Cafeteria Collection

Cafeteria Collection

by M. T. O'Neil

ISBN: 9781499519853

Publisher CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Published in Mystery & Thrillers/Mystery, Mystery & Thrillers

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Book Description

Take these mystery and horror stories to lunch with you, and let your mind drift away from the problems of the day.

Sample Chapter

(Here is one of my favorite stories from this anthology)






He noticed the poop pile just in time to shut off the lawnmower. Disgusted, he headed to his garage to retrieve the shovel. Maybe he should consider installing a chain link fence around his front yard. It would solve the problem.

It would also cost money, unfortunately, probably more than he could afford. Since retiring a few years ago, Meyer had discovered that although his house was already paid for, the income from Social Security didn't go very far. Utilities, food, property taxes, car upkeep, and medical costs that Medicaid didn't cover, all ate it up pretty quickly. Add to that the occasional birthday gifts for grandchildren, and the financial black hole that Christmases had become, and a fence to keep out the nuisance dog was out of the question.

At least it was just one dog, Meyer thought, as he shoveled up the mess. It could always have been worse.

He debated walking the shovel over to the where the dog lived, dumping the offending pile onto his neighbor's yard, but decided against. He didn't feel like walking almost the entire length of the street on a sunny afternoon, with a shovelful of poop out in front of him. The neighborhood might decide he was just a grumpy old man, and he didn't want that. He rather liked that most of them always waved to him.

While frugality had become a necessity with retirement, a lesson too late learned, he still knew how to enjoy life. Weekly trips to the library allowed him an infinite reading supply, and even movies he could borrow for free. Mostly, though, Meyer spent his time caring for his lawn.

He restarted his mower, the dog's calling card already forgotten. Meyer loved being outside, and he enjoyed pushing the lawnmower. Looking back now, he marveled at how much he'd been missing all the years he'd hired gardening services to do the work, not to mention the money he'd wasted. Retirement had been a real eye opener in many ways.

Meyer mowed the front lawn about every five days. Mowing was always followed by careful clipping with the edger, giving the lawn a professional, manicured look that Meyer thought was better than he'd actually gotten from the professionals over the years. He watered the lawn daily, both early in the morning and again in the early evening, for ten minute intervals each time. At various times he would spray the yard for pests, for weeds, or to provide special nutrients for the grass. He took pride in the fact that it was the greenest lawn on the street, but he worked very hard to keep it that way. It was a labor of love.

He stopped to take a handkerchief out of his pocket, wiping the sweat from his face. It was a warm day. Gazing past the lawn, he could see the offending dog running loose up the street. Probably answering the call of nature in others' yards, he thought. He could see its owner, a wiry young man, busy washing his car in his driveway. Though he didn't actually know this particular neighbor, he'd formed a definite opinion about him, even before he'd gotten his dog. There was a certain physical look about a chronic bar patron, and this man surely had it.

He supposed he could try talking directly with the dog's owner, but decided it was pointless. Anyone who'd own a pit bull was likely someone looking for a fight. Very unlikely that it would be someone who would listen to reason. He watched the yellow pit in the distance, feeling his blood pressure rise in anger. Irresponsible to let any dog run loose, in his opinion, but especially a pit, given their reputations.

Taking a deep breath, determined not to let the sight of the dog ruin his mood, he pushed the mower back to the garage. He still needed to do the edging, and then spray the finished lawn for weeds. There weren't any weeds showing yet, and he was determined to keep it that way.

It was nearly an hour later that Meyer was finally finished, the now damp handkerchief unable to keep up with the volume of facial sweat as he labored about the yard. His shirt clung to him, and he could feel little droplets of sweat running down his back. It felt good, something accomplished. That sense of pride was something he had missed out on, all those years he'd used landscaping services.

As he showered and cleaned up, he imagined what he might have done with all the money he would have saved if he had done the yard work himself, setting just that amount each month aside, specifically for something fun in his golden years. That monthly amount would have built up into quite a bit, enough to send him on some fantastic vacation, and he pictured himself on a beach in the Caribbean.

“Well,” he told the empty room, smiling, “guess I'll have to settle for a travel show.” He was not inclined to feel sorry for himself, or to berate himself for past financial mistakes. It was more important to live in the here and now, and see the positives in his life. He figured there was too little of his life left, to waste on self pity. Retirement made you think more.

He poured himself some ice tea, and settled into his armchair to watch a little television. Later, he would water his front lawn, then sit on the porch to admire his work as the sun set. It was his evening ritual. He never would have imagined, in his younger years, that yard work would give him so much pleasure.

It was too early for the travel show he enjoyed watching to be on, so he eventually settled on a documentary on The Korean Conflict. Like Vietnam after it, they weren't called wars for political technicalities, which he thought was a disgrace to those who gave their lives fighting in them.

He'd been watching the program quite awhile, when it began detailing soldiers' lives as they left the military. It mentioned that, at that time, soldiers were able to keep the hand pistols they'd been issued while in the service. Of course, that policy had been discontinued a long time ago, and Meyer shook his head at the absolute waste of money such a practice had been. He also wondered at the wisdom, or lack thereof, in making firearms readily available to men who oftentimes were coming back emotionally damaged from what they'd seen. Times were different back then, that was for sure. Still, he couldn't help but wonder if there had been preventable suicides because of it.

As a commercial came on, he suddenly wondered about the hand pistol he'd inherited from his father. He really didn't know much about its history, though it had sat in a locked case in his closet for years. Getting up before the program started again, he decided to retrieve the case and compare it to the pistols he'd just seen shown on the screen.

He hurried back with the box, just before the program began again. With most of his attention on the screen, he nonetheless unlocked and opened the case. Yes, it was definitely the same type of pistol. He'd never questioned where his father had obtained the gun, and while he had watched his father clean it a few times, he'd never seen him fire it.

In excellent condition, Meyer wondered if it might be worth something, due to its historical value, now that it was so old. He set it on the end table beside him, to finish watching his program.

Once the show was over, he turned his attention back to the firearm. The case that held it was made of genuine leather, and there was a full box of ammunition stored inside as well. He picked the weapon up, running his hands along it. He remembered his father cleaning it so very often, just for something to do, he supposed. It had been for that reason only, that he had kept it all these years. But now, thinking that it might have some value, he was very open to the idea of selling it. He set it gently back into the case, and leaned back in his chair.

He heard a noise from his front yard and sat up straight. Leaning around to look out the open window, he saw the hated pit bull, leg raised, peeing on his lawn.

Immediately, anger began to well up from inside him. How many times had he had to clean up after that godforsaken animal? A beautiful, perfectly manicured lawn, a work of beauty, defaced by its filth.

The dog was now trotting about the yard, sniffing here and there, obviously looking for just the right spot to poop again.

Anger was quickly turning to rage, and Meyer picked up the pistol and the box of ammunition. Though he'd never handled a firearm himself, he had seen and listened to his father often enough, that he knew exactly what to do.

Unconcerned about the consequences, perhaps incapable of thinking about them just then, Meyer took aim with the now loaded pistol. The dog was just beginning to squat.

The old man fired the weapon only once, the bullet hitting its target. He felt the weight of built up rage immediately lifted from him, and smiled slightly. Too bad about the small hole now in the window screen.

The dog, startled by the shot, had stopped what it was doing. Its attention had quickly focused on its owner, who now lay sprawled on the sidewalk.


The very nerve, Meyer thought, deliberately walking your dog to other people's yards. 

Excerpted from "Cafeteria Collection" by M. T. O'Neil. Copyright © 2013 by M. T. O'Neil. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

M. T. O'Neil

M. T. O'Neil

Idahoan since 1993, born & raised in California. Optimist who enjoys life, and believes happiness comes from within. Attitude matters.

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