Park Ave (Chapters 1–2) A Charles Splints Case
By Dan Leicht
The chapters in this novelette are short and meant to be read in quick bursts.
The teapot screaming woke me up. I must’ve fallen asleep at my desk again after another long night patrolling the streets of Brooksend like some sort of vigilante. A new case had brought me out of hiding and to the door of an old woman on Park Ave. Ever since my adventures on East, something had been awakened in this city. The boy’s powers were just the beginning, I see that now. His ability to control people and make them his puppets was amusing, but nothing like what I saw the old woman do. She was a shapeshifter and she recognized me the second she peeked through the door at my itchy mug. She looked me up and down, from my uncut greasy hair to my steel toed boots. Elderly hands may have opened the door and welcomed me inside, but it was brute fists attached to the same arms that sent me flying into the bookcase. I heard the impact, felt my back hit the case like a free chiropractor appointment. Luckily it got the kink out just in time to have a brute punch it back to normal. When pain is normal, you’re doing something right.
The shapeshifter left me there and ran out the door, leaving a match inches away from a stream of gasoline. What a beautiful parting gift. I managed to get to my feet, having to hold my lower back with my right hand as I stepped towards the match. It was singeing the carpet and I could see the smoke growing closer to the wetness of the fuel. I walked past it and to the door. The apartment going up in flames behind me.
The water was too hot and I had to let it cool while reviewing the night before in my head. Before me was a stack of notes, different locations people of the city have claimed to see shapeshifters. Was there only one? Or an army? I was willing to find out.
I heard about the arsonist by listening to a man whine at the end of the bar, the one on Alexander St. He griped to the barkeep about how an old women he delivers the paper to every morning suddenly changed overnight.
“I’d knock on her door every morning, man. Right at six and she’d hand me a paper cup of coffee to help me on the route. The other day, it’s like she flipped a switch, she knocks a tooth loose and sends me to the pavement,” he griped.
“You tell the cops?” asked the barkeep.
“Tell them what? That an old lady kicked my ass? Not a chance. Only reason I’m telling you is the booze. Can’t visit the station this liquored up.”
I finished my pint and nodded for the barkeep to refill my glass once the paperboy left his tip. I asked him about the story he’d just heard and to fill in any parts I might have missed. He gave me the address to the woman’s house, the one I saw burn down. As I reviewed the notes there was one part that stuck with me, she changed overnight.
Was I going crazy thinking there might be some kind of invasion going on? Was the old woman replaced or were these shapeshifters finally playing their cards after all these years? Had I been dealt the Joker once again? Life’s deck never sorts that one out before playing.
Read all 20 chapters in the ebook available on Amazon.