This is my second challenge entry to the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge. I really love the challenge of getting a story down in 1,000 words or less, and flash fiction stories are a great exercise for developing tight plot points and conveying big meaning in a sparse word count. For the foreseeable future, I think we’re going to have Flash Fiction Friday here on Mabbat. If you like to write, join in. I’ll e-mail some prompts over the weekend starting next week, and we can share our work on Friday. If you don’t like to write fiction, you can use the prompts for poetry, longer work, shorter (micro) work, or visual art. Stretch those creative muscles! Ok, I’ll stop typing now. Here is “Icecapades.”
“Dave, stop! Digger Dave!” I waved to catch his attention, but the excavator was too loud, and I wasn’t where I was supposed to be. He’s not going to stop; I’m going into that grave. Seeing the inevitable outcome, I tried to loosen up – there was no way I would go in feet first, so the impact would be less damaging if I could fight every primal impulse in my body and relax. Around swiveled the excavator arm, down I went, and surprise registered on Digger Dave’s face at my unscheduled arrival on scene and subsequent descent into an open grave. In one fluid motion, the arm continued its arc, barely paused while its bucket load of dirt dropped, and swiveled back to the pile of fill dirt. Already being partially covered, and knowing the next layer was imminent, I searched my pockets for some way to breathe. Unbelievable. I still had a collapsible snorkel in my pocket. What had Jimmy said to the crew before we got started tonight?
“When we’re done, we’re all going snorkeling in the Caymans. Here’s a little reminder of our reward.” Jimmy handed each of us ridiculous looking collapsible snorkels in little plastic cases. Right now it didn’t matter how stupid the snorkel looked if it meant I could breathe through the foot of dirt soon to be covering my body. Digger Dave was supposed to backfill enough to cover the cases and smooth it out like a freshly dug grave. Jimmy was right – there would be no police investigating, and no one would suspect the longtime caretaker of assisting in a heist. The heist itself had been Digger Dave’s idea; when he met Jimmy on the grounds at a funeral, he knew he’d found the brains to pull the job together.
Looks like I’m going to be here all night. It’ll be too risky for the guys pull me out until they come back for the diamonds tomorrow.
Digger Dave caught wind of an unimaginable score at the jewelry shop that bordered the cemetery’s front entrance. He overheard the shop owner, Frank, and a nephew discussing a diamond smuggling operation that used “Icecapades” as a storage location. The two had the balls to plan a shipment graveside during the interment of Frank’s centenarian aunt, supposing Dave was an idiot incapable of hearing. Woodlawn Cemetery and Icecapades were located in a small Alabama town nestled between a river and a state highway – nowhere you’d expect to find a diamond smuggling operation. Digger Dave used his post at the cemetery to case Icecapades, and he now possessed a wealth of knowledge about Frank’s habits and the shipment schedule.
Jimmy then formulated the diamond liberation plan. Two outsiders (me and Mike) would come to town for a few days to “scout movie locations.” The cover story made us glamorous to the small town residents, and Jimmy was sure they’d all be eager to show us everything. We spent two days shooting “reference” photographs all over town. We visited Icecapades, and Frank was more than happy to show us his store. He told us more than once he considered it to be the “crown jewel – pun intended” of Linden Woods, Alabama and the perfect setting for a movie.
“Nothing else around here worth mentioning really,” Frank had said, frowning disdainfully out the window as he showed us his work room in the back. There were no security measures besides the walk-in safe (“No one around here smart enough to rip me off anyway…”), nothing Mike couldn’t handle. Jimmy was also right that Frank was an insufferable prick who deserved to be taken down a notch.
Per the plan, Mike and I stopped by Icecapades late the second afternoon to tell Frank we were headed back to Hollywood. Frank insisted on taking us out for drinks – we played the con well enough to know he was dying to leave one last good impression on his new Hollywood connections. Frank never noticed we spiked his drink. Mike made a grand show to the bar patrons of helping him outside to wait for a cab. Instead of a cab, we loaded him into his own car, and drove it through the Icecapades window, planting Frank at the wheel. A thing of beauty, framing Frank for the Icecapades destruction to cover the break in. Mike and I made short work of the safe and were headed out to the cemetery, when Frank surprised us by the back door. I told Mike to make the drop while I handled Frank. Knocking him out in the show room was easy enough, but it put me off schedule – and in the path of the excavator.
I knew the other guys would carry on as planned, so my fate now rested in the hands of Digger Dave and a collapsible snorkel. Unbelievable. I’d covered my face with my hands and done my best to protect the impromptu snorkel airway, but I could feel myself drifting off. What a way to go – holding on to a snorkel in an unmarked grave on top of the biggest score of my now ended life. At least I thought it was ended. Something was yanking the snorkel from my hands.
“NOOO!” I couldn’t stop screaming, so Digger Dave slapped my face. I breathed deeply and focused; it was still dark outside.
“Now look son, you gotta stop that yelling or I’m going to have to leave you buried here.”
“I’m not dead?”
“That can be arranged.”
“Wait, how long was I down here?”
“Eh… Maybe 24 hours.” Digger Dave helped me to my feet and handed me a case.
“How did you know I was okay?”
“I didn’t. Until I saw the tip of that ridiculous snorkel sticking out when I finished leveling out the bottom.”
We climbed up the ladder out of the grave, where Jimmy was waiting for the cases.
“Ready for the Caymans?”
“Yeah, boss, but I think I’m going to need a new snorkel.”