A very short Story
Based on an almost true story ….
Keys by Ted Bun
A very short story
How could have I been so foolish? Really, really foolish. Stupid in fact. It seemed such a great idea. An hour on the beach on the way home from work, on a nice warm sunny day. So, I went for it. I shut down my computer, shuffled the sensitive papers into the drawer and locked it. I picked up a folder of papers I needed to read.
“Hi, Boss,” I had knocked on the ‘my door is always open’ and walked straight in. “I’m going to take these papers home so I can read them properly. You know, without somebody or other demanding my attention.” Yes, that was what I had just done to him, it might make him more empathetic or just want me out of his face so that he could get on.
“I have no idea if it was empathy or irritation, but his “whatever” response hinted at the latter. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, or any other orifice, I was out the door, arms full of papers.
One of those hi-tech things about my car I had come to love about my new car, was the remote key. No more juggling with things while you try to get the keys out of your pocket when your hands are full of shopping and it is hosing it down with rain.
OK, so I was going to use another word there, but my mother may show this story to my Aunt Helen. My rich, childless, maiden Aunt Helen doesn’t approve of “language,” even if I am her favourite nephew.
I managed to wriggle a finger free and get it to touch the tailgate catch sensor. The hatch slowly opened and I dropped the pile of documents on the floor of the boot. Well, almost. The picnic blanket I planned to use at the beach was trapped underneath the papers. I needed to sort that out, otherwise, it would cause me to lose precious time in the sun.
I can only think that was when it happened.
Boot sorted, blanket now on the passenger seat I pressed the start button and shot off out of the office car park. It was just gone four, I had escaped the office an hour early. I’d be at the car park above my favourite beach by a quarter to five. If I hurried I’d get maybe an hour and a half before the shadows of the cliffs reached the last sunny corner of the sand.
The heavier traffic at ‘home time’ meant that on a normal day, at this time of year, I would arrive too late to sit in the sun. With weather like today’s being rare in late May even after allowing for the effects of climate change. That was why I had grabbed my chance with both hands.
The drive through town and to the coast was pretty uneventful, except of course the obligatory school-run mother. You know the one, the laws don’t apply to her and her precious cargo. She double-parked outside a house and escorted two young children to the door. Waited with them until the door was opened and stood there chatting with the other kids’ parent for five minutes. All the while traffic streamed along in the opposite direction. Eventually, she returned to the car answering calls of “Mum, the man in the car behind keeps hooting!” giving me the evil eye. She drove off, still fiddling with her seatbelt while juggling her mobile phone with, what I hoped was, but knew wasn’t her third hand.
She turned off my route into a side road three, maybe four, houses further up the road. I drove on, slowly regaining my equilibrium.
In the car park, as is custom and practice with beach regulars, I undressed and put my clothes on the back seat, grabbed the blanket headed for the path down to the beach. I had just spread out the blanket, moved that ever-present stone that was digging into me and settled comfortably. Time to post the obligatory envy-generating picture to Twitter, “Hey suckers! Look at me on the sunny beach.” OK, I’d modify the words when I actually posted, even if that was what I had really meant.
Phone? Where was my phone? I normally keep it in my man-bag.
Man-bag? Where is my man-bag? I must have left it in the car.
My keys? They would be in my bag too, in the car. If the keys are in the car, the doors won’t be locked. Beyond my wallet and the USB with my music on it, there is nothing to steal but that won’t stop them from searching for something, anything of value. Someone could be scattering my papers all along the coastline right now!
I snatched up the blanket and scurried up the steps from the beach far faster than usual. What a relief my car was still there. The doors and windows were all closed. The hatchback wasn’t gaping wide. There weren’t any papers blowing in the wind. Great! I could get my bag, lock the car and get that beach picture to make my followers green with envy. Except …
Except the door wouldn’t open. It was locked, as was the tailgate. How could that be, the keys were present, in my bag, inside the … I peered through all the windows. Not a sign of my bag. No evidence of it being there, not the strap poking out from under the seat. No buckle catching the sun from underneath the dash.
“SHI…” Sorry Auntie, “Bother!” Where could it be? That bag contained all my keys, not just the car. I couldn’t get into my flat, or the office, or even my Mum’s house. Assuming, that is, I could get to any of them.
“Hell!” I can’t even phone a friend for a lift; my phone is in my bag. I can’t even hail a taxi, my money is in my wallet, in my bag. Even if I got a taxi, the only place I … No, I am not travelling a hundred miles in a taxi to ask my mum to pay the fare and lend me money to get in another taxi to go searching for my never-to-be-sufficiently cursed leather satchel
My bag, it all hangs on finding it, so where on earth is my man-bag? The last time I remember having it was …
I could recall picking it up and how it hung awkwardly on my shoulder while I was gathering all those important papers. It had been on my shoulder, slipping away from my neck, when I spoke to the boss. It had slipped further as I dumped the papers in the boot. Then …
Sorry, Aunt Helen, I said several rather naughty words.
I had put it down near the back wheel while I sorted out the jumble of documents and the blanket. Then I got in the car and started the engine, the key was close enough. I’d driven all the way to the beach. Got out of the car and shut the doors and … because the key was no longer present … they had locked.
How do I get out of this mess? Answers on a postcard, please. I have no access to phone, text or email messages, my phone is … well you know that already.
Oh, one other complication. I’m naked, well you normally are on a nudist beach., and my clothes are locked in the car.
©Ted Bun January 2023 All rights reserved