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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–Hiring (534 words)

“You—are the person they sent over?” He looked her up and down. She looked—normal. Brown hair, brown eyes, clean black slacks, a nice button down shirt.  He might have passed her twice on the way into the office. He already anxious about this whole ordeal, his first foray out of ‘Morally Questionable’ into ‘Down Right Illegal.’ And with her not being what he had imagined—it was not easing his nerves. “They said they were sending the best.”

“I am the best,” she answered easily. “On an interpersonal level, I read people well, and I can make almost anyone believe me. And on a paperwork level, my covers always hold together the best.”

“Why is that?” Maybe it was a faux pau to question these kinds of things, but she was costing him an awful lot of money. If she didn’t like it, she could leave—and maybe he would take that as his sign that he shouldn’t be doing this in the first place.

“Well, for reasons that are none of your business, I technically don’t exist.” She gave a little shrug. “I don’t have a legal presence, so it’s easy to give me a role. I can be anyone at any time. They just tell me—and I get it done.”

“You aren’t—um, forgive me for saying so, but you aren’t what I’d picture when I thought about a spy.” He added quietly.

“What? You mean the Hollywood starlet, perfect figure type spies? Someone who looks more like Scarlett Johansson?” She laughed as he nodded sheepishly. “Yeah, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, a spy isn’t supposed to be noticed.  Seduction is a tool used very sparingly. And girls who look like that–they are noticed. Girls like me—not as much.”

“I would have noticed you,” He said quickly, as if he had to defend the male population as a whole.

She gave him a patronizing smile, and he suddenly wondered if he had walked right passed her without noticing. And if he had—how many times? “Sure. You would have.” Her tone switched from almost pitying to business like. “But that’s not what is important right now. I’m not here to date you or listen to you attempt to stroke my ego. You want someone who will get done what you need to get done, and walk away without being noticed. That’s me. That’s what I do.”

“Right.” He sat up a little bit straighter. It was his job. He had to remember that.  He was her boss.

He was so in over his head.

She sighed, holding out a hand. “Give me the job. Give me the fee you agreed on with my employer. The job will get done and it’s officially out of your hands.”

“Oh, thank god,” He scrambled to pull out the folder with all the details he had collected, as well as the check from the unattached account that the agency he called suggested he use.

“It’s taken care of,” she informed him kindly, before leaving out the same way she came. He hoped never to see her again, but then again, he imagined that even if he did he might not notice.

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

 

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Fiction: Legal Theft Project–Poetry (185 words)

“You and I, we have salt water in our veins.” Beth wrapped her arms around her younger half-sister Margie, rocking slightly forward on the edge of the pier behind their house.

“That seems scientifically suspect,” Margie replied, pressing back against her sister to keep them from going into the bay.

Beth sighed dramatically. “You have no sense of poetry.”

“That’s true,” Margie laughed, “But I’ll be quiet if you want to make your poetic point.”

“Thank you.” Beth cleared her throat and started again in a dramatic voice.  “You and I, we have salt water in our veins. Our ancestors were born on the sea. It’s in our blood to want to be out on the open water. The Freedom. The Beauty. The Danger. We yearn for it in our very souls.” She gave her sister a squeeze around the shoulders. “Too much?”

“Meh,” Margie shrugged, “Can’t we just say, ‘Hey Mom, we want to go out on the sea?’”

Beth heaved another sigh. “You have no sense of poetry.”

Margie smiled again, focusing her eyes out on the horizon. “I suppose that’s still true.”

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2016 in Legal Theft Project, Stories

 

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Fiction: Legal Theft Project–Methodical (134 words)

They never realized the danger of a plodder.  Because that was the best way to describe Maria, she was a plodder. She wasn’t the quickest worker, or the most enthusiastic, but she could work hard and steadily for hours and hours on end.

And that’s what got in them all in trouble. Maria would plow through even the most tedious of jobs, looking at even the smallest of details, comparing them back to what they should be. Where others would have gotten bored, given up, let their eyes glaze over in thoughts of going home or what was for dinner, Maria kept working. Maria kept focusing. Maria kept plodding alone.

They never realized the danger of a plodder. That’s why they didn’t realize that when their case was assigned to Maria, they were caught.

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2016 in Legal Theft Project, Stories

 

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Fiction: Legal Theft Project — Siblings Dinner (221 words)

Michael rested his head against the edge of the table, breathing slowly in and out trying to cool the fire in his mouth. “You are…never…allowed to…be in control…of the spices…again.” Michael groaned between cooling breaths.

“I’m sorry,” Matthew whimpered, “I thought that pepper was pepper. It was just a color difference.”

“There is a big difference,” Michael groaned, sitting up now, feeling a little bit less like his mouth was filed with fire, “No, there is a huge difference between cayenne pepper and black pepper. If you use too much Cayenne pepper, you get— “Michael made a vague gesture at the food in front of them.

“Aggressively spicy tacos?” Matthew offered.

Michael laughed in spite of the fact that his eyes were still kind of watering, “Yes. That’s it exactly. You get Aggressively Spicy Tacos.”

For a second they both sat and stared at the four extra tacos, already made and sitting in front of them.

“So—“ Michael grinned, “Want to go offer Lizzie some tacos?”

Matthew smiled wide. If they were pranking their sister—then he wasn’t persona non-grata anymore. “She is working hard on her paper. She’s probably hungry.”

“That’s exactly what I was hoping you would say.”  He grabbed the plate of tacos and headed up the stairs, Matthew quick on his heels.

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2016 in Legal Theft Project, Stories

 

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Fiction: Legal Theft Project–Warm (215 words)

She woke up deliciously warm. Her sister must have gotten up early and started the fire ages ago. Hana felt a little guilty at that—technically it was her job to start the fire, but Harlowe must have understood how much she needed the sleep.

Hana set up slowly, holding the blankets to her chest out of habit rather than out of need for the protection from the cold. A soft voice came from behind her. “You okay?”

Hana considered for a second.  In the thoughts of the fire and waking up warm had distracted her from the reason that she and her sister were living in this old hunting cabin rather than the big beautiful farm house that they had both been born in. But then it all came crashing back in on her.

“I’m,” Hana started before taking another second, “Better than I was yesterday.” She answered honestly.

“That’s good,” Harlowe answered, coming forward so that Hana could see her in the fire light, “That’s very good.”

“I thought so too,” Hana gave a half smile, letting the blankets fall into a pile in her lap. “One day at a time.”

Harlowe poked at the fire a bit, sending a spiral of sparks into the air. “That’s all anyone can ask of you.”

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2016 in Stories, Uncategorized

 

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Fiction: Legal Theft Project–Plans (99 words)

What he was suggesting was legally corrupt, but surprisingly amusing. I allowed myself exactly sixteen seconds to believe that I would go along with it, before rational thinking kicked back into gear.

“Stop it,” I scolded playfully, “We need a real plan. That is not a real plan.”

His over exaggerated frown was exactly what I needed to see. I felt more relaxed, and level-headed, by the second. “Well, fine. The come up with your real plan, Miss Baker, but remember that my plan would have always been a lot more fun.”

“Duly noted,” I grinned, planning already.

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2016 in Legal Theft Project, Stories

 

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