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Dick Winchester in... The Box with No Name

A Dick Winchester adventure

By Stephen A. RoddewigPublished about a year ago Updated 2 months ago 8 min read
7
Dick Winchester in... The Box with No Name
Photo by Ante Hamersmit on Unsplash

Co-Winner of Donna Fox's Vocal Graveyard Challenge

***

Book 1, Chapter 1

Out of all the doors in this city, it came to mine.

What is a box? More than the cardboard, the shipping label, the ridiculous amount of empty space filled with plastic cushions to safeguard one Q-tip. It’s a mindset. One where the walls surround you on all sides. Blocking out the truth.

There hadn’t been a knock. I had just happened to be near the door, half in a bottle of the finest Tennessee whiskey ten clams could buy, when I heard the tell-tale thud. As I stared down at this unknown package, I heard a soft whizz and looked up in time to see the distinctive quad rotors and spider-like body. A drone.

I had heard rumblings that Amazon was going to start using these things, but I assumed there would be great fanfare when they went into service. Bezos in all his bald glory cutting a giant red ribbon—that sort of thing.

Better yet, Bezos holding a controller with his trademark smile that always reminded me of a python gearing up to strangle its next meal. He tilts the drone, and one of its rotors turns the ribbon to a thousand strands in a spray of red carnage.

Yep, that’s how you do some nonsensical corporate PR. You don’t just quietly release a swarm of delivery drones onto an unsuspecting world.

I looked back down from the drone rapidly disappearing into the cloud-speckled sky, contemplating the box before me. I started to reach for it, but something prickled at the back of my neck and made me pause.

No return address. No shipping label. This box was on a one-way trip that ended with me.

Little did I know just how true that instinct would be as I lifted the cardboard cube and heard a muted click followed by a hiss.

Now, another man might not have picked up on the cues, but as the box steamed in my hands, I felt my sixth sense kicking into gear. Years of experience—the hard, gritty kind of experience only years watching cop shows can give—told me that nothing good came of anonymous packages that started ticking and fizzling when you moved them.

I dropped the box and brought my foot up, giving it a punt that would make Stephen Hauschka , former NFL kicker, proud to call me his son as it sailed out onto the yard in front of my townhouse. Or at least call me a friend if he’d ever answer my letters.

My heavy heart at the reminder of Stephen’s silence was temporarily lightened as the mystery package exploded, rendering my heart and the rest of my body weightless as the shockwave lifted me off my feet.

Sadly, my levity was temporary, and I woke up on the floor of the foyer sometime later. Head pounding, I lifted my sore arm to put an exact time on it, only to find the cracked face of my watch staring back at me.

Moaning in despair at my fallen friend, I then rolled onto my stomach and shoved myself to my feet.

“Please, God,” I groaned. “Let the windows be okay.”

I felt my heart still as glass crunched beneath my feet.

My insurance agent was going to be pissed. Not just annoyed at having to talk to me again. Losing his shit mad. Apparently my window claims were tanking the home insurance part of StateArm, the small insurance firm that Jarrod worked at that had somehow skirted a trademark infringement suit.

“How many times can one guy’s windows break in one month?” he had practically shouted at me the last time I called him.

“Isn’t that what insurance is for?” I had fired back.

“Insurance is for protecting the possessions of normal, reasonable adults. Not nut cases.”

“Hey, it’s not my fault those jackals over at GrubHub decided they needed to send me a message.”

“A message with bricks and rocks?”

“Well, it’s the message tied to those bricks and rocks.”

“Which is what exactly?”

“Stop running your own freelance food delivery business and get in line. Or else.”

Jarrod had then gone on to question how I got enough business running a freelance food delivery business with GrubHub, DoorDash, Uber Eats, and a thousand other competitors that didn’t require payment in cash or orders by phone.

True, I had conceded, that should eliminate anyone under 40 as a customer. But I had a secret weapon: no extra fees. While millennials, Gen X, and whatever else they called themselves these days were lazy and hated talking by phone, the current economic conditions they had inherited meant they were also incredibly frugal. Not having to pay a base service fee of $5.99 just for using the app tipped the balance more often than not.

Plus, I made a killing by running all this business under Uncle Sam’s radar. Every time I drove on a road or went to a library, I was proud to see everyone else’s taxes at work.

“I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear the last part about paying us through a fraudulent business,” Jarrod had said.

“Atta boy, Jarrod. I knew you were one of the good ones.”

“Just promise me you’ll get on good terms with the GrubHub delivery drivers before we find out what they mean by ‘or else.’ If we get a claim for arson, you’re going to lose me my job. Maybe take the whole company down with us.”

“And pay dues to that useless union on top of income tax? Over my dead body.”

After that, Jarrod had cursed and hung up.

Over my dead body. The pieces clicked together as I brushed singed fragments of cardboard out of my hair. I hadn’t bent to that crooked food-drivers union, and the smoldering hole in my lawn was the “or else.” At last, the box surrounding my mind was falling away. I saw these animals for what they were.

This time, I wouldn’t shake it off and file another insurance claim. This time, their crimes would be answered. On top of the insurance claim, of course.

I walked back to my office and opened the side drawer in my oak desk. I swept aside the glossy magazine covers, ignoring the tantalizing eyes of the various Playboy models until I found the pearl handle of my revolver. A classic Smith and Wesson .38 Special.

As I reached the door, I realized there was more than six members of the local GrubHub union chapter. I was going to need more ammunition. However, that thought quickly turned to the logistics of trying to gun down the entire 500-strong membership. That could take a long time, and bullets aren’t cheap.

No, this called for some creative problem solving.

I grabbed my phone from my pocket, pleased to see it hadn’t shared my watch’s fate.

A couple rings later, a gruff voice answered, “I thought we told you never call us again, Dick.”

“Hey, no funny business this time, Louie. Just a professional courtesy.”

A pause, and then, “Okay, what?”

“I was driving in Shirlington, and I saw a GrubHub deliverer.”

“Not possible. That’s DoorDash turf. They know the rules.”

“That’s what I said, so I waved her down and said she probably didn’t want to be showing the GrubHub sticker so prominently given the territory.”

“And?”

“She flipped me off and said that DoorDash’s days are numbered. All the GrubHub organizers say so.”

“Those cocksuckers!” After a moment, Louie came back on the phone. “Thanks for the tip, Dick. I have some calls to make.”

I hung up, reaching for my car keys to join the fun that was soon to take place. Then I felt my phone buzz.

It wasn’t Louie. It was an email notification. I almost ignored it, but the sender caught my attention: Amazon.com. I swiped to open the full email.

Subject: Oops!

Body: Hello Dick,

It has come to our attention that a package was delivered to you that was meant for a different recipient address in your neighborhood. Your area was selected as a beta test for our new delivery drones, and clearly some work is still needed before the full launch. Thank you for your patience and helping us better our delivery services.

As a token of our gratitude, please enjoy $3 off your annual Prime membership of $249.99.

Sincerely yours,

The Amazon Crew

Now that made more sense. My neighbors were all pricks. Always complaining about noise of breaking glass and squealing tires. And if it wasn’t that, they were always making snide comments about the state of my lawn. That someone had finally been driven to this point by their antics seemed almost a given.

I wondered how much something like that costs. Certainly less than buying your own Predator drone. I filed that idea under the “Revisit Later” list I kept in my head, right under “Beer Vending Machine.”

I set to work on remounting the front door to the wall after Amazon’s mistake had blown it off its hinges. As I worked, I listened to the sounds of the city. Some folks liked nature sounds to relax. Me, I liked the hustle and bustle, the growing stream of DoorDash cars racing down my street, the sound of brakes screeching and gunfire in the distance.

As the police chopper roared overhead, I stood on the front step, admiring my work. Jarrod should be thrilled I wouldn’t be including this in the claim. As if that petulant child of a man had ever heard of gratitude.

Yep, I thought as the chorus of ambulance sirens grew louder, this city might fall apart if not for a few good men like Dick Winchester.

###

Dick Winchester will return in... The Case of the Stolen Netflix Password

More Dick Winchester in...

The Opening Salvo (Book 1)

  1. The Box with No Name — you are here
  2. The Last Word
  3. The Hat Trick
  4. Dick Winchester Episode 1: Gratuity Not Included
  5. The Terminus — print exclusive*
  6. The Fairy Tale
  7. The Cop Out — print exclusive*
  8. The Enlistment
  9. The Cliffhanger
  10. The Cliffhanger, The Prequel
  11. The Cliffhanger, The Finale

*When the book is released in September 2024

The Counterattack (Book 2)

Humor
7

About the Creator

Stephen A. Roddewig

A Bloody Business is now live! More details.

Writing the adventures of Dick Winchester, a modern gangland comedy set just across the river from Washington, D.C.

Proud member of the Horror Writers Association 🐦‍⬛

StephenARoddewig.com

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  2. Masterful proofreading

    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

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Comments (8)

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  • Celia in Underland4 months ago

    Sorry it took me a bit to get around to x needed to get the ad ones read first! I'm rather odd that way! Great , unique character and love the tone that runs through this. The line, 'the hard, gritty kind of experience only years watching cop shows can give' made laugh out loud. Reminded me of when Russia/Ukraine started and everyne on FB suddenly had PHDs in Soviet studies 🤍 Brilliantly written!

  • JBaz4 months ago

    Wow this was so entertaining. I laughed I cried I kissed my extra fees goodbye Congratulations on DF challenge Very well earned

  • Mackenzie Davis4 months ago

    Such a unique character, premise, and writing style, Stephen! I adore the satire in this. Honestly, have you considered trying that freelance food delivery system? That could absolutely work. I laughed aloud at the Jeff Bezos snake analogy. Was literally just saying that yesterday, or perhaps it was closer to "lizard-like." Plus, $3 off your $250 membership is all too accurate, omg. Color me intrigued by DW; I must now fall down the rabbit hole ;D

  • What a rollicking, amusing read... glad we still have humans delivering mail. Will have to read previous Dick Winchester tales.

  • Donna Renee4 months ago

    This was super fun to read and picture 🤣

  • Still excellent the second time around!

  • Donna Fox (HKB)4 months ago

    Stephan, I love this! The narrative voice you chose is hilarious, relatable and just so captivating! I found some comedy in the way you had the food delivery services modelled after gangs in a major city! I also love that although this had a good amount of laughs, it was still a serious story line with compelling characterizations and such a great plot! I look forward to reading more of Dick's adventures!! Great work!!

  • Lamar Wiggins4 months ago

    Well that was rather entertaining. I just dug it up and will swing it on by to that graveyard challenge. Great character development. I could totally see this as a television series. Was this the first episode for the DW series? I vaguely remember reading something similar from you for the Pitch your Pilot challenge.

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