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Tourist Trap: A Mystery Short Story

IN THE January 1 ISSUE

FROM THE 2022 Articles,
andMysteryrat's Maze,
andTerrific Tales
SECTIONS

by Guy Belleranti

This story was originally published by Raven Electrick in May 2004. Republished by Dana Literary Society in April 2006.

Walt and Wilma’s Museum
Gifts – Candy – Ice Cream
2 Miles

Mac pointed out the garish road sign as S.J. accelerated the noisy stolen car up the wooded two-lane highway. “That could be the perfect spot to jack a better set of wheels, S.J. We’ll hang out front and wait for the right tourist.”

“How’ll we know who’s right, Mac?”

“How do we always know? Experience.”

“Yeah, but there could be a lot of people stopped there and—”

“All the better. Increases our pickings.”

A minute later the place came into view and S.J. coasted into the lot. “There’s only one car, Mac,” he said, pointing to a silver vehicle parked around the side of the long building.

“That’s okay. Probably belongs to Walt and Wilma.”

“Who?”

“The owners of this tourist trap. Didn’t you read the sign?” Mac threw open the passenger side door, got out, and then leaned back inside. “What ‘ya waiting for, S.J.? Maybe the car’s still got the keys in it.”

But there weren’t any keys, and not only were the doors locked, but it had a steering lock as well.

“Okay,” Mac said. “Guess we’ll go with plan B.”

“Plan B?”

“Yeah.” Mac smiled and lifted aside a corner of his leather jacket exposing his .38. “Like I said, I bet this car is Walt and Wilma’s. We’ll stick ‘em up, get the keys and then…”

S.J. giggled. “I get to count the money, this time, Mac. Remember? You promised.”money

“Not so loud,” Mac snapped. But his smile grew. He liked it when S.J. got in the spirit. “All right. Let’s go in. But wait for me to give you the word.”

Some noisemaker thing tinkled above the door as they entered, and Mac swept a quick look around. This must be the gift shop portion of the place. It was a lot smaller than the entire building itself and crammed with all the usual roadside junk. On his left near the cash register stood a youngish, glassy eyed fellow.

“Morning.” The greeting seemed to come from the fellow, but was a woman’s voice. Short and gray-haired, she stepped out from behind the man. “Here to take a tour of our waxworks?”

Mac didn’t reply, and S.J. said, “Sure. Maybe. What’ll we see?”

The woman slid her glasses back up her beak-like nose. “Well now, how about people like Eugene here.” She tapped the glassy-eyed fellow, and this time Mac widened his own eyes a bit.

He – it – wasn’t anything but a stuffed dummy! A stuffed dummy figure of wax!

“We’ve got all sorts of people like Eugene in the museum,” the woman said. You want to see Al Capone or Pretty Boy Floyd? We’ve got ‘em. Famous inventors, presidents, movie stars – we’ve got them, too. And some not so well knowns – folks you won’t find anywhere else. Surprises – that’s what Walt and I like to call them.”

Yeah, well S.J. and I have a surprise, too, Mac thought. He glanced around again, more slowly this time. This old hag must be Wilma. Now, where was Walt?

“Looking for something?” the woman asked.

“Uh, yeah you got any coffee?”

“Sure do. Two bucks a cup.”

“We’ll take two cups.”coffee

“But, Mac—” S.J. began

Mac frowned him to silence.

“Two cups it is,” the woman said. “Got the maker in the other room…be right back.” She vanished through a small door at the back of the gift shop, a door bearing the sign This Way to the Museum of the Famous and Infamous.

“Mac,” S.J. whispered, “what are you ordering coffee for? What about plan B?”

“Time ain’t right yet,” Mac murmured. “We need to know where Walt is.”

“Oh. Yeah. But why?”

“‘Cause we don’t want him popping out of nowhere with a shotgun. And ‘cause what if she ain’t got the car keys? What if he’s got ‘em? What if—” Mac broke off as the woman came back through the door. This time a wiry bald man of
about the same age was with her.

“Neither of you said if you wanted cream and sugar,” the woman said, setting two large steaming Styrofoam cups on the counter beside the register. “But Walt’s brought both, haven’t you dear?”

“Sure have.” The man set a basket beside the coffees and crossed his arms over his stomach. “Anything else Wilma or I can get you fellows? A couple Waxwork t-shirts? Or two tickets to the museum?”

“No,” Mac said, looking out the window. He reached under his jacket. “Nothing except—” He broke off as he saw a car swing in off the highway, its tires crunching on the graveled parking lot. He pulled his hand back, the gun still hidden.

“Something wrong?” asked Walt, following Mac’s glance.

The tires kept crunching, and then the car pulled back onto the highway. False alarm. Driver had just wanted to turn around.

“Wrong?” Mac asked. He laughed. “Not any more.” He whipped his gun out and pointed it in Walt’s face, while Wilma let out a gasp. “Shut up,” Mac snarled at her. “S.J., you know what to do.”

“Sure do.” A switchblade flashed in his right hand. “Open the register,” he told the woman.

Wilma did as told.

“Now get over there next to Walt.”

Again she followed orders.

S.J. rushed around the counter, reached into the register for the bills, and fell back with a scream as a jolt of electricity shot through his fingers. Anguish twisted his face as he crumpled to the floor.

“What the—” Mac felt the gun fly from his hands as Walt hit him with some sort of judo move, then found himself flying over the man’s shoulder and crashing against the tile floor. He shook his head, dazed, but before he could rise something sharp pricked his neck. “What did you….” He couldn’t get any more words out, couldn’t move his lips, just stared at the syringe in Wilma’s hand. syringe

“I figured there was something odd about you two,” she said. “Just like Eugene. Just like the Burrell brothers. Just like all those other good for nothings who have tried ruining folks lives hereabouts over the years.”

“Looks like you gave him a good dose, Wilma,” came Walt’s voice. “And this other one, too. They’re both stiffening up nicely.”

Wilma nodded and leaned close to Mac one more time. “Walt rigged up that shock switch on our cash register several years ago – right after I came up with the elixir.” She held a small mirror to Mac’s face so he could see himself, so he could see the glassy film spreading over his eyes. “Yes, you’re feeling it,” she said. “Feeling all loss of muscle use, feeling yourself turning into another of our surprise figures.”

“No,” Mac wanted to shout. “No, no, no.” But he couldn’t. He couldn’t do anything except stare and listen. Stare and listen as Walt strapped him to a hand cart. Stare and listen as he found himself steered through a doorway into a dim lit room. Stare and listen as he found himself positioned among dozens of other staring figures.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Be sure to check out our new mystery podcast too with mystery short stories, and first chapters read by local actors. A new episode goes up next week. We have featured some of Guy’s stories on the podcast.

Guy Belleranti lives in Tucson, Arizona. He writes fiction, non-fiction, poetry, puzzles and humor for both adults and children. His work has been published in over 230 different publications including Woman’s World, Highlights for Children, Short Edition, Bards & Sages Quarterly, Humpty Dumpty, Scifaikuest, parABnormal Magazine and The Saturday Evening Post. He also writes children’s material for many educational sites. He worked for many years in school libraries and has been a volunteer docent educator at the local zoo for many years. His author’s website is www.guybelleranti.com/

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