Mr. Tenor, Relic Hunter (Present Tense)
Bursting out through the doors of the barbershop and sliding on the dirt road, the hectic dash resembles a slapstick comedy skit for this desperate man, Mark Tenor. His boots slick bottoms are a hindrance as he tries to escape. The traffic of horses and carriages knocks him around, making him drop his cargo. A scramble to pick it up proves unsuccessful, but a second try gets results. Holding on tightly, he continues his slipping and sliding ways. Having few routes from the busy street, he jumps over a water trough, landing on the wood planks surrounding a host of businesses. With no time for a plan, the choice for a hiding place becomes the next closest door.
He makes a surprise entrance into the local bordello. The scantily clad women scream, while the men present stare uncomfortably. He scans the available avenues to get away. Seeing only disappointment, he desperately turns back to the dusty road. Before his boots can settle in the dirt, he sees a couple of horses coming his way. A nervous twitch of his hands is followed by a deep sigh. Sprinting hard, his destination across the crowded street is an exercise in dodge em, allowing some sinister men on horses to close the distance.
The bullets whiz by. Each one misses its target. The man, for whom they are intended, scampers around stationary horses. Getting solid footing on the wood decking, the desperate dash ends when he charges through the doors of the general store. His abrupt entrance surprises the shopkeeper, Jacob ODell, and his patrons who take cover.
As the mother jumps back, hiding behind a large pile of bagged onions, her young son stands still. He recognizes the man instantly and runs over to him. Mr. Tenor! Mr. Tenor!
Jacob lifts his head over the top of the counter to see a familiar face. Mark? What ya doin there?
Mark puts his back against the counter and shouts, Stay down and cover your heads!
But sir, ya cant jus come in here like- Jacob is forced to take cover with the sound of bullets tearing through the building walls. Broken glass is sprayed throughout the room. The relentless barrage tears countless holes throughout the wall, allowing sunlight in.
Without warning, an eerie silence engulfs the store. Hands lower and heads rise to an uncomfortable quiet. Jacob looks over and asks Mark, Whod ya get all soured now?
Oh trust me, you dont want to know. Everyone kosher? Uh, anyone hurt?
The boy crawls closer. Im alright, Mr. Tenor. What happened?
Mrs. Baumgaurt reaches out in an unsuccessful attempt to grab her son Kenny! Git back here! Cant you see? Hes done no good! I told ya he would!
I assure you, maam. Nothing bad is-
Git yer scrawny carcass out here and give back what ya stole! The distant voice brings shutters of fear, as Mark bows his head
Dear lord help us! Mrs. Baumgaurt quickly hides.
Mark exclaims, Hey! Its just a misunder-
The frightened shopkeeper crawls over toward Mark. Ya done pissed off da Gerritt boys?
Well, I might have again. But-
Jacob peeks from behind a stack boxes. I dont need no trouble here. Dey dont got no problems with me.
Its only Leftus and Wayne, Mark states. Its only two of the three stooges. It could be worse. Moe could be here.
Mr. Tenor, ma boys tell me ya got somethin that don belong to ya!
Mark rolls his eyes. Great. Moes arrived.
Its Homer Gerritt! Kenny exclaims.
Mark motions with his hand. Shh he doesnt know youre here. He only wants me.
I want my property back! Homer threatens. You can give it back, or Ill burn you and the store to the ground!
Just give it, and hell go away! Jacob exclaims.
Mom, Mr. Gerritt aint so nice. He wont stop. Remember what he did to pa?
Mark turns around. What happened to your pa, Kenny?
Dont you tell him nothin, boy. Your pa dont matter to him. And they only want him, not us. Jacob says, looking for another safe place to hide.
Yeah, I am who they want. Mark scouts the stores environment. Do you have a backdoor, Jacob?
Jacob points with a shaking finger. Sure do. Youd better run fast.
Im not looking to increase my cardio. Mark receives a confused look from Jacob. Running, keeping your uh, right. Its not that century yet. Can you guys do me a favor?
Sure can, Mr. Tenor!
Kenny, no! Mrs. Baumgaurt shouts, racing to grab her son.
If theyll leave my store alone, Ill do it, Jacob assures.
Mark opens the cylinder on his revolver, eying only one bullet remaining. Alright, once you hear the gunshot, run out front and yell that I ran out the back.
Mrs. Baumgaurt exclaims, Mr. Gerritt will kill us all! He don care none bout us!
Kenny retorts, Mom, Mr. Tenor helped us so Homer Gerritt wouldnt take all our animals and home. Now Im gonna help him back.
Mark heads toward the rear of the store. Just act a little scared. They need to believe youre afraid.
Times a running out! If I get down from here, people will die! Homer yells.
Mark opens the backdoor carefully. The creaking sound causes a moment of caution. Peeking outside and seeing no one, he opens the door wide. Pulling back the hammer of the revolver, he swings his arm back and throws the gun high in the air.
Homer takes his first boot out of his stirrup when a gunshot rings out from behind the store. Jacob runs out, followed by Kenny. Jacob shouts, He headed out da back, hurry!
Homer sits back in his saddle, turning his horse around. His sons follow suit. The horses start a fast gallop, kicking up a plume of dust. They disappear from sight, as Jacob and Kenny watch. A few seconds pass before Mark sprints past them out the front of the store. He hits the dirt road and heads toward the edge of town.
Once the Gerritt gang has reached the back, Leftus slows up, finding a familiar revolver on the ground. Pa, his gun!
Everyone stops, with Homer looking back with a confused look. What are you talking about?
Its right here. Whyd he drop it? Leftus dismounts and bends down, picking up the gun and showing to everyone.
Something aint right. Homer squints as he scans the buildings. The town is quiet, except for the sound of the wind against the rooftops. A light cloud of dust blows by, forcing the men to shield their eyes. Once the dust passes by, Homer points between a couple of buildings and yells, There he is! The men gather themselves and turn their horses to the main street of town.
Mark keeps his crazed pace, not looking back until he hears the thundering sound of hooves. A partial glance puts a hint of desperation in his step, while the bullets being shot at him provide the rest.
Homer and his sons fill the air with constant gunfire, only stopping to reload. Their stampede gains ground with Marks limited speed. His advantage is that he is a lot closer to the tack shop. Each second that goes by sees the shots getting closer. The door to the tack shop is within reach when a bullet grazes his leg, doing only minor damage.
With only a few meters between him and safety, a glowing light begins to shine brighter. The doorway becomes engulfed and blinding. As the horsemen bare down to unleash one last hail of bullets, Mark makes a final lunge with no regard for his personal wellbeing.
Mark opens his eyes, squinting to readjust his vision. Like awakening from a deep sleep, he rubs his face to clear the sleepiness away. He realizes that his hand holds a silver pendant on a well-crafted, leather necklace. Before he has a moment to think, his concentration and focus are interrupted.
You missing sleep again, or should I ask what her name is?
Mark looks up to see his boss Oscar walking by. Oh, sorry. Uh, its Margaret. I had something I needed to do for her, Mark replies, quickly turning off the monitor of his computer.
She got a sister? Oscar asks.
Mark looks up with a puzzled expression. Sister?
Yeah, Oscar replies, leaning against Marks desk. Any man being that tired as much as you are, it would be worth my time to meet her siblings.
Mark quickly lowers the necklace under the desk. Sorry, shes an only child.
Figures, I guess the club girls are calling me. You coming out tonight? Dwayne from advertising is buying.
Seven oclock? Mark inquires.
At the usual, and bring your girl. Oscar stands back up. I want to meet this frisky dynamo you have.
Ill see if shes available.
Oscar begins to walk away, but points back. Im holding you to it!
Mark glances around the office, surveying for any prying eyes. As the last of his exhausted coworkers exit to the elevators, he opens his bottom draw and pulls out a large padded envelope that contains a piece of paper. He takes the paper out, looking over the words:
Dear Margaret Schall,
I heard about your story and it made me think back. I realized the pendant you spoke about was the same one I had found. Im returning it to you and your family so that the memory of your ancestors will forever be remembered and cherished. I hope that it brings closure to the past that can be buried and forgotten, while bringing about new and wonderful memories. Have a wonderful life.
With careful precision not to harm the necklace, Mark wraps the letter around it and places it inside a padded envelope. Once sealed, he places it inside his briefcase and secures the latches. He sets the briefcase down, but realizes there is blood on his pant leg. Looking up, he sees that everyone has left the office, placing his hand over the stain. A grimace finally shows on his face. He lifts his trench coat from the coat rack and puts it on. The length covers the blood, ensuring discretion. He turns the computer monitor on, but is disappointed to find a blank screen. With an exhausted sigh, he powers down the computer and secures the contents of his desk. Picking up the briefcase and heading for the elevator, a slight pain in his leg guarantees an eventful and long journey home.
Every step up to his third floor apartment is becoming tougher. Upon finally reaching the last step, he takes a deep breath to gather a little more energy. The rest of the distance is manageable with the sight of his front door very welcoming. The door swings open to the satisfying feeling of being home.
Placing his trench coat on the hook on the back of the door, he notices a blood stain on the lower portion. Checking his pant leg, he heads to the bathroom to tend to the wound. Once down to his briefs, he cleans what appears to have been caused by a bullet, grazing the skin and outer tissue. The pain of the cleaning process brings back the reality that seems to blend with fantasy. The sink swirls the mixture of bloody water away, as the stinging fades like a distant memory.
Feeling the relaxed comfort of a nice robe, Mark pours a glass of bourbon. A substantial mouthful brings a welcomed relief that has been much needed. He picks up the mail sitting on the table near the entryway, as well as the briefcase. A casual assortment of timely bills and annoying junk mail continues as he finds his way into the den. With no pleasing surprises delivered by the postman, they are pitched to the crowded desk for later review.
The den has become his sanctuary, as well as headquarters for planning and strategy. Multiple boards adorn the room, both chalk and cork. Scribbles and comments paint a colorful picture, while printouts and newspaper articles create a myriad of collages. Several encyclopedias and textbooks are scattered about, with heavy highlighting. One board of articles has a spot that needs attention.
Standing in front of the middle corkboard, he searches for one specific paper. Finding the heading that reads, A Necklace That Could Bring Closure, he reaches up and removes the pushpin. Taking it down, he walks to the desk and finds his stack of folders, buried by opened books. Pulling out the folder labeled, Completed, he places the paper securely inside and returns the folder to the stack. He reaches down and lifts the briefcase, placing it on a partially empty table. He unlatches the top and opens the lid. Pulling the padded envelope containing the necklace from inside the briefcase, he looks it over one last time to insure the proper address had been printed on earlier, before leaving it to settle on a stack of outgoing mail.
He turns to face the plethora of boards, leaning back against the desk. Another pleasant drink helps to clear his mind. A glance at the collected articles gives way to a discouraging feeling. So many people, so many things being lost, each article representing another task. With one more swallow and a deep exhale, he realizes there is still a lot of work ahead of him, and he has no idea when the next time he will be hunting for relics back in time.