Here’s our first of seven entries. The job is simple: In 500 words at most, finalists must tell why the conductor threw their valise on the platform, grit his teeth, called security, and admonished they never board his train again, using the words “I didn’t think anyone would mind”, at some point.
The Golden Limburger Cheese Caper
by Doubleback McGillicuddy
Each Tuesday evening, the railroad magnate Ezra French’s luxurious and supposedly impregnable personal railcar was parked at the station, locked and left unattended overnight at a remote platform. It was rumored the car’s safe held enough gold coins to finance a war, as it had in two small banana republics not long ago.
Safecracker extraordinaire that I am, I decided to find out.
Wednesday morning I rescued a shabby valise from a dumpster and purchased four pounds of fine Limburger cheese. A second hand store provided a worn raincoat, battered shoes, a stained green ‘George Mason University’ sweatshirt and some jeans that might have been dragged through swampland. A filthy, torn, black knit hat completed my disguise.
Wednesday afternoon, I stored my purchases in a plastic bag and stopped shaving. I also stopped bathing.
By Sunday my plan was fermenting nicely.
Monday afternoon I slowly made my way to the station, much to the disgust of patrons and the station staff. Mumbling to myself, I spent the night on the remote side of the station with the other bums, who wisely stayed upwind.
Tuesday evening brought my target to me. After it was uncoupled from the train and the train conductor was away, I waited five minutes then made my move.
I picked up a rock from the ground, walked unsteadily to the car just in case I was being watched then threw it as hard as I could through the lower observation window. Brushing the glass aside, I crawled inside, found the safe and, after a few practiced turns of the dial, opened the door. I could have financed another war with the gold inside, so I hurriedly stuffed each coin deep into the block of Limburger, smoothed it’s surface to not leave telltale marks, then closed the safe.
A cabinet held a bottle of fine cognac and some finger food, so I sat down at the dining table, doused my face and sweatshirt with the liquid and took a sizeable bite of a raspberry pastry. Delicious.
Minutes later the conductor burst through the door. He gagged as he caught a whiff of me but gritted his teeth and demanded to know what I was doing in the car. I apologized for the window but explained I was just helping myself and that I didn’t think anybody would mind. Red-faced, the conductor yelled for me to never board his train ever again. He opened my bag, recoiled, threw it down and looked around the railcar.
Two of his goons picked me up by the lapels and threw me off the train. I landed on my back on the platform, followed closely by my valise. Woozy, I could hear someone calling security so I got up, clutched my valise to my chest and shuffled away.
Huh. Ya know, it’s funny how the smell of Limburger cheese never really leaves your nose even when you’re two months removed from it…on a fragrant tropical island…watching the waves lap at the shore.