The Case Notes of P.I. James: Shed Thoughts

by John Steckley

read it in the correct order


“I come through the fields this time.  Inside the shed I sit down in an old lawn chair – carefully.  I hear them, then see dark figures, crossing the fields: four of them.  Dressed in black, armed with baseball bats, and maybe an axe.  Should have brought my gun.  Didn’t think it necessary for such a lightweight case.

I search for potential weapons.  Just small tools – screw drivers and hammers. The villains are heading towards the shed – tonight’s target?

Sudden inspiration.  I call Ruthie.  She answers after two rings.  Maybe she expected my call.

“Hi Ruthie.  James.  I’m not bored.  Four thugs are approaching the shed- baseball bats.  Maybe an axe.  Get the gun in my office.  Can you load it?

“Yes.  Dad was a hunter.  Be there in a flash.”

She hangs up

They come closer.  Good thing the door opens inwards.  I block it with an old chest loaded and heavy.   Slide it across the dirt floor.   Arm myself with the biggest hammer I can find.

Someone tries to open the door.  Not a lot of patience.  Kicks the door.  .

Loud words – anger from two sides.  Meaning not clear.  Silence, then the axe.  It smashes against the door.  The tip of the blade sticks through.  Pulls out with difficulty.  Another swing -stuck in farther.

Strike the blade several times with the hammer.  Three strikes and the blade comes off the handle.  Impatient fellah strikes the door with the handle. Then throws it at the door.

Words are shared, quieter than before.  Soon I hear breaking glass.  They’re using their baseball bats.  The windows are too small for them to crawl through.  Shards are stuck to the edges. I toss one fallen shard their way.  Hear a shout of pain.

Words come through the broken windows.  The word ‘fire’ is spoken.  A phone call is made.  Probably calling their boss, not one who rewards independent thinking. 

I then hear paper ripping.  See a flash of light outside one of the windows.  Flame flies inside.  Loose garbage catches fire.  I’m in trouble.

I have to get out the door.  They probably know that.  I pull the box and the chest away.  Take a deep breath.  Arm myself with the hammer and a big screwdriver.  Rough situation: four to one, baseball bats vs hammer and screwdriver.  Oh for a chain saw!

Then I hear a gravelly sound.  Seconds later, the sound of gunfire: three shots. Then the sound of running.  Then quiet broken by a knock on the door.  I open it.  It is Ruthie.

“I didn’t know you could shoot.”

“Neither did I.  Daddy only let me load his gun.”



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