“Where is it?”
His voice was a low gruff bark and it totally matched the gruesome stare shooting back at me. e was aHe was a hulk of a man who seemed to have only one facial expression, anger.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about Mister, look I’m just renting this beach house for the weekend with my family. Maybe you have business with the owner or someone who rented before? This place is pretty popular I’m told.” I fidgeted trying to change his mood.
I stared back defiantly or at least I thought it was defiant. I’m sure he saw fear. The man was at least six foot four and looked like a bouncer, I was five foot ten and a half and looked like an accountant, which coincidentally I was. I knew I was no match for him.
“It was brought here and dropped off, you had to see it. I need the box and I need it now. It’s small about eight inches square, see?”
He opened his huge gorilla-like hand, the box could have fit in his palm. Then he closed it into a fist again and pointed his thick index finger at my face.
“Look I ain’t in the mood for games Buddy. And the longer I stay here talking to you about it, the madder I’m gonna get. You don’t wanna make me any more mad, do ya?”
He stepped closer to me, with both fists clenched, which was intimidating. After all, he had already busted in through the front door without even knocking. And that was a heavy all wooden hurricane proof door. He could probably punch a hole right through my chest and not even flinch. I raised my hand trying to pacify him.
“Dude, I just came back here to bring an umbrella to my wife so she could sit in the shade and read while the kids swam and surfed out there,” I pointed at the beach which was our back yard, “… all I’m…”
“Look!” he grabbed my unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt and lifted me toward him, “… I don’t have a lot of time. They said it was dropped off. Just point me to it and I’ll leave you to your little family. Come on, I don’t have all day!”
The first thing I could think of was that he could hurt me and my wife wouldn’t know till she came back looking for me and also – has he ever heard of Listerine?
“Sir, look I’m sorry it must seem like I’m being difficult, but… honestly. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t even live here, I live in Tampa – we come to Treasure Island three times a year and rent this beach house to get away. I’ve had a business relationship with the owner for the past eight years. Honestly, this secretive box you’re looking for – if it’s here – is all yours if you find it, but you know if you mess up the place there goes my security deposit.”
He shoved me away and I fell over the dining room chair, and broke it.
“Great, I’ll have to pay for that, thanks.” I whispered under my breath.
“You got any guns in da house?” he barked.
“I don’t like guns. And this isn’t my house.” I said.
I noticed he had barged in but didn’t seem to have any kind of weapon either. But then again with a body like that who needed one? Before I could finish getting up, he rushed me again. Anger dripped off this brute like cheap cologne.
“Buddy, I’m going to level with ya,” he seemed like he was trying to be friendly, as if he could ever truly accomplish that feat, “… I’m just doing this for my brother see? He ordered something, it came here, I pick it up I take it to him, end of story, see? Now can you imagine what I’m going to look like coming back empty handed? My brother ain’t someone to piss off. You ever heard of the Carnemorte Crime Family?”
“Uh yeah,” I wiped sweat off my balding brow, “… they were in the news last week, the big jewel heist from…”
“Exactly, so do you see why I’m kinda anxious around here? My brother is a part of that gang.”
I hadn’t noticed before but it sounded like a New Jersey accent. That crime family was based in Jersey; it was all over the internet.
“I, I do… and I wish I could help you, Mr. Carnemorte.”
He reached over and picked up the letter opener out of the pencil cup. I’d never noticed it before but it sure looked like a knife in his hand and held it out like he knew what to do with it.
“Uh, Sir… ok look, maybe it was… hey yeah – in the garage… wait I remember, some brown truck came, looked like UPS but had no logo,” I stammered, “… well, I let the guy in, he said he had to drop something off for the owner and asked if I would sign. I did, then he went to the garage and said he’d leave it in the loft. I didn’t see what it was, it was a brown package. None of my business, right? I didn’t even sign my real name.”
“Did you see where he put this package?”
“Well I tried to follow him but then he took the step stool in the garage and I walked back in the house. I didn’t want to get my family all into whatever a personal delivery was. Let’s go check, maybe that’s what you’re looking for?”
He got in my face, stared me down.
“Why didn’t you tell me this before?”
“I, I just remembered, I saw a brown van drive by outside just now, see?” I pointed, he didn’t turn.
“Show me this loft.” he was pointing at the garage.
“But my family is waiting for me outside, we’re supposed to go to…”
“I said show me!” he pointed the sharp weapon at me.
I backed off and walked through the dining room ahead of him. Passing the kitchen window, I glanced out and saw my wife in the distance. She was headed toward the house and wore that “where the hell is he” look on her face.
“Oh no.” I grimaced.
We walked through the kitchen door into the garage.
“So, the guy came in here, and took that step stool. Let me go check for you, then I can…”
He shoved me back against the old work bench.
“You stay there, I’ll check!” he yelled.
The shove forced me to knock over several things on the workbench. Stuff the owner always had lying around. I reached over to put the fallen stuff back and pulled open the drawer with the red handle.
Mr. Carnemorte was already on the step stool and had pushed open the small attic door. It creaked under his muscular shove. He fanned his hand up in the area. All I heard was slaps of his hand agsinst flat wood. His aggravation grew when he found nothing up there.
“Aint nothing but dust up here man, what are you feeding me? You better have a good explanation for this, chum!”
He looked down at me, the frown was intimidating but he wasn’t prepared for my reply.
“I lied.” I smiled.
“You, you what!?”
“You’re going to die for that, Buddy! It’s going to be quick and painful.”
He hopped off the step stool in a huff and headed toward me holding out the letter opener. Then I pulled out the gun.
“I lied about the gun too.” I smiled.
The rage on his face was priceless, he hesitated for a second.
“Where’d you get that? Is it real?”
“Wanna find out, Lurch?” I said. The sarcasm was sure to enrage him.
It did – he leapt toward me in a rage filled scream.
Back in the house, my wife walked in through the broken door wearing the diamond necklace I gave her from the unmarked package that was delivered. I’d been in this beach house before; I knew where Dave the owner hid his gun. He told me about it once when he said he was robbed by a gang member looking for contraband. And I also knew that he made shady deals that he didn’t want people or the police to know about. He actually asked me one time to sign for a package for him that turned out to be drugs. He used his vacation house as drop off for his crooked dealings and part of the contract is that renters do not enter the garage. I opened that package, gave it to my wife. I figured one missing item wouldn’t hurt.
“Honey?” she called, “… what happened to the front doo…”
I heard her voice at the same time that the man was almost on me from his angry leap.
Rod Martinez was born and raised in Tampa, Florida and was attracted to words at an early age. Wrote his first comic book “The Boy Who Liked To Read” (about himself) with construction paper and pencil in the 2nd grade on his own – wasn’t a class assignment. The teacher then decided to keep the masterpiece and show other students in class what they could do if they “applied” themselves. It was his English teacher in high school that pulled him aside and said “You should delve into short story writing, give the comic books a rest.” It wasn’t till his later adult years that he started to take it seriously, having written a middle grade fiction adventure titled “The Juniors” that was picked up by a publisher. Now he knows that he wants to do this for the rest of his life.