It’s Dave, again, in week 35 of my ongoing short story challenge.
I’ve challenged myself to write a short fiction piece every week for a year, and so far the going is (mostly) good.
Need to catch up on my short stories?
You can read every previous short story here.
This week’s short story has a couple of very big callbacks to some of the short stories in my first collection. If you aren’t familiar with Dave, you really ought to buy a copy of that collection.
Yeah, that was dead subtle.
Or if short stories about Dave (and bees, and the future, and many other topics) aren’t your style, how about a good old fashioned B-movie thriller, featuring more exploding sharks than any other novel*?
*I think. I will admit, it’s not like I’ve counted.
Some people I know will realise that while this is a work of creative fiction, some of it draws on some very real events. That’s all I’ll say…
Dave Does It Again
So, remember Dave from school? You probably haven’t thought about him for years, right?
Yeah, that’s right, big lad, red hair, demon on the footy field. That Dave. The one who reckoned he’d play one day for the Bulldogs, no matter what, was gunna happen.
Didn’t happen, but then we all dreamed big as kids, didn’t we?
Anyway, Dave stayed around town, same as I did, so we kept in touch over the years, I’d see him down the pub after work, you know the sort of thing.
He went through a few jobs in that time, never seemed to settle down to all that much. Started off in that parts factory after school, seemed steady ’till they closed that place down.
Worked a bunch of jobs after that, even on the roads with me for a while, but he just seemed like one of those aimless blokes, you know?
Married? Yeah… he was, for a while, but that didn’t end too well neither. Coupla’ kids, one of them’s inside now I think, don’t know about the other one, but Dave and Katrina got divorced oh, years ago now I guess. Messy business, but then it usually is, isn’t it?
Anyway, Dave made the paper last week, thanks to the job he had. Emphasis on the had, though, because he ain’t got that job no more either. Pity, because it seemed like he’d finally settled into a good little groove there.
Dave’s a big bloke, right, always was, even when we were kids, and he managed to get himself a job as a security guard at the school.
Yeah, I know, funny old world isn’t it, you would never have picked Dave for being the type to go back to school in a million years.
Anyway, he got the job because they closed the school down last year.
No, don’t be daft, it’s not that the kids don’t learn anything any more. Though when it came to Dave’s kids, you might have had a point there. They opened that big combined school in the middle of town instead, called it the “the future of education” or something. All the political bigwigs rolled into town, big ceremony, made the papers and all that.
But that left them with an extra school, didn’t it? You can’t exactly use a school for much but schooling, and they had stuff all luck offloading it to a developer or anything like that so I hear.
But they’re trying, the council’s trying for sure. And in the meantime, they don’t want the place to go to rack and ruin, because then they’ll only get pennies for the place, and they kind of need the money to pay for everything else they’ve stuffed up, don’t they?
Yeah, I’ll have another one, thanks.
Cheers. Ah, yeah, that’s nice. I needed that. Where was I… oh yeah, Dave!
So anyway, the council gets their usual crew in to keep the grass mown and all that, but they know they’ve got a problem with the place after dark. They don’t want it broken into, not that there’s much worth stealing in an empty school these days.
So that’s where Dave comes in, because he got himself hired as the night time security guard.
Still don’t know why they didn’t throw up a few cameras to keep the place watched, but maybe they had their reasons.
Coulda just been that Dave was a bit cheaper than all that fuss for a place they want to sell and knock down anyway.
So it’s a pretty cushy job for Dave, and I start to see him around town a bit more, looking a bit more flash than usual. Not after 8 at night, mind, because he’s got to be up at the school by then to put in his 12 hour shift.
But Dave is Dave, you know? He’s never changed, always a bit gabby, and he’s not shy in saying that the school job was the easiest gig he ever scored. When he first started, he used to patrol regular, truncheon and light in hand.
Not that Dave needed a stick to beat the crap out of you. Remember when he got into that scrap with Simon in… what was it, year 8? Simon’s teeth were never the same after that.
Anyway, he used to trudge around the place regular as clockwork, but that gets a bit tiring, bit boring, you know. And nothing’s happening at 11, or 12, or 1 most nights. He did say that Fridays were sometimes a bit hairy because he’d get a few in after the pubs kicked out trying to start trouble, but once word got around that he’d break faces if anyone tried, that quitened down quick smart.
So Dave… pass the chips would ya? Thanks. Anyway…
Dave, he figured he was onto a really good thing, he was pretty public about how he hoped the council never sold the school because he could ride that job into retirement pretty easy.
I went up there once, you know. Was late on a… Thursday, I think, after the darts at the pub, and I happened to be driving by, so I thought I’d drop in and give Dave a little company. Must have been around 11 or so. Took a couple of beers with me, because who’s to know, no harm done, right?
So I heads in there, and he was set up in that little entrance foyer behind the front doors, only light on in the whole place.
Dave was 100%, absolutely, totally asleep behind his desk. Fair play to Dave, his snoring would probably have scared off anyone. I don’t know how Katrina put up with it all these years.
No, he wasn’t fired for being asleep on the job. Well… not quite.
So, anyway, last Thursday so I heard it — from Karen at the council, we’ve been seeing each other of late, nothing serious yet — but anyway, so she tells me, Dave was up there, not doing much beyond sitting in the uniform behind the desk, when he hears some noise.
So he goes to investigate, see what’s up. Been months since he filed any kind of incident report, probably months since anyone but the lawn mowing guy or Dave have been anywhere near the school at all as far as anyone knows.
He turns the corner near the old quad, round to where the science block was, and he spots a group of teenagers trying to climb into one of the windows.
Dave saw red, so I’m told, and he goes at them with a fury. The ones that ran away got it lucky, though it’s kind of unclear. From what I’m told though, based on the amount of blood and teeth on the ground, at least two of them must have gotten one hell of a thumping.
No, that wasn’t what lost him the job. None of them pressed charges. Ain’t even clear who they really were, though that’s where the whole thing gets interesting.
What lost Dave the job wasn’t being a bit too vigorous in his security duties.
It was not realising them teens weren’t there to vandalise the place at all.
Turns out they’d been breaking in for months, probably while Dave was snoring away at his little desk.
That night, they were checking in on their meth lab.
Dave caught them, but he didn’t check inside the building, just went back to his desk and entered a report that just said “ran off teenagers from science block” and that was it.
Then whatever the teens were cooking up in their meth lab… well, it cooked itself right and proper.
The whole science block caught fire, burned the whole place to the ground. Firies turned up to find Dave up on the roof, scrambling for his life, because he’d somehow locked himself into the main building.
So that was it for that job for Dave, wasn’t it?
My round, I think — what do you want to drink?