Chapters one through three of "Your Pal Al" have been published here previously. I'd love to hear what you think. Please comment.
is just before dawn and everyone is still asleep. A shadowy figure
slips into the hallway and floats towards the heart of the house. It
approaches the closed door at the end of the hall and waits. Until this
moment, not a sound has been made, and then, ever so softly, a very
small whisper can be heard. Albert can barely hear himself over the
pounding of his heart. “Your mission, Jim, should you decide to accept
it, is to make yourself breakfast, leave a note explaining where you
will be, and sneak out of the house without being caught. Your
objective, to obtain information about the Shadow. Make contact with
Samson Browne. He is the double agent, but be careful. The evil Carlotta
is ever present. As always, should you or any member of your I.M. Force
be caught or killed, the secretary will disavow any knowledge of your
actions. This tape will self destruct in five seconds.”
He pauses and listens again. If anyone is awake, they will be in the
kitchen. The door swings open slowly, just a crack at first, and then,
just enough to allow Albert to slip into the kitchen.
The coast is clear. He crosses the kitchen, again using his quietest spy
skills. He quickly cracks the code on the refrigerator. It is just one
of his specialties. The safe is full but he does not get distracted. He
sees the milk and grabs it. He takes his prize over to the kitchen table
and pours himself a big glass. Next, he grabs the last package of Pop
Tarts. He always knew about Colonel McGrath’s secret stash in the back
of the pantry but the time was never right. This morning it is. Oh yes!
Today was his most important mission for the Impossible Missions Force
and he is going to be successful. He didn’t bother to heat them up. He
didn’t want to get caught. He hastily scrawled a note to his commander,
the leader of the IMF, telling her that he was already out to play and
that he and Bruiser were going to be gone all day. He leaves it on the
counter and opens the screen door. He made it. It took all of his
espionage skills but he made it and the day was now his.
BAM! Unfortunately he forgot about the spring and the screen door
They were shooting at him. He couldn’t believe it. Not to worry. No one
had ever successfully hit him. He was far too good. He runs to Bruiser’s
pen and breaks him out. The two must now get out of the country before
getting caught. He begins to explain the mission to Bruiser as they head
for the old state road.
His mother had been in awake in her bedroom and quickly heads for the
kitchen. But no one is there. Then she sees Albert and Bruiser heading
down the dirt driveway. She finds the note that Albert left on the
counter. She reads it quickly and smiles. When she looks up, Albert is
talking to Bruiser but she can’t quite hear what he is saying. He is
quite animated. She smiles again.
“Albert?” she called after him. This time a little louder. “Albert?”
But he must have been out of earshot. That was OK. He was growing up
fast. He was going to be fine.
She loves the fact that he seemed to be having a good time. She wasn’t
sure how he would like staying with his grandparents. It was the biggest
concern she had when she and Leland discussed his plans to be gone all
summer. The photo shoot in New Guinea was an enormous break for him but
he wouldn’t leave her and Albert alone in Jacksonville all summer. He
would only take the assignment if she would take Albert up to her
parents and spend the summer with them. It was a difficult choice but
the assignment for National Geographic would make her husband a
respectable photographer. No more weddings or portraits of whiney kids.
The job could also be an end to their financial concerns. They might
even get to move to Washington D.C. Happy thoughts were running through
her head when her mother made her presence known to her.
“Abilene. You musn’t allow your boy to behave so. He needs to show you a
little more respect.” The words were cold and emotionless.
“He’s just a boy, Mama.”
Grandmother just stared at her. Abby knew that look. It was the one that
she reserved for her when the response was not adequate.
By this time Albert and Bruiser had already turned the corner. The first
leg of his assignment was complete. “So Bruiser, how do you think I can
get Mr. Sam to tell me about the Shadow?”
Bruiser wasn’t much of a strategist. He was all muscle.
“Well, Miss Lottie is going to be the tough one. If I could only get her
off the porch, even for a minute, I bet I could get Mr. Sam started.
And then…” Albert snapped his fingers. Bruiser looked up. Albert wasn’t
sure, but he thought his body guard was smiling.
“What do you suppose it is?” Bruiser just loped along. This time he
didn’t even look up.
“So, I know I asked you this before but you had all night to think on it
and I thought, maybe, just maybe, you figured it out.” Still no answer.
“Why do you suppose it’s so important? And why won’t Miss Lottie let him
tell me about it?”
“I bet it has to do with the CIA or the FBI or something. And Miss
Lottie just thinks I ain’t big enough for it to concern me. She doesn’t
know that I’m a real secret agent myself and can handle it. And I’m
strong. Mr. Sam said so himself.”
“Maybe it isn’t spy stuff at all. Maybe it’s like something like The
Twilight Zone or Scooby Doo… something creepy like that.” Bruiser gave a
snort. “Scooby isn’t real Bruiser. He’s just a dog on TV and he’s not
even a real dog. He’s just a cartoon dog!” Albert walked on in silence
for a few minutes thinking about what he just told his dog. And while he
liked spy stuff well enough, the idea of something strange and scary
led to so many more possibilities. “I bet Kolchak would know.”
“So, tell me Bruiser, how can we get Mr. Sam to tell us? That Miss
Lottie is a tough one. She doesn’t EVER leave Mr. Sam alone on that
porch for more than a minute or two.”
They continued on in this manner for quite some time and then Albert
grew quiet. Somehow talking about the shadow made put him on edge.
It was near eight o’clock when Albert and Bruiser came up on the Browne
place. Albert couldn’t wait and took off running! Bruiser let him go. He
never did seem to want to head up to the porch. The old hickory was
close enough for him.
“Good morning Burty!” Mr. Sam was beaming.
“Hi Mr. Sam! Good morning Miss Lottie.” He launched himself onto the
porch and hurried to get settled in his usual spot at Mr. Sam’s feet.
“Sweet Baby Jesus! What ‘choo doing out here so early, Albert?”
“Well…” he had to think fast although the words were coming out real
slow. “Today is cleaning day, Miss Lottie…” He rolled his eyes, cocked
his head and rubbed his chin. “…and Grandmother likes an early start.”
There. It wasn’t entirely a lie. Saturday was wash day and Grandmother
did like an early start.
“So why ain’t choo at home helpin’ yo’ Granny?”
His mind was wandering again.
“Burty! Miss Lottie was asking you a question.” He was smiling like he
almost always did when Albert came to visit. And Miss Lottie was shaking
her head. That was also something that happened a lot.
“Child, one day, that brain o’ yours is gonna get you in trouble!” But
she was smiling too.
End of Chapter