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Short Stories

An Aspiring Author

By Claude Bouchard
Copyright © 2010 by Claude Bouchard
Originally posted on "TwistedWebb"

He wakes in the morning and heads directly to the computer room where he fires up the PC. The twenty-three inch flat-screen comes to life and he waits the moments required for the CPU to crunch through its morning ritual, its own awakening to deal with another day.

The coffee maker starts to burble and he goes down to the kitchen, feeding the cats while the caffeine brew drips into the pot. Minutes go by and he returns upstairs, armed with two full cups, one which he leaves on his spouse’s nightstand as she will soon rise as well.

Back at his command centre, he slips onto the web, opening tabs which will be required, as usual, for the day ahead. Followers have increased on Twitter again, he notes with satisfaction. The previous day’s hits on his website demonstrate continued interest in what he has to offer to the world. He sifts through new emails, deleting junk and reading those he deems important, though there is no earth-shattering news once again. As he verifies a few sites related to sales, he is disappointed to see that, as is often the case, few or no units were sold the previous day. Determined however, he pursues the routine as he has done for over a year, marketing himself and his products, greeting friends all over the globe, chatting and making the witty remarks for which he has become known, hoping that his efforts are not in vain.

The day goes by, like all the others past, with messages sent regularly to assure his presence all while toiling at the creation of his current work in progress and through it all, he waits for that call, that sale, that interest that will show him that what he has done has indeed finally been considered worthwhile.

The day ends as he closes down his command centre and turns his attention to another pleasant evening with his spouse and the pursuit of other activities, of the leisure kind, aimed at taking his mind off the dream he yearns for to become reality.

The evening draws to a close and it becomes night, a time to retire, to rest and to build up the energy for the new day to come, a day which will most likely duplicate those of the past. But he remains optimistic, he remains hopeful, he remains an aspiring author.

Roman Numerals

A short story
By Claude Bouchard
Copyright © 2010 by Claude Bouchard

     The sun had risen enough to shine through the narrow bedroom window when Appia awoke. Reaching next to her, she patted Decimus, her husband, on the back and smiled as he mumbled, still under the spell of sleep.
     “What is the time, my husband?” she asked as she patted him some more in an effort to rouse him.
     With a groan, he raised himself on one elbow, then the other and peered at the sundial with bleary eyes.
     “It is VII:XX,” he muttered as he let his body drop back down to the comfort of their king-sized straw mattress.
     “I am surprised that you are still sleeping, my love,” said Appia. “It is rare that you rise later than VI:XXX.”
     “This is true, my wife,” Decimus replied following a massive yawn, “But it is the Sabbath so I needn’t go toil at the office and it was nearly XII when we retired.”
     “You are right, Decimus,” his wife agreed. “Do you wish to rest some more?”
     “Perhaps another XL minutes,” Decimus suggested. “I promised Marcus to help him install the II new wheels on his chariot. He is expecting me at IX so, if I rise at VIII, I will have plenty of time to eat and bathe.”
     “Then I shall rest with you,” decided Appia. “I wish to go to the market for a new goat but it only opens at X on the Sabbath.”
     “A new goat, my wife?” Decimus enquired. “Are goats not rather dear in this season?”
     “Yes, my dear Decimus, at full price, they are,” Appia explained. “However, Pompeius & Sons are having a XXV% off sale today only. I saw this in the weekly stone slab we received in the mail yesterday.”
     “At XXV% off, you are right in wanting to purchase a new goat now,” Decimus agreed. “That is an excellent deal. Is the discount available on everything?”
     “Yes, all merchandise is reduced,” replied Appia. “Do you need something?”
     “I could use some new togas,” said Decimus. “The II I bought last year are getting rather ragged.”
     “No problem, my dear,” said Appia. “How many should I buy for you?”
     “With a XXV% discount, you may as well buy me III or IV,” Decimus replied. “Do you have enough money?”
     “I have XLV denarius which is enough for the goat and some groceries,” Appia informed him. “We need a XII eggs and some butter.”
     “Why don’t you buy a VI pack of ambrosia coolers for the chariot races this afternoon,” suggested Decimus. “I have at least LXXV denarius in my wallet downstairs so I’ll give you some more before I leave.”
     “Thank you, my husband,” said Appia. “I’ll remind you lest you forget.”
     “Good idea,” Decimus replied as he glanced at the sundial anew. “Oh my, XXX minutes have already gone by. As we are not sleeping, we may as well rise now.”
     “Yes, Decimus,” his wife agreed. “We can always use the extra X minutes for something more productive.”

Spell Cheque

A short storey about homonyms
Bye Claude Bouchard
Copyright © 2010 by Claude Bouchard

     “Your knot using the write words, Adam,” scolded the teacher. “Ewe wood sea that if ewe paid moor attention when ewe red them.”
     “Eye will right my storey again,” a determined Adam replied. “Jest weight and ewe will sea that I can dew it.”
     Once school was dun four the day, Adam went two the park too play bawl with sum friends butt only fore a short wile since he wonted two re-right his storey two have it ready buy the mourning.
     “Your hear early,” his mother said inn surprise when he arrived. “Eye thought ewe wood bee playing bawl with you’re friends.”
     “Eye was butt eye have two right my storey over,” Adam ex-planed. “My teacher says eye have two many mistakes.”
     “Eye cents that you’re teacher may knot like ewe,” said his mother. “You’re storey seamed fine two me when eye red it. It was a grate little tail.”
     “May bee my teacher is knot seine,” joked Adam, “Butt eye will show her. Eye will even ad sum knew stuff inn my storey.”
     “Good four ewe,” his mother replied, “Butt, weight. Bee for ewe start, can ewe wok over too Jim’s. He has sum would that your father kneads this weak end two re-pare the fence.”
     “Oh quay,” Adam agreed. “Butt eye dew knot have any time two waist. After eye am dun with my storey, eye am going too meat Bobby.”
     “Wear are ewe going with Bobby?” his mother asked with concern. “Eye due knot like the weigh he axe sum times.”
     “Dew knot worry sew much, mother,” Adam said. “Wee will bee at his house. He kneads help to titan the weals on his bike. That’s awl.”
     Adam went two get the would at Jim’s and put it a weigh inn the garage sew it wood knot get whet if it rained bee four the weak end.
     “Thank ewe four getting the would. Your suite,” his mother said when he came back inn.
     “Know problem, mom,” Adam replied. “Now, eye will go re-right my storey.”
     As he headed four the den ware they kept the computer, he herd his mother caul him back.
     “Just a peace of advice,” said his mother with a grin. “When your dun with you’re storey, ewe mite want two ewes the spell cheque on the computer two make sure ewe have know miss steaks.”
     “Mother,” Adam grinned back. “Eye awl weighs due!”


A short story
By Claude Bouchard
Copyright © 2009 by Claude Bouchard

            Though the car moved slowly, it still bounced and swayed as it made its way along the rock-strewn, vine-bumpy dirt road.
            “Where you taking us, man?!” Axel demanded as he scanned the dark woods which tightly lined the drive.
            “Relax, Dude!” Paul laughed as he manoeuvred the stolen Altima into a widening curve. “We’re here!”
            “What the fuck is this place?” Bozz mumbled, as usual, pulling himself forward between the two front seats as he stared through the windshield.
            “It’s mine!” exclaimed Paul as he pulled the car into the clearing before the large, poorly maintained Victorian house.
            “What the.. What do you mean, it’s yours?!” Axel snapped, not used to not being in control.
            “This place belongs to me!” Paul replied, cutting the engine and opening the door. “Come on!”
            Axel warily opened his door and suspiciously examined the black forest surrounding them while Bozz lazed himself out of the back seat and gazed at the old house.
            “Why’d ya build a fuckin’ house in the woods, man?” he muttered, turning to Paul.
            “I didn’t build it, you idiot!” snorted Paul. “My Grandpa did!”
            “Your grandpa?” Axel repeated as he gazed evenly at Paul. “Is he here?”
            “Hell, no!” Paul reassured them. “Grandpa died a few years ago and he left me this place, since I was his only kin.”
            “Excellent,” Axel nodded coolly as he examined the structure before him. “Any neighbours close by?”
            “Nope,” Paul smugly replied. “Closest neighbour’s about two miles that way. Why the hell do you think I brought us here?! You said you wanted somewhere safe!”
            “Well, you did good, Paulie,” Axel grinned for the first time. “Boys, let’s get the bags and get inside!”

             “Well, that’s a lot of fuckin’ cash,” Bozz commented before finishing off what remained of his third beer and belching.
            The three men sat in the dimly lit kitchen of the old house, gazing at the piles of currency stacked on the table.
            “How much you think we got?” Axel directed his question to Paul.
            “Hard to say,” said Paul, examining the money. “The safe was pretty damned full and Pinky usually takes in most of his cash at the end of the week. Dope sales spike up and people coming in to pay their weekly dues… Probably bout a hundred thou.”
            “Ooooweeee! Suck me dry and call me dusty!” Bozz exclaimed. “A hundred K?! That’s… that’s… How much is that each?”
            “Thirty-three thousand and change each, moron,” Axel chuckled. “Shoulda told you twenty-five and you wouldn’ta known the difference!”
            “Yeah, well fuck you, smart-boy!” Bozz laughed indifferently. “At least I ain’t ugly like a stick!”
            “Bet ya Pinky’s gonna freak when he finds the money gone,” Axel returned his attention to Paul, ignoring Bozz. “You sure he ain’t gonna suspect you?”
            “Don’t see why he would,” Paul shrugged. “I ain’t been hangin with him for nearly a year now.”
            “Yeah, but he knows that you know,” Axel argued. “He might come around to chat and wanna make sure you ain’t bullshitting him.”
            “Well, he ain’t gonna come around here cuz he don’t even know about this place,” Paul replied confidently. “Christ, nobody did until I decided to take you guys here!”
            “Well, I have to say again that you did good, Paul!” Axel approved, “Didn’t know for shit where we were going but this is great! Anywhere we can hide the money safe for a while?”
            “There’s piles of old junk and stuff down in the cellar,” Paul informed them. “We can stash the cash down there if you think it’d be better.”
            “I just don’t think we should be walkin around with a hundred thousand dollars for a bit,” Axel confirmed. “Specially you in that Pinky knows you and all.”
            “I guess,” Paul nodded as he rose from his chair and started stuffing stacks of bills back into one of the duffel bags. The other two joined him and they soon had everything put away again.
            “Might as well go hide this right now,” suggested Paul as he gestured towards a door in the corner. “We should stick the car in the garage around back too since it’s hot. Then, boys, there’s more beer, I’ve got some great weed and there’s pizza in the freezer I stocked up on for the occasion!”
            They followed Paul through the doorway and headed down the old, rickety wood steps into the dank, musty smelling cellar. As they descended, the boards creaked painfully under their weight and dozens of scurrying sounds could be heard below.
            “What the fuck is that, man?” Bozz asked anxiously, seeming uncharacteristically alert for a change.
            “Just rats,” Paul replied easily. “They’re more scared of us but don’t corner one cuz it’ll jump at you and bite.”
            “Fuckin great,” Bozz muttered. ”Got any damned light down there?”
            “Just a second,” Paul’s voice came from the dark further into the cellar.
            A click was heard and the light of a single, low-wattage bulb did its best to cast shadows across the low-ceilinged dirt space. Dust-covered cobwebs hung from the rafters and a variety of accumulated odds and ends were piled all over the place.
            “Nice,” Axel said sarcastically as he reached the bottom of the staircase.
            “It’s not like I live down here,” Paul replied defensively. “I don’t even come out here to the house that much. I figure that someday, some developer will want to buy me out and ka’ching!, I’ll be rolling in coin!”
            “What is all this shit,” Bozz mumbled, gesturing towards the piles of junk covered in dust, dirt and rat droppings.
             “All crap that my Grandpa stuck down here,” Paul explained. “A lot of stuff that was Granny’s that he shoved down here after she died.”
              “Well, nobody’s gonna find the cash down here,” admitted Axel. “Where do you think we should hide it?”
              “There’s an old chest back here that I emptied,” Paul responded proudly as he headed towards one corner. “We can stick the bags in there and cover the chest with the shit that was inside.
              “Paulie’s been planning!” Axel grinned slyly. “You dog, you!”
              Smiling, Paul turned back to face the two others just in time to see the two bright flashes as Axel’s .38 roared. The slugs hit Paul in the chest, throwing him back against the wall where he slid to the ground, motionless.
              “Whoa, what’s that about, man?” Bozz asked curiously.
              “Easier to split a hundred thou in two,” Axel replied smugly. “Plus, if Pinky did track Paul down, he might have found out about us. Now, he won’t.”
              “Works for me,” Bozz nodded in agreement.
              “Cool,” Axel smiled. “Let’s get this cash back upstairs and get one of them pizzas going! I’m starving!”

               Bozz awoke on the couch in the front parlour, wondering where he was. Slowly, it came back through the alcohol and THC induced fog which clouded his mind. He looked around the room and saw no sign of Axel but then remembered that his partner had gone upstairs earlier to crash in one of the bedrooms.
              “I gotta piss, man,” he mumbled to himself as he stood unsteadily. “Fucking dark in here.”
              He slowly stumbled his way out of the room and into the hallway leading towards the kitchen and bathroom at the rear of the house. As he made his way, sliding his hand against the wall for direction and support, he suddenly heard a scraping sound along the floor behind him.
              “What the fuck’s that?” he demanded loudly, spinning around and nearly losing his balance.
              He peered into the darkness as his eyes slowly adjusted but saw nothing or no-one there. He turned back towards the rear again and continued down the hallway once more. Reaching the bathroom, he groped inside, found the light switch and flicked it but the room remained dark.
              “Awwww, fuck, man!” he muttered as he positioned himself before the toilet.
              He unzipped his jeans and as he started to urinate the bathroom door slammed shut with a bang and the light came on.
              “Hey!” he shouted in fear, jumping at the sound. “Axel, stop fucking around! You made me piss myself!”
              He stared at the door as he quickly finished urinating, calling out, “Axel, fucking answer me, man! You’re freaking me out!” but received only silence in response.
              “You’re being an asshole, Dude!” he continued, zipping up and reaching for the door.
              He grasped the knob and realized that it would not turn. Growing angry, he shook the door, then kicked at it but still failed to get it open.
              “FUCK OFF, AXEL!” he shrieked in rage as he pounded at the door.
              At that moment, he felt someone tap him on the shoulder from behind, causing his heart to leap into his throat. Spinning around, he was astonished to find himself staring at empty space. A second or two went by then he received a sharp slap to the back of the head.
              “WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON!” he screamed as he wildly tried to look everywhere at once.
              He was suddenly shoved in the chest with force enough to send him to the floor.
              “HEL…” he started to cry out, only to have the wind knocked out of him from a vicious blow to the stomach.
              Just as quickly, he felt hands tighten around his throat and yank him up so that his feet dangled off the ground. He swung and clawed like a madman at the empty air around him but in vain. He was suddenly forcefully thrown head-first into the mirror which shattered from the massive impact. He fell to the floor, bashing his face against the old cast-iron sink on his way down.
              Dazed, and in intense pain, he wiped his bloodied face on his sleeve and looked up through tear-filled eyes. Standing above him was an old man dressed in dirty overalls and a worn, checked flannel shirt. Two things immediately caught Bozz’s attention as he stared in awe at the stranger. One was the heavy axe which he wielded; the other was the fact that the man was transparent.
              “Wh-who th-the f-fuck are y-you?” Bozz whispered in fear through puffy, split lips.
              “I’m Paul’s Grandpa,” the old man drawled just before violently bringing the axe down into Bozz’s face.

                Axel awoke with a start, thinking he had heard screaming. He sat up in the bed and listened but all he could hear was some branches tapping against the window with the wind. He lay back down but was suddenly filled with a sense of unease and sat back up again. Something felt wrong but he just couldn’t figure out what.
               “Might as well go have a look around,” he said out loud. “Won’t be able to sleep, otherwise."
               He leaned over the edge of the bed to get his boots and was surprised to see that they weren’t where he had left them. Scanning the room, he noticed that they were right by the door.
               “That’s weird… I took them off right here!” he muttered as he stared at his boots some ten feet away.
               No sooner had the words left his mouth than one of the boots started slowly rising in the air until it hovered motionlessly three feet off the ground. It stayed there for several seconds then rocketed across the room to hit an astonished Axel square in the face.
               “What the fuck?!” Axel yelped, grasping his broken nose with both hands just as the heavy boot whizzed right into the back of his head, knocking him to the floor.
               “Holy Crap!” he yelled, righting himself into a sitting position, just in time to see his second boot swinging at his head.
               “OUCH!! MOTHERFUCKER?!” he screamed, covering his head with both arms and curling into a tight ball on the floor.
               Unimpressed, the boots started raining a rapid succession of kicks to his back, legs and arms, forcing Axel to scamper across the floor in a frenzy as he tried to escape. As he reached the doorway on all fours, the open door suddenly slammed shut, smashing Axel’s head against the jamb.
               “Holy Mother!” he sobbed, sprawled on the floor in a daze. “What is this?!”
               In response, one of his boots came rushing from behind to deliver a solid kick cleanly between his spread legs.
               “UUMPHH!” Axel managed to exclaim before vomiting from the intense pain.
               As quickly as the storm of inexplicable violence had started, all became quiet once again. Moments passed as Axel lay whimpering on the floor as some of the pain slightly receded. After several minutes and much effort, he managed to roll onto his back and seat himself with his back against the wall. As he gazed around the room, trying to fathom what had happened, he suddenly noticed a movement on the nightstand. Slowly, his .38 floated upwards and then across the room towards him.
               “Noooooo!!” he moaned in terror as the revolver stopped a few feet from him, the muzzle pointing directly at his forehead.
               “What you did to Paul was unacceptable, young man,” a hollow voice announced.
               “I-I’m s-sorry,” Axel whispered as tears streamed down his battered face.
               The ghostly figure of Grandpa faintly appeared, holding the gun in a firm, two-handed grip.
               “Sorry is just not good enough for my grandson, young fella,” he replied just before pulling the trigger repeatedly until the cylinder was empty.

                “I certainly do miss my coffee,” said Grandpa from where he lay comfortably in mid-air off to one side of the kitchen.
               “I know, Grandpa,” Paul replied, pausing in his money-counting activities to take a sip of his morning coffee. “Wish I could do something to change that.”
               “Oh, don’t you be fretting about an old ghost,” chuckled Grandpa. “So, that all worked out according to plan?!”
               “Sure did, Grandpa! Easier to split a hundred thou one way!” Paul nodded with a smile. “Thanks for letting me borrow that old bullet-proof vest of yours!”
               “It’s not like I need it anymore!” laughed Grandpa. “Whatcha going to do now?”
               “I just have to ditch the car with my two buddies in the trunk,” replied Paul. “After that, all I have to worry about is Pinky.”
               “Don’t you be worrying about Pinky either,” said Grandpa. “Let me look after that for ya!”



A short story
By Claude Bouchard
Copyright © 2009 by Claude Bouchard


     “It’s looking like a nice day out there,” remarked John Doe as he came into the kitchen for breakfast.
     “It’s gonna be a doozy,” replied his wife, Jane, as she buttered the toast. “It’s already hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk!”
     “Well, God works in mysterious ways,” said John as he poured the coffee. “It was colder than a witch’s tit, yesterday. So, what’s the game plan for today?”
     “I was thinking of walking the straight and narrow road into town,” Jane informed him, placing the plates on the table and sitting. “I have some shopping to do at Earl’s.”
     “Hmmm… I’d best go with you then,” chuckled John, spearing a strip of bacon. “A big spender like you and Earl who could sell ice-blocks to an Eskimo!”
     “You be careful, John Doe, biting the hand that feeds you!” Jane scolded good-naturedly. “I just may beat you with an ugly stick!”
     “Easy, woman!” laughed John. “Don’t get your shorts in a knot.”


     After breakfast, John went to the hen-house to check on things while Jane cleaned up the kitchen. They then set off for their walk down the straight and narrow road into town.
     “I was walking on egg-shells in there but it’s looking good with the chickens,” John informed Jane as they strolled. “I’m guessing that we may have over a hundred in the next few weeks.”
     “Now, John,” Jane warned. “Don’t be counting your chickens before they’re hatched.”
     “Guess you’re right,” John admitted, then joked. “Maybe we’ll have to break some eggs to make an omelette instead!”
     “I tell you, John Doe,” smiled Jane. “Sometimes you’re as crazy as a loon!”
     As they walked on, they noticed Spot, the neighbour’s terrier, chasing a squirrel around the yard. The squirrel rounded a large maple and scurried up the trunk. Spot ran past and headed for the old oak across the path where he started yapping as he searched the branches above.
     “That dog is barking up the wrong tree!” Jane snickered.
     At that moment, Mr. Yearling, the farmer next door, came out of his barn with a horse they had never seen before. Whereas Yearling’s other horses were all brown, this one was a darkish grey, freckled with white splotches.
     “That’s a horse of a different colour,” John called out to the farmer.
     Yearling looked up and grinned.
     “She’s a present from my brother,” he explained as he examined the filly’s teeth.
     “He shouldn’t be looking a gift horse in the mouth,” murmured Jane, who didn’t particularly like Yearling.
     “Oh, he’s a good egg in the long run,” John replied quietly as he waved goodbye to the other farmer.
     “Maybe in your book,” Jane snapped back in a low tone. “But I don’t like him. He dumber than a fence-post and he lies like a rug!”


     A short while later they reached town, about a mile from home. John was wearing the new shoes he had bought at Earl’s the previous week and was limping slightly.
     Noticing, Jane asked, “Why are you walking like a duck?”
     “You would be too if you walked a mile in my shoes,” John retorted as he winced.
     “Oh, you poor thing,” his wife sympathized. “Want to take a load off for a minute?”
     “Nah,” John shook his head. “When I was a kid, I walked farther than this to school, uphill, both ways!”
     “Well we’ll be at Earl’s before you know it,” Jane said encouragingly. “Then you’ll have all the time in the world to rest your feet.”
     Within moments they reached Earl’s General Store. As they pushed the door open to enter, they heard a tinkling sound that they had never heard before when visiting Earl’s.
     “What was that?” Jane asked Earl who approached to greet them.
     “I set it up just this morning,” the shop-owner explained proudly. “It’s to let me know when customers come in when I’m out back. You see, when you push the door open, this string tightens up and that rings a bell”
     “You’re smart as a whip, Earl!” John praised they’re long-time friend.
     “Ah, shucks, it ain’t rocket science,” Earl replied as he blushed with pride. “Come on in.”
     As they moved into the store, Earl noticed John’s stiff gait.
     “Hurt yourself, John?” he enquired with concern.
     “No, not really,” John reassured him. “It’s these new shoes. They’re too close for comfort.”
     “I'll exchange them. I’m pretty sure I have some wider ones in that model,” said Earl as he motioned towards the shoe department.
     “How’s business?” asked John as he settled into a chair to remove his shoes.
     “I’m busier than a three-legged cat in a dry sand box!” Earl answered as he returned. Here, try these on.”
     “Speaking of cats,” Jane piped up, “How’s your cat, Misty, doing? What did the vet say?”
     Earl’s eyes glistened with sudden tears as he replied. “The vet, Cory Ossity, killed the cat. There was nothing to do to save her. It’s all that milk she drank when she knocked over the jug I’d left on the table.”
     “There, there, Earl,” Jane consoled, patting him on the back. ‘There’s no point crying over spilled milk.”
     "Yeah, Earl, cheer up,” John added. “It’s not the end of the world.”
     “Ah, you two are the best!” Earl smiled. “As they say, a friend in need is a friend indeed!”
     “Oh, Earl,” said Jane, rolling her eyes as her husband snickered. “You’re so cliché!!”


The Man who Forgot his Shoe 

A short story
By Claude Bouchard
Copyright © 2009 by Claude Bouchard


    “Ahhh, crap!! Not already?!” Eliot Webb muttered, wrapping the pillow around his head to block out the staticky screeching of the clock radio.
    He lay there for a moment, willing himself to let the blaring, tinny rock song play on. He longed for blissful silence and another few hours of sleep but he had an important meeting with a big-time prospective client at ten and needed to finalize his sales pitch. His boss, I.M. Fulovit, Senior Vice-President of Sales at Thursty, Fersome, Cash, had warned Eliot in no uncertain terms that failure to acquire this account would result in his having to find another ad agency to work for.
    He reached out, blindly slapping at the radio, causing it to crash to the floor but mercifully, go quiet by the same token. Sitting up, a little too quickly, resulted in a head-spinning sensation which he did not quite appreciate, especially combined with the vice-grip pain from which his brain suffered.
    “Wednesday poker nights are stupid!” he bellowed to nobody in particular since he was alone. “Stupid, stupid, stupid!”
    Carefully turning sideways, he slowly lowered his feet to the floor and dared to open his eyes. Thankfully, he had closed the blinds before dropping into bed the previous night and was able to handle the dim light. He sat there, motionless for a few moments, breathing deeply to try to quell the queasiness in his stomach. Failing to succeed, he made up his mind, stood, wavered and groaned, then stumbled off to the bathroom.


     Eliot reached the corner just as the downtown express pulled away from the bus stop. He ran towards the moving vehicle, waving frantically at the driver as he approached. The driver took note and waved backed as he accelerated through a large puddle, splashing Eliot grandly in the process.
    “Aarrgghhh!!!” Eliot growled, biting on his clenched fist to keep from cursing aloud as other waiting commuters grinned in delight.
    “Damn, I needed to catch that bus,” he commented to a stranger as he reached the bus stop. “Now, I’m going to be late.”
    “Well, I’ll give you a piece of advice,” the stranger laughed. “Get here on time!”
    Several others standing by chuckled at the comment. One woman however, suddenly got a weird expression on her face as she stared at Eliot’s feet.
    “Why do you only have one shoe on?” she asked suspiciously, causing the others to frown as they examined Eliot’s shoeless foot.
    “I-I guess I forgot to put the other one on,” Eliot stammered, staring down at his socked foot.
    “Forgot to put it on?!” challenged a tattooed, pierced punk/Goth with spiky, electric-blue hair. “A fine excuse! You look ridiculous!”
    “Amen to that!” an elderly woman agreed, peering at Eliot with fearful eyes as she backed away from him.
    “What’s the world coming to?” questioned a stocky construction worker as he glared menacingly at Eliot. “Damned crazy people like you screwing up our planet!”
    “B-but, all I did was forget one shoe!” Eliot protested uneasily, slowly stepping away from the angry mob.
    “Well, why don’t you go forget your shoe somewhere else?!” a tall, skinny student piped up in a shrieking tone. “We don’t need your kind around here!”
    “My kind?!” Eliot enquired in shock amidst cries of agreement from the crowd. “What do you mean, my kind?!”
    “The kind that forgets his shoe!” the punk/Goth mocked sarcastically. “Who’s got a cell phone? Maybe we should report him!”
    “I’ve got one!” a well dressed businessman announced. “I’m calling 911!”
    Eliot stared at the crowd in disbelief as they cheered the businessman on, then turned and started running towards downtown. A few minutes and several blocks later, he could hear sirens in the distance as he continued.


     “Eliot, where have you been?” asked Laura, the receptionist at Thursty, Fersome, Cash as Eliot rushed through the doors, nervously looking behind him. “Mister Fulovit has been looking everywhere for you! My god, look at you!”
    Eliot looked down at his puddle-splashed, sweat-stained suit as he explained. “I got splashed by the bus, which I missed and then ran over here so I got pretty warm.”
    “Not that!” exclaimed Laura, shaking her head in disgust. “Eliot, you only have one shoe!?”
    “Oh, that!” Eliot laughed. “Yeah, I forgot to put the other one on.”
    “Pulease!” snorted Laura as she rolled her eyes. “If you’re not going to talk seriously, Eliot, then don’t talk at all! Anyhow, you’re late for the meeting. Mister Athaleet, the president of HotShot SportStuff is already in the boardroom!”
    “B-but the meeting was scheduled for ten?!” cried Eliot as a rollercoaster started to rumble in the pit of his stomach.”
    “It was rescheduled for nine,” Laura scolded a matter-of-factly. “Didn’t you read the email Mr. Fulovit sent at 2:47 this morning?!”
    “Damn, damn, damn!” mumbled Eliot as he dashed off to the boardroom.


     “He must be around here somewhere!” Chief Inspector Kopper spat out. “A man with one shoe doesn’t just disappear into thin air!”
    “Don’t worry, Chief,” reassured Constable Chase. “I saw him run around that corner. He can’t be far.”
    “Excuse me, gentlemen,” called a newspaper vendor from his stand close by. “I couldn’t help but overhearing what you just said. You’re looking for a man with only one shoe?”
    “Yes, yes!” replied Kopper with excited impatience. “Have you seen him?”
    “Yessir!” the man nodded with enthusiasm as he pointed to the glass and steel tower across the street. “He ran into that building just a minute ago!”
    “Thanks,” The chief inspector responded gruffly before gazing up at the corporate logo emblazoned atop the skyscraper. “Hmmm.. Thursty, Fersome, Cash, ehh?! Come on, Chase! Let’s go catch this sicko!”


    “Come in!” I.M. Fulovit’s muffled bark came through the boardroom door. “Ah, Mister Webb!! So nice of you to make time for us in your busy schedule!” he added sarcastically as Eliot entered.
    “H-hello, Mister Fulovit, hello Mister Athaleet,” Eliot mumbled as he approached the gargantuan table where the men sat surrounded by their pin-striped lackeys.
     “You have some very serious explaining to do, Mister Webb!” stated I.M. Fulovit as he rose to his full height of five feet, two inches. “Very serious indeed!”
     “Yes, Mister Fulovit,” Eliot nervously nodded. “You see, I didn’t get the email you sent at 2:47 this morning so I wasn’t aware that the meeting had been moved up to nine o’clock…”
     “Not that, Webb!!” roared Fulovit, his face going a lovely shade of crimson. “Why the hell are you wearing just one shoe?!”


    “Good morning, gentlemen!” Laura brightly greeted. “How can I help you?”
    “I’m Chief Inspector Kopper and this is Constable Chase,” the chief impatiently replied. “We’re looking for a man with just one shoe. Have you seen him?”
    “Oh, you mean Eliot,” Laura said in a sorrowful tone. “He’s not really a bad guy.”
    “Where can we find him, miss?” Chase insisted quietly.
    “He’s in the boardroom,” Laura almost whispered as tears glistened in her eyes. “It’s down at the end of that hallway. Poor Eliot.”
    “Let’s go, Constable!” ordered Kopper, heading towards the corridor in question. “I don’t want this sleazeball to get away!”


     “We’re waiting, Mister Webb!” ordered Fulovit with fire in his eyes.
    “W-well, Mister Fulovit, Mister Athaleet,” Eliot started helplessly, not knowing how to go about explaining the situation. “It’s like this, you see…”
    The doors to the boardroom burst open and two suit-clad men rushed in with guns drawn and pointed at Eliot.
    “Freeze, dirt-bag!” the older one commanded as the other scanned the room for signs of other possible danger.
    “Who the hell are you?” Fulovit demanded from where he stood.
    “Chief Inspector Kopper and my associate, Constable Chase,” replied the senior cop, his eyes remaining glued to Eliot. “We’ve been tracking down this bum with only one shoe and I intend to get to the bottom of it!”
    “I see,” Fulovit smiled and sat. “You’re just in time then, gentlemen, as Mister Webb was about to explain this insanity. Webb?”
    As Eliot’s mind scrambled for something to say, anything that might keep him from getting arrested, if not shot, Mr. Athaleet started to suddenly giggle. Within seconds, his giggling increased to a roaring laughter, so much so that tears streamed down his cheeks as he clutched his ribs with both arms to ease the pain. After a moment, his guffawing reduced to occasional chuckles as he caught his breath and regained his composure.
    “Whew!!” he exclaimed, wiping his eyes on his jacket sleeve then looking straight at Eliot. “Brilliant, Mister Webb!! Absolutely brilliant!”
    “Uh, care to let us in on this?” asked a puzzled Fulovit.
    Athaleet swivelled his chair and met the sales executive eye to eye. “I.M., what is the first product this ad campaign will be promoting?”
    “HotStuff athletic shoes..?” replied Fulovit, his eyes narrowing.
    “Exactly!!” Athleet gleefully agreed. “Now, what kind of shoe does Eliot have on that foot?”
    “Er… None.” Fulovit replied, attempting to pretend to follow.
    “And, why is that?” pursued Athaleet, turning his chair back towards Eliot with a twinkle in his eye. “Mister Webb, I’ve figured you out! Would you like to tell them the type of slogan you’re thinking?”
    “Uh, s-sure?” said Eliot. “Uh, if, if it’s not, uh, HotStuff  shoes, uh, it’s, uh, no shoes?”
    “If it’s not HotStuff shoes, it’s no shoes! Absolutely brilliant!” Athaleet applauded and was immediately joined by his team of sycophants.
    “It is pretty damned smart,” Chief Inspector Kopper grudgingly agreed as he and Chase re-holstered their weapons. “So, kid, this was all a marketing thing? You should have just said so!”
    “Are you kidding?!” snorted I.M. Fulovit, putting his arm around Eliot’s shoulder. “And have the idea stolen by the competition! No sir, that’s one of the many things I admire about Webb here! Complete devotion to the firm come hell or high water! I smell a promotion coming up!”
    The two cops were heading for the door when Kopper stopped abruptly and turned.
    “One thing though,” he said with a shrewd look as he eyed Eliot. “Why were you wearing one shoe?”
    Eliot flashed him a confident smile and replied, “Chief Inspector, do you realize how stupid I’d look walking around town in my socks!!”



A short, short story
By Claude Bouchard
Copyright © 2009 by Claude Bouchard

            Things had been quiet in the house for a while and all was dark when I crept up the stairs from the basement. I reached the main floor and looked carefully around but saw nobody. I could hear snoring from the second storey bedroom which further confirmed that at least one of the people of the house was asleep.
           Relieved, I moved slowly, quietly into the living room, glancing up the open stairway as I went to make sure nobody was there to see me. All clear and I could now hear the steady breathing of both of them as they slept. Excellent!
            I looked around the living room, hoping to find something of value but saw nothing to my liking. A few books on the centre table, a couple of remotes for the TV and DVD player, a set of coasters and a vase with a bouquet of flowers. Useless…
            I moved onwards into the dining room and examined the various articles on the table. A couple of novels, an ashtray, empty, a napkin holder/salt and pepper shaker set, two pens and a pad of paper and a guitar pick. Boring!!!
            I stealthily made my way to the kitchen, quite pleased that I could see as clearly as I did in the dark. I scanned the kitchen counters for anything of interest, perhaps something to eat. There were a couple of empty port glasses along with a bottle, also empty and a bowl half-full of pistachio shells. I poked through the shells a little, hoping to find a stray nut someone might have missed but no luck. A quick peek into the sink confirmed that it was empty, no dishes with possible leftovers.
            Past the kitchen I went into the laundry room and exited just as quickly. I definitely wouldn’t find anything worth my while in there. I moved on into the powder room and pulled open the door of the tiny storage closet. ‘These people should change the magnet on this door,’ I laughed to myself. ‘It certainly doesn’t keep the door shut very well.’ Nothing amazing in there either unless one was real fond of toilet paper or Comet!
            Disappointed, I returned to the kitchen and suddenly noticed something I had missed on my first go-around. Right there on the lunch counter was a disposable cigarette lighter. ‘This can certainly be handy,’ I thought. I reached for it but miscalculated and the lighter fell to the floor with a clattering sound. I scurried to it in haste but only managed to slap it across the floor and create more noise.
            “What’s going on?!” I heard the man upstairs bellow, accompanied by his heavy footsteps as he left the bedroom.
            Some lights came on and I froze as I saw him coming downstairs and heading right for me. I backed into a corner by the water-cooler and stared at him in fear as he bent down and picked up the lighter.
            He then turned towards me and yelled, “Midnight, you stupid cat! It’s three in the morning! Go to sleep and stay off the damned counters!”