Saturday, October 8, 2011

He Had It Coming

First published in Powder Burn Flash (2009)

The nurse left work at five o’clock. She turned right, walked three blocks to the corner of Mann and Wolfe, and melded with the pedestrians waiting for the light to change. She dipped her head and put a hand over her eyes, as if to shade them from the sun, when she saw him standing on the opposite corner. A knit cap covered her red hair.

Richard had surprised her last week when he said he wanted a divorce. The bastard just walked into the kitchen and announced his plan to move into an apartment. At least her first husband had provided some clues that the marriage was in trouble.

She turned so she could see him at an angle and thought about Richard’s new lover, Bernie. Short for Bernice she assumed when he let the name slip the afternoon he packed his stuff. She slammed his stupid basketball trophies on the living room floor while he was in the bedroom and screamed she was glad to be rid of the clutter. When he came out and saw the tiny body parts scattered on the floor, she fell on the sofa and laughed until sometime after the front door banged shut. She continued to giggle as the vacuum sucked up the mangled men.

Moving with the crowd when the light changed, her head down, she reached into her purse. “Bernard?” she said, as he passed by. Bernie stopped; but before he could respond, the needle pierced his pants and entered his thigh. His expression transformed from smile to grimace to confusion. She deposited the empty syringe in her purse and rejoined the tidal wave of workers headed home. Given the dosage, she expected Richard’s beloved Bernie would last about two blocks before he felt the pain, clutched his chest, and fell to the ground.

Later, on the plane, she sipped from a glass of Chardonnay and waited for the craft to take off. The drug was fast-acting and difficult to detect. By the time suspicion fell on her, she’d be on safari in Mozambique, far away from Richard, and out of the reach of the U.S. justice system. She leaned back in her seat, took a deep breath, and smiled for the first time in weeks. She couldn’t wait to call Richard from Africa with her condolences. She prayed Richard would ask her how she knew about Bernie’s death. She looked forward to providing the answer.

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