K. A. Williams has been published in various magazines including Mystery Tribune, Yellow Mama, The Blotter, Literary Yard, Calliope, Tigershark, Ariel Chart, Transfigured Lit, Visual Verse, Nuthouse, The Creativity Webzine, View From Atlantis, Corner Bar, Altered Reality, and Bewildering Stories, with upcoming fiction scheduled for Trembling With Fear and The Rockford Review. When not writing, she enjoys music, computer chess and text adventure games.
Chet mowed Mrs. Cahill's yard and used a trimmer to attack the grass around the old Volkswagen Beetle. It was red where it wasn't rusty and it sat on four flat tires with a cracked windshield and a broken window.
When Chet had finished, Mrs. Cahill came outside to pay him. He took the money from her and looked at the car. "Mrs. Cahill, would you sell me your Beetle? I've been saving my money and I can fix it. I'll sand all the rust off, paint it cardinal red and get it running again. I can do it - I took auto shop last semester and made an A."
Mrs. Cahill shook her head. "I'm sorry dear. If I was going to sell it, there's no one else I'd rather sell it to than you."
Chet didn't understand why she wanted to keep the car when he was willing to buy it and restore it. He offered to buy the Beetle every time he mowed her yard that summer. He had even told her he would mow her yard all next summer in exchange for that car, but she refused.
Chet grew obsessed with the Beetle. There must be some way to get her to sell it to him, he thought. One day while he was riding his bike by Mrs. Cahill's house, he saw a snake sliding through the broken window. He got an idea and smiled.
The next day, Chet rode by her house on his bike and it pleased him to see the official city vehicle in the old lady's driveway and the orange sticker now pasted on the Beetle's cracked windshield. He'd just wait a day or two, give her time to think about it, then make his offer again. This time she wouldn't refuse.
That afternoon Chet's parents announced that they were all leaving for a trip to the beach the next day. Chet loved the beach but wondered if he'd be back in time to buy the car before the city towed it off. He couldn't tell his parents he didn't want to go because they knew how much he loved the seashore.
When Chet got home, the car was gone. A dead patch of grass the size of the Beetle was all that remained. Mrs. Cahill came out of the house when she saw Chet standing in her yard. "Where's the Beetle?" Chet asked in disbelief.
"One of my neighbors reported my car to the city," Mrs. Cahill said with tears in her eyes. "The city official said I had to move it in seven days - it was a health hazard. He found one little snake in the car. I called the city but all I kept getting were those stupid automated things. I couldn't even get in touch with a real person. Your next door neighbor said that you were at the beach. I had to do something. City Salvage gave me a hundred dollars for it, for the metal."
Then tears flowed down Mrs. Cahill's cheeks. "My late husband bought that car for me when it was new. I wanted to keep it for sentimental reasons and now it's being crushed. I wish I had sold you the Beetle, Chet. I know you'd have done anything to get that car."
"Yeah," Chet murmured in anguish. "Anything."