The Caterpillar Gang

Submitted into Contest #148 in response to: Write about an apartment building being demolished.... view prompt


Fiction Funny Suspense

'She's got it all going on again,' says John, turns the wheel of the Caterpillar and drives off into the yard. Charles takes a Mentos from the XXL jar in the dashboard, offers John a gum, who waves the gesture away. John hates the false minty taste. 'Samantha wants a breast augmentation.'

John stares at the little apartment building. The façade is snow-white and black aluminium windows adorn the three floors in symmetrical rows in pairs. 'It still looks perfect,' he says and checks the location on his mobile phone; the address is correct. The culture of waste is out of control. More and more often, he has to demolish buildings in perfect condition. Everything must make way for new construction. Everything must always be bigger.

'Your gal has a great pair of headlights," Charles says, chews three times and drums the dashboard with his index fingers. John honks. The bulldozer horn blares a shrill sound at the deserted building, like a final warning: "I'm here and I'm going to flatten you." As a sign to every living creature: "Man, mouse and mussel, leave the building, it's your last chance."

'Well,' says John, 'it's in her head, she wants bigger.'

'What does she have now? At least C?' Charles forms two breasts on his chest with his hands. 

'Did you see that too?' John points to the left window on the third, top floor.

‘Are you off your rocker?' asks Charles. John shakes his head.

'Really man, I saw a naked woman pass by the window. One with supersized breasts.'

Charles whistles through his teeth. 'This building is abandoned, right?'

'It's not uncommon for squatters to take up residence in it, and judging by the look of the façade, it must be pretty decent on the inside as well.'

'Why does it have to be demolished anyway?' asks Charles, spits his Mentos through the open window, grabs the jar from the dashboard and pops a new one in his mouth. Renewed mint smells from his mouth.

'The renewal urge, surely? 

John and Charles stare at the third-floor window. It reflects the clouds, wrapped in a black aluminium frame it looks like a television. A dove flies into view.

'I don't see a naked chick parading around,' Charles says after a minute of staring at the clouds.

'Do you want to bulldoze this stuff and have to stop halfway through because some naked madam thunders down? We're going to have a look.'

Charles sighs. 'You are off your rocker, dude, can you get so little out of your Samantha that you see ghosts with fat tits everywhere?'

John jumps out of the Caterpillar, takes a torch and a crowbar from the toolbox. He sighs and marches to the porch, sticks the crowbar in the lock and stamps open the white front door with his workman's shoes, also Caterpillar. A tiny little sneeze job.

'Are you coming?' he calls to Charles. Charles, shaking his head, steps out of the bulldozer and strolls into the hall.

'Should we do this? Not according to protocol,' he says.

'Up the stairs, to the third floor,' says John and steps up the stairs.

'What are you going to do if there really is a naked chick walking around up there?' asks Charles.

'Dude,' says John and stomps hard on the steps.

'That staircase shouldn't die, huh,' says Charles. 'You walk like an elephant.'

'Announcing our arrival can't hurt.'

'You really think Pamela Anderson is lying there waiting for you? John, dude, slow down on the booze.'

On the third floor, the corridor is dark, the skylight obscured. John flashes the torch. A streak of light glides across the floor to the door of the flat on the right.

'Your ghost is in the left one,' Charles says.

'Dude!' John sends the beam of light along the corridor to the left flat door. Two red pumps are parked in front of the door, shining like two red beacons that accentuate the loneliness of the deserted corridor.

'You can't be serious,' says Charles.

'Knock on the door or bash in the door?' asks John.

'Exciting stuff,' Charles whispers. 'Red pumps!'

'So we knock,' says John, steps up to the door and knocks three times. He takes a step backwards and both men wait, staring at the door, curious to see which apparition will open it.

'Your Pamela Anderson is deaf,' says Charles. John takes a step forward, knocks again three times, now harder, more determined. He puts his ear to the door as if he were a doctor checking the patient's lungs. He gestures that he hears nothing.

Suddenly, the door jumps out of its lock and, due to John's pose, he falls through the door but is able to put his foot down in time to prevent his complete fall. The door handle hits the wall with a smack. The entrance is painted pitch black and the beam of John's torch illuminates a red carpet. On the right wall, a red leather jacket hangs lonely on a hook.

'This is too dangerous, man,' says Charles. 'It stinks of incense in here.'

'Or bath pearls," says John in a hoarse voice. He strokes the leather jacket. 'Hello, anybody home?' he calls. His voice sounds hesitant, as if it realizes it doesn't belong here. This is police detective stuff, he has no training for this.

On the black door separating the black entrance hall from the rest of the flat hangs a poster. Pamela Anderson in her good years poses in a red bikini next to ornate letters.

'If you can dream it, you can do it,' Charles reads. John laughs. 

'Is this a joke?' asks John. 'This is a little too much of a coincidence. Pamela Anderson...'

'This is madness,' stammers Charles.

'Come on, stop that acting, I'm on to you.'

'I swear, I don't know anything about this, this is madness.'

'I swing the door open, and the boys shout, throw confetti and blow their whistles. Very nice that you remembered my birthday. Very nice, but I'm on to you, sorry. Nice touch with the red pumps, though.'

Before Charles can stop him, John grabs the latch. 'Thank you friends...' he says and throws the door open. 

The bright sunlight hurts at first and blinds John. He rubs his eyes and when he opens them again, he sees no cake buffet, no popping champagne bottles, no confetti throwers. The room is white as snow. 

In the middle of the small room, a plastic blow-up doll waves to a brown cactus at the window. The doll's feet are taped to the stone floor with blue Duct Tape.

'Have you ever,' Charles whispers.

'What's the meaning of this, Charles, I don't think your surprise was successful.'

'This is not my...' says Charles. 

John steps up to the doll, looks at the front and whistles admiringly. 'I saw that right!' he says proudly. 'Huge yucks on that plastic Pamela.' He strokes the blonde hair of the inflatable doll. 'It's just like the real thing,' he laughs. 'You're crazy, silly friends, If Samantha sees this...' He squeezes the doll's breasts. 'Not bad, she might as well throw away all her dresses.'

Charles runs to the window. 'Bloody hell,' he shouts and points panicked outside.

‘What?’ says John, releases Pamela's breasts and steps to the window.

A vacant lot appears on the spot where the Caterpillar stood.

'Our bulldozer...' stammers John.

' stolen,' Charles adds. 'With my Mentos in it.'

An explosion rings out and John and Charles feel the floor, walls and ceiling collapse. They scream for three seconds and then everything is silent. A cloud of dust takes over where the apartment building used to be. 

The Caterpillar gang does not do things by halves.

May 31, 2022 11:54

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Sharon Hancock
01:59 Jun 10, 2022

This is great! I love the dialogue between the guys it makes it energetic and fast paced and it’s realistic. The subtle references to bigger is better is very clever (mentos XXl jar, boobs, the building). The Pamela Anderson reference makes me think you must be closer to my age😂. The ending was unexpected and twisted which I love. I enjoyed this story. Thanks for submitting it!😻


Tony Coppo
19:48 Jun 10, 2022

Thanks, Sharon, super appreciated! Most likely, Pamela was huge when I was a youngster :)


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Seán McNicholl
23:31 Jun 06, 2022

Great submission Tony! Didn’t know how that was going to end! Nice twist to finish! Really enjoyed this!


Tony Coppo
09:43 Jun 07, 2022

Thanks, Seán, Really means a great deal to me you enjoyed it! Thanks!


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Bruce Friedman
17:54 Jun 06, 2022

Loved your story, Tony. Wonderful vocabulary and pacing. Also the "insider" chat. As noted, surprising plot twist at end which I also love. Keep up the good work.


Tony Coppo
09:47 Jun 07, 2022

Thanks, Bruce. Wonderful compliment. Thanks for liking it! Thanks


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Zack Powell
17:45 Jun 06, 2022

Wild ride, Tony! First and foremost, welcome to Reedsy. This was a fun first story. Loved the dialogue here. It definitely screams "construction worker dirty talk." Were I employed in that field of work, I could easily see this kind of conversation play out daily. Think you really nailed the realism of the diction. Enjoyed the humor here a good deal, and the sparseness of details. You kept everything ground and didn't forget the elements you introduced along the way - the Mentos came back a few times, the Caterpillar gang items, the Pamel...


Tony Coppo
09:42 Jun 07, 2022

Thanks so much for the wonderful welcome, Zack! Thanks for the great words! You are right, the Samantha bits deserve a story on its own ;) Thanks so much for the motivating review!


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Graham Kinross
12:36 Jun 05, 2022

At least they went out with a bang. Are the guys who died the caterpillar gang or people who wanted them dead?


Tony Coppo
13:10 Jun 05, 2022

Thanks for reading Graham! I left it open on purpose, in my mind they all belong to the caterpillar gang, but you can read it as you want :) Thanks!


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John F. Duffy
17:54 Jun 09, 2022

I was sent a random email from Reedsy suggesting I critique this story. Is that something you're interested in?


Tony Coppo
19:47 Jun 10, 2022

Please, always helpful! Funny you got a random email :)


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