Windhaven 4

What If?  — For writers and readers with imagination. Use your head.

What If Noah planned  the accident of the one crew member so he could be in the crew. Maybe one of them was a murderer of someone close to Noah and he plans to discover who once out at sea? Agatha Christie anyone?

Or, What If the opposite is true. The crew has some nefarious plans for him a la the Orient Express. But he catches on and subtly fights back.  And then there was one, or, if the crew was clever – none.

Or, What if the crew were demons and wanted some power that Noah didn’t know he had. Or did he? Or, What If they were all on a space ship and the crew were aliens, bad guys, good guys, demons, vampires, angels, cyborgs, robots? Mix and match. Fun!

spaceship1

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I usually write about supernatural stuff or mystery/thrillers. Windhaven might have some thrills but no mystery and no vampires or trips to hell (see my other books.) It’s a survival adventure that could happen any day now.  I’m not doing official chapters every post, just whenever.  The numbers are to keep it all in order, for you and me.  Comments and suggestions are always welcome as long as you know that I may or may not follow them.

To start Windhaven from the beginning go HERE.

Windhaven 4

Before he fell asleep on the plane Noah’s waking dreams centered on Linda. He didn’t really believe in love at first sight. First night, maybe. He ran through the firsts – first smile, first kiss, first time they made love, both nervous, but laughing, first breakfast that felt so true.

He woke about a half hour before they landed. The smile he slept in turned tight and nervous. The woman faded a bit replaced by the boat, its crew and the sea. Plane landed, he breathed several deep breaths and, chuffing at the drama circling in his head, went to meet his fate.

 The first mate, Ricky Kiln, a six foot, broad shouldered guy with unruly dark hair, picked up Noah at the airport. After quick introductions Ricky guided him to a full size SUV loaded with equipment and food.

“How long has the crew been together,” Noah asked once away from the airport.

“All of us, about three months,” Ricky said. “Some of us longer.”

“I’m sorry about your guy breaking his leg.”

“Not too sorry, I’d bet. Now you get to go.”

Noah shrugged. “There is that, though I have to admit I’m a little nervous. This is a big step up from anything I’ve done.”

“Red told us what you’ve done. You impressed on the Bermuda race. Just take it easy at first. You’ll fit in.”

“I imagine your guy is disappointed.”

“He’ll get over it. He has a new girlfriend he’d rather hang out with than a bunch of crazy sailors.”

Noah crossed his arms and held himself tight. “I know how he feels.”

Windhaven floated like a sleek water beast yearning to be sent home to the sea. The sight of her rocking gently against the dock lines sent a thrill through Noah. He took in the seventy feet of racing sailboat with light blue streaming lines spelling out Windhaven on a dark blue hull; A fine bow and a fat stern with a low cabin and long cockpit. Twin wheels and polished stainless steel hardware all gleamed in the afternoon sun.

Ricky gave him a minute to take it all in. “What do think?”

“Beautiful.”

“Yeah, she is. Wait till you see her under full sail.” Ricky clapped him on the shoulder. “Come on, new guy. Meet your new best friends.”

Noah took a deep breath and descended the companionway ladder. Like the stark, all business deck, down below was also set up for business, but with a bit more flare. Mostly white with teak trim and shades of blue in the cushions and even a few small curtains over the small cabin side windows.

A navigation station from a space ship filled with instruments, computers, and communication equipment set to port of the ladder. A space with two bunks opened aft.

Starboard were two more bunks and a long, narrow galley. Forward of the galley was a U-shaped settee. Six people, five men and a woman, sat there, inspecting him. A stocky man with a round shaved head stood up.

“Noah,” Captain Redfield Smathers said, reaching out to shake his hand. “So glad you could make it. It’s going to be an adventure.”

“I imagine it will be,” Noah said, failing to match Red’s strong grip.

Several of the crew shifted to give him space on the settee. Noah studied the group. One man he knew. “Ivan, I see you’ve gained about three ounces since the last Trans Pac. Been eating your own food?”

Ivan, rail thin with cocoa skin reached a long arm across the table. He grinned wide. “Noah, good to have you aboard. I see you haven’t been eating my food, you’ve lost a few pounds.”

“Why do think I came along?”

The woman sitting next to Ivan, maybe forty, maybe fifty, skin dark with years at sea,  short of stature, especially next to Ivan, short of hair, broad of shoulder shook with Noah, her calloused grip matching Red’s. Leigh Tag said, “Ivan and Red say your okay, I hope they’re right.”

“I do, too,” Noah said, not quite able to meet her icy blue stare.

Sitting beside Leigh a young man, say mid-twenties, with a long face and a shock of blond hair gave a quick wave with a thumbless right hand. “That’s Larry Brockard,” Red said. “He’s our navigation and weather wizard. Just a kid, but he knows his stuff.”

“Well, that’s good. I’d hate to get lost out there.”

“No worries, mate,” Larry said with a mild Aussie accent. “I’ll get ya home.”

“Glad to hear it.”

“Next is Alain Bienvenue, all around deck man and our resident monkey. If someone has to go up the mast, walk the boom or hang off the side, he’s the man.”

Alain, slight, wiry with dusky skin and slicked back raven hair reached across to shake Noah’s hand. “Bonjour, Noah. Un plaisir. I hear vous êtes très compétant behind the helm.”

“I can usually keep going in the right direction.”

“Fast or slow if you ain’t goin’ in the right direction it’s not good,” the well-muscled man next to Noah said with a Texas accent. “I’m Tom Whitmore, deck man with Alain. He’s the brains, I’m the brawn. Least that’s what I tell him.”

“Plenty of need for both,” Noah said. “Even though I’m an old fart at forty-six I’ll do my best to help you win this little cruise.”

“Can’t ask for better than that.” Red raised his beer. “Well, this is our crew and here’s to us. Fair winds.”

The whole crew clinked bottles. “Fair winds.”

 

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What If? – Windhaven 3

Merry Christmas everyone. Hope you had a good one with family, friends, or a kind waitress serving you a bowl of gruel in some greasy spoon diner. Tip her well.

Christmas/New Years sale!

Starting midnight December 25 to midnight January 1 Smashwords is having a book sale. Go to — https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/DavidBurton  to see my books on sale or free. Feel free to share this link. There’s also a link to Amazon for paperback editions. Thanks for your support. 

If for some strange reason you don’t find any of my books or stories to your liking there are thousands of other Smashwords books on sale — https://www.smashwords.com/shelves/promos/1

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I usually write about supernatural stuff or mystery/thrillers. Windhaven might have some thrills but no mystery and no vampires or trips to hell (see my other books.) It’s a survival adventure that could happen any day now.  

The What If? Part:

What If? the plane Noah is on does one of those alternate dimensional/time shifts and he sees a magazine with the story of Windhaven? He reads the article with alarm, especially when he confirms the date, a year in the future. What does he do? Call Linda and the boat’s Captain and get no answer? What if he lands, knowing what happened? What if the plane shifts back to his time? Does he still go, knowing what might happen? Could he change the outcome?

 

Windhaven 3  

Sipping excellent coffee, Linda sat at Noah’s settee table and watched him efficiently scramble eggs, cook bacon and toast toast. She wore the jeans from the night before and one of Noah’s long-sleeve shirts against the early morning chill. She’d showered in the marina’s bathrooms and her hair was still wet and unfettered. Noah wore his light brown hair short and had no use for a hair dryer.

It figured she’d like the guy who was going away for half a year on an adventure she thought she’d like to go on, too. When he glanced at her with those bright blue eyes and a slightly embarrassed, yet thoroughly satisfied, smile she shivered with the warm memory of his touch. How long had it been since she’d had great sex and so often. There were jokes about it but she thought she might be a little sore for a day or two. So worth it.

Noah refilled her coffee cup then slid a plate full of eggs and bacon and toast and small pile of leftover potatoes in front of her. “Eat up. You’ll need your strength for those wild third graders.”

He sat across from her with his own plate. Staring at his food he raised his eyes and met hers. “You look beautiful this morning.”

“I feel beautiful. You look pretty good yourself, if a bit sleepy.”

“Your fault.”

“At least you’ll get to sleep on the plane.” She moved her eggs around with her fork. “Unless you’ve decided at the last minute not go sailing off into the sunset.”

Noah studied the piece of bacon in his hand, shrugged. “I’m committed. Or maybe I should be committed. It’s into the sunrise, actually.”

They ate in silence for a couple minutes, then Linda said, “You said the race will have a website. “I’ll follow your progress. Get my kids to root for you.”

He cocked his head hoping a thought would fall out. He grinned and shook a finger in the air. “I forgot until just now, I think their planning to set up streaming visits by satellite to schools. The kids will be able to ask questions of the crew and get real-time answers. You’ll have to check the website. Maybe I won’t have to wait six months to see you again.” Linda’s eyes opened wide in question. “That is if you don’t mind.”

Her grin matched his. “And maybe I won’t have to wait either.”

Done with breakfast they stood by the companionway ladder not sure what to do or say.

Noah said, “I’d say thanks for last night, but that seems a bit unseemly.”

Linda said, “I was sort of thinking the same thing. How are you getting to the airport?”

“Uber.”

“Then why don’t you thank me for a ride to the airport?”

“Won’t your third graders be pining for your smiling face?”

“They’ll survive. I can take half a day.”

Noah stepped up close. “Are you going to walk me in and kiss me goodbye at the gate?”

Linda moved a few inches closer. “Yes.”

“Then thanks.”

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Cheers,

David B

 

 

 

 

 

What If? – Windhaven 2

white and black sail boat on ocean
Photo by Mikes Photos on Pexels.com

 

I usually write about supernatural stuff or mystery/thrillers. Windhaven might have some thrills but no mystery and no vampires or trips to hell (see my other books.) It’s a survival adventure that could happen any day now.  

But, What If? this story took place in space. A race around the solar system. Winner takes an asteroid with valuable minerals. What If? something went wrong and you couldn’t swing around Pluto (come on, it’s a planet) and you headed out to empty space and nobody knew where you were or that you were missing. How do you get back?

What If? you won the race and found an alien lived inside who didn’t want to give it up. But maybe it welcomed  visitors and had something more valuable to give, if it didn’t eat you.

What If?, to get a bit supernatural, the race was across a desert and you found a cave in a  moving dune and you had no choice but to go in out of a major sandstorm and you found…?

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I’m not doing official chapters every post, just whenever.  The numbers are to keep it all in order, for you and me.  Comments and suggestions are always welcome as long as you know that I may or may not follow them. Anyway…….

Windhaven 2

The woman had a nice smile, a little shy, a little come hither. Noah turned away. He didn’t need to be thinking what he was thinking. Tomorrow he was leaving for six months, give or take. 

Jubby set a beer down in front of her. “Linda, haven’t seen you in awhile. Long day in the third grade?”

“Always.” She took a long slug of beer. “Just need a beer or two and and some good jazz tonight.”

“I have both. The guys start in nine.” He threw a nod at Noah. “Meanwhile talk to Noah, there. He’s sailing around the world tomorrow. Probably won’t see a woman for six months.”

“Jubba, she didn’t come here to talk with me. Sounds like all she wants is beer and jazz. That’s enough for both of us. No offense.” There was that smile again. 

“None taken. Around the world in six months? That’s pretty fast, isn’t it?”

Noah sipped his beer to give himself time to get whatever was happening to him together. Maybe a little conversation wouldn’t hurt. “I hope so,” he said, clearing his throat. “I’ll be on a seventy foot full on ocean racing sailboat. No stops, balls out all the way.”

“Sounds like an adventure.”

He stared at her well worn sneaker clad feet. Blew out a breath as if deflating himself. “To tell the truth I’ve barely had time to just sit and take in the whole thing. I just found out yesterday, I’m leaving tomorrow, two days later we’re gone.” Eyes wide he shrugged- what’re you gonna do?

Linda turned on her stool. “I did some sailing, just around here, Catalina, up to LA with my uncle when I was a young girl.”

“A young girl. That was what, yesterday?”

She laughed. A good laugh, self depreciating, real. “A lot of yesterdays. Teaching third grade ages you twice as fast as normal.”

“Yeah, I remember third grade.”

The band, a young group quartet, piano, bass, drums and a female guitar player, mounted the small stage. The audience grew quickly forcing Noah to move next to Linda, which he didn’t mind. Linda didn’t seem to mind either.

Knee to knee she asked, “So tell me about this race.”

He didn’t know much, but it seemed like three rich guys with big, fast boats wanted to do a long race. Length of the race got a little  out of hand, so the next Sunday seven boats fifty-five to seventy feet were leaving Providence, Rhode Island to sail around the world. First one back won seven thousand dollars, the entrance fee, they were rich it wasn’t about the money, and a knock off America’s Cup trophy. The race wasn’t officially sanctioned, but they did have a command center they had to report to, supposedly every week.

The quartet began  to play. The opening number had their feet tapping and heads bobbing. More jazz lovers entered, slowly forcing them closer. She smelled good. How long had it been? Oh man, don’t start thinking about it – her. In six months she’d have forgotten all about him. The same for him, probably. He rested his arm on her seatback. She knew it was there, but didn’t seem to mind. The next tune was Herbie Hancock’s Maiden Voyage.  He closed his eyes to listen, that tune always got to him. Somehow his hand rested on her shoulder. She leaned into it. 

When the tune finished Linda turned to him, their faces inches apart. There was that wry smile bordering on snarky, eyes green as shallow tropical water. “Maiden Voyage,” she said, her voice a bit rough. “That’s you, tomorrow.”

“Yeah.” What else could he do but kiss her. Christ, so soft and warm. For a moment he jumped back to his first real kiss at sixteen with Carla Gramm, the girl he was going to spend the rest of his life with. It didn’t happen but those three months were real zingers. They parted, three inches, no more. She touched a finger to his cheek and kissed him a kiss that lasted until  morning.               

What If? – Windhaven 1

I’m still making changes. The new cover for Fear Killer is now here. The e-book edition is available now. The paperback with the new cover is now available.

While I’m working mostly on a new mystery featuring Detective Martha Newton from Fear Killer, I plan to devote one hour a week to Windhaven- a sailing survival adventure. It will be raw with minimal editing, but you should get the jist of it. Sorry, no vampires, witches or other supernatural shenanigans are involved.  Comments, positive and negative, will be welcomed.

Windhaven

Chapter 1

Heart racing, eyes staring, barely breathing Noah Wells stared at his cell phone. “What the hell have I done?” he asked himself, his boat, and the universe in general. He carefully set the phone down and leaned back in the settee of his thirty-eight foot sailboat home.

For a moment he stared blankly at a photo of a fifty foot sailboat in full race rig, the one he’d sailed on in the Bermuda race. A good sized boat, but seventy feet was a much bigger good-sized boat. Did he really want to spend months on a boat that size with seven other crew as it raced around the world in a maybe not officially sanctioned race?

“Hell yes.” He studied his laptop on the opposite side of the table, his office. “I think.”

He thought about deadlines, would the publisher of his novels wait six more months for the new book he was working on? He had a couple articles planned, but nobody was waiting for them. His car and boat were paid for, but the slip rent would still need to be paid. Mail, phone, cable, taxes, credit card, a few goodbyes? He had forty-eight hours to deal with them before he had to be on a plane to Rhode Island. Could he do it? Did he still want to do it? “Hell yea,” he said, and got to work.

Thirty-six hours later of phone calls, emails, errands, and handshakes, hugs, and cheek kisses goodbye,  Noah dropped his sea bag by the companionway ladder and let out a deep sigh. Tomorrow morning he’d catch a flight to the East coast and two later be a sea for five… six… seven months. Now he had nothing to do but wait. He wondered if they’d have any jazz on the boat. Just in case, he knew where to go instead of… waiting.

Twenty minutes later Noah walked into Jubby’s Jazz Joint, a low key bar with jazz and blues every night on a small stage in the back. Thursday night a small crowd, he sat at the bar.

“Noah,” Jubby himself, a thin African American with a long face and a wide perpetual smile greeted him. “Don’t usually see you in the middle of the week. Run out of words?”

“Came in for my free going-away gift beer.”

Jubby set a bottle of  Coor’s in front of him. “Goin’ away? Where to?”

“Around the world.”

“Sailing?”

“Not my boat. A seventy foot foot, full on racing sailboat, racing nonstop around the world.”

“Whoa, that’s a lot of water.”

“About thirty thousand some miles of it.” Noah took a long sip from the bottle then looked at himself in the bar mirror. He’d been thinking and talking about the race since the phone call the day before, but now, seeing himself in the mirror it really hit home what he was about to do.

Jubby leaned his elbows on the bar and looked Noah in the eye. “You sure you want to do this? You scared?”

“Yeah, a little. But more excited. It’s a hell of an adventure.”

A woman came in and sat on a stool two down from Noah. He’d been single for all his forty-four years, a few long term relationships, but he liked his writing/sailing life too much to inflict it on any woman who wasn’t as independent as him. So he checked her out with no guilt.

Pretty, blond, a tiny bit fluffy. She turned to him and smiled.

The Custodian 4

I’m making some changes.

It’s been awhile, but I hope to resurrect the blog soon. A new theme and possibly parts of a new story, or maybe … What If?

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Janitor3

The Custodian 4

Custodians may save the world   from space/underworld invaders, recalcitrant teachers, and bossy bosses, but sometimes they have to deal with darker dangers, like humans. A good custodian is trusted by both faculty and students.

This is the last of the Custodian stories.

The Custodian 4

From a large family group gathered in a park across the street after school, a little girl, maybe eight years old, wearing blue shorts and a yellow top, wandered unnoticed onto the grounds of Grace Glass Elementary school.

The Custodian, wearing his usual khakis and well-filled out  T-shirt, had just begun his Friday afternoon rounds. He checked for trash in each classroom and emptied it into his roller trash cart. He noticed the girl as she casually walked down a narrow grass strip inspecting the flowers. For several classrooms he kept an eye on her. He also noticed that nobody else was around.

Leaving his cart in one of the rooms, he moved toward the girl. He stopped to take a call from the school principal on his radio.

“Would you come to my office, please. We have a minor emergency.”

The Custodian scanned the area. Still nobody around. He continued to walk toward the little girl.

 

An hour later a group of adults, – including The Custodian, the principal, a handsome Hispanic woman, two uniform cops, a detective, and several teachers, have an intense discussion outside the main office.

Not bothering to hide his skepticism, the detective, a solidly built man with some experience on him his face, said to the Custodian, “You say you sent the girl Sandra back to her family before you went to the principal’s office.”

The Custodian nodded.

“But nobody witnessed you doing that, did they?” The Custodian shook his head with slow, confident movements. “So you could have taken her.” The detective tried to stare down the taller Custodian, but had to turn away from the man’s intensely calm gaze.

“Detective,” the principle said. “If the Custodian says he sent her back and he didn’t take her, then he did and he didn’t.”

Between the casual intimidation of the Custodian’s steady gaze that came from his natural being, and the principal’s hard eyed total confidence in him, the detective didn’t stand a chance of taking that line of questioning anywhere. Not quite ready to accept the Custodian’s innocence, he said, “Okay, search the school. Look into every room, closet, cabinet, nook and cranny.

As the group dispersed, the Detective held back one of the uniformed officers. “Keep an eye on that custodian. I don’t trust him.”

As the group dispersed the Custodian looked like he was searching, but he really watched the other searchers. Seeing what he thought he’d see, he slipped into a door marked IDF. Inside he moved quietly past gray electric breaker boxes and computer equipment. In the back of the room, hidden behind a mass of blue computer network wiring he found a plywood sheet that appeared to be screwed to the wall. It wasn’t.

He entered a narrow space littered with dusty broken chairs and playground equipment. Water pipes ran along the rough block wall. A light switch did nothing. With a small flashlight the Custodian made his way to a rusty file cabinet. Behind the cabinet, more plumbing, and the girl.

Legs taped together, hands tied around a vertical pipe, mouth taped, Sandra whimpered, wide eyes filled with fear.

The Custodian knelt beside her, put a finger to his lips for quiet.

Five minutes later he brushed back a strand of blonde hair and gently caressed her cheek with the back of his fingers. She gave him a shaky smile and nodded. Freed from her bonds, flashlight and a bottle of water beside her, she hugged knees to chest and watched him go. Before he swung the file cabinet in place he gave her a one finger salute. She returned it as the dark closed in around her.

Sometime later Sandra heard footsteps crunch in the outer space. She wrapped the tape around her legs, pressed the piece of tape to her mouth and put her hands behind the pipe.  Heart pounding, barely able to breathe, with total trust in The Custodian, she waited.

The cabinet grated on the concrete as it opened. A flashlight blinded her. Behind the light a dark figure approached. A man knelt beside her. She jumped when he spoke.

“Come on, Sweetheart. I’m your daddy now and I’m going to take you home. It’s way past your bedtime.”

She jerked her hands free as he reached for her.

“Ah. I got here just in time, didn’t I. We’ll save your punishment until you’re home.”

He lifted her in his arms. Holding her tight, he carried her through the dark to the outside door. He paused, listened, slowly opened the door and peeked out, scanning the area. He stepped out. A fist smacked his jaw.

The Custodian caught Sandra as the man dropped. In his arms, she smiled, not afraid at all.

*                *               *

Two cops lead the man, one of the teachers, away in handcuffs.

Sandra’s father hugged her in his arms.

“Your daughter is very brave,” the principal told him.

“Yes she is,” he said. “But I don’t like that she had to wait in the dark so long.”

“We knew where she was, but not who put her there. We had to wait until he came for her.”

“It was okay, Daddy. The Custodian said I’d be alright.”

The father’s expression showed his skepticism, but he nodded his thanks and walked away.

Over his shoulder, Sandra, gave The Custodian a one finger wave.

He returned the wave and turned to finish his rounds.

janitor4

 

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What If? you left a comment below?

The Custodian 3

First, some Shameless Promotion —  Fear Killer, a psychological suspense novel is now available in ebook versions. Paperback to come.

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As you saw in the two previous posts custodians can deal with alien invasions and save recalcitrant teachers. But sometimes they have to deal with a more dangerous entity – a full-of-himself school board member.

The Custodian 3

The Custodian, somewhere around forty, wearing his usual khaki pants, dark T-shirt and capjanitor4 pulled low, locked the doors of the boys and girls bathrooms in a small building that stood alone at the edge of the playground across from the rest of Grace Glass Elementary School. He placed a large sign in front that read Restrooms Closed.

While he pushed his custodial cart away to continue on his nightly route a sleek man in a slick suit and his ten-year old son approached in a hurry.

Business_Man1“Hey, you’re the Custodian, aren’t you?”

The Custodian stopped. Nodded at the man. Nodded at the kid.

“Open the bathrooms, will you. We both have to go.”

He looked pointedly at the closed sign then pointedly at the father.Restroom-Closed-Out-of-Order-Sign

“Come on. My son is a student here. You can open it for a minute. We won’t make a mess.”

Lips tight, The Custodian shrugs – what can he do?

The boy said, “Dad, it’s okay. If the Custodian says they’re closed, they’re closed.”

“No, it’s not okay.” The Father raised his long face up to Custodian. He was so used to intimidating people, that when the Custodian’s steady eyes stared him down his face turned red to his shoulders. He almost poked him with a stubby finger, but thought better of it. “Look, I’m on the school board,” he blustered. “The ones you work for. I’m telling you to open that bathroom, right now.”

The Son tugged on his father’s suit jacket. “Dad, it’s closed. We can go in the bushes. Like camping.”

He slapped the boy’s hand away. “I’m going to piss in that bathroom. Are you going to let me in…, Custodian?”

A slow shake of the head was all he got for an answer.

“Then enjoy your last night as a janitor, Buddy.” He attempted to push the Custodian out of his way. That his “employee” didn’t budge and the Father was forced to go around, made him even madder. He jabbed a finger at his son. “You stay here,” he snarled and stalked off across the playground.

Hands in pockets, The custodian and the boy watch him go.

“I’m sorry,” the boy said. “You won’t get fired will you?”

The Custodian ruffled the boy’s hair, then tilted his head toward the bushes.

The boy went and pissed in the bushes.boy pissing A few minutes later the Father stalked back across the playground, chin leading the way. He shook a fistful of keys as he passed. “The Principle knows who she works for. Come on, son.”

“I already went, Dad. If the Custodian says–.”

“I don’t care what he says. He doesn’t work here anymore.”

The Father unlocked the door, threw it open and disappeared inside. The door thumped shut with solid finality.

“Will he be okay?” the Son asked.

The Custodian gave the boy’s shoulder a reassuring squeeze.

mexwoman1The Principal, a handsome Hispanic woman joined them. “I’m sorry. He said he wanted to open his son’s classroom.”

They stood together – The Custodian legs apart, arms crossed, head down. The Principal behind the boy, hands on his shoulders.

“He does think a bit much of himself, but he is on the board. Couldn’t you–?”

“Ahh. Aaahhhh! Hel–.”

The custodian drew a deep breath. From his cart he lifted out a worn machete and a gouged baseball bat. Spinning the bat and blade to loosen up, he strolled to the bathroom door, unlocked it, and entered.

From the bathroom, mixed with the Father’s cries, came an otherworldly screech of rage.

The Principal said, “Well, after this I hope your father will understand that when the custodian says it’s closed, it’s closed.

“Yes, Ma’am. I hope so, too.

End

Janitor3When dealing with a school custodian, especially at a school as special as Grace Glass Elementary, there’s one thing you should remember, The Custodian knows what’s going on. Best listen to him.

The Custodian 2

This site hasn’t been updated for quite awhile. Click HERE for the latest information on books and stories.

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Custodians don’t save the world every day, but there’s always recalcitrant teachers who think they know what’s what, and mice. A problematic combination. Not to worry. Us professional Custodians are highly trained to take care of any situation. Especially ones specific to our particular school. Like this–.

The Custodian 2

© David Burton 2018

The Night Custodian, dark cap pulled low, wearing a well-fitting T-shirt and khaki pants pushed his custodial cart along the outside walkways of the Grace Glass Elementary school. Still daylight, most of the students had left for the day and only a few teachers remained.

He approached the bullpen, a fenced in space next to the main building where dumpsters, old furniture, pallets and boxes were kept. The chain link gate was open.

A woman’s short little scream came from inside.

Calm, despite the invasion of his area, he looked in. With a broken mop handle, Miss Penki, a young teacher new to the school, poked agitatedly between two dumpsters. Seeing the Custodian, she dropped the handle and nervously wiped her hands on her skirt as she backed away.

“Oh, there you are,” she said with an annoyingly haughty tone. “I caught a mouse in my classroom on one of those sticky traps. I was throwing the filthy thing into the trash when it squeaked at me. It dropped down there so I pushed it back out of sight.” She shook her hands as if ridding herself of mouse cooties. “Just let the thing die by itself. If you did your job, I wouldn’t have to do things like this.”

Miss Penki shuddered and quickly walked away.

From the gate, the Custodian watched her with a frown and narrowed eyes. He entered the bullpen and peered into the dark between the dumpsters. With the broken handle he slid the trap out. It was torn,

and there was no mouse.

He heard a scuttling, claws-scratching-on-cement sound. Alert he looked deep into a cluttered corner. Large, human-sized, beady red eyes regarded him. Slowly they blinked, then whatever owned the eyes turned and vanished.

Thoughtfully, the Custodian folded the trap together, shook his head, and pitched it in the trash, then resumed his rounds.

******

The next day as The Custodian closed his office door a kid stopped in front of him. “Mr Custodian, the Principle wants to see you in her office.”

The Custodian nodded, pointed a strong finger at the boy. The boy touched the finger with his own, tip to tip, smiled and ran off through the outside gate, the last student to leave.

In the Principal’s office he leaned casually against the wall, hands in pockets.

Lounging in her chair, the Principal, a handsome Hispanic woman, said, “Miss Penki seems to be missing. She was here for fourth period, but didn’t show up for fifth period. Her car is still here. Have you seen her lately?”

The Custodian raised a quizzical eyebrow.

Apparently she had some uncomplimentary words to say about you yesterday. Not doing your job?”

He hung his head, but didn’t mean it. Their eyes stayed connected.

Do you have any idea where she might be? Or do I need to call the police?”

Frowning, thinking, he stared at the floor. He had a thought.

What?” the principal asked.

A minute later they stalked toward the bullpen.

And she just pushed it away? Fool.”

It was late in a cloudy day and the bullpen was shaded, a bit spooky. He moved a couple pallets and boxes from where he’d seen the red eyes. Behind them he found a two foot diameter hole in the wall. Picking up the broken handle, he spun it like a martial arts Bo-staff as he studied the hole.

Still casually, yet expertly, spinning the broken mop handle, he led the way to a storage closet. The Principle waited as he found a half-filled plastic jug and a large flashlight. Together, they moved to a blank door with no number or name. The Custodian handed her the jug, opened the door with his key, and cautiously entered.

Wary, they made their way down a dark, narrow, dusty passage littered with old boxes, old equipment, and old furniture toward a muffled, keening cry for help. At the end, in a small open space covered with gravel The Custodian’s flashlight revealed Miss Penki, hands, knees, and face awkwardly stuck to a giant sticky trap.

Little mice scrambled out of the beam, giving a wide berth to a two foot tall rat. The big rodent growled a warning through long, pointy,

unrodent-like teeth. Its red eyes simmered.

Eyes on the rat, otherwise unperturbed, The Custodian poured a yellow liquid from the jug around Miss Penki’s knees, feet, hands and face. As she came loose from the trap the rat made a grab at her foot with human-looking claws. She yelped and scrabbled across the gravel while The Custodian beat the creature back with the handle.

The Principle helped her to her feet. Miss Penki opened her mouth to speak.

Not a word, Miss Penki,” The principle said in her no nonsense principle voice. A very unrat-like roar sounded behind the women as they stumbled toward the door.

Fighting noises, growls and grunts, gravel scrabbling and handle whacking, followed them out the door. Twin red beams of light burned gouges in the cement walls.

Outside, Miss Penki collapsed on the grass. “Oh my God! What was that thing? What happened to me?”

Still in principle mode, the Principle said, “There is no thing, Miss Penki. And nothing happened to you.”

What? But…?”

Miss Penki, in the unfortunate event you have to kill a mouse around here, do it quick and clean. Do not shove it under a Dumpster to suffer and die of thirst or hunger. Do you understand?”

The teacher’s eyes grew wide. She looked to the bullpen then the open

door then the Principle. “You mean…?”

Yes.”

The Custodian closed the door. He carried the sticky trap folded together. Blood spattered his ripped shirt and pants. The broken handle dripped blood. He nodded to the Principle.

She nodded back. “Put in a damage form. The school will buy you a new shirt and pants.”

The Custodian nodded, shot Miss Penki a hard look, and headed for the bullpen, twirling the bloody mop handle.

 The End

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