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More Excitement Than Half an Hour With Pat and Vanna: Flash Fiction

Chris has written more than 300 flash fiction/short stories. Working Vacation was 21st out of 6,700 in the 2016 Writer's Digest competition.

It was a fine summer evening, and I decided that as a man who had just stepped across the seventy-year threshold, it was time to spice up my life a bit. In my younger years, I had known excitement and adventure, but as an aging man, I had slipped into a lifestyle in which Wheel of Fortune was a highlight of the day. A walk around the block would be living on the edge. So instead of turning on Pat and Vanna, I donned my St. Louis Cardinal’s ball cap and headed out the door.

I didn’t have a dog to walk, so all my attention was focused on the action of the streets and homes of that one block in a rural municipality barely large enough to have a town council. The sheriff and two deputies took care of law enforcement. Heck, we even beat Mayberry on that point.

I was amazed at how little I knew about the residents of the homes I walked past. I only knew half a dozen of the homeowners by name. All the others had moved in since I had become a recluse in my own home. I walked past Velma’s house and a few doors later came to Ed’s place. He was in the driveway unhitching his fishing boat from a twenty-year-old Ford Ranger. We chatted for a few minutes. I mean, we actually talked. Chatting seems to have picked up a different meaning these days.

I turned another corner and came to Charlotte’s single story cape cod. There was no car in the driveway, so I was saved from catching up on the escapades of her grandchildren. As I walked past the house, I heard some commotion coming from the east end. The window in the center of that side was partially blocked by a poorly placed juniper. Through the space between the bush and the lap siding, I could just make out a leg with a boot attached to the end that was sticking through the window. Two hands reached out and gripped the frame followed by a head. But the man was too large to make an exit with his head and one foot going out at the same time.


I walked over and peeked around the juniper. Now the man’s head came out and he put a foot on the sill. This wasn’t working either. By this time I had a pretty good idea of what was going on. The burglar was trying to crawl out through broken glass instead of opening the window first. He appeared to be in his late forties or early fifties, and this holdup was making him very frustrated. I could hear certain verbalizations that should not have been uttered in Charlotte’s abode.

I stepped around the juniper, placed my hand on the man’s head and gently pushed him back into the house. He stumbled around briefly until he regained his balance. He asked what the hell I had done that for, and I told him he was going about it all wrong. This time his head came out first, and he got his belt hooked on the window latch. Once again I helped him back inside. When the curses subsided, I suggested he leave by way of the front door. He thought about it and turned to his right.


I made a quick trip around the corner and grabbed the doorknob. I held it tight and felt the man trying to turn it from the inside. More curses made their way through the windowless door. He gave up, and all was silent. I returned to the window by the juniper. By the time I arrived, he had already cut his hand on the glass. I didn’t feel like being so helpful as to suggest he open the window first, but I did suggest that he go upstairs and try opening a window and exiting that way. This was, of course, preposterous on two counts. First, how would it be easier to exit a second story window than a ground floor window? Second, I’ve already said it was a single story cape cod. When he left to find the stairway, I called the sheriff.

It actually took him much longer to come back to the window than even I expected. He informed me that he could not find the way to the second floor and that I should get out of his way so he could climb out the window. I suggested that he use the back door and was once again surprised, though maybe I shouldn’t have been. The burglar considered it a plausible idea and headed toward the back of the house.


The same trick I had used on the front door, worked on the back door. I know it may be hard to believe, but in the moonless midnight darkness of this burglar’s mind, he was convinced that he was locked inside the house. He also seemed to be comfortable with the misguided notion that I was sincerely trying to help him.

The siren from the sheriff’s cruiser was a distant whine.

“What’s that?” asked the burglar.

“It sounds like the local law enforcement has some business to attend to,” I said.

Out popped his head and foot again, and for the third time, I placed my hand on his head. But this time I pushed a bit harder.

The cruiser pulled up in front of the house, and the sheriff climbed out. We met on the porch just as the front door opened.

“Um, oh, hello officer,” said the burglar.

“Sheriff,” said the sheriff.

“Huh?” said the burglar.

“You can call me Sheriff Dalrymple, not officer.”

“Oh, uh, hello Sheriff Dalrymple.”

I watched the cruiser drive down the street and continued my stroll around the block, careful not to pay attention to anything about the houses I passed.

The next day I was considering the whole, bizarre escapade of the previous day. My ball cap hung on a hook by the door. My walking shoes were on the rug below the hat. I walked across the room, sat down in my recliner and picked up the remote control. I had an exciting half hour planned with Pat and Vanna.

© 2018 Chris Mills


Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on June 14, 2018:

I can understand why our hero no longer wants to venture through his neighborhood. However, his interactions with the burglar were hilarious! I guess he didn't feel the need to be afraid when he saw how the thief was trying to exit the house. Didn't have much going on upstairs, did he? Ha ha.

I enjoyed this story, Chris. Great fun. Kinda reminded me of me a bit. I was once a social butterfly, but prefer my own domain more and more as I age.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 31, 2018:

God save me from a life of Pat and Vanna!!! lol Great story!

manatita44 from london on May 30, 2018:

An almost impossible tale told well. How foolish could a man be?

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on May 29, 2018:

Becky, it sounds like you've got a gun and a plan. I love the wildlife, even the dangerous ones.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on May 29, 2018:

Well, now I have to suck it up and take it. I can't let you have all the fun. I've got 12 weeks left in Missoula with mountains to climb and canyons to explore. There is no time for sitting around waiting for these knees to cooperate. 600 of Ibuprofen three times a day. Got it Dr. Dierker.

Becky Katz from Hereford, AZ on May 29, 2018:

Chris, My son took me out with my .40 cal, that I got after my husband died. I really hate revolvers, so I got a semi automatic and he wanted to make sure I could hit what I aimed at. I hit 20 out of 20, at 20 ft, and 30 ft. If it is any further away, I am retreating and not shooting. I also have a shotgun. It is hard to miss with that. I have had javalina in my front yard, and they are mean and aggressive. A boar charged my son one night when he was taking the trash to the road. He has also had them up on his front porch. After that, we all take a gun if we have to walk to the road after dark. That is the time they usually come out to feed. Those and coyote. Coyote will usually avoid you though. I love living in the boonies. I get to watch all the wildlife.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on May 29, 2018:

Yes buddy, what you do is get a real prescription of 600 Ibu's 3 times a day. Kicks our old boy time pain. Just two weeks. We do not need to hit kidney and liver hard. But as always lighten up on booze.

I just did a hard one. Danged I trained, But just have to get over the tough pain. My fine Lord gave me a 33 year boy to bail me out life I did, over forty years ago.

I hope you just do it and suck it up.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on May 29, 2018:

Frank, you are correct sir, there is no reality in this story. There may be criminals this stupid, but I don’t think there are citizens who would go around shoving burglars back through windows. Only on Mayberry. But it was fun to write and I hope it provides a few laughs for people. Thanks for stopping by and reading. I always appreciate your comments.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on May 29, 2018:

Chris.. I had a blast reading your Fifisms... coming from large cities and officers I would never have witnessed something like this to be a reality... only if I were watching a scenario right out of Mayberry... thanks for the share

Suzie from Carson City on May 29, 2018:

Chris...You're too sweet. I have a healthy sense of humor and can laugh at myself along with anyone else. I like to admit that my "get-up & go," got up & left!....LOL A Pat on the head for Darby!! Paula

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on May 29, 2018:

Eric, Zion's Angels' Landing day hike is spectacular. It is also heavily used, but few follow it to its end along the long narrow spine. If you've already done that one, as I have, then Wildcat Canyon looks good for a backpacking trip. I'll be heading to Glacier as soon as the snowmelt/removal allows. My knees are the worst they've been, so I've got to do something about that soon. Got any knee pain remedies?

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on May 29, 2018:

Sorry guy.thought of this all day. I just went outside and chased off my neighbor kids with their dogs. They always giggle when I try to act all grumpy but they love my bottled water.

Set me up with a hike. Maybe Zion?

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on May 29, 2018:

Nell, a little excitement went a long way for this guy. I think his nightly appointment with WOF is a very good idea.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on May 29, 2018:

Paula, funny story. But I have to say that I believe when you've "got it", You've got it. It doesn't matter what you've piled on. Deputy Ron was very short-sighted....and maybe hyperopic as well.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on May 29, 2018:

Becky, Your husband was ready for critters and crooks with that service revolver. I've decided bear spray is my best bet. I've been to the firing range enough to know I would empty the clip or cylinder and hit nothing that would make a difference. "Almost/close" work well with bear spray.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on May 29, 2018:

Doris, this guy needed a dog. I'm glad you got a laugh out of this. That is gratifying.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on May 29, 2018:

Eric, you two are father and son neighborhood watch. I'm glad this helped in the happy department.

Nell Rose from England on May 29, 2018:

lol! yes some excitement can be too much! great story!

Suzie from Carson City on May 29, 2018:

Cam.....Since I live in a small, quasi-rural, village, with more than our share of bumbling red necks (nothing against red necks!) I could actually picture this scenario happening in just about any neighborhood. Believe me, your humorous tale was that much funnier to me, envisioning one of our locals being the idiot burglar!

This is hilarious, Chris. I was reminded of a late night, several years ago, when I called 911 due to hearing commotion in my back yard, under my bedroom window, at 2 a.m.!! Eventually, Ron, one of our local Barney Fyfe's (& a former classmate of mine) rang my doorbell. When I went to the door, he gave me the toe to head flashlight swoop, smiled and told me I could rest easy......it was just a big old fat racoon, trying to get into my trash can. I thanked him and as he started down the porch stairs, he smirked and said, "Geez, Paula, you just blew my fantasy of you as the sexiest girl I went to school with!!" I had to laugh. There I was in a gaudy, ole flannel nightgown, with a tattered sweat shirt over it, huge woolen socks up to my knees & a scarf tied up around my hair curlers!!! Small towns. I never did live that down..!!

Becky Katz from Hereford, AZ on May 29, 2018:

I can imagine my husband doing this. He would have had his old service revolver on though. That is the advantage of living in AZ. You can walk around with a gun holstered on your hip. He always had his revolver on and his phone, when he went for a walk, because we have rattlesnakes out where I live. Giggled over this though.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on May 29, 2018:

Very good, I laughed all the way through this one. Well, most of the way when I realized where it was headed. I don't blame "our hero" for heading to his recliner and turning on Vanna and Pat. Too bad he didn't have a 100 lb. dog to sic on the burglar like we did one night when we caught some teenagers beating our neighbor's truck with baseball bats. Ran 'em off, he did.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on May 29, 2018:

You are killing me here. Mine are Italian cypress and mine are John and Mary and Olga and Jesus.(The Mexican type) My neighbor that I do not like busted a freak breaking into (or trying to) my car. My son and I walk our neighborhood every school day and most Saturdays.

Chris you always make me happy.

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