they fight crime

“You there! Thomas Baker! Wake up!”

“I’m not asleep… First Lady.”

“Good Lord, call me Susan. I know you weren’t sleeping. You were brooding. They say you’re plagued by the memory of your family’s brutal murder.”

“Well, it just happened yesterday. A little soon for me to be plagued and brooding. I’m still somewhere between disbelief and anger. Plus when my face heals, it’s going to be covered with scars. So I was just day-dreaming about what I’ll do when I catch the killers.”

“That’s a lot of exposition right there, Tom, but you are a film-maker.”

“I am. I like to set the stage. For example, I know that you’re extravagant and a man-hater. You were First Lady for eight years. You hate your man. Also, you have the power to see death.”

“That’s correct. I’d say the stage is now set for action. I’m here to fight crime and I want you to help me.”

“All right, but hang on. The extravagance thing. I’ve seen some costumes but that getup you’re wearing is something else.”

“Designer. Cost thousands, and I’ll change for dinner.”

“Just so you know, I’m pressed for cash.”

“It’s on me, Tom. All on me.”

“The other thing is, you can see death?”

“Yes.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means I can see him. The black robe, the skull, the scythe.”

“You see him,  you know, killing people?”

“No,  just coming and going, from place to place. Gliding along like he’s on a hoverboard, but without any sudden flames.”

“Do you speak to him?”

“Just to say hello. As First Lady I did a lot of meet-and-greet. I’ve shaken Death’s hand.”

“Bones?”

“Cold bones, indeed. Hand bones connected to the wrist bone.”

“OK. Let’s go catch the guys that murdered my family.”

“Saddle up, Tom. You can film the proceedings on your iPhone.”

“What’s our first step? I’m not sure I could handle the crime scene, even if they’ve got all the family bodies cleared out. And the pets. Their corpses, I mean. The killers didn’t spare the pets. Not even little Sparky. I mean, kill the grandparents and spouse and all the kids, and the adult pets, but that’s where I draw the line.”

“Quite so. We won’t need to visit the crime scene.”

“How do we find our first clue?”

“Our first clue? My dear boy, we don’t need clues. All we need is to know who committed the crime and we don’t need clues for that.”

“How are we going to find out then?”

“Obviously, we’re going to go ask Death.”

“Aha. What if he won’t tell us?”

“What an odd question. I’m the beloved former First Lady. Of course he’ll tell us. Follow me, out the door, down the stairs, onto the passing bus, off at the hospital, because Death spends a lot of time here. Into the wards and lo and behold, there he is, leaning over that fat man.”

“We’re post-fat shaming, you know.”

“Extraordinary. Oh, Death? Excuse me, but could you let that fellow live a bit longer. I’ve a quick question or two… Thank you…

“You see the brooding film-maker over there? Can you tell me please who brutally murdered his kin?”

I don’t know about brutal or murder, but of course I took them all. Including little Sparky. And thanks to Terry Pratchett for my little appearance here, by the way, RIP Terry.

“You know what I’m asking. Who handed the kin off to you, so to speak?”

The brooder did.

“The brooder himself? No wonder he’s brooding.”

He’s brooding because he didn’t capture the whole thing properly on his phone like he planned. Ever since Tangerine came out, he’s been obsessed with making a movie that way.

“Tangerine is an excellent film.”

Yes, I recommend it. Not the life style in it though. Injurious to your health.

“All right then. Another mystery solved. Thank you, Death.”

You’re welcome. Do you want me to take the brooder now? Save the cost of a trial?

“No. I’m extravagant. I’ll need to buy numerous new outfits. It’ll be a show trial. Tom will film the whole thing as well. A final documentary. Before the end credits roll, he’ll include a simple dedication onscreen to the memory of Little Sparky.”

 

For terribleminds Friday Flash Fiction

Prompt: He’s a scar-faced day-dreaming filmmaker plagued by the memory of his family’s brutal murder. She’s a man-hating extravagant former first lady with the power to see death. They fight crime!

The History of Courage

“Son, you either have courage or you don’t. You don’t.”

“How do you know that?”

“You ran away from Chuck at school. You said so yourself.”

“I ran away because he’s a bully twice my size.”

“If you had courage, you would have stood up to him.”

“Why? That would have been stupid.”

“Because it’s the right thing to do with a bully. You can stop him from being a bully.”

“How is that going to stop him? Because he’ll get kicked out of school after beating the crap out of me? He doesn’t care about that. He’d like it. I’d be doing him a favor.”

“What about your self-respect?”

“My self-respect is fine. It’s your respect I’m worried about. Do I need to come home missing some teeth to earn it?”

“What if Chuck is bullying a kid even smaller than you?”

“Well, Dad, now that you mention it, let me remind you. Chuck was bullying me. Whose job is it to look after me?”

“I’m an adult. I can’t come to your school and beat up a kid.”

“You can come to school with me and speak to the principal. You can come with me to Chuck’s house and speak to his dad.”

“That’s… I’m… I’m not much of a… Your mother might…”

 

For terribleminds