Friday, May 5, 2017

the lular


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ray stopped for a red light. there was a little store with its light on, on the corner just beyond the stoplight.

“pull over there,” said buck, from the back seat. “i want to buy a pack of smokes.”

“we’re on a tight schedule,” ray told him. “we can’t stop for nothing. you know what red said.”

“just leave me and go ahead. when red and larry come by , i’ll just flag them down.”

“i don’t think red will be too pleased,” bob, sitting beside buck, said.

“that’s between me and red,” buck insisted.

“i don’t think it’s a good idea,” said doc, beside ray in the front seat. “you know how red is - everything on a tight schedule - down to the last detail.”

“what can go wrong?” buck asked. “red and larry have the frammis, not us.”

the light changed.

“all right,” said ray, “but don’t say we didn’t warn you.”

ray crossed the street and pulled over in front of the little store, and buck jumped out of the back seat.

“i don’t like it,” bob said, when ray got back on the road.

ray shrugged. “like he said, red’s got the frammis.”

*

when they rendezvoused at the motel, it turned out that buck had not flagged down red’s car at all, and was nowhere to be seen.

an ominous silence lasted for only a few seconds.

“but, red,” ray pointed out, in a pleading voice. “you have the gizmo. don’t you?”

red had turned pale. “do i?” he asked “let’s find out.”

red reached into his pocket and took out a little square box.

the gang had been planning and setting up the caper for three years.

and they had pulled it off.

they had stolen the “lular” - the world’s most valuable and fabulous diamond, from mrs farmington-willis, who thought she was safe in the little cabin she used to carry on her affair with the young movie director mac dolan.

of course they were going to have to lay low for about ten years until the heat cooled down, but then they would all be on easy street for life.

red opened the box.

nestled in the hollow of the black velvet lining was a penny gumball.

red turned dead white. “the rat, “ he murmured, “i didn’t think he had it in him.”

“i didn’t think he was that bright,” said doc.

“that’s what i meant,” said red. “what did you think i meant?” he was breathing heavily, but a little color was returning to his cheeks.

“what do we do now?” asked larry.

“we go after him,” red answered. “we go after him. what else are we going to do?”

“i don’t know, red.” larry scratched his head. “we spent so much time on this already. who knows where buck went to? we could spend as much time again trying to find him. i’m ready to give up.”

“me, too,” ray added. “i’ve had about enough of this life, anyway.” he gave a deep sigh, and lay back on the motel bed he had been sitting on.

doc opened the drawer of the little table between the two beds in the room. “let’s see what the bible has to say.”

“very funny,” said red. “you jokers can do what you want, but i’m going to track him down if it’s the last thing i do.”

*

larry went back to his home town in western pennsylvania. he married the daughter of sam wilson, who owned the town factory and most of the town. sam wilson died a few years later, the factory’s product - face cream - went national, and larry ended up with more money than he could ever have dreamed of getting from his cut from selling the lular.

ray went back on the bum. he was beaten to death by a railroad bull during the great wyonimg blizzard.

bob was arrested for holding up a post office in indiana and got twenty to thirty years.

doc opened up a little restaurant in his home town in south carolina. he kept up with all the major financial papers, in hopes of spotting something that might lead to buck or the lular, but never found anything.

red was stabbed to death in a waterside dive in maracaibo. a woman was involved.

*

there’s a little diner beside a gas station on the state line between colorado and utah.

every day an old man stops in and buys the rocky mountain news and reads it while he has a cup of coffee and two jelly donuts.

he always looks like he wants someone to ask him to tell his story.

but nobody ever does.


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