“The Offer” by Kristen Petry
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.
by Kristen Petry
I ran into Linda, unexpectedly, the other day at Publix. She used to be pretty, but in her late forties, she’s all bloat, veneers, and Oxy eyes. We were never really friends, even when we were young. Once she told me she liked to shoplift for kicks. Now she’s sleeping with Jerry, but I pretend I don’t know. On good days, I think their smugness is funny.
I’m fifth generation Naples and I own a property on the beach. It’s worth somewhere around twenty million, without the house, which is historic, or a tear down, depending on your perspective. Jerry wants to sell it and I never would. Our marriage is worth more than a mid-life crisis and I’m patient.
Today, it’s raining in horizontal sheets. I smell the Gulf, even with the house closed up. Old timers say this is Witch Weather. Stronger than a Santeria moon out in the ‘Glades. Babies get born and people go crazy.
I watch Linda from the hall window, parking her Lexus, with its Century 21 sign. She dashes, head lowered, to the front porch. I open the door to get rid of her, but Jerry throws it wide, letting soaked leaves come in behind her.
Thunder breaks over the house, rattling it to the foundation, and our electric service goes out with a pop. We’re startled, but Linda puts her keys in the bowl on the table. I side-step slightly around Jerry, saying I need to check on the dog.
“But Linda has an offer,” he says.
“Nobody should be out today.”
“It’s only a little wind,” she scoffs.
They shepherd me, between them, into the kitchen. There are surfers on the beach, headed to the water, boards under their arms.
Jerry pours a bottle of good red into three glasses, which he passes, and says, “Cheers.”
We clink them together, toasting, and all of a sudden Linda moves fast, confusing me. Jerry slams his fist into my cheek bone, the force knocks me down, and I drop my glass. There are shards and Cab all over the tile now.
Every Saturday morning, I run ten miles, and now I know why. I ignore the pain and bite Jerry hard. He howls, drops his grip, and I scramble to my feet, pretending I didn’t call 911 from the phone in my pocket. I’m crying and begging so hard, it sounds like one long wail.
“Let me go! Please. You can have the house! Just let me go.”
Then I scream, “1323 Gulfshore Boulevard,” nice and clear.
Linda’s eyes fly open. “Her phone,” She says, stepping hard on my throat.
Jerry wrangles it away from me, opens the French doors, and heaves it into the pool. I whip my hips back and forth, trying to get free.
Linda is still holding me down. My wind pipe feels like its collapsing, but I see an opening and kick her in the gut like an MMA fighter. It knocks the wind out of her, and she bends double, looking a lot like a caught Mahi sucking for nothing. Her jacket gaps and I see a small 38. I crawl to her, squirming away from Jerry, and manage to get the gun.
There’s blood in my eyes, gluing them shut. I squeeze the trigger. I squeeze and I squeeze, until the chamber is empty, just like Daddy taught us.
Suddenly, the house is quiet. I lie here, smelling excrement and thick gurgling blood. My mind drifts. I want to let go, but I brace myself on a bar stool and haul myself up.
The storm is almost gone now, leaving sweet cool air and a rainbow somewhere over Immokalee. They need good luck out there too, I think, gingerly lowering myself to the painted porch floor.
I lie on my side and rest my swollen cheek against the smooth planks. The street is flooded, probably full of stray Snapper and jelly fish, up from the storm drains. Distant sirens are finally getting louder. The cops have to get around down power lines and upended Banyans, but I know they will come.
Still patient, I close my eyes and wait.
KRISTEN PETRY is a native New Jerseyan living in Naples, Florida. Her master’s degree – in Landscape Architecture – trained her to design upscale gardens and study people. She writes a weekly Sunday Column for the Naples Herald: think subtropical Lake Woebegone with Maseratis and Swamp Buggies. She’s working on a novel about a Neapolitan ex-con from Jersey, betrayed by his only friend, when their 2008 land scam goes bad.
Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:
—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—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.
—Accepted submissions are typically published 6–8 months after their notification date and will be edited for cohesion and to conform to our house style.
—E-mail your submission to [email protected]. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
Posted: Sep 12, 2016
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