“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.
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
“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
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
“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
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
“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
“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
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.
“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.
“You’re black,” she said. Her hand flew from her side, jiggling those
The Fringe is open to submissions of poetry, flash fiction and short stories of any genre. Stories accepted will be published online in our Ezine and also in the monthly pdf magazine.
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About The Fringe Magazine
Here at The Fringe Magazine we publish Short Stories, Flash Fiction, Poetry in all genres and reviews of books, roleplay games, music and movies.
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Our variety seems to be hiting the mark with over 100,000 views of our Online Magazine with a good spread across all articles.?xml:namespace>From surveys we've conducted, our readers are like most people and enjoy reading all kinds of books, both fiction and non-fiction.
With over 350 readers visiting our site each day, we listen to the voice of the masses and try and procure books in all genres to review. To date, we have reviewed over 600 books, including; non-fiction reference, music, art, photography, gardening, cooking, Self Help, architecture, design, biographies and roleplay games.
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