Shaved Legs and All: LGBT Pogrom

In a pickle - By Mizeta Moon 

Coffee hit the spot after a long night at the tables. The dealer was crooked but she’d been onto him from the beginning and used her own sleight of hand skills to fleece him instead of losing her bankroll. She knew the pit boss wouldn’t come down on her because they’d have to admit they were cheating and that would bring in the gaming commission. She kept her bets small so that the casino wouldn’t be out much. She didn’t need the money but wanted to play since it was the last night of her vacation and she might not visit the area again. Her job as a magician’s assistant awaited her return to hundreds of birthday parties and she was looking forward to getting back in the groove. 

After taking a quick shower and packing her bag, she called the front desk to check out and arrange transportation to the airport. The lobby was quiet as she signed her bill statement, then settled on a bench to wait for her ride. The few tourists that were active that early in the morning looked frazzled from lack of sleep while having too much fun. When a burly man in a checkered suit walked into the foyer and called her name, she raised her hand, grabbed her bag, then followed him to a small SUV idling at the curb. She didn’t like the look of the man but didn’t have time to request a substitute driver. Her flight home would leave in less than an hour and she didn’t want to miss it. 

She was so used to the auto-lock feature of modern cars that she didn’t know she was being kidnapped until the driver turned away from the route to the airport. “Hey!” She shouted. “You’re going the wrong way.” 

“I know,” the man replied. “The only place you’re flying to is the pearly gates.” 

“Who are you?” She asked. Irritation dominant over fear in her voice. “If you work for the casino and want your money back all you had to do was ask. Wasn’t that much anyway. I make more than that in a day.” 

“Doesn’t matter. Nobody cheats the boss.” 

“Hah! What about him cheating the public instead of running an honest game? Gonna kill everyone who figures it out? Your dealer was so lame a blind man could see through him.” 

Instead of answering, the thug reached over the seat and sprayed her with something that knocked her out. When she came to, the man was laboriously dragging her to the middle of a bridge spanning a raging river. Handcuffs chafed her skin and her knees felt bruised. She must have been too big a load to carry. 

“What now?” She asked. “Hoping I can’t swim with handcuffs on?” 

“Shut up. I need to get this over with. My wife made lasagna tonight and she gets pissed when I’m late.” 

“Boo-hoo. Hope she cuts your testicles off.” 

That remark made the thug grab her throat and slap her so hard that tears ran down her cheeks and she nearly blacked out again. Vertigo set in as she looked at her precarious perch on the bridge and realized how close she was to plummeting. When he let go and stepped back, she smiled because he made a mistake and gave her the advantage. He probably had no idea that she was a magician’s assistant and had clever fingers. 

“What you smiling about?” The thug asked as he pushed her closer to the edge. 

“This.” She replied as she flaunted the key she’d plucked from his pocket as he manhandled her. “Now that my hands are free, I can swim to safety if I fall. But! I think it’s you that needs to get wet.” So saying, she spun on her heels and started running. The oaf tried to follow but his lumbering frame wasn’t agile enough to catch her, When he stumbled and fell to his knees, she kicked him in the butt, then watched him tumble to the maelstrom below. 

Now that she’d missed her flight it made sense that she use the thug’s car to drive home. She had enough of the casino’s money to pay for gas and food, so all in all, things weren’t that bad. She’d probably be too late for Billy Baker’s birthday party, but she reminded herself that life is what happens when you’ve made other plans.

Bnonanza - By Mizeta Moon 

Her mother told her no one had seen Mrs. Jenkins down the street for a week and asked her to check on the woman and her dog. She didn’t like Mrs. Jenkins but chose to keep her mom happy instead of listening to endless guilt trips about failing as a daughter. If her mother wasn’t confined to a wheelchair she’d have refused since she didn’t care much for the dog either. 

She knocked but there was no answer. She decided to look around back in case the woman was working on her flower beds and hadn’t heard her at the door. She discovered that the back door was ajar, and as she approached it, the stench of rotting flesh assailed her nose. Her first thought was to leave and call the cops but put her handkerchief over her nose and mouth instead and pushed the door open with a trembling hand. Flies were everywhere. Buzzing, swirling, they were like a black cloud over the dead dog lying on the kitchen floor in a puddle of blood. Poor Thimble, she thought. Even though I didn’t like you, I didn’t want you dead. Now she was scared and almost ran but realized Mrs. Jenkins might be injured or dead as well and knew the right thing to do was investigate. 

The first floor was a shambles. Drawers stood open with contents spilled, cushions were slashed, and lamps were overturned. No dead woman in sight but she could smell more rotting flesh and heard buzzing in the distance. The stairs creaked as she cautiously tiptoed her way to the second floor landing, clutching the rail so hard her knuckles were white. Her suspicions were confirmed when she entered the woman’s bedroom. Like the downstairs, the room had been ransacked. Jewelry boxes were empty and Mrs. Jenkins lie in a crumpled pile of clothing dumped from drawers and yanked from the closet. Whoever robbed her made sure they found everything of value before leaving her to bleed out. A glance into the bathroom revealed more frenzied pillaging. Realizing she couldn’t help the woman, she turned to leave but something lying in the debris caught her eye. 

When she picked it up and examined its contents, she realized that whoever caused this mayhem was a rank amateur. The envelope was stuffed with bearer bonds which are as good as cash anywhere in the world. The thief or thieves must have tossed the envelope into the pile of papers on the floor because they weren’t currency and looked innocuous. However, she recognized their value right away and sat on the edge of the bed to count them after looking around guiltily and affirming she was still alone. She almost fainted when the total came to nearly four million dollars. 

She was immediately conflicted. Call the cops and turn over the bonds? Keep them? She knew Mrs. Jenkins was a widow and had no immediate family, so the probability of someone placing a claim on them was remote. Did anyone know she had them in the house? Even if someone did, they could have been taken during the murderous home invasion. She decided that she would call the cops from home and hide the bonds under her bed until the dust settled. 

The neighbors were shocked by her discovery and followed the ensuing investigation with keen interest. Three weeks went by and there was no mention of the bonds. No long-lost relative showed up either. The cops were convinced the robbery was committed by an opportunistic stranger who saw that Mrs. Jenkins lived alone and her dog was too small to protect her. After defiling her sanctuary they moved on and would hock the jewels and silverware down the road. As for her, no cloud of suspicion darkened her now sunny horizons. She could finally move out of her mom’s house and travel to far away exotic destinations. That opportunity came a month later when her mother’s request for a full-time caregiver was approved. She did send her mom some cash in the mail, but that was from New York where cashing some of the bonds was no reason to raise an eyebrow.     

Granny gang - By Mizeta Moon 

The mechanic refused to work on the car when he saw all the bullet holes in the trunk. If I’d hit the accelerator harder, we’d have been out of range quickly but my spike heel stuck in a hole in the carpet and I couldn’t bear down from the resulting tilt. That allowed the guards to hit us with several rounds–one of which clipped the fuel line, causing us to come to a halt across the street from a garage. We thought that was a stroke of luck at first but the suspicion in the wrench monkey’s eyes had me worried that he might call the cops. We decided the best thing to do was skedaddle before he could act so I called Lyft for a ride to our hideout as we call it. It’s actually an old gardening shed behind Winifred’s house where we drink wine from the bottle, play ten thousand, and plan our next heist. Leaving the car behind wasn’t a problem because it’s still registered to a guy three blocks from my house. When he died, we snagged the keys during his estate sale and hid it under a tarp in the woods behind Estelle’s house. So we grabbed the bags of cash, then walked to a bar down the street and told the driver to pick us up there in an hour since we all needed a drink after such a close call. 

Hours later there were four stacks of money sitting on the table in the shed and Marlene was finally satisfied. She always thinks we might cheat her so she demands a recount. After we counted it all again and measured the piles, she agreed that we were truly equal partners. Oh! You might be wondering why I would wear high heels on a job and that’s a very good question. Dressing up like church ladies makes us less suspicious. Nobody expects a bunch of grannies to pull pistols from their purses instead of a hanky. Just so you know, we only rob places owned by a certain someone who is known to all as a liar and a crook. Stealing from him allows us to buy food for the poor and support our charities. We keep some for us of course, but at least it gets recirculated on lower levels instead of adding to the wealth of the wealthy. After the last hotel heist, I was able to give ten thousand dollars to the animal shelter. 

We were well on our way to a rip-roaring drunk when Winifred suddenly got wide-eyed and looked worried. “What’s wrong?” I asked. Instead of answering right away she reached to her ear and unhooked an earring. Placing it on the table she stated that the mate was missing. She said “I lost it when we jumped in the car. Now I’m concerned that some CSI guy will bag and tag it, then trace my DNA.” 

We had a good laugh at that because a diamond earring on the sidewalk would be a prize to one of the homeless who watched us make our getaway. Fat chance that they’d turn it in. Besides, Winifred has never been arrested or had her lineage traced. Even if a cop found it, she could say she lost it when walking to the liquor store. And on top of that, we only dress up to go on a crime spree. The rest of the time we look like a dowdy bunch wearing sensible shoes and comfortable clothes, so she wouldn’t meet any description from witnesses. Without just cause she couldn’t be forced to surrender a sample. 

We were just finishing up a game of ten thousand when Winifred’s husband banged on the door and demanded dinner. I’m prone to tell him to F… off but keeping him happy allows us to use the shed without too much guff. I do talk back to him when it comes to politics since he’s a big supporter of the guy we steal from, but we were drunk and tired by then, so we filed out and left. The last thing I heard him say to Winifred was “that damn Velma pisses me off. Every time she comes over, I have to beg for dinner. And besides….”

Wish we'd met - By Mizeta Moon 

She landed on time but there was a long line at the rental car desk threatening to make her late for the celebration of life. She could take a taxi, then arrange for a car to be delivered to her room, but decided to hang tough for a few, and see if things sped up. She’d been to Portland several times and knew how expensive it would be to take a cab to Beaver Creek. Fortunately, her gamble paid off and she was able to drive through the lovely countryside and get to the Grange Hall just in time for the service. 

She didn’t know the man but read everything he published. She loved the flow of his words as he described settings, characters, and revealed the plot. If he wrote poetry, it sang. Mysteries were difficult enigmas to solve before the end. His novel was racy but she’d laid in bed, enthralled by steamy interactions of the lovers. She wasn’t invited but figured no one would mind if she said goodbye to her favorite author in person. As she climbed the wooden stairs to the auditorium she was smiled at and handed a pamphlet instead of being turned away. Grateful for that, she took a seat in the back so she could watch everything that occurred. She knew the man was irreligious, so there wouldn’t be a bunch of preaching and praying but a true celebration of his time on the planet. 

The service was charming as people spoke enthusiastically about their interactions with him. Their voices expressed admiration and love and regret he would no longer walk among them. As they spoke about him, she remembered something he said when interviewed on Good Morning America. Asked about his anti-war stance he said, “ The greatest hurdle humanity faces is overcoming the desire to kill its own species and blind obedience is required for war to continue. I’ve always questioned authority and wasn’t willing to be a  pawn in someone else’s chess match. The blood and the pain are real not moves on a game board.” That was the impetus for her traveling to this ceremony. To pay respect to someone who steadfastly stood by their convictions. 

When the recollections were over, a band played some of his favorite songs. She was surprised to learn he preferred modern rock instead of oldies. She supposed that staying on the cutting edge of social evolution was a desirable trait for an author. Soon, it was time for refreshments so she grabbed her cane and hobbled to the buffet table to indulge in the sumptuous offerings. She found she was quite hungry from her journey and loaded a plate unabashedly. She was having trouble holding her plate and leaning on her cane until a man’s hand appeared in her peripheral vision and a warm voice asked if they could help. As she said yes, she looked into a face that almost made her drop her plate. The man looked exactly like the dead writer. As she struggled to find words, the man said, “I can see you didn’t know he had a twin brother. When I saw you enter, I knew we’d never met and concluded you were a fan. Would you like to join our table?” 

When her shock receded and she was seated, she asked “are you a writer as well?’ The man, who’d introduced himself as Richard laughed as he replied. “No, he was one of a kind. I paint a little, do some sculpting, but I’ll never make the big leagues. Mostly I take care of the family ranch. We have a few cattle, grow vegetables, that kinda stuff. ” 

As they ate and chatted, she found herself extremely attracted to Richard. They were about the same age and he wasn’t wearing a wedding ring. She usually wasn’t impetuous and chastised herself internally for the feelings roiling inside her. She attributed them to her admiration for his brother but noticed his body language was declaring his desire to have her linger. When he asked if she wanted to stay at the ranch instead of driving back to her hotel it was easy to say yes.       

Disturbing my peace - By Mizeta Moon 

After a sleepless fitful night, the fishpond was the balm needed to restore my tranquility. The reds, oranges, and yellows of autumn leaves floated gently to the water’s surface, there to rest until I broke out my net to collect them. The fish rose like behemoths of the deep to capture anything that clung to them on their journey. Ripples from their breaching lapped gently on the moss-covered rocks lining the shore. As the sun broke through the trees, I sipped my coffee and reached for the Oregonian, wondering what mayhem occurred overnight. The news was so bad lately I’d thought about cancelling my subscription but hadn’t because they needed my support in a time where TV or internet news was the main source for most. I still loved my Sunday crosswords and the comics so I let it ride. 

Two days earlier, I was shocked to hear that my old friend Glynda died after falling from the trail by Multnomah Falls. I supposed that sadness contributed to my tossing and turning the night before. While reading about her demise I tried to focus on the many sun-filled, laughter-laden frolics we shared over the years. When my eyes welled up with tears, I put the paper down, refilled my cup from the thermos jug, then refocused on the pond. The bright song of a robin perched on an overhanging branch lifted my spirits as I wiped away the tears. The fish moved to their feeding spot and started circling, so I rose and walked to the food container I keep on the porch. Their frantic attack on the handful of pellets I tossed in reminded me that life goes on without interruption due to anyone’s passing. I was feeling much calmer until I heard a loud click and the squeak of my gate opening. I wasn’t expecting anyone, so suspicion replaced tranquility immediately. 

I’m not a violent person, but lately I’d been keeping baseball bats scattered around the house just in case. A girl living alone these days was vulnerable to home invasion. When I peeked around the corner, my knees felt weak and fear surged through my body. Two people were sauntering down the pathway like they owned the place. The woman was ragged and dirty, and the man had a gun. They were obviously tweekers and had targeted me as their next source of drug money. I quickly realized that I had the advantage because my car was in the shop and it looked like I wasn’t home. I was between them and the back door so I could take at least one of them out with the bat I was gripping so hard my knuckles were white, as they came around the corner. Did I have the gumption to do it? Inflicting harm went against my nature but becoming a victim wasn’t a desirable outcome. 

Fortunately, the man poked the gun around the corner before stepping further into the yard. I gathered my courage and smashed his gun hand with a swing Mickey Mantle would be proud of. He screamed in pain as the gun skittered away. As he recoiled, the woman surged forward, brandishing a kitchen knife. I knew I needed to deal with her quickly before the man could recover and come at me. For the moment, he was on his knees, holding a broken wrist. When she closed in, I used the fat end of the bat to punch her in the gut, then raised it overhead to hit her on the back when she doubled over. I didn’t have to. She vomited, then raised her hand in surrender. Obviously, I packed a pretty mean punch. Meanwhile, the man realized I meant business and would be hard to subdue in his condition. They scrabbled away, but not before threatening a return visit. That thought worried me for a moment but I realized their transitory lifestyle would intervene and they would find easier targets. After filing a report with the cops, I poured myself a bourbon on the rocks, then went back to the fishpond. It wasn’t yet noon but as the saying goes, it had to be five-o-clock somewhere and I’d already had a hell of a day.   

       

Release eligible - By Mizeta Moon 

It was a dancing elephant that got me in trouble. It was a thing of beauty sitting on the shelf and I wanted it for my grandma. But! I didn’t have a hundred dollars to buy it, so I stole it. I didn’t get very far before a cop car pulled alongside me and turned on the lights. I stood still, even though I wanted to run, knowing I wouldn’t get away. It’d be a minor charge if I cooperated. What I didn’t count on was the judge using my previous record to send me up the river for two years. A string of unpaid parking tickets, drug possession, vandalism, etc. 

Prison was easy for me. I’m big, muscular, and know how to fight. I was on the boxing team before I dropped out of school and my reputation preceded me. No one stole my food or smokes or tried to make me their girlfriend. Time was the enemy. I nearly died from boredom since I don’t read, have a hobby, or enjoy watching The Animal Planet on TV which is the only channel we could watch in the dayroom. The days blended into the nights as I plodded through the monotony of prison life. And then there were two more hours until I was going to be free. Provided, of course, that I passed the final interview with the prison’s psychiatrist. I was dreading that because I was a smart ass the last time that I became release eligible, and she tacked six months onto my sentence. Keeping my mouth shut has never been my long suit. 

When the guard ushered me into the lobby of the office tower and unlocked my cuffs, my knees started shaking. I ran my hand across my sweaty brow and took a deep breath to steady my nerves. The elevator smelled bad, as if someone had transported a load of rotten cabbage, then tried to mask the odor with Ben Gay. I wanted to throw up but I didn’t want the guard telling people I was a wimp. So, I held my breath while we went three floors up. I was dizzy by the time we stepped into the gleaming linoleum hallway leading to what inmates call “the door of doom” due to how many dreams of freedom die behind it. 

After the guard took a seat by the door, I knocked, then entered, hoping I’d never have to do this again. Hopefully, I could answer questions politely and honestly. The psychiatrist, a blocky, dark-haired, stone-faced woman, sat behind her massive desk as usual, but I felt a different vibe this time. She bade me to sit, then ran me through the usual drill. After telling her that I hadn’t had sex with inmates or found Jesus in a Sears Roebuck catalog I felt I was on the brink of success. “If I allow you to leave, would you be willing to do something for me on the outside?” wasn’t part of the usual drill. When I hesitated, she continued. “You see, my husband left me recently and I need a big, strong man to help me out.” Oh no! Did she want me as a lover? The thought of that was so appalling that I almost stood up to run. But I held tight to my seat, thought of the alternative, then nodded my head yes. 

I’ve never regretted that decision. Since being freed, I’ve eaten well, earned enough money to buy my grandma a dozen dancing elephants, and a new car. It turned out that Mildred, yes Mildred, had a tract of land in need of clearing. Lots of brush to hack, trees to chop down, boulders to move. Heavy work that has kept my mind out of the gutter and my body in shape. When this job is done, I’m thinking about buying a backhoe and going into the excavation business. While I’ve done all this, Mildred quit the prison, met a woman at a Gay Pride event, and is planning to build a house for them on the property I’m clearing. It’s amazing how things work out when you transcend your former self and embrace the new one.         

  

 

Girl alone - By Mizeta Moon 

Wind whipped fiercely around the house as branches creaked and rain pelted the roof. I wasn’t used to being home alone but my dad was in the hospital and my mom had to work to keep us afloat. Before she left, she hugged me and said I was a big girl now and would be okay. “ Just keep the doors locked. There’s cookies in the pantry. Don’t eat too many. Gotta run. The boss doesn’t like it when I’m late.” 

For a while I watched TV but got bored and went to read in my room after grabbing some cookies and a glass of milk. I love to read and especially enjoy trips to the library or a bookstore. At the moment I was adventuring with Peter Pan. I got settled in my bed and had pretty much blocked out the howling wind and the slight shudders of the house when the lights went out. Having no idea what to do about it, all I could do was lie there till they came back on or my mom came home. Then things got worse. First there was rumbling, then a huge bolt of lightning hit the big oak tree outside my window. The rain started coming down harder and faster, and looking out my window at the shattered tree, I could see the street was flowing like a river. How often does that happen? I wondered. 

During the storm I could read with the flashlight my mom keeps by the front door if I could grope my way through the dark house and bring it back to my room. That turned out to be easier than I thought because of something called ambient light I learned about in science class. I grabbed the flashlight and decided to not turn it on until I got back to my room. If I didn’t waste the batteries I could read for longer. Just as I got resettled, a fire truck came roaring down the street, siren wailing, and tires splashing through the deepening water. I hoped they weren’t coming to our house or my friend Amy’s down the street. I didn’t smell smoke so I told myself not to worry. After reading a few pages I entered the world a good book can create and forgot all about the storm. 

I was disappointed when the flashlight died but there was nothing that I could do about it, so I sat looking out the window, hoping the lights would come back on soon. Suddenly, I remembered that my dad had an old Kindle in his desk drawer. If I was really lucky it would still be charged and I could find something to read. It was! I did a little happy dance, and instead of going back to my room I flopped into my dad’s chair, then started scrolling. If I was going to read grown up stuff I should sit in a grown up’s chair. Most of it sounded boring but I eventually settled on an Agatha Christie mystery. My dad always said he liked her stories because she never used bad words and was good at making you try to figure out her clues. Every time I thought I knew who did it something she said caused me to doubt myself. Once again, I forgot about the storm as Miss Marple and I chased the bad guy. I hardly noticed when the sun came up and the storm died down. I was almost finished with the story when I heard the familiar sound of mom’s key in the lock. Even though I was glad she was home I was reluctant to stop reading and interact with her. I put the Kindle away but planned to get back to it as soon as possible. Taking something from dad’s desk without permission was a big no no, but it was an emergency and I could ask him if I could finish the story when we went to visit him. I felt certain he would understand the situation and say yes. 

As usual, my mom smelled like the bakery she worked in. After hugging me, she said “I knew you were my brave girl and would be okay. Although, it had to be scary being alone in a dark house during such a terrible storm.” 

“I wasn’t scared.” I told her. “I had lots of company. Books are full of interesting people.”     

Mr. Tomato Frog’s vacation - By Mizeta Moon 

Mr. Tomato Frog had been teaching at Reynolds Middle School for twenty years without taking time off. Every summer he stayed behind and taught while Mrs. Tomato Frog took her tadpoles (as she called their kids) on a cruise to different parts of the world. He didn’t have his wife’s appetite for strange cuisines or adventure, preferring to eat Spaghetti-o’s and watch reruns of Walker, Texas Ranger. This year though, he developed an urge to take the train to Spokane, hang out in a strange bar, and order cocktails he’d never tried. Hopefully, they’d have free peanuts. 

There wasn’t a sign of anyone when he stepped off the train in Spokane because Amtrak’s schedule led to arriving at one a.m. He hadn’t booked a room in advance and planned to stay awake till morning, then choose a place to stay. This plan allowed him to roam the quiet streets and experience a strange environment without conversation. Since he spent a lot of time talking at work, it was nice to just listen, look, and smell. This plan was working well until he rounded a corner and discovered a young boy sitting on the curb crying. His first thought was to turn around and not get involved but the teacher in him couldn’t ignore the plight of a child. 

As he approached, the boy sniffed, rubbed his eyes, and looked up expectantly. “What’s wrong? And why are you out alone this late at night?” Mr. Tomato Frog asked. 

“Wasn’t sleepy, went for a walk and got lost. The boy replied, then continued. “Stepped on a rock and sprained my ankle, now it hurts to stand up. Can you help me?” 

“Well, we’ll take a look at that ankle, then see about getting you home. As you can see, I’m on foot and have never been here before so I don’t know where anything is. Most cities don’t like people calling 911 if it isn’t an emergency but they might send someone.” 

The ankle didn’t appear broken and calling 911 did the trick. It turned out the boy’s frantic parents had already called the police when they discovered him missing during a midnight bathroom excursion. The police eyed Mr. Tomato Frog suspiciously at first but the boy assured them he was a rescuer, not a kidnapper. It still took a while to explain why he was roaming the streets at night and he was relieved when allowed to go on his way. Dawn found him sitting on a bench in Riverfront Park watching the early light sparkle on the Spokane river. He asked a passing jogger where he could get a good breakfast and they recommended the Satellite Diner. After eating, he checked into a hotel with a view of the river, took a short nap, then went in search of a neighborhood bar. The one in the hotel was pricey, brightly lit, and didn’t have salty snacks. 

It took a few tries and some walking, but eventually he wandered into a place called Fat Lulu’s. It was dimly lit, had creaky floorboards, and smelled like stale beer, but the back bar displayed a huge variety of booze bottles. No free peanuts but it was Taco Tuesday and they were a dollar apiece, and chips and salsa were free. As he sat down on a well-worn wooden stool, he was hoping that the skinny bleach-blond bartender was capable of creating miraculous beverages to sample. She was, and by late evening Mr. Tomato Frog was having so much fun he was reluctant to leave but was rip-roaring drunk so he called a cab. As he staggered though the lobby, the night manager asked to see his room key, then clucked with indignation as he oozed into the elevator. He didn’t mind. The next few days were going to be fun since Spokane was brimming with dive bars and his wife wouldn’t be home for a week.   

       

Keeping the promise - By Mizeta Moon 

Eighty four rings, thirteen bracelets, four necklaces, a gem studded crown, two crucifixes, and dozens of loose jewels gleamed on Madge’s kitchen table. Her head swam as she pondered their possible worth. She decided not to show her treasure to Brenda, feeling it could create a huge rift between them. Instead, she told Brenda that other than some great scenery, the trip was a bust. Brenda got her “I told you so” moment and laughed once again at the idea of aliens using telepathy to guide Madge. Madge let her gloat without retort and within a few days the pressures of daily life overlaid further conversation on the subject. 

How to convert some of her treasure to cash was a momentary dilemma until she remembered that her neighbor Jeff was a jeweler who worked from a shop in his garage. Taking them to a pawnshop would realize a small percentage of their worth but with no idea as to what they were and their value she could lose a small fortune. Asking Jeff to appraise them was a logical course of action. But should she do it all at once, or in dribbles and drabs? Her flair for the dramatic led to her starting with the crown and a handful of loose gems. She was nervous and almost peed herself as she waited for Jeff to answer the doorbell. She almost turned to run but the door opened and Jeff invited her in. 

Jeff was stunned at first, but soon grew suspicious. After all, Madge worked in a hotel laundry and could scarcely afford decent costume jewelry, let alone a King’s ransom. “Where’d you get this stuff?” He asked with narrowing eyes. 

“Dug it out from under a tree in the mountains,” she replied. Deciding honesty was the best policy, she added, “there’s more. Guess I shoulda brought some of the smaller stuff first. Kinda wanted to show off.” 

Jeff nodded, still distrustful but overwhelmed by curiosity. As he examined the crown with his loupe, he murmured with approval. Madge was encouraged by his fascination. “It’s really old,” he said. “Solid gold. The gems are cut beautifully and the carat weight is huge. Do you have an idea what it’s worth?” 

“No. That’s why I came to you instead of a pawnshop. Can you help me sell it? I could really use the money. Or maybe you could buy it. I know you’ll be fair.” 

Jeff grimaced at the idea of a pawnbroker even touching such a fabulous relic. It was museum grade and a part of human history. Possibly worth millions on the open market. “I couldn’t give you one percent of what it’s worth, but I could be your broker to a reputable auction house. That would be the way to go. I understand your need for cash but wish you’d donate it to a museum.” 

Madge shook her head violently. “No way! It’s mine now. I went through hell to find it. Like I said, there’s more, and with your guidance we could make some real money.” 

Jeff put his hand on his chin while examining the loose stones. “I’d want to see the rest and go online to find any police reports concerning it. If that comes up clean you got a deal. For twenty five percent, of course.” 

It seemed high but Madge knew he’d work hard to get the most for her treasure. On her drive home that day she’d asked the alien who could read her mind who the treasure belonged to. Evidently, a thug who broke away from a gang run by a man named Rynax came to the northwest, buried it, then died before retrieving it. That was hundreds of years earlier. She knew there would be no police reports. Brenda would be surprised when she moved to Monte Carlo and never mentioned the thingamajig again. 

For more about Rynax and his treasure, read the story Kriga in Mizeta Moon’s new book Stark Raving Mad. Available in the book section of Amazon as a paperback or now in e-book format as well.     

Thingamajig - By Mizeta Moon 

Following the clues they were given led to a long trek over rocky hillsides. They were told the reward could lead to wealth and fame, but so far, their reward was aching muscles and tired feet. Brenda decided she didn’t want to continue and told Madge she’d wait there for her to come back. Madge wanted to find the treasure so she plodded on, cursing her friend under her breath. She didn’t like being alone in the hills, or to leave Brenda vulnerable, but the man who told them about what he left in the cave seemed so sincere that she had to carry on. She could use some wealth and fame in her life. Working in the hotel laundry didn’t offer much upward mobility. 

After two more miles she thought about turning back but scrambling over a big pile of rocks led to a discovery. She found the ruins of an old mining camp and the opening of a cave that looked like it had been deserted for years. She gave the buildings a cursory examination but found nothing of value. Anxious to explore the cave but concerned about what might be living in there, she stood at the mouth and threw some rusty cans in that were laying on the ground. When nothing stirred, she cautiously started in. She expected darkness, or half-light at best, but there was a glow that made it easy to look around. Of course, no chest spilling over with jewels and gold was in evidence. The only thing she could see was an odd-shaped object that seemed to be the source of the glow. The thing was painted purple and green, and as she approached, it began to change shape. Square one moment, round the next, then triangular. Now she was scared. But! She’d come this far so she had to check it out or die of curiosity. 

When she got close, she heard a hum that could only be coming from the thingamajig. It continued to change shapes, then grew larger and hummed louder. Finally brave enough to touch it, she felt a tingle race through her whole body. It was warm at first, then grew icy cold, then back to warm. The surface was smooth in some places and rough in others. She didn’t think it was alive but wondered if it was a machine of some sort. It didn’t seem to have openings or a purpose other than constantly morphing. When it shrunk to the size of a softball, she tried to pick it up but it was too heavy. Thoroughly puzzled, she sat and watched it for a while as it changed, then decided to explore the tunnel that had probably been dug by the miners before the place was abandoned. Only, she couldn’t. There was an invisible wall she could see through but couldn’t walk through. Now things were really getting weird. Time to go. Brenda would be worried if she didn’t get back soon. Besides. Force fields meant aliens or who knew what. 

She decided to run her hands over the thingamajig one more time to see if she could find an opening. At that point, it was a huge triangle and was barely humming. After finding nothing, she reluctantly turned to leave, unhappy to have not solved the mystery or found treasure. After reuniting with Brenda, telling her about the strange object, and starting for home, she suddenly had a brain flash. The image of an alien family sitting in their home ran like a movie in her head. Now she knew what the thingamajig was. A tinny voice whispered a message only she could hear. When she nodded her head to agree that she’d never tell anyone what it was, she was told where she could find a big bag of pirate treasure. Brenda was going to be amazed