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TMFFC – Four Items – New Bedlam 5

2 August 2013 One Comment

A surprise bit of free reading, a flash fiction challenge I just had to do. Naturally, the protagonist and her destination may seem a little familiar…

New Bedlam 5
by Jodi Lee
© 2013 all rights reserved
Terrible Minds Flash Fiction Challenge

The road sign said New Bedlam 5. Below that, someone had spray painted “Go Back Nao” in hot pink. It wasn’t the spelling or the spray paint that caught my eye, it was the information on the sign itself. 5. Five miles. What the hell?

I’d already passed a New Bedlam 5 sign, probably five times. Maybe more. My trip had gone from a twenty minute quick run to town, into a four hour roller-coaster of flat tires, no gas and now, repeating road signs. Maybe I should go back now, I thought. But that’d be stupid right? I mean, the tire blew, and I changed it. Kept going. Ran out of gas, and that nice guy with the beat up half-ton filled it to a quarter from the tank in the bed of the truck. And I kept going.

This sign was different, after all. It had hot pink spray paint telling me to go back. Well, fuck that. I wasn’t going back.

I did stop to take a picture, though.

About a mile down the road, I noticed flashing lights behind me. Red, blue, red, blue, red, blue. Fuck. And me without proper registration for the car, har har har.

I pulled over, feeling the pain right in my wallet, knowing I’d be at least three hundred down after this. The cop took forever – I mean it – forever to get out and approach my window. I opened my mouth to lie my ass off about it being a borrowed car, officer, and it’s an emergency blah blah blah.

“Sir, did you know… oh. Sorry. Ma’am, do you realize you’ve been driving with your left turn signal flashing since that sign back there?”

“Uh, no, officer, I didn’t realize. It wasn’t blinking or ticking in here, so…”

“Well, just so you know.” And he reached in, literally reached into the car, and wiggled the turn signal arm. “That should do it, ma’am. Also, I’ll need to see your license, please.”

Here we go, I thought. I handed him my license and he mmm’d and hmm’d for a few minutes, probably seconds that felt like minutes, before returning it. Then he just stood there, staring down at me, one hand on a hip, the other casually resting on the butt of his gun.

“Ma’am, I’ll need you to step out of the car, please.”

“Officer, what have I–”

“Ma’am, please don’t make this harder than it’ll need to be. Step out of the car please.”

“I think I’d like to–”

He opened the door, and flapped his hand at me. The one that had been on the gun. I noticed the catch on his holster was loose and that made my mind up for me. I got out of the car.

“Could you open the trunk, ma’am?”

I nearly pissed myself. What the hell? What does he think I’m doing, transporting drugs? “Officer, unless you have a warrant, I’m not opening that trunk. Other than the blinker going, I wasn’t doing anything wrong–” well, that he’d noticed anyway “–and this is starting to look like harassment. Either give me a ticket, or let me go.”

“No, ma’am. And I don’t have a warrant, but I do have this.” He flashed his badge at me. “You will open this trunk for me, or I’ll have to do it by force, and that’ll definitely need to be written up.”

Maybe he wouldn’t notice. He hadn’t noticed the lack of registration stickers on the plates, so maybe…

“Ma’am, I don’t want to have to ask you again.” His hand went back to resting on the butt of his gun, and I’d had enough.

“Look, it’s a borrowed car, I’m new in the area, just over there in Altamonte, and I was supposed to drop it off in New Bedlam. I–”

“Ma’am, I don’t care if you borrowed it from the Queen of England. Just. Open. The. Trunk.” His other hand had moved to settle on the Billy-stick opposite the holstered gun.

I know when to stop arguing. Hello, trouble….

I opened the trunk. It was empty, save for the flat tire, the jack, a piece of carpet and Jim’s guitar.

The cop nosed around in there for a moment, ran his finger down the strings of the Strat, and turned back to me. “Everything looks in order, ma’am. Nice Strat. Looks familiar.”

He hadn’t noticed the blood. Dumb cop is dumb. “Thanks. It’s… it’s a friend’s. He used to play the bars around here. He lives–”

“In New Bedlam. Yeah, I know Jim Mason. Quite the ladies man.”

Yeah, that’s what my client said. “So I’ve heard. Look, it’s getting late and I have to get to town and back to Altamonte before midnight.”

“Alright ma’am, but before you go, just indulge me a moment longer.” He sauntered — yeah, sauntered — back to his cruiser, grabbed something from the dash, and returned, holding it out to me.

A sealed envelope. I took it, raising an eyebrow.

“Good job. You’d best ditch the car in New Bedlam and get the bus to wherever it is you’re going now. I’ll take the guitar.” He reached into the trunk and lifted it out, holding it away from his body, careful not to accidentally get any blood on his uniform. “There’s someone at home that would like a reminder of good ‘ole Jim Mason. Someone who should know better than to cross me.”

He looked at me, piercing blue eyes practically lasering through me. “You’d best get on your way now, Ms. McLane. Tell Jack thanks.”

When he was gone, I got back into the car. From the feel of the envelope, there was a good chunk of change in there. I stuck it in the inside pocket of my leather jacket, and got back on the road. Jack’d be waiting at the Inn, and it was time to head home.