The Iron Writer Challenge #41
2013 Iron Writer Winter Solstice Challenge #5
Mary Simmons, Miranda Hawley, Suzann Smith, Rasmia
A Big Wheel
12 Sweaty Sumo Wrestlers
An Indestructible Filing Cabinet
A Wooden Hanger
Grandad’s Secret Cabinet
Mary C Simmons
“Good Lord,” Marvin grunted. “I don’t think I can even get it to the door of this room, let alone to your house. I reckon even a dozen Sumo Wrestlers sweatin’ all day couldn’t. It’s stayin’ put. What the devil’s in it? Gold?” He stroked the top of the cabinet—solid as a rock.
“Dunno.” Gabby shrugged. “Grandad never said. But he wouldn’t let anyone look in it, ever.“ She picked up the picture of him and Grandma from his desk, taken twenty years ago. She remembered well that wiry, flaming red hair. “Like rusty steel wool,” Grandma used to say.”
“He was never the same after she died.” Gabby put the photo back down on the desk.
That was the skeleton in the closet, the thing the family never talked about. Grandma’s death. One day Grandma was gone, no note, no clues were ever found. She was just gone.
“They say she left him for another man,” Marvin said, nodding at the photo. “But I never believed it.”
Gabby shook her head, murmuring, “Me neither. But I wished they’d’ve found her body or something, if for no other reason than to bring Grandad some peace.”
“I reckon,” Marvin said. “Nothing worse than not knowing.” He knocked on the top of the cabinet. “Seems hollow inside. But why’s a filing cabinet gotta be so heavy?”
Gabby shook her head. “Don’t know that either. Grandad said it’d been in a fire in a 10th story office, and they found it in the rubble afterwards, like it fell 10 floors.“
“Wow,” Marvin said. “That’s amazing.”
Gabby nodded. “Grandad was always very secretive about it and kept it locked all the time. Uncle Dick thinks there’s some priceless treasure inside. He and everyone else want to loot something, it seems.”
The day of Grandad’s wake, cousins, aunts and uncles had come out of the woodwork, hoping to lay claim to one of Grandad’s many antiques. And some things that were neither antiques, nor even belonging to Grandad. She called Cousin Freddy asking him to please return her son’s giant yellow and red plastic Big Wheel. She’d seen him load it into the back of his Jeep, but he had acted appalled that she should accuse him of such a thing.
“How’d you end up with it?” Marvin asked. “Did he leave it to you in his will or something?”
“Nope,” she said, grinning. “I have this!” She opened her hand to reveal a small silver skeleton key. “I just found it this morning in the pocket of that.” She pointed to a green sweater on wooden hanger draped over the desk chair.
“Well, open it!” Marvin said, gently nudging her.
Gabby glanced at him as she pushed the skeleton key into the lock. One full revolution, and the drawer opened silently.
“Oh my God,” she gasped after a few moments. “It’s Grandma!”
Marvin looked down at a yellow skull, wisps of red hair seeping out its black eye sockets.
Like rusty steel wool.
My Big Brother
Catrina giggled. She was hiding behind a hedge on her big brothers big wheel. He never let her play with it when he was home. But big brother wasn’t here right now. He was at school.
“Trina?” mommy called again.
Slowly, little Trina pushed on the pedal. Scratch, scrape and the bike moved forward.
“There you are, you little cutie! Come inside and have lunch.”
The little munchkin put brother’s bike on the porch and came inside. The door was thin, and had holes from where daddy had gotten mad. The kitchen was a cheery butter color, which was contrary to the rest of the house.
“Mommy! Nuggies! I want nuggies!”
“No, Trina. We have strawberry sammiches,” her mommy said with a sigh. There was barely enough money to keep bread and milk in the house, so chicken nuggets were a luxury. The louse she had married worked only rarely, but spent his money on watching TV. Where on earth did you learn to watch 12 sweaty sumo wrestlers? It definitely was not a cultural regularity.
Silent tears slid down the girl’s cheeks as she ate her food. There was never any good food. Some days, she watched her daddy come home and sleep. But sometimes, daddy didn’t go straight to bed. She watched him go to the basement. There was a big black indestructible file cabinet down there. Daddy would put thing in it, but Trina never knew what. It was locked.
Trina’s mom was a pretty woman, rounded in all the right places. Her cheeks were pale and hollow, since she rarely ate to keep her children full. She would take in laundry from her neighbors and the motels. She liked the motel laundry; they sent wooden hangers for her to use. She was trying to find a way to get her children out of this situation. What her children didn’t see under her long dress were the bruises, the marks left from the chains and belts from the humiliation she endured.
“BETTY!” The impotent louse was home, apparently drunk. He was easier to avoid when he was drunk. Trina started shaking. Daddy was loud; she didn’t like it when daddy was loud. She took another bite of her food, and slid down from the dilapidated chair. She would go outside and make a dirt castle until big brother got home.
The muffled crying came to Trina from the broken window. Mommy was crying. Trina knew she couldn’t go inside right now. Big brother was almost home. The small, dust covered girl creeped inside. She left a toy downstairs. She moved quietly around, staying close to the wall, skipped the bottom step. There was her baby doll, in the corner. But that wasn’t was little Trina saw. The bottom drawer of daddy’s cabinet was open. The dingy light overhead glittered off of something. A child’s curiosity brought her over. The drawer was full of golden coins. Pirate’s gold? She put a few in her doll to show mommy.
Agent Robinson didn’t know what to expect from his new assignment. The Japanese were notorious for their crazy security. All he knew was, “Get in, destroy the files, get out.” He was snapped out of his thoughts by a sudden gust of wind that made him teeter in his position on the roof. Regaining his balance, the agent lowered himself into the hole he had created. He was immediately faced with a challenge. The floor opened up to a pool of acid and there was no visible way to get across. He jumped up and noticed the wire above his head. Two wooden hangers were on a hook in the left corner, barely detectable.
Robinson hooked them onto the line and threw himself across. He must have underestimated the momentum because one if the hangers slipped off and he was left kicking his way to the other side. When he finally managed to make it across, the next room seemed empty. That is, until he had stepped halfway across and Big Wheels shot at him from every direction. His long legs collapsed from the sudden blows and he yelped in pain.
Robinson got up and limped to the door, jumping to escape the final wave of big Wheels. He shoved his way through the curtains at the entrance of the third room. A robotic voice could be heard from somewhere overhead.
“Agent Miller Robinson, we’ve been expecting you. We understand the goal of your mission, and we can’t let you achieve it.”
“What? Who are you? What are you going to —” The agent’s screams were cut off as the walls started to close in on him. He tried to shoot his grappling hook at the ceiling, but only caught an alarm system box instead. Still, he yanked, pulling the box to the floor and watching as it shattered. The voice was back but the walls had stopped moving.
“Room three error: system reboot required,” it repeated over and over again. Robinson took this opportunity to make his way into the fourth and final room. There was nothing in there but the filing cabinet, one lightbulb, and twelve sumo wrestlers. They were eerily quiet, lined up against the walls. He took a cautious step forward and was instantly hit by the foul smell of sweat. The wrestlers still hadn’t moved. The agent made his way towards the filing cabinet.
Something was triggered in the wrestlers’ eyes. They stepped forward with a look of fury shining on their faces. One grabbed Robinson’s leg and pulled him to the ground. Three more pinned his limbs down. He could feel the disgusting wetness of the sumo wrestlers’ sticky sweat dripping onto his face. Robinson kicked the one holding his right arm until it was free.
He grabbed the grenade from his jacket pocket, pulled the pin with his mouth, and tossed it at the filing cabinet. The wrestlers dragged him back and he laughed as the smoke cleared. His laugh caught in his throat when the saw the clearly indestructible cabinet still standing. He had failed.
The Great Rescue
The boys looked at each other. There were no words. There usually weren’t. They communicated mostly through their eyes. One pair were the deepest brown with pupils of onyx. The other shone bright blue and animated. Sometimes, reminiscent of the old movie portrayal of Neanderthals, they would communicate with grunts and gestures. But usually it was just the eyes. The first small head, covered in dusty blonde waves with skin to match, bobbed around the corner, looking to his right. It was there. His Big Wheel. His prized possession. In Toy Jail. Daddy had taken it away when he’d gotten into trouble. But he wasn’t giving up. It was his and he’d have it back!
Across the hallway, peeking around the other corner, the other head bobbed up, this one covered in snowy white locks contrasting with the tan little face under it. The blue eyes searched out the first stage of Operation Get Big Wheel Back. Stage one, his own most prized possessions, 12 small sumo wrestler dolls. These were the coolest toy because when you fought with them, they got all sweaty just like the real thing! It had been hard to get Momma to let him bring them along, but toddlers have persuasive powers unequaled by even the most highly trained hostage negotiators. Twelve little sumo soldiers stood guard, in three even lines down the hallway connecting Toy Jail (aka. Momma and Daddy’s Room) and the room with with the giant, avocado green, indestructible filing cabinet inside the door (aka Daddy’s Office). The towhead nodded to his friend, Stage One ready. Then he looked the question to his partner in crime, Stage Two?
The sandy blonde head nodded, ready. It had been challenging to get Momma’s thick, heavy, wooden coat hanger out of the closet, leaving Momma’s coat crumpled upon the floor. Even more challenging was the job of placing the hanger, precariously balanced, upon Daddy’s filing cabinet.
The plan was simple. Using a toddler’s greatest charms, they lure a big kid, preferably the 6 year old because she was the whiniest, into the hallway. She stumbles upon the army of sumo wrestlers who attack her sending her flying head long into the filing cabinet. Sister crashes, coat hanger falls hitting her on the head causing her to cry. Mommas rush to her aid, leaving the path to Toy Jail free of parental observation. They rush in, grab the Big Wheel and get it outside before the Mommas even see them. They could count on big sister to cry loud enough and long enough to let them get away!
It was a good plan, the boys reflected from Toddler Jail. It was. One minor miscalculation had hindered their escape. They had failed to realize that sumo wrestler sweat would make the wood floor slippery. And that Big Wheels have no traction on slippery floors. They’d attempted a valiant get away! But here they sat in Toddler Jail, hoping for a big brother or sister to post bail.