Monday Matinee - "THE HUNT"

Sparks Of Insanity By Vinny "Bond" Marini Monday, April 02, 2007

Today, the word from Mo for MANIC MONDAY is Branch (or a form of).
Check out the other submissions over at IT’S A BLOG EAT BLOG WORLD



TODAY’S CONCESSION SPECIAL
Two pieces of fried chicken, French fries and a large drink
$3.00








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The branches of the trees swayed in the wind as Lee wondered how he had gotten himself into this situation.

He lived a quiet life. Working as a toll-taker along the interstate was a solitary life. The passing motorists hardly acknowledged his existence as he stood in his little box accepting their ticket and fare day after day.

He would smile, and occasionally one of them might utter a meaningless “Good morning”, but nothing more. Most people interact with others at their job. Lee had one of those careers (ha, a career as a toll-taker, what an oxymoron that was), that had no road to success. The best he could do was secure the coveted 8:00 am – 4:00 pm shift. It was the busiest shift of the day and on it, the time flew by and the day ended quickly.

Lee was low on the ladder. Only 18, he had gotten the job because his uncle worked for the Turnpike Authority. If it weren’t for this job, Lee would probably be flipping burgers earning minimum wage at the local burger joint. He had barely made it out of high school and because of a child-hood injury could not even join the military.

So, he stood, 5 days a week, from midnight until 8:00 am, taking the dirty money from travelers who had no interest in who he was.

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That was until three weeks ago when the limo pulled into his lane on a Monday evening. Normally the driver pays, but on this night the car pulled up further then normal and the back window slid down. An old hand reached out with the ticket and a bill folded underneath it. Slowly, a head came into view.

The head looked even older then the hand. A few strands of gray hair clung to a pink scalp covered with age marks. The eyes were sunken and a dull brown. The voice that came from the mouth sounded as if it came from the grave. “Hello young man. Have a good evening.”

Lee muttered a thank you, as a shiver moved up his spine. As he had taken the money and fare, his hand had touched the old man’s and he felt the cold, clamminess. The touch of death it seemed.

The limo pulled away as lee turned to make change. His head snapped around to shout out “Wait.”, but it was too late. That is when he looked at the folded bill and realized it had a picture of Benjamin Franklin on it. A $100 bill for a $5 fare! Lee stuck his head out of the window of his booth and watched the tail lights of the car slowly disappear in the distance and then made the change and put the $95 into his pocket.

Two nights later, the same limo pulled in and Lee immediately assumed that the old man was back for his change. He thought this might happen and had not spent a dime of the money. As the window slid down, lee pushed his hand into his pocket and grabbed the money, neatly folded there.

The old hand came out of the limo toward him holding the ticket with another folded bill. “Um, Mister, you forgot your change the other evening, here it is.” The face looking out of the back of the car grinned. “Oh, no young man. That money was for you.”

“Why?” Lee muttered. “Why would you leave me with $95?”

“Just a good deed let’s say.” And then the hand was pushed closer. “The fare for tonight.” Without thinking, Lee took the ticket and the bill and the limo pulled away.

Looking down, he was amazed to see another $100 bill. Lee didn’t even bother to look to see if the limo had stopped to allow change to be given.

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Two days later, on Friday, the limo appeared once again. This time, Lee was ready. “Look Mister, I don’t know what you want, but I have to tell you, I don’t go for men.”

The laugh that came out of the old man’s could freeze a fire. “Oh, young man, I am not trying to seduce you. I just like to help out those that need the help.”

With that his bony, chalk white hand emerged again, holding a ticket and a bill.

When the limo had left, Lee was shocked to see 2 $100 bills this time. “Weirdo”, he mumbled.

The following Monday, the limo appeared at the same exact time, but on this night, the old man asked, “So, Lee,” reading the name tag on his shirt, “Do you enjoy a good meal?”

“Look Mister, I told you, I don’t go that…”

“Lee...please stop. I am an old man with no one to treat right. I have had many women over my life, and have never thought of being anything other then a heterosexual. But I liked the fact that you tried to give me back the money that first time. That showed me that you are an honest man. There are not many honest men left out there. Believe me, I know. DO you know how many toll attendants I have done this with whom, after the first night never offered the money back? Too many to count. Now Lee, tell me, do you have anything against making money? Honest money, with no hanky-panky attached?”

Lee looked at the old man and thought about his 1978 Pinto with almost 200,000 miles on it, the only car he could afford. It spewed blue oil smoke when he accelerated. It needed brakes and tires. He thought about the room he lived in at his parents. The same room he grew up in, with the cowboy and Indian wallpaper, faded to a dark brown from exposure to the sun and the single bed he slept in.

The same bed he had slept in since her was 5 years old. The same mattress with the stains from years of night bed-wetting and then, as he became a teen, emissions of a different sort. He thought about the $2 he had in his pocket the night this limo first pulled up and how he wondered how he would get by until the next payday 5 days away. Now, he had $200 in his pocket and he was listening to this man talk about making even more.

“So, mister, what would I have to do to earn this money?”

“Lee, please call me Jonathan, and all I ask is that you join me for dinner at my estate and talk to me. My butler Simon will be there and Franklin my driver, so you need not fear anything. And you will be able to leave if you get uncomfortable.”

“Well, ya know I work, so when?” Lee inquired.

“Do you work on Saturday? Because I am having Simon cook a nice roast that evening with baby red potatoes and asparagus with hollandaise sauce and we can open a nice bottle of wine if you’d like.”

Lee did not know what this Holland-sumthingorother sauce was, but the roast sound great. His parents did not have a lot of money and the closest to roast he had come in years was the Tuesday meatloaf his mom would make.

“OK, Mis…um Jonathan, where is this estate of yours?”

From out of the window the hand reappeared holding an envelope. “Here are the instructions Lee. I look forward to the company. It can be lonely eating alone. Saturday around six then?”

Lee nodded his assent and the window slid upward and the limo pulled away.

Lee opened the envelope and inside was a sheet of paper with directions and two more $100 bills.

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On Wednesday Lee waiting for the limo but it never cam. He started to think that maybe the old man had been pulling his chain and then when it did not come on Thursday Lee began to really believe it was over.

But the next night the limo pulled up to his booth. This time, however it stopped at the driver’s window. The driver looked out at him and said “Mr. Jonathan wanted me to remind you of your dinner engagement tomorrow evening and wanted me to check to make sure you knew how to get to his estate.

“Yeah, I know where it is…is this guy for real?”

“Yes, Mr. Lee, Mr. Jonathan is the most generous employer I have ever had. He looks forward to having a lively discussion with you over dinner tomorrow.”

“Well. OK, then, but hey…can you tell him I really don’t like wine and would prefer some Genesee Cream Ale instead.”

“I will inform him,” the driver said, paid the $5 toll and pulled away.

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Saturday morning Lee woke and went to his closet and looked through his clothes. He could not wear his uniform and all his jeans had holes in them. He reached up on his tippy-toes and grabbed the box on the upper shelf of his closet and took out $100 and drove the Pinto to the mall. He bought a new pair of jeans and a new shirt. Looking at his ratty old sneakers, he decided to buy a new pair of those also.

When he got home, he showered and dressed in his new clothes. When he walked out of his room his father was sitting in his chair in the den. A can of Gennie Cream Ale in his hand and a cigarette hanging from his lips.

“Where the hell you going and when did you get new clothes?”

“Going to meet a friend is all dad, I will see you later.”

“Your mom got some hamburger helper, ain’t you eating here?”

“No dad, I said I would see you later.” With that Lee walked out letting the screen door slam behind him. He got in the Pinto and pulled out of the driveway.

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Following the directions up the mountain road, until he found the road noted on the sheet of paper. Turning right, per the directions, he kept looking at the mailboxes and at the numbers inscribed on them.

They driveways got further and further apart and when then the mailboxes along the edge of the road got fancier and fancier. Lee had not been up this far on these roads in a few years. One night he and his friends came up here and quickly learned that not only did the county police patrol here, there were private security cars also. They had been stopped by one of these and harassed and told to head back down to the valley.

On this night, he did not see any of the private cars. Along the right a large brick wall began. He followed along for about ½ mile before he saw a drive and the number he was looking for on the large double gates that blocked entrance to all but those who were invited.

Pulling into the drive he stopped next to the call box. Before he could press the button a voice sounded, “Yes, may I help you?”
Lee looked around and saw that not one but two security cameras were mounted on the high brick wall that sealed the property off from the outside world. The wall had to be ten feet high and stretched to the left as far as he could tell.

Lee called out “Hi, my name is Lee Hamilton. Ummmm Mr. …. I mean Jonathan invited me for dinner.”

“Ah yes, Mr. Lee, you are expected.” With that the gates began to swing open and when there was enough room, lee drove the Pinto in. As soon as the car cleared the gates they began to swing shut.

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He followed the drive, which curved back and forth and was surrounded on both sides by a dense strand of trees. The drive just kept going and going. Lee was not sure but he guessed it had to be ¾ miles long before it finally curved to the right once last time and the trees fell away. In front of him was the largest house he had ever seen. It had three stories, was a white stone structure. The drive curved around a large fountain to bring him to the front door. He saw that it continued around to a separate structure that looked like a smaller house, but he realized it was a garage and had 12 doors.

When he turned the ignition off the Pinto bucked and spewed a thick cloud of blue smoke.

He climbed out of the car and made his way up the stairs to the front doors. The two doors were solid wood and had to be 10 feet high. As he reached for the button to ring the bell the door on the right swung open and standing there was a very large man in a black tuxedo.

“Mr. Hamilton, I am Simon, welcome to Casa Sierra. Please follow me.”

He turned and began waking down a hall. Lee’s head turned left and right as they walked. The marble floor was polished to a mirror finish. On the walls were painting after painting. Some of them Lee recognized from the library books he had seen. He didn’t know if these were real, but he suspected they were. There were closed doors on both sides of the hall, and tables to each side with vases and statues.

The hall was about 20 feet long and then it opened into a large area where circular staircases went up the left and the right side. Between the two stairways there were two large doors which were open. Simon led him into that room and Lee’s jaw dropped to his chest.

On the other side of the room was a fireplace that Lee could have walked into. A large fire was ablaze. On either side of the fireplace were floor to ceiling bookshelves. The room had 20 foot ceilings and this was more books outside the town library that lee had ever seen, and he wasn’t sure if this room did not contain even more books then the town library.

There was a bar along the left side of the room and in the middle 4 oversized leather couches arranged in a square around a cocktail table. On the couch facing him was his host. As Lee walked in Jonathan stood and walked to meet him. Well, Lee though, walked was not really true. The old man shuffled his feet and leaned on a cane as he moved.

He put his hand out, “Lee, I am so happy that you came. I was not sure you would, even after I sent Franklin to see you last night. Simon, Lee will have a Genesee Cream Ale.”

“Yes sir.” Simon moved out of the room backward and disappeared around a corner.

“Please Lee, come sit”

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“This is some home you have here…can I ask how many rooms?”

“Well, if I remember correctly there are 12 bedroom suites and 30 in total, though we have most of the sealed off. I am here by myself now, except for Simon and Franklin and a lovely lady that comes in each day to help clean the areas we do use. “

They sat on the couches and Simon came back in with a beer poured in a frosted mug and a glass of red wine.

“Simon, we will eat in about 20 minutes.”

“Yes sir.” With that, Simon disappeared again.

Over the next 20 minutes Lee answered questions about his life. Why had he not gone to college? Grades. Where did he live? With his parents, but they really never knew where he was or what he did. What he wanted in life? He didn’t know, maybe to get a new car and leave this place for the coast. Did he have a girlfriend? No.

Lee did not know how he did it, but Simon brought him a new beer as he took the last sip of his first one and then appeared to announce dinner.

They moved into the next room and Lee was, once again, amazed. The room was even bigger then the one they had just been in and the table probably had 50 chairs around it. There were two place settings at one end. One at the head of the table and the other at the seat to the left.

A fresh beer was waiting for Lee. Simon silently served them a soup which Lee did not recognize, but finished off it was so good. Then a salad was served.

After the salad the main course was served. When Simon asked Lee if he wanted hollandaise sauce with his asparagus, Lee looked at it and decided to try some. When he tasted it he laughed to himself. Why don’t these rich people just call things what they were. This was a melted cheese.

For dessert they had ice cream.

The entire time, Jonathan kept asking questions. Some of them over and over. Lee just assumed the guy was old and kept forgetting, but did not want to embarrass the man.

He did not realize how many beers he had until he went to stand. His head felt real light and he wobbled a bit.

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They went back into the den and Simon brought them two small glasses with a dark liquid in it.

“It is Port Lee, a real treat, try, and if you do not like it, Simon will get you another beer.”

Lee took a sip, not expecting to like it; it looked like wine to him, but found he did.

Jonathan told Lee a little of his life. He had been married and had two kids. His wife and children had all died years ago in “an accident” and since then he had lived alone.

The Grandfather clock in the corner began to sound out the hour and Lee realized it was midnight. “Wow, this was great, but I should be going.” As he stood, he knew he was way to drunk to drive.

“Lee, I told you there are plenty of bedrooms. The road back down to town is not one you want to drive at night after drinking. You can stay and then tomorrow I can show you the grounds. I think you will love the property and we can discuss the business opportunity I would like to offer you.”

Lee thought about it and the idea of making money appealed to him. The old guy seemed harmless enough, so he allowed Simon to show him to a bedroom on the second floor and opened the drawers in the dresser pointing out some pajamas and told him the essentials were all in the private bathroom.

Lee went into the bathroom to find a brand new toothbrush and took care of that, washed his face and then put on the pajama bottoms. When he climbed into bed he was amazed at how good a real mattress felt and fell asleep almost immediately.

He slept soundly…not knowing it would be the last sound sleep he would have for many many days…

End of Part One

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CREDITS:

DANCE OF MAYA
Mahavishnu Orchestra
Composer: John McLaughlin

Header: Redkid.net Customized VEM2007

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19 Of Your Sparks

  1. Travis Says:
  2. Terrific last sentence to whet the appetite.

    Once again, you've set up the characters very well, giving the reader just enough information to create intrigue and questions.

    This has a good pace to it and a plausible premise.

    Looking forward to more.

     
  3. cathy Says:
  4. can't wait for the next installment.

     
  5. Mags Says:
  6. It's a double edged sword coming to read these Bond...the enjoyment of reading and then the cliffhangers....

    ;)

    Loving it...I did a MM for the first time today...come on over if you have a chance.

     
  7. Bond Says:
  8. TRAVIS: Thanks dude...it started as something totally different and then BAM...it all fell into place.

    CATHY: Welcome to THE COUCH...always room for one more.

    MAGS: Going to scoot over and see yours soon. Glad you get caught in the cliffhanger... if not it would not be what I was aiming for.

     
  9. hi bond. good story so far. will wait patiently with the rest for the next installment, of course since i will be back on the carnival legend next week, you might just want to send it along to me, right? ha ha ha

    smiles, bee

     
  10. SGT DUB Says:
  11. and???? guess I'll have to wait too. Looking forward to the next part.

     
  12. Comedy + Says:
  13. Me too. I'll wait with everyone else.

     
  14. Maryfly Says:
  15. oooh, great read V! Don't make me wait too long for Part2!

    hugs!

     
  16. Matt-Man Says:
  17. This contains far too many words...

     
  18. TopChamp Says:
  19. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Where is part 2???

    I don't trust the old guy. He's creepy.

     
  20. Sanni Says:
  21. "He slept soundly…not knowing it would be the last sound sleep he would have for many many days…"

    Let me translate:
    Reading the last sentence means Sanni will not get any sleep until next Monday... INSOMNIA! =)

    Love it - and thanks for fried chicken, fries and large Coke!

     
  22. Meribah Says:
  23. This is real interesting...hope there is no harvesting of body parts in this story. When Lee found himself getting drunk, I almost thought there might be! I watch/read too much science fiction I think. LOL

     
  24. You've got just a touch of Dean Koontz going there...I like it!!! I am definitely waiting for the next installation.

     
  25. Travis Says:
  26. I just re-read the title...The Hunt. Now I'm really intrigued.

    Matt - Were there some words you didn't know?

     
  27. Turnbaby Says:
  28. Bondbaby--you are so hitting your stride. I have an idea where this is going but I am sure you'll give us some twists along the way. I must say that your character development of 'Lee' was deft and succint. Just excellent.

    Smooch and hope you feel better

    Did the Yankees win? ;-)

     
  29. the108 Says:
  30. I'm with Mags.... you def leave somebody wanting to know what happens next!!!

    Great job!

     
  31. Bond Says:
  32. BEE: Maybe I will hand deliver it

    SGTDUB: The old serials of our childhood made us do the same.

    COMEDY: Well you'll have some great company.

    MARYFLY: Only 7 days LOL HUGS

    MATT-MAN: need a thesaurus? LOL

    TOPCHAMP: It is in my mind )well partially) LOL

    SANNI: I am the one with insomnia.. you sleep dear...

    MERI: Hummmm maybe there is...maybe there isn't

    GRACIE: LOL I didn;t even think of Dean, but yes, TY for the compliment

    TRAVIS: heheheheeh always read the title

    TURN: I have a pretty solid idea and even had to change the opening sentence to not give it away... TY for the words.. and YES they did

    108: TY ... glad you are enjoying

     
  33. Angell Says:
  34. OOhhhh another one that leaves me on the edge of my seat - thanks Bond. :D

    Well done, you really should think about writing a novel, or a book of short stories. You are turning out to be a master of suspense.

     
  35. Coco Says:
  36. Another gem, Vinny. Eagerly awaiting the next part ...

     

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