Note: The three items drawn for this month’s Flash Fiction Draw Challenge (by ‘Nathan Burgoine) were a compass, a soup kitchen and a crime caper. This is what I came up with—-jeff baker.
The Way Which Thou Shalt Go
By Jeff Baker
Pete stood in the line with Max and The Kid, hoping they looked enough like they’d been sleeping on the street. He stared up at the sign: Sup With The Lord, hoping whatever food and lecture they were serving was worth one-hundred-and-fifty-thousand-dollars. Pete sighed, he’d double-checked this time; this was the same soup kitchen started by Reverend George Paskey who probably didn’t realize the antique compass he had was worth a small fortune.
Pete shifted from one foot to the other, glancing back at Max and The Kid. Early spring but still cold. He pulled his coat around him and wondered what made an old compass so valuable. Maybe it was gold? Or maybe it pointed the way to treasure? Either way Pete was sure Rev. Passkey’s great-grandson didn’t realize what he had or he would have sold it, and Sup With The Lord wouldn’t operate out of an old building that looked like it was about to fall down.
Sup With The Lord opened for dinner at five p.m. and Max, Pete and The Kid filed in with the rest. Pete could whiskey breath and old clothes. He looked around; long clean tables, folding chairs, looked ready for bingo night. The kitchen was in the room behind the long serving table at the front of the room. And the office door was on a wall to one side, partially hidden by a large standing American flag. Pete glanced at Max and The Kid. He wouldn’t have brought them along except that it was their family’s story that had clued Pete to all of this. He sighed again and waited patiently for his turn at the serving table.
The room was a mass of humanity when Pete saw his chance. He nonchalantly wandered around the room and then tried the knob to the office door. It was unlocked. God bless good, trusting people, Pete thought to himself as he slipped into the small office.
Pete had checked the closet, riffled through the pockets of the jacket he found and was ransacking the desk when Max and The Kid slipped into the room. He swore under his breath.
“What took you so long?” Pete asked.
“There’s all kinds of people out there,” The Kid said.
“You find the solid gold compass?” Max asked.
“No, just papers and junk,” Pete said tossing aside a handful of pencils, pens and a tool with a pointed tip. “Maybe it’s hidden behind one of those pictures.”
“All right, boys, that’s enough,” Reverend Paskey said from the doorway, standing between two armed policemen. Pete swore again, this time not under his breath.
“It didn’t help that the one guy was on social media, posting pictures of the outside of the building and bragging that he was going to heist a solid gold compass,” the officer said later. “But that’s not the kind of compass they should have been looking for, and it’s not gold.” He picked something out of the desk drawer. “Remember using these in school? To draw things like circles? This one may have more than sentimental value. It was given to Paskey’s great grandfather, his grandfather showed it to me a couple of times. Wasn’t a big deal then, but a collector might pay top dollar for it today. Look, there’s the name of the man who originally owned it.”
Inscribed on the side of the V-shaped tool was a familiar name; Frank Lloyd Wright.