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What would you do if you found your neighbors murdered in their house with a fortune near their bodies?  Would you call the police immediately?  Or, would you think about it first?  The Drop House is a short story that puts you in the middle of this dilemma.

 

Parts of The Drop House will be on my blog every Monday.  Enjoy.  Let me known what you think. 

 

THE DROP HOUSE

 

GEORGE FRAT STOOD ON the porch and inhaled the crisp morning air.  He held a cup of coffee.  It was hot, strong and tar black.  Just what he needed to wake up.  He took a sip and looked at the road in front of him.  It was twenty-five meters from his house.  His property started at the road’s edge.

 

Traffic was never bad on the road.  It was anemic.  But, sometimes eighteen-wheeler log trucks came through.  Large trucks that carried bulldozers and heavy equipment also used the road.

 

The drivers of these trucks tended to use George’s property as part of the road.  The grass at the edge of his property was almost gone.  Truck tires had turned the edge of his property into a strip of dirt.

 

That is why George was up so early.  He needed a fence around his property.  Then, when the trucks damaged it, the county would fine the truck’s owner.  The truck’s owner would also have to pay restitution to the property owner.

 

George sipped coffee and looked at his watch.  Six-eighteen AM.  It was a chilly fifty-degree day.  Just what he needed.  Not too cold.  Not too hot.  He had a long day ahead.  Thirty fence posts had to go in the ground.  One more cup of coffee and he would get started on those posts.

 

A Northern Goshawk flew by.  It came within three feet of him.  It was the size of an eagle.

 

He had another sip of coffee while his eyes and head followed the hawk.  It went toward his neighbors’ house and dropped down.  That was unusual.  Hawks did not drop out of the air like that.  A small animal must have been on the ground.  Breakfast for the hawk.  Not so for the prey, he thought.  Or…He looked puzzled.

 

He hurried off the porch down the driveway to the road.  He walked fast toward his neighbors’ house.  That hawk had zeroed in on something.  He walked faster.  Aches and pains shot through his knees.  They were not warm yet.  He sucked air through his teeth.  An all-out walk was not the way he liked to start his morning.

 

The fifty meters to his neighbors’ house was a long way that morning.  He ran the last half and stopped at their driveway and scanned the yard.  The hawk was nowhere around.  He was relieved.  He thought he would see it chopping on Harrison.  Harrison was his neighbors’ Yorkie.  But the dog would have yelped if a hawk was chasing it or carrying it away.

 

He turned to walk home and stopped.  Did he see what he thought he saw?  Was his mind not awake?

 

He looked over his shoulder at his neighbors’ house.  He then turned to face it.  The front door was open.  Not wide.  But enough for anyone driving by to see it.  That was odd.  They never left their door open.  It was not even seven AM.

 

Bernice and Pete did not wake up that early.  They rarely went outside before eight-thirty.  What was going on?  Did they let Harrison out and forget to close the door?

 

Maybe they were out collecting firewood.  It was not unusual.  It was May.  But all the neighbors burned firewood in May.  The cold weather had not completely gone for Spring.  Fifty degrees outside could feel like forty inside their log cabins.

 

He began walking toward home.  But he stopped and glanced at the door.  He wanted to ignore it.  Nothing ever happened where they lived.  Everyone who lived there was retired.  The neighbors joked that they created their own retirement community.  The community just so happened to be in the hills on Walla Brook Road in Podeka, Kansas.

 

George rubbed his chin.  He could not leave without telling them their door was open.  That was the beauty of their neighborhood.  They took care of one another.  He and his neighbor were fifty meters apart.  They were among the closest neighbors in proximity.  Other houses were as much as two hundred meters apart.  A distance that great scared some residents.  The last thing anyone wanted was to need help and no one could hear them.

 

George walked down Bernice and Pete’s driveway.  He looked for movement by the door.  The grass on the sides of the driveway looked freshly cut.  The yard was immaculate, as usual.  They were meticulous about their landscaping.  It gave them bragging rights.

 

George stood at the bottom of the steps and listened.  He looked at the door and inside the house.  It was quiet inside.  No one came out.  Harrison was not even barking.  That dog never shut up.

 

George was more concerned than a few minutes earlier.  Then he told himself not to be silly.  There was a reasonable explanation for the door.

 

He walked up to the door and called out to Bernice and Pete and waited.  No answer came.  Harrison should have bolted out the door already.  Unless they had him locked in their bedroom.  They did that sometimes to keep him from getting out and getting crushed by a car or truck.  Crazy dog.

 

The bedroom door was closed, he thought.  That was why they were not answering.  He leaned his head inside the house and called out again.  Not a sound came from inside.  He looked to his left and right and walked inside the house.

 

George walked down the foyer, calling Bernice and Pete’s names.  The kitchen was on the right.  Bernice’s chef pots hung down from the ceiling.  A bowl of oranges, apples, and lemons was on the island.  The kitchen was neat and clean.  The dining room was down the foyer on the left.  Chairs were pushed in under the table.  A decorative basket was in the center of the table.  Nothing looked out of place.

 

So why did he not feel good?  The place was eerily quiet.  Not even the little pesky pooch rushed him.  Where were they?

 

George stopped at the end of the foyer where the hallway started and jerked backward.

 

Five large duffel bags were on his right.  Dark red stains were by the bags.  Next to the stains was a man lying face down.  A dark red stain had spread approximately two feet from beneath the man on either side of him.

 

George wondered what had happened.  He did not recognize the man.  He was not a neighbor.  Next to the man’s left hand was a large chrome pistol with a long barrel.

 

George assumed the man broke in.  The bags were probably full of Bernice and Pete’s things.  The man must have loaded up their stuff and was on his way out when Bernice and Pete surprised him.  They shot him and are hiding.

 

“Pete, Bernice,” George called out.  “Where are you guys?  It’s me.  George.”

 

George eased down the hallway calling out to them.  He stopped to listen.  Nothing.  He continued down the hallway to the first bedroom.  The door was open.  He peeked around the corner into the room and gasped.

 

Bernice and Pete were face down on the floor next to their bed.  Holes were in the back of their heads.  A quarter of their heads were gone.  Bone and jagged flesh stuck out.

 

George hesitated and knelt beside them.  He hoped they were breathing as he put two fingers against Bernice and then George’s neck.  No pulse was found.  The holes in their heads had told him they would not be breathing.  He knew that.  He knew first aid.

 

Who would do this?  He wondered and swallowed and panicked.  He looked around the room and slapped his hand over his mouth.  Harrison was pinned against the wall.  A large knife handle protruded from his body.

 

George told himself to stay calm.  He backed out of the room.  He considered running out.  But something was telling him to go through the house to the back door.  It was the safest route to leave.  Other bad guys may have been around.

 

George rounded the corner and froze.  The back door was open.  On the steps was another man lying face down.

 

George eased up to the man and stared down at him.  Five bullet holes were in the man’s back.  On the steps a few inches from the man’s hand was a nine-millimeter black pistol with a silencer attached to it.

 

George rubbed his face.  What the hell went on here?  What was going on?

 

He needed to call the police.  He remembered a cell phone was on the corner of the kitchen island.

 

He tiptoed back toward the front of the house and stopped by the duffel bags.  One was unzipped a few inches.  He stared at it.

 

“What the hell is that?” he whispered.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  See you next time.

Stephen Wallace