by R.T. Lawton
Since Rob Lopresti, John Floyd and I all have stories coming out in the May 2012 issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Rob suggested that we each write a blog article about our own story. Seems our stories are printed back to back, 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the magazine. Rob's is "Shanks Commences," John's is "Lewis and Clark" and mine is "Spring Break." So, put a little something extra in your coffee and let's keep this celebratory party going.
"Spring Break" is 6th in my Holiday Burglar series. Its protagonists, Beaumont and Yarnell, got their start, or baptism of fire if you will, in a Christmas tale entitled "Click, Click, Click" (currently available in podcast at AHMM's website: http://www.themysteryplace.com/ ) when they attempted to burgle the residence of a drug dealer who concealed his illegal product and cash received in Christmas paper wrapped boxes under the tree. Unfortunately, our duo did their counting to figure out the third house from the corner while they stood at the back door they were breaking into instead of counting from the front while facing the house. Wrong corner. Thus as Beaumont munches cookies left out for Santa in the living room, Yarnell discovers they have mistakenly broken into the residence of a member of the National Rifleman's Association. Their quick departure, prodded by some of the loudest sounds Yarnell has ever heard close up, is hampered by the sudden onset of night blindness in their night vision goggles as a result of several bright muzzle blasts from the home owner's very large hand gun.
As far as the title goes, the reader is free to make his own choice as to whether the story title derives from that old Christmas carol concerning the sound of reindeer hooves upon the roof, or could it be the noise a gun makes when its hammer gets cocked.
In the subsequent episode, "Grave Trouble," our two bunglers guess-timate their distance inside a large storm water drain on Halloween night and end up breaking into the basement of a mortuary, instead of the jewelry store they had anticipated. Deciding to search for the office safe anyway so as the break-in won't be a total loss, after all a profit is a profit, Yarnell soon finds The Thin Guy sleeping in one of the display coffins. Turns out the assistant undertaker, recently divorced, has been taken to the cleaners by his ex-wife. Being homeless, needing the influx of immediate cash and having a secret yearning to be a burglar, The Thin Guy blackmails our two protagonists into him becoming their protege. In stories thereafter, The Thin Guy keeps popping up at odd times and places, always trying to make a purloined score.
Video Clips for two of the other three episodes:
Which ultimately brings us to "Spring Break." Yarnell who suffers from many psychological problems, to include "closet-phobia" ( his street psychiatrist with the folding card table and three online degrees explained this to him as the anxiety of being confined in small or tight places), finds himself in the unfamiliarity of Florida during the time period that college students consider to be their Spring Break. Since Yarnell had never been to college, he's not sure he's eligible to attend any Spring Break event, but decides to give it a try, even though Florida lets their alligators run around freely above ground instead of keeping them down in the city sewers like sensible New Yorkers do with theirs.
As Yarnell's fellow burglar explains the current job to him, this will be an easy one. All they have to do is stand at the foot of a ten story condo on the beach inthe dark of night and wait for the loot to be lowered down to them on a rope. After a few minutes of craning their necks to watch the tenth story unit, they hear noises behind them in the landscaping bushes. It seems that a crowd of Spring Breakers had earlier noticed a "spiderman" climb up the outside wall of this same condo all the way to the top, and believing this to be an anonymous college prankster, they have gathered to videotape the entire event and put it on You-Tube to go viral. Realizing that the spiderman was actually The Thin Guy, Yarnell starts looking for an exit.
Of my four series in AHMM, this is my comedy one. The way the world goes, I occasionally have to write something that makes me laugh, and hopefully another reader somewhere will get a chuckle or two for themselves. If so, then I've done my job. This is no literary or work of great literature, but then I write these to be entertaining. Laughter is good medicine, or at least a coping mechanism. Who knows, if there was more laughter in the world (naturally, this does not include the evil villian laugh), maybe there would be fewer.......murders.
Read the story, after you read Rob's and John's stories of course. I'm just honored to even be in the same issue with them.