Life Sentences, Day 136: “Topanga Hearts,” Part Two

February 13th, 2011

Here’s Part Two (out of four) of Everett Kaser’s story TOPANGA HEARTS.



I tried not to move. The gorilla with the gun was looking very nervous, and I’m much happier with all of my fluids on the inside of my skin.

“You’d be Simeon, I assume?”

He nodded. “That’s me. What are you after?”

It was a sticky situation. As long as he held the gun on me, I wasn’t going anywhere fast. But Tiny Tim wouldn’t appreciate my blabbing his business either.

“Let’s just say I’m a recovery expert,” I said. “Something was taken from Tiny Tim, and he hired me to retrieve it.”

“And that relates to me how?”

“He thinks you have it.”


I looked around the room. It looked like an extra-large version of a teenaged boy’s room, decorated in Neo Dorm Room. A large couch with numerous holes in it dominated one side of the room, a door opened onto a deck, I could see into a serviceable kitchen, and a hallway presumably led to the bath and bedroom areas. The place looked like it had been heavily used for many years by a small herd of motherless boys. But who am I to criticize, I’ve been living in a long series of hotel rooms for the past several years, since my wife divorced me.

“Hard to believe, I know. Like hiding a diamond in a pile of coal, but stranger things have happened.”

His eyes flicked briefly around the room, but returned to me before I could even think about making any kind of move. He ticked his head to one side and said, “I’m in between cleanings.”

“I’m going to go out on a limb and say that the house is, too.” Okay, maybe being a smart-ass isn’t the brightest thing to do when a gun is pointed your way. His eyes narrowed for a moment, then waved the gun towards the couch.

“Sit,” he said.

Just then there was a rush of motion behind him, and a small brown bear came rushing into the room, colliding with his legs and knocking him sideways. His hands flew out for balance. I threw my bag at his head, dove over the bear heading my way, and crashed into him. He went over backward with me on top of him, and there was a satisfying thunk as his head hit the floor. While his wits were nowhere to be found, I grabbed the gun and tore it from his hand. I rolled off him and got to my feet, pointing the gun at him.

He didn’t look quite so dangerous while fending off a large dog intent on licking the skin off his face. He shoved at the dog. “Bravo, get off me!” He managed to get clear of the dog long enough to sit up, only to catch the dog’s tail across his face. A smile found its way onto my face all by itself. This was almost worth getting surprised at work.

I backed up towards the kitchen, motioning with the gun. “When you’re done with your puppy love, why don’t you go sit on the couch?”

He frowned, at me or the dog, or maybe both, but managed to get his feet under him, and sat on the edge of the couch, and I took his position by the door.

“Sit back, Simeon, extend your boats out in front of you, and relax. We’re going to chat, no need to be tense. Now, where—ERP!” The dog’s—Bravo’s—nose had gone between my legs and then tried to take the escalator to the second floor. I put a hand on his head as I stepped back. “Sit!” He just wagged his tail faster. “Sit!” I pointed at the floor. He just licked my hand.

“He’s less obedient than I am.”

“At least I can shoot you,” I said. Not really, but he didn’t need to know that. Bravo shook like an out-of-balance washing machine, sending aloft a cloud of gold-brown hairs, then wandered off down the hallway.

“Now, tell me where you stashed the painting, and I won’t have to tie you up.”

“I don’t have anything that belongs to Tiny.”

“Tiny? I thought you’d never heard of him.”

He shrugged. “He’s not in my usual social circle.”

“And he’s not likely to be after you stole a painting from him.”

“I’m not a thief. The only thing I’ve taken from anyone recently belongs to my client, and the last I heard, Tiny wasn’t Vietnamese.”


“The gang that broke into and robbed my client’s house was Vietnamese, and that’s who I took it back from.”

The wheels started turning in my head, like a windmill that had been sitting in the desert for a century or so. When I’d met Tiny Tim earlier in the evening, he’d had several Asian mugs with him. Could have been Vietnamese. Maybe Tiny Tim hadn’t been straight with me. I don’t like being lied to.

Something caught my attention, a sound, a movement of air, maybe the stars speaking my name. I started to spin, but too late. My world became a crushing impact along the side of my head, and then the floor slammed into the rest of me.

Parts Three and Four tomorrow.

9 Responses to “Life Sentences, Day 136: “Topanga Hearts,” Part Two”

  1. Bonnie Says:

    Just a heads-up for everybody–I’m going to try to upload the new pages for Tim’s website at 5 p.m. Pacific time tonight (Sunday), so things might be a little funky for a bit around that time. Also, if you see things you think are “broken” in the next week or so, could you please let Tim know so I can fix them. Thanks!

  2. Lil Gluckstern Says:

    Hey, Tim-Do I really have to wait ’til tomorrow? And, Bonnie, the new pages are really striking. Very nice indeed.

  3. micael hallinan Says:

    Everett, yesterday I read your Topanga Hearts installment after the sports section . Tomorrow i’m reading it before.

  4. Robb Royer Says:

    For my comment, refer to the old man’s remark in the last scene of ‘Moonlighting’.

  5. Robb Royer Says:

    Oops, I mean MoonSTRUCK.

  6. EverettK Says:

    Micael, I am honored, HONORED, I say. I’ve moved in front of sports! No higher ambition has ever graced my neurons.

    Seriously, thanks!

  7. EverettK Says:

    Robb: Let’s see…

    I am old and unwanted.

    Well, maybe, but I hope not!

    You must pay for the wedding of your only daughter.

    I did, I did pay for it!

    Bravo. Bravo!

    Well… thanks?

    Somebody tell a joke.

    A goat, a priest and a hairdresser walk into a bar… no?

    I’m so confused.

    Ah. THAT’S it. Welcome to my world.

  8. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Well, look at the firestorm Everett has set off. This is what happens when I post something good.

    Everybody: Please go to the home page (just click on HOME on that list of sections on the upper left) and don’t worry when it changes the moment your cursor touches it. It’ll still work. Let Bonnie and me know what you think about the new site, which for the first time talks about QUEEN, the Simeon books, and CRASHED/Junior.

    Would love to get some reactions.

    Lil – See? it’s ALREADY tomorrow, and I put the whole second half up in one piece to pander to the impatient. That’s going to be the title of my autobiography: PANDERING TO THE IMPATIENT. Either that or AMBUSHING ANGELS.

    micael, high praise indeed. As someone who lacks the sports gene it’s hard for me to imagine the magnitude of the sacrifice, but I’m sure it’s a whopper.

    Robb, you win — so decisively I’m immediately retiring the trophy — the Most Obscure Response Reference of All Time Award. The trophy is a bronzed ticket in Croatian admitting the bearer to the stacks of the British Library’s History of the Glazed Tile Section.

    And I make it unanimous: Everett’s story rocks.

  9. Suzanna Says:

    Hi, Tim

    I just saw the new pages and they look fantastic! Fresh and inviting to old and new fans alike.

    Great work everyone on Tim’s design and web team!

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