Jasper's rickety truck rattled and weaved its way down the dirt path. Jasper avoided potholes where he could and swore loudly with inventive language when he couldn't. The treasures from his latest run were laid gently in the back. He glanced over his shoulder repeatedly after every pothole. His treasures seemed to be safe, but he couldn't be sure until he brought them into the house and inspected them.
The driveway curved from the main road through the wooded area before hooking sharply to the left. That's why Jasper didn't notice a strange car in his driveway until he was behind it. Almost smacked into the damn thing. Jasper pulled into his wife's parking spot since this trespasser was parked in his.
As he climbed from the cab, he flexed his knee. It would rain soon. His treasures had to be brought into the house, cataloged and placed in the proper location around the yard. It always brought a crooked smile to his grizzled face to see his treasures so lovingly arranged.
To the left of the single floor shack that Jasper called home, and continuing fifty feet down the driveway, his rim collection hung from trees on wire, stuck out of the ground on poles, and were ordered in artistic arrays like a fan. He planned to motorize some of them like clockwork gears. On windy days, the rims sang like the gentlest of wind chimes. He missed that sound when the wind was still. The motor should work. He'd been working on that lately. Just needed more machine parts.
On the right side, past the stranger's car, where the woods met his lawn, there were scenes he'd recreated from his favorite movies. He'd found some mannequins on what Jasper liked to call his treasure trips. The mannequins were arranged by scene.
In the first, two mannequins were arranged at a restaurant table. One had a long, blonde wig filled with twigs and leaves. She was face-down in her plate. The other mannequin stared at her. This scene from Splash was one of Jasper's favorites. The blonde actress played a mermaid who'd never been on land before. It was her first time in a restaurant, and she bit right through the shell of a lobster. He had it on VHS and played it constantly while laughing and spilling beer down the front of his shirt.
The rest of the scenes were from little-known movies that Jasper had on dusty VHS tapes played on a dusty old VCR player in his equally dusty living room.
While he stood there scanning his collection, he felt the pull of his newest acquisitions then a flash of annoyance. He eyed the fancy BMW sitting squat and menacing in the spot reserved for Jasper's truck. The nerve of this stranger to block his spot and the leisurely enjoyment Jasper had planned for tonight.
And where was that lazy wife of his?
Jasper stomped onto the creaking porch, flung open the screen door and slammed into the shack.
"Darlene! Whose gosh-darn ugly, foreign auto-mo-byle is in our driveway? Darlene!" Jasper yelled for his wife knowing that she couldn't be there with her car missing.
A black suited man turned from his briefcase, an uncertain smile on his face as he closed the clasps and started towards the door. He flinched as he siddled past Jasper.
"Is that your contraption in my parking space? Where in the hell is Darlene?"
Clearly frightened, the man hurried onto the porch. "S-she's... er... your wife ran to town on some business."
Jasper stomped behind him. "What kind of business? Darlene doesn't have business. Who are you?"
The man nearly flew down the porch steps, past Jasper's truck to the sleek sedan. "Sorry, sir. I can't tell you anything else. It's Darlene's business."
Jasper's red, sweating face and heaving chest made him look like a candidate for a coronary in the middle of his driveway.
Before the man jumped into his car, he tossed back over his shoulder, "Check the coffee table. She's left you a note." Then threw his briefcase into the passenger seat, jammed the key into the ignition and reversed as if Jasper were going to jump onto the hood of his vehicle.
Jasper stood in the dust of the receding vehicle coughing and choking. He bent at the waist sucking in huge, gulping gasps of air, but only received more dust for his trouble. He wheezed as he headed into the house. The man had said the coffee table.
Where the man had been gathering papers to shove into his briefcase, Jasper could now see folded note with his name on it. He recognized Darlene's handwriting.
His racing heart had slowed, and he was able to take in more air, but the three foot chase onto the porch and down the stairs had exhausted him. He grabbed the note and settled into his recliner.
My cousin passed and left me two thousand dollars. It's the money I needed to leave you. You and your "treasures" which is another word for trash! It's creepy trash, Jasper, not treasures. It's not worth anything, but you'll never see that!
I'm headed to Vegas where I can turn this two thousand into a hundred thousand. I been reading loads of books on how to make money in Vegas. I'll be rich, and you'll still be there with your garbage.
Don't even THINK about looking for me.
Jasper struggled out of his recliner and headed out to unpack his treasures. Those were all that mattered.