Johnny America


This Baggage Has Baggage


Illustration of a ghostly piece of luggage…

Mark and Mindy had just arrived home from the vaca­tion of their lives. The only bum­mer was that their prized, one of a kind suit­case was lost. The air­line, how­ev­er, unchar­ac­ter­is­ti­cal­ly kept their promise to locate and deliv­er it by the next morn­ing. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the suit­case was in sham­bles. Mis­shapen from the tra­di­tion­al rec­tan­gle into a shape more close­ly resem­bling an octa­gon. Its hand-stitched han­dle was gone, leav­ing just the rip marks. And not least was that their beloved trav­el bag was cov­ered in what looked to be bird excre­ment. Heart­bro­ken, Mark and Mindy decid­ed it was unre­deemable, and left it on the curb, while con­jec­tur­ing that no nor­mal human would want to touch that hot mess, let alone take it home. Less than an hour lat­er, the out­cast case was gone.

At a lug­gage repair store, the crafts­man own­er had just fin­ished restor­ing the piece to its orig­i­nal form. Pristine­ly spot­less, rec­tan­gu­lar in shape, hand-stitched han­dle stand­ing tall. As he proud­ly placed it as the cen­ter­piece of the front win­dow, a woman stopped and admired it.

Sarah was mix­ing dry and wet food into a hand paint­ed pet bowl while call­ing her dog to break­fast. When Kaf­ka didn’t come, Sarah searched his favorite hid­ing places. Bed­room clos­et, under the bed, behind the toi­let bowl and final­ly yank­ing the show­er cur­tain open to sur­prise him. But the bea­gle was nowhere to be found. Until… she spot­ted a tail pro­trud­ing from behind the liv­ing room couch. Sarah snuck up on the appendage, play­ful­ly grabbed it, then imme­di­ate­ly dropped it as if it was the prover­bial hot pota­to. Ner­vous­ly peer­ing over the back of the couch, what she saw prompt­ed a blood-cur­dling scream. Kaf­ka was board-stiff to the touch, a.k.a., deceased.

On the phone, weep­ing uncon­trol­lably, Sarah was told by voice-mes­sage that Ani­mal Con­trol was closed for the Fourth of July week­end. Also enjoy­ing time off were one veterinarian’s office after anoth­er. There was no chance that Sarah was ready to spend the next three days liv­ing with her beloved but decom­pos­ing dog. Pan­icked, she decid­ed to find a place, any place, where she could deposit Kaf­ka. And so, she pulled a suit­case from her clos­et. Yes, that suitcase.

Sarah rolled the lug­gage into the bus ter­mi­nal and asked for a round-trip tick­et to the Jer­sey Mead­ow­lands where she planned to dump the canine-filled faux cof­fin into the same marshy weeds that were alleged­ly home to Mafia assas­si­na­tion vic­tims. While Sarah’s atten­tion was focused on pur­chas­ing a tick­et, a hood­ied indi­vid­ual raced by, grab­bing the suit­case han­dle and fran­ti­cal­ly wheel­ing it out of sight. Momen­tar­i­ly stunned, she then accept­ed the sit­u­a­tion with a shrug, returned the bus tick­et and walked away.

The now-unhood­ed thief wheeled the suit­case through the front door of a low-end apart­ment in a dilap­i­dat­ed build­ing of a run­down neigh­bor­hood. He excit­ed­ly told his wife and child that hope­ful­ly, untold rich­es await­ed them inside the latched lug­gage. They looked on in antic­i­pa­tion as he snapped it open. A look of hor­ror blan­ket­ed the couple’s faces, while the child was thrilled that his dad­dy got him a dog. The angry wife screamed at her hus­band to get that thing out of here, while the bawl­ing child begged his par­ents to let him keep it.

In a wood­ed area just out­side of town, our shov­el-equipped light­weight lar­ce­nist decid­ed to do the right thing and give poor Kaf­ka a prop­er bur­ial. When he fin­ished dig­ging the fresh grave, he went to heave Kaf­ka in, only to lose his bal­ance, fall into the hole, hit his head and die.

At the police station’s evi­dence lock­up room, the sergeant in charge was sign­ing for the suit­case that wouldbe deposit­ed with count­less oth­er pieces of crime scene evi­dence. Mar­veling at its beau­ty, he brought it home, where his wife thought it was the per­fect size to haul their life­long antique col­lec­tion. They were head­ing to an heir­loom show where they intend­ed to cash in on the col­lec­tion and use the prof­its to build an addi­tion onto their house.

Cop and spouse hit the road in their Ford, the antique-stuffed suit­case stowed in the open truck bed. Along the way they hit a jolt­ing bump in the road, which bounced the lug­gage piece up, out of the truck and onto the street as they unwit­ting­ly drove on. After a short while, a wan­der­ing home­less woman dis­cov­ered the suitcase.

The local pawn shop own­er hand­ed the sud­den­ly hap­py down-and-out woman a stack of bills in exchange for the antique con­tents of the lug­gage. When he told her that the suit­case was of no use to him, she had start­ed to zip it up when she noticed the cor­ner of an air­line ID tag stick­ing out of an inside pocket.

Mark and Mindy were at their din­ing room table enjoy­ing din­ner when the door­bell rang. Mark went to the front door and returned with, yes, the suit­case. The two were amazed, con­fused and speech­less, but thrilled to have their favorite back and inex­plic­a­bly in mint con­di­tion. As the cou­ple toast­ed the return, their dog man­i­cal­ly sniffed the inside of the lug­gage as if he had found the Holy Grail.

Filed under Fiction on December 2nd, 2022

Care to Share?

Consider posting a note of comment on this item:


Previous Post


Next Post


Join our Irregular Mailing List

For very occasional ramblings, word about new print ephemera, and of course exciting investment opportunities.