Saturday, October 22, 2016


Plenty more where those came from

"Them critters crawled out of the twisted-up extry dimensions.  They grabbed Maisie and drug her off into their cramped little places."

"Yeah.  Right."  The Sheriff shifted his pencil to the other side of his mouth.  "Billy. Tiffany filed a complaint, said she hadn't seen Maisie in more'n a week.  You told her, she said," here he consulted a
small notebook, "Maisie went away for a while."  He waited.

"Yep."  Billy put his hands in his pockets, then took them out again. "They might bring her back.  I'll ask nicely. Anything for Tiffany."  He put his hand on the trailer door, but the sheriff stopped it from closing.

"I have to take you in."  He took out a set of cuffs and caught Billy's wrist.  The air shimmered as if over a hot stove, and the cuffs hit the floor.

"Now Sheriff! Don't you mess with my wife while you're in there," Billy shouted.  There was no answer.


Things went along for a while, like they always do, but eventually two things happened. First, the deputy found out being in charge wasn't as much fun as he expected, and he called the state troopers' office. Second, Billy ran low on cash and beer, both.

Billy parked his rusty F150 in front of his cousin's barbershop. He slammed the truck door behind him, hitched up his pants, and went in. "Hey cuz."

"No! I'm not lending you any more money. Get out of here Billy, unless you want your hair cut." Dewayne picked up the scissors and returned his attention to Jerry Sims' neck line. A moment later, the scizzors clattered to the floor and the barbershop door banged shut.

"Hey! You could've cut me with them things.... Dewayne?"

A minute later, the barbershop's facade shrank into itself and vanished. Hot, muggy air flooded the room.


"What can I do for you, Billy?" Charlotte smiled. She was a pretty young thing. Wouldn't be long before she got married and quit this job.

"Need some money, Babe." She tapped a few keys.

"Sorry, Billy. Your account balance is..."

"I know my account's flatter'n an interstate rattler," he growled. "Gimme whatever you got in the till. Now!"

"Don't shoot me," she whispered. Then: "Shoot! I just peed my pants."

"Everything OK Charlotte?" the head teller called from the office doorway, as she stuffed a handful of 20s in an envelope.

"Yes, Sir, Mr. Johnson," she called brightly.

"Nother handful," Billy muttered. "OK, enough. Gimme."

"Come again, Billy," she caroled. Then under her breath: "To another window."

Hank Johnson strode out into the lobby. "Billy! Did she give you money? You're overdrawn, Sir." A big chunk of the ceiling disappeared over the center of the lobby and dusty white cardboard boxes plunged to the floor, exploding when they hit like snowballs against a brick wall. Billy pointed at Hank Johnson and the head teller disappeared.

"Don't nobody move," Billy said, "and y'all get to go home tonight." He turned back towards the front door... and vanished. 20-year-old deposit slips fluttered to the floor. For a moment there was dead silence.

"I'm going to the bathroom," Charlotte said. "Somebody call 911."

Before she could move, the missing chunk of ceiling materialized in place and then collapsed on the mound of cardboard and paper in the middle of the floor. Shards of glass rained down out of thin air. Hank Johnson reappeared, sitting on the mess, with Dewayne Shiflett in his lap. Maisie appeared above them and fell heavily on to Dewayne's head, followed by Sheriff Moody. Everybody waited, perhaps expecting Billy to return, but he never did. The money never turned up either. Maisie had to wait 10 years to collect on his life insurance, in the absence of a body, but by then she had remarried.

The folks who'd vanished and reappeared wouldn't say much about the experience. The Sheriff claimed that for him no time had passed. Maisie wouldn't say anything. Hank Johnson got religion, became a traveling preacher, and claimed to have met God face to face. Dewayne only said he had acquired a new appreciation for elbowroom, and neighbors noted that he started spending a lot more time in his garden. The sheriff searched Billy's trailer, but said he didn't find anything out of the ordinary. When asked whether the state police or FBI had searched the trailer before he did, he had no comment. For awhile, there was a renewed interest in the national and international news among the townsfolk, but when no stories about mysterious disappearances made front-page headlines, this gradually died away.

The end

Publ.: The Simian Transcript, 2010

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