Christopher Allen

Short Stories
May 2019: The Times Have a Changed
July 2019: A Midwestern Edwardian Home
2019 Short Story Contest: (Will be posted after winners are announced in August 2019)

Chris Allen

Bio:

Cris Cannon (aka Christopher Allen) 

After a tour of duty in the military with the United States Air Force 2nd Security Police Squadron Christopher Allen embarked on what would become a 30 year career in law enforcement, beginning with the Dayton Police Department at Dayton, Ohio and wrapping up with the Ashville Police Department at Ashville, Alabama.  

Dashiell Hammett’s novel ‘The Thin Man’ and the following series of movies inspired Allen’s project, Before the Thin Man: The Prequel to Dashiell Hammett’s ‘The Thin Man’.  

As Hammett drew from personal experiences from serving in the military and working as a Pinkerton detective Allen also draws from similar experiences when writing. 

Before the Thin Man: The Prequel to Dashiell Hammett’s ‘The Thin Man’ is available in paperback and Kindle ebook format on Amazon at http://amazon.com/author/thinmanpi 

 

May 2019: The Times Have a Changed

The day was a particularly nice day, at least weather wise, considering it was mid-July and normally too hot or rainy to spend much time outdoors. It was a day made to order.

Clear blue skies with no hint of a cloud or much less rain. All things considered… a perfect day.

The family decided to make their patriarch the man of the hour so the entire clan made the pilgrimage to the Air Force Museum. An elderly man of eighty-four years and an Air Force veteran he was much beloved and this, of all days, would promise to be a-once-in

-a-lifetime event. They weren’t sure how many more days they would have with him so they pulled out all the stops to make this happen.

As the day progressed the crowd steadily grew but since it was a Wednesday everyone figured the attendance could have been much more otherwise. The crowd was very large but not stifling.

Little Bobby tugged at his grandpa’s sleeve. The old man looked down.“Grandpa?”

“Bobby?”

“Grandpa, is it true you were my age when you saw this happen?”

“You know, come to think of it, I was. Sometimes it seems like yesterday and others like a

lifetime back.”

“You mean when you watched it you were only nine?”

“That’s right Bobby. I was nine years old at the time.”

“Wow!”

“Yeah, wow is right.”

The family flowed right along with the assembly to the nearby flight line adjacent to the museum’s main building. More buses could be seen shuttling in more visitors. It seemed the crowd would exceed the initial estimates. Today was indeed a red-letter day in aviation history.

The occasional pole-mounted loud speaker could be heard playing martial music distorted by the wind of a lightly moving breeze.

“Grandpa?”

“Yes Bobby?”

“How long have they had a base on the moon?”
“Not long son. I think the one there has only been going for about four years. They spent

decades before that just sending people to space stations. That went on so long I didn’t think I’d live long enough to see us go back to the moon.”

“Wow.”

The shuffling stopped and other adult family members started breaking out folding chairs. This was where they would establish their own base camp for the day. The steady stream of patriotic and military music stopped. An announcer took their place.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we here at the Air Force Museum would like to thank you all for coming out today. Mark your calendars for posterity. Today, Wednesday, July 20th, 2044

we’ll be receiving a most important item to be placed on display here. Something only a few years ago we thought would be lost to us forever. We’ve gotten word that if you all would look to the west… or to your right, you should see the aircraft appear in the distance in just a few minutes.”

The music resumed and there was slight humming of various conversations occurring simultaneously around Grandpa and Bobby.

“Grandpa! There. Is that it?” Bobby said while pointing with an outstretched arm.

“I really can’t tell but I would guess it is. This is getting exciting.”

The huge bulky cargo shuttle floated closer. It was the fifth-generation Dyna-Soar Heavy Shuttle with the silent ultra mag-lev propulsion system. Few people had actually observed one in person. Not that it was such a well-guarded secret but because there were only three in existence and they had been busy with trips to the moon to build the first lunar base.

“It looks like it isn’t moving”, Bobby said.

“I know. But it’ll get here.”

 

The music stopped again. “Ladies and gentlemen. If you look just to the left of the marker flag near the outer fence near the highway you will see a small dark spot in the sky. That is the shuttle coming direct to us from its last mission to the moon.”

“Wow Grandpa. It’s coming here straight from the moon.”

“Yeah Bobby. Wow is right.”

Over the speakers came more. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is one of the three heavy hauler shuttles the Space Administration has running building materials and supplies to the moon. As it moves in closer you will see its immense size and notice it is virtually silent. It’s almost two football fields in length, half a football field in width, and uses a nuclear powered magnetic generator for power.

The craft maneuvered into position along the airfield and to the array of buildings until stopping in front of the assembly. It made no noise. The crowd has also deafeningly silent. It was a most strange moment.

It lowered a series of landing gear and settled in until touchdown was achieved and a series of lights seemed to indicate it was shutting down. As a large side cargo door opened the speaker resumed from his script.

“If you will look closely at the 
open side bay door you will see the lift sliding out the Apollo 11 Lunar Excursion Module Base onto the elevated flatbed vehicle that will move it to the prep building where it will be readied for its true final resting place here for all to see.”

“It looks like a big spider”, said Bobby.

“Yes. I guess it does. You know Bobby, this seems real now.”

“I don’t understand Grandpa. It is real.”

“I know you don’t really know what I mean now. But you will one day. I remember watching that spider on our small black and white television set when I was only nine years old. Now here we stand watching it again just across that field seventy-five years later. And it makes me recall everything that has happened in between and I don’t know where all that time went. It passed in the blink of an eye.”

“Really?! The blink of an eye?”

“I promise son. One day you will know exactly what I mean.”

July 2019: A Midwestern Edwardian Home

“Five-Thirty-One.”

Riding passenger tonight, Don began reaching for the mic hanging from the dash.

“I knew it wouldn’t last”, he said as he grabbed the microphone. As he pulled it toward his face, the tightly coiled cord stretching, he and his partner merely looked at one another in silence. For that small moment the only sound was the windshield wipers slapping time to the passing street lamps.

“Five-Three-One, Salem and Superior”, Don replied as he pressed the transmit key.

“Five-Thirty-One, one to transport from Grandview to State”, came the dispatch from the

mobile unit’s speaker.

“Clear.”

“2200 hours, KA80261”

“Five Thirty One dispatch, KA80 261 at 2200 hours”

Rob immediately started turning the wheel at the upcoming intersection before Don hung the mic back up. At the clicking sounds of the mic being returned and the scanning of the radio resumed he looked at his partner saying, “It could be worse.”

“You’re right about that. This should keep us on the board at least a couple of hours.”

Arriving at the hospital within just a few minutes they parked away from the emergency

room entrance and walked up to the building. This milk run transport was anything but an emergency call. As the elevator shuttered to a stop and the doors parted they were met by one of the hospital security staff.

“You’ll need to secure your firearms before continuing onto the floor”was heard as they stepped off. They both managed to resist a sarcastic comeback to such a routine matter and quietly walked to the ban k of steel lock boxes on the opposite wall.

With their service revolvers secured and wearing empty holsters they were escorted back to the ward’s nurses’ station. Their passenger, a Miss Nell Geyer, was already seated there with a nurse completing her transfer paperwork.
“Officers, this is Miss Geyer. She’s been very cooperative and polite. You should have

no issues”, the on-duty nurse said while handing Don the bulging legal length envelope after the paperwork had been sloppily folded in threes and jammed in.

“Miss Geyer, these gentlemen will take you across town to the State Hospital. Do you have any questions?”

Miss Geyer said nothing but slowly moved her head from side to side. Don, looking up from his unruly bundle said, “Alright miss. If you’re ready let’s go.”

Pulling away from the ER entrance Rob keyed the Motorola mic again. “Five – Three –

One dispatch.”

“Five-Three-One.”

“Five-Three-One transporting on adult white female from Grandview to State. Starting

mileage 132229 your time.”

“Clear Five-Three-One. Twenty Two Fifty Eight.”

Hanging the mic back on its hook Rob glanced into the rearview mirror and said, “So

Nell; mind if I call you Nell?”

“No. Please do. It’s fine.”

“Nell… do you mind if I ask about that big bandage?”

She reached up with her left hand and barely touched the bandage with her fingertips and said, “Oh this? No, I don’t mind?”

“So, I can’t help but notice that’s pretty big to be on your neck. So what happened?”

“Oh, I cut my throat”, she said rather matter-of-factly.

“Cut your throat?!”

“Yeah… with an electric carving knife. It was really stupid. I should have never done it.”

“I guess not! That must’ve really hurt.”

“Oh, did it ever. That was the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. I’ll never do that again.”

The cruiser turned onto the State Mental Hospital grounds passing under their wrought

iron arced entry way and the start of the drive. The campus of matching red brick buildings came into view.

“Well Miss Geyer it looks as if we’re here”, said Don.

It’s alright. In a week or two I’ll be back home”, she replied, again in an almost

monotone matter -of fact inflection. Fitting for the atmosphere.

It was about four in the afternoon when the radio came to life with its slight static crackle and, “Crew Five Thirty Three dispatch”.

“Five-Three-Three”

“Five-Three-Three dispactch, please notify Five Thirty we have a “D” “B” at this

location.”

“Clear.”

Rob looked over at Don and said, “Don, they’re only four blocks away. Let’s swing by

and see if we can help with anything.”

“Alright.”

One of those older Edwardian jobs built just after the turn of the century these houses

originally had the horsehair plastered slat walls and solid tongue-in-groove hardwood floors. With a full basement and adjacent coal rooms there was no room for anything but the monstrous ‘octopus’ coal burning heater. With a solid wooden beam base structure they were built like a tank and would last forever. By now most people had replaced the huge ‘octopus’ job for much smaller and efficient systems. This opened up the basements to be converted to additional living space too. And with residential coal deliveries long gone most coal chute doors were permanently sealed shut and the rooms were merely a place for more storage. And the detached garages at the back of the yard opening to the alley were no longer small horse barns but rather housed the family car.

Entering the back door where the basement stairs would be Rob and Don descended to

the scene. They met another officer posted there waiting for the other responding personnel. Rob completely ignored the salutations and walked directly to the hanging victim. She had fashioned a noose over and back down one of the beams and around her neck.

A kitchen chair was lying on its side almost directly under her. Her neck was stretched to nearly twice its normal length. She’d been here for some time.

Rob immediately recognized Nell from just two weeks earlier. When he did, he smiled.
He didn’t smile because he is morbid or thought anything was funny. No, it seemed more like a final interaction between the two. A final conversation and the joke was on everyone left behind. Rob realized when Miss Geyer told him how stupid it had been to cut her throat with the carving knife she merely meant the method was a poor choice.

[Author’s note about the story above:

To cover the Theme of ‘Historical’ I thought that was addressed with the place and time as well as a side trip about Edwardian Era houses, which I love and lived in one.
The story itself is based on a true story. One I lived. It took place in the 1980s. It has been slightly modified to reveal no actual details about anyone. No particular location or actual place names have been used. I like to think of it as a story with a slight historical reference with a twist.

And for what its worth I have found the following: Private Immediate Crisis Text Service for Support in the U.S.: text TALK to 741741

In The UK text SHOUT to 85258  These numbers were published on CNN while interviewing Dr. Daniel Bober on Mental Health.]