"Thud thud thud!”
I shoved the bloody knife under the couch cushion before wiping my red hands down the leftside of my jeans, then went to answer the door, sure it was the police. My neighbors were more than nosey and the ﬁght had been loud.
I caught a glimpse of myself in the hall mirror as I neared the door and took a quick look tosee what impression I would give. Bare feet, shirt half unbuttoned, hair mussed, framing red
eyes. Except for the thick smear of blood on my shirt and jeans, I looked a little drunk. Perfect.
"Thud thud thud!”
“Open up, this is the Cleves police department."
I looked back at the expensively decorated living room. Nothing. As long as they didn't get near the couch, they wouldn't see the body.
"Can I halp you?" I burst into drunken giggles as I said it, opening the door to reveal two very
serious looking cops, dressed in full gear. "I mean, help you."
I giggled a bit more, leaning against the door as if for support and watched them exchange a quick glance. Their sharp eyes went over me, judging me just the way I had myself. Until they saw the blood. Then the alarm was blaring, the questions forming, and I knew I'd have to be careful as the older man slid a hand to the unstrapped butt of his gun.
"Are you okay, Miss?"
"Is that blood?"
I looked down like I hadn't known it was there, hand swiping at it.
"Someone had an accident." Their frowns became scowls at that.
"Do they need an ambulance?"
I shook my head, thinking it was much too late for that.
"Me." I let out another cackle, holding out my left hand, and was pleased to see them both back up from my dripping wound. Their expressions relaxed, as much as police ever do anyway, and I shrugged, let myself lean on the door a bit more.
"Maybe I need stitches?"
One ofﬁcer questioned, while the other moved into the hall to call for medical assistance, and I tried to smile at the shrewd eyed cop but my stomach twisted at that moment, turning it into a perfect grimace. Easy. Careful.
"I wanted a sandwich." He didn't believe that's all it was and I knew right then that some of the truth would have to be told."He wanted a sandwich an I wanted to read. We argued." I held my hand out a bit further. "Felt bad after he left. Was gonna make it and call him." I shook my head. "Guess I should waited to sober up." The cop rolled his eyes at me then and I knew I was in the clear. With a few sentences, I’d told him there was no threat here and I swallowed my grin.
The big officer helped me, the paramedics on their way, and I closed the door to the murder scene with calm hands. My husband hadn't thought I would be home tonight but I'd known he would. And I'd known he would not be alone.
I pretended to stumble as we stepped from the curb, the officer catching me with another of those eye rolls and then we were in the ambulance and the two cops were standing by their car, watching. We pulled out a few minutes later, I did indeed need stitches, and while I hoped the cops would not hang around long enough to hear it was a defensive wound, I wasn't worried about it. After they stitched me up, I would head out one of the many exits and be gone. I grinned and the paramedic asked me if I was all right.
"Fine as frog fur." I replied, slurring. And I was. My husband now, that was a different story and before dawn, his secretary would not be either. Cheating was a killing offense where I came from.
I appeared to be passed out for most of the ambulance ride, thinking I would have to slip out before any blood test results came back or they would want to know why I was covered in someone else's blood.
The cops left me at the hospital, not filing any charges, and I breathed a sigh of relief as their twinkling taillights faded into the night. Country cops were often dumb but those two had been on the fence about me, I was sure of it and I made a mental note to keep off the main roads when I slipped out.
The time in the emergency room passed so slow, I really did fall asleep for while and when they stitched me up, surprised at my refusal of drugs, I was left alone with no guard. The doctor who sank the needle into my forearm seven times didn't talk much but his one comment made me glad I wasn't hooked up to any machines.
"This looks defensive." His dark eyes studied my paling face, instantly drawing the wrong conclusion, and when he began to tell me of places that would help an abused woman, I hid a smile and told him I would think about it. He gave me a card as he left, along with a searching look I tried not to squirm under, and then I was free to go. To Miami Avenue.
It was only half a mile from here and I thanked the nurses politely as I went out the glass doors. I didn't have a weapon but I carried my hatred deep and I headed through the backwoods to her one floor ranch home.
Marguerite lived by herself, a failed actress trying the 9 to 5 scene, and I lurked in the tall bushes beneath her window, waiting. Her lights were on, television blaring out the news of yet another wave of oil washing onto oceanfront property and then I could feel the night around me still. The darkness slid further over her home, the news changing to the late show, and when her lights finally went off, I eased from my hiding place. After tonight, she would have no need of a married man or anything else.
I had already chosen my point of entry, the doggy door I was slim enough to squeeze through, and I was careful to touch nothing I couldn't wipe off afterwards. My husband’s body wouldn't be found but sweet little Marguerite would appear to be the victim of a home invasion.
The house smelled of sex and candy, the cheep, plastic tasting kind, and I grimaced at the odor as I passed through her tiny kitchen and headed up the hall stairs. I had staked her place out for a week before I made my move, making sure I knew where she'd be, and I took the stairs with a quiet caution any ninja would have admired.
Her bedroom door stood open, a reading lamp on, and I moved toward the light with hate in my heart. None of those other tramps had meant anything to my wandering husband but this tart had wormed her way into his heart with her desperate actress routine and a quick call to the lawyer had confirmed my suspicions. Her name had replaced mine on the will, the inheritance. The entire empire we'd built together, would go to her. My smile in the darkness was sharp. Maybe to her relatives or a local charity. She wouldn't be around to spend a dime.
I dropped to the ground as I neared the door, she wouldn't be able to see me if I stayed low, and I waited on the threshold, listening to her deal herself one last pleasure before drifting off to slumber. My heart tightened as she murmured a man's name in the darkness and I slid into her bedroom without making a sound.
I crawled around the edge of her bed, heart thumping and when she let out a soft snore, I almost screamed. I clamped the sound inside my throat, swallowing it, and then I was lunging upward, my hands flying toward her neck.
An hour later, I was back in my own luxury high rise, struggling to get my husband's lean body into the garbage chute. I had already aimed the bottom gutter toward the furnace and the fact that it was kept fired continuously made my heart beat calmly. The body would be burned along with all the other trash and all I had to do was clean up the mess.
I heaved hard, arms screaming with the effort and his corpse slowly started sliding down towards the inferno.
He made a lot of noise on the way and I winced at each bang and thump but my ears told me it wasn't any worse than the bags of bottles we usually dumped at night, just a bit heavier sounding. After I hit the fire button, a smell drifted up, one that made me gag and I quickly opened my air vent, turning on the fan. I had not counted on the smell and my stomach rolled as I cleaned the bloody couch. The floor, I had covered with a tarp before the fight started and I sent this to the furnace as well as my own clothes, not bothering with a shower yet. I still had a lot to do.
I bleached the stains from the white sofa and it left a very noticeable mark but after a light coat of finger paint, it blended right in and I turned my attention to the odor. My neighbors would complain about it, remember it. Unless it was not coming from my apartment, I realized.
The penthouse was empty right now, the upper floors under construction, and I moved toward the stairs at a calm pace, trying not to imagine how many people might be watching me pass. The stairwell was dim, as was the hallway, carpenters tools littering the various benches, and I chose the apartment furthest from my own. On my way, luck shined on me and I scooped up the dead rat with hands that did not flinch.
I turned the chute toward the furnace and placed the huge sewer rat on the floor nearby, hoping anyone investigating the odor would think its mate had fallen into the furnace, producing the stench. I moved back to my apartment, running the checklist through my head. Body? Check. Weapon? Check. It was currently burning along with the other evidence. Witnesses? None. It was perfect. I had committed two murders and would never face justice for it. I was avenged and free.
"Then how come you're in here, on the Row?" I shook myself from the flashback as more questions followed.
"Yeah. How'd you get caught?" I leaned across the wooden table, aware that my last hour of freedom, of breathing, was quickly drawing to a close but I did not regret my actions or my last wish to spend an hour talking to the other inmates.
"The Dic turned me in."
"Time's up, Collins." The guards tone was cruel. "The Padre's waitin for ya." I stood carefully, my ankle and wrist chains rattling, and I flashed a sickly smile at the listening women, some of whom would be making the walk too before long.
"My husband had hired a PI to follow me around right about the time I started staking out his whore. He thought I might be cheating."