Profile PictureM.E. Purfield - Autistic Author of Genre Fiction

Lifetime Hallmark Scheme (short story) - eBook

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Linda has the perfect job working at the hospital switchboard, but when Christmas in July starts, she finds herself having to make an impossible choice.

With no legitimate excuse to take a week away from work, she is left with no other option than to use her disabled son to take bereavement leave.

But when she finds out that her scheme could end up killing someone, she must choose between her job and her family.

Lifetime Hallmark Scheme is a humorous crime short story that will have you on the edge of your seat. If you enjoyed the suspense and humor of Gregory McDonald and Donald Westlake, you'll love Lifetime Hallmark Scheme. Don't hesitate -- buy now!

Bonus Story: Metal Balls


Linda Slater was 300 pounds, 5 foot 2, and 64 years old. A woman with brown-dyed hair to cover the gray and slack, pasty face surrounding hard dark eyes. She worked every day at Moylan Hospital in Jersey City. Friends told her that it was ridiculous for her to work. She could file for disability. They had been telling her that for twenty years.

“I can work,” Linda told them, holding back her voice that she wanted to let rip. “I’m not disabled.” She could barely walk with the pain in her joints, only able to with two canes or a walker. “I just need the right job.”

That job was in the hospital switchboard where she answered the phones, directed calls, and reported codes on the PA system. She sat in her swivel chair and stood up to go to the bathroom behind her where co-workers complained she left a bio mess on the seat. She didn’t care. She found their complaints funny.

Linda loved her job. Her boss loved her. She never called out sick, she never complained about the schedule, and always accepted overtime when someone called out sick. She always worked the dreaded 3PM - 11PM shift. Unlike her co-workers, she loved that shift. After 6PM, everyone left the tiny room with the two phone systems and chairs at the counter. Linda closed the door that led to the basement hallway and the morgue and watched movies on her phone. She viewed at least two Hallmark or Lifetime movies while receiving few calls and no visitors to the office. The best part, she had been working there so long she was making almost 30 dollars an hour, way more than the other girls in the switchboard who started after her or recently.

Linda’s success was not a solitary process. Larry, her son, helped her. He was 32 years old and schizophrenic. Doctors loaded him on so many pills he was always dozing off or confused. Every day, Larry, who was on disability, worked hard to push his mother’s wheelchair down the few blocks to the hospital. He brought her directly to the switchboard office. At night, he pushed her back out. The hospital staff and doctors always waved hello to him and asked him how he was doing. They never shouted at him or gave him orders. Larry was never able to give a long response since his mother had to sign in for work. Linda was scared that she would get fired if she was late. The hospital had done it before to other girls in the switchboard.

One would think Larry enjoyed his time alone in the two-bedroom apartment in the post-war building he shared with his mother. Sometimes he did. He enjoyed watching his crime shows on television while eating a variety of Hostess cake snacks. But Linda called his cell phone every five to ten minutes, giving him chores or telling him what to eat. He hated that but what could he do?

Larry tried not to go overboard with the delicious preserved-packed snacks. He didn’t want to be as big as his mother. People told him he should worry about being that large, too. Luckily, his body took after his father who died thirty years ago. He was a slim man with a potbelly filled with snacks that delivered food for the local pizzeria. He never gained weight.

Larry was 2 years old when his father died. He missed him and wished he had memories of him. He was sure his mother didn’t. She often complained about how he made her pregnant, how he ruined her life. She never wanted any kids but he forced himself upon her. Did he rape her to make Larry? He wasn’t sure and could never confirm it. If his father did, Larry was grateful even if Linda was not.

**

Linda gasped while looking at her phone in front of the switchboard counsel. No calls were coming that late in the afternoon so she spent her free time sending texts to Larry and browsing the Hallmark Channel schedule for the evening’s movies. A banner ad popped up on the phone and announced: CHRISTMAS IN JULY MARATHON! ALL WEEK! EVERY DAY!

“Linda, are you okay?” Dee, her co-worker who always worked the 10-6 shift, asked.

Linda loathed Dee. Besides being black, she wore the tightest clothes around her slim 220-pound body. She was always showing it off in front of the security guards and bragging in front of Linda about how she never needed canes to walk.

“What?” Linda asked, smiling, pretending to like her. “No, no. I’m fine. Just a little gas. Excuse me.”

Dee smiled and answered an incoming call.

The marathon started next Sunday at 6 AM. That was fine since Linda never worked the weekends but what was she going to do about the weekdays? She considered making Larry record them for her on the cable’s DVR (she could never understand how that worked even when customer service on the phone helped her) but, the last time he tried to record Family Feud for her, he ended up recording a week’s worth of Law and Order. Great for Larry but Linda was furious.

She needed to stay home and watch them as they played. But Linda hated to use her paid time off. In the last 20 years, she accumulated 180 days of sick time. She was never sick. At least, not sick enough that Larry couldn’t push her in. Her hospital attendance was impeccable and Joseph Lee, her supervisor, loved her achievement. He often fired girls who took too much time off for no good reason. But sometimes, when she had a doctor’s appointment that would keep her from arriving to work on time, she submitted a few hours of vacation time so they wouldn’t fire her. Joseph agreed with such actions if Linda stayed those hours longer to make them up. She had no problem with that. More money in her pocket.

The only time the hospital agreed to an absence was for bereavement days. They already knew her husband was dead. All her brothers and sisters were dead or living across the country. The only other immediate family she had was Larry.

Dee, still on a call, knocked on the counter and grabbed Linda’s attention. Linda’s line was ringing. She slammed her cell phone down, smiled a fake smile of thanks to Dee, and said:

“Moylan Hospital. Operator 274027740 speaking. How may I direct your call?”

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Lifetime Hallmark Scheme (short story) - eBook

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