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mattiemorrisons.jpg
Art by Lee Kuruganti 2013

Mattie Morrison’s Revenge

 

by

 

Jed Power

 

 

 

          “Mister, you can’t park there.”  The voice was that of an ancient-looking woman.  She was seated on a rocking chair on the front porch of a small cottage directly across the street from where I’d parked.  I’d only pulled my crate in moments before. 

          It was fall at Hampton Beach, my busy time.  Many of the cottages were closed for the off-season, with few people around.  Some, though, were owned by permanent residents who lived in remodeled three story mini-mansions.  I liked all that; it meant easy, profitable scores.  Usually, I could rob enough homes to get me through the winter and my seasonal job layoff. 

          I leaned my head out the car window.  “Anybody can park here, sister.  It’s the damn street, for Chrissake.”  My face and voice sure aren’t the kind you’d want your kid’s teacher to have, so I figured that’d shut her up.  I figured wrong.  She was one of those old farts who’d been around on borrowed time so long that she wouldn’t have been intimidated if I’d been a damn gorilla talking to her.  Her hands grabbed the arms of the chair and she stopped rocking.  Craned her Q-tipped head towards me. 

          “First off, you’re parking facing the wrong way.  Second, and more important, there’s still people living here that can’t walk too good and need that spot.  If you were a nice young man you’d move your car.”  She pointed a crooked finger, that looked like one of those old-time Portuguese cigarillos, in the direction of a large three-story apartment building a short distance away.  Looked like a six unit job. 

          The old lady reminded me of my mother suddenly; I didn’t like that.  “Screw you and the broom you rode in on.”

          For a dinosaur she launched out of that rocker pretty fast.  She grabbed the edge of the porch railing with both hands.  I don’t think she was five feet tall with that bent back and all.  “No one talks to Mattie Morrison like that, young man.”

          “I do, you old crow.  And I’ll tell you something else tooI’ll live to dance on your grave.  How do ya like them apples?”

 

          “Why you disrespectful young pup.”

          I’d had enough.  Even I couldn’t slap around someone as old as she was.  Even though I was tempted.  She’d thrown a monkey wrench into my plans to walk from here to the place I wanted to hit out back.  But I wasn’t about to give up.  I’d eavesdropped on a conversation at the High Tide Saloon that’d told me there were a lot of goodies waiting for me just a short distance away.  So I threw the decrepit old bitch the bird and drove over to the next street.  I figured I’d sneak into my target that way and avoid the old bag’s big nose.

           So that’s what I did.  I skulked along between a couple of cottages and came out at just where I wanted to.  I could see part of the old woman’s porch from where I was and the rocker was empty.  There was a window but I didn’t see her cotton head in it, and besides, I doubted if she could see this far anyhow.

          So I got down to business.  And it started out like most of my other beach B&E’s  tooreal easy.  In fact, someone had even been thoughtful enough to leave an old gas grill right under one of the windows.  Might as well have been a ladder set up just for me.  A good luck omen, I guessed.  All I had to do was hop up on it, pry the window open and climb right in.  That’s what I did.  In minutes I had a pillowcase full of cash, jewelry and two expensive laptops.  I grabbed a prescription bottle of Vicodin from the bathroom on the way out to celebrate later.

 

          I should have remembered about counting chickens before they hatch.  I backed out quickly through the same window I’d used to come in, feet first, expecting to feel my sneakers touch the flat top of the grill.  Instead they hit the thin ridge of the lid which was now wide open.  Caught by surprise, my footing slipped.  My one-handed grip on the window sill loosened at the same time and the grill began tipping.  Everything went down in a loud crashing heap, including me. 

          I knew right away I was in a bad trouble.  I’d heard the crack when I hit the ground.  The pain brought tears to my eyes and not much ever did.  I forgot about the pillowcase; I just wanted to get out of there.  I made a good crawl for it but it wasn’t good enough.  Someone must’ve called the cops and they followed my snail trail along the sand, up onto the dunes.

          They tossed me on a stretcher, lugged me down from the sand pile.  They weren’t gentle either; jerks bounced me around a lot.  When we reached the bottom of the dune we came out right about where I’d parked my car the first time.  I didn’t get a chance to look around because just then the cop holding the stretcher near my head dropped it.  My skull bounced nicely off the pavement and I saw those damn stars you hear about.  I’ll never believe that cop didn’t do it on purpose. 

          “Oh, my goodness.  I hope that didn’t hurt too much.”  It wasn’t the cop talking.  It was an old woman’s voice and I’d heard it before. 

          I glanced to my right and as the stars slowly went back to wherever they’d come from, I saw that old crone, Mattie whatever-the-hell her name was, up on her porch.  She was in her rocker and she had it going like she was six years old again.  The grin on her face was so wide her wrinkles looked worse than before, if that was possible. 

          At least now I wouldn’t have to wonder who opened that damn grill lid.  I knew.  And I also knew that after they connected me to all my other breaks, which I was sure they would, I’d have an awful lot of time to think about it too.  About my bad break (no pun intended) down at Hampton Beach and the old woman that’d caused it all. 

          Morrison!  Yeah, that was her last name.  Morrison.  Mattie “Freakin” Morrison. 

 

          Mattie Morrison had closed the front door of her cottage just before the first Hampton police cruiser arrived.  She always prided herself on how spry she was for her age. 

          She adjusted her glasses now and studied the contents of the pillowcase which were spread out on her kitchen table.  She ran her wrinkled hand across the smooth surface of one of the two computers sitting there.  She didn’t know much about such things, except that they were worth money and would bring a good amount down in Lawrence from that nice young man at the pawn shop.  The one she visited once every year.

          She didn’t know much about the rings, watches and other jewelry in front of her either, except that they all looked expensive.  Too gaudy for her to wear though; she didn’t go in for any of that kind of stuff, even if she could have afforded it.  The nice young man down in Lawrence liked that kind of merchandise though. 

          The roll of bills she picked up was, of course, something she did understand.  She removed the elastics that held the currency tight and thumbed through it.  Mattie’s eyes sparkled.  There was enough here, along with what she’d get for the computer machines and jewelry to pay her bills for a while to come.  Social Security certainly wouldn’t.  That was for damn sure. 

          Lastly, Mattie picked up the vial of pills.  Vico...somthing or other.  She didn’t know anything about that either.  But she did appreciate the word “Pain” on the label.  She rolled her head slowly.  Yes, she was quite familiar with it.  She set the prescription vial on the counter near her other medications.  They too would be helpful easing her journey through the long, cold, dark Hampton Beach winter.  And at this point in her life, Mattie Morrison knew that that was about all she could hope for.     

 

The End
 
 

Jed Power is a Hampton Beach, NH based writer and an “Active” member of Mystery Writers of America.  His second novel in the Dan Marlowe crime series, Hampton Beach Homicide, is now out in both e-versions and trade paper.  

 

          The first novel in the series, The Boss of Hampton Beach, is also available in both paper and e-versions.  The protagonist is Hampton Beach, NH bartender, Dan Marlowe.

 

          The real Dan Marlowe was Mr. Power’s father’s best friend.  Mr. Marlowe wrote his crime masterpiece, The Name of the Game is Death, while living with the Power family in Woburn, MA.  He named a character in the novel after Jed Power.  Mr. Power has returned the honor by naming his protagonist Dan Marlowe.  

 

          The third novel in the series, Blood on Hampton Beach is coming soon.

 

          Mr. Power also collects vintage Noir/Hardboiled paperbacks, which includes the largest collection of Dan Marlowe novels, short stories, inscribed items and memorabilia.  

 

          Mr. Power is also mentioned several times in the new Dan Marlowe biography, Gunshots In Another Room, by journalist Charles Kelly.

 

          He can be reached at jedpower@verizon.net.  Mailing address is P. O. Box 3906, Peabody, MA 01961  U.S.A.

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