Friday, January 14, 2011

Fiction: Haywire by M.R Jordan

“You’re black,” she said. Her hand flew from her side, jiggling those

perfect peach colored tits, and slapped him so hard he felt dizzy.

“What’d you have to go and do that for?”

“I’m not black,” Nathan Brier said. He grabbed her left tit. “Nice.”

“I call this one Mochu Picchu and the other is Titicaca.” She pointed

over his shoulder. “Look in the mirror.”

“You’re right, I’m black!”

“You scream like a girl,” she wrapped her arms around his waist and

grabbed his pole.

He looked down. “I’m hung like a bull at a heifer fest.”

“I know. All black men are. Now let’s go fishing.”

Nathan’s eyes fluttered open and stared into the dark, a light sweat

dusting his forehead. He tried to recall his dream- something about

Mochu Picchu, Obama, and his wife. He could easily figure out what

Obama had to do with his wife. She was having an affair with a black

man after all. Not the president, obviously. Where Mochu Picchu and

the Pope fit in, he didn’t know, but dreams were crazy like that.

Presently, he became aware that his head hurt and his face felt weird,

as though it were half drunk. He could feel his wife lying naked

beside him. Her hand rested on his gear, his meat( insert your

favorite euphemism here.) He smiled, in spite of himself.

“What a nice way to wake a man up,” he said and thought, if you did

this more often I wouldn’t … we wouldn’t… be so distant? The thought

didn’t ring true. “Honey?”

Catherine didn’t reply. Her fingers were cold and stiff against his

erection- he hated that word because… brain stay on task.

“Darling, sweet cheeks, snook ‘ums?”


He lay there perplexed and his nether regions, well, they needed some

attention. He tried calling his wife once more, this time using her

name, Catherine. More silence. He ground his teeth, growing mad.

“Thunder Thighs, get me off or let go.”

If she were jerking his chain, that’d jerk hers. He expected to be

greeted with a snide remark or a painful squeeze on his balls.

Catherine didn’t even flinch. Come to think about it, he couldn’t hear

her breathing. Anxiety rose up in him, not enough to be called worry,

but he sensed something amiss He shifted. Her hand stayed on his gear,

brushing against his skin. His balls ached. He could hear water

dripping from the bathroom sink. He’d been meaning to fix the faucet.

Suddenly he found the drip, drip unbearable.

He licked his lips and swallowed. “Honey, are you dead?”

Except for faucet, silence.

A thousand thoughts went through his head. His “other brain” suggested

he could still get off by thrusting his pelvis, was slightly excited

by the prospect. The next instant, he felt disgusted with himself.

My dead wife is holding my dick.

That thought settled all arguments. He kicked off the sheets and

jumped out of bed, landing barefoot on the new carpet, now wet, almost

sticky. There was a smell in the air, metallic and sweet. Somewhere

outside a neighbor’s dog barked once. Inside, the bathroom sink went,

drip, drip, drip.

Trembling, Nathan crossed the room to the light switch by the door.

The carpet was dry there. He let out a breath and hesitated, his hand

hovering over the switch, mentally preparing himself for… whatever he

would see. He closed his eyes and flicked it. Light filled the room

and the ceiling fan whorled, stirring air and that sweet, coppery

smell. He felt the current pick at the hairs on his arms. Slowly, he

opened his eyes.

A red liquid had turned the blue carpet purple. His first thought was

about money. Catherine, dear Catherine, forever spending money they

didn’t have, had dug them into debt up to their eyeballs. The carpet

cost three thousand dollars and wasn’t even a full two days old. His

wife’s Egyptian cotton sheets, the ones she had gone on about during

the car ride back from her parent’s house, had large, deep-red stains.

In places patches the red stuff looked pink against the white fabric.

He thought, Catharine’s going to be pissed. The calculator in his head

tallied what the sheets would cost to replace.

A different part of his mind fumbled with the scene. What is the red

stuff? Where is it all coming from? He looked down, half expecting to

see he had injured himself- instinct or training convinced his mind

sex, dirty, shameful sex, ultimately had such consequences.

He was both relieved and disturbed to see he was fine, aside from his

erection, which was wrong… because? Oh God. He looked over at

Catherine, a series of lumps under the once white sheets. All the

blood seemed to have come from her neck where a jagged hole gaped back

at him like a giant monster’s eye. He clenched his fist and thought,

Big Old Blacky did this. I’ll kill him. I will.

Almost in the same instant, he saw Big Old Blacky, the guy sticking it

to his wife. He lay slumped against the wall in the corner of the

room, naked. Blood was splashed across his muscular chest and thighs.

From where Nathan stood, he could see the man’s package was loaded.

Nathan looked down at himself and felt inadequate- to a dead man.

Then he ejaculated, why he still doesn’t know. Sickened with himself,

his dinner crawled up his throat-steak with chick peas and baby

carrots, and Catherine had made a salad too if his memory served him.

He bent over and wretched onto the carpet. Catherine’s going to be

pissed, he thought. She’s dead asshole. Dead.

He stepped back from his puke and bumped into the molding on the

doorway. Tears ran down his face. He’d been crying for a while, and

had no memory of when the tears had started. His throat hurt. He slid

to the floor, gasping for air. This can’t be happening? He thought.

I’m a simple guy. I drive a Buick. The only complicated thing in his

life, Nathan realized, was Catherine. Some of his memories of her were

good, most were okay, but there were enough bad ones to have a

sobering effect on him; his tears stopped. He dried his face with the

back of his arm, smearing blood across his cheek.

I need to call somebody, he thought and then. What if they think I did this?

There was no if. His wife and lover were dead with their throats slit,

killed while he was sleeping. The police would see her affair, his

penchant for strip clubs, his debt. And let’s not forget the life

insurance policy he had on Catherine. It would pay off everything, and

leave him a wealthy man. Motive is what they’d call it, like on Law

and Order, his favorite TV show. He could see the prosecutor

grandstanding in front of a jury.

“Lady’s and gentlemen of the court, Nathan Brier is a very bad man and

we have all the evidence to prove it, so much evidence you’ll be

asking yourself, why are we bothering with a trial?”

“Shit, shit, shit. This can’t be happening.”

He closed his eyes, counted to ten and then opened them again. Nothing

had changed, except…. His wife looked different somehow. Had she

moved? No, I’m imagining things, he thought. What am I going to do?

I have to think.

He looked down at his blood covered pajamas. He couldn’t remember

blood being this sticky. It reminded him of corn syrup. Why? Movies.

They make fake blood in the movies with corn syrup. He stuck his

finger in some of the blood on his arm and had his hand half way to

his mouth before he realized he intended to taste it. Nathan stopped.

You’re one sick fuck, he thought.

I’m lucky to be alive. The killer could have chopped me up too. Why

didn’t he kill me? Why?

Because I’m the killer?

“I killed her,” he whispered, testing the words to see if they felt

right. He felt nothing.

He would have said he wasn’t capable of harming a fly, but after he

had found out about Big Old Blacky, (if only I’d known how big he was

then, ha) Nathan had come to understand he could kill. He had even

done some planning, only in his head of course, but some of his ideas

had been good ones. He’d taken out the insurance policy on Catherine

just in case. I never intended to go through with killing them, it was

just insurance. He remembered getting drunk and rolling that sentence

around in his head, being delighted by the double meaning he’d given,


You need to look at this like an episode from law and order, a

rational voice in his head said.

Nathan rubbed his nose, a thing he did whenever he felt unduly

stressed. Catherine used to pick at him about it, though he had picked

at her about her thighs. “Hey there Thunder Thighs,” he used to say.

Not very imaginative, but better than the one she’d come up with for

him: Snuffalufagus. Better because it was honest. Hers was underhanded

and secretive, meant to sound like a pet name. It all seemed trivial

now. They had been good together once.

Brain stay on task.

He scrunched up his brow. He couldn’t remember going to bed, he barely

remembered dinner. I felt off. I remember telling Catharine that.

“Maybe you need to lie down,” she had suggested with a smile.

Her smile had been off too, or was he just remembering different. He

closed his eyes and focused on her face. No, all through dinner she

had worn that knowing calculated smile which always spelled trouble

for him. He’d been so dizzy, he hadn’t cared to speculate. Lying down

had sounded wonderful.

“Okay,” he had said.

“Not on the couch,” she said. “Upstairs.”

“I can’t,” he said, flopping on the couch, mostly to annoy her.

“You’re just being lazy, Snuffalufagus,” she said tugging at his legs.

“If you sleep here, your back will be out and I’ll have to listen to

you gripe about it.”

Everything she said was true.

“Let me be Thunder Thighs.”

Experience told him calling her Thunder Thighs always lead to a fight.

Experience told him she always won. The last thing he remembered was

laying there on the couch and then waking up in bed. He considered

that she might have whacked him over the head with something. He felt

for a cut or bruise.


When had Brad come over? Would she… With him and me lying sick on the

couch? A thousand related questions ran through his head, at the end

of which he became certain he hadn’t killed her. Somehow she had

gotten him off the couch and upstairs, but…

“I didn’t kill her,” he said.

He felt these words, felt their truth strongly. Maybe he was deluding

himself, but damned, they felt right. So he sat there, not sure what

to do next. Slowly the desire to get the blood off his skin grew

strong. He looked at the carpet. His bloody foot prints lead to the

door where he now sat leaned up against the molding. Anywhere he went,

the foot prints would follow.

I don’t suppose it matters much at this point.

He crawled to his feet and went down the hall to the second bathroom

where he showered, scrubbing his skin until it became red, and hot,

and painful to touch. Then he tip- toed to the hall closet. This is

ridiculous, there’s nobody alive to hear me. He threw open the closet

door so it hit the wall. His heart jumped into his throat and he drew

short quick breaths through his nose. He glanced around him,

half-expecting somebody to jump out and say “gotchya” or “you’re under

arrest.” The house sat silent except for the drip of the faucet in the

master bedroom and the tick of the clock downstairs (which seemed

abnormally loud). I need to get out of this place, he thought. He

turned back to his clothes.

For the first time he appreciated his stuff getting kicked out of the

walk-in closet to make room for shoes. The calculator in his head

added up the thousands he guessed she spent adorning her feet. A

bitter taste rose in his mouth. When he thought about it, he wasn’t

all that sorry she was dead. Except I’m going to prison for killing

her and I didn’t even do it. I kind of wish I had done it.

He pulled on pants (no boxers because those were in the bedroom

dresser) and a business shirt without his customary white t-shirt

underneath. He stuffed sockless feet into a pair of loafers and

stepped into the night. Somewhere the neighbor’s dog barked once- a

shock collar, they bought it a shock collar.

“They’re going to electrocute me,” he said.

He stopped dead in his tracks, playing with his keys. The dog collar

seemed cruel. If he could remember where the dog lived, he would set

it free. Or they could run away together. He pictured it in his head.

Just me and the dog on the open road with the wind blowing in our

faces. He liked the idea a lot.

He got into his Buick and drove around the block. Catherine had hated

the Buick. She had wanted something fancy and foreign, always

complaining she didn’t have enough money to spend.

To accommodate her he had “barrowed” from the bank, surprisingly easy

for a manager to do. Once, he had come close to getting caught, but he

had set up a teller to take the fall. If the police looked into

Catherine’s murder, they’d find out about the money.

“Shit,” he cursed.

He forgot about the dog now.

Money. It was an issue, had been for a while. Catherine didn’t work.

Her job was spending money and fucking Big Old Blacky while I worked.

More motive.

I could get a lot more money and then run. That’s an idea! The fuel

sensor dinged, had been dinging. He looked at the dash and realized

the tank was almost empty. He didn’t have his wallet. He wasn’t far

from home, but he couldn’t go back, not yet, maybe never. Nathan

pulled to the curb and opened the glove box. Empty. Then he dug around

the seats. He found two dollars in nickels and dimes. A lot of good

that will do. He pulled down the visor and a card flopped into his

lap. He picked it up.

The Farmer’s Daughter

How many of those stolen dollars had ended up in a dancer’s g-string?

Too many, he thought bitterly. Not as many had ended up in shoes,

carpets, and sheets. He turned the card over in his hand, his

addiction calling to him. Shame and disgust washed over Nathan. If

Catherine where here, she’d put the guilt to good use. Tonight Nathan

did it for her. He chucked the card onto the floor and slammed his

head against the steering wheel until he blacked out.

A police officer’s flashlight shone into his face and woke him up. He

blinked. Behind his Buick blue and red lights flashed, lighting up the

whole neighborhood. He imagined the husbands and wives stirring in

their sleep:

“What is it honey?”

“There’s a police car. He’s pulled somebody over.”

“Is it anyone we know?”

“Yes it’s the banker from down the road.”

The officer tapped on his window and motioned for Nathan to roll it

down. He did. “License and registration.”

“I left my wallet at home,” Nathan said. “I’m low on gas. I was

looking for change.”

“You were passed out over the wheel. Have you been drinking?” The

officer asked. Nathan shook his head. “Please step out of the car.”

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Nathan got out. He considered confessing. The officer made him touch

his nose. He thought about escaping. The officer asked him to walk on

a line. Suddenly he had to pee really bad. The officer told him to get

back in his car.

“Well, you’re not drunk,” the officer said still aiming the flashlight

in his face. “I’ll follow you home. You can get your wallet.”

Nathan squinted and shaded his eyes. “Sure thing,” adding, “thanks,”

as an afterthought.

In a way he was thankful. It was over. He would be found out. They’d

take him to jail, electrocute him. If only he could have set the dog

free first. The memory of the dog jolted him. He didn’t know why.

Maybe a part of him had grown attached to the fantasy of him and the

dog, two bachelors on the open road.

Nathan sighed, started his car, and his heart skipped a beat. He

didn’t remember where he lived. The officer honked his horn and waived

Nathan on. He put the Buick into gear, rolling forward slowly. He

drove around the block and pulled into the driveway of the only house

he recognized, a big manufactured estate type deal. The officer parked

behind him and got out. Nathan did too and they went to the door.

Nathan’s fingers trembled as he sorted through the keys and inserted

the most likely candidate into the lock. The door swung open. He was

home. He wrinkled his nose. He could smell it, the blood smell. It

filled the house. The officer didn’t seem to notice. He surveyed the

living room, his hand resting on the butt of his gun holster.

“I think I left it in the kitchen,” Nathan said. “Would you like

something to drink?”

“A Coke if you have it.” The officer followed on his heels. “You married?”

“Yes, twenty-two years as of… next Saturday. She’s away visiting her mother.”

He found lying easy. Nathan turned around and handed the cop his Coke

with ice. Then he went to his briefcase, and thanked God his wallet

wasn’t in his pants pocket because those were in the laundry hamper

next to the bed where Catherine lay dead. Nathan smiled and showed the

officer his driver’s license.

“Okay,” said the Officer barely looking at it before handing it back.

“Everything looks good. Just wanted to make sure, because in a

neighborhood like this … well, you know what I mean.”

“Glad to see my tax dollars at work.” Nathan slapped the officer on the back.

Both men grinned, exchanging the we’re-in-the-same-club- look. Then

the officer left. He dumped out the half drunk Coke and washed the

cup. He stood by the sink and stared into space. He remembered the

first time he had met Catherine - at a bookstore down on Main. She’d

been standing in line to have her book signed by an author… What was

his name? Somebody famous, but Nathan couldn’t remember. Anyway he had

seen Catherine there, tits first (a nice pair), and then her face.

Between the jewelry and make up she had looked expensive, way out of

his league. The way her hair cascaded over her shoulder and danced on

bare skin just above her cleavage had (ignited a fire in his pants)

given him the courage to say “hello.”

Catherine remembered it differently of course. A time before they’d

said hello. She had noticed he was cute, told her girlfriend as much.

Women always did shit like that and they hold what you don’t remember

over your head until you’re dead.

Or she beats you to it. Ha!

“Let that be a lesson to you boys,” Nathan said to himself. “If they

look expensive, they usually are. And they won’t work for it. No, sir,

but they will fuck Big Old Blacky.”

He thought about the strippers down at the Farmers Daughter. Those

women knew how to work for a buck. He grabbed his keys- and his wallet

this time. In the morning his wife would be on the news and the police

officer would be giving interviews about how “normal” Nathan had acted

and the reporters would talk about how he’d coldly gone to the strip

joint after he’d murdered his wife.

“Well, if this is my last night as a free man, I intend to make the

most of it,” he said.

He drove to the gas station, filled up the Buick and then headed over

to the Farmer’s Daughter. Nathan’s phone rang ten minutes after he’d

left the station. It had been on the dresser in the bedroom, he was

sure of it. Now the cell phone glinted back at him from the passenger

seat. He ignored it at first, but the phone rang again. He picked it

up and checked the caller I.D..


Nathan dropped the phone and let go of the wheel. The left tire hit

the curb. Cursing, he swerved back onto the road, just missing a

telephone pole. The phone rang again. He retrieved it from under his

foot and with trembling fingers pressed the green button.


“Hey there, Snuffalufagus,” Catherine said. “I’ve been wondering when

you’re coming back to bed.”

Nathan’s mind stumbled. His heart stopped beating. He stopped

breathing. Time seemed to extend into eternity. Then he hung up and he

could breathe again, but barely. I don’t believe in ghosts. Before he

could finish his thoughts, the phone rang. It was his wife again. He

rolled down his window, threw the pone out, and sped away. When he

looked in his rearview mirror, he could swear he saw his wife standing

in the road next to the phone wearing a white nightgown. It made

obvious the rise and fall of her breasts with each breath. Impossible.

She didn’t breathe anymore.

I need a drink… and maybe some drugs. Good drugs.

The Farmer’s Daughter was a large box without windows. With its gaudy

triple x sign under a cartoon woman with her legs spread wide,

promising undulating hips of dancers and the things they pulled out of

unmentionable places-cherries were his favorite- it had to be the

ugliest building he’d ever seen.

Tonight, the most lovely.

He’d get shit-faced and that’s how the police would find him in the

morning. Shit-faced and uncaring. Nathan crossed the parking lot and

entered the Farmer’s Daughter. Immediately he wished he hadn’t come.

“Snuffalufagus! Snuffalufagus! Or…yeah, Nathan Brier, your wife is on

the phone!”

Eyes all over the room darted from one face to the next. Some men even

left. A few chuckled. Nathan could feel the heat rising up in his

face. Was there anything worse than your wife calling you at a titty

bar? Oh yes, Nathan thought. A very dead wife calling you at the titty

bar. Nathan turned to leave, but the bartender stopped him. Suddenly

the music was too loud, the dancers too x-rated. Sweat pricked the

back of his neck and his stomach did somersaults.

“I know you… it’s your wife. You better take this. She’s been calling

ever two seconds for the last half-hour.” Nathan turned around,

tugging at his collar. The bartender looked sympathetic. “I’m sorry

man. Normally I wouldn’t, but like I said, she’s been calling, and she

won’t stop. I threatened to call the police, and she just laughed.

Here’s one on the house.”

The bartender poured vodka into a shot glass with one hand and passed

the phone, the kind with cord still attached, over the bar. Men

sitting nearby picked up their drinks and dispersed as though Nathan

had the plague. He snatched up the shot and downed it. Then he put his

phone to his ear and said, “Hello?”

“Oh my poor Snuffalufagus,” she said sweetly. “I was so worried, but

I’m glad to see you got to the strip joint safe and sound while I lay

here in our bed. Total shocker. I want you to get your ass back here

and clean up this mess. There’s puke all over the carpet. It stinks.”

Nathan closed his eyes. He could feel sweat pouring down his back. He

nodded to the bartender for another. So like Catherine to be

complaining even after she had died. It almost made him laugh. It

almost made him cry. Pain poked his bladder.

“I have to pee,” he said into the phone.

His wife stopped talking and then after a pause said, “So, you’re coming home?”

“Yes,” he said. “After I pee.”

It was a lie. He planned to run as far away as his car and a credit

card could get him. But, first, he really did have to go. He downed

the next shot, told the bartender to have one waiting for him when he

got back from the John and left a twenty on the counter.

“You alright buddy? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

“Wives will do that to you,” a drunk at the end of the bar said.

He held up his glass hoping Nathan would offer him a round or six and

they would drown their marital sorrows together. Nathan walked away

without a word.

“Nice talking to you asshole!”

Nathan shoved his way through the crowd. His eyes didn’t even stray to

the dancer pulling her underwear off, though his fingers twitched

automatically, too used to stuffing dollars down a g-string not to

itch. Then he was in a smoke filled bathroom overwrought with the

smell of jack off and ass. The light bulb flickered above his head,

and when he passed the mirror he thought for a moment he saw his wife.

He hurried to the urinal and let her rip. Relief flooded his bladder.

When he was done he, tried not to look in the mirror while he washed

his hands. A part of him just couldn’t resist and he peeked. Catherine

floated in the mirror or was it just the bad lighting? He felt

something cold brush his skin, very much like the way Catherine used

to touch him after sex when they were first married. He’d read

somewhere stress made you see all kinds of shit. Could it make you

feel things that weren’t there?

Nathan stepped out of the bathroom. A hand came out of nowhere and

threw him up against the wall. He didn’t recognize her face, but he’d

seen those tits before, many times.

“Mochu Picchu and Titicaca,” he said.

“Great you know my breasts. Now what’s my name?”

His jaw dropped to his knees. He snapped it shut and tried to

remember. Her name was…


“Shimmer,” she said. “You’re an ass.”

“I think I killed my wife,” he blurted out. Relief washed over him.

“She calls me Snuffalufagus, and I hate it.”

Shimmer regarded him for a moment and then laughed. He cried and fell

to his knees, shaking. She grabbed him by the collar and looked into

his face.

“Shit,” she said. “What are you going to do about it?”

“What?” The question had a sobering effect. “Go to prison probably.”

That did it. He was bawling like a girl. She slapped him so hard he

felt dizzy. Then she dragged him to his feet and led him behind a

door that read, Authorized Personnel only, in stenciled letters. He

half expected to end up in a room with a dozen naked chicks. It wasn’t

like that. They entered a dimly lit room with an old leather couch in

the corner. She pushed him down on the dirty sofa and began pacing. He

put his hands in his head and cried. She paused, and slapped him

again, then returned to her pacing.

“How much money you got?”


“I’d be willing to take care of this… for a price,” she said. It took

time for her words to set in. “Do you want to go to prison.”

“No,” he said.

“Then tell me how much money you got and what the deal is, and I’ll

tell you if I can make it go away.”

“Have you done anything like this before?” He asked.

“No. But, I watch TV. CSI.”

“I have maybe two hundred on me… now wait don’t walk away. I work for

a bank. I can get about twenty grand.”

She paused, seeming to mull the number over. “What did you do exactly?”

“I don’t know. I woke up, and she was dead. They’re in my bedroom.

There’s blood all over.”

“They? Who’s they?”

“Catherine and Blacky, I mean, I don’t know his name. I’m not racist.

He was sticking it to her,” Nathan said, as though it explained

everything (and in some parts of the country it did.) “Somebody slit

their throats.”

If his words shocked her, she didn’t show it. Instead she seemed to be

thinking. “So I’d have to get rid of two bodies and clean up some

blood,” she said, more to herself than him.

“Could you?” He felt hope. “What would I say? Her family, not her dad,

he’s dead, but her mom and brothers and sister will want to know where

she is.”

“We’ll tell them she left town. Dump her car. Hell, we could even

stuff the bodies in it.”

“Won’t they think it was me?”

“Maybe, but thinking and proving are two different things,” she said.

“We just have to make sure they can’t prove it.”

“I don’t know,” he said.

“What and you want to go to jail?”

“Maybe. No. I don’t know. I don’t even know if I killed them. ”

“Enough already,” she growled and then softened. She sat beside him

and patted his knee. “Look, the way I see it, what’s done is done. You

clearly feel terrible about it. Why should you go to prison? Will you

murder again?”

“No, and I don’t even know if I did it this time,” he said. “I can’t

remember doing it.”

“Well there you go. You’re not dangerous. You won’t hurt anyone. It

was an accident and you shouldn’t go to prison.”

“Can you really fix this?”

“You said you can pay thirty-thousand right?”

He licked his lips. He remembered saying twenty but maybe he had said

thirty. Either way, he didn’t want to piss her off. He needed her. He

nodded. She smiled big and kissed him on the lips. He smiled goofily

when she let go. She pulled a gun out of her purse. His hands flew

into the air.

“Relax,” she said. “I’m just taking this along in case.”

“Can you shoot a ghost with it?”

“What? No. Least I don’t think so. You got a ghost?”

“My wife,” he said.

“Sorry, but I’m on clean up crew only. Ghosts… you’ll need to get an

exorcism or something.”

Nathan Brier nodded and then waited while Shimmer changed into sweats.

As they walked out together, her boss wanted to know what the deal

was. She said it was an emergency, wink, wink, and they exchanged

grins. The bartender asked Nathan about his last drink.

“Give it to the drunk at the end of the bar,” Nathan said and once

they were outside he turned to Shimmer. “I can’t get you the money

until morning.”

She stopped and looked at him, then tilted her head to the sky. “Not

far off, by the look of things. We’ll go right after the bodies are

cleaned up. Don’t try to cheat me. I have a gun, remember?”

He nodded and led her to his car. They settled into the Buick, he

fired up the engine and crept out of the parking lot. He drove slowly.

She sat and twiddled her fingers. The tension was palatable.

“So how’d you do it,” she said after a while. “How’d you kill her?”

“I don’t know.” He shrugged. “I woke up, she was dead.”

“Sucks,” Shimmer murmured and gripped her gun tighter.

“Yeah,” he said.

They didn’t speak the rest of the way and the sun was just turning the

sky grey when they pulled into the drive. She commented on the size of

his house. Any other time he would have enjoyed the innuendo. Today he

didn’t know how to respond. Neither of them was in a hurry to get out

of the car. Somewhere the neighbor’s dog barked once.

“Right after it happened I had this crazy need to remove the electric

collar from a neighbor’s dog,” he said.

“Did you?”

“No. I couldn’t remember who owned him.”

“Can you now?”

He shook his head.

“Well, I guess we ought to get this show on the road.”

“Yeah,” he said. “Probably.”

Fifteen minutes later they both got out of the car. Even under the

sweater Manchu Picchu and Titicaca were buoyant. He couldn’t help but

watch. His other brain wanted to know if any “party” favors came with

the thirty grand. Nathan turned red and pushed his key into the lock.

The door opened before he was finished and his wife greeted him.

“There’s my Snuffalufagus.”

She was wearing the silky nightgown that accentuated beasts every time

she breathed, not white, but blood stained from the ragged wound

around her neck. Nathan screamed. Shimmer pulled her gun.

“Oh, fuck! Oh, fuck!”

“Put that away,” Catherine said, and then to Nathan. “For God’s sake

stop screaming. You’ll wake up the whole neighborhood.”

Shimmer turned the gun on Nathan. “You tricked me. This is some kind

of trap. I don’t know. I don’t know. She’s not dead.”

“Of course I’m not,” Catherine said.

“What?” Nathan said dumbfounded.

“April fools,” his wife gave a half hearted smile. “Please put the gun

away before someone gets hurt.”

Shimmer moved the gun onto Nathan’s wife, her finger trembling. Her

eyes were white ringed and panicked like an animal trapped in a cage.

Shimmer was dangerous. Nathan tried to get his wife to notice him, but

as usual she paid as much attention to him as the couch.

“At least come inside,” said Catherine. “I’ll explain.”

Shimmer slammed the door and locked it behind all of them.

“Relax,” said Catherine. “Would you like something to drink? Brad,

honey, will you bring us something to drink. We’re all very tense in


“He’s still here?” Nathan gasped.

“Of course. He helped me put things together, though to be honest the

last place I’d thought you would go was the Farmer’s Daughter. You’re


“How?” He said. “You were cold and there was blood.”

“Corn syrup. I got the recipe off the internet,” Brad said, walking

around the corner, two Cokes in hand. He stopped in his tracks. “Oh, a


“Yes darling, Snuffalufagus, had the presence of mind to bring a

stripper home with two dead bodies upstairs, or so he thought. Now

Miss Tits here is having a nervous breakdown. What did he tell you, I

was dead and you two could run off together after you dumped the

bodies?” Catherine scoffed. “Nathan, don’t you remember when I told

you about my dad? How my mom shot him. Remember how when she’d get

really drunk, she’d say, “Every respectable wife eventually kills

their husband?” And then she’d ask what day so she could mark your

funeral on her calendar? Today is the day. "

Nathan’s eyes flashed angrily. “What are you going to do, Thunder

Thighs? Are you going to squish me with your buns of not steel?”

“You two are some kind of fucked up,” Shimmer said.

“Shut up slut,” Catherine said.

Shimmer laughed, part nerves, part madness. “Looks like somebody is

dying today, but it sure as hell ain’t gonna be me. Mr. Nathan, what

do you say? Make it fifty and I shoot this bitch for you?”

Catherine’s jaw tightened. “You wouldn’t dare.”

“This is not what I agreed to.” Brad put the cokes on the coffee

table. “I’m out of here.”

“You’re not going anywhere.” Shimmer aimed the gun at him. His hands

jumped into the air.

“Shoot him,” Catherine said, almost insane with glee.

“What?” Brad said, disbelieving.

“Nobody is going to shoot anybody,” Nathan said. He still didn’t

really believe any of this was happening.

“Brad honey, I love you this much.” Catherine made a small space

between her thumb and forefinger.”

“They called her the Ice Queen in high school,” Nathan laughed.

“Let me have the gun,” Catherine held out her hand. “I’ll shoot them

both and us girls will live it up on Nathan’s life insurance.”

“No,” Shimmer said.

Catherine moved toward Shimmer. Nathan could see what was going to

happen. He jumped in front of his wife. Shimmer fired, more of a

reflex than anything. The gun jerked in her hands. Brad peed himself.

The bullet missed Nathan and his wife by a wide margin and hit the

ceiling instead where it took out a light bulb with a pop. Glass and

plaster exploded into the air. Catherine jumped around Nathan and

grabbed the gun. Nathan watched, helpless as the two woman fought.

Brad suddenly grabbed a lamp. Nathan thought it was a dumb thing to

do, especially after Brad hit Shimmer over the head with it. Catherine

stepped away with the gun in her hand. She turned, eyes jumping from

Nathan to Brad and back again, while the wheels in her head turned.

Finally, she trained the gun on Nathan.

“Mom is going to be so disappointed with me, but you know, when it

comes down to it, I guess I like your sorry ass. The way I see it, we

have two choices. I kill you and Brad or we kill Brad together. What

do you say?”

“What? Are you crazy?” Brad said.

“Yes. We both are,” she laughed. “Think about it Nathan. Emotional

blackmail. It’s the one thing we’re both good at. I put a bullet in

the two of them. You get to hold it over me.”

Nathan cocked his head. He hated himself for it, but the idea did

appeal to him. Well not Shimmer dying. He was fond of her breasts.

“What do you get out of it?”

““Snuffalufagus , you’re so thick sometimes,” she said. “You can’t go

to the police because you’d be guilty too-I can do a lot with that.”

“No doubt,” Nathan said and thought, but you’d be more guilty.

He really liked the idea of having more over Catherine than she had

over him. She nodded at him, as though she had read his mind.

“You’re not actually considering this?” Brad said, incredulous.

Shimmer groaned, rolled onto her back, and climbed to her feet,

swaying dizzily. She tried the door, but she had locked it.

Disoriented, her hands flew every which way. Nathan watched, amused.

“What’s going on in that demented head of yours?” Catherine said.

“Let’s do it.” Nathan said. “Kill, Big Old Blacky, first.”

“That’s racist,” Catherin scolded, but the corner of her mouth

twitched into a tiny smile. “I like you being jealous though.”

Shimmer gave up on the lock and grabbed the door handle, jerking on

it. Ignoring the stripper, Catherine shot Brad first. This sent a new

cloud into the air, a fine mist of blood and brain matter. Shimmer

screamed. Tears ran freely down her cheeks. Her breaths came in

panicked gasps. She yanked at the door, her breast bouncing up and

down. Nathan was so mesmerized, he didn’t see his wife put the gun in

Brad’s hand or use Brad’s index finger to pull the trigger. He didn’t

even feel the bullet slice through him, though he saw it hit Shimmer

in the stomach. Her body jerked, her hands flew out, grabbing at the

air. She twisted and fell with a dull thud. Nathan looked down at his

shirt. A slow circle spread around the bullet hole, radiating outward.

He collapsed to knees, and then flopped onto his back, staring up at

the ceiling. His wife’s face appeared above his.

“Before mom shot my dad, she took us kids all down to the firing range

and taught us how to use a gun.” Tears pricked her eyes. “That’s a

mother for you, always thinking ahead.”

She let the gun fall to the floor. It landed beside Brad with a thump.

Outside the neighbor’s dog barked once. She went upstairs. Nathan

heard her start the shower. He listened and tried not to think about

dying while he slowly bled out.

Two days later an article appeared in the paper. Nathan Brier was

discovered in his home by a cop named Jimmy Wilson, still really just

a kid. He’d escorted Nathan Briar to get a driver’s license. Jimmy

told the reporter he’d known something was wrong so he went back to

the house. The papers called Nathan’s survival a miracle considering

the brutal attack. Nathan must have been shot when he came upon the

thieves, a black man and a white hooker. His wife was discovered in

their bed with her throat slit and policed speculated the black man

did it. At first the cop said if only he had stayed, Mr. Brier

wouldn’t be a widow. A day after the first article, Nathan Briar was

arrested for triple murder. He swore his wife shot everybody but the

county corner was able to prove Catherine had been dead approximately

twelve hours prior to the other murders. The only thing left

unexplained was how Nathan shot himself in the back.

No comments: