• Luke Carlstedt

As Graceful


Photo Source: Pixabay

He looked left and right and then nimbly darted over the road. Landing in the brush made a slight thrashing sound, but Jake was a professional and froze immediately. And waited. It was all about patience. Think, move and then wait. Wait patiently and keep your eyes open. In his dark jumpsuit no one would see him this late in the evening, but he still remained frozen in the foliage and waited a good 10 minutes. No barking dogs and no human voices violated the night air.

The house showed no signs of life. He had watched the living room lights go off an hour prior, so the old lady was in bed. Out here in the country the people were early to bed and early to rise. That was good. It gave him time to do his work. Eleven o'clock at night, just stay in your bed and dream of your cows and chickens. And forget about your jewelry. Jake would take good care of your jewelry.

Up above the porch he could see the window, open slightly, letting in the cool night air. And soon letting Jake in. He dashed across the lawn and approached a trellis bordering the small porch.


Louisa could not sleep again. This time it wasn't her bad back. She lay in the darkness and with every turn the bed squeaked like an angry bird. It had been a full day with the Ladies Greenery Society taking up the whole afternoon, yet despite her weariness she was still awake.

Where was Tim? She had stood outside the rear porch and hollered for him before sundown but he never showed up. Well, fine then. Miss dinner. Spending the night in the forest is no treat, but if that's what he wanted, then so be it. She was determined to be cold and practical about it, but she still couldn't stop thinking about where he might be. Men-folk had never made any sense to her.

Tim was getting old, no doubt about it. He couldn't impress the lovelies any more. Mrs. Gadsen's bimbo had really put him in his place last spring. Really made the fur fly—mostly Tim's from the look of it. Nowadays he spent most of his time walking up and down the river. And those trout probably put on a saucy dance, just like that bimbo of Mrs. Gadsen's.

Men. Louisa didn't understand them at all. Over the years they'd been so generous to her, heaping necklaces and rings upon her, but fidelity had been a jewel that they never brought. They were simply born to stray. And Tim was no better.


Jake adroitly climbed up to the top of the awning and approached the open window. No need for tools here, just the sacks and his hunting knife. Like a true professional he had it all planned in his mind, each stage of the job.

One thing he had learned during his time away was how to plan thoroughly. Most of the guys in the pen had been born losers, so casual about a job they couldn't help but get nabbed. He had learned though, listened to their experiences and used the time to learn.

He pulled out his knife and held it ready in his hand. In case of an emergency he'd grab the old lady's throat with his left and finish it with a single cut, all in one delicate movement. Snatch the jewels and be out of the house in record time. He had orchestrated the whole thing.


She saw the window move.

Apparently the wind was picking up. Well, she didn't want mosquitoes and those horrible moths in the house, so she put on the lights and pushed aside the bed covers. She needed screens on these windows, but that kind of work was beyond her. And Tim was no use at all. She teetered on the bedroom carpet and slowly approached the window.


Jake was in position in when the lights came on. With the other hand helping him balance, he was ready to jump in. One foot on the sill, crouch down a bit and glide in carefully. Down below him, thick bushes spread out. In the case of a necessary retreat they would break his fall. He had prepared for that too. Just one step now and he would be in the bedroom.

There was a vague movement in the room and Jake made ready to pounce, just like a cat.

It fell upon his right arm and pierced his flesh with a thousand needles. He swung wildly and the object flew through the open window, screeching and tearing his flesh. His arms desperately clawed the air as his foot slipped off the window sill and his body plunged downward. His head made a dull thump on the edge of the porch and his body came to rest, sprawled out in the damp soil. Tilted abnormally to one side, his face was fixed with an expression of dumbfounded surprise, quite unbecoming of a professional.


A shadow fell past the window behind her.

“Timmy! You naughty boy!”

The cat had rolled on the carpet, regained its footing and scampered away, down the stairs. After looking for ten minutes, Louisa gave up searching for the old tomcat. When he wants something, he'll show up. He comes in to eat and play and then he's off again. A regular vagabond, but then men are all alike. She returned to her bed and before falling soundly asleep, contemplated what she would do next the day.

Perhaps some gardening.

Luke Carlstedt is David Hall, an American citizen and retired electronics technician and English instructor in southern Germany. Born in Portland, Oregon, USA, he moved to Germany at the age of 22, after graduating with a B.S. in Electronics for a two year stay. After a short time, the charm and color of Germany convinced him to settle down permanently in the Munich area. During a dry spell in the technical job market, he took up teaching English in businesses and night schools. It proved to be an interesting choice, working with people instead of machines. Throughout the last 50 years, he has kept a journal and is now applying his love of writing to works of fiction.

If you are interested in reading more of Luke's work, you can check out his e-book on Amazon here.