Mystery – November 25

On this date in 1867, Alfred Nobel received a patent for dynamite.

Writing prompt: Write a scene in which the only tool available to your protagonist is a stick of dynamite.

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    One Response to “Mystery – November 25”

    1. Skip Johnson says:

      Stick Shift
      by Russell “Skip” Johnson
      Bus Driver for USD 437

      Of course, on most days the bus shed ain’t a very exciting place to be. After runnin’ the morning routes, Dumpy Debbie and the other women drivers (who are afraid of her but love her hatred of everything with a peepee) jammed around the card table (the one with the broken legs) until time for a lunch jaunt to Panera. ‘Bout once every week the legs fall off and the fatties get soaked by their cold coffee. I know how to fix the damn thing but I’m as likely to do that as go get women’s food with ’em..
      I mention Dumpy Debbie because she was in nasty form that day. She made fun of Al’s hair or lack of same and reveled in her harpies’ screeches of laughter. Al just turned around and walked out and a moment later I heard him peel off on the ATV he drives to work on nice days. I just shook my head and went over and poured the last cup of coffee.
      “Hey Skipper!’ Dumpy Debbie snarled, “Make another pot! Maybe it’ll match the one below…” She trailed off as I turned towards her. Everyone knew she was about to make another stupid comment about my weight, specifically the concentration of same below my belt. But the second time she tried it las December I ‘d humiliated her by answerin’ “Say what, Double D?”. That was both her bus driver initials and her bra cup size. That shut her face.
      But today I said, “Thanks for sayin’ please’” and started to make ‘nother batch. I wanted the hot coffee for me. The Earp boys’d dumped a load of Gatorade on the floor of MY Bus Number 69 and cleaning it up tired me out. I need to be fresh for the afternoon routes.
      I heard the broads pick it up again. Since my back was turned and my ear that has lost 73% of it’s hearing (from Ole ’69) was turned to ’em, I couldn’t hear all the conversation but I heard enough to tee me right off.
      “…the bus rodeo is offering gift certificates again for prizes this year.”
      “Oh, no! Whassa matter with cold hard cash? Ain’t like we would lose our amateur status or nothin’ to get a universal gift certificate.”
      “Amen, sister. And wait til you hear what shoppin’ em-porium they come from.”
      “Couldn’t be worse than last year. Dick’s Sporting Goods.”
      I recognized Dumpy Debbie’s rasp. “That was a shitty prize all right. I don’t like Dick’s. Or the store either.”
      She’s a screamer, that DD. That’s what I heard from her ex, at least. He’s a good ole boy.
      “This year it’s even better. Get this- Murchison’s Marina.”
      “Bull roar!” exclaimed one of the old broads. At least the language is better at the harpies’ table than on my bus.
      The worst part was I had to agree with Double D and her coven (that’s what it’s called. I know because a social studies teacher told me). Murchison’s Marina and Live Bait owned the contract on gas for the District, and every time we filled up we got shit for taking up both of the pumps. A school bus is somewhat larger than your normal car, sabe? Old Murchison should have thought about that when he bid on the contract.
      Now I like to fish as much as the next guy, and I like even better drinking the beer that goes along with it. But a gift certificate to Murchison’s? Murchison sold nothin’ but crap! Minnows that died the moment you walked out the door with ’em. Worms that drowned before they hit the water. And the bastid always cheated you on the number of crickets he sold, since he knew they’d be jumping around so you couldn’t count ’em proper. I know because one day I dumped a batch on his counter and called him a liar. I think he had to spray the place for vermin before the health dept. would let him re-open.
      Of course, I knew who was gonna win the Super Size Division of the Bus Rodeo. That would be me, of course. That little honor has been mine for twelve years straight and 14 out of the past 16. And those two I didn’t win was before I figured out how Al was cheatin’ by rigging his speedometer to show he was goin’ ten MPH faster than he really was. But I forgave the ole boy for that particular sin. He just wanted to prove to the harpies that he could drive and had some balls. Bald people do that stupid stuff.
      Anyway, the more I thought about the worthless piece of paper that I was gonna win the madder I got. I stewed all weekend as I sat in the 69’r outside Manhattan High School waitin’ for the damn debaters to lose so we could get home. They were a loud crew, them debaters, but hell what do you expect.?
      Finally somebody dropped their trousers or somethin’ and the last team lost. We got out of the Little Apple about 9 PM after the compulsory stop at the King for a double W. I was motoring down 70 and listenin’ to the kids bitchin’ about the judges. Always mystifies me how the judges are stupid when the kids lose, but when they won the judges did nothin’ particularly smart to recognize it. And they was chortlin’ ’bout how one of the debaters, a guy they call Dork, lost a debate by talking about how farmin’ the ocean causes nuke war. Everyone seemed to think that was just fine and crazy, and the kid with the thick glasses called Slosh pounded on Dork’s back and said “Way to blow up the round, Dork.” I concentrated on my drivin’.
      Then about midnight, after we had pulled into the high school and I warshed Ole 69 and put her to bed, the idea hit me. Maybe that Slosh kid had a point on more than just his head.
      On Sunday I drove the Come to Jesus Bus for the Methodists and then headed out to my land ten miles south of the high school. Fed the horses the dogs and the preggie llama and then went into my hidey hole in the barn and found my lock picks, which old Richie Grissom gave me when I got my parole from Lansing. I had practiced with them some, but aside from breakin’ in to the bus barn and takin’ some Cokes, I had never used one in anger. I also dug through my collection of stuff that stupid kids left on Ole 69. There was a can of orange spray paint.
      And then I headed over to the Kansas Department of Transportation depot at the entrance of the Turnpike. I waved to Margie the toll collector, who always has had a torch for me, and strolled to the other side of the property, where the padlocked gate is. In about 12 minutes I was back on the road.

      On Monday, there was a notice on the bus shed door that instructed us to buy gas from Binkley’s 66 for a while. There was some curiosity until Dumpy Debbie told us that someone had demolished Murchison’s Marina and Bait Shop with a stick of dynamite sometime after midnight that day.
      Double D was somehow in the know what the police report said, because she told the harpies that the Mad Bomber had sprayed the parking lot “Never fish with dynamite “ and all the minnows from the bait shop spread around it, stickin’ to the wet, traffic barrel orange paint.
      “The cops don’t have a clue,” DD said, “Hell, if they think about it, with the way that peepee Murchison treated bussies, it could be any of us.”
      I smiled.

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