On Columbus Day, Missy Aldritch Killed Her Husband George: The start to a crime fiction tale with dark comedic overtones.

by Craig Hartranft on July 26, 2016

in Crime Fiction, Fiction, Story Ideas

Poster for the 1950 B-Movie, "Deadly Is The Female"

{ The beginning of this story came to mind after a vacation with my wife in September of 2015 in western Virginia, our first vacation in maybe 15 years. The time off reinvigorated my creative soul. What prompted the story? Not sure. I do know that I penned most of this on the day after the Columbus Day mentioned at the start. I think the impetus for the story was to write some dark comedic humor for a mystery or, more probably, a crime fiction story. I think some of the dialogue is hilarious, and some of my best writing. Actually, my wife thinks it’s one of my best starts ever, but she’s sort of biased in her opinion. }

© 2016 Craig S. Hartranft (Usual caveats apply: this a rough draft, complete with spelling errors and grammar issues.)

On Monday October 12, it was Columbus Day, and the day after her second wedding anniversary, Missy Aldritch killed her husband George, giving him a gut shot with her Sig Sauer and then a bullet to the head when he wouldn’t stop moaning and whining and asking why.

Missy didn’t know why. She really wasn’t good at why. Finding out why. Or wondering why. He just wouldn’t shut up.

Shooting George on that cool overcast morning seemed the best thing to do. He had the day off, all day. He had three plans that day. One was sleeping in. The second was banging his wife silly. That wasn’t happening. The third was was detailing his 2014 Ford F-150 extended cab pick up truck.

Christ. Missy hated that thing. A silver behemoth that George drove one mile, total, back and forth each day to work. One half mile each way. Geez. He could have walked, worked off that damn beer gut he was developing.

Maybe that was the why. That fucking truck.

Missy sighed and dropped the pistol to the coffee table. It left a nick next to the black cigarette burn George’s mother left when she couldn’t place her Camel in the ashtray, right in front of her, because she was hammered on too much Jack Daniels last Christmas.

Now there’s a why, Missy thought. Could have shot her too, if the old bitch would have been here. Kill two problems with several nine mils. Then she looked through her light brown hair, still rumpled from overnight’s bed head, to see the truck in the driveway.

“How the hell am I going to sell that piece of shit now?” Talking to nobody.

The phone rang, not her cell but the land-line that George insisted they keep, just in case his mother called, because the old lady didn’t have the skill or sense to operate even the simplest cell phone with the largest number buttons. Or she was too cranked on Rebel Yell.

“Hello.”

“Hey, Missy. It’s Billy.” His voice was lively and, at the moment, pretty damn annoying. Billy Whitstock. Total dipshit.

“I know who it is,” Missy said. “He’s not here.”

“What? How do you know that I want to talk to George.”

“You always want to talk to George.”

“Well, maybe this time, I want to talk to you.”

Idiot, Missy agreed with herself, and said, “Don’t try to be funny, Billy. You’re not good at being funny, especially with women.”

Silence from the other end. She wanted desperately to hang up on him.

“So, is he there?”

“I just told he’s not.” She thought again looking at his dead body resting on red and white checkered picnic table cloth. “I mean he’s indisposed, can’t come to the phone right now.”

* * *

George wondered what the table cloth was doing in the middle of the living room floor. She said, “Planning some interior decorating, painting the walls a different color.” “No shit,” he said. “Now? Today? On my day off.” “Why not?” He noticed her right hand behind behind her back. “What’s that you’re holding.” “It’s a surprise,” she said as coy as possible, flashing her eyes, and giving him that quirky twist of the mouth that meant he might get laid. “Oh yeah? What’s the X for?” George said stepping forward. She had made a black X with electrical tape at the foot of the table cloth “Not so fast, big boy.” He stopped. “You think you can stand on the X for me.” “Sure.” And he did. And she stepped back a pace. “So what do you have for me.” “A paint brush.” Missy swung her hand around casually. Unblinking, she fired the first shot, straight to his abdomen, right to the stomach. George groaned with wide eyes, doubled over, then tottered backwards, falling on his butt and holding his gut. That’s when the whining and whys began. That’s when Missy shot him in the head.

* * *

“So that’s what call taking a shit these days.”

There was another why. All George’s friends were losers and tools.

“Yeah. That’s exactly it,” Missy said to him, sensing the hairs on the back of her neck bristle and that electric tingle travel down her back, bracing her spine. It was that sensation of rage and resolve, what she had in that moment her bullet left her gun, entered George’s forehead, and blew out the back of his head. She considered saving a bullet for Billy.

Her cell phone on the kitchen counter began to play the theme from Hawaii 5-O, the original show. She used to watch the reruns on MeTV with her dad. The old McGarrett was still the cool one.

“Got another call, Billy. Gotta go.”

“Will you tell him to call me?”

“Sure. Why not.” She looked at George. “He’ll call you as soon as he gets up.”

The kettle drums continued to roll on her smart phone with the waves she remembered from the show.

“Goodbye, Billy.”

Missy didn’t wait for a reply. She swatted the phone’s silver slingshot lever to cut the call. She let the receiver drop to a dangle. Taking her cell, she swiped the green circle and said, “Hello, Dolly.”

“How’d you know it was me?”

Cripes. Not again. “Dolly, it’s a cell phone. Caller ID.”

“Oh yeah. Forgot,” Dolly said.

“So. What’s up?”

“Not much. You?”

“I just killed my husband.”

“Okay.” Dolly followed with a pause and then added, “You feel like some shopping. Columbus Day sales, you know. I’d like to check out the new Old Navy over in Sunflower Plaza. You know, by the Turnpike north of Trinity.”

“I know where it is, Dolly. We’ve been there,” Missy said, wondering if Alzheimer’s could begin at twenty-eight.

“Yeah. They’ve got shirts and jeans on BOGO for their grand opening.”

Actually, shopping sounded like a terrific thing to Missy right now. Maybe get a few large black trash bags. A shovel or two. Some lime and a few bottles of Clorox.

“They have Home Depot there now, too, right” she asked

“Yeah. I think so,” said Dolly.

“Shopping sounds great. I gotta get something to deal with George.”

“What’s wrong with George?”

Missy loved Dolly, probably her best friend in Bentwood, at least next to Sonja, but she could be ditz, a total airhead. Some things just blew past her faster than a slow wind.

“He’s dead, Dolly. I killed him.”

“He’s dead?”

“Didn’t you hear me the first time?”

“I thought you were joking.”

“You need to get over here. I need your help getting rid of the body,” said Missy.

“Okay.” Another pause. “How long do you think it’s going to take?”

“What?”

“I mean, I still want to get to Old Navy, you know, for the sale.”

Somehow, even with the body of her slain husband in the living room, that sounded even more disturbing to Missy. Was Dolly simply materialistic or merely pragmatic? Maybe both. Missy, looking at her faded shirt and jeans, decided she would be both. George can’t bitch about her buying new clothes anymore.

“We’ll go to Old Navy first, then Home Depot. I need to get a few things.”

“Awesome. I’ll be over in twenty.”

Missy hit the “end call” on her Samsung, sparing her some minutes. Awesome? Seriously? Did Dolly not get the odd combination of shopping and corpse removal? She looked at George, the blood soaking into the worn Oriental carpet and making a pattern like a dark Gothic Christmas tree. She went to the basement to find some old towels.

Missy dropped a half dozen mixed color and pattern towels on the sofa. She wasn’t clear yet on how she was going to get George out of the house. But she was definitely going to use his truck to get rid of him, maybe both him and his damn truck. She could roll him up in the Oriental rug. It was an old piece of ratty crap anyway. They could slide the body from the living room to the kitchen, then through the door opening to the garage. That would have the benefit of nobody seeing them. But there was no way she and Dolly could lift the body into the truck’s bed. They’d need more help. Maybe Sonja, if she could sneak out work at her family’s grocery store, Simpson’s Country Market.

Missy heard a knock and the front door opened. Dolly Amberson, a slender blonde in skinny jeans and three inch heels, let herself in, as she always did, on any given day.

* * *

George hated that. She never came without calling first. But he hated that she just thought she could waltz right into his temple of TV big screen and sports addiction. He didn’t say squat to her at first and for the longest time. He just grunted and yanked a thumb to Missy in the kitchen or wherever.

Then one Saturday afternoon this past May, when George, Billy and two other guys were watching their Pirates lose a game to Cleveland, George said, “Skinny-ass sluts have to use the back door.” To which all the guys started laughing.

Dolly turned beet red and cast him an evil glare that would have cursed the Pope himself to purgatory. Now Dolly may not be the brightest bulb in the chandelier at times, but she could get a mouth on her as necessary. And stick up for herself, too.

“Fuck you, George.”

All the guys drew deep breaths and waited for his response, which was, of course, an immediate stunning retort. “You stupid bitch.”

And then he made a mistake. He got up with the intention of getting in Dolly’s face. To do what, we would never find out.

Dolly, who always carried a large shoulder bag, a Michael Kors that Saturday, yanked out a 32 Caliber Smith & Wesson revolver, and pointed it directly at George. If George had taken two more steps the stub nose of the barrel would have been up his nose.

“Back off, asshole. Or I’ll put a bullet in your eye.”

The boys scrambled for cover. George stepped back one step and into Billy. They both fell back into the sofa with Billy’s Bud Light going sailing towards the 55-inch Sanyo. It missed.

Dolly backed into the kitchen, where Missy stood amazed with eyes wide and her mouth going from surprise to a smile. When Dolly holstered the piece into her bag, Missy asked, “Where did you get a gun.”

She stared into the living room, eyeing George and his crew, when she answered. “Got it from my Daddy when I was sixteen. He said it was a girl’s best bet for practicing safe sex.”

“You know how to use that thing?” Missy said.

“Damn straight, I do. Daddy took me out to the range at Mort’s Gas, Guns, & Ammo on my birthday, and then every Saturday for two months until I could straight.”

“Think you can show me how?”

Dolly just smiled.

* * *

“Holy shit. You weren’t kidding,” she said seeing George’s lifeless hulk on the floor.

“No. I killed him alright,” Missy said with no emotion.

“Well,” sighed Dolly, then standing straight and looking directly at Missy said, “Alright then. I can’t think of a better reason to go shopping.” Her eyes dropped. “Those jeans are hideous, girl. You definitely need a new pair.” Her eyes went up and smile creased her face. “You do have his credit cards, don’t you?”

“Yes.” Missy smiled. She liked this side of Dolly. It was the pistol in the handbag Dolly. Tough, take no shit, and “I’m smarter than I look, so don’t call me a dumb blonde” Dolly. With her help, she might even get away with murdering her husband.

She grabbed her purse hanging from door to the basement, grabbed George’s wallet from the coffee table, and followed Dolly to her Jeep Liberty, champagne in color much like her hair.

As Dolly motored down Acorn Avenue, Missy reached for George’s wallet, intent on collecting his credit cards. The brown leather wallet seemed heavy to her, not like she ever held it before. Flipping it open, she looked into the bill folder and what she saw made her gasp.

“You okay, Miss?” Dolly looked to her, then back to the road. She made a right turn on Main Street.

Missy hesitated, taking a breath for her composure, then said. “There must be, like, a thousand dollars in here, hundreds and fifties.”

Dolly only smiled. “You’re buying, girlfriend, and more. We’re going to lunch at Bigsby’s after.”

Bigsby’s was the upscale restaurant at the Blessing Hills Golf Course, a mere five miles north from Sunflower Plaza, and a place only the rich and obnoxious of Rockford County would frequent. People, politicians and corporate types would drive the thirty miles from the state capitol for the aged Angus beef and fresh from the fresh vegetables grown in the restaurant’s private one acre farm garden.

“Yeah right.” Missy stared out the window.

“What?”

“Yeah. What is the question. What the hell was George into? He never had this kind of cash in his life, let alone in his wallet.”

“I might explain how he paid for the big TV.”

“No. That was a Christmas bonus and …” She paused and frowned. She felt the bitterness rise up in her like acid reflux from a double pepperoni pizza and two many beers. “… the money I was saving to get a dishwasher.”

“Really? What a prick.”

“You don’t know.”

“Yes. I do, Miss.”

She thought of the gun incident. “Yeah. I guess you do.”

“George was a total ass. You gave him what he deserved.”

“Did I?” Missy stared out the window again, and Dolly got it.

“Hell yeah, he did,” she said. “And don’t you have second thoughts.” She touched Missy’s leg while still eyeing the road, now on Route 10 toward Sunflower Plaza. “Fuck him and all the aggravation he put you through these last two years. Being dead is too good for him.”

“What do you mean?”

“You should have made the rat bastard suffer.”

“Maybe that’s why I shot him in the gut, first.”

“Maybe so.”

Then there was silence between them. In ten minutes, they were in the Old Navy fawning and giggling over the BOGO blouses and skinny jeans.