink.

“Don’t you cry no more, it will be all right.”