The box fan idles on its medium setting, slowly vibrating itself across the coffee table’s polished wooden surface. Every so often it must be reset into place or it will throw itself into a buzzing tantrum on the living room floor. This may be why his wife forbids it being placed there. His stocking feet are propped in front of the fans whirling blades, another cardinal sin according to his spouse. But she is currently away on an impromptu shopping trip with the boys, and what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.
Aside from the drone of the fan the house is silent. Thus he finds himself engrossed in the condensed works of H. P. Lovecraft, Chapter 15, page 331, Herbert West—Reanimator. He’s seen the movie, never realizing it was based on a literary work of classic horror. The back door opens quietly. Are they back already? A glance at the wall clock tells him it’s too early for that, they’ve only just left. Most likely something was forgotten and they’ve returned to retrieve. He fingers the book and goes to intercept.
The two men standing in his kitchen seem equally surprised to see him there. Tragically their reaction time proves much faster as one clubs him with a pistol butt. He goes down to be immediately drug back to his feet with demands of the whereabouts of the valuables, show me the money. He defiantly tells them nothing because there’s nothing to tell. They cite the hedge out front as a sign of wealth and prosperity. He would, through his groggy perception, tell them he had planted that hedge himself. Using young shrubs he had dug up from the nearby woods and nurtured for the past four years. But they already “knew” he’d gotten it whole and hardy from the uppity hedge place, conveniently located between BMW Drive and Bed Bath and Beyond your budget. They can’t shoot him…just yet. So they toss his barely conscious form into the garage and set off on a treasure hunt. Ironically the book has remained in his grasp until his head makes contact with the concrete floor.
Through the haze he can hear them quietly trashing the house. Drawers pulled, closets riffled through, change tossed from his boys’ ruptured pig banks with sounds of disgust. He wonders if they’ve found his revolver yet. More so he considers what ramifications could befall him if said revolver turned up at a crime scene in the future.
A distinct door hinge’s whine tells him that one of them is in his wife’s bathroom. He thinks it odd that even now he thinks of it as “her bathroom”. He has visited her sanctuary on numerous occasions with her none the wiser. It’s nice in there…and air-conditioned. “His bathroom” is tucked in the corner of the garage, just a few feet away. No cool air there but it carries the basic amenities, sink, shower, toilet, a stack of car mags and Readers Digest and a…cordless phone. The rest happened rather quickly.
He pulls himself up to the toilet; 911—all operators are busy. Stands using the sink for support; 911—all operators are busy. Makes his way to the workbench and… 911—all operators are busy. He eyes the battery powered circular saw while those operators are still busy. “Hello, 911. What is your emergency?” He never hears this because the phone has been dropped in exchange for the power tool. He steps into the garage’s doorway…he knows he’s going to die. The man pointing a gun—his gun—from the other end of the hall confirms this. There’s a crash from the living room. The gunman is momentarily distracted. He starts to charge and that’s when the airplane crashes through the house obliterating it and his violent visitor. He and the garage are left miraculously untouched and intact.
A thwarted terror attack has brought the plane in for an emergency landing in a neighboring field. His house was simply necessary collateral damage to save the lives of the 127 passengers who all walked away shaken but alive. Ironically the terrorist was gunned downed by the second visitor as he tried to escape the scene. Later the thief-turned-national treasure would tell the evening news he just happened to be at the right place at the right time.
The homeowner looks to the plane resting across the street. He hears shouts and gunfire. He sees people exiting the plane via inflatable slide. Gathering his book he goes into “his bathroom” or rather “the bathroom” since it’s the only one now. He sits placidly down to familiar comforts and waits for the sirens to arrive.
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This week’s column is a Chainsaw Classic! FOCUS will be on vacation next week, and will return in print and online on August 5th.