Mina & The Carousel

Raven’s Saturday Wordzzle Challenge: Week 46

Raven, our hostess for Saturday Wordzzle, supplied us with 10 words to build a story with.  Those ten words are: air tight seal, bitter cold, draft card, diner, paragon of virtue, broken computer monitor, CPR, a love of folk music, scatter-brained, can of worms

Mina & The Carousel

(continued from here)

Hermina Romunda Guadalupe Lizet Villanueva left the school without a backward glance.  She shot through the double doors and barreled down 11th Avenue as fast as she could run.  She paused at the corner of Eleventh Avenue and Church Street, realizing that she couldn’t just march into Finklemeyer’s Store — if it was even open.  Was Mr. Finklemeyer still in jail?

Mina stood with her bottom lip between her teeth, her hands on her hips, and tapping her foot.  She needed a plan.  A patrol car rounded the corner and the policeman inside slowed down and took a good look at her.  It suddenly occurred to Mina that every other kid in town was in school right now.  The police car was moving slow.  Mina could tell the officer was looking at her in the rear view mirror.  Any second now, his tail-lights would flash.  He’d throw the car in reverse and come back to question her.  Mina didn’t fancy being taken home to her mom in a patrol car.  She’d already landed herself in a big enough can of worms when she charged out of school.

Mina wanted to run, but she knew it was time to stop acting scatter-brained. She pivoted on her foot and looked at the building behind her.  Until that moment, she hadn’t thought much about where she was.

“Excuse me, young lady.”  The officer had left his car in the middle of the road with the driver’s door open.  He walked toward Mina.  “Is there a problem?”

Mina just shrugged and pointed at the sign.  DENTAL CLINIC.

“Ah, I see,” the officer said, grinning.  “Why don’t I just wait right here while you march yourself in there?”

“It’s okay.”  Mina said.  “I don’t want to trouble you.”

“No trouble,” the officer said.  “It’s my job.  Come on.  In you go.”  He put his hand on Mina’s shoulder and escorted her to the door, which he opened for her.

The receptionist, one of her mother’s friends from church, looked up in surprise.  “Mina!  What are you doing here?”  She looked at the officer standing outside the glass doors.  “Are you in trouble?”

“No.”  Mina shook her head, but the answer was obviously, yes!  “I’m a ….  I’m a ….”  Mina shrugged her shoulders.

“Do you have an appointment?”  The receptionist asked.  She was frowning at her computer monitor.  “I don’t remember seeing your name.”

Mina couldn’t remember the woman’s name and walked forward to read her name tag.  Audrey.  No last name.  Big help that was.  “Listen, Mrs. -”

“I’m sorry, Mina.”  Audrey interrupted.  “I have a broken computer monitor and not even CPR can reserrect it.  And you don’t seem to be in the appointment book, either, dear.  Are you certain you have the right day?”

Mina shook her head.  “Not really,” she said, and chanced a glance over her shoulder.  The officer was gone.  Mina relaxed.  A grin split her face from ear to ear.

The receptionist, Audrey, smiled to.  “Today is your lucky day, Mina,” she said.  “No appointment.”  Then she added, “I’ll ring your mother in just a bit and have her reschedule.”

“Gee, thanks,”  Mina said, but her smile was effectively gone.  She turned and walked to the door, her eyes searching the street for the patrol car.  Neither it nor the officer were anywhere in sight.

Mina left the dentist’s office aware that she couldn’t just walk down the street in broad daylight.  It was barely past noon and people were certain to notice a kid out of school.  She circled the building, and headed for the service alley.

This was more like it.  No traffic, no prying eyes.  Just Mina, the dumpsters in their little brick enclosures, and a stray cat here and there.  She walked briskly, stopping just a block from Finklemeyer’s.  She was behind Rona’s Five and Diner.  Rona had a love of folk music.  A song about burning draft cards was pouring into the alley mingling with aroma’s that reminded Mina she’d had no lunch.

Finklemeyer’s store was on the corner right across the street.  There were no lights on inside.  It didn’t appear to be conducting business, but someone was there.  The back door stood wide open.  Mina rushed across the street, away from the tantalizing aroma’s at Rona’s, and into the dumpster enclosure behind Finklemeyer’s.  The aromas there weren’t in the least bit enticing.

Once inside the enclosure, Mina slipped behind the wooden gate and peeked out through the gap between the door and the wall.  It was too dark inside the store and she was too far away to see anything.  She was going to have to move closer.

If Finklemeyer was in jail, then who was in the store?  And was Finklemeyer in jail?  Why would he fake stealing the carousel — unless part of it had been stolen and he was stalling for time trying to get it back?  That’s what Mina suspected.  The Maitlands had stolen the golden rings, and Finklemeyer faked the theft of the carousel because … Mina wasn’t certain.  Finklemeyer didn’t own the carousel, so he wouldn’t get any of the insurance money.  If he faked the theft to gain time to find the real thief, he probably wasn’t having a lot of luck finding them from behind bars.

Mina sprinted from the cover of the dumpster enclosure.  Darting across the alley, she came to a stop crouched below the loading dock.  That put her just beside and below the open back door.  She wished for her mother’s cell phone so she could take a picture of what was aroud the corner.  Of course, the last time she’d done that, it hadn’t turned out so well.

Mina listened intently.  She could hear the traffic out of the street, snatches of music from Rona’s, and bits and pieces of other neighborhood noise.  She didn’t hear anything from the store.  Nor did she hear the foot-steps of the man who slipped up behind her.  The first clue Mina had that she wasn’t alone, was a hand clamping over her mouth.

Mina tried to wiggle free, jabbing with her elbows and kicking backward.  Someone seized her right braid, wrapped it around his fist, and shook her.  Mina tried to scream.  Nothing emerged but a squeak.  Her head was shaken again.  She kept fighting, trying to turn to get a look at her attacker.

Her hair was released.  Mina twisted and saw … nothing but a gunny sack as it came down over her face. The hand over her mouth remained, but even had it not, Mina wasn’t certain she could have screamed.  The bag reeked of motor oil and mildew, causing her breath to catch in the back of her throat.

Mina heard the unmistakable sound of duct tape peeling from a roll.  She flayed backward with her hands, trying to hit her captor.  She’d show him that Hermina Romunda Guadalupe Lizet Villanueva wasn’t that easy to subdue!  She reached up and dug her fingernails into the hand across her mouth.

“Holy crap! Stop her!”  The man holding Mina snapped.  Her wrists were seized.  She tried to pull away, but whoever held her was much stronger.  Her right wrist was wrapped in duct tape.  And then her left, securing them tightly together in front of her.

She felt a hand close around her ankle and kicked as hard as she could.  Her foot sink into a soft body part.  Score!

“Shit! Hold the little brat still!”  Her captures were men, and Mina didn’t recognize their voices.  She kicked out again, but her foot struck only air.  A hand covered the top of her head.  The hand over her mouth tightened.  The man holding Mina leaned into her, applying his weight to her back and shoulders.  Her knees buckled.

Mina was forced into a crouched position.  She was not allowed to sit, nor was she pemitted to stand.  She was in no position to kick, either.  In short order, her ankles were duct taped together, then Mina was lifted and carried away.

They didn’t go far.  Mina heard a heavy door open.  Her feet were dropped to the floor and Mina was stood upright.  With her feet taped she couldn’t balance on her own. She was pushed roughly from behind and pitched onto an icy floor.

“That ought to take care of the paragon of virtue and her playmates.”  The voice was bitter cold — and female.  Mina didn’t recognize it, or understand her meaning.  “Come on,”  the woman said, “We’ve got work to do.”

Mina heard the door close.  “Help!” She shrieked, belatedly realizing the hand no longer covered her mouth.  She screamed again.  “Help!”

Hands reached out, grabbed her arms and lifted her to a sitting position.  “Hush, dear,” and gentle, female voice urged.  “It’s no use.  This place is sound proof.”

The bag was lifted from Mina’s head.  She was in a gray, cold room.  And she was with the Maitlands.  “Where are we?”  Mina demanded.

“We’re in a walk-in freezer,” Mr. Maitland answered.

While Mrs. Maitland picked at the tape around her ankles, Mina turned her head and stared at the freezer door.

“Locked from the outside,” Mrs. Maitland said.

“Let’s just hope it doesn’t have an air tight seal,” Mina thought.

TO BE CONTINUED …

Jeff’s Portrait of Words #5 (My #1)

Jeff hosts a monthly meme where he puts a handful of photos up on his blog and invites us to create a story with them.  I’ve been wanting to participate in this meme for a long time, but couldn’t find the time.  Finally, Tuesday night, I started writing — and I am posting my story right at the edge of the deadline.

Portrait of Words #5

Mina & The Carousel

Hermina Romunda Guadalupe Lizet Villanueva has dreams as grand as her name.  That’s why she was sitting in the Hydrangea bush beneath the Maitland’s dining room window.  The Maitlands were thieves.  Hermina knew it and she was going to prove it.

Saturday afternoon Mina had secretly followed her sister, Maria Celeste, to the Church Street Post Office.  Celeste had told her parents she was going to the movies with her girlfriends, but she didn’t go anywhere near the mall.  Instead, she pretended to post a letter, and “accidently” encountered Roger Finklemeyer outside his dad’s clothing store.

Roger worked for his dad on the weekends and was on his way to Burger King for lunch.  Maria decided to join him.  Mina was all set to take pictures of their rendezvous with the camera on her mother’s cell phone.  That’s when the Maitland’s caught Mina’s eye.  Mr. and Mrs. Maitland were standing in the the front window of LaVive Art Gallery where a huge painting depicting an old-fashioned horse and carriage complete with groom was on display.   The Maitlands, however, were looking into Mrs. Maitland’s satchel.  Mina heard Mrs. Maitland say, “I can’t believe we really did it.” and Mr. Maitland answer,  “I think we should get it home and out of sight as quickly as possible.”

Whatever was in the bag, it must have been heavy — and very distracting. It took both of the Maitlands to carry it, and they walked right past Mina without even recognizing her!  The old couple had no sooner disappeared than Mr. Finklemeyer came running out of his store yelling he’d been robbed.  Roger jumped up out of the booth where he’d been playing footsie with Maria, and ran to his dad.  The two of them disappeared into the store arguing about who was supposed to be watching the merchandise.

Mina was so busy trying to figure out what was going on, that she forgot to hide and was standing square in the middle of the sidewalk when Maria came out of the hamburger joint.  Luckily Maria was staring after Roger.  Mina hurried around the corner and hid behind a tombstone on the grounds of St. Anne’s Catholic Church.  Mina wasn’t Catholic, but just the same she said a prayer for the person whose tombstone provided her cover.  After a few minutes, Maria stomped by and Mina followed her home — keeping a safe distance of course.

That night at the dinner table Mina told her father that  she thought the Maitlands were thieves.  Her father told her not to go spreading tales like that without proof and gave her a lecture on “bearing false witness”.  Mina didn’t quite understand what he meant because she hadn’t told any tales about bears, but she did understand that she would need proof if she wanted her parents to listen.

That’s how she ended up in the Hydrangea bush with her mother’s cell phone in her hand.  She needed a picture of whatever it was the Maitlands stole — but she hadn’t stuck around outside the Finklemeyer’s store long enough to hear what had been stolen.  She’d tried asking Maria, but Maria had just socked her in the shoulder and told her to keep her creepy, spying eyes away from Roger Finklemeyer.

Mina listened intently.  The window above her head was open.  She could hear a lawn mower down the block, cars passing out on the boulevard, the slight whisper of wind from the trees, but not a sound from the Maitlands.  Their car was in the driveway so she knew they were home; what she didn’t know was where inside their house they might be.

Slowly Mina raised her hand until the camera lens of her mother’s cell phone cleared the window sill.   She clicked a quick picture and jerked her hand down.  There on the tiny cellular’s screen was Mrs. Maitland, looking right at the camera in obvious surprise.  Mina erupted from the bush and ran for home without once looking back.

Her mother was waiting for her on the front porch.  “Alright, young lady,”she said.  “Give me my cell phone.”

Mina reluctantly handed it over.

Her mother opened the menu and scrolled straight to Mrs. Maitland’s photo.  She shook her head and then shook her finger at her youngest daughter.  “Edith called and said you were poking around in her bushes.  I told her she must have you mistaken with some other girl.  She was going to the window to look out and tell me what you were wearing, when you apparently popped up and took her photo.  You nearly scared her to death.   Exactly what were you up to?”

Mina shrugged.

“You were playing spy again weren’t you?”  Her mother demanded.

Mina looked at her shoes and didn’t answer.

“Very well,” her mother said,  “You may play spy in your bedroom for the rest of the afternoon — and don’t come out before supper!”

Mina sat on the side of her bed dangling her feet.  What kind of super spy got sent to her bedroom?  What kind of a super spy even got caught?  Mina puckered up her mouth and stuck out her chin.  “I’ll show them,” she thought.

Maria sashayed into the room.  “My little sister the spy,” she said, and rolled her eyes.  She perched on the edge of Mina’s bed.  “Can’t even watch two little old people without getting caught.”

“Well I watched you,” Mina said.  “All gushy and big-eyed, ‘Oh, Roger,'” Mina mimicked her sister’s voice, ‘Fancy meeting you here.’  Like it was an accident when you’d been waiting for him right outside his father’s store for like a half hour.”

“Oh!”  Maria let out a shriek, jumped up off the bed and grabbed Mina by both of her black, glossy pig-tails.  “Listen, Brat-Child,” Maria said.  “One word about Roger to Mom or Pop and you’ll regret it!  I’m warning you!”  She pulled on Mina’s pigtails until the girl was looking straight up at the ceiling, then gave them an extra tug for good measure and flounced from the room.

“Whatever,” Mina mumbled. but she made certain it was quiet enough that Maria didn’t hear.

Monday in school Ellie Haversol told Mina that a miniature carousel had been stolen from behind Finklemeyer’s store.  She said it was about  twelve feet in diameter, permanently mounted on a flatbed trailer and covered in hundreds of thousands of Austrian Crystals.  Mina knew there was no way the Maitlands had that in their shopping satchel — so what did they have?  While Ellie was going on about the carousel Mina was trying to remember what other stores were near Finklemeyer’s Clothing.  There was the Post Office, Burger King, St. Anne’s Church, and Emmerson’s Gem Stone Emporium.  Mina wondered of Emmerson’s was missing anything.  She didn’t have to wonder how to find out.  Tara Emmerson was in her 5th period class.

“Mina!”  Ellie snapped impatiently, “Have you listened to a word I’ve said?”

“Yes, of course,” Mina answered.  “You said Finklemeyer’s had a miniature carousel stolen from behind their store.”

“Oh!”  Ellie stamped her foot.  “I also told you that old man Finklemeyer, Roger’s father, is in jail.  He is suspected of stealing it.”

Mina was confused.  “Why would he report it stolen if he’d stolen it in the first place?”  She asked.

“He didn’t steal it!”  Ellie said.  “He was watching it.  The carousel was imported from Austria.  Old man Finklemeyer’s cousin is some rich, muscle bound, movie-actor, Governor or something or other — I’m not quite sure about that part — and he had this carousel shipped in for his kid’s  birthday party.  The thing is supposedly decorated with thousands of dollars worth of Austrian crystal, brass, copper, and silver.  Not only that, but the brass rings aren’t brass.  They are solid gold — each one worth a fortune.  Roger Finklemeyer said so.”

“Oh wow!”  Mina snapped her fingers.  “That’s it!”  She sprinted for the door, calling back over her shoulder, “Thanks, Ellie!  I gotta go!”

TO BE CONTINUED ……

The pictures in the meme come to you courtesy of Dr. John.