SepSceneWriMo #4.7 – Cache

The warehouse stretched for miles, or it seemed that way. I backed the truck up to the loading dock. The beep, beep quit when the familiar bump came and I shut off the engine.

“Good stuff today, Millard?” Don Tarino flicked the butt of his brown cigarette onto the drive. “I hope there’s good stuff, Millard. You know what I mean?”

Don didn’t scare me. But I didn’t brush him off, either. “That apartment building over on 77th, the one they declared vacant now that all the sick are dead.”

“77th, eh? That’s on the greasy side of town. Should be some quh-wallity merchandise in there.”

He called it greasy “‘cuz wheels need grease and we’re not talking about wheels that go round.”

“You gonna help me unload?”

Don Tarino swiped his stringy hair over his bald pate. The blood stain on his leather jacket, obvious as he tilted his chair back against the wall, showed like a map of Asia. Wasn’t his blood. Was a jazzer’s who’d tried to kill the Boss. Don used an ice pick. But that was years ago, back when Don could strike like a snake. He moved more like a slug these days.

“I got better things to do. Go get Canner, he’s sleepin’ off last night’s twill party.”

“Yeah, OK.” I walk past him and into a side room. “I hate twill. Gives me bad dreams.”

Don scoffed, “Pfffft, pussy.”

Inside I found Canner. The guy rarely spoke. When I roused him from the pile of mattresses we kept for crashing, he shrugged, pulled up his trousers and followed me to the truck.

“Where’s Trotsky?” Canner asked, surprising me as I slid up the rolling door.

Trotsky had helped me load the truck in the first place.

“The dude got the shits from last night’s craze. Last I saw him, he was running down an alley, hoping to find a basement to dump his guts.”

“He crap on any o’ this?”

“Hell no. Come on, there should be some good scavenge in this shit.”

Ballisto’s Moving and Storage had a contract with the greater municipality to clear the apartments where the plague had ravaged the population. Most of the good stuff was gone by the time we got there. We took what was left. Little did folks know that many people used their furniture as safety-deposit boxes; pockets of valuables stashed deep in a couch or slipped into a mattress, maybe taped to the underside of a drawer.

Canner got the forklift positioned and we began to unload.

Some of the fancy furniture, the stuff in good shape, we saved. The rest we treated less gently.

I dug into the seams of a recliner. “Ooh, here’s a watch. Look at that, it’s still running.” I waved the faux gold in the air then strapped it on.

“What’s the weirdest thing you find?” Canner had his arm, elbow deep in the cracks of a couch.

“Found a false eye once. Bunch a dentures. Even found an Olympic Bronze medal. Curling, whatever the fuck that is.”

The last piece was an armoire, a nice one, walnut veneer, hardly any scratches. I got Canner to help me lift it out and we examined it. On the back we found old writing, crayon it looked like.

“Is that a goddamned happy face?” Canner said, tilting his head.

“Kids.” I ran my hands over the outside looking for hidden latches. We opened it up and found nothing. I knew better, so I started rapping my knuckles. The bottoms of the two drawers were untouched. I tapped the inside back wall. “Hoo, hoo. Listen to this.” A hollow drum sound echoed from within.

My fingers found the indents, which I worked to get leverage. The lower panel popped loose and I lifted it out. “Jackpot,” I said.

“Move out the way, let me see.”

I tilted back so Canner could eye the cache. “Now you know to check these kinds o’ things,” I instructed.

I started pulling out old photos—old 20th century jobs. Then came tubes of cash, old green money rolled up and wrapped with some slick black tape. At the bottom…

“Uh, oh.”

“What? Dead rat or something?”

I’d learned my lesson on previous extracts. I pulled a rag from my pocket and pinched the handle of an automatic pistol. I lifted the piece out and set it on the concrete loading dock. It lay there, not a rust mark on it, all shiny and deadly.

“Wha’d ya got there?” Don Tarino’s chair slapped down and he shuffled over to have a look.

“We got it handled,” I said. I nodded to Canner. “Better call the Boss. We got another one.”


19 thoughts on “SepSceneWriMo #4.7 – Cache

  1. Find the backstory speed bump, write it into the opening and get it out o’ the way or axe it. Once we’re already “there” it’s pointless except for the author going “oh yeah, by the way let me interrupt the story with some hooptedoodle I forgot.” Editors, human or AI will point out – Only use ‘just’ and other throwaways in dialogue.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “just” removed. I figured as it was part of the narrator’s first person account I could get away with it — the didn’t talk much allusion. Anyway, it works without it and I see it didn’t really add anything.

      Now, the Ballisto’s contextual airdrop falls right where the narrator gets into what they’re doing – scavenging. Lifting that up higher in the sequence, hmm, I get your point, but it would take a larger rewrite and I’d rather move onto the next scene I gotta get through.

      But, in general, if there’s context — push it forward in the story. Noted.

      Liked by 1 person

              1. Ask for your limitations and they are yours. Until you decide that putting on the gloves in an attempt to beat the next one and the next one and the next one into shape is an exercise in futility and learn to finesse your words you will keep writing at the same plateau forever. Write to purpose, write to style, write to challenge yourself. Confusing activity with productivity is one of those disgusting MEME vocational plaques, but unfortunately, it’s true. I get paid to write, and make noise. Not because I’m a genius but if the gig calls for X and I’m not there, I’d better get there before the red light comes on. Yeah, maybe it’s “boring” not world building every time you sit down but spending a weekend figuring our why GRP’s drums sounded like God and then doing it on a budget is far more rewarding going forward than continuing to punch out tubby drums day after day, year after year.

                Liked by 1 person

                  1. I’d rather see/read 3 or 4 rewrites and have some causerie, learn something about process. One can shit a short story (or 32 bars) of anything. Whether it was a valuable experience is another thing. Hetty’s rockin’ steady making sense over the long haul. Continuity on the fly is a lot more difficult than what are today’s 800 words.

                    Liked by 1 person

      1. It works for any number of adventure models but not when it requires taking a ‘splainin’ dump in the middle of a short. All that could have been handled easily on the front end. Here’s who and what and where, story… or weave it in.

        Liked by 2 people

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