Max blood ran cold. He was frozen. Statue still. He held the door knob in one hand and the groceries in the other. The kids ran past him with their sticky ice cream faces. They didn't notice it.
Janice didn't notice it either. She was too busy yattering on about how nice Henry Hart the hardware salesman was, "Who offers to install new windows for free? I could get used to these small town folks, Max... Max?"
Max wasn't listening. Not because Max was a bad listener, he was, but because of the chair.
It was back.
In the living room.
Max broke it down into manageable and indisputable facts. He was the last to leave the house: Fact. The last thing he did before leaving was to bring the chair to the basement: Also fact. Then he locked the door behind him: Again... fact. Max processed it all.
How could the chair have come back from the basement?
The calculations had calculated.
There were only two possibilities. Either he was crazy or...
"Everyone out of the house! NOW!"
The kids played an esoteric game of hide & seek on the bare lawn as the cruiser pulled up. Janice's hands were in her face, the classic pose of the mortified. This was to be their first impression in town. The family that called the cops within 24 hours because of a chair.
"You called in a possible break and entry?" Said the policewoman who introduced herself as Officer Hargrove.
"If the break and enterer stole nothing and only moved a chair from the basement and then decided to lock up after they left, then yes."
Janice rolled her eyes to the sky as Max, still as angry as man on hold with a phone company, lay into a speech Janice had already heard three times since they'd been camped out on the lawn.
Max broke it down for the Officer Hargrove. He went through all the indisputable facts in lawyer style detail. Hargrove's eyes held back laughter and attempted concerned cop. She nodded very seriously as Max pantomimed taking the chair down stairs and locking the door.
"So, the chair walked up stairs" Hargrove asked.
Max erupted, "Chairs don't have legs!"
He calmed himself, remembering that he was talking to an officer of the law... and that chair did in fact have legs.
He could see she thought he was an idiot. He knew that look very well. It was the same one his wife was giving him all afternoon. But Max wasn't an idiot. The chair had inexplicably moved from the basement. This could only mean someone was hiding somewhere in the house or possibly had a secret entrance.
His conclusion was met with blank stares.
How no one could acknowledge this mystery was beyond Max. It reminded him of when he tried to sell his first novel. The literary agents and publishers just wouldn't get it. The way Officer Hargrove and Janice didn't get it now.
But the agents and publishers were wrong the way Janice and Officer Hargrove were wrong now. He needed to get through to the police woman. If he could get her on his side he'd be vindicated. He spoke very slowly and very clearly, the way a complete asshole speaks to someone who has an accent.
"Someone had to move it! Either that or I'm crazy."
The women looked to each other with the look many women have given each other since the dawn of time. The understanding look that, yes, all men, deep down, are in fact, crazy.
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WATTY 2016 WINNER of the HQ Love Award! Strange Yarns is a ball of tangled tales. Twisted, knotted, and intertwined. Like Tales of the Crypt, the Twilight Zone, and The Outer Limits. Strange Yarns is not just a collection of ghastly tales, these are...