I use my nail stick to spear a loose piece of paper, a wrapper from some bag of chips. I put it in the canvas sack slung over my shoulder like the kind old-time paperboys once used to carry their papers.
I work this little pocket park everyday at this time. I wear gray work pants and shirt and laced work boots. I fit right in. I also use a weed whacker to trim the grass border of the sand filled kiddies play lot. Sometimes I use my rake to clean debris from the sand. I always leave it smooth like a Zen garden.
I put in about two hours a day. It’s a bit demeaning but it’s necessary.
Parents, mostly moms sit on the benches under the tall oaks while they watch their children play on the swings, slide, climbing tower and assorted rocking horses set onto thick springs so they rock back and forth. All in all this is a very nice little park about a half block square. It was constructed by the contractor who built the high end homes surrounding it.
There are several of these parks in this development but this is the only one I service. As I said, it’s only part time, two hours per day.
I am not paid by the homeowners association. Although I look like an employee, I’m not. I’ve been running this scam for several months.
I’m here for the kids. Especially the little girls between four and seven.. They are my point of interest and now I blend in with the park, barely afforded any notice. That’s exactly what I intended.
I have learned the names of at least a dozen of the cutest girls. They waive when they see me. I have gained their trust.
One little girl in particular has my complete attention. She’s a ringer for Shirley Temple in those old movies. Cute as hell and with a personality to boot. She couldn’t be more perfect.
Her mom always sits on the bench nearest the play area. I watch her. She’s a good mom, very attentive. Always responsive when her daughter is doing anything dangerous on the apparatus.
But it doesn’t matter how attentive a parent tries to be. Unless your kid is wearing a harness attached to your wrist, you will become distracted by your book, your knitting or even the noise of a car speeding by. Sometime, every day you will lose your focus and your child will move out of your field of vision. That is the moment I look for.
I always park my truck on the street bordering the park just behind the cement walled rest rooms. From the park, you can’t see my truck. Once behind the restroom wall, I can disappear.
I must be patient. I have invested a lot of time in this scam. The critical moment will eventually arise. When it happens, I am prepared to act. Professionals at what I do must be practiced. Then the ultimate reward is ours. And I am a pro. I’ve been doing this for ten years and I have never failed.
Today I notice an old battered windowless panel van pull up behind my truck. This van doesn’t belong here. I watch a tall rangy college student type exit the van. He’s clean cut and looks like a typical student. But I know, he ain’t. He wears a baseball hat and sunglasses. He has a corduroy sports coat over a casual shirt and blue jeans. He carries a notebook with a couple of text books.
I see right through him.
Then he calls his cocker spaniel puppy out of the van and attaches a leash.
He’s slick. His cover is good. The dog will attract the children. Who can resist a puppy? His appearance is non-threatening. He could be the college son of a nearby homeowner, out to do some studying in the park.
I know different. The beat up van doesn’t fit. The lack of windows affords him just what he seeks. This guy’s presence just pisses me off. I’ve been working this gig for weeks and he rolls in like he’s going to pull off a snatch without doing his homework.
Under my shirt are a pair of plastic flexi cuffs and a Kahr 9mm. The Kahr is a smaller concealable automatic that still packs the punch of a potent 9mm deep penetration hollow point round. Clipped to my right front pocket is a single hand opening foldable called “The City Shark”. It has a razor sharp 3 inch blade that I can open in a second.
I watch this guy as I pick up trash around the trees.
He sits on a bench near the rest rooms, close to his van and away from the play area.
He goes unnoticed by the moms watching their children. There are no dads this time of day.
Without drawing attention, I busy myself with my made up job. I slowly drift to the backside of the park near the young man.
All my weeks of preparation are on my mind. This punk is now my sworn enemy.
He puts his books on the bench and begins to play with his puppy. The commotion draws the attention of the kids.
As I expected a curious little girl walks away from the swings toward the rollicking puppy.
Oh no. It’s Shirley Temple. I look to her mother only to see her engaged in conversation with another mom sitting on her bench.
I begin to move on the perimeter of the park toward the parked van.
I see the little girl approach the puppy and bend to pet it. In a blur, the man scoops up her and the dog and sprints to the rear of the rest room. He leaves the phony school books on the bench where they lay.
I close fast but I am still 25 yards away.
The man opens the side door of the van and tosses the girl and the puppy in the back. He slams the door shut and turns to open the driver’s door.
He sees me sprinting toward him. He reaches to his belt and I see the gun he is about to draw.
My City Shark is open in my hand and in a feeding frenzy.
Before he can clear his belt, I thrust the blade up under his ribs in a perfect heart strike. He gurgles and drops like a rock. His heart stops before he hits the ground.
I throw open the van door and Shirley jumps into my arms.
I hear women screaming and turn to see Shirley’s mom racing toward me. She grabs her daughter in a bear hug and shields her eyes from the dead stranger.
She turns to me and says, “Mr. Slade, you are worth every penny my husband pays you. I know we are safe when you are around.”
I’ve been guarding little Shirley for over six months. Like I said, I’m a pro. Never lost a kid in ten years. I’m the best there is.
Bio: Dave Price is an ex-college jock and retired probation officer residing in California. His blood spatter can be found at A Twist Of Noir, Flash Fiction Offensive, Crooked, Thuglit, Darkest Before The Dawn, Thrillers, Killers “n” Chillers, Powder Burn Flash, Beat To A Pulp and Sex and Murder.