2021 Flashwords Entries and Winners!

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        We challenged the folks attending the 20th annual New England Crime Bake to write a compelling crime story in 150 words or less, using at least ten of twenty title words from novels by our Guest of Honor, Hank Phillippi Ryan.

        We received 34 official entries displaying a wide variety of styles and depths of talent and creativity.

        The four winning stories were selected with great difficulty in blind judging. In no particular order, they are:

“Best Friend”

By Melanie Bodin

“An Inconvenient Truth”

By Lissa Maria Redmond

“The Perfect Time for the Perfect Crime”

By Ray Salemi (aka Ray Daniel)

“Miasma”

by Julia C. Hoover

        Congratulations and thank you to all who participated with such enthusiasm. Enjoy!

Title Words: air, drive, face, first, girl, lie, life, list, more, murder, other, perfect, prime, say, see, time, trust, truth, woman, wrong.

See the entries below:

Best Friend

By Melanie Bodin

I don’t like driving, not with a dead girl in the trunk. It’s a perfect fall day, the air crisp on my face. The sort of day when Jenny and I would go apple picking, then spend the afternoon drinking wine and baking.

“How do you know someone’s your best friend,” I asked.

“Easy, they’ll help you dispose of the murdered body.”

We laughed. Had more Cabernet. Sprinkled sugar on the pie. Jenny loves sugar. I probably would, except I’ve had diabetes most of my life. I always have insulin. And can give a perfectly painless injection.

So, after the third time I watched her hand creeping up Mark’s thigh while they were talking, I thought, yes, I can dispose of a body. You see, he’s my bit of sugar.

“Fun,” Jenny might say from the trunk as we drive towards the back of the orchard. Just another adventure.

Ω

An Inconvenient Truth

By Lissa Marie Redmond

Catching Grace holding the stash of papers she’d discovered concealed behind his dresser, Victor brandished a knife. You should have let things be.”

Grace bet she’d find all the answers when she broke in. She’d been right.

“You thought you committed the perfect murder this time,” she said, dropping the paperwork.

He laughed loudly. “No one will blame me for defending myself, in my own home, from an obsessed woman who’s been spreading lies, trying to ruin my life.”

“That’s where you’re wrong,” Grace said, eyeing the knife. “Your first wife drives into a tree, your second wife vanishes into thin air, and my sister? She conveniently drowns after you upped her life insurance. It’s all documented right here.”

“Sadly, you won’t be sharing that information with anyone,” he said, advancing.

Pulling a pistol from her waistband, she aimed for his face. “Never bring a knife to a gunfight.”

Ω

 

The Perfect Time for the Perfect Crime

By Ray Salemi (aka Ray Daniel)

The perfect murder has more to do with time than, say, technique. I’d slipped into the woman’s house on October 5, 2021, at 3:09. She was drunk, passed out. Easy to kill at the right minute.

I slipped up the stairs. Waited outside her room. Now 3:10. Just one minute until—movement? She was up. She was running. A door opened, a clank. Retching? Lousy drunk! My watch flipped over to 3:11. The perfect date and the time. Combined they made 10521311. My prime number.

More retching, face in the toilet, gasping for air, moaning. This wouldn’t do. This was wrong. My watch flipped to 3:12. An even number, not a prime.

I let myself out.

Ω

Miasma

By Julia C. Hoover

Whitechapel huddled like a wounded thing within the noxious Victorian fug, its hypervigilant husbands hurrying home from workhouses, its chary children huddling close to the gas lamps that did little to dispel the air’s swirling amber vapours, its working women not outside at all if it could be avoided.

Perfect Jack weather. He could see without being seen, trust his invincibility, smell the very truth swirling around him. Filth. Rot. His nostrils flared. Fear. The fingertips of murder tingled across his tongue. Sweet. He could not yet make out her face, tonight’s girl, tonight’s… a small smile… woman.

But there! He just saw her, resting against the rookery’s crumbling brick. His fingers flicked. A blade danced between his knuckles and disappeared.

Time.

He offered her three pence. She embraced him.

“Oh, Jack,” her whisper feathered his ear, “that’s not nearly enough.” A blade danced between her knuckles and disappeared.

Ω

Best Face Forward

By Mary Dutta

Not this girl. Not this time. Not if she rejected them first.

Elise had been applying to the company for two years. But somehow someone else was always just a little more perfect for the position. A little more ready for prime time.

She smiled, projecting an air of confidence bolstered by a false name and phony resume. Where had the truth ever gotten her?

“Tell me a bit about your time in marketing,” the interviewer said.

The lies flowed, spinning a life and career that made Elise an ideal candidate for the job. The woman half listened as her eyes appraised Elise’s too-tight suit and battered tote. “We’re speaking to other candidates, of course,” she said.

Elise left her dreams and her bag in the outer office. She made it as far as the corner before the bomb demolished the HR department.

Job interviews were murder.

Ω


Chain Reaction

by Gerard J Waggett

Dear Carmine,

Did that chain letter you sent me bring you luck? Did you hit the lottery? Did you land the perfect job?? Did you meet the girl of your dreams????

Truth is, I tossed your letter, and my life has been murder. First, I lost my job. Then, same day, some Amazon Prime driver going the wrong way runs over my dog. Two days later, my other dog dies along with my air conditioner. There’s more, but I’d rather not say.

I cannot see why you included me on your list. But I’m not a psychologist. I’m an out of work biochemist who spends his free time experimenting with flesh eating bacteria.

Trust me! Go soak your hands in boiling hot water (100°C/212°F)! The carrier who delivered your chain letter thought I was lying. Now’s the poor woman’s Venus de Milo.

Good luck!

David

P.S. Don’t touch your face.

Ω

A Halloween Homage to

Twilight Zone and Edgar A. Poe

By Rima S. Riedel

I trust that you’ll believe me when I tell you this is the truth.

You see, it all happened on Halloween Eve—perfect timing you say?

Maybe…

But is there ever really a perfect time to commit murder?

I think not…

However, this is what occurred. I should know. I was there.

I drifted along, deeply inhaling the crisp, autumn night air. All around me, children ran back and forth shouting “Trick or Treat.”

Unexpectedly, I almost tripped over a discarded costume, similar to my own. Leaning closer, my senses were assailed by a cloying sweet almond scent.

Lifeless eyes of a woman in her prime stared up at me from a blue gray face. Lying next to her was a cup of hot apple cider.

The woman was me!

Shocked, I fainted dead away, dropping my own untouched cup in the process.

Ω

Grandpa and Me

By Judith Green

My grandpa is a great guy. I love everything about him: his wrinkly old face, his sad smile…I could make a whole list. Even the way he always buttons his shirt up wrong. I love him more every day.

I couldn’t wait to get big enough to help him work. The first time I went with him, he didn’t really want me. “You’re just a girl,” he said. But when we were done, it was: “I gotta say, honeybun, you did perfect.” We were into that house and out again with the keys just as the burglar alarm went off. Into the car and gone–just slick! I love my grandpa:

And the truth is, he needs me. If he steals one of those hybrids for a getaway car, he doesn’t know how to get it started. We’re a team, Grandpa and me: he breaks and enters, and I drive.

Ω

A Fashion Crime;

She’s Not Past Her Prime

ByT.K. Sheffield

 “You’re past your prime,” the casting assistant said. She hadn’t looked at Mel Tower’s modeling portfolio, nor watched her walk. “You’re excused. Next.”

Mel stared at the young woman seated behind the table. She was half Mel’s age, 22, 23, maybe; the girl barely had launched her life. Mel started in fashion years ago; it was a different time, another world. It was when models had to eat air and have a perfect face, show no wrinkles. She’d trusted no one, practically. When Mel had begun her career, truth was hard to come by.

It had been wrong, a crime.

Fortunately, the industry was changing—because of women like Mel.

She wasn’t leaving the casting office until she’d had her chance.

Loudly, Mel said, “I’m not past my prime—trust me.”

“You’re excused,” the woman repeated.

“No, I’m not. Let me show you my runway walk again.”

Ω

Friday Night at Nick’s

By Judith Copek

Nick’s country tavern overflowed with life on Friday night. Raucous male voices shouted over Roy Orbison on the jukebox. A haze of cigarette smoke hung over the drinkers.

The girl rushed in: no coat, pupils big, face pale, rubbing her hands. “There’s a dead man in the parking lot,” she whispered to the woman behind the bar.

Trust me, Darcie,” the bartender said. “Drive away from here, pronto.” She paused and yelled, “Drinks on the house!” Men cheered and raced up to the bar.

In the chaos the girl escaped into the chilly night air. She passed the body again. Blood covered the man’s neck, and had seeped into the gravel. Was it wrong to murder a man in his prime? Maybe not.

She hurtled along the country road, heading for the Interstate. Lights flashing, two police cruisers sped by.

In no time, she’d be in Denver. Safe. Anonymous. Free.

Ω

The Crime of 2020

By D.M. Barr

COVID-19 stole last year’s drive to Boston away,

Murdered our chances to meet, drink, and play.

Connie and Paula, the Crime Bake co-chairs,

Knew it was time to face their worst fears,

So they wrote down a list of reasons to proceed,

“It’s a prime opportunity to network and succeed!

It would be wrong to just give up and quit!

We must go virtual, solve the tech glitches and sh*t!”

Once they realized the truth, it was time to regroup,

Give up months of their life for the good of the troops.

They transformed Crime Bake into an online event.

Which, to those homebound, was an idea heaven-sent.

What’s more, in 2021, in a move pandemic-defying,

They turned Crime Bake hybrid, featuring Hank Phillippi Ryan.

So, thank you, Committee, for being so wise.

Especially if this entry wins Flashwords’ First Prize.

Ω

Ms. October

By Lisa Q. Mathews

“Atta girl.”

Ignoring the drunk season ticket holder two rows back, I smile and toss the ball into a happy little kid’s too-big mitt.

Another line drive pulled foul, another easy catch. I played shortstop for my college softball team, two perfect seasons.

The hope of October magic fills the air—along with the aroma of hot dogs, stale popcorn, twelve-dollar beer, and who knows what. Game Five, series tied, bottom of the eighth. Time is running out for the home team. Not gonna lie, it’s looked bleak since the first. We need a miracle.

The camera finds me again. I angle my face to flash my cute game dimple. I get more fan selfie requests than the players.

Another shot, just past the foul line. I snatch the ball before it hits an elderly woman.

More wolf whistles. Drunk Guy never quits.

I see the next ball’s trajectory.

Oopsie.

Ω

Face to Face

By E. Chris Ambrose

“Still my beautiful girl!” Luke nuzzles Janet’s neck. “Try to smile.”

The wrong face looked out from the bathroom mirror. “It’ll be my first time in public,” Janet says. “Since the surgery.”

His eyes meet hers, sharp. “Mmm. Well. Don’t take too long.” Luke kisses her cheek and walks out to the bedroom. “I’m looking forward to that prime rib!”

She can see the scar that runs across her jaw and snakes along her hairline. Her new face once belonged to a woman who had driven someone to murder. Too bold, Luke said. Janet has never been bold.

“Come on,” Luke snaps from the other room.

She opens the drawer for her medicines, so that her body doesn’t fight it. It never fought before. Inside, a knife gleams. The one Luke used to ruin her own face. The handle fits perfectly.

The face in the mirror smiles. Janet smiles back.

Ω

One Truth for Another

By Glenn Reinhart

“I thought you weren’t coming.”

“No way I’d miss seeing you here,” she said.

Her luminous eyes, oval face, and delicate fragility made my breath hitch. I reached out but the shackles stopped me short. “I didn’t kill that girl. I was with you all night.”

Her eyes burned with a strength I’d never seen. “Cops say your GPS puts you there. It’s a short drive and time of death matches.”

I shook my head. “They’re wrong.”

She studied her fingernails. My back still stung where she’d raked them against me.

“They found skin under her nails and hair on the body. Color matches yours.”

Trust me, they are yours.”

“Good. Because they won’t be mine.”

She stood, then smiled. “One truth for another? You didn’t kill her but you murdered my cousin years ago. You stole Melanie’s life.”

She gave a shrug. “Now you pay.”

My body froze.

Ω

Make-a-Wish Foundation

By Alexandra Craig

Took her twelve months to infiltrate the Militia. What convinced them was her sniper shot of an ATF agent, 1367 yards away, in the face, a perfect hit. Idiots. He was like them. The bolt-action Remington once belonged to her handsome husband from Sudan, before the church massacre.

She had a vulgar mouth and a rancid cough. Her private joke: she had breast cancer. In the lungs, too. She’d say she was a badass patriot with no fear. A lie that is believed becomes the truth. Tattooed across her chest: White is Right. Two of their own were executed for insubordination. She pulled the trigger. Wasn’t murder. Felt like justice. Her belief in right and wrong was one word. Vendetta.

She was the first woman they accepted. They asked her to cook. She smiled, saying it was a one-time-only supper. Prime rib. So bring your brothers-in-arms.

Ω

Swiss Chocolate

By Richard D. Groves

Ski instructor Rocky Saloman, found face down in a bowl of clam chowder, beside a pile of cyanide laced Toblerone wrappers, had a simple philosophy of life: “Eat dessert first”. Say what you want about Rocky but when his time was up, he went out with a splash.

Ramona Rossignol, his current European lover and prime suspect, was missing.

He had taken her on a trip to see California, top on her bucket list. Once promised the moon, for this girl, it was downhill from there. She had believed he could do no wrong but strange perfume on his shirt took the air right out of her balloon. She saw through the lie, her trust betrayed. Finding more evidence of another woman, her drive to commit the perfect murder kicked in.

A receipt marked Zermatt was later discovered. No other clues existed. Would the truth ever be known?

Ω

The Psychopomp

By Robert Tucker

Agnes, a wealthy woman at the nursing home, firmly believed the rumors from other residents. If Hermes, a jet-black feline, walked into your room and lay beside you, death would follow. Peter, her only relative, would drive hours to see her every week, losing hope for Agnes’s quick earthly demise. He endured her life stories and endless tales of happier times in her prime. She was surprised when he refused one of the chocolates he had brought. Sweat trickled down his face as he watched her first study a piece, then nibble its dark edges, finally pushing it into her mouth. She closed her eyes, savoring the sweet morsel. Suddenly her face darkened; she felt weak. He helped her from the wheelchair onto the bed and hastily left her room, passing by Hermes. The cat issued a mournful cry as it silently leapt up to lie down beside Agnes.

Ω

Don’t Look Back

By Donna Clancy

Whizzing down Interstate 95, the cool air blowing on my face, I felt I had committed the perfect murder. Only one thing went wrong. How could I know John would show up at his cabin with the other woman? The whole time we were married he never brought me there. That tramp ruined my life. She was as guilty as he was, even more so. I shot them both, put the truck in neutral, and pushed it down the boat ramp into the murky lake. I drove off, never looking back.

Almost home, I glanced in the rear-view mirror. John and his red truck were right behind me. Could I trust what I was seeing? Fixated on the image in the mirror and not paying attention to where I was going, I blew through a red light.

The last thing I remember thinking was I shouldn’t have looked back.

Ω

The Perfect Case

By Ruth McCarty

Chief Donnelly didn’t trust the evidence. Her gut knew they’d arrested the wrong woman for the murder of Jason Wainwright.

The case was too perfect—fingerprints and a strand of hair on a broken vase, both belonging to Wainwright’s trophy wife.

Estimated time of death coincided with the hours Tiffany had taken Eszopiclone, a sedative. A list of side effects included: Could be engaged in an activity while not fully awake and not remember it. Yet the girl claimed she’d never seen the vase before. Was she telling the truth?

Fingerprints on the water glass and prescription bottle were Tiffany’s.

Wainwright’s ex-wife had a cut but the only blood on the vase belonged to Wainwright.

Erin focused. Bed, nightstands, desk. Tape dispenser. She could see a spec of blood on the blade.

Forged fingerprints?

Time to match the blood on the blade and test the vase for tape residue.

Ω

Ministrations

By Margot Kelley

Cherry grabbed a lanyard, shoved her bag into a locker. She could see several nurses milling by the monitors; they’d already started the change-of-shift report.

Shit, she hurried over.

Stephens in 203 is failing. Neuro says it’ll be this week.” The charge nurse sighed. “Her parents haven’t faced the truth; they’re convinced she’ll rally.”

Cherry looked at the woman beside her questioningly.

“It’s so wrong,” she whispered. “Some jackass tossed a pumpkin off an overpass. Crashed through her windshield.”

Cherry frowned, aiming for sadness and disbelief, as she fingered the fentanyl patches in her pocket. She’d vowed to be more cautious after last time, but the opportunity was irresistible, almost too perfect. After they completed the patient list, Cherry sidled into 203, put some patches on the girl’s soles. Not where they belonged, nobody’d notice them for a while.

And by then, Stephens and Cherry would both be long gone.

Ω

Murder en Scene

By Lynn Reed

It was an airy scene, the kind that could drive you to distraction – even to the point of murder. But that is the point, isn’t it? Where else would you see a woman—a girl, really—lie face down, devoid of life?

There was more, of course. Other than the obvious. You had wanted the list, but she denied you. And things progressed.

He spoke first, catching you, trusting you to say the truth when asked. But he was wrong. This was the perfect time to lie. No prime suspect, you.

Ω

Concrete Angel

By Tara Watson

It wasn’t intentional. Really.

Well, okay, maybe it was. I must not lie. Pastors must always tell the truth.

The girl was just there, by the edge of the Amtrak platform, paying no attention to the rush hour crowd. Pathetically dressed in graying rags and worn shoes, no life in her countenance.

So young to be an addict; it was easy to see the needle marks on her arm.

The train was pulling into the station, it was the prime time to act, an opportunity too good to miss. A quick jostle and bump…face first into the pit.

A single, gentle thump and it was over. The driver saw nothing.

The others in the station never noticed as the doors opened and the stale air whooshed out.

It was a perfect night for the Devil to accept another concrete angel into his arms.

Ω

A Beautiful Song

By Kirsten Reed

My life is a lie. The perfect man is the wrong man, every time. I think as I drive, fast and swerving. A dirt road. Fields and sky. Windows down. Cool air in my face. Dust-dried tears. A loose tooth this time.

The truth is refreshing. It hurts like always. Radio up high, so loud my ears are ringing. I sing along. No: I don’t care. There’s no one, nothing for miles. I scream along. To a song I used to love. It’s a beautiful song, and I’m murdering it. I’ll say it’s an accident.

Ω

Back Bay Interlude

By Robert T. Kelley

Olivia watched the girl’s seemingly slow-motion final moments, her body executing a perfect parabolic arc through the air, initiated by the speeding Porsche Cayenne bumper, and ending facefirst on the Newbury Street asphalt.

Time returned to normal, and Olivia realized no one else had seen the girl’s flight, all eyes either down on phones or glazed over admiring the next tony boutique’s offerings.

When other pedestrians finally noticed the commotion, they were more taken with the SUV’s driver. Tall and crisp-suited, he’d exited the dented vehicle, knelt, and put two fingers against the girl’s neck. Satisfied, he nodded, stood, brushed invisible dust off his gray pinstriped pant leg, gave a wide smile to the crowd, and drove off.

Ω

My Third Husband

By Diane L. Hull

On another perfect evening with the sun gilding the patio and the LA air spiced with jasmine, sage, and tar, Joselyn Franklin sipped her martini and concluded it was time for her second husband to die. Had she been any other woman, this cold-blooded calculation would have been startling, but Joselyn had an affinity for murder. While her list of victims wasn’t excessive, it was a prime number and required both hands to count, but unlike your average American psychopath, narcissism didn’t motivate her.

“How’s my best girl?” the little man waddled out and ran his pudgy fingers along the back of her neck.

“Fine,” she lied and smiled up into his trusting face before driving her fist into his nose, instantly ending his life. A simple act, whose resulting injuries resembled an accidental fall against concrete, freed her from tedium… and markedly increased her wealth.

Ω

Second Chances

By Lori Robbins

High on the list of things I detest is having perfect strangers bore me with dull details about their miserable lives. That’s why we have social media. Air your problems there, where people can scroll past them in private. Not on a train, where civilized behavior demands complete indifference.

Undeterred by my averted face and cold demeanor, the woman sitting next to me said, “Long time no see, Jenny.”

I froze. I hadn’t been Jenny for more than three years. “You’ve got the wrong person.”

She flashed me a picture of a man I knew well. “If you want to keep your new life, not to mention your new husband, you’ll listen to what I have to say.”

I tried to still the beating of my heart. “What do you want?”

“I want to murder him. Which would not have been necessary, if you’d done it right the first time.”

Ω

Cui Bono

By Eleanor Ingbretson

“They found Harold’s body, Louella. A woman called on a burner phone and said you’d murdered him. Got a lawyer?”

“She’s wrong. I didn’t take the old fart’s life, trust me. Bring anything to drink?”

“In rehab? I’m a police officer, Louella. Now, even though determining time of death is difficult after weeks in the river, I’ll find mucho evidence proving you first killed Harold and then committed yourself. As Harold’s wife, you had more to gain from his demise.

“Really, Marcia? More than who? Whom?”

“Than I, uh, me. Just face it, I’ll lose the evidence if you’ll share.”

“Marcia, you were Harold’s girlfriend; weren’t you privy to his last will?”

“Say what?”

“You’re sole beneficiary. Furthermore, Cousin Joey visited earlier. Joey, from downtown who sold you that burner yesterday? If we air the truth, sweetheart, you’ll need the lawyer, big time. Unless you play ball.”

Ω

Oops

By Mary Fishler-Fisk

Think there’s no such thing as the perfect murder?

You’re wrong.

Trust me. I know, ‘cause I seen my share. No lie.

See, truth be told, there’s thousands of perfect murders. More like millions. I could list ’em off, but then they wouldn’t be perfect.

Speaking hypothetical, say you wanna knock off a cheating girlfriend or the old woman down the hall gots that yappy little dog won’t shut up.

First, you scout out her life. Watch all the stupid things she does every damned day, like taking Fifi for a walk on a long, long leash.

Then, when the time’s right, when, say, the elevator don’t work—wink, wink—and she’s gotta take the stairs. So sad, her feet get all tangled in that leash.

Oops.

Accidental death.

Catch my drift?

I deal strickly cash.

Hey! What’s with the bracelets?

“You have the right to remain silent….”

Ω

The Truth About Delia

By Eugenia Parrish

Delia was my first love, but financial necessity had intervened. Now everything was perfect. I studied her face, so beautiful, so serene. She loved to drive my Lamborghini.

“I’m telling you,” I was saying, “because truth is the prime thing in a relationship, especially when it comes to murder.”

“What a lovely thought,” she replied airily. “Your poor wife. But does that mean you’ll never lie to me? You’d tell me if there were another woman in your life?”

“There’s never been anyone else. Except for that one girl, of course.”

“Oh, there’s been more than one. You see, I hired a detective. Shall I go through the list? Or shall I just twist the wheel?”

We split the guardrail. The river beckoned far below, but she had aimed for the rocks.

After all this time, I thought I could trust her not to lose her head. I was wrong.

Ω

Incident at Mt. Washington

By Janet C. Johnston

Kate held her little girl. The scenic railway cleared the tree line, and the visibility snapped first from poor to nonexistent. The peak’s reputation for deadly, erratic weather was ominous.

The engineer said they must overnight at the center–rail conditions were far from perfect. The high-speed snow and ice-cold air battered Washington’s east face.

Passengers formed a lifeline to the visitors’ center doors. The line broke and they scrambled to re-form it. Kate thought she heard something like a howl carried on the wind. She couldn’t see anything

Inside, the engineer took a headcount from his passenger list. Somebody was missing!

Returning from the search, the staff dragged something dark, leaving it outside. A woman was dead. Likely an animal attack.

Kate didn’t trust them and demanded the truth. “So you’re telling us Bigfoot is the prime suspect?”

“I won’t lie to you, lady,” he said. “It was murder.”

Ω

Sweet Goodnight

By David Arenstam

John was never a real fan of the truth. For more than half of his 38 years, the part- time bartender, part-time construction worker, and full-time demon fighter used lies and a nearly perfect smile to attract women and young girls.

“It’s funny,” he said, as his latest conquest settled into the seat next to him.

“I think I have known you for most of my life,” he said.

“Something’s wrong,” she said and struggled to fasten her seat belt.

“Hang on,” he said, unbuckling himself. “I can usually get it.”

Her face relaxed, and that was all he needed to see to know she trusted him. She was ready. It was time.

He reached over with his right hand to help her with the seat belt and also managed to pick up the syringe from the floor next to his seat. Like the others, she never saw it coming.

Ω

A Fall Walk Spoiled

By Kelle Ruden

“That girl will lie when the truth’d help her,” mumbled the woman as she strode past me, jarring me from my deep thoughts.  I had treated myself to a Fall drive and a head-clearing walk. I needed to feel the cool air on my face and take an inventory of my life. My bucket list needed upgrading. It was “prime thinking weather,” as my dad would say. I walked on.

I had spent more time meandering than I intended.  I almost always wish I had chosen the other route, and mumbled to myself about first instincts, and trust. I stumbled over stones and slipped in the mud. So much for my reflective walk on a perfect day.  As I sat in a pile of wet leaves rubbing my ankle, I could see a pale face staring back. My afternoon had taken another wrong turn: murder.

Ω

Karen

by CJ Verburg

This is the first time in my life anyone’s shouted obscenities in my face. I’m a self-sufficient woman, but I was so glad when my neighbor Harry said he’d talk to Sluggo with me, I brought a bottle of wine.

“You got a perfect house in a prime neighborhood,” Harry told him.

“Yeah.” Sluggo ignored the wine. “Room for my RV.”

Truth is, the plows don’t come out here–“

“Yeah. I see the ten-foot snowbank. And Karen here already gave me her rules list.”

He can’t have known Harry’s late wife was named Karen. “More of a friendly agreement,” Harry returned. “When it snows, you shovel out your own space. You don’t drive into somebody else’s.”

Sluggo raised his middle finger. I didn’t think about right or wrong as I swung the bottle. In this neighborhood we have a don’t-ask-don’t-tell agreement about deposits we make in our snowbank.

Ω

Consequences

By Debra Bokur

        There’s what you believe is right, and what you know is wrong. Then there’s the truth. The girl wasn’t certain any longer about how her own existence fit into any of those categories.

        She’d reminded herself that no one is perfect, and she’d had plenty of time to think about it. After a long night spent face-first in the alley behind the not-so Grand Hotel near the river’s roiling edge, the greasy, gray air had driven away any other lingering thoughts about perfect murder. It was prime time to discard the romantic ideals on her list—the ones about trust and accountability—and see that opportunity was a more pressing consideration.

        The woman who was her target had never hesitated to lie, to say the cruel thing. Life was a hot, stinking gamble. It would taste a helluva lot better once her sister had gone for a final, fatal swim.

Ω

This entry was just for fun.

The Problem with Proxy

By D. M. Barr

It was the perfect plan. The woman was friendless and vulnerable, consumed with caring for her rich but bedridden husband. I wheedled my way into her life, slowly became her best friend. In time, she trusted me enough to make me her healthcare proxy. Was it wrong to make a move on her husband while she was out shopping? To manipulate her brakes so they failed during her drive home?

If I say yes, it would be a lie. What was wrong was that the accident didn’t end her life, only left her paralyzed and mute. That my daily threats to pull the plug didn’t provoke a heart attack. And that after he passed, her husband’s will left me everything…but only if I cared for his wife in my home, under supervision, until she died a natural death. He’d deduced the truth…and made sure my greed imprisoned me forever.

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This entry was just for fun.