A suspicious phone call leads to a gun in the face

PLOT LINE – A short story

As best as I can figure, somebody knew Iris cleaned our condo on Thursday afternoons, that she would answer a cell phone ringing from the couch cushions, and that she would do what she was told to do once she answered.  What they didn’t know was that I was doing the chores on that particular Thursday afternoon because Georgia had fired Iris the day before and I had volunteered to vacuum while my wife was out shopping.

And what they couldn’t possibly have known was that I’m a struggling mystery writer always on the lookout for new plot lines.  An unfamiliar cell phone ringing in the cushions of my couch struck me as a great possibility for a plot line, and it got even better as I listened to the muffled voice on the other end.    “The railroad station.   Locker B-13.  The key will be waiting at the counter after five.”

That was it.  No introduction, no goodbye.  He hung up leaving me staring at a blinking light on the screen of the phone — which went dark after about ten seconds and turned into an annoying dial tone.

“You ain’t Iris.”  The woman behind the railroad station counter had a suspicious streak.

“Obviously,”  I said.  Iris is short, round and African-American — I’m a skinny blue-eyed blond.  “She isn’t feeling well.  Asked me to pick it up for her.”

“How do I know that?”

“You’ll have to trust me.”

She shrugged and handed me the locker key.  “No skin off my back.  Tell her I hope she’s feeling better.”

Was a regular thing?  Every Thursday?   Was someone breaking into our place once a week to plant a phone?  Georgia would have a fit if she knew but I didn’t want to make the clerk any more suspicious than she already was so I didn’t ask any questions.    Besides, I couldn’t wait to see what was in Locker B-13.

Second row down, last box on the right, and the key fit.   I sucked in a deep breath and opened the door — and my heart dropped.  The locker was empty.  I peered in — too dark — so I reached in and patted the bottom until I felt something at the back left corner.  I pulled it out.  A compact disk, no writing on either side.

Twenty minutes later, back at my condo, the CD was in the D drive and the screen was flashing ‘No Disk.’  I popped it out, turned it over, and this time found myself stymied by a blinking curser in an empty password field.  I didn’t even know where to start, but fortunately I knew a guy who was good at breaking passwords.  I ejected the disk, slipped it into a jewel case, stood up and turned — right into a very large pistol pointed directly at my nose.

“Give me the disk, please.”

The tall man behind the gun stuck out his other hand and reached for the CD I was holding.  I pulled it back without thinking, and he slowly raised his gun and pressed it up against my forehead.

“Do not make this any more difficult than it need be.  That disk does not belong to you and I am prepared to kill you if you do not give it to me … now. ”

An icy precision coated his words, and I had no doubt that he would do what he said.  I handed him the disk and backed up.  “I couldn’t get it open.  I don’t suppose you’d tell me what’s on it?”

“I could, but then I’d have to kill you.”    It was an old joke, but I wasn’t sure he didn’t mean it.

“Then please, don’t bother.  Look, I didn’t mean …”

He cut me off with a wave of his hand as he walked towards the door.  His voice was still cold, but not quite as menacing as when he had a gun aimed at my face.  “I do not wish to hear anything from you.  You interfered with something beyond your understanding and well above your pay grade.  I suggest you forget me and forget that this incident ever occurred … and never speak of it to anyone.”

“But …”

He turned back to me as he opened the door.   “Forget it.”  And then he was gone, leaving me struggling with a plot line that — like so many others before it — had just run into a dead end.

Fire Bomb erotic thriller short story

IT’S OVER – A short story

The first faint creak at the top of the stairs froze me to my chair, even though I was half expecting it.  This is it. This will be the end of it, one way or the other.   I knew she would be here — there was an aura about the house that invariably gave away her presence, and it had made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up when I had first walked in.

The second footstep on the next step down focused me. She had been getting worse for a long time now, and I had finally gotten some witnesses to one of her maniacal rages. That gave me the ammunition to persuade a judge to issue a commitment order; and for the first time in a long time, I could quit walking on eggs. I had begun to think I could have a life.

Then the third step.  It prompted me to breathe. This is where it would end. In this house. My house. The house where I had been born and had grown up.  The only thing that had ever been mine.  This was the one indulgence she allowed me.  She condescended to live with me here although she yearned for — and could have afforded — something much grander.

The fourth step squeaked — the landing.  They hadn’t mentioned her name when the radio announced there had been an explosion in the boiler room of the state mental hospital, and that one inmate — a schizophrenic woman with homicidal tendencies — was unaccounted for.  But I knew it was her. It had to be.  And she would come here. Was here.

The sixth step was the loudest.  It always had been.  It  told me why I had to end it here.  I couldn’t live like this anymore, but a divorce would leave me with nothing but this house and a pile of debts — the pre-nup her daddy had insisted on would make sure of that.

The seventh step didn’t come at the cadence of the first six, and that unfroze me.  I stood, careful not to make any noise, walked over to my desk and slowly, carefully, opened the center drawer.  The gun was gone.  I picked up the letter opener and tried to think about what was happening, but a midlevel panic was making it hard to concentrate. As I straightened, the gun barrel pressed against the back of my neck.

“Hello, lover.  Welcome home.”  Despite everything, that voice still had the power to excite me.

“Is it done?”  I asked as I turned.

“Yeah.  Her body’s upstairs and we’ll make it look like you had to kill her in self defense when she came here to murder you.”

“Any trouble getting her out of the loony bin?”

“None.  I timed it so I was close to her room when the bomb went off in the basement, and I snuck her out in the confusion.  I had to tell her that you had sent me to rescue her.”  A wry smile.  “She asked me to thank you.”

“Then it’s over.”  I put down my letter opener, and he put down his gun, and we kissed.