This weeks prompts are at the bottom. The short story below is just me practicing. Practice makes perfect.
It was almost lunch time; Shelly sat at the high table in the window of the shop. The desert sun streaming through the plate glass and the words “14th Street Coffee” shadowed on the stained concrete floor. She would occasionally glance up across the street at the stone statue of Victorio, famous war chief of the Chiricahua, long dead.
The stolen Botticelli, that her father had brought her, still hung on the wall behind the cash register. She had meant to give it back. She really had, but it looked so nice up there on the wall she decided to keep it; just for a little while. Everyone just assumed the depiction of the Madonna with Child was a reproduction. No one even suspected that a Renaissance painting would be hanging in a coffee shop, in a small dusty New Mexico town.
She felt it first; she felt eyes on her and knew she was being watched. The occasional surreptitious glimpse up and down the street revealed no one out or about. A few ranch trucks were parked at the curbs and baking in the midday sun but no one was in them. No one stirred outside in the heat. She continued to study the streetscape without being obvious about it. She knew how to watch without appearing to watch; her father had taught her that. A disturbance in the light across the street caught her attention and now she saw someone crouched behind the Victorio statue. For twenty minutes she watched but the figure lurking across the street remained motionless, clearly watching the front of her shop.
Shelly closed the top on her computer, stood, stretched, and casually walked behind the counter. She went straight to the back room of the shop and hurried out the back door, ran down the alley to where the road bent and emerged between the Cowgirl Gallery and the Pharmacy. She crossed the street and made her way behind the park where the statue stood. There was a man crouched there. He was watching her shop; wearing khaki clothes and Chukkas, a bottle of water sat on the ground next to him, a gun belt encircled his waist. She recognized the blued steel of a GP100 with a six inch barrel. She walked quietly up behind him and with a deft movement removed the pistol from its holster. The man stood and spun quickly around.
“Hey,” he shouted. Then he noticed who had disarmed him. His shoulders slumped, “Give it back,” he blustered.
Shelly tucked the piece under her belt at the small of her back. “You got some explaining to do before getting anything back. Maybe you should start by telling me who you are.”
“Special Agent Green, FBI,” he said.
“What are you doing here Special Agent Green? Why are you watching my shop?”
“I’m part of an International Task Force investigating art theft around the world. I’m interested in the painting hanging on your back wall.”
“Why would you be interested in that? It’s a reproduction that my father painted and gave me over ten years ago.”
“We think it might be the original that was stolen from the Uffizi gallery in Florence about two and a half years ago, when your dad had conveniently walked away from his incarceration.”
“Dad’s back in jail now. He’s been there for a long time. I told you he gave this to me long before you guys locked him up in the first place.”
“Then you won’t mind if I come in and take a look?” Special Agent Green asked.
Shelly sighed, pulled the pistol, spun it around and gave it back to Green, “I won’t mind if you promise to buy a large mocha. I’m having a slow day and I could use the sale.”
“Deal,” the Special Agent quickly jumped on the proffered arrangement and reholstered his piece.
“But,” Shelly continued, “nobody goes behind the counter but me or my employees, you can look from the front of the bar, and you can’t handle the painting. It means a lot to me, my dad did it, and for you, a large mocha will cost ten bucks… in advance.” She held out her hand.
Special Agent Green reached in his pocket and pulled out a money clip from which he extracted a ten dollar bill. She took the money and didn’t move.
“You should tip your barista,” she scolded him. “Twenty percent is customary.”
He fished out another two dollars and handed them to her. She stuffed the bills in her pocket and headed across the street.
“Well, come on,” she said as she beckoned over her shoulder.
Special Agent Green fell in line, followed her across the street.
This week’s prompts are:
- I have seen the devil
- What happened here?
- She won’t be having anymore
Use these prompts to write something that you enjoy writing. Or ignore them and write whatever strikes your fancy. I like that idea too.
Go ahead and dive in,
Ready, Set, Go – you have 25 minutes, but if that is not possible, take as long as you need.