As Good As New

Posted: August 18, 2013 in Fantasy, Magic
Tags: , , , , ,

Old_shedJoe sighed contentedly and laid his screwdriver back into the toolbox.  The small sized swing chair he had just finished was really beautiful.  It had cost Mrs. Goodwin a fortune when she bought it seven years before.  Now he had finished her order for restoring and/or repairing it successfully.  Becky had already prepared two cushions for the chair.  As it was already too late to deliver it to Nantucket, he would take the ferry first thing in the morning.  With one last admiring glance at the restored chair on the workbench he turned to skirt it on the left.  The horrific sound of an electric drill set in.  Joe halted.  He abhorred the sound of electric drills – it hurt his ears.  The sound had stopped.  He took one step forward and – the sound was back.  He shook his head.  It sounded very loud.  Nobody in his family used an electric drill.  There shouldn’t and couldn’t be one.  He turned around to take a peak out of the window.  There was no one near.  He turned to the door, taking the direct route to the right of the workbench.  Nothing happened.  Joe opened the door, switched off the light and used his key to close the shed.  “As good as new!”  Joe froze, listened.  After a minute he decided it had just been his imagination.

After he had scrubbed his hands clean, Joe went to the kitchen.  His niece Becky was just setting the table.  Her fiancé Brad was stirring in a pan.  It smelled delicious.  Becky and Brad were pescatarians.  At first, Joe had feared the worst:  no steaks, no meat balls, no ham, etc.  When cooking, they used incredibly tasty herbs and spices.  And at least they provided tasty dishes of fish as well.  Brad looked at him.  “Are you all right?” – “Just a slight headache.  Didn’t you hear the electric drill?”  Becky and Brad shook their heads in unison.  “The range hood was on, we didn’t hear a thing.”

Before they sat down at the table, Joe took three bottles of beer out of the fridge.  The retired school teacher enjoyed the dinners with Becky and her fiancé.  They always came ‘home’ Friday afternoon and left in the early hours of Monday, then returning to their respective jobs in Boston, banker and dentist.  Throughout dinner they exchanged news about past week’s events.  Life in Boston was busy as usual.  Hyannis already prepared for the autumn and/or winter season.  Quite soon, the number of tourists would diminish.  Some shops and house owners would board up and return in April.

Next morning, the Johnson household was up early.  They had a rich breakfast, filled the dishwasher, and set off.  Becky and Brad went to the mall, Joe went to the shed to retrieve the swing chair.  He opened the door, leaving it open and headed in the direction of the workbench.  Again, this horrible sound of the electric drill set in.  Joe jumped back and covered his ears.  The noise had stopped.  One tentative step forward…  ‘Now, this is crazy, ‘ Joe thought.  He inched sideways.  No sound.  He inched further to the left, stepped forward, and could finally reach the swing chair.  He carefully wrapped it in a clean sheet and carried it to the truck.  He secured the swing chair and went back to the shed.  Before closing the door, he looked around.  “As good as new!”  Joe was thunderstruck.  This was his father’s voice!  Until his death 25 years ago, James had worked in this shed – and in the house as well, restoring valuable furniture.  His parrot Jack always keeping him company – much to his wife’s dismay.  Marybeth was typically the one to clean and – cleaning included removing of bird droppings, paint, wood shavings, and more.  James used to admire his newly restored pieces of furniture and state the obvious:  “As good as new.”  The parrot soon imitated him to perfection.  Joe shook his head and closed the door.

The trip to Nantucket and back was as planned.  Mrs. Goodwin was delighted by the restoration and the new cushions.  When she paid Joe, she also handed him a freshly baked rum cake ‘to share with his family’, as she insisted.  Joe got home to find a new antique-looking hand crafted letterbox.  Inside was a brief note reading ‘Hope you like it!’  It was signed by Becky and Brad.  He went inside.  Becky was in the living room, reading a new book.  It didn’t surprise him.  Going to the mall always meant spending some time at Barnes & Noble, browsing for books and bookmarks.  Becky got up, Joe showed her the cake and hugged her.  “Thank you for the letterbox, ” he said.  Becky smiled and led him to the kitchen.  “Let’s get some coffee,” she said.  Joe looked out of the kitchen window.  “What is Brad up to?” he asked.  “He is checking the picket fence.  Some of the wood in that corner seems quite rotten.”

After coffee, Joe returned to the shed to tidy up.  He took a broom from the closet and started sweeping.  As he neared the spot next to the workbench, the sound of the electric drill set in again.  He took one step backward and the sound subsided.  Another step back and the sound was gone.  Carefully, he held the broom in front of him with outstretched arms.  Nothing.  He slowly lowered the broom.  Still no sound.  He let the broom softly touch the ground.  No sound.  He carefully swept the floor.  He applied a little more pressure and – heard the electric drill.  He lifted the broom – silence.  He decided to give this spot a wide berth and not to waste any more time on thinking about it.  Having cleaned the floor, he decided to call it a day.

A little after midnight, Joe started tossing and turning in his sleep.  He had a nightmare about his dad and the shed.  He jolted awake to the shout “As good as new!  As good as new!”  Heart racing and sweating he looked at his watch.  12:17, his display read.  Still slightly shaking he stood up, went to the door, opened it, listened.  An anguished shriek sounded from outside.  His niece’s door opened.  “What the heck?  What was this horrible shriek about?!”  Outside they could hear a male voice uttering expletives.  Joe and Becky started downstairs in their pyjamas, the latter firmly holding a baseball bat in her right hand.  She briefly turned around.  “Brad, follow us, have your cell phone ready, and watch out for my sign!  If necessary, dial 9-1-1!”  Downstairs, they stood and listened.  There!  Cursing from somewhere near the back!  They sidled to the kitchen door and looked outside.  The door to the shed was open.  Inside, they could see the glow of a torch.  Joe cautiously opened the door.  He and Becky cautiously approached the shed.  To the right of the workbench, they could see a hole in the floor.  Inside a dark clad guy sporting a black ski mask over his head.  Several floor boards were broken, if they broke due to the guy’s weight or the shovel laying nearby, they couldn’t tell.  Becky signalled Brad to make the call.  She and Joe entered the shed.  Joe switched on the lights.

The guy between the floor boards had several cuts in his sleeves, blood was oozing out of two or three cuts.  His eyes were closed.  Becky moved forward.  The electric drill sounded.  She stopped, nonplussed.  They guy’s eyes flew open.  “Stop that noise, you fools!” he yelled.  Joe took Becky’s arm to draw her back.  The sound stopped.  In the distance, the first sirens could be heard.  Joe contemplated the scene.  Apparently, the guy had approached the spot right to the workbench, the floor boards broke, he got hurt.  “Did you hear the electric drill before falling through the floor boards?”  He earned a vicious look from the guy in the floor.  He took this as a ‘no’.  The investigators moved in and took control.  Joe had one recommendation:  “The floor boards over there are rather unstable.  You might want to batten the floor a little.”

Then, Joe and Becky were ushered outside and asked to retreat to the house.  Neither of them felt like sleeping.  Becky decided to take a shower, Brad prepared coffee, and Joe poured himself his favourite Irish whiskey.  A while later, Detective Art Manning knocked at the kitchen door.  He gladly accepted the freshly brewed coffee as well as a piece of cake.  Then he got to business.  “Your ‘visitor’ is Charlie Donner, 24 years old.  He has raised our suspicions before, we didn’t have any proof – until now.  He broke into your shed as he was told there was a treasure beneath the floor boards.  He entered the shed, broke through the floor boards and broke his ankle on – a chest.  You need to forgive us for having had to open the chest.  Inside we found your parents’ love letters – can it be your father’s nickname was As Good As New – and a bankbook.  The latter will certainly help you intensify the security of your shed.”  The detective stood up.  “Thanks for the coffee and the cake.”  Joe escorted him to the front door.  Another investigator was about to knock.  He handed Joe the chest.  “This is yours.”

“I still don’t get it,” Brad looked questioningly at Joe and Becky.  “What about this ominous sound of an electric drill?!”  Joe looked at Becky and nodded.  Becky explained:  “When Joe was little, he was present when a co-worker of his dead had a sever accident with an electric drill.  After this traumatic experience, Joe still cannot hear this sound without reliving this situation.”  –  “When I heard that sound in the shed, I halted.  Therefore, there was never a danger of my falling through the floor boards.  Perhaps my father or my mother tried to warn me off,” Joe explained.  “Since when do you believe in ghosts?” Brad asked.  “I wouldn’t say I actually believe in ghosts.  I just feel that I might have been saved from harm by something I just cannot explain.  I am grateful to whatever or whoever has saved me,” Joe stated matter-of-factly.

  1. Jack Flacco says:

    I just realized I requested access to your protected blog. I should have checked your Gravatar profile first. So, you can ignore my request! 🙂

    Your writing is very fluid. I enjoyed reading his immensely. Keep getting better at what you’re doing. Great read!

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