Random Scribbles · writing

The Dinner Guest


It looked harmless. Like a wind-up toy. A primitive clockwork mechanism designed to amuse a child. Ronald inserted the key and turned it four times. He flicked the switch to start it and sat it, on its ass, by his father’s spot at the dinner table. It looked like a marionette; maybe like Pinocchio, with red spots on its cheeks and painted on clothes and hair. It looked harmless. The toy, if you could call it that, waited. Ronald had programmed it to recognize his father and to ONLY, only, start a fight with him. No one else would, or could, provoke the toy.

Becky came in and spotted the toy on the table. “What’s this, then?” his sister asked as she breezed through the room.

“Dunno,” Ronald said, “a bicycle messenger dropped it off this afternoon. Said it was for Da. The instructions were to put it on the dinner table.”

“Oh, it’s cute,” remarked Mum as she came into the room from the kitchen, “and it looks like it might move too.”

“You know as much as I do, Mum,” Ronald lied. “Maybe Da will know what it is. Maybe he’ll recognize it.”

When Da got home he went straight to the sideboard and poured a generous dollop of whiskey in a glass. Then he saw the toy and froze.

“Genny,” he whispered to his wife. “Where did that come from? How did it get here? Who brought it?” The toy turned its head when Da began to speak.

“I’m not sure,” she answered, “Ronald said a messenger dropped it off. Said it was for you and should be placed on the dinner table.”

“Get it out of here!” Da was almost screaming now and he downed his whiskey.

The toy began to speak, “Too late, Trevor,” it said addressing Da while Ronald watched. Mum had gone back to the kitchen. She was unaware of the import of the moment.

“You didn’t think you were going to get off ‘Scott free’ did you?” the mechanical doll asked as it rose to a standing position. “You didn’t think you were going to get away with it, did you?”

“I was kinda hoping so,” Da said to the toy.

“Come here, Trevor,” ordered the doll, “let’s talk about this.”

Da poured another whiskey and sat in his accustomed chair at the table. The toy stood next to the plate and put his hand on Da’s shoulder. He leaned his head in close while simultaneously removing a toy pistol discreetly from the waistband of his painted trousers.

The doll kissed Da on the forehead and pointed the pistol at his eye. There were four small pops and Da’s head collapsed on the table. He was gone and gore slowly filled the plate.

The marionette dropped the gun into the glass of whiskey and sat back down on the table. He was no longer animated. His job was done.

Ronald smiled briefly, and then yelled for his mum.

A Monday evening response to another Monday Writing Prompt generously provided by The Secret Keeper.

Random Scribbles · writing

Victor and Hugo vi

For the prompt that began this game go here: Wed Stories: The Savage Outdoors .

Part i, by me: Victor and Hugo

Part ii, penned by LRose  here

Part iii, again by me: here

Part iv, by LRose: here

Part v, LRose: here

This is Part vi.

Note that this is merely the latest installment – if you want to play along, please jump in!

Hugo watched as Charlene used her shirt tail to wipe the pistol then pushed it gently beneath the topsoil leaving the brown wooden grip ever so slightly exposed.

They both turned and hurried back towards the truck. He got briefly stuck as he turned around but he rocked the big Ford back and forth a few times and finally broke free. In almost no time they were making their way back down the mountain. They rode in silence, for the most part. Night was falling and there seemed to be no need for conversation. They were both comfortable without it. As they eased back into civilization they passed through downtown.

“How about if we stop for a coffee and a bite to eat? I’m famished.”

“Sure, where do you want to go?” asked Hugo.

“There’s an ‘Apple Alice’ just up ahead, if that’s OK with you.”

“That’ll work,” said Hugo and he started scanning for the familiar red and green sign. Apple Alice Family Restaurants had sprung up all over this part of the state.  They were a popular franchise and offered hearty fare at affordable prices.

Spotting the sign Hugo wheeled his truck into the car park and found a spot not too far from the door. It was early yet, not too crowded.

As they entered, Charlene spotted Mike Garrett sitting in a booth all by himself. He was nursing a cup of coffee and talking on his cellphone. She nudged Hugo with her elbow and pointed at the Deputy. Hugo collected a couple of menus and nodded to the young hostess before he and Charlene headed over to Deputy Garrett’s table. He was just finishing up his call.

“You’re tellin’ me,” he said, “Well, at least you and yours will get what you went lookin’ to find.” He pushed a button on his phone to end the call and turned his attention to the interlopers standing by his table.

“Evening Charlene, Hugo; what are you folks up to?”

“Hey, Mike,” said Hugo. “We were just fixing to catch a bite and talk a little shop. It’s fortuitous that we should run in to you. Can we join you? I’m buying.”

Hugo and Charlene knew without discussing it that this would be their opportunity to learn if Old Vic’s remains had been collected by the authorities for analysis, or if something more sinister was up. Deputy Garrett waved his hand across the table and they slid in on the opposite side of the booth from him. Hugo pushed his menu to Garrett and he and Charlene shared the other. Mike pushed the menu to the side and said, “I don’t need that. I know what I’m having.”

“What’s that?” asked Charlene. “What’s so good here?”

“I’m getting whatever they have on special tonight. The specials here are the thing to order. You know they’re fresh and for the most part, they’re pretty tasty.”

About that time Irene showed up to take their order. She snapped her gum and stood silently with her pencil poised above the order pad. When she spoke she said simply, “Y’all ready; or ya need more time?”

“No, I reckon we’re ready,” Mike said. “I’ll have the special. What is that tonight?”

“It’s Annie’s meatloaf with Lima Beans. I can get you an end cut if you like it well done.”

“Nope, take mine out of the center.” He said.

“Same for me,” said Charlene, “and, a cup of coffee.”

“Coffee and meatloaf for me too,” Hugo added.

Irene collected the menus and headed off, weaving between the bastions of Formica and Naugahyde towards the kitchen, to put their order in.

The silence was just a little awkward and finally the Deputy broke the ice, “Does Larry know that you two are cavalierly tossing Foundation money around buying dinner for local law enforcement types?” He grinned.

“This isn’t Foundation money,” Hugo spoke up quickly, “this is strictly on me.”

“I’m just kidding.” Mike piped up. “It’s kind of a throwaway line in the cop business. It’s good for getting conversations started.”

“You know Larry well?” asked Charlene.

“Hell yes. He’s my cousin but we’re more like brothers than cousins. I thought you knew that.”

“No, no,” she said, “So you’ve lived here forever too? I know Larry’s a local but I thought you were a transplant.”

“Actually, Larry went away to school so technically, I’ve spent more time in town than he has. But, yeah we’re both born and raised.”

Without preamble, Hugo jumped in. “Who’s doing the forensics on the bones?” he asked. “Do we have that kind of expertise in town or will you have to call someone in?”

“We don’t have the equipment here,” Mike said. “They have it in Twin Falls and they have it in Boise. I called Boise this afternoon and they said they’d be up here first thing in the morning to collect Old Vic. Sorry, I shouldn’t be jumping to conclusions like that. They’ll be up in the morning to collect the remains.”

“Where are you keeping him?” asked Charlene.

“Keeping who?”

“Vic! Or should I say the remains.”

“Oh, we just left him there. I figure he’s been there for a hundred years. What’s one more night? Right?”

“Um, yeah, yeah,” Charlene answered, “One more night.”

Irene materialized at their table balancing plates on her arm. She sat one in front of each of them. “Bon appétit y’all,” she said. “I’ll be right back with more coffee.”

Charlene and Hugo looked at each other as if to say “uh oh!” then they both turned their attention back to Garrett and smiled.

Musn’t let on!