Peculiar

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Two people walking along discover an oddity embedded in the sidewalk and they are not the first ones to notice this peculiar relic left behind.

Submitted: April 17, 2011

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Submitted: April 17, 2011

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PECULIAR
By:Josh Schwartzkopf
They both stared at the wooden cross embedded in the sidewalk.A young man and a young woman stood, hand in hand, pondering this unusual sight.The couple looked lopsided since the man was very tall with broad shoulders and a thick neck, while the woman looked very small with a diminutive figure and gangly arms.They were both attractive people but they just looked odd together.
The small cross appeared ancient.It was worn smooth by the many feet that must have walked over it.The sidewalk, in which the relic currently resided, crossed in front of a vacant house walled in by a thick hedge overgrown from years of neglect.Who knew how long the wooden cross had lain there? It seemed obvious someone placed the holy symbol in the concrete.
“Isn’t that peculiar…”The young man, Daniel, commented.
“I wonder how it got there?” The young woman, Jessica, asked.
“I have an idea…” Daniel replied.He unconsciously tugged at his bottom lip as if the gesture could stimulate his mind.
“Do tell.”Jessica said, absently reaching over and pulling a stray hair that clung to Daniel’s sweater.
“The cross belonged to a mobster…”Daniel answered, his eyes blazed as the creative juices started flowing.“His name was Vincent Spegarelli but his pals called him Spaghetti on account of his last name.”
“You and the mafia…”
“No, no, hear me out.” Daniel objected. “Spaghetti lived in a run down apartment building not too far from here.He was just a small time hood who sold stolen merchandise, mostly cigarettes on the street.One day, he got caught by a flat foot…”
“A flat foot?”Jessica asked.
“Yeah, a street cop.” Daniel explained, nonchalantly.“Anyway, Vinnie would have done some time in the slammer but the police cut him a deal.If he’d snitch on the Boss, they’d put him into witness protection.So, he agreed.Spaghetti was waiting in his apartment for the cops to call when two goons, hired by the Boss, knocked down his door.He knew he was toast even before they pulled out their guns.They forced him into their car, a black 1957 Cadillac Sedan De Ville, and took him here.The whole time he was clutching this cross, praying.When they arrived, they drug him out of the car and he dropped the cross into the wet cement.There, it stayed, long after Vinnie was swimming with the fishes…”
“You’ve been watching too many mob movies…”Jessica stated.Daniel rolled his eyes and then smiled at his beloved.
“Alright.Why do you think the cross is there?”
“Well…” She began.“There were two star-crossed lovers whose families hated each other.The couple would meet here every night for a secret rendezvous.It was here that the boy gave her the wooden cross she wore around her neck.He promised to marry her and to give her a new life, away from their cruel families.The next evening, the girl’s father confronted his daughter and forbade her to ever see the boy again.He locked her in her bedroom.However, the girl snuck out the window and climbed down the vine-covered trellis.It was raining that night and by the time she reached their spot she was soaked to the bone.She waited until dawn for her beloved but he never came.Disheartened, she discarded her cross into the wet cement, convinced that the boy had forsaken her.She walked away coughing, for a fever had already crept into her frail body.She died three days later, some say from a broken heart…”
Jessica paused for a moment; Daniel tugged at his lip again.
“I’d like to think the boy eventually came to their spot to find her but then the cross would no longer be here, would it?”She asked.Daniel sighed and Jessica glared at him.
“What?”
“You've been reading those cheap romance novels again…”
“Fine.We agree to disagree.”The two lovers walked away, hand in hand once again.
From her hidden perch among the overgrown foliage, a feline watched the couple saunter down the sidewalk.The rather fat and furry calico waited until the two were out of sight.Afterward, she lithely made her way out of the brush and inspected the foreign object in the ground.She quickly leapt into the air away from the thing.
“Hmm.It smells like a trap!”The cat thought.A collar hung around her voluptuous neck and a name tag dangled precariously from it.On the tag, the word “Muffin” shimmered in the sunlight.
“How dare those humans try to ensnare more of my feline brethren!" Muffin exclaimed albeit in thought rather than actual spoken words."They think we’ll fall for this obvious ruse? I think not! No longer will we be the slaves to these humans with their two legs and their opposable thumbs!I say that there will be a great uprising, a war between the felines and the hairless monkeys!It shall begin today!We will not sit idly by while they force us to use litter boxes!No more will we play with the lovely tinker balls or scratch at the furry posts!They will no longer tempt us with milk in saucers!The day of reckoning is upon us!”
From a nearby house, an old woman pushed open a rickety screen door and gingerly shuffled onto the porch.
“Muffin?Time for din-din,” She cried.
“Ha!”Muffin laughed, or at least thought about laughing.“Din-din?You cannot prevent an epic war with the promise of some tainted morsel prepared in your secret laboratory that you call a kitchen!”
“I made your favorite…tuna with a dash of cat nip.”
“Tuna?”Muffin thought, her resolve weakening.“…with a dash of cat nip?”
Muffin licked her jowls and quickly scampered home, happy to be ensnared by her mistress for the moment.In her haste, she nearly ran into a shaggy dog who looked at her dumbfounded.She hissed at him and ran off.
The dog, whose master usually called him “Butch” and sometimes less reputable names, watched the cat flee.Butch was a mutt in every essence of the word but mostly he looked like a walking shag carpet.His thick fur seemed to attract all sorts of nasty burs and other vegetation.Butch paused to chew at one particularly nasty bur near his backside.He then noticed the cross lying in the sidewalk.He sniffed at it for a moment.
“Hey!”He thought.“Something I haven’t peed on!”
So, Butch lifted a leg and prepared to make his mark.
At that very instant, a bolt of lightning exploded from the heavens and singed the dog’s coarse fur.He yelped and ran off with his tail tucked between his legs.The strange thing, if anyone had noticed, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.
A few minutes later, a grandfather and his grandson came upon the holy symbol.The grandfather walked with the assistance of a gnarled, wooden cane.Clamped between his teeth was a hickory pipe which he puffed at contentedly.His grandson looked very young, perhaps eight years old, and wore a Dodgers ball cap.The boy chewed vigorously on a piece of bubblegum, the kind you might find in a pack of baseball cards.
“Isn’t that peculiar…” The old man, Gerald, commented.
“What’s that, papa?” His grandson, Peter, asked.
They both stared at the wooden cross embedded in the sidewalk…


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