The Night Watchman

This week, I decided to do something I haven’t done in a while. Hope you enjoy it! The following story was written by using a prompt contained in “The Amazing Story Generator” by Jason Sacher.

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They’d been working him way too hard. Just last week alone, the night watchman had put in over 60 hours. It was all because the company that he worked for was too cheap to hire enough help. He kept warning them that he wasn’t going able to keep up the pace for much longer, even going so far as to send an e-mail to the corporate office practically begging his supervisor to hire another person. It wasn’t bad enough that all of the hours were killing him. The job site wasn’t helping much either.

The company had placed him at a 24 hour pawn shop, on the overnight shift. In the beginning, they had told him that this was a temporary assignment. Every time that he had asked for a transfer, there was always another excuse. There weren’t enough employees to cover all of the shifts as it was, he was so good at the job that the client wanted to keep him there, or that they didn’t feel that he was a good fit at other locations due to various nonsensical reasons. The only thing that he knew for sure was that he wasn’t sure how much more of it he could take.

Night after night, he watched drug addled and drunk men and women dragging their young children into the pawn shop in order to sell their meager belongings, hoping to get enough for their next fix. One night close to Christmas, a young mother came into the shop around two in the morning. She was thin and bedraggled, but at least she had enough sense to bundle up in the cold weather. The baby was another story. The baby was only wearing a flimsy onesie , with nothing but a thin summer weight blanket wrapped around it.

He wanted to call the police, but when he phoned his superior he was told that he would be fired if he did so. She said, “You are there to protect the merchandise and the employees of the pawn shop, not to play social worker.” Luckily she hung up on him before he could ask her how she could be so cold. This was the night that things started to change for him. Between the hours and the nature of the business he was surrounded by each night, he could feel himself slipping.

At first it was little things, such as the night that he was propped against the counter keeping an eye on a young guy who had brought in a bunch of knives to be pawned. It was obvious that this guy had some kind of problem. He moved with jerky motions and laughed when no one was talking. Right before the night watchman’s eyes, the head of the clean-shaven young man began sprouting hair. By the time he left the shop with his money, his hair was down to his shoulders.

The watchman knew that this couldn’t be right, so he didn’t say anything. Night after night, things like this kept happening. He knew that it was because of his levels of exhaustion, and he called corporate every day, asking them to hire someone else to help him on the third shift. Weeks turned into months, and he was still working at least 60 hours a week. His calls for help went unanswered, so in an act of desperation, he sent the e-mail almost begging for relief.

He waited for a few days, but finally saw a reply in his inbox. Relieved and anxious, he opened the message which read:

If you feel as though you aren’t capable of handling your responsibilities, you may feel free to tender your resignation. We have made every effort to work with you, even though the results have not yet been to your satisfaction. Should you decide to resign, we require a two-week notice so that we will have the opportunity to send your replacement to your location in order for you to train them. Our hope is that you will stay, as the client is still very happy with your presence. You are a valued employee, and we would hate to see you throw your career away. If you choose to quit, it will be very difficult for you to secure a position with another firm. Please consider your choices carefully.

After reading the message, he felt deflated, angry, and defeated. For the past three months, the watchman had been filling out job applications left and right to no avail. In this economy and job market, positions were hard to come by. It was time for him to leave for work, so he closed his laptop and got into his car. The next thing he knew, he was standing in his supervisor’s office at corporate headquarters. Looking around the room for her, he finally spotted her lifeless body on the floor at his feet.

The night watchman screamed in horror, realizing that he must have done it. He looked at his reflection in the mirror on the door and to his utter disbelief, he noticed that he had sprouted an extra arm. That had to be it! That’s the only explanation for how he had gotten there and why he had killed someone. It had to be the arm. Surely, the extra appendage had taken over. He didn’t know what he was going to do. His mind raced. What else was the arm going to get up to?

Remembering the knife that he kept in his pocket, he grabbed it with every intention of sawing the evil new appendage off. As if the night wasn’t weird enough, he must have blacked out again. The next thing he knew, sunlight was coming through the window and he heard voices screaming at him-wanting to know what the hell he had done. He looked down and noticed that he was still holding the knife and was cutting at the air. The extra arm was gone. Immediately his eyes went to the floor, but it wasn’t there either. He yelled at the two men standing in the door to run.

When the police arrived, the night watchman was sitting in the middle of the floor mumbling about the arm. When the officers asked the two men what was going on, they explained that they had found him like this and that all he would say was that the extra arm had done it and escaped. As they handcuffed him and took him out to one of their cars, his glazed eyes kept scanning the ground in search of the arm.

This Week’s Work & Play

I’ve still been hard at work on writing projects. Lately though, I’ve been taking out time to do some “just because” things too. Some have turned out nicely, others not so much. No matter what, I had a good time playing around. Local veggies are really starting to come in and I’ve been stocking the freezer with some of the early crops. Plus,  I’ve been in the mood to knit washcloths lately for some odd reason but hey why fight it. I  even made some time for a few very quick art projects and to get outside-just to make my heart happy. Below are a few pics of some of the stuff I’ve done this week.

 

 

February Challenge ~ 29 Faces

This is one of those things which just seemed meant to be. I had gotten an email the other morning from Ayala Art about the month long 29 Faces art challenge for February. I was seriously tempted…because I truly need practice in creating faces. In my typical fashion, I put off deciding whether to participate, because I wasn’t sure that I wanted to add another thing to my list of things to do.

Later that day, I got an email from my best friend…and in that email, she told me that her daughter (who I adore by the way), had asked if I was going to be doing 29 Faces. So there it was…in my face…begging to be done…twice in one day. You don’t have to tell me twice…oh wait…I guess you do! At any rate, I made the decision to do it.

So, be prepared to see a new face posted here each day for the month of February. Also, be prepared for many of them to not be all that great. I’ve always been okay with posting all sorts of my work here, regardless of quality…for a few reasons. We all start somewhere, and I feel that posting these early pieces encourages others to pick up their tools and try things which they’ve been thinking of trying, but were afraid to because they fear that they won’t be good enough.

Secondly, and most importantly…creating art is a joyful thing for me…regardless of the appearance of the finished product. This is what creating is all about. It comes from that playful, inspired, creative side of ourselves which provides not only happiness, but I truly believe that it also provides healing. I will still be posting the Card of the Day as usual. There is one change which I’ve been batting around, and I’m still not sure which way I’ll go with it.

The new Wednesday feature, Ask Tracy, is something which I’m really loving. Only thing I’m thinking about changing is perhaps doing it every two weeks instead of weekly. First, it would give people more time to think of questions and get them in. Second, the videos are time consuming. This is not a complaint…I’m just seeking balance here. Making the commitment to do 29 Faces has helped me to realize how much I’ve been missing my creative practice. Plus, I have my novel laying on my desk all printed out for editing. The intention was to start editing last week, and it still hasn’t been touched. While I will give it a little more thought, it is likely that the videos will move to a bi-weekly schedule. I’ll keep you posted.

Art Journal Spread…Still In Progress

I posted the outline of this spread here:

https://pullupatoadstool.com/2015/12/13/art-journal-play-wip/.

It still isn’t done because a migraine and adverse medication reaction dictated that I stop and spend the rest of the day yesterday in the dark. Below is a photo of how far I got. I’ll post again when the spread is finished.

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The Faux

Smiles kept your fangs hidden, but only for a while

Bridges were built between us with platitudes made of sand

Washing away with the flow of tears which was inevitable

As the truth came to light that it was all a mirage

Nothing but smoke and mirrors, posed to appear like the real deal

Tread lightly for the masquerade ball has come to an end

The disguise has been ripped away and your identity revealed

Now the sentries are gathered in a circle tight

They are here for your banishment from this place

Vines rise forth from the ground to serve as your shackles

As you are led through the gates which are being drawn closed

The way into the inner sanctum is sealed to you forever

Beware the guardians and keepers of this place

Let this serve as your warning, for they will not be as gentle as I.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art Journal Play…WIP

Below is a work in progress. This spread was inspired by some material I’ve been reading lately. The coloring and background will likely be done in watercolor..then again…who knows. I’ll post again when the spread is finished.

 

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Short Fiction…On The Run

Even though she knew that what she was about to do was wrong, Lara just couldn’t seem to control herself. She had worked too hard over the years to build her reputation as the world’s most popular plus sized model to sit back and let those jerks in the high fashion magazines tear it apart. In her living room, she sat on the couch reading countless headlines mocking the way she looked and calling her names. One of them even went so far as to put the caption, “moo” under her photo. She’d show them!

With her list of targets and what they had said about her in hand, Lara got to work. After everything was in place, she set the plan in motion. Night one of her plan was the most mild. One of them had said that her dresses were big enough to be duvets and pondered whether they were down filled. At 2am, she broke into their offices posing as a cleaning lady. In every room, she dumped piles and piles of goose feathers. They were strewn on the floors, on top of the desks…they were everywhere. When her work was complete, she muttered, “duvet this”, with one middle finger jabbed up into the air, and headed home with a smile on her face.

Night two was reserved for the magazine which had said that in their opinion “plus sized models were big fat zeros” who would never have a place in their publication . She’d show them what it felt like to be reduced to nothing.She had learned that there was no staff in the building at night. Not even security. At midnight, dressed in men’s coveralls, she pulled around to the loading dock at the rear of the building and backed up to the bay to which she had earlier jimmied open the door. She and the men she hired went up, and using the service elevator, emptied out each office. When they were through, there wasn’t a scrap of anything left. She dropped the men off, drove the truck to the river, and slid everything into the water.

The next day, the newspapers were buzzing. The headlines said that it seemed as though someone were targeting the offices of fashion magazines. Several magazines were interviewed. When asked if they knew why this had happened, the editors of the magazines said that they had no idea why anyone would do what had been done. The one who had captioned the word moo under her photo had gone so far as to say that it was preposterous that anyone would commit such heinous acts against institutions that brought so much beauty to the world. Lara giggled at that one and said, “Wait ’till the bitch sees what I’ve got planned for her”.

This last act of revenge had really taken some planning. She left early in the afternoon and drove to upstate New York, where she had purchased 10 cows from a farm. She picked up the loaded truck and paid the farmer. She arranged for him to come to the city the following afternoon to pick the cows back up. When he told her that he wasn’t giving her any of her money back she laughed. “No sir, I’m not asking you to. I have doubled your payment to include a fee for the pickup and transportation of the cows back to your farm”. When she asked that he keep her name, which he knew to be Bob Jenkins, confidential, he indicated that he found the arrangement odd, but agreed. Once the deal was struck, she tipped her ball cap, hitched up her jeans, and spit on the ground narrowly missing her work boot.

She made her way back to the city in darkness and wound her way through the quiet streets to the loading dock of her least favorite magazine. This building had security, and they met her at the door. She told them that the magazine was doing a shoot tomorrow which required livestock. They looked at her suspiciously, and told her that she’d have to wait while they made a call. Since it was cold outside, she told them that she’d wait in the cab of the truck.

Inside the cab of the truck, a burner cell phone rang and she answered, making her voice sound as though she had been awakened. “Yes, yes, let them make the delivery. This is a special campaign and no one is to enter that office suite except the delivery person. There is some very proprietary material in there, so you keep your men out of there. Do you understand me?”, she barked into the phone. It paid to have friends in low places. The head of security agreed, and walked up to the truck to tap on the window.

“It’s okay for you to go in sir. Sorry for the delay”. Lara opened the door and proceeded to lead the cattle into the building three at a time. It took several hours to get them all upstairs and into the offices. She placed some small cameras in the office to which she’d have remote access, because she simply had to see the reactions. When she got out of there it was almost five in the morning. She had made sure to leave every door to every office open, in order to give the cattle free reign.

When she got home, she made a big pot of coffee and sat watching the camera feed. Those cows were chewing up papers and crapping all over the place. It was great! The queen bitch made her way into the office around 8:30. Her shrieks were so loud that Lara had to turn the volume of her speakers down. Upon witnessing the woman stepping into a nice big cow pie in her $500 shoes, she howled in delight. The next few hours were highly entertaining. When all of the cows had been cleared out, Lara finally went to bed.

The next day, the news media was abuzz. They were covering the stories of Lara’s revenge like crazy. Then, the tide turned. The editor of the “moo” magazine had named her as a suspect, and because of the amount of damage that had been done at the three offices the case was turned over to the FBI. “The perpetrator of these vicious attacks will be brought to justice”, were the words of the agent who had just been interviewed.

She threw a few things in an overnight bag, went to a hotel, and was in full panic mode when her phone rang the next morning. Looking at the caller ID, she saw that one of her best friends was calling. Before she could even say hello her friend said, “Hi sweets. I think I know where you are and I’m on my way to get you. Do not answer the phone or your door until after I get there”.

“I thought you were doing that shoot in Italy”.

“Yes, well I saw the news and hopped a plane. I’ll be there in 15 minutes”.

The two women had met five years ago at a fashion expo in London. Her friend had been named one of the top 10 supermodels in the world last year, and had been in Italy doing a cover shoot for a European fashion magazine. Lara was curious to find out what her beautiful friend had up her sleeve.

After they got back to her apartment, they settled onto Lara’s buttery soft Italian leather sofa with a martini and her friend said, “I know that the cops will be here soon. I’m going to assume that you disguised yourself when you made your little house calls”. Lara nodded her head, indicating that she had. “Good”, her friend continued, “I have proof that you have been in Italy with me for the last four days and I’m prepared to show it to the police”.

The women sat there casually waiting for the authorities to arrive. The buzzer rang in the early evening. Lara opened the door and invited the two FBI agents inside. When they got into the living room, the younger agent’s eyes almost popped out of his head. “Oh wow! You’re…”, he stammered. Then he looked at Lara, before looking back at her friend. His face said it all. How could someone like her have a supermodel for a friend? Very unexpected.

“Yes”, said the long tall blonde, “I am”.  In her head she added the word, “jackass”.

Lara asked the agents how she could help them. When they asked her where she had been over the past several days, she told them that she had been in Italy with her friend. “Do you have any proof of that? One of the editors named you as a suspect, and I find the fact that she referred to you as a cow and that they had their offices filled with cows to be a mighty big coincidence”.

Lara’s friend jumped in then and told them that they should call the private airport to check the flight manifest and to call the resort in Italy to speak with the manager. “We just got back in this morning”.

The older agent said that they would be checking into the information and instructed Lara not to go anywhere until she was cleared as a suspect. She agreed to their request, and let the agents out. A few minutes later, Lara’s friend asked if she happened to have the cow video. “I’d love to see it before you have to destroy it”.

They sat and watched the video, laughing so hard that they cried. “Now that’s some funny bullshit right there kiddo”, said Lara’s friend. Her words set them off into another fit of laughter. Once they calmed down, Lara removed the flash drive and crushed it with the heel of her shoe before flushing the pieces down the toilet.