This weeks short story was inspired by the Wednesday Writers Whatchamacallits prompt which directed us to write a short story using all of these elements: houseboat, local sheriff, paperclip, and scotch. I hope you enjoy, A Bigger Flask of Scotch.
Sheriff Brown, standing on the port side of the houseboat, glances into the murky water over the side. Bobbing face up, the body of a man, face swollen and distorted, watches the evening sky with unseeing eyes. The body’s smell hits him full force—an aromatic mixture of stomach acid and rotting cabbage—and he turns away in disgust, closing a hand over his mouth to try and keep his dinner from coming up.
When the feeling eases, he reaches into his pocket and retrieves a small flask. He unscrews the lid and tips it to his dry lips. The scotch only helps a little.
“Mind if I have a hit of that?”
Brown turns and sees Deputy Anderson coming up the gangplank. Without a word, he hands Anderson the flask. Once Anderson has had a healthy pull of the fiery amber liquid, Brown asks, “Do we have an I.D. on the body?”
Anderson shakes his head and hands him a packet of paper held together by a jumbo-sized paperclip. Brown is shocked to see the face emblazoning the top right corner of the first page. It’s definitely not the face belonging to the body in the water. But it is a face he recognizes. A face that graces the surface of a dozen billboards around the county.
“You’re sure about this?” Brown asks, as Anderson hands back the silver flask.
“Not one hundred percent," he says, cocking his head toward the main cabin. "But this is his houseboat.”
“Did you check the main house?”
“Yes—nobody’s there. Both vehicles are gone.”
Brown takes another swig and slides the flask back into his pocket. On shore, divers begin to row a flat-bottomed boat toward the houseboat, so they can retrieve the body.
“Well isn’t this just dandy. Just what I needed.” He can see the newspaper headline now: Local Politician on the Lam. He hands the paperwork back to Anderson. “Better get on the radio and issue a B.O.L.O.”
“Will do boss.” Anderson spins on his heel and walks away.
Sheriff Brown turns west, contemplates the setting sun, and thinks, I need a bigger flask of scotch.
September 5, 2018