Great Summer Novel Chapter 3: The Monk Issues a Threat

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Davis stood there confused. How could Lina have sent something like that and him not have known about it?

“What do you mean, that’s the woman who mailed the trunk?” Davis asked in disbelief.

“I mean that your girlfriend…”

Davis cut him off. “Ex-girlfriend. I told you she left. I haven’t seen or heard from her in a while.”

“No matter, that is the woman who sent the trunk, so I’m finding it even harder to believe you now when you say that you don’t know of any trunk,” the monk said, reaching to pull out the fear-inducing knife.

“Wait! Wait! Wait!” Davis yelled, causing Tater to claw his way out of his arms and retreat behind a stack of paint cans.

The monk paused only momentarily to watch Tater, then pulled out his knife anyway, pointing it at Davis.

“You have 24 hours to produce the trunk. Otherwise, you will be sorry,” the monk said, emphasizing the last four words by jabbing the knife in Davis’ direction.

Thinking that sounded a little too much like something from a 007 film, Davis said, “I don’t even know what trunk you’re talking about. How am I supposed to get it to you in 24 hours? It’s not even here!” His voice cracked in desperation and frustration.

“That’s not my problem. The trunk was sent here and Catalina was the one who sent it ... what’s that rattling sound?” The monk cocked his head and paused. “Never mind. Catalina probably stowed the trunk away somewhere around here and now you need to find it. Or else,” the monk emphasized again with the knife.

Before Davis could think of how else to respond, the monk put the knife back in his robes and left the store.

Davis breathed a small sigh of relief. But only a small one because the monk’s threat remained, and Davis didn’t feel like finding out what kind of knife skills the monk had.

He looked over at Tater, who nervously peeked his head out from behind the paint cans.

“I thought monks are supposed to be peaceful,” he said. Tater flicked his tail in agreement.

Davis looked around the store, wondering how on earth this was even happening. Everyone was acting funny lately, but the knife-wielding monk had definitely taken the strange cake. Davis hoped it was all a dream, but the sting from the small claw marks Tater left on his arm assured him that, no, it wasn’t.

Davis looked back at Tater, who was staring at him intently, then at the picture of him and Lina.

He didn’t like to admit that he still missed her at times ... her long black hair, the way it moved in a breeze around her thoughtful, searching face. He thought back to when they had first met. It was in Phuket, Thailand, on some street he had wandered into while Tet, a New Year’s celebration, unfolded around him in a bright display of fireworks, flag waving and elaborate costumes.

They had locked eyes across the crowded street as light from the fireworks illuminated her face. It was a moment that seemed almost too perfect and meant for a movie. They ended up spending a week together in Thailand after that night. Then they created a life together until their relationship came to its sad end. Or maybe it was only sad for him.

We were a cliché, Davis thought to himself. It was all too perfect, and he should have seen the dismal end coming. He had only heard from her once since their separation. About a week after she left, he got a postcard from her with beautiful mountains on it. On the back she had only written “My bliss.”

The postcard’s photo description provided more information to where Lina was than she had: China’s Xinjiang Province. He wondered why she had decided to go there. He thought it odd that she sent him anything at all, but part of him was glad he heard from her. The other part of him found it suspicious.

He wanted to throw the postcard away but Tater gave him a guilty look so he put it on his shelf along with Lina’s copy of “The Alchemist,” retrieved from behind the washer. It was spotted with mold and mildew, and he felt a small twinge of guilt.

He let out another sigh and turned to search the store some more for the trunk. He looked behind the stack of paint cans and underneath a pyramid of the cheap, empty black plastic toolboxes that never really sold. He grabbed a bucket to use as a makeshift stool to stand on and look in the air vents. All he found was dust as old as the store.

He even started moving the display shelving away from the walls, wondering if Lina had hidden the trunk in a cut-out in a wall.

Feeling that any more searching would continue to yield nothing and only make the small store look even more like a tornado had hit it full force, he sighed and looked back at the cat that was still staring at him, his head cocked to the right with curiosity.

“I think I’m in trouble, Tater,” he said.

“Yeah, you are,” a voice responded

Davis looked around and saw no one. He began to wonder if he was going crazy. The voice had a definite Texas accent. He looked back at Tater, who began to slink toward him.

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