Friday, May 05, 2006

MB Campfire Story Part XIV (Fin)

We hope you’ve enjoyed the Monkey Barn Campfire Story. I think it was a great success, and maybe we’ll do something like this again. For my part—and a few other’s chapters—it really would help if you’re familiar with the works of Orson Welles, especially THE THIRD MAN and CITIZEN KANE, but hopefully you enjoyed the tale anyway.

I had so much fun reading each day, that I couldn’t just finish with one ending. So, I gave you three.



The story could have ended like this…..

ENDING #1 - Medium

Twin trails of smoke—from the body and the derringer—still rose in the air when Rosa Budde slinked back into the room. She looked at the dying figure of Anika with no revulsion. Maybe a slight curiosity, nothing more.

“Is Bob coming?” Charley asked, as he reloaded the small gun and slipped it into a pocket.

“Yes. You know we don’t get the final payment until he sees her body.” Rosa lit a gold-tipped cigarette and blew her own trail of smoke to add to the others.”

“I wonder what she ever did to piss that boy off so much?” Charley mused, as he pulled out a crushed pack of Marlboros and blazed one up himself.

“Who cares? At least the whole charade allowed us to get rid of your pig of a brother.”

“Ah, Harry wasn’t so bad.” Charley’d been calling him that so long he no longer thought of Orson.

Bob walked in, grunting in pleasure at the sight of Anika’s body.

“Everything go okay, Bob?”

“Harry’s dead. The apartment’s cleaned up. There were reports of a third man there that no one can identify, but I don’t think it means much.”

Charley’s eyes might have flickered, but Bob didn’t appear to notice. He was more keen on the goods. “You have the notebook and key?” he asked Charley.

“Sure do. Babe?”

Rosa sauntered over and put them in Bob’s hands. Bob handed her a duffel bag. Rosa peaked inside and then went in back to count the money. Bob bummed a cigarette and they stood watching the Anika’s blood congeal on the floor.

“You’ll give that to Sal?” Charley asked?

“Yup.” You should be in the clear and can head out of here. We’ll send a clean up crew for this bitch.” His shoe kicked her in the side.

Charley shook his head. “What’d she ever do to you?”

Bob looked embarrassed. “She taped me on day…” He swallowed and went on. “I was pretending to be a Jedi Knight, fighting with a light saber. Anika put the tape on the internet.”

“That’s rough.”

“Tell me about it.” A pause, a calculating look from Bob. “Since we’re sharing, what’d Harry ever do to you to make you want to kill your own brother?”

Charley took one long last pull on his cigarette and let it drop to the floor, where his wingtip stubbed it out. He put on his coat and hat and walked to the exit. At the door he looked back at Bob. “He stole my sled when I was 8.”

Rosa Budde poked her head back in. “It’s all there. You coming?”

Charley nodded, and the two walked out without a backward glance.

I suppose it could have even ended like this….

ENDING #2 – Rare

Awad closed the book the book gently, and looked down at his young son. The boy blinked back tears, trying hard to be a man in front of his father.

“Well? What did you think?”

After a few clearings of throat: “That story made no sense, father! Why would Anika want to kill Harry when she cared so much about him earlier? Why did Harry’s brother orchestrate the whole thing? Why did the action keep changing? What happened to Bob? Why did nothing from the beginning come back to make sense by the end. And why oh why Papa were some chapters so good and others so….not?”

Awad laughed softly at his son. “Who is to say? These are Americans, and they do things differently.”

“Well I hate them!” the boy declared resolutely. “When I grow up I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure that evil storytelling of this nature is defeated.”

Awad laughed again, and moved to the door, turning off the light. “Hush now, Osama, and go to sleep. You have a big day tomorrow.”

But here is what actually happened…..

ENDING #3 – Well Done

Bob walked in, duffel bag over his shoulder. The smoke was still rising from Anika’s body, a twin to match the derringer. To complete the triad Rosa Budde came out of the back room and lit up one of her gold-tipped cigarettes, her expression bored. Bob whistled inside his head.

“You got the money?” Charley asked.

“Yeah. You got Sal’s stuff?” In answer Rosa opened a Crown Royal bag, removing a small notebook and a ring-sized box. This too she opened to reveal a golden key.

This time Bob’s whistle was out loud. “Do you know how long Sal and the others have been looking for that?” Charley merely smiled, and fished a Marlboro out of his pocket. He offered one to Bob, who cheerfully accepted. Bob handed the duffel bag to Rosa, who went in the back to count it.

“Harry’s body?” Charley asked.

Bob answered: “They’d already taken it to the morgue. It was pretty burned up, but I recognized his clothing.” This seemed to satisfy Charley.

“What about the house?”

“Taken care of. Jack’s body was taken away. Hell of a left hook that Anika had.”

Charley nodded in what could almost be pride.


“He wasn’t dead, so I slit his throat.” Bob hesitated, as if not sure whether to tell the last part. “There were reports of a third man there later, but I couldn’t confirm it. I don’t think it means anything.”

Charley might have blinked, but Bob missed it. He was back looking at Anika. “What made her go through with killing Harry? I thought she loved him?”

“She did. Sometimes the life is well, hard to get out of.”

Bob nodded. There were none but sinners in the room here. Nervously Bob started flipping through the notebook. “What the hell kind of language is this?”


“Oh yeah…duh: Sal. Anika knew Italian?”

“Harry taught her. He was in stationed in Venice for awhile. They were planning on going for a second honeymoon.”

“I guess not now.” Bob looked over at Charley.” So, you don’t mind me asking, what made you want your brother dead, anyhows?”

“He stole my sled when I was 8.”

“That’s it?” Bob was incredulous.

“Well,” reasoned Charley, “We were only foster brothers. The joke sailed right over Bob’s head, but what else was new?

Rosa Budde came back out. Charley went to the closet to put on his hat and coat. When he turned back around, Bob was holding a gun, and Rosa was holding on to him.

“Sorry buddy, but someone’s got to take the fall for all this. The cops should be here in five minutes. I give you that much of a head start, and the money, for old time’s sake.”

Bob walked out. Rosa waved to Charley. “Sorry Charley, but you know how it is; gotta roll with the punches.”

“You have no idea how right you are, doll. No hard feelings.”

Alone now, Charley calmly finished his cigarette. Stubbing out the butt on the ground, Charley pulled out his lighter again and slowly passed the flame back and forth along his neck. This allowed the epoxy glue to pull free, and Charley pulled the prosthetic mask off.

Whew! It was a lot easier to breathe now! Harry walked over to Anika and knelt down over her, gently shaking the girl. After a moment she roused, starting in horror when she saw Harry dressed in Charley’s clothing.

“How? What? How?” Anika spluttered.

“Three excellent questions.” Harry replied with a sardonic grin.

“But I killed you!” Anika exclaimed.

“Darling, how many times have I tried to get you to watch THE THIRD MAN? Don’t you know that everybody thinks that Harry Lime is dead, but he never is.”

“So what’s going on?” Anika was still groggy.

“Well, Bob came by to see proof that you’re dead and pick up the notebook and key. Rosa betrayed me right on cue, and they headed back over to Sal with the money.”

“That’s awful!”

“Not really.” Harry said. He lit another cigarette, and passed it to Anika. She really needed one. He lit another for himself, and explained, “You see, sweetheart, neither Bob nor Rosa can read Italian. I made another entry into that notebook, explaining that Bob and Rosa are responsible for both Jane’s death and yours, and that they stole all that money to boot. You know how Sal felt about you girls, even after all this time.” Harry’s smile was positively radiant now. “Yep. I imagine they won’t get quite the reception they were hoping for.”

Harry helped Anika up. “The cops should be here in a minute, and I need to explain the connection with the President night club.”

“Will they take down Sal?”

“I doubt it. Most cops—local and federal—are on Sal’s payroll. But at least it will be our of our hands.”

Harry tried to dust off Anika’s red dress, but there was still some raspberry syrup in her hair. Nothing to do about that.

Anika took Harry by the hands. “Harry, aren’t you mad at me for trying to kill you?”

Harry shrugged. “Nah. Nobody’s perfect.” He smiled. “Besides, all the twists and turns I had to put you through, especially with ‘Charley,’ I can’t say I blame you. Now if you’d been successful I might have a different opinion.”

They both laughed heartily, the tension finally gone.

“Where should we go now?” Anika asked.

“You know how you’ve always wanted to visit Venice.” Harry answered.

“Yes, let’s go there!” Anika said excitedly. “That city is so romantic, with the canals, the gondolas…”

“And the sledding.”

“The what?” The look on Anika’s face was simply priceless.

“C’mon.” Said Charley, putting his arm around her. “I’ll tell you all about it.” Nuzzling his mouth to her ear he whispered, “You know, you really gotta watch more movies.”


Koz said...

Rosa Budde, classic!!!

Lady Jane Scarlett said...

Awesome ending(s)!

Hyperion said...

Koz - Thanks, although it was our our Lady Jane Scarlett who came up with it. When I asked her about it, she said, "I've got your rose bud....right here."

I wonder what she could have meant?

LJS - Thanks. How much you wanna bet I get five angry emails by dinner castigating me for implying that the Monkey Barn Campfire story is responsible for Al Qaeda. As far as I'm concerned, it's a done deal.

'Jax said...

Kaiser Soze.

Schrodinger's Kitten said...

Arrested Dev, Buffy, Kane, Third Man...I'm astounded with your reference skills!

Bravo, Bravo, and Encore!

Dragon said...

Bravo! Great Job!

Bethany said...

Excellent. I just knew Harry and Anika would prevail in the end! Hurray for love!

Hyperion said...

'Jax - You're going to laugh, but I actually teared up when I saw your name there. Of course, I'm pre-mentstrual (how the hell do you spell that?) right now, but still....

Schrodinger - off the top of my head, I can't even think of the Arrested Dev. reference. Do you mean the show or the group? (Two dollars is a snack for me but it means a great deal to you.) I love that Buffy reference too, but figured this was the only chance I'll ever get to use it.

hmmm, maybe my Arres. Dev. reference was unconscious....

Dragon - 'preciate

Bethany - [rolls eyes]

lost goddess said...

Magnificent story every one ,sorry hyperion ruined it with the ending... I just kidding. I love it all. TO Infinity and Beyond

That's my toy story reference.