Friday, August 8, 2014

About Face

Two cops go into a liquor store. No joke.

A punk named Freeman checked his brain at the door. He never intended to hurt anyone the day he entered A&J Liquor Mart. His gun was plastic. Within seconds, the whacky cashier pulled his own gun, no toy, and fired at Freeman. His untrained hand missed badly. The slug came to rest in Officer Turlington’s junk. Family jewels splattered over the black and white tiles. Then the stupid jerk of a clerk fainted. Freeman cleaned out the till then walked over to the bloodied officer and took the cop’s gun.

Turlington’s partner, Frank, a year and a half from retirement, swung around the rum aisle and pointed his weapon at Freeman. “Don’t move!” Frank the cop walked slowly toward Freeman. “Drop the gun!” The officer shifted his eyes momentarily toward his fallen partner. Mistake. Freeman squeezed one shot from Turlington’s gun. Exit Frank. Freeman bent down inches from Turlington’s pained face. “Listen Dick-less, they might pin your dead partner’s killing on you. Hell, your gun is the murder weapon. You two cops picked the wrong day to booze shop.”


     Max’s Mask and Costume offered sophisticated high tech costumes and masks, often times costing three figures or more. Retired Patrolman Turlington rolled his wheelchair into Max’s shop and weaved himself around the excited kids. Max waived the disabled former cop into the back room.

The workbench was covered with clay, sculpting tools, slush latex, paints, and varnish. Max grabbed a mask from among the mess, held it up, and thrust it forward toward Turlington. “I’ve been working on this nonstop for you. I tossed out the first couple of attempts, but I really like this one. Whaddya think?” Max asked.

“It’s a good thing I’m sitting! Max, you’re a magician! This is scary good!” a giddy Turlington said. “What do I owe you?”

Max headed for the door. “Owe? For what? You were never here for a mask I never made.”


     Freeman got 10 years for robbery. They couldn’t prove he killed Frank. He was out in half the time for good behavior. He found religion, started over, and settled down with his new family in a little ranch on a tree lined street less than 10 miles from the liquor store.

The air was crisp and clear, the sky cloudless, perfect weather for October 31. Number 12 Pleasant Way was decked out with fake gravesites on a manicured front lawn sporting several mummy statues. The front porch housed a couple of hanging witches on broomsticks as well as three pumpkins. It was a scene out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Freeman was in the living room reading a magazine when he noticed out of the corner of his eye a wheelchair on the front porch. His son opened the door and offered a tray full of goodies. He saw a police uniform and a big smile crossed his young face.

“I’ll take a red one, please,” the handicapped man said softly. The child opened the door and handed him the cherry-flavored sweet. “Is your father home?”

“Daddy, there is a policeman at the front door and he wants to see you.”

Freeman was already on his way when he got a good look at the man in the wheelchair. Freeman heard two familiar words. “Don’t move!” He froze with a chill that could have put an end to global warming. It wasn’t the gun that sent Freeman’s heart pumping like a gasoline tank filling a parched SUV. He was looking into the face of the man he had killed those many years ago, a lifetime ago.

“This isn’t possible,” Freeman gurgled.

The bullet was fired in an upward trajectory toward Freeman’s crotch. In an instant, the Freemans had the scariest Halloween decorations in the neighborhood.