WRITER’S BLOCK • by Jason Stout

Twenty minutes. That’s it and then I call it a night. Of course, time doesn’t matter that much. I’m never really off duty in my job.

The radio crackles.

“What’s your location?” the dispatcher asks.

It’s never a good thing to get a radio call so close to the end of a shift. Even if there’s nothing to it, there’s always something to it.

“Just winding down here,” I say into the radio. “I’m cruising down Culbone, heading back to the station.”

“Sorry, bud,” the dispatcher says. “You’re going to have to turn around. We’ve got a report of a suspicious person outside a house at 1797 Ash Farm Road.”

Just what I needed.

“Okay,” I say. “I’m on my way.”

I take a quick left down Bridgewater and start meandering back to Ash Farm. Maybe if I drive slowly enough, the person will disappear before I show up.

When I get to Ash Farm, I turn my headlights off and coast to a stop in front of 1797. I feel around the passenger seat for my Hammerhead Tac-Lite. I click it on and, without getting out of my patrol car, start shining it into the bushes beside the house.

Damn. There’s someone there. What is she wearing, a costume?

I throw my door open and, hurrying out of the car, promptly fall on the sidewalk, full sprawl. So much for stealth.

“Hey,” I shout as I’m getting to my knees. “You, stop right there.”

Shit, a runner. Why do they always run?

“Stop,” I shout again. I stand up and start to run. I just hope I can keep up. I really need to lay off the doughnuts. Come on, legs, keep pumping.

How can she run so fast in tights and fairy wings?

There she is, heading around that corner.  She’s stuck now; that’s a dead end.

I round the corner, flashlight in hand.

Where the hell did she go? I shine the light at every nook and cranny. It’s like she disappeared into thin air.

I make my way back to the 1797 house, huffing and puffing the whole way, sweating like a short-order cook. I knock on the door and a young lady answers.

“Yes, officer, can I help you?” she says.

“Sorry to bother you, ma’am,” I say. “Just saw some young kid poking around the side of the house over there. Wanted to make sure you were okay.”

“We’re fine. But do you want to speak to my husband? He’s upstairs writing, but I could get him.”

I think for a minute. The kid in the leotard is long gone by now. Won’t do much good to talk to the husband. Ah, what the hell, wouldn’t hurt, I guess.

“Sure, ma’am,” I say. “That would be good.”

“Sam, can you come down,” she shouts up the stairs.

The husband comes out to meet me on the stoop. Professor type. Frazzled hair, coke-bottle glasses. I tell him about the kid, minus the wings and the fairy get-up. We chat for a bit, and I tell him to let me know if he sees anything suspicious. I shake his hand and get ready to leave.

“Long night ahead of you, officer?” he asks as I start down the front steps.

“No, I’m heading straight home after this,” I say.

“Good for you. Where’s home?”

“Just down the road a ways. Porlock.”

“Nice town, I’ve heard.”

“Nice enough, I guess. You have a good night, now.”

“Thanks, officer. Good night.”

As I head to my patrol car, I hear the husband and his wife talking on the porch.

“Are you going back upstairs to write?” she asks.

“No,” he says. “I had a great story just coming to me, but I think the good man from Porlock there has scared my muse away for the night.”

I climb into the car and drive off. Well, I’m sorry about distracting the professor from his story, but I’ve got a job to do. Speaking of a great story, though, I’m going to have to come up with a good one before I go into work tomorrow. The guys will never let me live it down if they find out I was outrun by a flake in a tutu and wings.

Jason Stout lives in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife and 5 children.  His works have appeared in:  Every Day Fiction; Flashquake (Editor’s Pick); Shine!; and Pequin.  He can be contacted through his website: jasonstout.jimdo.com.

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