Okay, it’s a billionty degrees, and I’m holed up on staycation, but I’m dedicated to completing all twelve of author ‘Nathan Bourgoine’s 2018 Flash Fiction monthly challenges.
The location is in or on a dam, and the object is a typewriter. I almost died when I saw the genre: Mystery. Yipes. That’s the hardest for me. So, I went with that! Here’s the link to ‘Nathan’s post about the July Draw!
Fuck my life, FML, FML, FMLLL!
Winston walloped the keys of his Smith-Corona, which he called his M-m-m-my Corona. Hardly anyone had ever laughed at that, especially not his dwindling collection of nubile twenty-something girlfriends. I probably should bang someone who actually gets my prehistoric pop references, he thought, running fingers through his thick salt-and-pepper locks. For a long time he felt good about his full head of hair, thinking women found silver foxes sexy. But that bit of ego got properly shredded when his last date blurted, “Ooo! It’s like the granny-hair trend—but on a man!”
Yay, I’ve got granny hair . . . and an unused refill of ED meds. He stared at the cream paper in the typewriter. He needed to get his name out there. Publishing one maybe-not-terrible novel in his late 40s had left him scurrying to catch up with younger authors. If he could get his work into as many anthologies as possible, he could network with more publishers and writers.
But to do that, he had to write. Winston groaned, typing:
I despise you, writing prompt!
Things were not off to a good start. The last genre in the world he wanted to tackle was Mystery. He knew he would brutalize this short story. Yet, if he got accepted by this publisher, it would look great on his bio. They also paid decent rates.
Right, one more time.
Harry peered outside the patio door when a crumpled form on his deck caught his attention.
Winston covered his eyes. Seriously?A murder in suburbia. Whodunnit? Probably the gardening fascists who mow other people’s lawns between cutting their own grass every 45 minutes.
He had to get out of suburbatory now that he was single again.
A yellow alert interrupted his musings and a message scrolled across the screen of his workstation. Winston groaned. Lock 23. It’s always Lock 23. He picked up his walkie-talkie.
It crackled with, “Yeah?”
“Hi, Irv, it’s Winst. Lock 23’s being a diva. Check to see if it’s really a thing this time?”
“I was about to take a long-awaited crap!”
“Look, just a glance, ‘kay? If all’s well, I’ll have someone check the sensors. They’ve been wonky all summer for that lock.”
Irving sighed and grumbled, “Fine. Hold onto your panties. I’ll be right back.”
While he waited, Winston ripped the paper out from the typewriter he’d set up by the control-and-monitoring station in the hydraulic power plant. Once he faced another sheet of cream, he wrinkled his forehead. Then his eyes perked.
A dead body? That’s the last thing Sarah had expected to find in her bed. Especially since she had never seen him before.
Aside from a pale complexion and the marks around his neck, he was good looking, for a corpse. Young, too. Why had he ended up in here? She remembered being alone when she’d fallen asleep. He’d not been at the party either. Or had he?
“WINST! PICK UP NOW!”
He slammed his fist on the keys and grabbed his comm unit. “Great, Irv. Just when I’ve finally got a writing idea worth exploring, you—”
“I don’t give the crap I most desperately want to take! Get down here! NOW!”
“There’s something jamming the gate on 23!”
“That’s not my job. I just monitor shit.”
“Oh yeah? Well, tell me how one of your ex-girlfriends ended up as human mortar then?”
Winston froze. “What the FUCK?!”
“Bambi or Boopsie or whatever her name was. I recognized that purple and green hair.”
Oh, babygirl. “I’m coming!”
The police had questioned him for hours, after he’d vomited himself dry from what he’d witnessed. Barby, once so full of life, reduced to a mass of oozing flesh between the split gate. What had she been doing? Probably walking up top, thinking to impress him and win him back. She’d never been afraid of bold gestures of affection. So young. He shouldn’t have gone out with her at all. She’d deserved better. Not this old fart.
Officer Stanley Miles looked up from his writing pad. Even though the session was being recorded, he felt more comfortable with hand-written notes.
“Okay, Mr. Burrows. Let’s have it one more time.”
Winston glowered at the police officer, against his better judgment. “I’ve already told you twice, and I think I’m being pretty generous by not calling my lawyer . . . yet.”
The cop smirked. “After 20 years on the force, it still cracks me up how perps think they can intimidate me.”
“I’m no perp. I was just at my workstation at the West Dams, like I said—”
“See, I’m gonna stop you there, Mr. Burrows. This little thing in my ear? That’s to hear my partner suggesting what I should ask. Right now she’s saying someone emailed us a manuscript from an anonymous account.”
“Uh, okay . . . and?”
Officer Miles gestured at the mirror behind Winston. A few seconds later a beautiful young detective entered. Her wavy blonde hair was tied up in a messy ponytail. Determined green eyes glared as she pushed a printout before Winston, on the dark metallic table.
“Staci?!” cried Winston. She’d been the ex-girlfriend he’d left for Barby, maybe before he’d broken up with Staci first.
“It’s all here in this work,” she said. “Oldest trick in the book. Write a story outlining a murder, commit the crime, then assume nobody would suspect you’d incriminate yourself.”
“This is insane!” Winston shouted.
The detective turned to her partner. “Arrest him.”
“Winston Burrows, you have the right to remain silent—”
“Wait! I never wrote that! I can’t write mysteries! They’re not my genre!”
“Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law—”
Winston didn’t remain silent. He protested all through his Miranda rights, even when they cuffed and dragged him away.
Staci sauntered into the hall, watching him. Should have blocked me on social media, asshole. Your constant bitching about mysteries was my way in. That’ll teach you to cheat on me. You’re not the only one who can write.
I suck at Mystery. Dam it. © 2018 Cait Gordon. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without permission except in the case of brief quotations in critical articles and reviews. For more information, contact Cait Gordon.
Cait Gordon is the author of Life in the ’Cosm, a story about a little green guy who’s crushing on the female half of his two-headed colleague. Cait is currently working on a prequel to ’Cosm called The Stealth Lovers, a military space opera. When she’s not writing, she’s editing manuscripts for indie authors and running The Spoonie Authors Network, a blog whose contributors are writers who manage disabilities and/or chronic conditions. She also really likes cake.