“Death Leaves the Seat Up” by Bill Landauer
Mondays Are Murder features brand-new noir fiction modeled after our award-winning Noir Series. Each story is an original one, and each takes place in a distinct location. Our web model for the series has one more restraint: a 750-word limit. Sound like murder? It is. But so are Mondays.
This week, Bill Landauer has a brush with death.
“I want to let you both know, Mr. and Mrs. Evighet, that what happens in this office remains here, okay? You can say anything. Think of this as a sanctuary. Mrs. Evighet—may I call you Rebecca?”
“And Mr. Evighet, I’m a little unclear on your first—”
“THE YAWNING INFINITE IS MY PLAYGROUND, THE SEAS BUT A DROP IN THE FOREVER THAT IS—”
“Bob, you promised!”
“I—SORRY, BECKY. YOU MAY CALL ME ROBERT.”
“Fine, Robert. Becky. Okay, I think first it’s important that we’re all operating from the same playbook, don’t you? Why don’t we all take a deep breath, and remember: we are taking the problem out, putting it on the operating table, and fixing it. I know it’s hard, but we need to keep our minds completely objective here if we want to get well. Okay? Robert, why don’t you begin.”
“Yes. Why don’t you tell us why you’re here?”
“THE SQUIRMING, TEAMING MASSES OF INSIGNIFICANT SOULS STRUGGLE POINTLESSLY AGAINST THE CEASELESS HOURGLASS—”
“SORRY. BECKY SAYS I . . . DRINK FROM THE MILK CARTON.”
“No, Bob. Argh. This is what I’m talking about, Dr. Hendricks. He doesn’t see the forest for the trees, the rest of the iceberg, the whole enchilada . . . if you get my meaning. Last week, we went round and round for two hours, can you imagine? Two hours of sustained fighting, and first thing in the morning I call you to set up our first counseling session, and all he takes from that is the stupid milk carton thing. Which, for crying out loud, how hard is it to get a glass from the cupboard?”
“Okay, Becky, okay. Ha ha. So the call was on your dime, as they say. Why don’t you tell us why you’re here?”
“I mean, it’s not one thing. He has an important job. I get that. And I don’t want to be one of those wives, you know? But honestly, would if kill him just one evening to hang up his robes, put the sickle down, wash the dead people funk off—I mean, you would think departed souls wouldn’t have an odor, but trust me, they stink—put on a tie, and . . . well, live a little? Most nights, do you know what we do? We watch Real Housewives. Four hours of it on Bravo. That is to say, I watch it. Bob uses the damn sharpener on his sickle—over the rug I might add, and those metal filaments get into the shag. I didn’t sign up for this, you know.”
“I see. Well, Robert? Becky has opened up here. What about you?”
“NOTHING ESCAPES ME. NO ONE ESCAPES ME. I HAVE LONG WALKED BY YOUR SIDE.”
“I don’t want to sound judgmental, Robert, but you seem to have trouble letting go of work, even here. Come on, we’re talking about this beautiful woman here. Now look at her. When you married Becky, what did you imagine it was going to be like?”
“I—BECKY . . . I THOUGHT . . . I CAN USE A GLASS.”
“I’m sorry, doctor. I’m afraid you’ll never get anything more out of him. He’s oblivious. The other night, the Wilsons and the Dennekers came over for drinks, and Bob promised he’d be home on time, but of course he doesn’t walk in the door until after seven, and he brings a soul with him! Can you believe that? And not just any soul, not a tax attorney or a nice little old lady, no, an executed murderer! Tracking in behind him! And I’d spent all day picking his god-awful sickle-sharpening mess out of the carpet! And when Brian Denneker laughs and calls him same old Bob, Bob touches him with his index finger on the ear! And bam—flat out on the floor. The funeral is Thursday, and Melissa Denneker has yet to send us an invite, so there’s another one we can cross of the bridge club list. I’m feeling isolated, and all because he can’t take an ounce of ribbing or criticism, you know, doctor?”
“I . . . ah . . .”
“Doctor? . . . Bob!”
As veteran journalist of nearly two decades, BILL LANDAUER has covered the upper echelons of the federal government in Washington, DC, and towns of less than 200 people. He’s flown in military helicopters and rubbed elbows with murderers, lawyers, and Christian Scientists. Once, at the White House, a reporter from the Christian Science Monitortold him to get out of her chair. He’s even written about cat-shaving. He lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. We Are All Crew is his first novel.
Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:
—Your story should be set in a distinct location of any neighborhood in any city, anywhere in the world, but it should be a story that could only be set in the neighborhood you chose.
—Include the neighborhood, city, state, and country next to your byline.
—Your story should be Noir. What is Noir? We’ll know it when we see it.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission [email protected] paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
Posted: Jun 1, 2015
Featured: Music/Popular Culture/Art
- Simon’s Cat vs. the World
- Seriously, You Have to Eat
- Please Take Me Off the Guest List
- Black Music
- Drawing Autism
- In Search of the Lost Chord: 1967, the Peak, Death, and Rebirth of the Hippie Idea
- The Accidental Hunter
- Censorship Now!!
- Hard Art, DC 1979
- This Is the Noise That Keeps Me Awake
- Just Call Me Mike: A Journey to Actor and Activist
- All the Power: Revolution Without Illusion