Thursday Doors, StoryADay May: Steffie Southwest

This post is part of StoryADay May (https://storyaday.org/) and the Thursday Doors Writing Challenge #ThursdayDoors #StoryADay #StoryADayMay @storyadaymay #freeshortstory

Steffie Southwest

Not everybody liked orange, green, and turquoise together, but Steffie did. Apparently, so did a lot of people in this small town in Arizona, so, for once, she could both stand out and blend in.

Like most (probably all) small towns, her presence was noted and discussed, news of The Stranger’s arrival passed to the larger world by emails, letters, phone calls, and blog posts. It was only a matter of time before America’s – and, more specifically, her – enemies got wind of her “safe” house and came calling.

There was one in particular who had been a thorn in her side for months now. He had been lurking around, undoubtedly getting her measure, planning his assassination for maximum impact on her agency. She had flitted from major metropolis to world-class city, barely one step ahead of him, finally going to ground here, where no one knew her, where there were no fellow agents to shield her, where the gun store was also the post office and neither a weapon nor a stamp could be purchased without the news going out and out and out.

Before she had even unpacked, she went online and ordered a print copy of Gecko Fancy Magazine’s Free and Wild Gecko Habitat Issue, delivered by express mail. When it arrived, she took it to the lumberyard/hardware store and poked around in the scraps and bought various lengths of untreated wood and a mixed bag of ironmongery.

A lot of the women in small-town Arizona were as handy as men, so it wasn’t remarkable that she hammered up gecko habitats on the roof and in the shade of the house and any other place the magazine suggested. Well, it was remarkable in that everybody remarked on it to her in the town’s one grocery and the town’s one restaurant. Everybody wanted to know how her geckos were doing, or why she made habitats for them when they did just fine finding habitats for themselves, or why she was encouraging them when half the town wanted to exterminate them and the other half wanted them just left the hell alone.

The most important thing about being an agent is not being noticed. The most important thing about a small town is that everybody notices you.

So it wasn’t long before Steffie heard, from the mailman, the checkout clerk, the postmistress, the waitress, and five random people on the street that another stranger had just come into town, and did she know him? Full description followed.

The second most important thing about being an agent was knowing when and how to lie.

“No, I don’t think I’ve ever met him.”

“He says he doesn’t know you, either.”

. . . You don’t have to be an agent to have no reply to that.

Steffie’s house was just far enough out of town for her to need to drive, especially in the heat of the day. She pulled up next to the adobe single-level, with its yard full of cacti (one in a brilliant orange planter) and its gorgeous turquoise door. There was a gecko on the stoop and another at the window. The camera/mike feed on her car’s GPS screen showed nobody inside, so she popped out of the car and into the house, moving so quickly and stealthily the geckos didn’t even twitch.

Dark came, and the desert turned cold. Steffie had “never gotten around” to “repairing” the “broken” security lights around her perimeter, but the infrared spy cams worked just fine.

Nobody but she saw the other stranger creep up to the front door. Nobody but she saw the gecko habitat above that door open and a round dozen sleep, cold geckos tumble down onto the man’s head and shoulders. Nobody saw him jump. Nobody heard him squeal like a little pig or shriek like a wounded boar when he fell into the arms of a saguaro.

Nobody saw Steffie grab him and bind him, stuff him into her trunk, and drive him into the desert. Nobody saw where she took him or what she did to him or where she disappeared to after.

Nobody found his body.


MY PROMPT TODAY: Image by Teagan Geneviene

MA

About

I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Thursday Doors, StoryADay May: Steffie Southwest

  1. Teagan Riordain Geneviene

    May 2, 2024 at 11:47am

    Tee-hee! This was fabulous, Marian! I loved all your descriptions of the busybody-ness of small towns. The gecko alarm is outstanding.
    So are you really planning to write a story every day for a month? There are almost enough TDWC doors to cover a month. I’d never be able to manage it.
    Big hugs.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Teagan Riordain Geneviene

      May 2, 2024 at 11:51am

      PS: Go Steffie! I wonder if Agent Teagan will show up again this year. Maybe she could lend Steffie a hand during Carnival in Venice, in grand costumes? LOL.

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
      • Author

        Marian Allen

        May 2, 2024 at 11:54am

        Oh, Agent Teagan can certainly lend a hand. How does she feel about Florida?

        Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      May 2, 2024 at 11:54am

      I do, indeed, plan to do a story a day. Not all door stories, and not all Steffie stories. I plan to try to keep to my usual daily themes, except for Sundays. Sundays are for Holly Jahangiri.

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  2. Dan Antion

    May 2, 2024 at 11:56am

    Yay – a Steffie story! This is the best part of TDWC. I love the way you used the geckos. Welcome to the neighborhood, Steffie!

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  3. Resa

    May 11, 2024 at 2:00pm

    A terrific write, Marian. I enjoyed the read a lot.
    You picked a fab door photo. I selected one of Teagan’s as well. (Still working on it)
    Thank you for sharing your imagination!

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      May 12, 2024 at 9:36am

      I’m a fan of all kinds of lizards, so this one really sang to me. Looking forward to your story!

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  4. Brenda's Thoughts

    May 15, 2024 at 10:29pm

    Wow, Steffie is clever. I love the gecko trap. A wonderfully written action story, Marian.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  5. slfinnell

    May 20, 2024 at 3:48pm

    “The most important thing about a small town is that everybody notices you.” Amen to this one! It’s why I won’t live any closer to Mom in a town of 400. lol Great writing as always 🙂

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      May 21, 2024 at 9:01am

      I live in a small town. Or, in comparison to a town of 400, I live in a bustling metropolis. At any rate, it was hell for me and for my kids, because they couldn’t do anything they shouldn’t without my hearing about it. Kids should be able to act out a little without their parents knowing every detail.

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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