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Rated: E · Short Story · Adult · #2270722
Bart's not a bad guy, but he doesn't always think first.
a summer day in the city
4 April [460 words]


"Sign here, and initial here and here."

Bart scrawled his signature and initials in the spots indicated, then looked up.

"That's it, Mr. Stone. Your court date's at the bottom of the form; I wouldn't recommend missing it." The officer handed over a large clear bag containing Bart's wallet, phone, belt and loose change. "Have a nice day."

"You, too, I guess. Thanks."

Bart stepped aside to let the guy behind him move up to the window, then took a spot against the wall and out of the flow of mostly uniformed people going in and out. He stowed the smaller items in his pockets, folded the court notice and tucked it into his shirt pocket, then ran his belt through the loops. He looked around for someplace to ditch the bag and wasn't all that surprised to see a recycle bin at the curb just outside the exit. He'd almost reached it and was just starting to reach forward, wadded-up bag in hand, when–

"Bart? What are you doing downtown?"

Just my luck Bart sighed.

"Hey, Todd. What's up?"

"Nothing as interesting as whatever you've been up to. Unless I'm mistaken, that's a Summons to Appear sticking out of your pocket and that looks a lot like a Personal Possessions bag, the kind the guys 'n gals inside like to use." He hooked a thumb towards the police station behind them. "You, uh, you spend the night here, Bart?"


Todd looked at Bart expectantly, eventually looking at his watch.

"C'mon, man, it's not like I have to drag it out of you on the witness stand. Give! What happened?"

There was no getting around it, Bart realized. "Fine! Fine! It was almost 100° F. yesterday, right, and I was down on the pedestrian mall. It was just after noon, there was zero shade, and I could just feel myself cooking. I saw the fountain between The Mart and Carl's Coffee and decided that what I needed was to cool off, even just a little, and that a little wading wouldn't hurt anybody."

Todd looked at his friend. "You mean to tell me you didn't notice the signs saying 'No swimming or wading. Violators will be prosecuted.', not to mention the police substation right next to Carl's?"

"Did I mention it was nearly 100° F.?" Bart asked defensively. "Anyways, I'll be in Municipal Court on the 15th."

"Do you have an attorney?"

"No, I waived that. It's pretty straight forward and there are plenty of people to say I did it. I'm just gonna go with "I shouldn't have done it, Your Honor, and I'm sorry." and see if I can catch a break.

"Well, if you change your mind, give me a call, okay?"

"Sure. Thanks, Todd."

* * * * * * * * * *

an apple orchard
5 April [409 words]

An apple a day

"You waived your right to Counsel, Mr. Stone?"

"I did, Your Honor. It just seemed to me that the whole situation was pretty clear, and I didn't see the point in hiring an attorney to tell you what I can myself."

"I see. Well, it would appear you went wading someplace you shouldn't have, Mr. Stone. Is that accurate?"

"Yes, Your Honor. It was just so hot and...well, I know I shouldn't have done it and I'm sorry, Sir."

"That's good to hear. You may be surprised to know, Mr. Stone, that the law grants me considerable leeway in imposing sentence in matters like this. Considerable leeway."

Bart just stared at the judge, afraid to say a word.

"Are you familiar with the little apple orchard at the east end of that particular pedestrian mall, Mr. Stone?"

"Yes, Sir, I am."

"Were you aware that the irrigation system for that orchard and the fountain in question are part of the same system?"

"No, Your Honor. I didn't know that."

"One of the reasons we don't allow swimming or wading is to protect that system. We wouldn't want it gummed up by people allowing all manner of objects to fall out of their pockets while thrashing around in the fountain, now would we?"

"No, Your Honor, but I was only–"

"Please don't interrupt me, Mr. Stone; I find it quite upsetting." The minor flash of annoyance was quickly replaced by the judge's more measured tones. He regarded the now obviously nervous man in front of him.

"As you've admitted to having committed the act, saving the Court the time and expense of bringing in what I'm given to understand are nearly a dozen witnesses, I hereby find you guilty and sentence you to 15 hours Community Service."

Bart opened his mouth, but before he could utter a word, the judge said, "I hope you weren't going to object, Mr. Stone. The next step up is 45 hours, but I usually reserve that for 2nd Offenders and smart alecks. You're not one of those, are you, Mr. Stone?"

Bart didn't answer right away.

"Mr. Stone?"

"Sorry, Your Honor; I didn't want to interrupt."

The judge looked at him sharply, but decided there was no hidden meaning. The man was just terrified of making his situation worse.

"Very well. You have 60 days from today to complete your Service; see the Clerk to arrange a schedule. Next case!"

* * * * * * * * * *

pie or cake [No, you don't have to include both and the 'or' does not imply a decision must be made by your characters. The decision is for you to make; which will you weave into your continuing story?]
6 April [385 words]

Clean sweep

Bart Stone stretched back against the booth's hard plastic, twisting his torso left and right in an attempt to loosen the knots. He'd just finished his next-to-last cleanup session at the fountain and apple orchard, and his back was killing him. An hour of bending over to pick up loose leaves underneath the apple trees, followed by another hour of using a leaf skimmer to do the same at the fountain had, like every other Saturday he'd been on duty, caused the muscles in his lower back to all but seize under the constant up and down. The blasted wind hadn't helped either, making him chase leaves all over the orchard under the watchful eyes of a patrolman. Just one more Saturday and my weekends are mine again, he told himself.

He addressed himself back to the treat he'd grown accustomed to enjoying. Carl's Coffee didn't just offer coffee of various grades and flavors, along with a wide selection of sweeteners and creamers to accompany them. They had some of the best pastries in town, and Bart had grown quite fond of their Dutch Apple pie. A generous slice of that—topped with a slice of melted American cheddar, of course—and a large cup of dark roast made the perfect combination for his hard-earned respite. He looked up as someone slid into the booth's opposite bench.

"How's it going, Bart?"

"Hey, Todd! Not bad, now that I'm in here enjoying this," indicating the pie and coffee in front of him, "instead of out there chasing leaves. What brings you down here on a Saturday?"

"Well, the way you've been talking up this place, I thought I'd come see for myself. I've already enjoyed a nice little break on a bench next to the fountain, from which I kept my distance, I might add." Todd's eyes twinkled; Bart just rolled his.

"Anyway, I thought I'd drop in on the off chance we'd run into each other. What do you recommend?"

"If you've got any food allergies, pay attention to them. Other than that, you can't go wrong with anything on the menu; everything's great! Dutch Apple and Sumatra Dark Roast are my snack of choice."

"Sounds good to me; I'll be back in a minute. There's something I want to run by you."

* * * * * * * * * *

a coffee shop
7 April [434 words]

Bart's new job

Todd Nelson idly stirred his coffee as he waited, the gentle clinking seemingly played back by diners at a few other tables. Bart's right on the money about the pies here, he thought, but I wish he'd show up already.

"Sorry I'm late, Todd," Bart offered as he slid into the booth a few minutes later. "The Mousetrap really lived up to its name today. I-25 and I-70 were both jammed in each direction. The only plus was the shade you got under the overpasses."

"I told you, man - if the sun's up, Federal or MLK Boulevard are always better options for East-West or North-South travel. Anyway, enough about that. How'd the morning go?"

"No problems. I served all six Respondents on the list. None of them seemed surprised and Cleary wasn't happy at all; the others were sort of resigned to it."

"Good. You've really gotten the hang of this process server gig the last few months, and a good thing, too. Jeff Raines' car accident still has him sidelined until at least December, and it's no sure thing that he'll even be back. Which brings me to this–"

Todd took another sip of his coffee. "We'd like to expand your duties a little, get you some work on the investigative side of things."

"Really? An investigator?"

"Yes. Nothing too involved or anything—not at first, anyway—but you'd be helping us out. You already know Colorado doesn't license process servers. Well, they don't require licensing for private investigators since last August either, after the governor vetoed that extension. That's unfortunate for the industry, but fortunate for you. You've worked Loss Prevention at Simon's Department Store quite awhile, right?"

"Nearly ten years. Made supervisor three years ago."

"Okay. That means you have a lot of experience—as well as some kind of training—in surveillance techniques, questioning people, getting facts straight, things like that."

"Well, sure."

"Good. It might not have meant much under the licensing rules, but it's helpful experience now. The state may no longer have any requirements but, if you agree to take on this job, you'll have to follow company policy to the letter, and I mean that, Bart. Our law firm has a very good reputation and you'll be covered by our insurance and acting in our name, so don't ever get it into your head to even think about 'coloring outside the lines'. If you do—friend or no—you'll be out and on your own."

"I hear ya, Todd. Let me get my snack and you can clue me in on the details."

* * * * * * * * * *

a picnic
8 April [304 words]

Sweet as pie

Life's pretty sweet, Bart thought as he speared another piece of Dutch Apple pie. He'd been working for Todd nearly a year now, and was enjoying it a lot more than his previous job. Although the process server aspect still accounted for about a third of a normal workday—and occasionally required an exceptionally early or late knock on a door—his basic work schedule had the old one beat six ways from Sunday. The investigator angle was real interesting, too, offering insights into aspects of law he'd never considered. His computer skills had improved substantially, too, thanks to all the research he did via LexisNexis, among other sites.

He took another bite of pie and sip of coffee. Yeah, Carl's really does this better'n any other coffee shop. The best thing about Carl's, though, wasn't the very tasty snack selection: it was Jeanette Newell. Bart and the friendly, petite brunette had struck up an acquaintance when he'd discovered the place, and the relationship had blossomed during Bart's community service stint—"The only good thing to come out of getting my feet wet in the wrong place!" he told any- and everyone. They weren't officially engaged yet, but everyone figured it was just a matter of time.

As Jeanette dropped off an order at a neighboring table and headed back toward the counter, Bart called out to her.

"Say, hon, whaddaya say to a picnic this Saturday? We can pack some sandwiches, a thermos of Sumatra Dark Roast, and a couple slices of our favorite pie. Whaddaya think?"

Jeanette quickly ran her schedule for the rest of the week through her head. "Sounds lovely, sweetie! I'm free on Saturday, but I'll go ahead and pencil myself in as 'Unavailable', so I don't get called in at the last second."

"Great!" Yep. Life's pretty sweet.
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