by Bob Hazlett
Thunk! A few more scrapes with the shovel blade revealed a wooden box about a foot cube, held shut by a very old and deteriorated padlock.
Rudolf, not well educated, nor very ambitious, had always lived at the bottom edge of society – last hired, first laid off. Klara, his wife, was an old school stay at home wife – content to be with Rudy where-ever life put them. This year had been good for Rudolf. He was able to stay employed at a nearby grocery warehouse. Hauling sacks and cases on and off trucks was hard work for a man his age, but he was glad to have it.
Rudolf and his wife Klara had recently been able to purchase a house from the bank. It had been sitting empty for several years; the bank wanted to get rid of it, and no one else wanted it. Rudolf and Klara were overjoyed to finally be able to have a house on a small lot.
The house was old and sagging, but the outside was painted white with green window trim. Their little home was in Drullins, a poor residential neighborhood on a hill outside Amesport, a rustbelt city that showed no signs of a future.
From the porch, Rudolf could look across dilapidated neighborhoods and see the hulk of abandoned factories against the horizon.
Today Rudolf would plant a vegetable garden to help out a bit with food cost. He selected a small plot beside the house, once tilled, now overgrown with weeds, but still discernible as having been cultivated in the past. He mentally visualized what he might plant as he loosened and turned over the soil.
He was about half finished tilling the plot when his shovel hit the box. He pulled it out, cleaned it off with a rag, and carried it into the kitchen. Klara joined him as he pried the rusty lock off with a big screwdriver.
Shocked to say the least. The box contained a gun and money – lots of it – more than either had ever seen. Some old bills, tied in bundles with rubber bands. Some new, still in banded bundles. Their impulse to quickly hide the box led them to the top shelf of the bedroom closet. They spent the rest of the day and most of the night pondering what to do with the box. Turn it over to the police, try to find the owner, keep it.
Rudolf went to the county property records office to identify the last owner of the house. It turned out to be Alberto Borelli. Old newspapers called Borelli a notorious Amesport gangster. He was the mob’s political fixer in Amesport. He had been killed in a shootout with police. There were no known relatives. The police confiscated the house and turned it over to the bank to get rid of.
Rudolf knew what he would do with the money.
The house was old and sagging, but the outside was painted pink with green window trim. Their little home was in the town of Mākaha. With a population of about 8,000, Mākaha sits 35 miles northwest of Honolulu, along the Pacific Ocean, west of the Mākaha Valley, and at the foot of Mt. Ka’ala in the Wai’anae Mountain Range. It is the last of the leeward towns on O’ahu. North of Mākaha is little development, i.e. no towns, no gas stations, no restaurants.
Their house in Hawaii was about the same size as the one in Drullins. Still one bedroom, but this one fronted on a beach. Their plot of land was small but indistinguishable because there were no fences.
From his porch, Rudolf could look out over the uninterrupted expanse of the Pacific Ocean.
On the top shelf of the bedroom closet sat the wooden box. The gun was still there and so was some money – not so much now. There were old bundles with rubber bands, but all the new money was gone.
Next to the house was a run-down shed that had been fixed up to serve as a workshop. Some previous owner had dressed it up enough to function as home to a small surf shop business.
A sign, made from an old surfboard, identified the surf shop. Rudy would have a new one made proclaiming “Rudy’s Surf Shop”, as soon as he could get around to it.
Today was Wednesday and Rudolf was expecting business to be little to none. But he was dressed for work as usual – Hawaiian shirt, ragged jean shorts, and flip-flops. He took one last sip of coffee as he got up from the table.
Rudolf looked out the kitchen window as he headed for the door. Why is that Honolulu County Sheriff’s car pulling into my yard?, he wondered.
Prompt: plot, gun, money. Word Count: 794 words