FlashFic: The Dead Husband

She walked into the diner looking like she’d lost her way to the country club. “My husband’s dead,” she said to everyone.

I glanced out the window. A Mercedes was out there, parked haphazardly off near the pay phone. Frowning, I turned back to the woman. People kept their distance mostly. Alma got her a cup of coffee and told her it would be okay. Right, her husband’s dead, but it’s going to be okay. That’s Alma for you.

It looked like breakfast was done. Hardly had a bite, but duty called. Grabbing my hat, I slid out of the booth. Her tennis outfit was blinding white and diamonds dazzled from her hands, wrist and ears. Her long brown hair was tied back. I made her to be about 35, 5’6” and 135 pounds. No obvious identifying marks. Only thing missing was the tennis racket. And the husband.

“Where’s your husband now, ma’am?” I asked, pulling my tablet and pen out of my jacket pocket.

She was silent a moment, blinking at the coffee in front of her. When she turned to face me, her blue eyes were dry. “In hell, Officer,” she said, as calmly as if I asked her the time.

“Deputy, ma’am. Hell aside, where is your husband?”

“In the car,” she told me, her jaw tightening.

“Keep her here, Alma. Right here,” I ordered. Heading out of the diner, I grabbed my radio. “Need an ambulance at Maybelle’s Diner, Doris. Get ‘em into gear and put the ME on notice.” I shoved the radio into its holster and ran the rest of the way.

The silver Mercedes was unlocked. I saw the old man leaning against the window of the passenger seat. Pulling open the door, I caught him. Fingers on his throat, listening at his nose. Nothing. I put my ear to his chest.

Pulling him out onto the gravel, I laid him flat. Training took over and I started CPR, counting out loud, blowing in a breath, over and over. I heard the whine of the siren coming from town. Buddy took over soon as he and Tom pulled in with the rig. Only took three minutes for him to call out, “Got him!”

I hurried back to the “widow.” She didn’t spare me a look, staring out the window. She was pale as a ghost, her hands gripped tightly together. “Ma’am, I need to ask you some questions.”

“Do you have to do that now, Sherry?” Alma asked me.

“Yeah, I do. Ma’am, what’s your husband’s name?” I stepped in front of the window to get her attention. She looked up. Her eyes were hard as the diamonds she wore.

“David Henderson,” she bit off the name, her mouth twisting. “Beat the Devil again, did he?”

“This happen a lot, Mrs. Henderson?”

She looked me dead in the eye. “Three times now. And they say third time’s the charm.”

© 2010 Jessica Rosen

Thanks to @Selorian (Clifford Fryman) for the first lines, posted as a #storystarters on Twitter.

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28 thoughts on “FlashFic: The Dead Husband

  1. hirpriestess4u April 2, 2010 at 4:07 pm Reply

    Loved this flash fic. I also write scifi flash fiction, come visit me at http://iblog.at/hipriestess4u/
    and read some of my scifi flash fiction

    Like

  2. marc nash April 2, 2010 at 5:31 pm Reply

    The voice in this is fantastic. Taut, terse and very noir. All done with the femme fatales in both roles of flatfoot & crim. Excellent stuff that crackles and fizzes along.

    marc nash

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen April 2, 2010 at 7:40 pm Reply

      Thank you so much, Marc. I loved the deputy’s voice in my head. Glad to hear it translated into the story.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  3. John Wiswell April 2, 2010 at 6:08 pm Reply

    Three tries? Couldn’t have been a fun relationship. Sort of an advertisement for divorce, this one.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen April 2, 2010 at 7:46 pm Reply

      Definitely, John. Young Mrs. Henderson may not see divorce as a cost effective solution, though. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  4. Johanna Harness April 2, 2010 at 8:40 pm Reply

    Your characters always pull me in. I found myself intrigued by Alma and her calm response. I’d like to see her again.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen April 2, 2010 at 11:29 pm Reply

      Thanks! I don’t think anything fazes Alma. There was more about her in the first draft, but it hit the cutting room floor. Your comments on Twitter are deeply appreciated.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  5. quinncreative April 2, 2010 at 8:49 pm Reply

    Very cool, fast, and dark! What a great quick read. [Sigh] Writing like this is what makes us non-fiction writers so jealous!

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen April 2, 2010 at 11:30 pm Reply

      High praise indeed, thank you for it. I’m so glad that’s how it came across for you.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  6. Skycyler April 3, 2010 at 5:06 am Reply

    Poor Mrs Henderson – she seems so disappointed! Chills in this one, Jess. Love the supporting cast. Alma is a lovely lightning rod.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen April 3, 2010 at 6:37 am Reply

      Thanks very much, Simon. Alma popped right into my office with a pot of coffee while I was writing. So clear, she had to go into the story.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  7. Lori Titus April 3, 2010 at 5:32 am Reply

    Nice! I’d love to see what happens to these characters next. 🙂

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen April 3, 2010 at 6:38 am Reply

      That’s always my aim – thanks for letting me know I hit it squarely.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  8. Virginia.Moffatt April 3, 2010 at 5:43 am Reply

    Very witty. Will that husband ever die? And will he work out what she’s up to first?

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen April 3, 2010 at 6:39 am Reply

      I think Mr. Henderson must take vitamins. What that man endures! Thanks for your kind comment.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  9. mazzz_in_Leeds April 3, 2010 at 6:23 am Reply

    Excellent voice for the cop, and the “widow” comes through wonderfully well. And Alma 🙂 The Almas of this world are endearing!

    Like

  10. Jessica Rosen April 3, 2010 at 6:42 am Reply

    Thanks a bunch for the encouraging comments. I loved hearing each character in my head. And Alma, well… there had to be an Alma.

    Take care,
    Jess

    Like

  11. Aislinn O'Connor April 3, 2010 at 11:47 am Reply

    She’s just gonna have to keep on tryin’…

    Great story – and I fell right into the trap of assuming that the cop was a guy. Brillliant!

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen April 3, 2010 at 1:02 pm Reply

      Thanks – and that little twist, the deputy being female, was so much fun to keep in reserve. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  12. Gracie April 3, 2010 at 5:45 pm Reply

    Very nice, Jess. Clean, spare writing that’s very visual and full. A pleasure to read. 🙂

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen April 3, 2010 at 10:15 pm Reply

      Thanks much, Gracie. The deputy’s voice lent itself to style. I really enjoyed writing her. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  13. Marisa Birns April 3, 2010 at 6:03 pm Reply

    I also thought the Deputy was male!

    Really liked the twist and the story. Great pace, dialogue and last sentence was awesome!

    Like

  14. Cecilia Dominic April 3, 2010 at 8:03 pm Reply

    Is Mr. Henderson a cat? If so, the widow’s got six more attempts before she succeeds. Great pacing in this one!

    CD

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen April 3, 2010 at 10:16 pm Reply

      Ha! If Mr. Henderson’s a cat, Mrs. Henderson might just get frustrated enough to go for a divorce instead of inheritance. Thanks for the nice comment, Cecilia.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  15. G.P. Ching April 3, 2010 at 8:41 pm Reply

    Terrific last sentence. Great story and well written. Nice work.

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen April 3, 2010 at 10:17 pm Reply

      Thanks so much for your nice comments. I appreciate the encouragement.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

  16. Lou April 4, 2010 at 10:53 pm Reply

    I agree with everyone on voice, it is really well done. Enjoyed reading, thank you. “Maybelle’s Diner” is so perfect!

    Like

    • Jessica Rosen April 4, 2010 at 11:09 pm Reply

      Thanks a lot, Lou. I really enjoyed writing this once I got a handle on the deputy.

      Take care,
      Jess

      Like

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