The cinema of my dreams – I always wanted to go on a treasure hunt – Episode 17

Here’s the thing…

Every time I close my eyes, I see something different.

I’d like to think the cinema of my dreams is playing a double feature but it’s a bit like a comedy cartoon night on Fox.

But these dreams are nothing to laugh about.

Once again there’s a new instalment of an old feature, and we’re back on the treasure hunt.

 

I could hardly say no, but it was not going to be a place either of us would want to be if he came back, and especially if he had company.

But, Boggs didn’t seem to care, and strolled up to the dock, and then walked down to the boat.  IT wasn’t gated like some of the others were, but they had very expensive yachts that no doubt belongs to the local millionaires, people like the Benderby’s and their country club friends.

I remember my father talking about them once, and he had little respect for any of them.,  They, he said, had no time or money to worry about the welfare of their employees, but never lacked for anything themselves.

Looking at those yachts now, I could believe him.

I couldn’t say the same for Rico’s boat.  It was old, made of wood, and looked like boats I’d seen in old movies.  It was about 40 or 50 foot long, with a tall mast and a sail tied up ready to unfurl when out to see.

It had a large diesel engine, and it was this Rico used to get out of the bay until he was past the sandbank at the entrance.

On the transom, it had the words ‘Freedom Runner’ starting to peel and fade, and you could just make out the old name of the boat, ‘Elsie’, perhaps the wife or lover of the previous owner.  That must have been a long time ago, because I’d known Rico as long as I’d known Boggs, and that was nearly 18 years.

I had to ask, “You think Rico is running a collection service?”

“Someone is, according to the police chief.”

“How do you know that?  I thought the police were our sworn enemy.”

Considering the trouble we’d got into over the years, and the number of times the police chief had locked us up in the cells as punishment, we just spent our days avoiding him..  Perhaps the punishment had worked.

“He was around out place the other night.”

I wasn’t aware that Boggs was up to anything that would interest the law, but, then, he never told me everything he did.

“Why?”

“Come to see my mother.”

“What’s she been doing?”

“Nothing.  He was asking her out on a date.  Probably trying to cosy up to her so he can snoop on what Rico’s doing.  There’s no other reason why he would be interested in her.”

Actually, he was wrong.  Boggs mother was, for her age, quite attractive, or so my mother said.  She said a few other uncomplimentary things about her, but I was not going to repeat them to Boggs.

Nor did I agree with my mother’s assessment.  At times I saw more of Boggs mother than my own.

“Or maybe not.  But if she was to go out with him, that would make Rico think twice about doing anything, including giving you a hard time, or trying to steal the map.”

“You don’t know Rico.  He is just plain stupid.”

“He hasn’t been caught.”

“Yet.”

Then Boggs decided to walk over to the side of the boat and step onto the deck.

”What are you doing?” I hissed.

People on the other boats tied up to the pier were looking or pretending not to look, but I had no doubt they would report our actions to Rico

“Going on board.  I don’t think Rico would mind.”

It was said with a fair degree of bravado, but the halting tone told me otherwise.

“Are you coming?”

Damn him.  It was not as if he was going me a choice.

I shrugged.  God help us if Rico came back.

 

 

© Charles Heath 2019

The cinema of my dreams – It’s a treasure hunt – Episode 16

Here’s the thing…

Every time I close my eyes, I see something different.

I’d like to think the cinema of my dreams is playing a double feature but it’s a bit like a comedy cartoon night on Fox.

But these dreams are nothing to laugh about.

Once again there’s a new instalment of an old feature, and we’re back on the treasure hunt.

 

Rather tired and bleary eyes, I made it to the fishing store five minutes late.  I had a lot on my mind, woken late, and then had to battle traffic.  I longed for the day I could afford a car, though riding the bike kept me fit.

It also took my mind of the encounter last night, the one that had kept me away, my imagination almost getting the better of me.

Boggs was there, and he didn’t look happy.

“Where were you last night?  I tried to get you, but you weren’t answering.”

I had the phone on silent.  Ringing phones had a way of bringing unwanted attention.

“I had something I had to do.”

“You went to the Lantern without me.”

What?  Does he have a network of spies I knew nothing about?  “So, I heard it went respectable and had to check it out.”  And hoping Boggs didn’t know who was in attendance, other than me.

“We said we would go there together.”

“You apparently had something else on last night.”

“It’s not what you think.  I had to go with my mother to the hospital for her 6 monthly checks.”

It was easy to forget.  She’d had a cancer scare a few years back, and had undergone chemo for a few months, sending it into remission.  But it came with 6 monthly checks, and both Boggs and his mother were constantly worried it might come back.  It seemed it always did when you least expected it.

“And what was the verdict.”

He relented a little.  “Good.”

“Then, I assure you that was more important.”  No point in telling Boggs what I was doing, just in case it backfired, or he disagreed.  “And I can assure you the place is not worth it anymore.  Boring as shit.”

He shook his head.  Not pleased, but at least not angry.

“Has Rico shown his face?” I asked.

“Yes, about an hour back, some of those people he associates with came and they went off together.”

Perhaps he was annoyed that I hadn’t been there because I’m sure Boggs would follow him.

“You’ve been here all this time?”

“He came to our place last night.  I’m sure it was him who searched in my room.  Not much of a professional thief, he left a mess behind.  Went through the outhouse as well.”

“Looking for the map?”

“Seems so.  He didn’t find it.”

No, he wouldn’t, because Boggs had it with him.  At least that was what I thought he intimated a day or two ago.

“Copies?”

He reached for his back pocket and pulled out some folded paper.  “Thought you might like to keep a copy for yourself.”

I tried hard to keep the excitement out of my manner.  It saved me having to make up an excuse as to why I wanted a copy of the map, and I didn’t want to tell him about the plan involving Nadia, not unless I had to.

“Thanks,” I said, and slipped it into my pocket.

“Now, let’s go check out his boat.”

 

© Charles Heath 2019

The cinema of my dreams – I never wanted to go to Africa – Episode 15

Our hero knows he’s in serious trouble.

The problem is, there are familiar faces and a question of who is a friend and who is foe made all the more difficult because of the enemy, if it was the enemy, simply because it didn’t look or sound or act like the enemy.

But, it seems our hero has ‘escaped’ and had found his way back home.

Except not quite how he expected it would be.

 

Rest was impossible while so many thoughts about my recent experiences were swirling around in the back of my head.  Now, when thinking it through, it made sense that they make sure I was found alive, but in very bad shape.

Two reasons, one, to remind me that they could do whatever they liked to me, and the second, to appease Breeman, who, no doubt realizing a helicopter was missing, would send out search teams, a no-fly zone or not.

But it was a calculated risk assuming I would not tell Breeman, or someone else, about what had happened to me, whether they believed it or not.

That led to the next thought, why was I still alive.  It would be just as easy to kill me and be discovered after dying from injuries received in the crash.  Supposition, they still needed me, or, and this was a hail Mary at best, they needed access to the base, and Breeman.

Did that mean either of the two men I’d seen at the other camp would suddenly turn up?  My money was on Colonel Bamfield.  He was my first Commanding Officer, he had a keen interest in me from the get-go, and he was the one who facilitated my transfer to my current base before I knew he was working for ‘other interests’. 

I still didn’t want to think it was the enemy.

Another question popped into my head, what was his, or their, interest in Breeman because the line of questioning centered on her.

My best guess was that it was no accident I was on that helicopter, that she had directed the pilot to make a flyover, and wasn’t expected that we would be shot down and that she had assumed there would be no repercussions on either myself or the pilot.

It was also clear that if she had to explain how I came to be where they found me, and the fact no one had launched a similar attack of the rescue team, that what happened was simply a breach of orders, and a court-martial offense.

It would solve Bamfield and his new friend’s problem.  Whatever the outcome of the court-martial she would be sent home, relieved of her command.

It seemed the military, as always, had a mind of its own, and not always have the best interests of its personnel at heart.

I’d soon find out.

 

© Charles Heath 2019

 

The cinema of my dreams – I never wanted to go to Africa – Episode 13

It’s still a battle of wits, but our hero knows he’s in serious trouble.

The problem is, there are familiar faces and a question of who is a friend and who is foe made all the more difficult because the enemy if it is the enemy, doesn’t look or sound or act like the enemy.

If at first, you don’t succeed, try a few threats, or leverage.

Or just get rid of the problem

 

Back in my cell, delivered more forcibly than when they escorted me to the interrogation room, I had time to consider his words.

A tactic, I told myself.  Classic divide and conquer.

It was obvious that he wanted me to corroborate his suspicion that Breeman had sent the helicopter out to find his operation.  Did it sound like something she would do or any other commanding officer whose jurisdiction this operation fell under?

Why hadn’t they told her?  If t was military and being run by our side, why would they keep it secret from their own people, especially when something like what just happened, could happen?

It didn’t make sense.

Unless, of course, it was the CIA.  They seemed to be a law unto themselves, except in this case they needed something to incriminate her with in order to have her removed, and replaced with a more sympathetic commanding officer.

It was all too much for a gunnery sergeant like me to understand.

At least I didn’t know anything so I couldn’t tell them anything.  A little solace perhaps, but the trouble was, they’d never believe me.

I sighed.  Perhaps some sleep before they returned for the next round.

They came in the middle of the night.  Or day, I had no idea what it was outside because there were no windows in my cave cell.

They had no intention of being polite, I was dragged up by the scruff of the next and tossed in the direction of the door.  When I stumbled, still half asleep and unable to see properly, one of the guards kicked me and said he would do it again if I didn’t get up.

He did anyway because I took too long.

My ribs were hurting when I breathed, as I staggered in front of them, one behind me giving me a shove every two or three steps, perhaps hoping I’d stumble again so he could kick me.

At the interrogation room, a different one this time, he shoved me in and shut the door.  I didn’t hear a key in the lock, so perhaps they were hoping I’d try to escape.

There was only one chair in the room, and I sat in it.  I couldn’t sit up straight because it hurt, so I had to slump over.

A half hour later a man and a woman, both with white coats like a doctor would wear, came in.  Nothing was said.  The man took up a position behind me, then held me so I couldn’t move.

The woman then joined him, produced as a syringe, and jabbed it in my neck.

The man let me go, and a few seconds later I fell off the chair onto the floor hitting my head in the process, and a few more after that, it was lights out.

At least there was no more pain.

 

© Charles Heath 2019

The End is never The End

Can you actually say you know the exact moment a story is done, finished, and that’s it?

For me, the end never quite seems to be the end, that point where you finally draw a line in the sand and say, that’s it, I’m done, step away from the typewriter.

But are we ever satisfied the story is done, can we not make one more change, it’s just a little tweak, it won’t take long.

Please!

My editor tolerated three ‘minor’ changes.

Firstly, a change of name for a character

Secondly, consistency of word use, such as times and contractions

Thirdly, I wasn’t happy with the overall story, and it needed some more action. More writing, more editing, more prevaricating.

It took three weeks to sort out all of those issues, and last night I send the final draft to the Editor.

It’s like watching your child go to school on their first day. Not knowing what will happen but expecting everything will be fine.

This morning I sat in front of the computer, a blank sheet of paper on the screen. I know it’s not a matter of starting the next story from scratch; I have so many started and finished, sitting in the wings to be ‘tinkered with’.

It’s my way of savoring the moment.

Just before I dive back into the murky waters.

The cinema of my dreams – It’s a treasure hunt – Episode 10

Here’s the thing…

Every time I close my eyes, I see something different.

I’d like to think the cinema of my dreams is playing a double feature but it’s a bit like a comedy cartoon night on Fox.

But these dreams are nothing to laugh about.

Once again there’s a new instalment of an old feature, and back on the treasure hunt.

I’d kept out of Nadia’s way since then, and the few occasions our paths had crossed, she had studiously ignored me. After graduating she disappeared, and seeing here with Alex, just now, was the first time in years.She had grown into the sort of woman you’d see in the social pages of the newspapers and magazines, sometimes for all the wrong reasons, and I wondered if that was how Alex had leveraged her co-operation.

But, there were bigger problems to overcome before I had a chance or find out her back-story.

Alex was going after Rico for the map, a map he didn’t have, a map that Rico was going to need and Boggs was going to suffer the consequences.

Or not, if I could do something about it.

I had a stroke of luck when I got back to the warehouse office where McDonald was waiting, not necessarily for me, but most likely Alex.“Ah, Sam,” he said when he saw me walk through the door, “Come into the office. We need to have a chat.”

That sounded ominous. I wondered if it had anything to do with my absence for what seemed a long time when I’d been watching Alex and Nadia.

“We have a new opening on the afternoon shift, and I thought you might consider it because it pays a little more, with a shift allowance. The hours are 4pm to Midnight. What do you think?”

On the way back to the warehouse I’d been thinking about how I was going to help Boggs and keep the job because the hours I was working made it impossible to do anything during the day, other than spy on Alex.

Taking this afternoon job, I could work, and, in the mornings, help Boggs in his quest.

“When would this start?”

“Tomorrow. You would not have to come in till 4pm.

“Sounds good then, I’ll take it.”

He seemed more relieved that I had accepted. It made me think for a moment whether this was Alex’s idea, and he had an ulterior notice. If he did I guess I would soon find out.

An hour later I was on my way home.I had a lot of items to talk about when I saw Boggs and a possible mission.

© Charles Heath 2019-2021

The cinema of my dreams – I never wanted to go to Africa – Episode 3

Dreaming I was in the desert…

But it was just another episode of the helicopter story, we’re back on the ground after that fateful jump, things are not going quite as planned.

Do they ever in life or death situations?


Yards were like miles, and I didn’t have the time to reach the weapon.  I could see the pickup going around the burning wreck as he of the helicopter and approach me.

But, being the optimist I was I had to try.

And fail.

The pickup was on me before I’d made it halfway, stopping about a foot from me.  Any further and it would have run me over.

I got to my knees and put my hands on my head not giving them any immediate reason to kill me.  The man who had fired the rocket got out of the vehicle moments after it stopped.

A man in military garb, not very old.  And not a foreigner.  I was expecting South American, but not ostensibly one of us.  A glance inside the vehicle showed the driver was a woman, in civilian clothes.

A surprise, yes.

“Mr. James I presume.”  English, well spoken.

Another surprise or more than one, that he spoke English and knew who I was.

“We were expecting you but not be quite so dramatic entrance.  Please stand.”

Kneeling had been difficult; I was not quite sure how standing was going to work.  I was still recovered from the impromptu exit from the helicopter.

I tried and fell back on the ground.  I looked up at him.  “Sorry, the legs are still a little rubbery.”

He simply shook his head, leaned over and dragged me to my feet, then slung me over his shoulder, carried me to the rear of the pickup and tossed me in.  I just managed to avoid hitting my head on the floor.

The man climbed in the back and then slapped the back of the cab.

Crunching gears, an over-revving engine, then a jerky start.  It was not going to be a comfortable journey.

© Charles Heath 2019-2022

The cinema of my dreams – It’s a treasure hunt – Episode 1

My mind will not rest.

Down here, it is summer, and the last few days have been rather hot, well, it is summer after all, but tonight it is particularly hot.

So, as I can’t sleep, I’m lying on the couch staring at the ceiling, otherwise known as the cinema of my dreams.

Where am I?

Well, it has to be someplace cool, of course.

 

I have no idea where or when I got sucked into this game of searching for treasure.  Boggs had been reading some newspaper article relating to a Spaniard who had survived a shipwreck off the coast and had supposedly come ashore dragging his treasure chest, all that he could save from the sinking ship.

I think my priorities may have been slightly different.

Standing on the beach where Boggs believed the man came ashore, we looked inland at the coastal plain now overbuilt with holiday houses and apartments, behind that, some parkland, under threat from the developers, and behind that, the mountains.

I could guess what Boggs was going to say next.

“It has to be somewhere in the mountains, a cave perhaps.”

My map told me there was a mountain face for about 25 miles in either direction and rising to two to three thousand feet up.  I didn’t calculate the area, I just considered it big.

“If he came ashore here, dragging a heavy chest, and barring all of this building, he would take the most direct route inland.”

He pointed in the direction he thought the Spaniard took.

My eyes followed his arm and stopped at a beacon halfway up the hillside. 

That was a long way, pulling a heavy chest.

“Not up the hill, maybe, but somewhere along the base.”

“And don’t you think every man and his dog would have made the same assumption, and covered the ground already.”  The treasure hunt was beginning to bore me.

His expression changed, the sort that told me he might not have considered that possibility.  Boggs was like that, always thinking he had the original idea.

“Perhaps, then, a drink and more thought on the matter.”

We trudged through the soft sand to the bar just off the sand, a small place called The Spaniard.  A sign on the window said ‘Treasure Maps for sale’.

 

Well, the bar was air-conditioned, and the beer was cold.  I have one myself and see where this cinematic experience goes

 

 

“Trouble in Store” – Short stories my way: Actions have consequences

It’s time for the policewoman to arrive.

There is such a thing as pure dumb luck.

If she did not walk through the door when she did then Jack would have walked away.

From the policewoman’s perspective:

 

She crossed the street from the corner instead of remaining on the same side of the street as she did every other night.  When she reached the other sidewalk, she was about 20 yards from the nearest window of the store.

As she crossed, she got a better view of the three people in the store and noticed the woman, or girl, was acting oddly as if she had something in her hand, and, from time to time looked down beside her.

A yard or two from the window she stopped, took a deep breath, and then moved slowly, getting a better view of the scene with each step.

Then she saw the gun in the girl’s hand, and the two men, the shopkeeper and a customer facing her, hands up.

It was a convenience store robbery in progress.

She reached for her radio, but it wasn’t there.  She was off duty.  Instead, she withdrew, and called the station on her mobile phone, and reported the robbery.  The officer at the end of the phone said a car would be there in five minutes.

In five minutes there could be dead bodies.

She had to do something, and reached into her bag and pulled out a gun.  Not her service weapon, but one she carried in case of personal danger.

 

Guns are dangerous weapons in the hands of professional and amateur alike.  You would expect a professional who has trained to use a gun to not have a problem but consider what might happen in exceptional circumstances.

People freeze under pressure.  Alternately, some shoot first and ask questions later.

We have an edgy and frightened girl with a loaded gun, one bullet or thirteen in a magazine, it doesn’t matter.  It only takes one bullet to kill someone.

Then there’s the trigger pressure, light or heavy, the recoil after the shot and whether it causes the bullet to go into or above the intended target, especially if the person has never used a gun.

The policewoman, with training, will need two hands to take the shot, but in getting into the shop she will need one to open the door, and then be briefly distracted before using that hand to steady the other.

It will take a lifetime, even if it is only a few seconds.

Actions have consequences:

 

The policewoman crouched below the window shelf line so the girl wouldn’t see her, and made it to the door before straightening.  She was in dark clothes so the chances were the girl would not see her against the dark street backdrop.

Her hand was on the door handle about to push it inwards when she could feel in being yanked hard from the other side, and the momentum and surprise of it caused her to lose balance and crash into the man who was trying to get out.

What the hell…

A second or two later both were on the floor in a tangled mess, her gun hand caught underneath her, and a glance in the direction of the girl with the gun told her the situation had gone from bad to worse.

The girl had swung the gun around and aimed it at her and squeezed the trigger twice.

The two bangs in the small room were almost deafening and definitely disorientating.

Behind her, the glass door disintegrated when the bullet hit it.

Neither she nor the man beside her had been hit.

Yet.

She felt a kick in the back and the tickling of glass then broke free as the man she’d run into rolled out of the way.

Quickly on her feet, she saw the girl had gone, and wasted precious seconds getting up off the floor, then out the door to find she had disappeared.

She could hear a siren in the distance.  They’d find her.

 

If the policewoman had not picked that precise moment to enter the shop, maybe the man would have got away.

Maybe.

If he’d been aware of the fact he was allowed to leave.

He was lucky not to be shot.

Yet there were two shots, and we know at least one of them broke the door’s glass panel.

 

Next – the epilog

© Charles Heath 2016-2020

“Trouble in Store” – Short stories my way: Point of view

If this story was being written the first person the only perspective or point of view would be that of the narrator.

Since we need to have a number of perspectives it is better done in the third person so we can change between characters and try to understand their motivation.

We might look at the first-person perspective for each of the characters later.

The second of the protagonists is the girl with the gun.  How did she get it?  How did the situation deteriorate so quickly?   What is she going to do?

This is a short story and we need to know something about her, so we have to get to the heat of the matter quickly, so let’s start with:

Her mother said she would never amount to anything, and here she was, with a broken drug addict coming apart because she had been cut off from her money, dragged into coming to this shop to leverage drugs from his dealer at the end of a gun.  It was her fault, Jerry said and made her feel responsible, much the same as her parents and everyone else in her life.

One of life’s losers or just a victim?  This theme can go in any direction.

Then a moment to reflect on why she was here:

Why had she agreed to go with Jerry?  At that moment when she picked up the gun off the floor, she realized it was not out of responsibility or fault, it was out of fear.

That gives us the why; he had obviously tried to make her feel responsible and when that failed, he threatened her.  But now there’s a bigger issue, the gun and a situation spiraling out of control.  The thing is, she has the gun and the power to walk away or make matters worse.

The problem was, she has outed the shopkeeper as a dealer in front of someone who had not known.  That now made him a victim as much as she was.

She looked at the two men facing her, a shopkeeper who was a dealer and a customer scared shitless.  As much as she was.  Her gun hand was shaking.

The scene is set, something has to give.

Time for the shopkeeper to weigh in.

“I have no idea what you are talking about.  Please, put the gun down before someone gets hurt.”

It’s a typical response from a man who realizes he’s in trouble and is trying to make time while he thinks of how to rescue himself from a potentially dangerous situation.

Time to change the perspective again and explore the shopkeeper.

If only Jack hadn’t come in when he did.  He would have the gun, called the police, and brazened his way out of trouble.  Who would the police believe a pair of addicts or a respectable shopkeeper?

Now he had to deal with the fallout, especially if the girl started talking.

 

Next, actions have consequences, building the tension.

 

This section rewritten, moving from Jack as the narrator to the girl, and then to the shopkeeper:

 

Annalisa looked at the two men facing her, a shopkeeper who, despite his protestations, was a dealer and a customer scared shitless.

The poor bastard was not the only one.  This was meant to be simple, arrive at the shop just before closing, force the shopkeeper to hand over the shit, and leave.  Simple.

Except …

The shopkeeper told them to get out.  Simmo started ranting waving the gun around, then collapsed.  A race for the gun which spilled out of his hand, she won.

He was getting the stuff when the customer burst into the shop.

Shit, shit, shit, shit, she thought.

Why had she agreed to go with Jerry?  It was her fault, Jerry had said, and he made her feel responsible for his problems, much the same as her parents and everyone else in her life.

Her mother said she would never amount to anything, and here she was, with a drug addict coming apart because she had been cut off from her money, dragged into coming to this shop to pick up his score from his dealer at the end of a gun.

She heard a strange sound come from beside her and looked down.  Simmo was getting worse, like he had a fever, and was moaning.

The shopkeeper saw an opportunity.  “Listen to me, young lady, I have no idea what you are talking about.  Please, put the gun down before someone gets hurt.  Your friend needs medical help and I can call an ambulance.”

The girl switched her attention back to him.  “Shut up, let me think.  Shit.”

The storekeeper glanced over at the customer.  He’s been in once or twice, probably lived in the neighborhood, but looked the sort who’d prefer to be anywhere but in his shop.  More so now.  If only he hadn’t burst in when he did.  He would have the gun, called the police, and brazened his way out of trouble.  Who would the police believe a pair of addicts or a respectable shopkeeper?

Now he had to deal with the fallout, especially if the girl started talking.

 

© Charles Heath 2016 – 2020