Saturday, December 12, 2009

Not What They Seem: Final Installment

Zelda’s knees crumpled and she hit the floor, eyes closed and momentarily unable to breathe. Her gut instinct to trust Ben had been on target. Unfortunately, she’d been a lttle too trusting of a uniform. Cops were supposed to be good; EMTs were supposed to be good.

Wolves in sheeps’ clothing, that’s what these cops and EMTS were.

Come to think of it, gray-hair ladies who wore flannel robes that reached past their knees and support stockings were supposed to be good, too.

In just a matter of moments, Zelda’s home was full of fake cops and fake EMTs, and they were all looking for something.

Except for the first cop, the one who’d entered with Mrs. Garrison. He focused on Ben. Ben took a step back, the fake cop sprinted. Ben stumbled and just barely regained his balance by leaning up against a decorative table in Zelda’s entry way. The cop didn’t have an issue with balance and pressed his gun up against Ben’s temple.

“I’ve wanted to kill you for a long time,” the fake cop said.

“Not yet,” said Mrs. Garrison. “You’re a little too quick on the trigger and that’s why my husband’s dead. Idiot.”

“Okay” the fake cop said, “I’ll settle for this.” Without hesitation, and without removing the gun from Ben’s temple, he smashed his fist into Ben’s nose.

Ben’s hands flew up to his nose and a word – one that Zelda couldn’t make out – escaped from his lips. Then, Ben shuddered, knocking against the decorative table holding the antique lady planter vase that had been Zelda’s mother’s. The planter was in the shape of a blonde, curly-haired woman wearing green and pink ruffled dress – complete with a nosegay - and looking ready to go out a 1950’s era date. When Ben bumped into the table, the lady wobbled, fell to its side, and started to roll toward the edge of the tiny, round table.

Ben’s hands left his now red nose and grabbed for the planter.

In the ruckus, no one but Zelda, still pretending to be unconscious on the floor, noticed the detonator fall from his pocket. It landed right next to Zelda’s hand. She quickly made sure it was under her hand.

She’d be thanking God for this bit of help later.

“You’ve got to be kidding!” Mrs. Garrison yelled.


“It’s been here all along, right on this stupid table, and right on this stupid vase I’ve looked at a thousand times.”

The fake cop grabbed the vase and turned it upside-down. A list of numbers scrawled in bold black marker were printed underneath.

Tommy would have some explaining to do.

“Now, you can kill him,” Mrs. Garrison said calmly.

The fake cop grinned.

Zelda jumped up, holding the detonator, and said, “If I even hear the faintest movement from that gun’s mechanism, I’ll blow us all to Kingdom Come. And, because I’m quite sure none of your shadows have passed over a church’s threshold, I might be the only want with an invitation.”

The fake cop lowered his gun and squinted at the detonator. Mrs. Garrison looked angry. The other fake cops and EMTs didn’t know what was happening.

“Good going, Mom!”

It was Tommy! Standing in the door and with a whole patrol of real cops behind him. It took hours to clear the house, answer questions, and find out what going on. Or, rather not find out what was going on. Neither Tommy nor Ben were at liberty to say who the number belonged to, although Tommy did say it was an account number. and Tommy did fess up to writing it there more than a decade ago and then not being able to get it off and forgetting about it.

“What I want to know,” Zelda said, “is how the Garrison’s knew the account number was somewhere in my house.”

“Easy,” Ben said. “Mr. Garrison used to work for the good guys. If that account number ever got out, he’d be dead. Then, he met the woman who became Mrs. Garrison and changed sides.”

“Why didn’t you tell me,” Zelda said. Her teeth so tightly locked together, they hurt.

“Up until a week ago, we didn’t know who the Garrisons were. We’d been looking for them overseas and under different names. The minute we found out, we placed Ben in the neighborhood to keep you safe.”

“Why didn’t you just come get the vase.”

Tommy looked sheepish as he jumped up and headed down the porch steps and to his car. In a minute he was back with a red and white wrapped present.

“Open it.”

First, Zelda put it to her ear. Then, she looked at Ben. He nodded. For more than fifty years Zelda had been a two-second gift opening. Now, because of a red and white wrapped present, make that two, she might never be so enthusiastic about opening presents again. Slowly, she tore the paper away. A white box was inside. She nudged at the tape holding the corners. Finally, she lifted the lid and found a lady planter vase, exactly like the one the real police had carted away.

“Ben was supposed to steal it, and then I was going to replace it as your Christmas gift.”

“You’re my Christmas gift,” Zelda whispered. “My only son, home for Christmas. I love you.”

“Love,” Tommy shook his head, even as he hugged his mother. “It’s a crazy thing.”

“Yes, it is,” said Benjamin Rudolf, with his very red nose.

He was looking at Zelda and his eyes were saying love wasn’t crazy at all.
The End


Margaret Daley said...

I love Ben. Thanks for a great ending, Pamela.

PamelaTracy said...

Sniff. I'm going to miss Zelda and Ben. Oh, and I'm not wrapping any presents in red and white paper.

Lisa Mondello said...

This was so much fun. I'm going to be a little sad not seeing a new installment every day. GREAT job on the ending, Pam. And GREAT job on the story ladies!!!

Linda said...

Great ending! I thought it was supposed to go on longer. Maybe another one???

Barbara Phinney said...

I love the ending! The last few lines are perfect. And yes, we were all starting to really get to know Zelda.
The pics are terrific, too.
So, if you'd like to read another one some time in the future, tell us!
Barbara Phinney

EllenToo said...

WOW what an ending. Zelda to the rescue (with the help of Tommy)LOL
That must be some account!!!
I enjoyed the story very much. I would love to have you all do another one sometime but I realize it is time consuming.

PamelaTracy said...

We're talking about doing one for Valentine's Day. We're soooo glad everyone enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

This was great and I enjoyed the ending. Too bad it ended so soon.

Looking forward to Valentine's.:>)

Thanks to all the ladies fo Suspense for inviting me to join.

Grisel B.

PamelaTracy said...

We love having you here :)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Debby Giusti said...

Loved every section of the story, girls! The ending was fantastic, Pam! Tommy is home at last! And Ben, with his red nose -- what a hoot! Zelda will have a Merry Christmas after all!

Thanks, everyone, for a great week of suspense!

PamelaTracy said...

I knew from the moment Lenora made Ben's last name Rudolf that I'd need to do something with that.

SketchGirl said...

What a great week! Would totally love to read another one of these stories! Great ending with Zelda coming across stronger than she appeared! Or it could be more like no one is going to mess with me in MY house! :)

Lenora said...

This was so much fun! Thanks everyone for playing along with me. I already have an idea for Valentine's Day. And we love comments even before we write the stories! I will miss Zelda and Ben, too, but I think they will be together on Christmas Day!

Hope Chastain said...

Wonderful story, ladies! And in such few words! I'm proud of all of you! Yes, we'd love to see more of these in the future!

Thanks for inviting me over during the Steeple Hill chat! Sorry I couldn't make it by sooner, but at least the whole story was already here. I'm not sure I could have waited to read it one day at a time!

Leann said...

I've been gone all day and couldn't wait to get home and read the last installment. What great action. Who knew it was the vase in the entry way?

And it was Mrs. Garrison. Good job, ladies. Pam, great ending.

PamelaTracy said...

You can thank Lynette Eason for the vase idea. One of her older LIS books had these neat cups in it, and I've been fascinated with them ever since.

Pamela J said...

MY HERO, or should I say heros? Tommy and the real police got here just in the nick of time.

My biggest question, not that I wanted to read what happened, was what would have blown up if the detonator would have gone off? The whole house, I presume.

It must have taken SOME time and SOME searching to find that exact planter to replace the one with the information on it.

I love it when there is a plan "A" but a plan "B" has to take effect when the first fizzled.

Great job to all the authors, I didn't get to come read and reply to the last of the story right away but it was good enough, I HAD to come back and see how it finished out.