172 Write a Short Story that Uses an Alarm Clock, Matches, and a Vintage Postcard

I guess the trouble all started the day I received the vintage postcard in the mail. It was a Tuesday, the first day of fall my favorite day of the year. The air was cool and crisp. I went to the mail and there  I found it. A 30’s postcard a black and white photo with  lace. It had a two-cent  stamp and was made out to Agatha Gertrude. It read To Tessy I understand the sorrow I absolutely want boys. I had no idea what the message meant so I took it and tucked it into my desk drawer until such time as I could take it to some kind of expert though, I must admit, I really had no idea where to begin.

It was the first day I saw her too my Noni in flesh and blood. At least it seemed that way to me. She had been dead for 15 years. She came walking into my office like a tall drink of water she would  have been in the 30’s. She sat right down and said, “Agatha Gertrude is dead. You are not safe with that post card” I asked why she was here and who sent  the post card. Why was I in danger? She just smiled a demure smile and said, “I must leave you now follow the messages, follow the clues. Slowly, she faded away. “Wait! Wait!” I called out but she was gone.

Hmm follow the messages, follow the clues. Well one thing was for certain. I  needed to move the post card. I dropped it into  the side of my bag and left the office for the day. I figured it would be secure in my home safe at least for the night.

At home I started to research vintage post cards and try to find an expert. It turns out some of them were worth quite a bit on auction sites. This one, however, seemed neither rare nor valuable, as I saw a few like it floating around for a few bucks each.

That night I dreamed I was on Antiques Road Show. I was standing in line  clutching my post card. I got up to my turn and he said it was a fairly standard post card circa 1935. What gave my card unique value was the message on the back. “What does that note mean ?”, I asked “Its rather odd don’t you think?”  “Hmm the man conjectured, “Maybe its lovers’ code,” Lovers’ code THAT”S It!

Waking up with my new-found idea, I  crept to the safe to retrieve the post card Coming out of the den, I thought I saw a shadow in the bushes. I  chalked it up to sheesties, which are human/demon hybrids that torment me in my schizophrenia, and brought the post card back to the living room. I poured over the message, searched lovers’ codes, 30’s vernacular nothing on any of the lists seemed to  shed any light on my quaint little object. Finally, I packed it in, returned the post card to my safe and managed a few more hours of fitful sleep.

Curiosity got the better of me and I was up before dawn and off to the office. When I got there the door was slightly ajar. Hmm That’s odd. I always lock it. Maybe seeing a dead grandma and reading this old postcard had gotten me off track. I pushed the door open a crack, reached for the light switch and nothing happened. No power,Probably another squirrel in the transformer. I lit a match. There stood my office in complete and utter disarray. The chairs were overturned, desk drawers were open spilling their secrets, the lamps were busted.  I just stood in total disbelief  and actually dropped my jaw. Who would Who would do such a thing? Was my noni right?  I called the fuzz but I decided to hold back on mentioning the post card while the coppers swept for bugs.

What the hell? I needed more clues. I decided to head home and look for hand-writing experts. When I got home, I went straight to the safe to check my booty. Suddenly, there was Noni in front of the safe, Noni, I am lost please point me in the right direction,. Cryptic as ever, she said ” Look at the words. Unlock them with the key. The key is in the attic. “What key, Noni? What does this have to do with the postcard? “Find the key in the attic,” Then as quickly as she appeared she vanished.

Hmm up to the attic. I had no idea of what kind of key I was looking for or what it could possibly unlock. I wasn’t the only one looking. As it turned out  the shadows in the bushes were some kind of goons, not sheesties, because the police who escorted me home found footprints near the trellis. Great! Its bad enough with a dead grandma and sheesties. Now I have to have REAL danger afoot? I hadn’t been in the attic since the sheesties made their presence known about seven years ago. I brought  down the dusty ladder and it creaked and moaned with every step I took. It rather reminded me of the precarious staircase in the movie National Treasure. When I finally reached the dusty hatch, I peeked in and took a quiet survey of my surroundings. “Any spiders or rats or sheesties up there? ” I called. then stepped onto the plank floor. The place was filled with old boxes and dusty trunks.  No mannequins though. Why do people in movies always have mannequins in their attic?” Anyway, I wasn’t sure where to start. There were a million places a key could be ly8ing in wait. I decided to try an old trunk which happened ironically to be unlocked.

I searched to the very depths every rock, nook and cranny. and was about to give up when I came across a scrap of paper marked Agatha Gertrude. I picked up the fragile scrap and opened it with painstaking patience. It was an Ottendorf cipher that had numbers assigned to each letter. Hmm, could it be that easy? I ran downstairs to get the postcard and took it and the cypher and studied them closely. The first letter in each word corresponded to a phrase on the cipher. It read, The treasure is under the stairs in a wooden box. Suddenly there was a buzzing coming from the bedroom. The shadow man had climbed the trellis and was looking for the safe but in the dim light, he knocked over and set off the alarm clock.

Postcard in hand, I ran out to where the police escort was sitting  their squad car. “There’s a m a n in my b e d r o om” I panted. The police saw him shimmy down the trellis and managed to tackle him. It turns out he was a hired henchman from Agatha Gertrude’s last living relatives by marriage. He was hired to obtain the postcard at any cost in exchange for  a profit-share in the treasure. He was escorted to the local jail.

As for the treasure, we searched the whole of the closet under the stairs and finally found a false wall behind the refrigerator that resided there. The wooden box contained stock for AT&T and Anheuser-Busch  along with a  Babe Ruth rookie card, all worth millions. As sole proprietor of the land where the profits were stored, the treasure belonged to me.

After that whirlwind had ended,  I went to put the postcard in the safe where I would keep it for sentimental reasons, and there was my Noni again. I wasn’t scared at all. I called to her “Hey Noni , thanks a loot . How did you know? How did you do it? ” She smiled and said “You prayed you needed money to make ends meet.”

“Thank you Noni, Thank you, ” I whispered as she faded slowly into the night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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