Today my musings are about old blog posts and the best way to reblog them. Five years ago I accepted the challenge to write for the now defunct Word Press Daily Post word prompt. I got a kick out of writing quick, free-wheeling stories and poems that had to be completed and published that same day. I’ve recently considered editing the stories and putting them all into a short-story collection. The story I’m sharing today is one of the first that I attempted. A few of you were kind enough to read me then, and you will remember it. For others it will be new. Old or new, let me know if this could fit into a short story collection.
The WP The Daily Post word prompt— GINGERLY
“Gingerly isn’t a word I use often so when I tell you to put the pliers down, gingerly, I mean it,” I cautioned my neighbor, Pam.
We had just gotten home from the Village Hall where I’d been applying for the Woodpeckers Federal Depredation Permit. The marauding predators were defacing our community of cedar siding homes.
“You could trigger that bomb,” I said, horrified at seeing her playing with a time bomb I was totally unfamiliar with.
“It’s real?” Pam gushed. “How the hell did a real bomb get taped to your garden shed?”
I glared at her. “How the hell would I know? You saw me walk around here to get a rake and a refuse bag.”
Pam got her cell phone out of her jeans, and began dialing. I saw her saying something into her phone, but I was still yelling at her. “It’s a garden shed, not a damn bank vault.”
“Relax,” Pam said. “I’ve called 911.”
As she said it, I heard the siren a few blocks away. Good because the bomb was set to go off in ten minutes. Often sirens sound lazy, but this one screamed, get out of the way. We have business to take care of.
I relaxed. People with authority and, I hoped, experience would be here soon. They had only 8 minutes and 30 seconds to disarm this thing.
“Ma’am. Do you live here alone,” a young cop asked as he approached me.
“No. My husband lives here too.”
“Where is he now?” The officer asked. “We need everybody out of the area.”
Well, that was a good question.
“I don’t know,” I said and looked around as though Grady might pop up.
When I left that morning, my husband had been up on a ladder trying to patch one of the new holes that the infamous Woody Woodpecker had left. We’d tried every one of what the authorities call, “Non-Lethal Strategies” to control his damage and there was nothing left except to apply for Lethal Control Techniques.
That had sent Pam and me to the Village for the state permit to use a BB gun on the culprit. Research had informed Grady and me that shooting would be one of the quickest methods to dispatch the birds. The discharging of BB guns is often subject to local regulations in residential areas. The permit would allow us to shoot the marauding destroyer of homes.
We’d decided to discuss shooting the damned thing, before we did anything. Also, if we invested in a BB gun, we’d need to step gingerly because we lived near other homes. This would require alerting neighbors and assuring them we’d use considerable discretion because non-toxic ammo and shot can travel long distances if they miss their targets.
“We’ll discuss it later, but it’s either the buckshot, or I bomb the damn thing,” Grady had said.
That had been my and Grady’s last conversation, I thought as I stared up at the multiple holes drilled into our beautiful natural wood siding home. Now, three new holes had appeared in the recently purchased garden shed.
Realization spread over me like hot butter; Grady had taped the bomb to the side of the structure. How was I going to fix this? Pam had called the police! What would happen to Grady?
“Pam,” I whispered. “I need you like I’ve never needed you before. I know who did this and if we don’t get the cops out of here, Grady will go to jail.”
“Get the cops out of here? How?” Pam asked. Her huge eyes begged me to help her understand.
“Just do something. Anything,” I pleaded.
Pam sprung into action. She opened her cell phone and shrieked into it.
“Jen, Jen,” she cried. “Dave just saw a bomb at the Walmart.”
Now, my eyes were as huge as hers. Pam was my “ride or die” but we were
all going to jail now.
“What did you say?” the officer asked.
“She said call your bomb squad and get them over to the Walmart.” I was shrieking now. “There are more lives to save over there than here.” Now I glared at him as if he were crazy. This was mushrooming and I could see me sharing a cell with a bitch named Big Mama.
The officer pulled out his walkie and radioed ahead about the Walmart bomb. “Which Walmart?” he asked.
“Good question, Pam. Which Walmart?” I said.
Pam just stood there trying to come up with an answer. She looked like a little girl trying to figure it all out. She wouldn’t stand a chance with Big Mama.
I had to save her. “Officer, she’s in shock. I’ll call her husband,” I said.
I really called my husband.
“Dave,” I said into the phone. “I’m here with your wife Pam, in Jen and Grady’s backyard. The bomb squad is on the way and they need to know which Walmart you told Pam had the bomb.”
Don’t be a dummy. Don’t be a dummy. Don’t be a dummy.
Thank God he wasn’t a dummy. At least not about this. I was going to kill him!
“You’re trying to tell me they know about the bomb on the garden shed,” he said right away.
“That’s right,” I said.
“I need to send them to a Walmart that will be far enough away for me to get home, disarm that one, and take it over to a Walmart.”
“We’ve got to handle this thing gingerly,” he said. “We only have six minutes before that one goes off. Get them out of there. I’m three minutes away.”
“Good,” I said.
“He thinks it’s the Walmart that’s the farthest away,” I said to the young officer.
“What?” the cop said
“I’m sorry, officer. I mean it’s the Walmart up on Highway 50.”
“That one is the farthest away,” he said.
He spoke into the walkie for a few moments and turned to face us as if we’d be sticking around.
“Well come on,” I shouted. “Let’s get up there. Your husband could get blown to bits, Pam.”
I grabbed Pam’s hand before the officer could stop us and pulled her along with me. She had frozen up, and I kept thinking, this was your idea, girl. Don’t make me turn state’s evidence on you. Move it!
As I shot away from the curb, the young officer’s car fell in behind me. Grady’s jeep came careening around the corner and we made desperate eye contact as our cars passed.
When we got to the Walmart, emergency vehicles were parked out front. Irate shoppers milled about, talking and gesturing.
“Wanna identify your husband?” an officer asked Pam.
“I…I…don’t see him,” she said.
“How about you, Ma’am?” they asked me.
“He’s not in the crowd,” I said, telling the truth for the first time in a while.
“Can we drive around the parking lot and try to spot his car?”
The head cop gave us the okay. Pam and I drove slowly around the entire lot while the bomb squad searched Walmart. Nobody found anything.
After about fifteen minutes, the squad leader ran up to our car.
“Ma’am, we need you to call your husband again.”
He wasn’t focused on Pam. He stared at me. Our young cop had gone away, and this guy didn’t know who was who. I called Grady.
“Dear, the bomb squad would like the exact location of that bomb you saw.”
I gave the phone to the officer. I was tired of lying. Let the man who’d instigated this get a little dirt on his hands.
Grady told them it was at the Walmart in the total opposite direction. Yes, he would be there when they arrived. He’d be in a black Jeep Cherokee. He further explained that the bomb might have his fingerprints on it since he’d tried to disarm it. Hurry, he warned them! They only had ten minutes.
I feel I need to explain that years ago, a woodpecker was eating away at our siding. While we never considered bombing or BB guns, we can understand the mentality of those who do.
Also, do you ever go back to the archives for posts that you hope will get better traction the second time? What is your process for reposting? Thanks and enjoy your Sunday.