The Best-Laid Plans

I find it amusing. I first started blogging on WordPress with a completely different idea in mind. I had it all mapped out. I would write the occasional lifestyle or thought piece, but I was looking to focus most of my time on writing a book and thought I would use my blog to showcase my short stories and fiction.

Yes, that worked out exactly as I planned. Please note the dripping sarcasm.

I posted maybe one or two short stories, but I soon learned that I had a ton of fun writing about the everyday things that make me laugh or cause me stress. I got way more enjoyment out of poking fun of my own life than coming up with some make-believe land. Oh, I haven’t given up yet on my novel or short stories. As I mentioned in a previous post titled, Writing myself into a corner, I’m still working on my novel and I still work on the occasional short story when the mood hits me.

This is my long-winded way of saying, the mood has hit me. Here’s my latest short story. It’s a little different style for me and is heavy on the clichés and relies on too much “telling” instead of “showing,” but it’s a first draft. We’ll see where it goes. I hope you enjoy.


Image by Pixabay.

The Best-Laid Plans

John stood up from his desk. He adjusted his shoulder holster and put on his jacket. He was the lead detective on the force and was coming up on his 25-year anniversary. He really didn’t want to meet up with his brother, but if his plan was going to work, he needed his brother to play his part. 

He walked down the steps to the first floor, waved goodnight to the sergeant at the front desk and walked out of the station. He had just a short walk to Ollie’s bar. He chose the place, better him to make the call then his brother. He would have chosen some tutti-frutti expresso bar full of young hipsters and soccer moms. Too many prying eyes for John’s tastes.

If the plan was going to work, however, he hated to admit that he needed his brother. They had been close when they were young, but over the years they had gone their separate ways. Their father was demanding. A police detective’s life was fine for most folks in Maple Valley, but not in the eyes of his father. For the Prestons of Palisades, you had to be a leader in the community, a doctor, lawyer, engineer or some other BS profession. Salinger Preston had high demands and a life in law enforcement did not pass muster. John knew that all too well. It didn’t help that his brother James took a more approved route, becoming an pharmacist. It wasn’t a doctor and pillar of the community, but close enough.

The plan was for the two brothers to work together to put their father out of his misery once and for all. They would get him to sign his signature to a change to the will that would make things right for them and then a few months later, sufficient time would pass and they would make the old man’s death look like natural causes.

Figuring out the details

As John walked to the bar, he loved the simplicity of the plan, a detective well aware of the letter of the law and a pharmacist up on better living through chemistry and the best way to hide a death. With their two backgrounds, they would be set. He just needed to get his brother on board. Yes, James was living a nice life already, even with his two divorces, but even he had had enough and was ready for the old man to move on to the hereafter.

John opened the door to the bar and walked in. He couldn’t help but notice for the grim topic of planning his father’s death, John was in a surprisingly good mood. He figured James would be late, he was always late, but he was actually waiting in a corner with a drink. John waved to the bartender, asked him to bring him over a draft beer when he had a chance and shook his brothers hand and sat down next to him.

“How we doing brother? Big plans right?”

“Yea, yea, let’s get to it. And keep your voice down.”

Deep planning

John forgot how serious his brother could be. For the next ten minutes, the brothers sparred like they were thirty years younger, trying to figure out the other’s defenses, where was the soft spot, where was the powerful right hook waiting to pounce. They probed and avoided the heart of the matter.

Finally when they saw that the bartender and other guests were going to leave them alone, they got to the heart of the matter. “Are we really going to do this or not,” John asked. He was surprised how quickly his brother jumped in, he knew his brother had been bullied and belittled by their father in recent years, he just didn’t realize how much.

They both missed their mother. She had been the one constant. The only source of kindness and love. When she died ten years earlier, they all went to pieces. Their old man became the tyrant he always wanted to become and threw his money in their faces every chance he could get.

“Damn right we’re doing it,” James said.

They talked the rest of the meeting on the details of the plan. Best case, the death would look like natural causes, worse case, it would look like a feeble old man lost and confused, who overdosed on his own medications. They would have alibis. Of course, they even had an alibi for this meeting, they were planning a surprise party for the old man’s 79th birthday. They would have lies for their lies.

Drinks on me

After about two hours, the brothers were proud of themselves. They were going to pull this off. They sat back with smirks on their faces. The bartender came over with a refill on the John’s draft and Jame’s bourbon.

“Compliments of the lady,” the bartender said.

“What lady?” John asked.

The bartender looked up and then back with a confused look. “Um there was a lady in the far corner. I guess she left.”

John’s smile disappeared. “Did you catch what she looked like?”

“Oh, I didn’t. She had blond hair, a baseball hat, a yankees hat, that’s all I remember. She paid with cash. Sorry about that.”

John and James looked at each other. They weren’t sure what to believe.

Image by Pixabay.

Cat out of the bag?

Sheila looked in her rearview mirror, pulled out onto the street, and smiled to herself. Her hat, wig and sunglasses sat on the car seat beside her. John would never be able to find her. Even if he got his hands on the bar video, he wouldn’t be able to tell it was her. She had checked out the bar in advance. She knew the dead zones in the video. She had positioned herself perfectly. Plus, her disguise was professional. John would be wasting his time, chasing a dead-end.

She was onto the two brothers and they wouldn’t be able to cut her out of the picture this time. She was a Preston too. They might not like to admit it, they might want to gloss over their father’s little pleasure romp with his assistant in the early 90s, but she was going to get her share.

She had the smoking gun she needed to protect her interests. It was just a question now of who to let dangle in the wind first, James or John. Oh, decisions, decisions. In the end, it didn’t matter, she was going to get her piece of the pie.

43 thoughts on “The Best-Laid Plans

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  1. Congratulations on getting back to your short stories! It’s easy to get caught up in blogging and leave the more ambitious stuff behind. But you should keep on writing short stories–I enjoyed this one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I have mixed feelings. I love the personal stories, because I love the authenticity and honesty. But many other readers tend to gravitate to the fictional stuff. There’s a lot of bad fiction out there. I want to make sure mine isn’t. We’ll see, I’m sure I’ll keep to both genres. They’re both fun to play with and see where they go.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Especially liked these lines–

    “He would have chosen some tutti-frutti expresso bar full of young hipsters and soccer moms.”

    “you had to be a leader in the community, a doctor, lawyer, engineer or some other BS profession.”

    I’m interested to know more about their reasoning for wanting their father dead.

    Great twist throwing Sheila in there. You could definitely draw readers along, too, if you didn’t reveal exactly who she is at first, and played around with some personality development of this character we are wondering about. Fun!

    Telling and showing can be equally masterful. When will this book be coming out?😉



    1. Thanks for the encouragement Melissa, definitely appreciated. You nailed one of my telling/showing concerns . . . the reason why the two brothers wanted their father dead. I said it, but I didn’t really put the reader into the scene. Off the top of my head, I feel like it needed a scene from the past showing the father ridiculing the brothers, maybe even to the point of making the reader feel sorry for them (to keep the reader seeing some redeeming quality in the brothers.)

      Yes, I agree with you too on Sheila’s identity. I could have played that up more, but I wasn’t sure how long of a story I wanted to write. Should it be something short like this that lets the reader play out the end or should I write it to completion and see where it goes. It doesn’t seem to be novel length — there would have to be a lot more side stories — but who knows?

      Thanks for the feedback! Very helpful.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I definitely like mysteries and looking for information, so the hidden pieces are appealing to me! I don’t think it’s a problem that you’ve let us in on their plot, there is plenty of development you could do. Unlimited possibilities!

        You are welcome!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. When I post, I usually give my pieces one final read after I hit publish. Just to make sure nothing crazy jumps out at me. You wrote a few months ago about where content comes from … I feared for a second I might have lifted that from somewhere. In the end it’s pretty innocuous, but I still like the line too. Something different. Thanks for reading!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think that one’s all you! And it’s good stuff – a great line! And cheers to ‘final checks’ but I’ll tell you what – every time I do that, I find something else in my own work…pesky typos, weird missing words. I think I’m my own worst hazard sometimes. This was a great read, Brian! Keep at it! 😘

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Holy cannoli! I was sucked right in (the story is in my favorite genre) and I want to read more, with the appropriate twists and a faux pas or two, and then an unexpected ending. As much as I truly enjoy the posts on your daily life and the follies that occur, you have an amazing talent here that should not be wasted!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Josborne! I appreciate the encouragement. I tend to veer more to the personal stuff, because of its authenticity. The challenge I have with short stories and fiction is that there’s so much of it out there and unfortunately, a lot of it bad. I’m not sure where mine fits in. Yes, I have a professional writing background so it’s got the commas and periods in the right place, but does it have the creative twists, and the “soul” that fiction needs to keep reader’s interest and keep them coming back for me. For me, that’s the big question.


  4. Quite a compelling tale you’ve spun here! Yes, a touch of polish and it should be good. One suggestion, if I may:
    John opened the door to the bar and walked in. He couldn’t help but notice for the grim topic of planning his father’s death, John was in a surprisingly good mood. Could be trimmed to: John was in a good mood in spite of the topic of the meeting.

    I agree with one other comment: leave the woman’s identity for later. She’s seeing easy money here, but don’t reveal the connection. Having her pay for their drinks is an interesting touch–a good way to alert the brothers. “I’m watching you guys!” Reading about the unknown woman, I wondered where you’d take this. Would you make her the ghost of their departed mother nudging them to place nice? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love the ideas Christine! Yes, yes, it’s wordy. Needs some tightening! And yes, Sheila’s Identity came quick. For a short, short piece, I worried I was losing the reader and felt the need to wrap things up. I see now that I have some space to tell the story. Why they hate their father, let the story play out more as to Sheila’s identity, etc. I like how you’re thinking too about Sheila and the departed mother. Hmm, oh the places to go!!!


    1. My original thought was a short story, but I do see opportunities to “give the story some more breathing room” and to go into more detail on some of the open questions like why they hate their father so much, what specifically happened, who really is sheila, and even possibly waiting longer to ID her. It’s definitely a different format for me. I tend to veer to the personal story. I like short stories and hope to write a novel, but I want it to be good — there’s so many bad books out there now. Thanks for the feedback.

      Liked by 1 person

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