Classy Like Frank
By Jodi MacArthur
I sat on the edge of the bed whirling the knife in my hands. I was bored. What she had to say might have been interesting…but it didn’t matter. None of it mattered. She’d be dead soon.
“Sometimes I wanted to scream because I felt so awful. I didn’t want to see my past, the people in my past that is. I felt afraid of the future. The present felt hopeless. My religion hurt. I didn’t know what I believed anymore. My heart hurt. I felt so lonely. I didn’t know how to fix any of it.” Janelle rubbed her temples and sat back against the headboard.
She wore a tight black summer dress with a veiled hat. Kind of classy, like the older times when that guy, Frank something, used to croon to pretty girls. What didn’t fit were the dainty silk gloves with the red cross-stitch roses. Something didn’t strike me right – perhaps it just didn’t match. “Not that I don’t appreciate the job and money you offered me,” I said. “But I hardly think those are reasons a woman should hire someone to off herself.”
“Maybe, maybe not, but I can’t see anyway out of it. If you don’t mind me asking…is this your first?” she asked.
“I hope to make it easy on you. And thanks for coming on such short notice.”
“No problem. It’d help if I didn’t know so much about you.” I meant it too. Janelle was a real sweetheart. Course, rich folk knew how to put on a show when they were trying to get something they wanted. She was already getting what she wanted from me. That cost her a couple thou. I suppose that makes her genuine, but rich people – you never know with those sorts.
“I’ve stashed the money in a place you would never find. The only way you are getting it is at the end of my story.” Janelle folded her gloved fingers in her lap. Her blue eyes were gorgeous – sincere.
“Yeah, yeah, so why don’t you keep telling me then.” My eyes were drawn to the silky gloves again. Rich people, you know, you can never know why they do the things they do, or wear the things they wear. Besides when it’s your last day, last hour, last breath, you want to choose your favorite items whether they matched or not. Maybe the gloves held good memories for her? I just wish she’d shut up so I could get on with my life. Blah, blah, blah…I’m so rich and sooo depressed. I should just stab her already.
“You will be happy to know there isn’t much more to tell. I wrote a best seller, made millions. Happiness should be there, but it isn’t. I am miserable.”
“I thought insane people were supposed to be happy.”
Janelle gave me a look.
“Not that you are insane…or anything.”
“The problem is,” she swung her legs over the bed and sat up, “I just really don’t want to live anymore.”
“No millionaire I know just ups and decides there’s no reason to live.” Not that I didn’t mind inheriting a few thousand of it. Perhaps I could retire in Mexico and sip out of coconuts or something. Did they have coconuts in Mexico? They had senoritas. I knew that.
“Okay, fine, I’ll tell you.”
“Yeah, tell me.” I twirled the sharp knife she had given me between both hands.
“I’m being followed. I’ve been followed for years.”
I stopped twirling the knife and looked at Janelle. “By who?”
“My step father, the sick fu-, person.”
I raised my eyebrows.
“I’m not the swearing sort,” she explained.
“Ah,” I said back.
“I’m going to pour myself a last drink of wine. Would you like a drink, mister…”
She uncorked a merlot; probably some fancy shmancy stuff from France or wherever rich people import their wine.
Why not? “Sure.”
She poured two drinks and brought one to me.
“So he messed with me when I was little. Cheated on my mom with a handful of the neighbor ladies – even her best friend. My mom found out, confronted him about it. He convinced her that she was the crazy one. He told her that I’d made up lies about him, that the neighbor ladies were just jealous. She believed. They divorced a year later anyway. It was his idea. I swore that one day…one day.” She drew her finger across her throat like a knife.
Ironic. That’s what I’d be doing to her soon. “So call the cops.”
“I did… but there’s no proof. They can’t do anything if there is no evidence.”
“So hire a security guard.”
“That’s why I hired you.” She smiled for the first time.
I didn’t like the way she said that or the way her gloved hand was sliding underneath the pillow. “I thought you hired me to kill you.”
“I hired you to kill him, but unfortunately he shot you, after you stabbed him with my kitchen knife.”
What? I looked down at the kitchen knife in my hand and stood.
Janelle set down her glass on the nightstand, and slipped a pistol from beneath the pillow. “The body is in the closet – over there.”
I looked over at the closet door. It was slightly ajar. There was a trickle of crimson on the white carpet. What was this chick trying to pull? I wanted my money. “Look, lady. I came here to do a job.”
She stood and squeezed the trigger. I felt the bullet hit my stomach. I dropped my wine glass. It landed with a soft plop on the carpet. I watched her silk gloves holding that killing machine. Rich people, you never can tell when they are putting on a show.
Janelle drew back the hammer. “I’m sorry, George. Really, I am. Thanks for listening. And,” she nodded towards the closet, “for him.”
- Jodi MacArthur
- Exiled in deep southern Texas, Jodi is a Seattle author hoping to write her way back to the Pacific Northwest. In her spare time, she twitters at her beloved finches, Hitchcock and Emily, and drinks coffee – but never at the same time.
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