If there’s one person in this world who loves dogs as much as I do, it’s Priscilla 🙂 When she sent me this pic, I had a serious ‘Awww!’ moment and felt like that happy pit bull was looking into my soul!
With a picture this fun, it only makes sense to incorporate it into a fun story, and that is exactly what I did. Or at least tried to do…
Here’s ‘Shelly (Tries to Get) In Trouble’:
Trouble has a knack for finding some people like a flea finds a warm body in the forest. Shelly Travers was not one of those people.
She stared at the 29 on the flower shop’s front counter calendar and frowned. Reaching out, she flipped from July to September and stared at the same number there. Two months. Two months to her fortieth birthday.
“What should we do to celebrate?” her best friend Clara had asked her yesterday.
“Something fun,” Shelly had responded. “I don’t want to be one of those people who bemoans turning forty.”
“Your kind of fun, or mine?”
“Is there a difference?”
“My kind of fun means getting in trouble. Yours means sipping sangrias and talking about the latest reality TV show.”
“I guess we could try your kind.”
That’s when Clara had laughed. She had laughed and said the words Shelly hadn’t been able to stop thinking of since.
“Shelly Travers, you haven’t been in trouble a day in your life. If you start now, I don’t think that brain of yours will be able to handle it.”
“I’ve been in trouble before,” Shelly muttered as she stared at September 29. “I’m sure I have.”
She forced her brain to think back, trying to find a memory that would reflect her statement. There was none to be found.
Clara looked up from the arrangement she was working on, a lovely mix of hydrangeas and clematis.
“You say something?” she asked
“Have I really never been in trouble before? You can’t think of a single time?”
Clara’s face scrunched up in confusion, then she laughed and said, “You’re referring to what I said yesterday.”
“Girl, I’ve known you since third grade, and I’ve never seen you in hot water. Not once. Not even with your parents.”
“Maybe it’s time to change that.”
“No, I’m serious. I think I should get in some kind of scrape at least once before forty, don’t you?”
Clara dropped the white flower from her hand and placed her hands on her hips.
“I thought you should get in trouble before you were sixteen,” she said. “Then by the time you were twenty. Then thirty. Gotta say, I’ve lost hope at this point.”
“Isn’t there a saying, something about hope springing eternal?”
A mischievous smirk spread across Clara’s face and she said, “I’ll make you a deal. You find a way to get in trouble before your birthday, and I’ll give you a hundred bucks.”
“Anything. Dine and dash. Speeding ticket. I would even take loitering for goodness sakes.”
Shelly had a smile on her face as she got into her car that night. She’d win that hundred dollars before she even got home. Her trip out of Chicago to her home in Westchester took her along 290, and she knew just where highway patrol liked to hide along the interstate during the evening hours. All she had to do was push to about fifteen over the limit, and she’d have herself a speeding ticket in no time. Piece of cake.
As she neared the spot, she hopped over in the fast lane and pressed down on the accelerator. Right before she got to the trooper, though, a car veered over in front of her, and she had to hit the brakes. She was going ten under as she passed.
Blowing out a frustrated sigh, she got all the way over to the slow lane so she could exit and have another go of things. On her second time past the trooper, she was able to hit the fifteen over and watched in her rearview mirror for the anticipated lights to flip on. Nothing. The patrol car stayed right where it was.
Not to be daunted, she tried again. And again. And again.
“Seriously!” she slammed the heel of her palm against the steering wheel. “Is he dead or something?”
As the words left her mouth, a nervous pit formed in her stomach. What if something really was wrong with him? What if that’s why he hadn’t pulled her over?
Nearing the trooper’s spot again, she slowed, earning her a honk from the irritated driver tailing her. Flipping on her turn signal, she rolled to a stop along the fast lane shoulder, put on her hazard lights, and exited the car. If nothing else, maybe she would get in trouble for parking along the shoulder.
When she got to the driver’s side window of the patrol car, her heart started beating faster. The uniformed man’s eyes were closed, his mouth partially open.
“Hey, you ok?” Shelly tapped on the window, but got no response. “Hey!”
When pounding on the glass for another thirty seconds still went unnoticed, Shelly pulled out her phone.
“911. What’s your emergency?”
Twenty minutes later, she watched as the man was loaded into the back of an ambulance.
“Looks like a heart attack,” the EMT told her.
“He’s still alive, though, right?”
“Yeah, for now, thanks to you.”
Shelly handed him her floral shop business card.
“If someone thinks of it, I would appreciate a call letting me know how he’s doing.”
The EMT took it, gave a nod, and then hopped in the back of the ambulance.
“Well, well, well.” The next day Clara held up her phone to show the news article she was reading on her phone. “Local woman Shelly Travers saves trooper,” she read. “I can tell you’re really doing well on this getting in trouble thing.”
That evening, she went for a different approach, her plan taking her to Grant Park. She stopped in front of Buckingham Fountain and studied the magnificent piece of work that was supposed to symbolize Lake Michigan. The sea horses along the pink marble basin of the fountain were her favorite part of the thing. They represented the four states that bordered Lake Michigan, something she found downright fascinating. As she watched, the water show began playing, the center jet of the fountain shooting up 150 feet in the air.
As the show played, Shelly looked around, hoping to see at least a few other people watching the show along with her. That would help her to get busted that much faster. She was dismayed to find that she was the only one even close to the fountain. It didn’t matter, though, she told herself. The fountain had a security system on it, and as soon as she stepped foot in it, it would only be a matter of time before the authorities showed up.
She put one foot over the edge of the fountain and gasped. The water was much cooler than she had anticipated, even after being in the July sun. Gritting her teeth, she brought her other leg over and stood in the thigh deep water.
Trying to make a big show of things, she started splashing around, making huge gestures with her arms and shouting on occasion. She went on with that for what felt like an hour, and all without a single person showing up to drag her out. Frustrated, she dropped to her knees, letting the water come up past her waist. She blew all of the air out of her lungs, then dipped her head under the water, moving her legs out behind her so that she was laying on her belly on the bottom of the fountain. If she couldn’t get a guard to arrest her, maybe she could at least get some attractive male to dive in and save her.
She felt something disturbing the water around her and opened her eyes. As luck would have it, her rescuer was indeed a cutie with muscles and a charming smile. Unfortunately, it was the wrong species.
The blue nose pit bull grabbed the edge of her shirt and began tugging at it, trying to pull her back toward the edge of the fountain. Shelly thought about trying to pull her shirt out of his mouth, but decided against it. Since it didn’t appear that she would get in trouble for being in the fountain, she might as well get out of it.
When she was out, Shelly dropped down to the ground, and the dog began licking her face, as if relieved she had made it out alive. Shelly patted the dog’s head.
“Just so you know, I was in there intentionally,” she told him. “But I appreciate your heroism nonetheless.”
“Slate! There you are!”
Shelly looked up to see a young woman in a running outfit jogging toward them. A leash dangled in her hand.
“You found him!” she cried. “Thank you so much! I’ve been looking everywhere for him!’
“Oh, wait, no,” said Shelly. “He actually—“
“I just don’t know what I would do if he was gone for good! He’s my baby! Seriously, I am so grateful!”
“Really, I was just trying to—“
“You’re a real life hero!”
Shelly blew out a breath and settled for a mumbled, “You’re welcome.”
The woman clipped the leash to Slate’s collar, handed out one last exuberant thank you, then took off at a jog, Slate following happily along behind her.
“So,” Clara asked the next morning, “how did yesterday’s attempt go?”
Shelly avoided her eyes as she shoved her lunch into the bottom of one of the back room, flower refrigerators.
“I’ll get started on the Joneses wedding flowers,” she said, trying to change the subject.
“Give it up, girl,” she said.
The next day was a Wednesday, Shelly’s day off. As soon as she was ready, she headed to Ross Dress for Less at the Hillside Town Center.
Her plan was a little more daring than her last two attempts at trouble. She knew that should bother her at least a little. Maybe put a nervous pit in her stomach. But she felt no such foreboding. It was almost starting to seem like she was cursed from ever being able to get in trouble, if that was even possible.
Shelly marched straight to the women’s section and grabbed a leather jacket off the rack. Placing it over her arm so it would be visible to anyone who even glanced her direction, she moved straight toward the door. No one stopped her before she got there, so she’d have to let the shoplifting detector announce to everyone what she was doing. As soon as it did, she’d act all suspicious and run for the parking lot. Not so fast that someone couldn’t stop her, though.
When she was in the middle of the detectors and they refused to go off, she started to get angry. She took a few steps forward and then back, but to no avail.
“Are you kidding me!”
With furious steps, she made her way to the checkout counter and threw the jacket down.
“Is this all for you today?” asked the cashier.
“I just tried to walk out of the store with this and your detector didn’t go off!”
“The detectors aren’t working right now.”
“Shhh!” said another of the cashiers. “Customers aren’t supposed to know that! What are you thinking?”
The two then proceeded to get in an argument about it while Shelly watched hopelessly. The exchange only ended when an older woman with greying hair ran up to the counter, a worried look on her face.
“Excuse me,” she said, “but I can’t find my diamond earrings anywhere. I think I took them off when I was trying on clothes and stuck them in a pocket, but I can’t remember which shirt it was I had on at the time.”
Her eyes dropped to the leather jacket, and her eyes widened.
“Wait! I think it might have been this one!”
She reached into the jacket’s right pocket and pulled out two diamond studs.
“What are the chances!” the first cashier exclaimed.
The older woman looked at Shelly and gave her a wide smile.
“You must be my own little blessing for the day,” she said. “If you hadn’t brought this up here right when you did, I don’t think I ever would have found my earrings! Thank you so much!”
Without a word, Shelly turned and walked out of the store.
“Well?” Clara asked on Thursday morning.
“It’s time to get serious.”
“Have fun with that.”
Shelly knew she was pushing the limits even as she poured the can of beer into her empty spritz bottle. What she was attempting to do was more than a little crazy, but she couldn’t stop herself. Being irresponsible enough to actually drink and drive was never something she’d do, but maybe she could at least give the illusion. If she swerved a bit and got pulled over, then a cop smelled beer on her, she’d get to feel like she was in a lot of trouble, at least until she took a breathalyzer test and by that means could avoid jail time.
Closing her eyes, she sprayed the beer onto her shirt and neck, wrinkling her nose as she tried to get used to the odor being so prevalent on her.
Since she didn’t really know the best place to go to get picked up for her swerving car, Shelly hoped that one of the citizens of Winchester would be responsible enough to call her in.
“You all are completely irresponsible,” Shelly muttered to the city as a whole two hours later.
She had swerved so much that she wondered if she’d be able to go back to driving straight again. The honking horns of at least a handful of cars let her know she had managed to freak some people out. Obviously not enough for them to do anything about it, though.
As she sat at a stoplight, drumming her fingers against the steering wheel, trying to decide what to do next, she couldn’t help but notice the license plate in front of her.
“Divine,” she said. “What kind of plate is that?”
The light turned green and the car with the unusual license plate began moving, just in time to hit a pedestrian who had chosen that time to step out into the crosswalk, even though the signal told him not to. Shelly gave a scream as she saw the man in the crosswalk flail and then fall to the ground. The offending car slammed on its brakes, paused for a space of five to ten seconds, then swerved around the man and sped off.
Shelly put on her hazards and jumped out of her car, running to kneel next to the man who had been hit.
“Are you ok?” she asked him as she scanned his body for signs of serious injury.
The man gave a moan, and his eyes blinked open.
“S’ok,” he said with a distinct slur to the statement.
Shelly saw his arm looked odd, like it wasn’t quite together the way it was supposed to be.
“Does your arm hurt?” she asked.
He shook his head against the ground.
A police officer pushed through the crowd that had gathered around the man and knelt as well.
After asking the man some questions, which were not answered very intelligibly, the officer called for an ambulance and then looked at Shelly.
“Are you the driver that hit him?”
Before she could answer, someone in the crowd said, “Wasn’t her. The car that hit him took off.”
“Sure did,” chimed in another voice.
“Did anyone get a good description of the vehicle?” the officer asked.
“I know the license plate said ‘Divine’,” Shelly explained.
“You saw the plate?”
“Yeah. Spelled like it sounds. D-I-V-I-N-E.”
“Good. Very good. We’ll have that driver in no time.”
After the officer spoke into his radio about the plate, he looked at Shelly and gave an approving nod.
“Good job,” he said. “You’ve just made our job a lot easier.”
Shelly opened her mouth, then closed it again in exasperation.
“I smell like beer,” she pointed out to him.
“Not you. Him. This man reeks of it. Probably why he was in the crosswalk when he shouldn’t have been.”
Shelly was so used to the odor of beer at that point that she hadn’t even been able to tell the injured man grabbing at his arm smelled exactly the same.
“My friend Donna saw you being a hero yesterday.” Clara tried to sound nonchalant about it the next day, but the smirk, while hidden from her face, was there in her voice.
“One last try.”
“Ok, good luck.”
It had to be the stupidest thing she had ever done. As Shelly stood in line at the bank two days later, she wondered if she should really be taking things so far. The note was tucked in her pocket. ‘I’ve got a weapon. Give me all the money’. Maybe not the best worded demand note for a robbery, but it’d have to do.
Shelly had purchased a Taser years before, and it was in her pocket. She didn’t want to tell the teller she had a weapon and then not even bring anything. What if the teller asked to see it for proof before handing over money? Was that a thing? Did they usually ask to see the weapon first?
Two tellers opened up at the same time right next to each other. The man in front of Shelly went to the one on the right, while Shelly went to the left.
“Whoops, I just realized I entered something wrong,” the teller said. “Give me just a sec to fix this.”
Shelly nodded and reached for the note in her pocket. Her eyes caught the glint of metal to her right, and she turned her head. The man next to her, wearing a ball cap and big, black sunglasses, had a gun partway out of his pocket and was sliding a sheet of paper to the woman in front of him. The woman’s face went ghostly white as she read the note, and she gave a small nod.
He was robbing the bank. The man was robbing the bank, and he had a gun.
Shelly looked down at the gun, then at the man, then down to the pocket where the Taser was. Her hand moved of its own volition it seemed, and she watched almost out of body as she slowly pulled it out, pointed it at the guy next to her, and pulled the trigger.
“Wow, Shelly, this is a great pic of you,” Clara said as she scrolled down the article on the site of one of the local news stations. She turned away from her laptop and asked, “Can I get your autograph?”
“How cute is this. The reporter even says you joked you were there to rob the bank yourself when you ended up stopping the robber next to you. You’re so funny, Shelly!”
“I would have gone through with it.”
“Sure, sure. Face it girly, you’re one of those people who just can’t get in trouble no matter how hard you try. Why do you think I could bet that money with such ease?”
She pulled out a one-hundred dollar bill from her pocket and held it up.
“Guess I’ll keep this,” she said with a goading smirk.
One of their regular customers, Mr. Franks, walked in to get the monthly roses he brought home to his wife.
“Hey Mr. Franks!” Clara greeted him as she stuffed the bill back into her pocket.
“Ladies. Always a pleasure.” He gave them a warm smile.
“Your flowers are ready,” said Clara. “I’ll go grab them for you.”
She walked away from her laptop and into the back of the store. Shelly looked over at her computer and smiled.
Sweet payback time.
She walked over to the laptop, narrating her actions for Mr. Franks as she did since she knew the man would get a kick out of it.
“Since I know all of Clara’s logins and passwords, I’ll just hop on her account really quick. Just change this little status here from ‘Single’ to ‘In a Relationship’. I know at least a few people that will be blowing up her phone any second now. And,” she clicked save, “done!”
“What did you just do?” Clara asked with an eye roll as she walked out from the back and saw where Shelly was standing.
“Oh, just a simple case of fraud,” Mr. Franks said with a humored wink.
Shelly turned slowly to him.
“What did you just say?” she asked.
“Fraud. If you login to someone’s account without their permission, especially to change information, it’s a form of fraud. That’s a federal offense you know.”
When Clara’s own face showed the same shock Shelly’s did, the smile fell from Mr. Franks’ face.
“I was just giving you a hard time,” he said. “No one ever takes that stuff seriously.”
“Federal offense?” Clara repeated. “That sounds bad.”
“Federal offenses can usually get you put away for a while. But I only said it in jest.” When an awkward silence fell, Mr Franks took a step back and said, “Well, I better get home to Beth. I’ll see you ladies next month.”
“Did he…” Shelly started.
Clara pulled the hundred bucks back out, grabbed Shelly’s hand, and slapped the bill down in it.