Tuesday, May 09, 2017

An excerpt from Hockey Heist

A cozy scene. The low ceiling, exposed rafters. The lathe, various sanders, clamps, table saw, and lots of wood chips. Classic rock on a paint-splattered boom box, power chords and soaring keyboard licks a backdrop to the scritchety scrape of sandpaper on wood. Joe worked on a yellow maple night stand with knife gouges inflicted by a previous owner. He had bought it at auction almost a year ago. Its previous owner had committed suicide. He offered it as a night stand to his youngest boy Rawley, but the lad balked at the idea. Joe should have never said anything about the suicide, but he got a kick out of scaring the boy.

"I don't want it," Rawley said. "That thing is probably haunted."

"Its not like I had to clean blood off it or anything," Joe said. But it didn't matter. Rawley's vivid imagination, the same faculty of mind that allowed him to get lost in drawing fantastical variations of his favorite Pokemon characters, spooked him away from the night stand. And so, with no great demand for an object of such sad provenance, Joe let it sit in his workshop. Until today.  

As Joe sanded, getting into a groove, a light sheen of sweat forming on his forehead, he speculated about the origin of the knife gouges. Could the same knife that caused this damage be the one its owner used to cut his wrist? Joe laughed and tried to share Rawley's apprehension, but he couldn't. An overly rational outlook, borne by time and responsibility, kept his imagination from getting out of hand. Truth was, Joe didn't know the name of the previous owner, or even a gender, much less the method of execution. He wasn't even sure it was a suicide. All he knew was based on the word of a salt and pepper-haired stick of a lady standing next to him at the auction who leaned over conspiratorially to whisper, "It's so sad. How could it get so bad that it would lead to suicide?" Joe shook his head, but said no more. It was an auction, after all, and he didn't want to inadvertently make a bid with some conversational gesture.

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