Writing 101, Day Sixteen: Third Time’s the Charm‏: The Lost Note & Murder Most Foul

Today’s Prompt: Imagine you had a job in which you had to sift through forgotten or lost belongings. Describe a day in which you come upon something peculiar, or tell a story about something interesting you find in a pile.

This is the third of a three-part series on things lost and found. Read parts 1 and 2.

Breaking Coconuts

I had to read the note several times in order to decipher its meaning. The name at the bottom seemed vaguely familiar. The name at the top I knew all too well. I groaned inwardly when I saw the latter. Anything involving him was almost certainly trouble.

There were numbers on the faded piece of paper, as well as what looked like dollar signs. The amounts were sufficiently huge to pique my curiosity and I wondered just what the whole thing was about. The ink had been washed out by the morning rain, but I guessed my newfound note to be some kind of agreement or written contract. It seemed important. I wanted to make sure it was reunited with its owner.

I was out walking the goats when I happened upon that lost piece of paper. If you’ve ever tried walking goats you’ll know that their definition of “walking” is a little different from a human’s, so I basically had to toss the note at the first sensible person I encountered and shout at her to get it back to the owner while I ran past her at a fair few miles per hour.

“It belongs to my niece!” she shouted at my receding back as the goats and I disappeared into the lower sections of the dry lake.

I could only kind of shake my head in acknowledgement as I raced off, hoping she would notice the movement. Finding a relative of the note’s owner in this wilderness was such a lucky coincidence.

The very next morning, I heard the sound of raised voices close to the place where I’d found the note. My lucky coincidence wasn’t so lucky after all, and it seemed my business with the note wasn’t quite over.

The unpleasant individual whose name had been at the top of the note was responsible for most of the racket. He was threatening the lady’s niece, whose name had been at the bottom of the note, with murder most foul. Not to be outdone, she was screaming insults back at him. It seems the innocent, faded note had caused an ugly scene. My pounding head wished it had just stayed lost. Why did I, of all persons, have to be the one to find it?

I got the answer to that question not too long after. A neighbor of mine who happens to have inherited a vast estate drove past my house early one morning on his way to visit the unpleasant person. I needed some technical advice from him on one of my projects. As if he could read my mind, he slammed the brakes when he saw me and shouted across the fence at me to come up to his place at 10:00 as he had some technical advice to offer and would be available then. I knew he was an incredibly busy person, so I was happy for the offer of a free consultation. Another lucky coincidence. What were the odds?

Ten ‘o’ clock found me gaping in awe at the long, tree-lined driveway leading up to his house, which sat alone at the top of a little hill overlooking his vast estate. It was the sort of place that very few can afford anymore: no neighbours clinging to the sides of your property, lots of privacy, lots of peace and quiet. It was the sort of place where no one can hear you scream.

It took a few minutes to drive from his gate, which I noticed was open and required no buzzing in or security checks, to the main house, which was not as spectacular as I’d expected, but was appropriately charming for its age. I was so lost in taking in his manicured garden and all the ancient birdbaths everywhere that I failed to notice the old car parked next to his front door, even though the car’s doors and trunk door were open and the car was filled with all sorts of metal tools, including a very sharp machete.

I called out a greeting so my neighbor would know I was waiting outside and I’m sure I heard him respond in a non-committal sort of way. I could hear men’s voices coming from the house, so I settled down in the driveway and waited. I waited for what seemed like an eternity, but my neighbor failed to emerge from the house. I checked my watch and realized I was running late for my errands. Concerned, I decided to alight from the car and barge into the house to check on the goings-on. I didn’t get that chance.

I heard raised voices coming from the house. The voices were similar in tone and tenor to those of the previous day’s fracas, but much louder, fiercer and angrier. I felt a chill pass through my body in that warm morning sun as I heard those loud, unpleasant tones. I couldn’t make out any words, but I could hear the threat of murder most foul in those harsh, maniacal screams.

I bolted out of the car like greased lightning, but I wasn’t quite fast enough. In the car’s side mirror, I could see the feet of a man, but those feet appeared to be floating some three feet from the ground and they were floating at a very odd angle. The screams had ceased and the place was now expectantly silent. I felt my stomach turn to jelly. I managed to get around the back of the car on weak knees to find Mr. Unpleasant holding my neighbor in the air like a shiny-headed little rag doll. He had one arm clamped around the little rag doll’s chest and was swinging him into position so his shiny little rag doll head was perfectly aligned with the hammer Mr. Unpleasant was holding aloft in his other hand. I looked at Mr. Unpleasant’s face and saw Mr. Totally-Insane instead. I lunged forward and screamed for murder most foul.

Mr. Unpleasant/Totally-Insane was undeterred by the noise, so intent was he on murder. I don’t think he even heard me. My neighbor just hung there like limp pasta, apparently in too much shock to resist his attacker. Fortunately, someone faster than me had also bolted out of the car and managed to bear down on them and wrestle the hammer away from Mr. Unpleasant before he could bring it down on my neighbour’s shiny bald pate. Mr. Unpleasant dropped his little rag doll and screamed for murder most foul. He rushed round to the back of his car and feverishly tried to grab the machete from the open trunk, but we got there in time to slam down the door before he could find a new weapon. He was still intent on murder, so we had to pray, loudly. Very loudly. That drove the fear of God into him. He put away his murderous intentions and simply sobbed like a baby.

“Have nothing to do with this man,” he cried. “He is a devil.”

I think that lost and found note was a warning. I think the cryptic advice Mr. Unpleasant gave when he was sobbing down his murderous rage was a warning. What these warnings mean, I really don’t know, but I’ve dialed down things with the neighbours as a precaution.

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