Welcome to Quantum Muse, a science fiction and fantasy ezine. Welcome to Quantum Muse, a science fiction and fantasy ezine. Your banner could be here! Find out how!
Posting the finest in science fiction, fantasy and alternative writing and artwork. For free. In our sober moments...
   Reader's login    |    Writer's login
Books by Quantum Muse contributors and friends.
Outrunning the Storm

Michele Dutcher
A Felony of Birds

Harris Tobias
Piñatas From Space!: Crazy Games With Cards And Dice

Jeromy Henry
Stormcastle: And Other Fun Games With Cards And Dice

Jeromy Henry

The Betting Window


Bill Kowaleski

My teachers always said I was an underachiever, and who am I to argue? One of my former brothers-in-law always liked me though I can’t imagine why, so he got me this job at the airport. He was a plane mechanic, made good money, and he said the cleaning crew always needed people. Lots of turnover. So there I was, working my section in Terminal three Concourse B.

A dull life – until I noticed something very strange in the windows that look out onto the taxiway at the end of the concourse. Let me paint the picture for you. The windows are lined up behind gates 31, 32, and 33. If you face the opposite way from the gates you’ll see two of those TV’s they have mounted from the ceiling. When night falls you can see detail from the TVs in the reflected light from those windows. You only see the reflections after dark, and only if you sit in just one certain part of the waiting area.

It was late October, when daylight first fades before my shift ends, during a real quiet period right after a whole bunch of flights left. Not much to do, so I amused myself watching TV in the reflection. But something was weird. What I heard from the TVs was not synching up with what I was seeing in the reflection. I was hearing some drone about economic projections from behind me, but I was seeing footage of some flood somewhere where everybody’s wearing turbans and kaftans. I swung around and looked at the TV. There was a big chart and some guy pointing to a line on it. I swung around again, and the reflection was showing guys in dresses wading through water. I was getting a really creepy feeling, like maybe I shouldn’t have smoked that joint before work. And then Jack, my supervisor, startled me.

“Hey Nowitski, you starin’ at yourself in the glass again? Why a guy so ugly would always be lookin’ at hisself is beyond me.”

“Uh, hi Jack. No, it’s like a meditation thing my parole officer told me. You stare at a spot and think about some word.”

“What word?”

“It’s my mantra, I can’t tell nobody what it is.”

“Alright, whatever. They need some help near security. Somebody threw a bottle of soda at a security guard when they made him pull it outta his bag. Big mess.”

“OK, Jack, I’m on my way.”

Before I headed toward security, I looked one more time at the reflection. I saw a chart and some guy pointing to a line.

The next evening I determined that the TV and reflection were only out of synch for about thirty minutes. It happened at the exact same time as it had the previous day. And I didn’t smoke anything, or have a drink before work. Nothing. At the very least, this was making my bleak life of cleaning the terminal and living in my sister’s basement a bit more interesting. I was actually looking forward to going to work for maybe the first time ever. I had to figure this thing out. All the TVs in the terminal were tuned to the same station. The reflection wasn’t picking up a distant TV. But then what was the glass reflecting? It took a week before I found out.

At what I had started to think of as the usual time, the reflection and the TV were out of synch again. The reflection was showing a Ford commercial, and the TV was talking about a flood in Pakistan. I swung around and looked at the TV. There were guys in dresses wading though water. And then I thought, Wait a minute, this looks real familiar. It was in fact exactly what I had seen a week ago. I swung around again and looked more closely at the reflection. The news had just come back on and they were displaying the football scores. It was Sunday night, but these scores were for the games scheduled for next week.  I just sat there staring like a moron until the reflection suddenly got fuzzy, wavered so bad it made me dizzy, and changed back to the flood coverage.

So I blew it that first time, but the next Sunday I was ready. I wrote down all the scores for the games scheduled for the following week. I don’t think it will come as a shock that all those scores were correct. I placed bets on all the games with three different online betting services that I know pay up, and I made a nice little bonus for myself. My goal now was to make as much money as I possibly could out of this thing. But life is never that simple. I began to find that out when I walked into my sister’s house with a nice new model smart phone about three weeks into my lucky streak.

“So Stan, who or what did you hold up to get the money for that phone?” She asked.

“Hey, I know how to pick winners, what can I say?”

“You’re not betting on football again, are you? You better not let your parole officer know about that.”

“You got your rent, so why don’t you just let me live my life.”

“Because I know where this goes. You start losing, you go to one of those payday places, then you get in deeper, you go see Larry Donatelli, you hold up a Kwik Trip…”

“No, not this time. I’m over that, I swear, I got a system that works now, and if it stops working I’ll know right away and I’ll quit while I’m ahead. Just trust me this once.”

I wasn’t dumb enough to start bragging about just how far ahead I was at that point. Thousands. I even opened a savings account. Never had one of those in my whole life.

Speaking of things not being as simple as I’d hoped, it wasn’t long before I was getting frozen out of the betting sites. They want customers who lose more than they win, and I admit it, I was getting greedy and not throwing enough losing bets in to keep them happy. So I was down to Larry the bookie. Those convenience store robberies that I went to prison for? They were to pay Larry back. Larry was a guy who spent some years in a branch of the Service that I’d rather not name so as not to besmirch their reputation. The military claims that it builds character, but Larry was able to learn a whole lot about explosives in Iraq while completely avoiding any character building. Once out, he entered into a career of taking bets and intimidating people.

The first time I met Larry was in a bar I used to frequent. Somebody told me he could take some bets for me so I walked over to his table. He was holding a can of beer in his huge paw. His forearm was bigger around than my thigh and was covered in abstract-art tattoos. His ginormous, thickly bearded, shaved head seemed to erupt like a huge pimple directly out of his massive, muscled chest. But what seemed to intimidate most were his eyes, almost black, never blinking, always boring into you like he was looking at something beyond you in the distance. Larry didn’t need enforcers, he threatened without saying a word, without lifting an arm. No, he wasn’t a guy I liked to deal with, but I knew he’d take my bets and that he wouldn’t stiff me.

I could probably only use Larry for a few weeks before he froze me out too, but the season was almost over and Larry would be doing a big business on the playoffs, so he’d make enough money to easily pay me. I thought about betting on basketball and hockey during the winter, but who’s gonna work with a guy when he’s always winning? I kept watching for the lottery numbers, but the TV station that was on in the terminal never showed those. I needed a new angle, and on a cold, late December night I found it.

At the usual time I sat at my seat by the window into the future. When the image swirled and faded in I could see that something really big was happening, and it looked like it was happening right at my airport. A reporter in a winter coat, holding a microphone close to his mouth, his breath condensing into a fog that partially obscured his face, was talking like he was real excited. Bright lights were flashing around him in the darkness. The lights would occasionally illuminate a big hunk of smoldering wreckage behind him. And then a banner flashed across the bottom of the screen with an airline flight number and the words “No survivors”. I burned that flight number into my brain and headed down the concourse until I saw Diane at one of the gates. Diane and I get along OK even though she turned me down when I asked her out. But then who’s gonna go out with an ex-con like me? Diane was better than that.

“Hey Diane, what’s shakin’?”

“Hey Stan. Not much. Quiet again. This flight is only about 50% booked. This keeps up there’ll be more layoffs.”

“You got some seniority, don’t you?”

“Yea, but they just keep cutting and cutting and eventually it’s your turn.”

“Well, what can you do? Hey, Diane, can you look up a flight for me? I just want to see when it’s supposed to arrive so I can be ready at the gate.”

“You, planning ahead? I’m shocked, but OK.”

She looked at her screen and then said, “Stan, I think you must have the number wrong. That’s a flight that departs this airport at 5:05pm for Cancun. It left about an hour ago from gate C16.”

“Oh, I see. Not even my concourse. Well, my mistake, thanks anyway.”

She gave me a kind of odd look as I scurried off but I had what I needed. A plan was rapidly forming in my devious mind. Cancun is a place that a lot of people would like to visit in the depths of winter. One of those people would be my scumbag ex-wife Treena. Now, I’m not the type to commit murder, but if I were, Treena would be first on my list. She seemed to always have at least two boyfriends going during our brief marriage. In fact she made it with some waiter she met during our honeymoon in Vegas. This I found out when I walked in on them in our very own hotel room. She figured I’d be gambling late but I lost so much so quickly that I decided to quit before I was broke. The waiter was some martial arts expert with a chiseled body that I saw entirely too much of, and he tossed me right out of the room. You don’t forget things like that. Ever.

The next morning I had it all worked out. I rummaged through my socks drawer and sure enough, there it was: the life insurance policy I’d bought for her just before we got married, paid up for five years, to get a discount. Five hundred thousand! Who could resist that? Treena was still in my cell phone contacts. Why not?

“Hey Treena, how’s tricks?”

“Why are you calling me Stan? You ain’t gettin’ no money from me.” That whiny voice! How did I ever put up with that?

“Don’t need any. You know, I been thinking. We parted on such bad terms. I’m trying to make some changes in my life, be a better person, so I thought maybe I’d give you a present just so we could be friends.”

“Huh? Are you serious?”

“Yeah, I am. You know, baby, I still have a weakness for you. I know it’s crazy, but what can I do? So this guy I know can get me a ticket to Cancun for a flight next week. Just one. I can’t use it, and I was wondering whether you might want it.”

Her tone of voice changed from guarded to interested.

“Well, Cancun, that sounds pretty nice. You mean you don’t know nobody who wants to go?”

“Nobody who can go with such short notice. That’s the problem.”

“I see. Well, you know, I just might be able to do it. I don’t know why you’re really doing this Stan, but hey, why not?”

“Great. Are you still living in the same place?”


“Cool, I’ll bring it by tomorrow, say around six?”

“Hey Stan, you just put it in the mailbox, hear? I don’t want you comin’ in.”

“Oh, not even just one quick hug?”

“No way! In the mailbox.”

“All right. One step at a time. Look for it after six tomorrow.”

By the next morning I’d verified that the insurance was still in force and had bought the ticket. It was all coming together so well that it was almost too good to be true. Now all I had to do was wait.

The window into the future never lied. The plane went down, and Treena was on it. The day after it happened, it occurred to me that her brother was none other than Dennis, the guy who’d got me the airport job, and the only decent member of her family. This revelation came to me when I saw him approaching down the long concourse corridor.

“Stan, did you see the news about who was on that plane?”

“No Dennis, I didn’t really pay no attention to that.”

“Treena was on that plane along with some guy she was dating.”

“Oh my god! Dennis, I’m so sorry for you. It’s just unbelievable!”

He seemed awfully upset. I didn’t know they were so close. His voice was cracking and I could see tears in his eyes.

“Why would she be going to Cancun? I don’t get it. She never said a word about it to me and she was always talking about all the little details of her life.”

“Well, maybe she like did it on short notice or something, or maybe the guy she was with wanted it kept a secret?”

“Yeah, well it’s just very strange.”

He seemed more than just upset. I could detect something else and it seemed a lot like fear. Why would he be afraid?

I waited a week and then put in my claim. The insurance company said that under the circumstances there would be an investigation. On the news, there was talk that the plane may have come down due to an explosion in the baggage area. I thought they checked the bags for bombs. How could that happen? If it really was a bomb, my claim might be denied. Then I’d be out the cost of that ticket. Not cool.

Two weeks passed and for the most part I kept away from that window. I was getting really paranoid that someone else would notice it and maybe put two and two together and guess that I had sent Treena to her death. But was what I did even a crime? I knew the plane was going down, but the reason I knew was certainly not something that had ever been considered by the law. I was beginning to wish I hadn’t done it. And then things got worse.

I was just finishing up a refresh of gate B29 when a youngish guy in a nice black suit came up to me. You don’t see too many suits in the airport these days. They’re gonna be maybe bankers, salesmen, politicians, law enforcement.

“Mr. Nowitski?” He didn’t wait for me to answer, he already knew who I was. “I’m Special Agent Mark Sellars.” He showed me his badge.

“Mr. Sellars. What can I do for you?”

“Got some questions about the air crash. Could you come with me and we can discuss this further?”

“Uh, I’m working now…”

“Yeah, I know. Your supervisor has been informed.”

He led me to one of the unmarked doors that you see in any airport terminal. It opened into an interrogation room complete with the standard table, overhead light, and one-way window.

“Have a seat. We’ve been looking into this crash. As you know from the news, there’s been a lot of speculation about the cause.”

“Yeah, like maybe it was bombed. Do you know if that’s true?”

“I’m thinking that it is. But we don’t know for sure yet.”

“Well why would you want to talk to me? I just clean up around here.”

“Yeah, I know but we’ve run across some interesting coincidences concerning you. There was a person on that plane, Katrina Delany, who was your wife until last year. It appears that you bought her ticket and had a life insurance policy in her name. Why did you buy that ticket?”

“Well, like I told her, I’m trying to make some changes in my life. So I thought I’d give her a small present. I had no idea she would end up being killed. But it seems like that’s the way things go for me. I always end up getting the short end of the stick.”

“But the life insurance…”

“I bought that before we were married. Got a great deal by paying for five years ahead of time.”

“Yeah, a great deal for sure.” He paused, scratched his head, knitted his eyebrows, and continued. “But there’s another interesting coincidence. Her brother works as an aircraft mechanic here. He serviced that plane the day of the crash.”

“What? Are you serious? I can’t believe he would do anything. He’s such a straight arrow.”

“So it would seem. But there’s yet another coincidence. You seem to know a guy by the name of Larry Donatelli?”

“Well, Larry used to be my bookie. I placed some bets with him, that’s all.”

“Of course you know Mr. Donatelli’s special skill is explosives?”

“He mentioned it, yeah. In Iraq.” I could see where he was heading but a lawyer once told me to only answer their questions. Never volunteer anything.

“So just let me ask the question of you straight out, Mr. Nowitski, and remember that the law requires you to tell the truth and fully cooperate with an investigation of a possible terrorist incident: Did you know that that plane was going to crash?”

Why did he have to ask the question just like that? If he’d asked me whether I knew anything about a bomb or conspiracy, I would have told the honest truth. But asked that way, I had to lie, and so I hesitated, just an instant, before replying, and he saw it, and I knew he saw it.

“No, of course I didn’t know it was going down.”

     “It’s just not holding together for me, Mr. Nowitski. You’re asking me to believe that you provided a ticket for that particular flight on that particular day to your ex-wife, whom I have already determined you disliked intensely, and you had in force insurance on her life with a value of a half a million dollars, and then the plane crashes, she’s killed, and it’s all a coincidence.”

“You got it. That’s what happened. I agree it sounds unlikely. But unlikely things happen every day.”

He looked me in the eyes hard, rubbed his chin, sighed. “I suppose this all could just be a series of coincidences. The investigation isn’t over. We’ll be getting more physical evidence and a report from the NTSB and see what develops. OK, that’s all, Mr. Nowitski. Thanks for your time.”

One day later, I was bent over doing some sweeping when Dennis jolted me. “We need to talk. Now!”

“Hey, you scared me half to death, man! What’s going on?”

“Not here. Let’s go over to the food court.”

Once we’d found an empty table, Dennis looked carefully around, leaned really close to me, and whispered, “So how did you find out, Stan?”

“Find out what?”

“You know. I don’t want to say it. Sellars told me you had an insurance policy on Treena, that you bought her a ticket on that plane. You knew.”

“No, not at all. Really Dennis, it’s all a coincidence.”

“Bullshit! You knew that the whole thing was going down and I want to know how you found out. Did Donatelli tell you?”

I was getting a really ugly feeling. Why would Dennis be mentioning Larry Donatelli?

“Donatelli? What does he have to do with this?”

“Come on, Stan. Stop playing dumb. There’s no way you would have bought that ticket if you didn’t know what we were planning. I just want to know how you found out.”

“Man, I didn’t even know you ever met Larry. What are you doing hanging around with a guy like that anyway?”

“He called me out of the blue. He said that you’d told him once that your brother-in-law worked as an aircraft mechanic. He made sure he got the name. He said info like that could be ‘useful’.”

“Yeah, I do remember him asking me for your name…”

We sat there and stared at each other. I think Dennis was beginning to see that maybe I didn’t know what was going down. But now I was curious.

“So what exactly did you guys do, Dennis? Did Larry give you a bomb and you put it on the plane?”

Dennis’s eyes got real big. “Shut up, asshole! You can’t talk like that around here.”

“I’ll take that as a yes. My god, Dennis, I can’t believe it. Why would you do something like that? Surely you know these things are investigated and there’s no way…”

“Larry had a plan. My part was so small, and the money was so good. And I had no known connection to Larry at all.  Nobody could tie us together. Nobody that is, until you came along and screwed everything up. They can tie me to Larry through you. They think you discovered the plan and decided to cash in on it by putting Treena on that plane and collecting on the insurance.”

“So if that’s what they think, why haven’t they arrested us all?”

“It’s all just a theory, there’s no real evidence. They need one of us to break down and rat on the others. We’ve got to hang tough. For me it’s easy, I just deny I did anything. They’ve got no evidence that shows me getting the device or putting it on the plane, so they don’t get me unless somebody testifies against me. For Larry, they’re gonna have to figure out why he did it and how he did it. Lots of work left for them to do. But for you, well it’s easy. You’re the key to the case for them. You obviously knew about the plan, and all they have to do is break you down, get you to tell how you found out and they can arrest us. Expect that to happen in the next few days after they get some more evidence they’re waiting for.”

It seemed like my choices were quickly being narrowed down to the death sentence for conspiracy in a terrorist act, or maybe something a little better if I showed everybody the window. Seemed like an easy choice.

“Dennis, can you come by gate B31 about 5:30 today? I want to show you something. After that, maybe you’ll believe me when I say that I really didn’t know about this plan you and Larry hatched.”

“Not today, maybe tomorrow. Anyway, it’s not me you’ve got to convince. I gotta get back to work, but I am curious how you found out, so I’ll see you at gate B31 tomorrow.”

“Dennis, before you go -- why?”

“Larry was doing a job for someone in a Mexican cartel. Big time guy. Couldn’t get to him any other way ‘cause he always had bodyguards around.”

As I walked back to my work area, I was thinking frantically. I could show Sellars the window, but why would it convince him of anything? He’d have to wait a week before he could see that it was really showing something from the future. I wanted to sit in front of that window again and try to work out how I would tell him, how I could convince him that this was where I saw the crash a week before it happened. So at the regular time, I headed for the window. As I approached it walking down the long Concourse B corridor I could see that somebody was sitting in my seat. As I got closer, I saw that it was Diane, my gate agent friend.

“Hey Diane, taking a break?”

She didn’t seem too happy to see me. She moved her hands nervously and looked around in all directions.

“Oh, Stan, was just about to, uh, make a call. Could you come by a little later?”

“Oh, sure Diane, no problem. Talk to you later.”

I walked away slowly. She kept turning around and looking at me so I ducked into a store and found a place I could watch her through a display of overpriced candy. She was staring hard at the window into the future, notebook in hand, writing. So she was on to it. This could be good. I needed all the help I could get. I waited for her to walk by the store and stepped out in front of her.

“Hi again.”

“Hey Stan, so what did you want?”

“OK, I’m going to be real upfront with you Diane. I see where you’ve been sitting. I know what you’re looking at, and I know about it too. It shows you what’s gonna be on TV next week.”

She was very flustered for an instant and then she sighed. “Yes, I discovered it just a while ago. It’s really an amazing thing, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, I made some good money for a while betting on sports, but now I can’t find nobody to take my bets. I seen you taking notes. What are you using it for?”

“Oh, you can see all the stock prices, and once in a while, you see something really interesting, like the crash of that Cancun flight.” She gave me a real close, intense look while she said that.

“Yeah, that.”

“I thought about trying to prevent it, but who would believe me? I just didn’t know what to do. I felt so bad that I didn’t try to save all those poor people.”

How did I explain this to her? I was feeling really tense. I needed her to back me up that the window really showed things from the future.

“So, Diane, I managed to get myself into a bit of trouble with this window into the future thing. See, ah, I, well, my former wife got killed on that flight and it just so happens I had a big life insurance policy on her. So now the police think I somehow was involved in bringing the plane down, which is ridiculous.”

“Stan, why didn’t you try to warn her? How could you be so cold?”

“Yeah, well I did actually but she blew me off. We weren’t on good terms at all. She hates me actually – I mean hated. So I figured that if she was gonna insist on going to her death, I might as well get something out of it.”

She just stared at me. I don’t think she was seeing my logic at all. But I forged ahead anyway.

“So, here’s the thing, Diane. I need someone to back me up about that window. I’m gonna tell the police that’s how I knew about the plane going down. They’re gonna laugh at me unless you can back me up.”

She looked away, staring blankly at one of the departure information terminals, obviously thinking it over, then said, “Why would I do that, Stan? The window is making me some nice money in the stock market. Once everybody knows about it, that’s the end of my gravy train. They’ll pull that thing out and take it to some lab and study it. No, forget it.”

“I’m gonna tell ‘em anyway, Diane! They’re gonna find out about it one way or the other.”

“Stan, keep your voice down! We’re in a public place. Do you really think they’ll follow up and sit here and look at that reflection for a week based just on your word? I’m betting they won’t.”

“OK, fine. We’ll see. I’m outta here.” I turned on my heel and walked double-time down the corridor.

I was really pissed. Now I not only wanted to save my own ass, I wanted to screw things up for Diane too. She’d found a better way to bet than I had, but I never knew nothing about stocks, or how to buy them so I never even thought of doing that. I had to hand it to her, she was sharp, but when I needed her help, she gave me the cold shoulder.

The next day I was back in the interrogation room staring at Sellars and two other guys he never introduced.

“All we want to know is how you found out about the plot. The team working on this is convinced that you weren’t directly involved, so you’re off the hook for terrorism charges. Cooperate with us, here, Stan, and you can stay out of trouble. Otherwise, remember that you’re on parole and we can put you in prison in two minutes.”

“Look, man, I admit I knew about the plane crashing, but not about the bomb thing. But you’re not gonna believe me when I tell you how I knew.”

“Try me.”

I think Sellars was like one of those mentalist guys you see on TV. He looked into your eyes and at your hands and checked out every square inch of you trying to see whether you were lying. So I tried to get real calm and just tell him what happened.

“I see,” Sellars said with a sigh. “So you saw the whole thing reflected in a window at gate B31 a week before it happened, and you bought the ticket, and you conned Ms. Delany onto that plane.”

“That’s right. Of course you don’t believe me, but all you have to do is go over there and look at the window around 5:30 every evening. You’ll see I’m telling the truth.”

Sellars was really looking me over. His eyes moved from my head to my toes and covered everyplace in between. I could tell from his expression that he was considering the possibility that I might be telling the truth.

“OK, Mr. Nowitski, it’s quite easy for me to call your bluff. I’ll be over there today. By the way, are you aware of anyone else who knows about this phenomenon?”

“Yeah, Diane, the gate agent is on to it, but she ain’t gonna tell you nothin’ because she’s making money in the stock market from that window and she don’t want to have you guys taking it away and studying it.”

“We’ll talk to Diane anyway. OK, you can go.”

I gave him some details about Diane and then I was back to work. As 5:30 approached I saw Dennis walking down the corridor. Oh man! I totally forgot that he was coming too. If Sellars saw us together, what would he think?

“Hey Dennis, say, uh, there’s a problem. I told Sellars about the window too and he’s coming here any time. It might not be good for him to see us together…”

Dennis’s face contorted in anger. “You idiot! If he sees you and me together here, he’ll be even more convinced that we’re working together, getting our stories in synch.”

“Hey Dennis, I just forgot. Show me some respect, man. You always talk down to me.”

“That’s because you’re a loser and an idiot!”

That was too much. I gave him a good shove, right into a row of seats. He fell awkwardly over them, banging his nose on an armrest. He looked up, bloody and furious, jumped to his feet and bull-rushed me. I was standing right in front of the B31 windows, and he shoved me hard directly into one of them. The force of his attack knocked me off my feet and I flew, out of control, right into the glass. It shattered loudly and I was suddenly in the cold and dark falling.

They tell me that I was out about six hours. When I came to, I was on my back, looking at a round fluorescent ceiling light and a plastic curtain surrounding me on a track, and I heard talking and the distant sound of a voice on a PA system. A hospital. It took me a minute or so to remember what had happened. Just as my mind was re-engaging the pain kicked in. My god, my back hurt! I groaned and immediately heard the curtain rustle. A nurse’s face appeared.

“You’re up! How are you feeling?”

“Pain, my back, it’s terrible.”

“Well, I’m not surprised. You have a few cracked vertebrae, not to mention the broken leg, but nothing that won’t heal, and the good news is that you’re not paralyzed.”

“Wonderful. How about some drugs for the pain.”

“We do have authorization to give you that. Be right back.”

“Hurry, please.”

As she disappeared, another face poked through the curtain. Sellars had a big grin on his face like he was enjoying my suffering.

“Well, Mr. Nowitski, you took quite a tumble there. Made the top story on the news. And, even better, you delayed twenty flights. Without a doubt one of the most significant accomplishments of your life.”

“OK, Sellars, enough with the sarcasm. My brother-in-law shoved me through the window. I didn’t do a thing.”

“Yeah, he shoved you through that window to the future you were going to show me. How convenient that it’s not there any more.”

“The second large pane to the right of the Gate B31 podium?”

“That’s the one exactly. Nothing but some boards there now. They’ll have new glass in by tomorrow.

     “You’ll be under guard here until you recover, and then it’s back to prison for parole violation. That is unless, you want to tell us how you really found out about the bomb plot.”

“I already told you. You’ve got to believe me. I saw the coverage of the crash in the reflection of that window!”

Sellars stood up. “As long as you stick to that story, you’ll be serving the balance of your sentence. It’s really up to you, Mr. Nowitski, you can tell us the truth or you can sit in prison.”

And so, here I am, writing this in the prison library. I’ve been inside six months. Larry Donatelli’s here. He’s already broken my arm and mashed my face pretty good. Dennis is here too, but he won’t even look at me. All in all I’m having a great time. But the real cherry on top was yesterday when I got a postcard. It had some funny stamps on it and a nice photo of one of those villas like you see on TV, surrounded by palm trees, a white sand beach behind it, the ocean beyond that. It was a long note for a postcard, written real small. It said:

Hey Stan, writing from my pied-a-terre on the French Riviera. My source of stock tips just kept right on working when they put in the new glass. Will work a few more years yet so I can access my source, but definitely will retire by age 45. Heard they put you back in. Sorry about that.

Love Diane

Yeah, I guess my teachers were right, I really am an underachiever. Who else could make a sow’s ear out of a silk purse as well as I did? Oh, well, enough of this writing. It's time to get slopped at the prison cafeteria. I wonder what Diane's gonna have for dinner tonight.



Read more stories by this author

2014-05-10 06:55:00
micheledutcher - mark211 wrote: This was a pretty entertaining read, slickly written with lots of subtle 'reveals' about Stan Nowitski's background and character woven into the story events which I enjoyed. There was a flavor of Roald Dahl's adult stories in this too (e.g. Switch Bitch if you've ever read that one) which I personally appreciated.

This story has been viewed: 3151 times.
Average Rating:

ball Did you enjoy this story? Show your appreciation by tipping the author!

Enter your tip amount. ($1.00 minimum)

Then click on the tip cup!

Books by Quantum Muse contributors and friends.
Transdimensional Blues

Raymond Coulombe
Outrunning the Storm

Michele Dutcher
A Fisherman's Guide to Bottomdwellers

Michele Dutcher