Better Than a Mocha Frappuccino
Published by Shilah Ridge at Shakespir
Copyright 2016 Shilah Ridge
Book Cover Original Image/ Editing by Pierce Warren and Matthew Peters
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Table of Contents
The Lost Child
Rain pounds on the roof. The windshield wipers struggle to keep up. The beams of light coming from the car try to rip through the sheets but only light the road three feet in front of the car. The rain on my clothes soaks into my skin and squishes into the leather seats of my car. It runs down my face, blending with tears and smearing my makeup.
Yellow mismatched lines pass by on the left and count the time like the hands of a clock. Turn after turn after turn. Every time I close my eyes his face appears. I start to loose track of time. The ring I threw at his face is gone. My hand feels strange without its presence. Almost like a huge part of me is missing. Right, left, right, right again; too many turns.
The car skids when I apply the break to slow down. My purse falls on the floor as I drive off the slippery road and bring the car to a stop.
“I’m lost. Alone.” I throw my hands in the air. Sobs shake my body. It becomes hard to breath. “I give up. I’m lost and alone. I don’t know where I am.”
I bring my knees to my chest. The rain falls harder now.
“My child, you’re never alone and you aren’t lost. You just need to be shown the correct path to follow. Do you trust me?”
I wipe tears off my face. “Yes.”
“It won’t be easy, my child, but in the end you will be okay.”
“But how will I be okay when my life has fallen apart.”
“Yes, it has fallen apart. But the pieces can be put back together.”
“Trust me, my child. Are you ready now?”
I take a deep breath and nod.
“Pull out here and take a left on the first street you see.”
I put the car into drive and push the gas pedal. The tires spin in the mud. “I’m stuck. I’ll never make it.”
“No, you aren’t. Push a little harder. You can get out.”
“But the tires are spinning and it’s raining so hard. How do I continue?”
“You can’t give up, my child. Try again, harder this time.”
“But what happens when I slam down the pedal and go flying into the road? What then? How do I stop myself from going over the other side of the road and crashing to a stop?”
“Have faith. This is not impossible. You’re just stuck in a little mud. You can get out without harm. Just look both ways before you slam down that pedal and I’ll take hold of the steering wheel to make sure you don’t go crashing into the ditch.”
“Okay, I got this. I can do this. Let’s go.” I squeeze the wheel tight. I look out the rear window and the front window before I slam the gas pedal with my foot. The car swerves in the mud and, with a jolt, makes it onto the pavement.
“I did it! I’m out of the mud.” A bright light pierces the rain and blinds me. I apply the break and turn the steering wheel to avoid the oncoming car. “Oh God, help me!”
The spinning. The chaos. The wetness. The pain.
The dark sky unleashes rain that blinds me to my surroundings.
“My child, why didn’t you listen?”
The pain increases. My head spins. Something other than rain drips into my eye. Red and blue lights flash in the distance.
“I’m sorry,” I say. My vision blurs.
“You’re forgiven, My Child, always and forever, forgiven.”
Voices shout. Reassuring hands grab me and bring me towards the safety of the light.
“You’re safe now,” they say.
I can rest now.
Life’s Little Moments
The drumming of the sea clashing against the rocks never ceases. The wind joins the chorus with a low howl. It grabs at my hair and tosses it around; the hair gel I used this morning long gone after standing in the El Paso Bay’s constant mist all day.
Zasha, small yet resolute, comes towards me.
“Captain Noah.” I straighten my posture and salute her.
She waves it off. “You’d better not act this way once we’re married. I don’t want to be called Captain Noah and saluted every time I enter the same room as you.”
I relax and kiss her on the forehead. “Isn’t it normal for a man to respect his future wife, who also happens to be his superior officer?”
The sun pokes through a layer of purple clouds that sit just over the Mexican side of the bay.
“We’ll be equals by this time tomorrow, Agent Rainy.” Her smile brightens my world. “You’ll be a great addition to the spies of the New Texas Republic.”
Thunder joins the waves as it crashes in the distance.
“Yeah, but it’s a shame we’ll have to delay our marriage. Who knows where they’ll send me? Probably Alaska.”
I expect her to respond, but instead her attention is on the horizon.
“Zasha, what is it?” I try to find what she’s looking at.
“Rainier. That wasn’t thunder.” She points to the clouds that hang in the west.
“What—” Before I can finish speaking I hear the thunder again, but now I understand what she said. It’s the sound of a Soar engine coming towards us.
The Soar is impossible to see as it is made up entirely of reinforced glass.
“How did they… Why would New Freedom give the Mexicans their precious Soar blueprints? We negotiated hard just to buy one! America doesn’t even have the guts to ask for the starting price.”
“Ask your questions later.” She touches her earpiece. “Incoming enemy Soar. I repeat. Incoming enemy Soar in sector five. Gain visual ASAP.”
I follow her lead towards the base. “They’ll blow the place up before we can make it.”
“Have faith.” Her gun is at the ready. “Have faith that everyone is pre-” There’s a small thud before Zasha falls face first onto the ground. The hilt of a knife protrudes from her left shoulder.
I stand frozen in place, not wanting to believe what just happened. Before I can do or say anything to see if she’s okay, a sharp pain erupts from my left leg. A similar knife is lodged in the bend of my knee.
I fall to the ground, fully aware that an enemy is nearby and that Zasha may be in extreme danger of dying or already dead. I work fast. I pull off my belt and tie it above my wound. I psych myself up to pull the knife out, but before I can I spot the enemy.
My vision fades, but I make out a tall muscular man walking in my direction; a cowboy hat covers his face. Another knife is perched in his hand.
I hoist my gun and aim it at him.
“Morir y no volver nunca.” He throws his knife, but it isn’t aimed at me.
A gunshot goes off at the same time the thud of the knife strikes. The man clutches his chest and falls to the earth.
My gun stays fixed on the man. He struggles on the ground for a moment before becoming still.
“Rainy?” Her voice is soft. I turn to her.
She lays face up on the ground. The handle of one knife lodged in her stomach while the blade of the other sticks out like a spike from her torn bleeding chest; its handle clearly visible amongst the flesh and blood. Her left arm twitches as the muscles try to reconnect with one another.
I choke on my words. “No, Zasha.” I crawl to her. “Hang on.” I place my hand over her wounds. “Please, stay with me.” I try to apply pressure, but her wounds continue to bleed out despite my efforts. Our blood forms a puddle that surrounds us.
Her eyes catch mine. White foam slides down her chin. Her breathing is ragged. “It… was a decoy.”
“I don’t care. You’re hurt. Stop talking. I have to get help. I think the knives might be poisoned.”
She coughs up more foam, but manages to grab my hand before I can move. “Stay.”
“But, what do I do? I don’t think I can stop the bleeding. And even if the knives are poisoned I can’t remove them. You’d bleed to death.”
She shivers and squeezes my hand. “Crap. I can’t… die. I still need to—” She coughs again. This time it’s blood. “…marry you.”
“Don’t talk like that. Someone has to come. They’ll save you. We’re still getting married.”
“Outside.” Her eyes dart between the sky and me. “At dusk.”
I move a strand of hair off her face. A trail of blood marks the path where my hand touched her skin. “Of course. With our family and friends.”
A mixture of foam and blood falls down her cheek and neck into her hair. “Promise me… promise me you’ll move on.”
My tears fall into the pool of blood. “Don’t say things like that. I won’t give up on you.”
I struggle to find my voice. “I promise.” The tears blind me now.
She’s gone before I even have the chance to say goodbye.
When You Have Power
The sun shining through the open car window burned my arm. The warm wind that blew in did nothing to help the broken air conditioner.
A motel appeared in the distance. The little old building stood all alone in the vast desert heat. I prayed for the brakes to work as I pulled to a stop in the crack-laden parking lot.
I stretched my legs before setting foot outside. The heat of the car radiated on my skin and almost burned my hand as I opened the trunk to retrieve my bag.
The young lady at the counter treated me just like any other customer wanting to sleep in her motel rooms. The whole conversation was basically, “Money? Check. Key? Here you go. You gave me my money, right? Okay, get lost so I can look at my twitter feed.”
The door to the motel room didn’t want to open at first. Finally, I had to lift it up, push it in, and turn the key all at the same time to get in the room.
Two beds with flowery sheets lined the wall. A chair looked out through clean windows onto a small balcony. A decent room for the price I had paid.
I tossed my bag onto the chair then collapsed on the bed. My stomach growled, but I didn’t want to get back up.
A floorboard squeaked somewhere to my left. A shiver ran down my spine. “Who’s there? I can hear you.”
A man with dark hair wearing a lab coat came out of the bathroom; the one place I didn’t check. He fiddled with something in his bleach white coat.
“Who are you?” I asked. “What do you want?”
“It doesn’t matter who I am. What matters is who you are, Andrew.”
“That isn’t my name,” I said. I put power into those words, trying to avoid the truth.
“Yes, it is. Don’t bother lying to me, son. Your little tricks of persuasion won’t work on me. I know who you are. Better yet, I know what you are. But more importantly I know how to use you.”
“Why would I do anything for you?”
The man held out his phone. “I have leverage.”
I glanced at the screen. On it was a picture of a woman. She looked beat up and her hair sat in all directions. After looking past the injuries I recognized her face.
“This is fake.” My heart jumped. “My sister would never allow herself to get caught.”
“Do not underestimate me. She is indeed under my capture and if you don’t comply with what I ask of you she will be put under something else. Understand?” The man never hesitated. His eyes stayed focused on me.
“What do you need from me?”
“First off tell me where my son went?”
“Your son? I haven’t the faintest what you’re talking about.”
“My son. Keith. You helped kidnap him with a girl just two days ago. Tell me where they are headed. I know you’re acquainted with the girl.”
“Oh, Keith, that son. Yeah, I don’t know where they went. I helped with the kidnapping and then we each went our separate ways. They didn’t give me their itinerary.”
The man rubbed his temples. “So be it.”
“So be what?”
“No, I’m not.” I put all of my power into those words, but it didn’t seem to have any effect on him.
“I was going to let you off easy but it seems that we will have to do this the hard way. You’re going to work for me now.”
My fists shook at my side. “And if I refuse?”
“You won’t. Remember I have leverage over you. One wrong move and your sister dies. No second chances. No do-overs. You will find my son and bring him back to me. You will use your little lying talent you have there to gain his trust and the trust of everyone around him. Then you will betray them.” The man smirked. “When you have power it’s as simple as pie.”
Better Than a Mocha Frappuccino
Pieces of broken glass covered the table. The small shards pricked the tips of my fingers. I picked up one of the pale red pieces and dabbed the edges with glue. In the middle of the table sat a partially glued together shape of a heart. I set the glass in its place on the heart when the phone rang.
I jumped at the sudden noise and the piece of glass sliced its way into my finger. I let loose a short stream of inappropriate words. The cut wasn’t deep but it stung like a fresh ant bite.
I managed to answer the phone. “What do you want, Toby?”
“Hi lovely sister! I need you to take me to work today. My car won’t start.”
“I’m sorry, but don’t you have a wife?” I stuck my bloody finger in my mouth. Probably not the most hygienic option, but I didn’t want to get blood on my orange tie-dyed jeans.
“Please, stop being snarky. She’s out of town. I already called my boss. He knows I’m running late.”
“Fine. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
I hung up with him and turned the knob on the water faucet. It squeaked as it released water. Blood mixed with water when I put my finger under the steady stream. I managed to find a Band-Aid within a drawer full of craft supplies. With my finger now dry I wrapped my finger with the colorful bandage.
Within three minutes I put on my shoes, grabbed my keys, double-checked my back pocket for my phone, and headed out the door.
It didn’t take long to drive to the trailer park where Toby lived.
“What’d you do to your finger?” he asked. He buckled his seatbelt.
“A piece of glass. It sliced my finger.”
“Ouch, another craft project?”
“Yeah, I’m trying something new. So, where to?” I said.
“You know that big old house that’s just off the highway?”
I nodded. “Remember when we were convinced an ancient ghost lived there?”
He laughed. “Yes, and that flagpole was its energy source because we believed lightning always hit it.”
“Wait, didn’t you think he controlled the weather?”
“No, that was you.” He pushed his seat back. “Anyways, we’ve been clearing up the yard so they can come in with a wrecking crew. They’ve zoned the area for an outdoor mall.”
I turned my head to make certain a car wouldn’t run me over as I merged onto the highway. “That’s horrible. Can’t they go somewhere else with their malls? We don’t need the traffic it’ll bring.”
“Not when Jacob Hyman is in charge of it all. He’s got enough money to build an airport on that property.”
“Hyman is just one of the dogs making all the cats do his work for him.”
Toby shrugged. “I like cats.”
“That’s not the point.”
The house could be seen from the highway before the exit. It stood two stories tall, had three peaks, and one chimney. The outside had been painted white with black trim, but the paint had chipped away revealing the gray wood underneath.
I parked just outside the chain link fence that surrounded the property. A long two-way driveway stood between the house and us. An old flagpole marked the halfway point. Plant life grew over everything from the fence to the roof of the house. It’s surprising the property hasn’t burned down from a stray cigarette thrown out a car window.
“Hey, Toby, you think it’d be okay if I look around the property for some antiqued glass? I could probably use some for a future project.”
“I don’t see why not. Everything’s going in a dumpster at some point.”
I followed Toby down the gravel driveway to the front porch of the house where a man in an orange construction worker vest stood hunched over a table made out of two sawhorses and a piece of plywood. The man looked about as old as the house did. He glanced at us as we approached.
“Morning, Jim.” They exchanged a handshake. “This is my sister, Maria.”
“Morning, ma’am. Thank you for bringing Toby to work. We’d get nothing done without him.” We shook hands.
“Yeah, that’s just because I’m the one who unearthed that stump the other day.” He rubbed his shoulder with his hand. “Jim, before I get to work, Maria wanted to know if she could take a look around for old glass for a project she’s working on.”
His eyes lit up. “That’s right, you’re the one with the online craft thing, aren’t you?”
“Yes, sir. I make things with broken glass and ship them to people who want to buy them. I figured a place like this has got to have some interesting pieces of glass.”
“Yeah, go right ahead. Some of my men have made piles of junk over there.” He pointed towards a large tree in the center of the driveway’s roundabout. “This place is full of junk. Feel free to use anything you find.”
“Thank you, sir.”
The tree Jim pointed out loomed overhead. The trunk had grown to the size of a tractor tire and the branches above reached out and almost touched the front of the house. I found the pile next to the base of the tree. The pieces of glass were covered in dirt but I could tell that some promising pieces hid underneath their grimy surfaces. I rushed back to my car to grab a cardboard box, which I kept just for this type of situation. I came back to the pile of glass and cleared the ground of the broken shards. When I finished I almost couldn’t pick up the box.
As I walked back down the driveway, something bright flashed in my eye. I tried to find the source of it but couldn’t determine where it had come from. I assumed the morning sun must’ve reflected off one of my shards of glass.
The wind picked up. It blew my hair into my face and made the chains on the flagpole rattle as I walked by it.
Toby stood nearby and waved at me. “You’ll pick me up, right?”
“Yes. You owe me dinner though.”
“Sure thing.” He gave me a thumbs up. “Oh boy.” His eyes darted towards the road behind me.
“What?” I pivoted on my heel and faced that direction.
A fancy black car pulled up to the side of the road and rolled to a stop. A man in a black suit stepped out of the drivers seat, walked around the front, and opened the back door on the passengers’ side. Another man, also in a black suit, came out of the car. They both moved towards the gate.
“That must be Mr. Hyman.” I placed my box of glass on my hip. His fancy hair and sparkling shoes gave it away. Plus, he had a personal driver.
“Yeah, he comes round to make sure we’re doing our work so he doesn’t get behind schedule.”
“Overbearing much?” I waved a farewell and continued to my car.
Jim already stood at the gate to meet Mr. Hyman.
I overheard part of their conversation as I passed by.
“Is my coffee shop ready yet, Jim?” Mr. Hyman said.
“No, sir, but it’ll be here before the morning rush come winter. The demolition crew should be here tomorrow to dispose of the building.”
“This is good. Progress is being made. I sure am craving a mocha frappuccino right now.” He turned on the spot and returned to his car. His driver followed him.
I made a point to start my car and get on the road before the fancy car did. I revved the engine and hoped smoke might come out the exhaust pipe.
At home I set the box of glass next to the sink and started washing each piece. Some of the glass looked like it used to be wine bottles or canning jars. Only a few pieces had gotten away with only a chip. Others had broken long ago.
After washing several of the pieces until they sparkled, I came upon an old jelly jar with the top still screwed on tight. The outside of the jar was caked in several layers of dried mud. It took a lot of water and soap to unearth the glass beneath. I could have been washing a muddy dog instead.
As I washed it I noticed something moving inside the jar, but the top had been sealed with a waxy substance. I assumed it kept water out of the jar.
Curious, I grabbed my exacto knife and started scraping off the wax. I had never found a jar this tightly sealed. It took me fifteen minutes before I could unscrew the lid. I used a jar opener to accomplish that feat. I dumped out the contents of the jar. Pieces of paper folded into squares fell onto the table. One paper had “open first” written on it. I unfolded it and admired the handwriting within. It made my own chicken scratch look like a child’s handwriting.
The letter read as such:
I know he’s coming. He wants it. He needs it. He can’t have it. Finder’s keepers, right? I’ve hidden it where
no one he won’t find it. I know my time is coming to an end soon. That is why I have taken the liberty to write this letter. I have hidden it somewhere in this house. I know he will come for me but he sh I sh will kill him before he finds my clues. In the event of my death, for I don’t think our meeting will fair well, I have placed several clues throughout my dwelling so it can one day be found. Even though I hid it, it doesn’t mean I don’t think something with that much beauty radiance should be lost forever. I really do want it to be found.
The signature flowed off the page and look like a celebrity had signed the letter. The name R.J II pounded at my brain so I did a quick internet search. A few Facebook profiles for R.J came up but none of them fit what I was looking for so I cross-referenced his name with the street address of the old house. I ended up with an article that dated back to the early 1900s. Through reading this article I discovered that R.J had been a famous robber and it seemed that he always left clues to his whereabouts just to make it fun. It turns out he and another man were murdered in his home and found dead weeks later. The police never could find a motive.
But now I knew that R.J had something the man wanted. The second piece of paper came back to the forefront of my memory. I ran into the kitchen, itching to see where it would lead me.
The tree waves at you, beckoning forth. Enveloping you in its leafy tendrils. Here wine is bonded to wood and turns into unsettling waters. Here the next clue can be found.
I rubbed my head. “Why does it have to be a riddle?”
Eager to get back to the mansion, I grabbed both pieces of paper and jumped into my car.
When I arrived I found Toby around the backside of the house. Jelly fell down his fingers from the sandwich he had stuffed in his mouth.
“Toby,” I said, getting his attention.
“Hey.” He raised his sandwich up, as one would do with wine for a toast at a wedding. “What are you doing back so soon?”
“I wanted to show you these.”
He licked his fingers and took the notes.
“I found them in a jelly jar from that pile of glass I took home earlier.”
He read over both the notes. “Is this for real? R.J II really lived? I mean he really lived here?”
“You know about him?”
“Yeah, we did a project in middle school one year but I thought it was all myth and legends. He did some pretty crazy things in his time as a robber.”
I sat down on the step next to Toby. “What exactly did this guy steal to make him so famous? It wasn’t really clear on the fan sites I found for him.”
“That’s the thing, Mar. No one could ever figure out what he stole. He was always so discreet about his robberies and no one could ever tell what exactly he had stolen. His whole thing was he stole something but made you believe someone else had taken it instead.”
“Dang, I wonder what’s hidden here.”
Toby held up the letter. “I’m still on lunch break so we could try and find the first clue before I have to get back to work if you want?”
“Okay, let’s see.” I took the letters from him. “The first clue definitely leads to some kind of tree.”
“Well, ‘leafy tendrils’ sounds a lot like a weeping willow. There’s one right next to the pond.” He beckoned for me to follow.
The hip high grass brushed my hands when we walked through it. The weeping willow’s green leaves kissed the ground and swayed in the wind.
“The part about wine, wood, and water confuses me.” I ran my hand through the willow’s leaves.
“Me too, but obviously the tree is made of wood and we’re near the water. I’m lost on the whole wine thing though.”
“We should inspect around the tree. Maybe we’ll find something.”
Inspecting around the tree gave us nothing but spider webs in our faces and mosquito bites on our arms. I tried to make my way to the deck but the bobtails grew thick next to the pond and made it nearly impossible.
“Maria?” Jim approached us. “What are you doing? You’re going to step on a snake nest.”
“We’re looking for a clue.” I explained to him about the letters I had found in the jelly jar.
“That’s interesting.” He wiped his balding head with a rag. “You were right to think about the willow here but maybe the wood is the dock?”
“Yeah, that’s what I was beginning to think but I haven’t found anything yet.”
“Is it possible that the clue is under the deck?”
Toby and I glanced at each other.
“See the water and the wine thing is Biblical, but the note says that wine is bonded to the wood and another word for bonded is attached. So maybe there’s a wine bottle attached to the wood under the dock.”
Toby shrugged. “No harm in looking.”
His long legs helped him get through the bobtails and he managed to make it to the weathered dock. Several of the boards on the dock had fallen away over the years. He zigzagged the broken areas and made it to the edge. He dropped onto his stomach and looked underneath the dock.
“Nothing out of the ordinary yet,” he said.
“Wait,” I said, “it says that it’s bonded to the wood and it turns into unsettling waters. Maybe R.J uses ‘turned’ as another word for under. Look near the posts. Maybe he attached it to one of them.”
“You’re right. I think I see something. It looks like string.” He grabbed a knife out of his back pocket and balanced his body on the edge of the dock so he could reach down. “Got it!” He hoisted a wine bottle up over the edge so we could see it. He made his way back to solid ground and tried to open it.
“Just break it,” Jim said.
I grabbed the bottle out of Toby’s hands before he could do so. “No, don’t do that! Don’t you guys understand? This whole property has a history to it. If we find this treasure Jacob Hyman can’t build his coffee shop here. It will have historic value and we can save the house.”
“Why does that mean I can’t break the bottle?” Toby said.
“Because it holds one of the clues to this whole scavenger hunt. If this site becomes historic they’ll want anything and everything that relates to finding the treasure.”
“Maria,” Jim said, “you understand the wrecking crew is due to come tomorrow afternoon, right?”
“Then I’ll have to find the treasure before they can lay a hand on this beautiful house.”
“Oh great.” Toby used his wine opener on the bottle and handed the note to me. “She’s fallen in love. It never was boys with her. Always things like dogs and cats.”
I elbowed him. “Shut up.”
The clue in this bottle read:
Inside, outside. It’s there for all to see. Up down. Right, left. Do the first, not the last. The clear light of day shines through to find the last clue.
“This is even more confusing than the first clue,” I said.
“Good luck, Sis. I have to get back to work.”
“How could you work when somewhere on this property is a hidden treasure?”
“Because, unlike you, I still have to do my job. I’ll yell if I find I treasure chest while I’m digging out another stump.”
“Fine, I suppose I’ll go inside and take a look around.”
Three hours later I ran outside, grabbed Toby’s sweat covered arm, and dragged him into the dining room.
“I found it,” I said. “It’s up there. See.” I pointed to a loose board in the ceiling. “I tried standing on the chair, I even found a broom and knocked at the board but my height has deceived me again. I need you to get it down.”
He stood on the chair that I had placed under the spot. “How did you find it?”
“Well, he said to do the first thing and not the last so I tried the first thing for each list. Inside, up, and right. So I came inside and looked up on the whole right side of the house. I finally figured out the last bit where the light of day shines through. This is the only room on this side of the house with this much light. See, it shines through the large dining room windows there.” I pointed to the ceiling to floor windows that stood in the corner. I had pushed back the old dusty curtains to let the sunlight in.
The rays of the sun caught the dust and gave the room a hazy appearance. Plates sat on the dining room table, covered in gray dust.
“You’re a natural sleuth, aren’t you?” He managed to move the board.
“There, look.” I pointed. “It’s nailed to the top.”
He pulled the note off the nail. I winced as it ripped a little. “Careful.”
“Here,” he said. He handed me the note.
I read it out loud. “Up high where no one would dare go. The cross of God shines to the east on the treasure below.”
“Cross of God?” His eyes lit up. “There’s a cross on the center peak of the roof. I noticed it a few days ago when we were cleaning outside.” He grabbed my hand and led me outside.
He pointed to a tiny cross that centered itself in the middle of the chimney.
“How do we get up there?”
“No. It’s too dangerous to go up there, Maria. You’d fall right through the roof.”
“I don’t care. We need to get up there to see where the cross is pointing.”
“I’m not letting you go up there. Besides you probably can’t see what it’s pointing at anymore. The tree has likely grown since these notes were written.”
“Wait a minute.” I pinched the bridge of my nose. My head pounded. I’ve almost had enough thinking and problem solving for the day. “This morning, when I was taking the glass back to my car something flashed me in the eye. It happened when I passed by the flagpole.” I lined my arms up with the cross and pointed at the flagpole. They stood in line with one another. I jogged over to the flagpole. “It has to be here.”
I stood behind the flagpole a few paces away and faced the house. Again I lined my arm up with the cross. The sun shone from the west now and it lined up with the cross. A glimmer of light caught my eye and this time I found its source. At the top of the flagpole, just barely visible, a crystal-like stone lay.
I jumped up and down. “There it is. We have to take this flagpole down. There’s something up there.”
With a few helping hands, and five minutes of protesting from me, Toby and some of his crew managed to cut the base of the flagpole and lower it down.
When I saw what lay in the top of the pipe, I nearly fainted. “It’s a diamond.” With some effort I pulled it out of the pipe. It heated the palm of my hand, but cooled off as I held it.
Toby came and stood beside me. “Are you sure? Is it real?”
“It better be,” Jim said. “If it isn’t, we’ve wasted precious time.”
“Maria, look. There’s another clue.” Toby pulled a small bottle out of the pipe.
I traded him the note for the diamond.
This one read:
To whoever finds this precious diamond.
If you have found this that means he did kill me. He discovered I had it and wanted it for himself. But I didn’t steal it from him. I promise. I mined it instead. Honest to God I did. I have put thieving behind me. I wanted to start a new life. When I found the diamond without robbing, my life was changed. I call it the Cragged Diamond. It’s a little rough around the edges but it’s still beautiful.
It’s yours now to do with as you wish.
I put the letter in my back pocket.
Toby handed me the diamond. “You’re paying for dinner tonight, right?”
“Sure thing,” I said. I looked at the old man. “Jim, make me an appointment with Mr. Jacob Hyman.” I smiled. “I’m going to offer him something better than a Mocha Frappuccino.”
About the Author
Shilah Ridge is a writer who infuses her fantasy and sci-fi stories with traditional family values. She studies Creative Writing at Full Sail University and plans to graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2018: and when she’s not writing for school or herself she cuddles her cat, Momo, and tries to figure out how to travel the world by teaching English in foreign countries.
To learn more about her experience and accomplishments please visit her LinkedIn profile located here: http://www.linkedin.com/in/shilah-ridge-71587b118
All four of the stories within BETTER THAN A MOCHA FRAPPUCCINO exhibits memorable characters and stories that inspire the soul. “The Lost Child" spins a tale of how one individual deals with loss after she gets lost while driving on a rainy night. In "Life's Little Moments" soldiers, Rainier and Zasha, begin to speak of the future, but when an unexpected visitor invades from across the border they have to deal with their present situation first. In "When You Have Power" Andrew's plan to get a full nights rest is at a small hotel is disturbed by a mysterious man with a photograph. "Better than a Mocha Frappuccino" follows the witty Maria as she tries to solve the case of a missing treasure that lies somewhere in an old house which is about to be torn down to make way for an outdoor mall.