The Flameman

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
Just a short story I wrote earlier this year.

Submitted: December 30, 2011

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Submitted: December 30, 2011

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In all the years I have been an investigator for missing persons no case has stood out more prominently than Leonard Alvis.

He disappeared in July of 1987, nearly a year after I joined the force. Leonard was a nobody, morbidly obese and divorced twice. However, his disappearance stirred the people’s curiosity and brought about the legend of ‘The Flame Man’.

The first person I went to was Roseanne Stein, an old woman who smelled of cinnamon and insisted I call her Rosey. She was a nut with eight sickly cats and a yard that hadn’t been cut in six years or more. She was one of three who claimed to witness Leonard’s disappearance. I didn’t believe what she had to say, it was irrational, but I humored her and went on my way, leaving the senile, old woman in the rocker on her porch, and to the company of her eight cats.

Across from her home was a parked car, with two occupants inside. The driver was a middle-aged man with large glasses and a balding head. Despite his stern and impatient expression, I approached.

“I understand you witnessed the disappearance of Leonard Alvis?” I asked, pulling out my small notepad and my pencil “Can you tell me what you saw?” I glanced at the passenger and saw a younger man, fidgeting in his seat and muttering.

“No, sir. My son saw it.” The older man turned to his disabled boy. “Tell him what happened, Carl.”

“Burst into flames!” The boy squeaked.

His father just smirked and shook his head. “He says the man caught on fire.” I thanked them for their time and sent them on their way. It was the same as Rosey’s story, disappointing me. Yet, I had a third witness to speak with, hopefully one more reliable than the last two. I enter the grocery store that the father and son had parked beside and went to the first cashier, a stout woman with a lazy eye.

“Excuse me, I need to speak with a..” I looked at my notes. “Harry Parker.”

“That’s me.” Said a voice from behind me. I turned to the man. He was cleaning the window on a large scaffold, a clear view of the street outside from his perspective. “You are here about the guy who burned up?”

“I suppose so.” I sighed, annoyed. It was not possible. It was not possible.

“Well, what do you need to know?” He asked, smiling.

“What did you see?”

“A man, he was walking down the street, shuffling was more like it. He was rather large. But anyways, I was at the window, cleaning. He suddenly stopped, and started choking, coughing up smoke. His face turned really, really red and he started sweating, so much I could see it from here! Steam rolled off him, than he burst into flames, and fell to the ground, right over there.” He pointed to an area across the street, on the far sidewalk.”

Like the other witnesses I thanked him for his cooperation and left the store, not capable of comprehending such a tale. I waited for the traffic to disperse before crossing the street, going to the spot the window cleaner, Harry Parker, had pointed out. It was impossible, but a small, pile of ash remained on the sidewalk, and beneath it was a large singe mark. I shook my head and headed back to my police vehicle, notes in hand. There would be a lot of paperwork, and I would have to organize a search, but fat, lonely Leonard Alvis would never be found.


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