(from the under a 1,000 word story collection)
“You’ve got a cool bicycle there,” said Norman.
“Yes, it is a nice bike.” Jesse propped his Schwinn against the wall and the men entered the house.
“Riding away from a heart attack?” Norman smiled. “This time I’m going to win.”
They walked into the living room, where Sheila, Norman’s wife, was watching TV. Sheila and Jesse greeted each other.
The men sat at the table, ready to have another session of Texas hold ’em. In a minute, they were joined by Jack, Norm’s brother.
“Where’s Paul?” asked Jesse.
“Our son’s having a good time with a new girlfriend,” answered Sheila.
“What are you doing?” asked Norman. “Are you about to fall asleep?”
“You shouldn’t have drunk so much,” remarked Jack.
Jesse yawned. He really felt an irresistible urge to go to bed. But he did not think he had drunk too much.
“I know–he just doesn’t want me to win my money back,” growled Norman.
“Guys, I guess I’m out.” Jesse put his cards on the table and tried to get up but unsuccessfully.
“Jack will take you home in his truck,” said Norman. “And don’t forget the bike.”
Jesse yawned again, closed his eyes, and fell into the abyss of sleep a moment later.
He was woken up by the doorbell ringing. He got up, went barefoot to the entry hall, opened the door, and was surprised to see a cop.
“Your name is Jesse Greenburg?” asked the cop.
“Yes, that’s correct.” Jesse cracked a weak smile.
“Can you come to the police station with us?”
“They just want to ask you a few questions.”
At the police station, they took his fingerprints, as if he were some serial killer. Then Jesse met a somber-looking man in a gray suit.
“I am Detective John Lewis,” said the man. “I am going to conduct an interview. I suggest that you call a lawyer.”
They brought him to the interrogation room after he told Lewis that he would call the lawyer when he felt the need to do so. When Jesse and the detective took seats at the table, Jesse noticed a bicycle parked against the wall, which looked almost exactly like his.
“Is this your bicycle?” Lewis pointed at the bike.
“No, it’s not. My bike is at my house.”
“Are you sure?”
“Of course I am. I’ve been riding mine for five years now.”
“What if I told you that there’s your name on this bicycle?”
“On the seat.”
Jesse frowned. He had in fact had his name branded on the side of the seat of his bicycle.
“Suppose you did. So what?”
“What if I told you that this bicycle was used to commit a robbery?”
“I told you it’s not my bicycle.”
“Then why is it covered with your fingerprints?”
Jesse felt a chill in the pit of his stomach.
“What robbery?” he asked. He could hardly keep his voice from shaking.
“Last night, at nine pm, a man on a bicycle snatched a purse out of a woman’s hands on Lincoln Avenue. There were five hundred dollars in cash and a pearl necklace in the purse.”
“And you think it was me?”
“That’s right. You fit the description.”
“I assure you it was not me.”
Lewis shoved a piece of paper in Jesse’s face.
“Here’s a warrant to search your house,” he said. “And we’re going to search it right now.”
They found the money and necklace. They were stashed in the garbage basket in Jesse’s kitchen, packed in a plastic bag. They put the evidence in the center of the table in the living room so he could see it in all its glory.
“Do this money and the necklace belong to you?” asked Lewis.
“No, I’ve never seen them before.”
“Can you explain how they got in your house?”
“I guess somebody planted them there.”
“Planted? Do you think it sounds plausible? By the way, can I see your bicycle?”
“I don’t see it in my house. Somebody has stolen it.”
Yes, his bike was gone. Or it was hidden very well.
“Someone has stolen your bicycle? What for?”
Don’t forget the bike, said Norman.
Jesse’s heart started throbbing. Damn, all this stress had made him completely forget yesterday’s poker night.
“Listen. I couldn’t have robbed that woman because last night at nine pm I was at my neighbor’s place, playing Texas hold ‘em.”
“What’s his name?”
“Norman Cooper. We played poker till midnight. Talk to him.”
Jesse shifted a triumphant look from Detective Lewis to Norman, then back to the detective. Now this misunderstanding would finally get resolved.
“Where were you last night at nine o’clock?” Lewis opened his notepad.
“I was at home,” answered Norman.
“Did you see Mr. Greenburg at that time?”
“Jesse? No, I didn’t.”
“Norm?!” Jesse exclaimed as a thousand goose bumps popped up on his skin. “What are you saying?!”
“Is anything wrong?” asked Norman.
“Tell him the truth!” shouted Jesse.
“I told the truth. What’s going on?” Norman stared at the detective.
“So, Mr. Greenburg was not at your house yesterday at nine pm?”
“No, he was not. What happened?”
“What happened?!” Jesse was ready to charge at Norman, but restrained himself, being aware that it would only harm him.
“I guess we’re finished here,” said Lewis with a smile.
“This necklace…How much is it?” Paul put his arm around Jane’s waist.
“I don’t remember the exact price.” Jane kissed Paul on the cheek. “You made a great robber.”
“And you made a great victim.”
“Having fun, kids?” Norman entered the room.
“Mr. Cooper, are you sure it was Jesse who killed your dog?” asked Jane.
“I am positive. I wish they had driving schools in prison.”
“Bad thing he’ll never know why we framed him,” said Paul.
“Why? I’m going to send him a postcard to prison,” said Norman. “A postcard with a picture of a dog. A dog riding a bicycle.”
Tim Kizer has authored several novels and numerous short stories in the horror, suspense, and action thriller genre.
He resides in Southern California. His current release is the thriller “Hitchhiker.”