© 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 two plans that day. One was sleeping in, the other was detailing his 2014 Ford F-150 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.
“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.Â She said, “Planning some interior decorating, painting the walls a different color.”
“No shit,” he said. “Now? Today? On my day off.”
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.
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.Â 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.”
“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?”
“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. Then grabbed a pair of rubber gloves from under the kitchen sink.
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.
She started mopping up the blood, pushing it towards George, then dropping each towel on his body. Missy eyed the oriental rug with severity and scowl. I’ll need to replace this, she thought, hoping they had new rugs at Home Depot. She continued with her chore. She grimaced when she saw that skull and brain matter had been thrown behind George across the floor and at the foot of the big screen TV stand.
She mopped again, gathering the particles and blood in sweeping circles.
“Next time, some damn poison or something. This way to messy.”
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. Often she called first, most often she just arrived. 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 with five too many Miller Lites in his belly 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 knock off (the big K had begun to tarnish within a week) that day , 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 backed up 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 to her friends bottom. “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, maybe two or three, in here, hundreds and fifties.”
Dolly only smiled. “You’re buying, girlfriend, and more. We’re going to lunch at Bussel’s after.”
Bussel’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 farm vegetables grown in the restaurant’s private one acre farm garden.
“Yeah right.” Missy stared out the window.
“Yeah. What is the question. Or better, where? Where did he get money like this? What the hell was George into? He never had this kind of cash in his life, let alone in his wallet. I least not that I knew of.”
“I might explain how he paid for the big TV.”
“No. That was a Christmas bonus and …” She paused then 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 new Maytag dishwasher.”
“Really? What a prick.”
“You don’t know.”
“Yes. I do, Miss.”
Missy thought of the gun incident, among other times.
“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 222 south 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.”
Then there was silence between them. In ten minutes, they were at Sunflower Plaza. Dolly wheeled the Cherokee into the entrance between the 5 Guys and the MacDonald’s. As she approached the Stop sign and the bisecting lane the pad enterprises and the main part of the mall, she said, rather flippantly,” Why the hell would you put to burger joints within spitting distance of each other, I’ll never know.”
“Mickey D’s and Five Gays.”
“Never heard it called that.”
Dolly laughed, arriving at the Stop sign. “I just made that up.”
“Yeah. Been there twice. Last time with Billy Hopper. There’s these two guys, skinny as rails, pale as ghosts, in their own skinny jeans. They have registers next to each other. God, the talked like English queens.”
“You went on a date with Billy Hopper, George’s best friend?”
Dolly waited for a late model orange Camaro with rust around the wheel wells pass and turn into the MacDonald’s. Figures, she thought. Hillbilly nimrods getting their Big Mac and fries. So damn predictable.
She said, nodding forward to the Home Depot and Old Navy, “Fashion or body disposal, darling?”
“Fashion always comes first.”
“Oh yeah.” Dolly turned right and then made another left into the main parking area.
“What was it with Billy Hopper?”
“Nothing? Come on. Details, girlfriend.”
“If you must know.”
“Inquiring minds …”
“The little dick …”
“You know that from experience,” Missy interrupted, smiled.
“What?” Dolly glared in disbelief. “Of course not. No. Hell no.”
“You want to hear the story or not?”
“Sure. I’m just messing with you.”
Dolly, finding a parking space, cuts the engine and continues, “So was Billy. I was over at JJ’s last Monday, after work for the Happy, having a few Coors Light, when he arrives. He’s all hot shit waving a wad of cash around. I couldn’t believe it. Looked like he had $500 or more. He ran a tab and bought like three rounds of shots for the house.”
“Shit yeah. After the first round sees me, wanders over, and starts trying to play me. I basically tell him, “Fuck off, you little weasel, you’re drunk.”
Missy laughed again, “‘Little weasel,’ that’s great.”
“He is a weasel.”
“So what happened?”
“I’ll cut to the chase. He’s fawning over me, trying to touch me and that shit. So I say after my third free shot of Jack, “I’ll tell you what Billy. I’m getting pretty hungry. Why don’t you take me to Five Guys for some burgers.” He’s all excited, probably getting a twig of a woody. “Alright,” he says, “Then I’ll show you a good time.
“I roll my eyes, thinking, It’s my time to screw with this twit. So he takes me to Five Guys. But before we leave, I tell Sonja what’s happening and have her follow us.”
“Geez. You and Sonja. Billy is totally fucked.”
“That’s the plan. There, we order some burgers from Clay Aiken, with Adam Lambert at the next register.”
“Seriously, that’s who they looked like?”
Missy thought, when Dolly’s on her game, she can tell a tale.
“So, I’m really hungry. No eating like a bird for me. I get a double cheese burger with lettuce, tomato, pickles, mayo and ketchup, with a side of fries. Billy just stares, eyes all glassy from the Jack.
“We get to a table and sit, but I don’t open my bag. Instead, I look past Billy to two dudes by the side window, and say to him, “Those assholes have been undressing me since I walked in. Making obscene gestures too.” Billy looks over his shoulder and shrugs a “So what?”
“To which, I say, “Well, what are you going to do about it? Set them straight, Billy.” “Come on, let them it their burgers,” he say opening his bag, They’re just being dicks.” “Like you at JJ’s?” I say. He stops. I stare, and nod to the two unsuspecting guys, who were doing absolutely nothing, by the way.
“Billy sighs, and says, “Alright. I’ll do something.” And he walks over to them. What happens next is pure hilarity.”
“Yeah? What did he do?”
“I could barely hear what he said, but whatever it was, blows were exchanged. The one guy threw his drink in Billy’s face. Billy smashed him once in the face, wherein guy number two stands and fists Billy in the kidneys. Next thing you know I hockey game starts, and I’m grabbing both burger bags and heading for the door.
“Sonja and I sat in her car, eating our burgers and watching everything. Funny as shit, until the cops came. They didn’t arrest Billy, but the two other guys. That I didn’t understand.
“But I could see Billy looking for me. He sees me out the window and frowns. Sonja and I wave, saluting with our burgers. He flips us the finger and we drive off laughing. Haven’t seen him since.”
“That’s great. Billy’s another tool who deserves all the humiliation and whatever else he gets.”
“No truer words have been spoken.”
“You know, that prick called today,” Missy said taking her purse for the floor before her.
“Looking for George.”
“That must have been a short conversation,” Dolly said with a grin.
“Real short.” Missy opened her door to get out.
“You should count the cash,” Dolly said looking at the bulging wallet in the top of Missy’s purse.
“Sure. You know, so we stay in budget.” Another grin.
“Budget. Screw that. Let’s blow this wad.” Missy started counting, quickly. “Pretty sure nearly two grand.”
“Nice. Let’s go shopping.”
The girls entered Old Navy with a bounce in their step and shopping on their minds. They were greeted by a young man with short cropped black hair, unnaturally pink lips, apparently some black mascara,Â thin arms, and equally thin legs stuffed into black skinny jeans.
“Hey there, girls,” he said with a sweet timbre.
“Should be called Old Gayvy,” said Dolly and she went up to the boy. “Say, sweetheart, you look positively divine,” she added I bit of a southern twang to her voice, “where are the BOGO jeans for us girls?”
Missy snickered, yet smiled at the young man. He probably was wearing women’s skinny jeans she thought.
To which, he fidgeted, but said, “Right side of the store’s for women. Jimmy James is back there stocking, he can help you if you want.”
“Jimmy James? What a cute name,” Dolly said moving closer. “Friend of yours?”
“Yeah. We’re friends.”
Dolly nodded while looking him up and down, “And what’s your name, sweetheart? I’ll bet I’ll like it, too.”
Again, fidgeting his eyes twitched to each girl. “Lindsay, but most call me Lindy.”
“Lindy. I like that. What do you think, Miss?”
“Very charming.” And she stepped forward.
Dolly watched his eyes fall to Missy’s breasts when she answered. Large, like her own, and pleasantly displayed, Lindy couldn’t avoid them.
She said, looking at Missy, but obviously for him, “I think he likes girls.”
Dolly said, “Let’s see those jeans, Missy.”
“Absolutely.” She walked past Dolly, and she followed, yet paused.
Turning back to the young man, she said, “A nice sweater on the shoulders, maybe a light color, tied at the neck, would look marvelous on you, sweetheart.”
More pink from the boy.
Missy and Dolly spent better than an hour in Old Navy and spent more than $600 dollars between them. Jimmy James was helpful. Lindy said he never saw that many hundred dollar bills in his life. The four bags were quite heavy, so Jimmy James took them out to the Jeep for them. Missy tipped him with a fifty, telling him to take Lindy out for drinks later. He blushed while thanking her.
As Jimmy James walked away with lightness in his steps, Dolly said, “We should probably put the rear seat down to make room for the other shit.”
“Yeah. Good idea,” agreed Missy.
The opened the rear passenger doors from either side, flipped up the seat to the backs of the front buckets, and put down back, evening out the cargo. They pushed the Old Navy bags forward.
“You got any bungees,” asked Missy as they closed the doors.
“Yeah, at home in the garage. Why?”
“I was just thinking. I need to replace the rug in the living room to clean up this mess. It’s gonna have to go on the roof.”
“True.” Dolly looked at the roof and luggage rack. “L guess George will have to buy some to go with those skinny jeans.”
“I think so.” Missy laughed. “George has become useful after all.”
“At the very least.”
The Home Depot was at the far end of the strip mall, almost the mirror opposite of the Old Navy. The girls boarded the Cherokee and made the drive for the convenience. No sense hauling a big of lime and a new Oriental rug across the parking lot.
Exiting the vehicle at Home Depot, Dolly said, “So Billy called this morning?”
“Yeah. Pretty sure he wanted to stop over, see George.”
Dolly went quiet.
“You think that asshole will show up some time?”
“Shit. I hope not. That would be awkward.”
“Awkward doesn’t being to describe the shit storm that would occur if he arrives. He doesn’t have a key or anything does he?”
“No, but George always left the side door of the garage door open. He could get into the house that way.”
“Through the kitchen then?”
“I’m sure I locked it on the way out.”
Quiet again, Dolly thought. “You sure?”