A man had hanged himself in the back room of the Whistling Kettle Diner. Or so the owner said. But when the ambulance and police arrived, the hanged man was gone.
No clues were found, and the owner was nearly dismissed, but she kept to her story. She opened the diner, entered the back room, and found a man swinging from the overhead piping. She had to take time off to recover–forcibly, if need be.
Her granddaughter visited her often to see if she was okay. It was just a quick jog from Hooper Street to get there.
“Why do you wear that silly costume?” the old woman asked as her granddaughter entered the house.
“It’s just what I wear on my jogs,” said The Jolt.
“Your patrols, you mean.”
The old woman led The Jolt into the kitchen, where the tea kettle was whistling.
“Either way, it’s good exercise,” said The Jolt. “How are you, Grams?”
“I saw a man hanging by his neck in my restaurant. I’m not well.”
“Yes, I’m sure. I’m not senile. I don’t have Alzheimer’s, like your grandfather did. I saw a hanging man in the diner. I swear.”
The Jolt bit her lip. The old woman brought her a cup of tea, and The Jolt sipped it, unsure what to say.
“Maybe I could take a look?” she eventually asked.
“I don’t like the idea of you running around that neighbourhood in that getup. It’s too tight.”
“I know the restaurant has a reputation, even before the… incident happened. And it’s had its share of ruffians and no-good employees. I’m not always the best judge of character. But you’re a beautiful girl, and you’ll stand out even more than usual if you go there dressed like a supergirl.”
“Don’t worry about me, Grams,” said The Jolt. “I can spot a villain when I see one. And I can run very fast.”
“You don’t have superpowers.”
“I don’t need them.”
Later, The Jolt investigated the diner’s back room. She got a few looks on the way, some dirty, some overly friendly, but the patrons knew her reputation. They left her alone.
She found a length of rope, tucked behind some boxes. It was untied, but long enough for… use. How did the police not see this?
Unless it wasn’t there once the hanged man had left, one week ago. Well, almost one week ago. Tomorrow was Monday. Exactly a week after the incident.
The Jolt returned the rope to its spot, and made a show of leaving the restaurant. She made sure to memorize the faces of the restaurant staff, and the patrons.
She returned at night. Grams gave her the key. She made her way into the back room of the diner once again. The rope was still there. She hid herself in the opposite corner of the room, behind a shelf.
A few hours of cramped standing later, she heard the diner door open. Footsteps in the empty building. The back room door opening. The light flicking on.
The Jolt didn’t recognize the man, but he matched her grandmother’s description. Longish dark hair, skinny frame. He wore a loop of what looked like rope around his neck like a scarf or necklace, but it looked like it had a clasp at the back, rather than being tied.
He walked over to where the rope was hidden, and removed it from its hiding place. He tied it to some kind of harness on his shoulder. He moved some sturdy boxes to the centre of the room and stood on them, throwing one end of the rope over a low roof pipe.
When he started puffing pale–even blueish–makeup on his face, The Jolt came out from behind the shelf.
The Hanged Man’s mouth hung open.
“You’re faking your suicide,” said The Jolt. “Then fleeing out the emergency exit. Why?”
The Hanged Man sputtered from atop his sturdy box.
“Okay, then tell me how you even got a key?”
“M-my girlfriend,” said the man. “E-ex girlfriend.” The Jolt didn’t know if he knew who she was, or if the costume just caught him off guard. It happened.
“I see,” said The Jolt, folding her arms. “And for the first question? Some kind of prank?”
The Hanged Man hung his arms limply.
“I don’t want to die,” he said.
“I’m not going to kill you.”
“I wanted my girl–my ex–to find me.”
“To scare her?”
He shrugged. “To know she’d care.”
The Jolt pursed her lips. “What’s your name?”
“Come down from there, Bill.”
The Hanged Man stepped down from his box. There wasn’t a superhero fight scene. It was already over.
Today’s three prompt categories were, “The Jolt,” “A sketchy restaurant,” and, “The hanged man.”
I love writing about The Jolt. I kind of want her to team up with Detective Mom.