This week's suggestion is from Ben:
I burrowed further down into my chair and put my feet up on the desk, using my tongue to fiddle with the cigarette between my lips. It was my fourth in the past hour and the room was filled with the pleasant aroma of smoke. The flickering of the television played across the narcotic cloud, creating a show that competed with the lightning flashing outside. I was only half-watching the program anyway. My mind had been mostly drowned in a bottle of Scotch that sat, nearly-drained, on my desk. As lightning illuminated the rooms, I glanced around.
My office was in disarray. There were clothes strewn over the beautiful leather sofa that had been placed there twenty years ago as a resting area for clients. I could hardly see the Oriental rug that played host to the glass coffee table that had miraculously survived my soon-to-be ex-wife’s rampage. It was covered with the suitcases from which she had hurled my clothing at me.
My inner sanctum wasn’t much better. The desk was littered with piles of papers that needed to be scanned and filed. The light was blinking on my voice machine, but I couldn’t bring myself to press the button in order to hear them. An old fax machine still stood on a table in the corner, covered in dust. The only spaces that were spotless were the chair itself and the area I had cleared to place my feet. I knew I should clean, but I just couldn’t bring myself to care. I had been drifting in indolent alcoholism since she kicked me out. That had been three weeks before. Or four. The days meant nothing anymore. Claimed she knew about Tracy.
I looked back at the couch where Tracy and I had spent a very enjoyable evening. Long hair, long legs… just like I like them. Can’t imagine how the ex found out about her; I thought I had been so clever. I snorted. Imagine it – me, a detective, getting caught because I didn’t cover my tracks well enough. The thought made me depressed, so I focused on the positive.
No more obligations. Soon as the divorce went through, I’d be free from all of it. I could drink and smoke as much as I wanted without anyone nagging me about it. Wouldn’t have to deal with other parents calling night and day to tell me about something stupid my kid had done. He’s a kid. What the hell am I supposed to do about it? Some kids just gotta act out. Doesn’t mean I gotta hear about it all the time. And it’s not my fault, no matter what the ex says about it. Ah, he’s probably better off without me anyway. I’ll give him some money once in a while and he’ll be fine, I told myself. I turned back to the television.
That’s when she knocked on the door.
I looked up through the haze. The lightning illuminated a silhouette against the door’s glass. It was a woman and she appeared to wearing a tall, pointy hat. Was this some kinda witch or something? I didn’t really want to be disturbed, but before I could warn the visitor off, she opened the door.
Her voice was warm and husky. It floated on the air and slid into my ear with the promise of invitation. Her head was swiveling left and right, searching for me.
“Yeah?” I grunted.
She closed the door and flicked on the light. I groaned and closed my eyes.
“Mr. Anders, this is an emergency!”
I opened my eyes to see her standing in my doorway, watching me. Her green eyes were brimming with tears. She pouted her full lips, which were painted a brilliant red. It was a beautiful contrast to her midnight skin. She quickly unbelted her raincoat, revealing a top that hugged her in all the right places and a knee-length skirt that revealed shapely legs.
I realized what I looked like and I took my stockinged feet off my desk and shoved them into a pair of shoes underneath my desk. I cleared my throat and tried to smile, ignoring the fact that I hadn’t shaved in days. “What’s the emergency, Miss…?”
“There’s been a crime in the school!” She sobbed, her chest heaving.
I drew my eyes back up to her face. “What school?”
“The local elementary school,” she told me. “It’s just down the block. You have to come with me; I will show you.”
I hadn’t been to the school in almost a year. Recently, it was because there was a chance of running into my wife, but I don’t really like school. Don’t really like teachers. Never did. They always thought they knew so much better than me. Had a lot of problems with them when I was a kid. Looked like my son was the same way. I always passed the phone over to my wife when they’d call. Never went in for parent-teacher conferences. I left that to her. She yelled at me that I never took an interest in my son’s life. That’s a lie. I was interested; just not when it came to teachers. I sensed trouble with this dame.
“You a teacher?” I asked her.
She leaned forward, displaying an impressive amount of cleavage. “Please,” she breathed. “I need your help. You’re the only one I can turn to.”
Well, what’s a guy supposed to say to that? Beautiful dame shows up on your doorstep, dressed for fun, and begging for it. “The school?” I asked.
“Yes,” she agreed, taking my hand. Her fingers were so soft. “We have to go now or we won’t catch them.”
“Please! We have to go or it will be too late!” Thunder crashed to accentuate her words.
“Okay, okay.” At least I could do some good tonight. And maybe afterwards, she would be willing to reward me for my services.
I struggled to my feet and stumbled around the side of the desk. She grabbed my arm and hauled me onward.
“Do you have an umbrella?” she sighed in my ear.
“Don’t you have one?”
She gestured to the umbrella that lay on the floor by the door. It was permanently frozen in a half-open, half-closed position. “Mine is broken,” she said. So that was the “hat” I had seen in the silhouette. If this was a witch, she was the best kind and I was happy to be enchanted. I nodded and slid a hand across her skirt as I helped her into her raincoat. Everything underneath felt firm and I started to feel a bit firm myself. I grabbed my own coat and pulled it on quickly to hide my interest. She took my arm as I pulled open the door and opened my umbrella. We stepped out into the night’s storm.
The rain was coming down in sheets. Wind took the umbrella we held as an insult and hurled raindrops at us from the side, soaking us despite our protection. She let out a tiny squeak and clutched me more tightly. I didn’t protest. We hurried along the slick pavement to the dreaded building. I felt my unease grow as we approached. I tried to slow down, but she pushed on and I couldn’t leave her.
We entered the school sopping wet. I closed the umbrella, but she was already walking down the hall. “Wait,” I said.
She whirled around. “What?”
“We don’t know who is here.”
“Are you afraid?” she asked me.
I felt a shiver slide down my spine, but she removed her coat at that moment and I saw that the rain had made its way inside. Her clothing clung to her in an extremely flattering manner. Most women look awful when they get wet, but her…it only made her look even more appealing. She really had magic. “Not at all,” I bluffed.
“Please hurry,” she said, her eyes large.
I shook the umbrella off and followed her. Her heels clicked upon the floor, echoing off the metal lockers. There was a light coming from one classroom and it was to this room that she ventured. I moved to keep close behind her, watching her body sway with each step. When this was solved, there was no way I was going to let her get away. I fantasized about maybe even having her right there in the school. My thoughts flew from the risqué to the downright dirty. I slid on the slick floor and put a hand against the locker to catch myself. When I regained balance, I saw her enter the classroom. I hurried after her and stopped dead in the doorway at the horror that awaited me.
She was sitting in one the desks, glaring at me as I walked in. “Ah, Phil. You finally made it,” she said.
“Huh?” I said stupidly.
“I’ve been calling you for days now. This is a mandatory meeting. They require both parents to be here.”
“Your son happened,” she told me. “Sit down.”
I looked around me. There were papers with children’s drawings hung up on the walls, a pile of stuffed animals in the corner, blankets in another corner, and an area for toys sectioned off by low bookcases filled with picture books. I was in a kindergarten classroom.
The teacher had moved to a desk in the front of the room. She wrapped a cardigan around her shoulders, covering herself, and placed a pair of glasses on her nose. “Now that you are both here, Mr. and Mrs. Anders, we can take care of the small infraction your son has committed.” She pulled out a piece of paper. “Here is a list of the items that were broken or damaged during your son’s little… adventure.”
“We’ll replace them,” said my wife. “He’ll be paying for them.”
The shopping list was handed to me. “But you said that…”
“A crime had been committed, yes,” said the teacher. “And it has. By your own progeny. It’s time for you to take responsibility for him.”
As I looked from one woman to the other, it occurred to me that my initial assessment was right: they were witches.
And there was no escape.