by Bob Hazlett
Martha greeted Vern at the train station. Three months ago, Vern received Martha’s letter. “Come to Chicago,” it said. “Bring Sparky. There’s gold here.”
It took Vern’s last nugget to buy the train ticket for himself and space in the cattle car for Sparky. This better be good, thought Vern, looking at Martha recalling fond memories of their past.
As the wagon bounced along the rutted dirt streets of Chicago, with Sparky tied on behind, Martha shared her plot with Vern. “I want to rob the bank,” she said.
Long story short. Martha lives in a cabin next to the bank that holds her mortgage. The bank wants her out so they can raze the cabin and expand the bank. They harass her regularly. One night Martha seduced the banker into telling her where he kept the safe combination.
Tonight was the night. Vern prepared the cabin. He threaded a string through a candle next to the wick about an inch down from the top. After attaching the string to a board suspended from a rafter, he sat a lighted lantern on the table near the candle. When the candle burned through the string, the board would fall shattering the lantern.
They entered the bank through the back door, opened the safe and removed a fortune in gold bars, filling Martha’s wagon.
They stopped the wagon to look down on the city of Chicago. It was past midnight. All lights were out, save for the two flickering flames visible through the window of Martha’s cabin. A sudden flash, then rapidly spreading fire filled the window.
“Well, Mrs. Leary”, said Vern, “What do you think?”
Looking squarely at Vern and smiling …
Old Martha Leary winked her eye and said: “There’ll be a hot time in the old town tonight.”
Prompt words: fire, string, board. Word Count: 299