Thursday, October 6, 2016
Flash Fiction Friday, Week 58: Rough Patch
The prompt this week was an opening scene. We’re on our way home from work, and when we turn onto our street, we see police, crime scene techs, an ambulance, and a body covered with a sheet being wheeled out on a gurney. The problem is that all of this is occurring at our house. We turn our car around and head for the highway. The prompt was to continue the story, and the genre was mystery.
“Mike, can you talk?”
“Ron, my God, where are you? The cops were here and questioned everybody.”
“I need help, Mike. What happened at my house? I was almost home when I saw police cars all over my street, people in white suits going in and out of my house carrying bags, an ambulance, and a dead body being wheeled out. I turned around and headed for I-285. Was that a dead body I saw?”
“I’m afraid so. It was Gerald. Somebody stabbed him in your house.”
“Ron, his wife told the cops he got a note from you asking him to come to your house at noon to talk about an emergency situation. When he didn’t come home, she called the cops and told them about his meeting with you. His car was on your street, but no one answered the door. They looked in one of your side windows and saw him lying there covered in blood. They kicked the door in, and well, got all the detectives and crime people over there. That’s what you almost drove in on.”
“Mike, I never left Gerald a note. Why would I?”
“Word’s going around that you offed him because Baker promoted him to management over you.”
“So, I would kill him over that, and in my own house? Who would believe that?”
“I don’t know, Ron. I don’t believe any of it, but the police are looking for you. If you go in and tell them where you were at lunchtime, they’ll know you couldn’t have done it. You told me you had plans for lunch. Where did you go? Round up some witnesses and we’ll go to the station together.”
“Ron? There are witnesses, right?”
“No, Mike. After Gerald got that promotion instead of me, I wanted to go somewhere and think about my future with the company. I grabbed a sandwich and a Coke from the vending machine and went to the park and sat by the lake and ate. There was no one else around. I got back late too because it was so quiet there, I lost track of time.”
“Damn. You know, I’ve been thinking about this. I’ll bet it was Phil.”
“Phil? Why would he kill Gerald and frame me?”
“He was third in line for that job. With you and Gerald out of the way, he’d get it.”
“Phil said he’s not interested in management.”
“I know, but maybe that was so no one would suspect him. He’s always so quiet. You never know about people like that.”
“You’d better be careful, Mike. What if Phil thinks you know something?"
“I’ll be careful, Ron. You just stay under the radar, and I’ll try to figure something out. How can I reach you?”
“I’ve got a disposable cell, Mike. Call me when you find out anything.”
“Mike, you got a note?”
“Ron, when I got back from my morning meetings, there was a note on my desk. It said you and I should be at Warehouse 12 at 9 tonight. Whoever wrote it said they want to help clear you. Should we go?”
“Mike, whoever wrote that knows you’re talking to me. How could someone know that?”
“I don’t know. I promise I haven’t told anyone. I’m going to go though. People are saying Gerald’s murder was so cruel, you should get the death penalty. I don’t know how else to help you through this.”
“You go, and see what you can find out. Maybe I’ll be there too. Thanks, Mike.”
“Ron, I’m glad you showed up. I’m sure this is going to work out for the best.”
“What are you talking about, Mike? What’s going to work out for the best? Is anyone else here? Who left the note for you?”
“I’m not sure, because no one else is here except you and I. Don’t hate me, but before I got here, I called the police and told them I was going to meet you here at 9:30.”
“Nine-thirty? Then, why did you tell me to be here at 9:00? Wait. The police are coming? I thought you were my friend.”
“I am your friend. You can’t stay on the run like this. Eventually the cops are going to connect me with you. What happens when they bug my phone at work and find out I’ve been helping you? They’ll set something up and then we’ll both get arrested. How am I supposed to help clear you if I’m behind bars too? For all I know, this might have been just that kind of setup. I mean, the note did say we should be here at 9. It’s almost ten after and there’s still only you and me. Please, Ron. Stay here and wait for them and I’ll stick with you through this. I’ll find a good lawyer for you, and in the meantime, I’ll do everything I can to find out who’s really behind all this. You have to trust me. I know you’re no killer.”
“You’re right, he’s no killer, and neither are you. But after tonight, people are going to look at both of you in a different light.”
I couldn’t believe it when she stepped out of the shadows. What could Phil’s wife possibly have to do with any of this? I assumed she was right in the middle of it considering she was holding a gun in each hand and pointing them at Mike and me.
“What are you doing, Marie? Phil’s already killed Gerald and set Ron up. Now, he’s convinced you to do his dirty work getting rid of us? Think, Marie. Put the guns down and wait for the police with us. Tell them what Phil’s done. You don’t have to be afraid of him. They’ll protect you.”
Something told me Marie wasn’t afraid of Phil. Or anything.
“Mike, you’re such a fool. Phil had nothing to do with this. He wouldn’t be able to fight for anything if his life depended on it. That day I stopped by to take Phil to lunch was when I left a note on Gerald’s desk about the emergency situation at Ron’s house. I stabbed him with Ron’s carving knife, and wore gloves, so the only prints on it would be Ron’s. I got in through the patio door. When he had us over for that cookout, I wedged something in the door so it only looked closed.”
“Marie, why would you do this? What did Gerald ever do to make you want to kill him? Then again, what did I ever do that would make you frame me for his murder?”
“I’ll tell you what Gerald did. He got promoted to Midwest Manager; however, getting him out of the way wouldn’t be enough. If Gerald was out of the picture, Baker would have offered it to you next, so I have to get rid of you as well. The next in line would be my husband. He’s the one who should have that job. He would make so much more money, we could buy a bigger house. We’d also be able to travel all over the world, and I’d be able to have the life I’m supposed to have.”
“Marie, what about what’s happened in the past? Whenever Phil has been offered a promotion, he refused. He always said he wanted to remain in sales.” I doubted trying to reason with her would work, but I didn’t see how I could make matters worse.
“I know that. He’s always been a loser with no ambition, so I have to take control. When they offer him this position, I’ll make sure he takes it. Besides, you two won’t be around to interfere because you’re going to shoot each other. Ron, Mike got you here to convince you to turn yourself in, and brought a gun for protection. You brought your own gun, in case Mike turned on you. You two argued, it got out of hand, and you ended up killing each other. It’s great the cops are on their way, Mike. Now I won’t have to make an anonymous call about hearing gunshots.”
“You won’t have to call anything in, Ma’am. You can put both guns down on the ground right now.”
I’d never been so happy to see a cop in my entire life. More officers came out from behind the stacks of boxes, all with their guns pointed at Marie.
“What the hell?”
“Marie,” Mike explained. “I knew this was some kind of trap. I told the police if they came early and hid, they’d get Gerald’s real killer; although, I did get that one wrong. Sorry about all this, Ron.”
“It’s okay, Mike. You were right as to how to fix this.”
“No problem, Ron. Now, let’s get to work on selling that house of yours. I sure would never be able to sleep in there again. It's a murder house.”
Right again, my friend. Wait. What?