Rose Vinyl Siding
a short story
by Joshua Coffman
He was riding through the neighborhood with his window down.
"What is up with their decision to put all these speed bumps?!" He thought to himself.
It was a nice enough neighborhood. The yards were large and well cared for and the houses were modest but tidy. In some of the yards children could be seen playing raucously. Not very many, but just enough to seem like the neighborhood was conspicuously filled with children.
It was only mildly annoying.
With the window down, he could hear the laughter and delight of the children. As he passed by some of the children waved with a smile. It was nice to be in this little compound.
The barriers and armed guards served as a reminder of the new reality. Fences with barbed wire could be seen in between the rows of tidy houses. Beyond the houses and iron curtain of fencing, an evergreen canopy rose up to obscure the horizon and give a sense of isolation to the protected within.
From one of the houses the sound of someone practicing on a musical instrument wafted to his car.
More questions than answers "Was that a clarinet or just someone playing the saxophone really badly?" Here he was though. The house blended into the rest, a simple but clean exterior. Shallow raised beds nestled against the side of the house. They complemented the single floor home nicely. Some flowers, but he could also see the beginnings of zucchini and even some tomatoes.
The light dusty rose vinyl siding showed little signs of wear and tear. This neighborhood wasn't new, but it definitely was built in the last 10 years. There was no substantial rain markings or dirt splash. No broken siding panels. All coloring seemed uniform.
White trim accented the dusty rose siding nicely. It didn't stand out from the similar hues along the road he had just approached from.
There were no children outside this home. Two larger SUVs painted in an inconspicuous tan parked neatly in the driveway. It wasn't paved; it was a rock driveway. The asphalt ran by each of the houses and their driveways extended in similar but unique orientations to the house.
He turned into the driveway and pulled up into the grass next to the house, briefly taking in the surroundings before jumping out of the car.
His face flushed.
"Not again." He slowly reached behind his back and adjusted his belt. This was the second time since buying his new holster that he had accidentally pulled the action. He needed to get a new holster.
"Or just stop wearing it in the truck like a dumb criminal." He chided himself.
It was something about his seat. Or his belt. Or his holster. He didn't really know. He just knew that it would be the adult thing to do to just take off his weapon when he was sitting in his truck.
He released the action and walked around to the back of the house. The cement stairs painted white led down to a basement entrance.
None of the windows in the house had indicated anybody inside but at the bottom of the stairs there was a distinct radio communications chatter.
He knocked on the blank door loudly. Nothing other than the radio chatter could be heard moving inside. A few moments later, the dead bolt shifted and he was welcomed inside by a wiry, bearded man.
His eyes adjusted to the new lighting. There was a lot of it. Bright florescents attached to the ceiling lit the rooms surrounding and the hallway he was standing in.
There was a shotgun and two Ruger Americans leaning against the wall. The bearded man had no weapon in his hand, but when he turned to lead down the hallway, a hip holster brandished a revolver.
The guest of the house, we'll call him "Troy," gently closed the door behind him and began to follow the bearded man.
"I've met him before... what is his name?" Troy thought to himself. As fate would have it, he would never get a chance to remember the bearded man's name. But we'll get back to that.
Across the house, about three doors down to the right, the hallway turned to the right and led into a trap door into the crawlspace. Each door they passed by, radio chatter droned into the hallway. There was probably people behind each door. And guns, there was probably guns inside each room. Knowing this compound, there were probably lots of guns.
The bearded man opened the trap door and shuffled down the little ladder the three rungs that it went down.
A light flicked on. They hunched over and shuffled to the edge of the crawlspace. A stack of ammunition cases, plastic barrels, and three metal briefcases were stacked against the cement setting for the stairs that had led them down into the basement.
The job was to take one of the empty briefcases. The bearded man was scheduled to take the other two on a "business trip."
But Troy didn't know that. All Troy knew was that things were probably going to go very bad, it was up to him to make sure that they went very good.