Carl of the Bells
My friend Carl was born a few beers short of a six-pack, if you know what I mean. He’s one of those guys with a bucket full of great ideas you just know will never pan out. He told me once he could make a killing selling rocks in a box.
“People are stupid gullible,” he said. “They’ll buy anything if you package it right.”
I didn’t have the heart to tell him Pet Rocks went out of style while we were still learning our ABCs.
Carl being Carl, I shouldn’t have been surprised when he interrupted our football watching one night to tell me about his latest money-making idea.
We were nursing beers at Big Ed’s Tavern on this particular Thursday night watching the Chargers beat the crap out of the 49ers on Big Ed’s dinky television.
Big Ed got the NFL channel, which was why we hung out there. The place was packed because the 49ers were playing this week, and Reno’s chock full of diehard Niners fans. Didn’t matter that this late in December the 49ers didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of making the playoffs.
Carl and I counted ourselves lucky we got our favorite seats at the bar so we could see the tiny screen. You’d think with all the money Big Ed raked in on Thursdays, he’d shell out the bucks for a flat screen TV bigger than a postage stamp.
“You know those bell ringers they got in front of every grocery store around town?” Carl asked me.
“Yeah, the Salvation Army guys.”
Carl gave me one of his that’s what you think looks, complete with arched eyebrow and all-knowing sneer. Carl’s been losing his hair since high school graduation, and he could stand to shed those thirty or so extra pounds around his middle. His sense of fashion is lounge lizard slick. Look at him sideways, and he could have doubled for Clark Griswold’s hick cousin in that Christmas movie my wife makes me watch every year.
The arched eyebrow combined with a sneer wasn’t a particularly flattering look on my good buddy Carl.
“How do you know they’re all with the Salvation Army?” Carl asked.
(end of sample)
Carl of the Bells
Copyright © 2014 Annie Reed
First published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, January 2013 edition