The Solitaire Series Reminder: Each week, a story will appear on my blog, and be free to read for one week only. The next story will take its place, and the first story will be available on Amazon and other e-retailers. But if you follow this blog, you can read the stories for free every single week! Read more about the Short Story Deal here.
Throughout the series, there will be collections of stories, and we will even be producing some really cool swag along the way. Watch for contests, prizes, and even some fun “in-person” events!
“There has to be one wildcard in every deck, am I right?”
Charles Pickard, Jr. cackled and even to his own ears the sound was far from normal. Several other people beside the paved path near the beach looked over at him, but he ignored their stares as he often did.
The salt-water breeze teased the hair from his forehead, pushing it to one side as much as was possible with his thick curls. He felt the breeze on his freshly shaved legs, cooling the burn from his morning routine.
‘What do you want?”
“To be rich!” he said. Charles did not want to be rich. Hell, he hadn’t given a shit about money in years. His father had left his mother, and therefore him, an incredible sum of money. He had to be wise about how he spent it, even though technically he was already rich. He rarely talked about it. Hell, he rarely even thought about it.
Much of the money was in an offshore account, a trust set up with funds his father, the original Charles Pickard, known as “Chuck” to his friends, or Lieutenant Pickard to the men who served with him in Vietnam, had acquired before and during the war.
“Chuck” had been one of the largest and most successful drug smugglers in the world until he was killed, supposedly in a firefight near a village close to the DMZ. Oddly, two large military trucks filled with raw poppy seeds had been found nearby.
At least, that’s what the classified report he’d read told him. Charles Junior, known as “Pick” to his friends, who were loosely defined as anyone who knew him for more than five minutes got a copy from a friend of his father’s.
“To be rich,” he repeated more quietly. “What is it that you want?”
“Your father had something of extreme value to us.”
“My father had many things of extreme value.”
“I said, ‘to us’,” the man said. To Pick, this person looked like a brick of orange cheese topped by a head of blond hair that was clearly an accessory he’d purchased, not something naturally grown.
“Who is ‘us’?” Pick asked. He tried to hide his grin, but he couldn’t. Instead of keeping it under control, he felt his mouth getting wider, his lips pulling back, revealing his large, white teeth he was sure.
“Who we are is none of your business.”
“But who are you?” Pick brought his arm up, swirled his elbow in what he hoped was both a graceful and creepy motion, and pointed a thin finger at Cheese Boy.
“They call me Tilly.”
Pick cackled again. All he could think of was Tillamook, a brand of cheese birthed in the Northwest, even though he knew that could not possibly be this man’s name.
That name belonged to a town in Oregon, a pretty cool place where Pick owned property, or at least he was pretty sure he still owned it. He hadn’t actually visited it in years.
“So, Tilly, what is it my father had that you want so badly?”
“A playing card, that’s all.”
“A playing card?” Pick played dumb, but he knew exactly what this man was talking about. It was the strictest part of his father’s will. The five of spades rested in his safe deposit box, with the still-sealed letter his father left with it.
Pick had wanted to open it several times but hadn’t. “Only open the envelope if someone comes looking for the card,” the will instructed.
It seemed like today was his lucky day.
“That’s what I have been told.”
“Why would my father leave me a playing card?”
“Because, it’s valuable.”
“Well, I suppose you’re out of luck then.”
Tilly moved faster than Pick would have expected, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t ready.
Cheddar Head grabbed his collar, and Pick let himself be picked up, dangled even. The man was strong, and normally that might have turned Pick on, since he liked to ‘dance on both sides of the fence’ as his mother, God rest her soul, would have said.
Instead, he giggled.
“Listen, you wet-noddle fuck. I don’t have time for this. I’m prepared to make you an offer for something we know you have. Or we can just take it.”
“Oh, really?” Pick said. He kicked his dangling feet back and forth, feeling his bright-print shirt bunch under his arms, digging into his armpits. His shirt had slipped over his taut belly, and he could feel the breeze tickle the small hairs there. Tilly held him tight, and he let his legs sway back and forth.
Pick chose his moment carefully. He swung his legs one more time causing his body to sway more, and then pulled his right one back and kicked Tilly in the groin.
The larger man clearly hadn’t been expecting resistance, but Pick was ready. Tilly released him and doubled over, grabbing for his crotch.
Pick landed nimbly on his feet. He laced his hands together, grabbed the back of Tilly’s head, and brought his knee up squarely into the man’s nose.
He heard it break, felt the bones leave scratches in the skin on his knee, and released the back of Tilly’s neck.
The large man shot upright. One hand still grabbed his family jewels, the other flew to his nose, where blood spurted between his fingers.
Pick took a boxer’s stance and bounced from foot to foot.
“You’re a big man,” he said. “This could be fun!”
The rest of this story and others can be found an Amazon at the series link below! I hope you are enjoying reading them as much as I am enjoying writing them!
I hope you are enjoying reading this series as much as I am. You can the rest of this series on Amazon here! Stay tuned for another FREE story right here next week. I hope to see you then!