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Category Archives: Legal Theft Project

Legal Theft: Visiting Dad (1141 words)

Marcus waited patiently for Lewis to arrive. He should have known better. Lewis, in the entire twenty-one years of his life, had never been on time for a meeting even once. Why would he expect him to start showing up now? Not like this was a hard day for Marcus and he could use the support of having a concrete schedule or anything. Nope. Lewis always moved at his own pace.

When Lewis came around the corner with a pack of fried dough in his hand, and a piece to be handed to Marcus—her forgave Lewis completely. It was the basis of their friendship that Marcus always forgave Lewis completely because it was the only thing that kept Lewis forgiving Marcus when he messed up.

“Does your mom know you’re here?” Lewis asked as a greeting.

Marcus laughed out loud. “She’d kill me. Then you for good measure. And then probably me again.”

Lewis took a thoughtful bite out of his dough. “Fair enough,” he conceded through his full mouth.

Marcus made a disgusted sound, which was only doubled when Lewis laughed open-mouthed with the bread still there.  “I hate you.”

“Course you do,” Lewis grinned, throwing his non-bread carrying arm around Marcus’ shoulders. “Lead the way.”

Marcus did just that. They walked in silence, chewing on their bread.  About a half hour later, they were leaving the outskirts of the town, making their way down the path through the woods, passing the occasional clearing where people had set up little camps. Some of them were the more permeant camps of people who worked in the city but couldn’t afford to live anywhere else inside the city limits. Others were the temporary camps of people who were traveling by but didn’t want any official record of them staying here.  It was one of the latter camps that they were looking for.

It had been almost seven years, but Marcus still recognized him as they approached the camp, as easily as if they’d seen each other the week before—although neither Marcus nor his father looked anything like the same as they had on that night seven years ago.

He finished the last bites of his bread and turned back to make sure Lewis had done the same. Together, they stepped into the little clearing, both of their hands half-raised, fingers spread, so he could easily see that they didn’t have any weapons in their grip.

“Hey Dad,” Marcus called, trying not to startle him.

The old man looked up from his little campfire, and gave his son a small smile. “Markie.” He stood up and shook his son’s hand. “And Little Lewy. Well, I never.”

“Oh, sir, no one calls me Lewy anymore,” Lewis chuckled, shaking the hand offered him.

“Well, I’m sure no one calls him Markie, and certainly no one calls me sir,” he laughed, sinking back down onto the log he was using as a bench at the side of the fire. “So—let’s agree. Lewis. Mark. And Dad or Jameson as our respective relationships dictate?”

“Sure, Jameson.” Lewis offered because Marcus didn’t seem like there was anything he had to say. Lewis and Marcus sat down on a log on the opposite side of the fire.

“So—“ Jameson prompted, but no one picked up the thread, “Well. Uh, does your mother know you’re here?”

Marcus didn’t find the question as humorous this time around. “You’re not in shackles, are you? Do you really think that my mother is at all aware you are in the same country, let alone the same town?”

“That’s…a fair point,” Jameson replied. “I know I’ve told you before, but I feel the need to tell you, again and again, I never meant to hurt you and your mother that way. But I can’t choose who I am and I can’t change my nature. It was foolish of your mother to think I could and it was foolish of me to try.”

“I know, Dad. I’ve heard it before, and you haven’t changed the song,” Marcus answered, softening despite himself. He hated his father and unconditionally loved his father all at the same time. It was such an awkward position to be put into. “Why did you ask me to come out here, Dad? This can’t be the first time in seven years you’ve been in the area. Why now?”

“I found something.” Jameson’s hand went to a charm that was hanging off his neck. “It was your grandfathers—and then it was mine for a while before it was lost. And—I figure that it should be yours. You’ll keep better care of it then I ever could, and you can keep it in the family if you decide to have a family of your own.”

He pulled the cord off from around his neck and handed it over to Marcus at the side of the fire. It was a silver disc, about half the size of Marcus’ palm, tied to a piece of leather cord. “It’s supposed to be good luck if you believe in that kind of nonsense. Your grandfather certainly did, and I know your mother does—I’m not so sure. But I’ll leave you to make up your own mind.”

Marcus turned the circle over and over again his hand, trying to figure out what the appropriate response was to a random piece of metal. “This is it?” he finally settled on. “You wanted to see me because you had a necklace to give me.” He could feel the anger starting to rise in his blood, and tried to stamp it down as quickly as it had appeared. His father was the one with the temper—and Marcus did all he could to try and hide the fact he had inherited that.

“Well, yeah,” His father looked a bit deflated, “It was your grandfathers, and I thought it was something you might like to have.”

Marcus considered tossing the necklace into the fire—but that was the temper talking.  That was something his father would have done. Not him. Instead, he slipped the circle into his pocket and gave Lewis a look that said it was time to go.  “Thanks, Dad,” he offered, starting to pack away from the fire.

“Will I see you again while I’m in town?” Jameson asked.

“I don’t know, Dad. I don’t know.”  Jameson didn’t press for a more concrete answer, so Marcus turned on his heel and walked away.  Lewis caught up with Marcus quickly, throwing an arm around Marcus’ shoulders again. “I don’t know why I thought this was a good idea,” Marcus confided.

“Well, at least we got some good bread out of all this,” Lewis offered with a grin. “That’s not nothing.”

Marcus laughed, suddenly remembering why he had invited Lewis to this. “Yeah, that’s not nothing.”

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Posted by on November 3, 2017 in Legal Theft Project, Stories

 

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Legal Theft Project: Goodnight

Rain drowned the world in white noise. It drowned out the sound of her grandmother’s rocking chair. It muted the sound of her brother’s music. It–well, didn’t do much for her sister’s snoring from the other bed–but it did give her something else to focus on for a little while.

Lisa rolled over and watched the window. The light from the streetlight let the rain make strange patterns and shadows along the length of the window. She tried to make pictures out of them the way she used to lay on the ground, look at the sky and tell a story with the shapes of the clouds. These were yellow and black stories instead of blue and white, but they still calmed her–imagining a world that was so different than her own in any way. Eventually, her eyelids grew too heavy to keep open, but she kept making up the stories, telling herself all kinds of crazy things until she slipped away to sleep, hoping tomorrow night it would still be raining.

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2017 in Legal Theft Project

 

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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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