A dime a dozen

Another episode in my series of connected flash fiction.

A Dime a Dozen
By Laura McHale Holland

Two uniformed officers break down the front door of a ramshackle home in an otherwise nondescript middle class neighborhood. The suspect, a spindly, gap-toothed man in ripped jeans and white T, flees out a back window. He is apprehended in the weeds by another officer who cuffs him, escorts him to a police van and shoves him inside.

In the basement, the police find the meth lab they’d suspected was there. Behind one locked door they also find a cache of assault rifles and ammunition. They expect to find the same behind another door, but when they clip off the padlock and pry open the door, they enter a windowless room with padded walls. A young woman cowers on a cot in a corner. She holds a small yellow blanket in one hand and a pink baby rattle in the other. She faints at the sight of them.

One officer rushes to her, lifts her up and carries her out in his arms. “You’re okay now. Whatever you’ve been through, it’s over now,” he says.

She opens her eyes, searches his face and asks, “Have you seen my baby, my baby girl, Chloe?” She passes out again.

Later that day, a few blocks from the meth lab, Janet, a middle-aged woman with worry lines creasing her face, watches the evening news. She observes an officer carrying what looks like a bone-thin young woman to a police car. Janet can’t see the face, but she notices the yellow blanket and pink rattle in the woman’s hands.

“Jasper, Japser, come quick!” she calls. “I just saw Carly on TV. They were carrying her out of that house that got raided today. Our Carly, Jasper. I saw Chloe’s blanket and rattle in her hands.”

Jasper sprints into the room and wraps his wife in his arms. It’s been more than three years since Carly, then only seventeen, nestled her baby, Chloe, into the carriage Janet and Jasper had just purchased for her. Carly planned to take five-day-old Chloe to visit her best friend one block away. But Carly and Chloe never made it there.

Initially, investigators on the case thought Carly had hitchhiked to visit her former boyfriend, the baby’s father, who was away a college. But they found him studying for exams in his dorm room. He hadn’t spoken with Carly since they’d broken up five months before. He said he’d relinquished his parental rights and didn’t want to have anything to do with Carly or the baby.

“Now, honey,” Jasper says. “Don’t get your hopes up too much. Those baby blankets and rattles are a dime a dozen.”

“We have to go see, Jasper. We have to go see.” She grabs her purse, picks up a framed picture of Carly and Chloe from a table by the door and runs outside. Jasper follows.


All of the episodes in this series in the order in which they were posted follow:

Back pocket wishes

Cascading to the sea

Right through the heart

Away today?

A dime a dozen

She doesn’t know them

On the seat

A pillar of the community

He needs a friend

Double rainbow

The one he always wants to hear

Give it some time

It gives my life meaning


Extenuating circumstances

 The four of us


24 thoughts on “A dime a dozen

  1. sound like something that would have happened here with the exception of the kidnapping. A parents worst nightmare my soon be over.

  2. Thank you for leaving a comment, Linda. It’s a challenge to write flash fiction pieces that are connected!

  3. Laura,
    Wow, a very chilling series of stories. I spent many years as a social worker so these are rather familiar scenes that I don’t write about; they need to be told and thank you for doing so. Very well written!

  4. Thanks, Arletta! It means a lot that someone in the field of social work finds the scenes to be well written!

  5. Thanks for your comment, Jerry. I think the nightmare will soon be over — and the healing can begin. :o)

  6. Very good. I worry about this stuff with my daughter. This story is real life happenings. Very scary. Good job.

  7. I’m one of Laura McHale Holland’s big fans! Her stories are edgy, chilling, laugh-out-loud, make you cry, and always emotionally charged. I’ve had the pleasure of reading her entire collection,
    and I’d be surprised if Laura isn’t soon acclaimed as a super-star in the genre. She already is my opinion. All I can say is keep ’em coming!


  8. Well done. You set a scene that draws in the reader, creates interest, tension, and raises a question of current social interest. You also provide a probable “happy” conclusion – in about 500 words.

  9. Thanks, Barbara! Have you posted another installment of your ongoing short fiction yet?

  10. Thank you for taking the time to read my work and leave an appreciative comment, Penelope.

  11. Thank you, Ana! I very much appreciate your vision of me becoming an acclaimed super-star of the genre. May as well aim high, right?

  12. Thanks, Eve! I try to keep in mind that most of the time we and our loved ones are A-OK. The the kidnappings and other crimes make the news (and are good story fodder) because they are compelling but rare.

  13. Thanks, Lynn. My heart is with Chloe, too, and with the former chauffeur who wants to be her foster dad. It doesn’t look he’ll get that honor, given what occurred in the latest episode. We’ll see what the next installment brings. I’m trying to do a series of connected flashes that could each stand alone. That is quite a challenge, and I’m learning as I go.

  14. I love that the three stories are linked. Of course, your writing hits all the right notes, timing, word choice, tension, and takes no prisoners. Scary stuff yet so full of risk and deeply felt.

    Laura, I dearly hope your keep this up.

    As I am an adoptive parent who began as a foster care parent, I am all too knowledgeable about the horrors millions of babies and kids face. I usually cannot even read about damage done to children. But then we all were children once, so vulnerable and often hurt.

  15. Deborah, I just found your comment in my spam folder. I have no idea why WordPress labeled it as spam. Thanks so much for commenting on the stories, and for sharing some of your thoughs as a foster care and adoptive parent. I admire greatly that you gave your heart and home to children in need, a rare treasure in this world of ours.

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