The Mysterious Bookshop

Resolution: No More Resolutions

 

It was the Eve of a New Year, and Brand had resolved to turn over a new leaf. Mind you, this was the sixteenth year in a row that he’d promised himself that he would turn over a new leaf and he hadn’t yet, but no one was perfect, were they?  And who actually kept New Year’s resolutions anyway?  

And it was a pretty simple resolution. Brand promised himself to be more considerate of other people and to try and help them if such a situation came up. He’d had a dream in which a girl called him a selfish beast, and when he woke up he felt bad because he didn’t want to be a bad person, even in his dreams.

But, bad dreams or no, he needed bread, milk, and potato chips, and so he bundled up and set out on the rather long walk to the grocery.  On the way he pondered everything from leftover Xmas tree lights to the English Restoration to the dearth of ashtrays in public spaces to the beauty of the sunflower to the majesty of the Grand Old Game to the violence on television to the purring of cats to the barking of dogs to the silence of goldfish to the odor that follows an automobile to the lack of trash pickup in his neighborhood to the fact that he really really needed a new coat--but here he was at the grocery already!

It was but the work of a few moments to pick out his bread and milk and potato chips and then he joined the other sad lonely men on the express line.  But wait!  What was this?  A woman on the express line?  Unprecedented!  Unusual!  Unfathomable!  Uncalled for!  He found himself staring at her, maybe forty, a little rotund but quite attractive, bundled up in layers against the cold and then all at once she wasn’t in Brand’s field of vision any more.  She was lying on the floor gasping for air and thrashing about.  It looked like a fit or a seizure of some kind!  Did she have epilepsy?  He remembered reading somewhere that whenever someone was having a fit like this that the thing to do was to make sure that the victim didn’t swallow their tongue.  Oh boy!  A chance to try out his newly minted New Year’s resolution, and it wasn’t even New Year’s Day yet!  Brand knelt beside the stricken woman and carefully inserted two fingers into her mouth, casting about for her tongue that she could keep it in place.  

 

When Brand woke up he couldn’t have said how long he’d been out, but it was pretty clear where he was.  The iron bars on the door made sure of that.  And, oh, how his head ached!  He hadn’t had anything to drink, had he?  And where was his bread and milk and potato chips?  Nowhere to be seen in this cell, that was for sure.  As he was trying to wrap his mind around this new and unwelcome development, he heard footsteps clacking down the corridor, growing louder and louder until presently a big fat sergeant stopped in front of his cell, smirking.

‘Well, you done it now, boy.  Just what was you thinking, stickin your hand in that girl’s mouth like that?’

Brand began, ‘I--’

‘Button it, boy!  You’re just lucky that lady has the holiday spirit and isn’t pressing charges.  You know what I would have done?’

Brand figured the less he had to say, the better off he was, which was wise.

‘I’d’a thrown the book at you!  But then, your type don’t go for old guys like me, do ya?’

Brand said nothing again.

‘Well, maybe ya do!  But I figure a night in the cooler will teach you a good lesson!  You hear me, boy?’  And with that the big fat sergeant turned on his heel and walked out, the clacking footsteps growing softer this time, until Brand was left alone with silence.

There wasn’t anything to do but exercise or sleep or stare out the barred window at the full moon, so Brand sat there and stared out the window, wondering if he’d get his milk and bread and potato chips back when they let him out in the morning.  If they let him out in the morning.

He also had yea time to ponder how they’d manage to mistake his honest attempt to help the woman with some kind of assault?  Brand hoped they wouldn’t make him pay a fine or anything, but the big fat sergeant said that the lady wasn’t pressing charges so hopefully come daybreak he could just leave, he hoped with his milk and bread and potato chips. He didn’t fancy another trip to the store to buy the same things.

He must have fallen asleep, for the next thing Brand knew, the clock tower was chiming midnight.  The start of a New Year, and how about that!  Shedding an old resolution and making a new one before the New Year had even got going!  No more good deeds for me, Brand thought.  From now on I’m keeping myself to myself, and that’s it!

Was that a scratching at the window?  There is was again!  They were on the ground floor, so Brand went over to the bars and peered out.  There was the woman he’d tried to help!  

She said, ‘Sorry about that--I tried to explain that I have epilepsy, but Sheriff Dunarb needed one more prisoner to make his quota and you were in the wrong place at the wrong time.’

Brand, dumbfounded, could only stare.

‘I don’t blame you for being mad, but let me make it up to you.  How about a nice New Year’s breakfast in the morning when they let you out?  My treat!’

Still speechless, Brand could only nod.  ‘Ok, see you!’ she chirped.  She sure seemed happy for a person prone to fits.  And he hadn’t even gotten her name!  Still, it was nice to have something to look forward to when he got out in the morning.  Maybe he’d have to rethink this whole resolution thing.  And maybe it would be a Happy New Year after all.

 

Here’s hoping for a swell 2018 for one and all!

 

Questions/Comments/Broken Resolutions Already?  mike@mysteriousbookshop,com

Written by Ian Kern — January 05, 2018

Specializing in Mystery Fiction and all its subgenres, including Detective, Crime, Hardboiled, Thrillers, Espionage, and Suspense.

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