Keep The Deposit - short story

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Luke stood against the old brick wall in front of St. Peter's Church as he waited in the steady afternoon rain; a half empty bottle of Coke in his hand.

He watched as two ladies hurried past, huddled together tightly under an umbrella like a pair of conjoined twins. The rain made everyone oblivious.

Luke wore a pair of faded jeans worn through at the knees. He had his Watchmen T-shirt on; he loved that bloodstained happy-face logo almost as much as he loved the leather jacket he wore over top. Even in the heat of summer it was tough to find that jacket more than three feet away from him.

His mother had dragged him across most of the nation chasing either men or jobs for the last fifteen years. Only when Luke started getting in trouble with the law did she decide to settle down again, but his blossoming anarchistic side was just getting started.

Rain ran down Luke's thin and chiselled face creating little streams, a small trace of a smile crossed his lips: he loved the rain.

Sure that the street was empty; he took a swig of Coke, peeled himself away from the church, and meandered alongside the building. He loved the way the summer rain lifted the smell of oil and tar from the pavement after a week of hot sun. Around back he saw two cars; the green nineteen-eighty-something Pontiac Grand Am, which he knew belonged to the priest, and an even older VW van Luke thought belonged to the janitor. The two vehicles sat side by side in the rear lot, occupying the two spaces closest the rear entrance of the church. The lot was edged on two sides by six-foot high cedar hedging, while the wooden fence of the neighbouring retirement home provided a third protective side. He had plenty of cover.

"Time to get to work," Luke muttered, mostly to the four-inch folding knife he had just pulled from his pocket. Wedged between the old VW van and the metal canvas of the Pontiac, knife in hand, Luke completed his artwork on the passenger door unseen.

Quickly looking for any movement from the church, he now bent down and pulled a folded metal wire from his boot. The former clothes hanger now became a tool in the hands of a craftsman; straightening it out, re-bending it in all the right spots, and slipping it into the car above the window took mere moments: thirty seconds later the door was unlocked. Again peering toward the church, Luke opened the door. Out of the pocket of his prized leather jacket he pulled an unopened tube of five-minute epoxy. Emptying the package into the priest's empty coffee cup, he used the syringe-like tube to mix the two components together. He then turned the Pontiac's stereo to maximum volume and adjusted the dial to the local rock station. Luke spread the epoxy across the face of the stereo, taking special care so the volume/power knob was never going to move again.

Taking the last gulp from his Coke, he admired his handiwork and smiled. Tossing the empty bottle into the car, Luke laughed, "Keep the deposit." He closed the door and walked into the back hedge in wait.

An hour later the preacher came out, unlocked the car door, and got in. "What is that?" the priest said, crinkling his nose up at the harsh fumes left by the glue. Coughing, he rolled down his window and started his car.

Nickleback blared from the two tiny factory speakers.

Reaching for the stereo, he paused when he saw the epoxy covered knobs; shaking his head in frustration, he rolled his eyes to the heavens, "Grant me serenity."

Falling backward, Luke broke into uncontrollable laughter the moment he heard Nickleback blasting across the lot. Unable to stop from laughing, and completely satisfied, he picked himself up, started to cut through the neighbouring lot, and headed down the street. "Time to get home anyway," he said to himself. "Sure would have been nice to see him drive down the road like that though."

The priest, window down, pulled from the church lot moments later, hurrying home to be rid of the bombarding music. Unnoticed, the empty Coke bottle rolled around under his feet. He stopped at an intersection and turned toward home; the bottle rolled again. He noticed Mrs. Hesselman pointing at him from the far sidewalk, holding her hand to her mouth. "Why is she pointing? Surely not for the music." He wondered, looking back at her as she continued to point.

Still puzzled, he turned around too late.

A figure stood in the road, frozen. The preacher hit the brakes, but they didn't move. He slammed the pedal again and still it would not bow to him.

The bottle had found its destined home beneath the pedal.

With a grizzly thud the pedestrian was there and gone, followed by a sickening bumping as the Pontiac galloped over the human obstacle, freeing the damning bottle. His foot still on the brakes, the preacher felt them give and slammed them on; the car spun ninety degrees to the right and stopped in the middle of the wet road.

Stunned, he climbed from his car and started to make his way to the victim. He walked around the front of his Pontiac and saw a jacket hooked into the broken grill. Pulling it free, the preacher carried the jacket over to the motionless form lying askew in the middle of the intersection. He looked down, but didn't recognize the poor soul; of course nobody could, streams of blood mixing with the rain ran raggedly down the victim's torn face. Feeling no pulse, the priest placed the black leather jacket over the lifeless victim; a folding Buck knife fell from the pocket. He pulled his cell phone out and dialled 911. Looking back toward his Pontiac he gazed at a large anarchy symbol engraved on his passenger door.

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