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Category Archives: Legal Theft Project

Fiction: Legal Theft Project–Retail Therapy (501 words)

“It’s not my fault—There was a sale.”  

Charles looked around the room at the dozen, maybe two dozen, bags that surrounded Georgia. “Oh my,” he muttered softly, carefully picking his way over to his arm chair, sitting down carefully. “Oh, Georgia, what did you do?”  

“I only went in for one thing,” She insisted, making a faster path around the bags than he had, coming to sit on his lap, “But it was a sale. A summer sale. The biggest sale the store had ever had. What was I supposed to do, say no?”  

Charles knew there was no point in trying to explain to Georgia that he would have expected her to say no. She’d never been the type of person to pass up something shiny and new, nor the type of person to pass up a bargain—so put the two together and she would have been utterly helpless. He’d known all this about her when he’d agreed to marry her, and he guessed he had to pay the piper at some point. Or—he supposed—pay the credit card bill to be more specific.  

“How much did you spend?” He asked warily, reaching up to wrap one of her curls around his finger. No point in delaying it. Might as well find out the damage now.  

Georgia at least had the decency to look a little ashamed as she said it. “Four hundred thirty-six dollars and ninety-one cents.” Charles flinched at the number, so Georgia rushed to add, “But I saved six hundred and seventeen dollars. That’s one thousand and fifty-three dollars worth of stuff all for less than five hundred.  It’s a deal.” Georgia said it with such hope. All she wanted was confirmation that she hadn’t messed up too badly, that Charles still loved her in spite of this, that he wasn’t mad.  

Charles sighed again, trying not to think about how many times he would sigh before this was all said and done. He did still love her, of course, he still loved her, and in the grand scheme of things, he couldn’t even be mad.  This was what she did. And if he loved her he had to love her for the full package, not just the parts he liked best.  

“It is a deal,” he conceded, and before he could stop himself he added, “I probably wouldn’t have gotten all this stuff—but you cannot deny that it was a deal.” Georgia frowned up at him adorably, so he wrapped his arms a little tighter around him. “Oh don’t. It’s okay. I know you can’t pass up a good sale. It will all work out in the end.”  

“I just—It was a sale.”  

“I know, babe, I know.” Charles dropped a kiss on her forehead. “And you just can’t pass up a good sale.”  

She curled in a little tighter, and he pulled her in to snuggle closer. “I absolutely cannot pass up a good sale.”  

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2017 in Legal Theft Project, Stories

 

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Fiction: Legal Theft Project– Caring for her Father (518 words)

She almost didn’t answer the call. Jean knew the number by now, even though she had never saved it into her phone. She looked down at the number and for a moment, just a moment, thought that she just didn’t want to know. She didn’t want that added stress in this moment. She could wait, and find out what was wrong later.  

But just as fast as the thought came into her mind, it vanished.  She swiped the green button and pulled it up to her ear. “What’s the news now?”  

“Not good, Miss Strune,” Her Dad’s nurse replied, calling from the phone in his hospital room. Jean was always impressed how she managed to sounds just cheery enough to be reassuring, but professional enough to not give bad news in an annoyingly perky way like some of their previous nurses had been. Jean liked this nurse an awful lot. Maybe that was the reason that she really had answered the phone. “We’re having some pretty serious memory problems today. I’m sure that Mr. Strune would absolutely love a visit from you today to help him fill in some of the blanks if you have any time.”  

“Right,” Jean said slowly, “Well, tell him that I love him and that I’ll try to be by this afternoon.  Remind him that he really hated the place that Mom was staying before—that might help placate him for a little while until I can show up and be a bit more helpful.”  

“Thanks a lot, Miss Strune.  Sorry that I could have better news for you this morning.”  

“That’s alright, Jasmine. I know it’s not your fault.  I’ll see you this afternoon.” Jean waited for the click that meant she’d hung up. She never hung up first just in case there was something else that the nurse needed to tell her before the conversation ended.  Luckily, there was no more today.  

Jean chuckled to herself darkly. Luckily all she had to deal with today was the continuing degrading of her father’s mental state, to the point where he was slowly forgetting the years of his life further and further back.  

Jean looked at the work laid about before her. She had such lofty plans for what she could get done with her free time today. She should have known better than to try to have an all work day. It was like her dad could sense when she had a lot to do and saved his most spectacular breakdowns for those days.  

Jean took a deep breath and tried to bring her temper back down. She could be mad that all this shit was happening to her dad, no one would blame her for that. But getting mad at him, especially for things that weren’t actually his fault—that wasn’t going to help anyone at all.  

She was going to take a deep breath, spend some time properly enjoying her breakfast and keeping her mind in check, and then she would head over to the nursing home and try to figure out which ways she could help her dad today.  

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2017 in Legal Theft Project, Stories

 

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Fiction: Legal Theft Project–Family Changes (556 words)

The lock clicked in a different way when it was opened with a key.  It was a simple and steady motion as the key pushed the tumblers in place, rather than the slight hesitation between each pin. Even though Angel and Oliver had gotten pretty good at picking the lock on the front door—they weren’t as fast or smooth as the key, as Jennifer’s key.

The children all looked at each other, and then at the room around them. If Jennifer’s key was already in the lock it was too late to try to clean up or hide everything they had gotten up to since the last time that Jennifer had been home. Still, they all pulled themselves quickly to their feet, trying to pull their clothes as straight as possible and tying their hair back as tightly as they could, to put up some level of present-ability.

Jennifer came in, turned the lock the door quickly behind her, before turning to smile at the line of children in a sharp row. Her smile only faltered a little as she looked around at the various art projects and destruction of small electronics and what looked to be a small failed chemical experiment in one of the corners. “We’ve been busy while I was away, haven’t we?” she said weakly, turning from the mess back to the six children in front of her.

“Yes Ma’am,” they all answered in unison, each trying to figure out in their own ways just how mad Jennifer actually was.

Jennifer made a show of counting the six of them slowly and pointedly. “Six, all under eleven summers old. We appear to be missing those two who were supposed to be taking care of you all.”

The six children all shifted back and forth on their feet before Margaret—the oldest and bravest of the little ones—spoke up. “They left a couple hours ago,” She informed Jennifer in a clean soprano, “They went out. Together.”

There was a lot of giggling behind hands now. Jennifer crossed her arms over her chest. “What’s all this now?” she asked in her slightly stern voice.

“I saw them,” Benjamin—the youngest, four summers old Jennifer guessed, “They were…kissing.” He whispered the last word as if it was a swear, and the other five children burst into giggles.

Jennifer sighed. It was only a matter of time. Her son Oliver had developed a crush on Angel all those years ago when she first came to stay with their family—the first of the little orphans Jennifer couldn’t help but bring into her home when she found them alone on the streets. She didn’t care if they were together as long as they were both happy. But she did care an awful lot about them neglecting their duties to be together.

“Very well.  What’s say we get to cleaning this place up right now, and I’ll have a talk with Oliver and Angel later, yes?”

“Yes Ma’am,” They call chorused again, before heading away to start the cleaning process following their well-practiced routines. Jennifer pinched the bridge of her nose almost unconsciously, before sighing. It was bad enough now that just the two of them were teenagers. What in the world was she going to do when the six little ones were teenagers too?

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2017 in Legal Theft Project, Stories

 

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Fiction: Legal Theft Project–The Tips are Great (505 words)

The Ninth Circle Club opened at eight, but no one of any consequence arrived before eleven. The women always came in dressed to the nines, wearing heels that made Cecily’s ankles hurt just looking at them. But she greeted them all with a smile, and they were all kind to her. After all, Tammy was quick to toss any woman out on her ass if they weren’t good to Tammy’s employees. No one was going to risk not being able to attend the Ninth Circle Events just for the fun of picking on “the help.”

Around eleven, when the best of the best were starting to show up, Cecily knew the real work began.  Food orders and drink orders and making sure the band had everything they needed and keeping everyone happy as the night dwindled on. It wasn’t until Tammy decided it was time to close and the lights started to come up that Cecily had a second to have an original thought to herself.

That was when Cecily started to notice who exactly showed up on any given night. The women filed out past her, all looking tired but happy with their nights, some now carrying their heels in in their hands, other’s still walking along like their heels were as comfortable as bare feet. Cecily watched in awe with the woman with the still perfect hair after several hours of dancing, or the ones she knew had slipped away to the bathroom not alone, but still had perfectly aligned makeup. She dreamed of one day being the kind of woman who could pull off being a part of the Ninth Circle Club–but it was a fantasy. A waitress here was the closest she would ever get, and Cecily was grateful for every last moment of it.

Then, the doors would shut. Tammy would fall into a chair with a dramatic sigh and insist that Cecily and the other four girls who worked throughout the club sat down and relaxed too. Only after everyone had at least three solid minutes of sitting quietly, then they would all get back up and start the cleaning up process of the night.

And as everything was totaled up, cleaned, and restocked for the night, Tammy came around to each of them to ask how their night went, to make sure there wasn’t anyone who needed to be “spoken to” by the owner and to make sure there was nothing that Tammy could change the policy on to make their lives easier. And Cecily always felt she could be honest to Tammy. It wasn’t the stilted “everything is great” that Cecily would have given to other bosses, but an honest opinion on the night or any troubles that Cecily might have noticed.

And at the end of the night, they all got their cuts of the cover, and said goodnight, seeing each other at seven the next night that the club opened–because doors opened at eight, but no one of consequence showed up until at least eleven.

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2017 in Legal Theft Project, Stories

 

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Fiction: Legal Theft–Good, Bad Plan (632 words)

“I don’t like you going to this,” Ellie sat at the foot of the bed, while Jameson wandered around the room, gathering the things he needed for the trip. “I don’t believe for one second that he actually wants to talk peace with you. He swore himself your enemy for life, and that’s not something that people tend to just get over one day.”

“You’re right—I’m confident he has no interest in peace with me, but if I don’t go, then he gets to point at me and call me the bad guy because he tried to make peace and I wouldn’t accept it. That is not a hassle I want to deal with.  Besides, he’s got one of the best chefs in the world working for him, so at least I’ll get quite the dinner.”

“And what if he kills you before dinner? You’ve gone that whole way, you’re dead, and you didn’t even get to eat?”

Jameson stopped packing for a moment to consider that. “He probably won’t actually kill me until after dinner,” he responded

“Really, that’s what you’re going with? He probably won’t kill you until you eat?” Ellie countered.

“Well, yeah,” Jameson started packing his things again. “The whole point of this invitation is so that he can be seen as the better man—making things right with me. There will be photo ops and speeches, I’m betting. And What makes for a better picture than two former enemies eating dinner together as happy as can be?”

“So—he probably actually won’t kill you until after dinner,” Ellie conceded. “But what about after dinner?”

Jameson tied the top of his bag off and sank down onto the bed next to Ellie. “Well, he’ll have to have an outside source if he wants to kill me on this visit. If one of his own men kills me, or more accurately tries to kill me, then all hopes of peace fall through in an instant. If he wants to keep that public perception he’s going for, then he’ll have to look like an external source attacked me, something he can swear to defeat, and then set up a ‘defeat’ of them.” Jameson stroked his chin thoughtfully. “It’s a pretty good plan, actually, if it went the way he wanted. He gets rid of me permanently, and gets to look like the good guy for ending the person or people who ‘killed me.’”

“No, no, no.” Ellie wrapped her arms tightly around Jameson’s chest. “Stop, please, I don’t want to talk about you dying anymore. I don’t like thinking about it.” She buried her face in the front of his shirt.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Jameson hugged her back, “Sometimes I forget that you didn’t grow up with this kind of thing.  I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Ellie sat up a little in his embrace, “I’m trying to get better about it.  I don’t live in constant fear of you being attacked anymore, really? This one is just so real, it’s so likely that you’ll be attacked—I’m losing my mind a little.”

“Hey now, I’ve never unsuccessfully fought off an attack, have I? I’ll be alright.” Jameson tried to squeeze her tighter in reassurance.

“That’s the thing, Jay, you only have to fail once. Fail once, and you’re gone forever.”

“I’m good, Ellie. I’m always good. I promise I will come home no worse for the wear.” Jameson promised, letting her go. “If I even have a scratch on me when I come back, I will do whatever you want to make it up to you.”

“I’m going to hold you to that.” Ellie insisted, standing up, and swinging Jameson’s bag over his shoulder. “Now, let’s get you on the road before I start to panic again.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2017 in Legal Theft Project, Stories

 

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Fiction: Legal Theft– The Truth (812 words)

“Hey, AM.”

Marta looked up from the book she was reading cross legged on her bed to see Arthur—now sixteen years old and taller than both her and her sister, leaning against the doorframe to her room. He looked conflicted, and Marta wondered if he was going to try to pull that Since you’re my real mother can you tell Mom to let me… crap again. “Hey-o Kiddo, what’s up?”

“I wanted to ask you a question. Mom says I shouldn’t ask it, but—I don’t know. I kind of feel like I have to.”  Marta furrowed her eyebrows and considered him.

Technically, yes, he was her son, but Marta had never had that easy understanding of him that Avery did. They were a perfect case study of a genetic connection versus sixteen years of love, care, and direct devotion. That’s why he never got away with any of that real mother crap. They all knew that Avery was his mother, no ifs ands or buts.

“Yeah. Come in. You know you can ask me anything.”  Arthur crossed the room in two long strides, sitting himself down in Marta’s computer chair, spinning it so he faced the bed.  He leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees, and Marta started to be able to see just how really worried he was. “Kiddo, what’s wrong?”

“I want—um—it’s just,” Arthur took a deep breath. “Mom says that you won’t tell me no matter what, and that I shouldn’t even ask because it will just upset you, but it’s not just that I want to ask, I feel like I need to ask whether you answer me or not I’ll go crazy if I don’t ask.” All the words came spilling out of his mouth in rush, like if he paused he would lose his nerve.

Marta was starting feel anxious now. She knew that this moment was going to come eventually, but the older and older Arthur got, she started to believe that she was going to manage avoid it. “What did you want to ask me, then?”

“I wanted to know,” Arthur smiled weakly at her, “Do you know who my father is?”

Marta smiled wildly, “Of course Kiddo. You do, too. Tall guy, dark hair, sometimes talks in an annoying accent, always looks at your Mom with those sappy eyes that makes us want to gag.”

Arthur shook his head, looking down at his feet. “No, A.M., I know who my Dad is. Obviously, Dad is my Dad, but—who is my father, I mean, my biological father?”

Marta’s smiled faded away now. “I do, Arthur. I’ve never had a doubt about who your biological father is. But—The truth of the matter is, Kiddo, he wanted nothing to do with us. He called me a whore, telling me that I’d probably had sex with so many men I couldn’t be sure it was his, and then offered me four hundred dollars to never talk to him about it again. I didn’t take his money, but I never spoke to him again. And I never spoke about him again until now. If you really feel that you must know, that your life cannot be complete without knowing his name, then I will tell you, and only you, on the condition that you never tell Avery or Bradley, because they are both still Very angry about things that happened around the time you were born, but I’m telling you now—your Mom and Dad are better than that boy I ever could have done raising you, and I’ve always believed it’s not worth wasting time on people who aren’t willing to give their time to you, so…”

Marta had spoken a lot faster than she met to.  Perhaps Arthur’s rushed speaking from earlier was a family trait. He looked a bit stunned. She realized she’d never been so stern with him, and he never saw her properly angry, like she got whenever she thought about that stupid teenage boy who had insulted her character for a mistake that was equal parts both of their fault. It did take two to tango, as the cliché said.

“I don’t want to talk to him. I don’t want anyone in my life who doesn’t want to be in mine. But—I was going through Mom’s year book the other day and I looked at every single face to see if there were traits of mine. I need to know his name so I can stop wondering. I think I deserve that.” Arthur answered.

“It’s a secret you will have to keep from your Mom and Dad.  Until you die or I die, whichever comes first, you understand?” Marta insisted.

“Yes, I promise,” Arthur insisted, leaning a little bit closer.

“Okay,” Marta smiled, “Yeah. Okay. Then I’ll tell you who your biological father is.”

 

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Fiction: Legal Theft Project– Unhealthy

There was no hiding from sleep. I could avoid it for a little while—with a steady diet of coffee, sodas, and on the more extreme days, Kroger brand “Stay Awake” caffeine pills. But in the end, sleep always got me. Which is probably for the best, I guess, because they tell me that if you don’t sleep you die.

I digress.

And really, the truth of the matter is going to sleep isn’t the problem. Asleep, I dream.  And when I’m dreaming, everything is fine. He’s not dead yet, I’m still making money, and everything is okay. It’s nice to be happy and okay again.

Waking up is the problem. Because no matter what, I do wake up, and always sooner than I’d like.  And I’m alone in bed again. And in ways that I cannot properly explain unless you’ve felt it too—that sucks.

I know it will get better with time. I know that every morning that I wake up I will miss him—but eventually, it will get to the point where I don’t hate laying down to sleep, eventually it will get to the point where waking up isn’t the worst part of my day. But for now…Well, I’ll run from sleep as best I can.

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2017 in Legal Theft Project, Stories

 

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