Undercover

by | Aug 22, 2012 | Fiction, Flash fiction, Relationships | 16 comments

I wrote a first draft of this based on a promt at WriteToDone.com. It’s posted, along with many other stories based on the prompt, in the comment section there. Then I did a couple more rounds of editing before posting it here.

Undercover
By Laura McHale Holland 

I’ve seen plenty in my thirty years here. There was the time I arrived to open the bank, and the display windows were smashed. Glass shards littered the sidewalk; glass was on the floor inside, too. The work of young anarchists prowling the night before.

Another time, it wasn’t glass on the floor; it was everyone in the bank. Except for the tellers. They were pulling money from their cash drawers with trembling hands. But then a customer realized the gun the robber brandished was only a toy. He wrestled the culprit to the ground. I pressed the alarm. Soon enough Officer Kaufman had the man in a paddy wagon.

Photo by H.Adam

Yes, I’ve seen plenty over the years. But today takes the cake. I can’t work. Clothes racks and shelves clutter the waiting area. And a checkout station is right where my desk should be. A girl behind the counter is waving at me. Our tellers would never have tattoos all over their arms like she does.

 Hi, Mr. Walker, are you lost again?” she asks.

 I’m not lost. I work here.” 

 Of course you do. Why don’t you have a seat by the window? I’ll sort it all out, okay?” She picks up her cell phone. I stand my ground.

 A few minutes later, Officer Kaufman walks in, smiles at me. “Francis Walker. You’re just the man I’m looking for.”

 Hi there Officer. Do you need another loan?”

 No, Francis. I’ve come to take you home.”

 Home? Is something wrong with Nancy?”

 Nancy is in heaven now, Francis. You and me, we’re both widowers long retired. We live at Happy Hills, and I’ve come to take you home.”

 I don’t believe a word he’s said, but he is an officer of the law. I’d better go. This must be some undercover operation; he’ll fill me in once we get outside.

 

Click to visit H.Adam’s flickr photostream.

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16 Comments

  1. Eve Trout

    I have to re-read this again tomorrow. I’m a bit confused or I’m tired.

  2. admin

    Uh-oh, Evie. Please let me know when you read it again what’s confusing. Sweet dreams in the meantime.

  3. Arletta Dawdy

    You got me! I was sure it was a woman relating her adventures and then came the clothes racks and shelves…very nicely done.

  4. admin

    Thanks for sharing a bit of what you were thinking as you read the story — and for the compliment, Arletta. (I’ve got the reading at the Redwood Cafe in my calendar. I hope to make it there to hear you read from your new book. Congrats on that!)

  5. Anthony Pires

    It is amazing what can happen to our brains, you wrote it beautifully and made a good point. Thanks
    Tony

  6. admin

    Thank you for reading the story and commenting on it, Tony. It is amazing what can happen to our brains — and to our bodies. We take care of ourselves the best we can, but many things are out of our control. The difficulties we experience in accepting that can be the genesis of many stories, I think.

  7. Susan

    Your last sentence in response to Tony is absolutely correct, my friend. This story reminds me of what my friend in Florida went through with her mom and the last thing my own mom said to me before she died. She had been hospitalized after a major stroke (her 4th!!) and I was visiting her. I came with a little girl figurine that had red hear, and she said, “That’s really cute and it looks like one of my daughters. Do you know her?” She didn’t recognize me. She went back to sleep and my heart sank, but I’m hopeful she heard me say, “I love you, mom”. I’ll tell you later what happened to my friend’s mom. HUGS!

  8. admin

    That scene with your mom brings tears to my eyes, Susan. I’m sure there are many, many grown children of ailing parents who have gone through something similar. … I had an elderly friend in San Francisco whose daughter placed her in an assisted living community when she could no longer live alone. When I used to phone her there she would accuse me of kicking her out of her house and selling it out from under her. I had nothing to do with the move or the home sale. (How could I have?) If she’d been in her “right mind” she would have known that, of course. It was very painful because I loved her so much. She’d always been someone I could talk things over with, but no more. She was too confused to know what roles people played in her life. She sort of knew who we were, but she had us all mixed up.

  9. Ann Philipp

    I enjoyed the caring nature of the clerk and the retired officer. Reminds me that no matter what we face there’s usually someone around to help us.

  10. admin

    Thanks for pointing that out, Ann. What a great thought to have in response to the story. If I’d tried to convey that consciously, it probably would have seemed forced. It’s just the way the characters came to me, and for that I’m grateful.

  11. Robin Leigh Morgan

    Hi Laura,

    I know I haven’t comment in a long while, I just couldn’t come up with anything worthwhile to comment on. Perhaps it has been your serialized flash fiction with Chloe for the past several weeks, But anyway,

    Growing old and living alone after your “better half” has gone to their reward can become a terrible thing. We become so engrossed in our past and in our former mundane daily routine that the reality of today no longer exists for us as we envision ourselves still living in the past.

    The bakery has always been in the middle and the bank that Mr. Walker worked in for the greater and later part of his life has always been next to it. Perhaps on his daily walk today in his freshly laundred and ironed shirt, tie and suit, he believes he’s living in that past and just going to work like any day during his active existence. Perhaps as he walks by that same bakery and into store next to it he oblivious to the reality that his former bank work location has now become a clothing store.

    The store personnel seemingly have become used to Mr. Walker’s behavior and they call another regular neighborhood character from his past, Officer Kaufman to come and get him. There’s no wonder for the conversation these two elderly gentlemen have, as Kaufman takes Walker back to their home at Happy Hills.

    Nothing in life changes, as I can see in your flash fiction. We merely change one reality into another.

    ================================================================
    It’s a great feeling, exercising my creative juices commenting on another one of your wonderful flash fictions. :-) :-) :-)

  12. admin

    Great to hear from you again, Robin. I hadn’t thought of a favorite bakery being right next door to where the bank used to be. I had imagined Francis leaving Happy Hills, thinking he was going to work right from the start, but he could have easily been heading to his favorite bakery instead and gotten confused. … Have you launched your book yet? I hope that project is going well. … I was with my sister Kathy this weekend, and she designed the cover for my flash fiction collection, which I’ll be releasing this fall. I’m going to write a short post about that right now, and put the cover on display.

  13. Barbara Toboni

    Great piece, Laura. I love Mr. Magoo type characters. I like the hopeful and positive approach you took in this piece. Mr. Walker could have been an awful combative person. Many of your pieces are like this and I like that.

  14. admin

    Thank you, Barbara! I must be in a hopeful place. There were years when everything I wrote was dark, and it reflected my state of mind. I’m a more grateful person these days, thank goodness.

  15. Patricia V. Davis

    I am so glad I came over to see the cover of your book and got to read some of the short pieces and commentary on them. They were very enjoyable. Congratulations, Laura!

  16. admin

    Thank you, Patricia! I see how busy you are with the books you’ve just released, books in the pipeline and many other projects. I appreciate that you stopped in for a taste of what’s going on here and left a supportive comment. You rock, girl!

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