FlashFic: Witness

Marge sipped coffee as she looked out the window. The new tenants were nothing like she expected. They were too quiet, too polite and too perfect. They were hiding something. Marge prided herself on picking out people who were trouble. She knew Rob Henderson was drinking and hitting his wife, didn’t she? When Betty ended up in the hospital and divorced Rob, Marge was triumphant. She warned everyone, didn’t she? Yes, the new tenants were a problem. Marge sat at the computer and began a background check on the Petersons.

Reduced to doing her own grocery shopping

photo by "Solo, with others" on flickr.com

Lila headed to the cashier, grocery shopping done. It was so wearing, doing these things herself. And in a small town, no less. She missed the city. Any city! Here, though, insincerity was the key to appearing friendly. “How are you today?” the cashier asked. “It’s good to see you,” she said automatically. All pathetic, but necessary.

Marge squinted at the computer screen. The background check came back. It confirmed everything the Petersons told her about their history. She looked at the application to live in the duplex. It was all arranged through email, what with them moving here from Springfield. Everything checked out. Just too perfect. She called Louise. “Those people are into something, I just know it,” she told Louise, who clucked her tongue with Marge. Marge was back at the window, watching for them.

“I hope they’re not making drugs in there,” Louise responded, fascination in her voice. She called Olive about the drug dealing couple living with Marge immediately.

Lila pulled in at the duplex. A duplex, for god’s sake! As close to a brownstone as she was likely to get again. “It could be worse,” Don kept telling her. At least her husband went out and worked. Not that she wanted to work! Hell no. Being trapped in this place, having to clean it herself, not being able to call her friends and hit the boutiques? It was all driving Lila nuts. Nosy old Marge Woodly was at the window as usual. Lila waved up to her and forced a smile. The witch. Marge was as bad as the paparazzi. Lila had a moment of missing the photographers. Pathetic. Now she was reduced to carrying the groceries in herself.

While she was putting eggs in the refrigerator, her cell rang. It showed the number as UNAVAILABLE. She knew what that meant. “What now?” she snapped.

Marshall Evers said calmly, “Someone is digging into your new background. We’re moving you again. Time to pack. Your husband is on his way home.”

“Okay, okay, so Don’s coming home.”

Ralph is coming home, Ellie,” Evers interrupted.

“Right, sorry, Ralph,” she emphasized the name impatiently. “So we’re moving again. New names and no one can find us, right? All I have to do is testify?”

“You already know the drill. It’s not safe to talk on this phone. Tell Ralph to destroy them both and dispose of them in a dumpster while you pack,” Evers instructed. She thought she noted a hint of annoyance in the always composed voice. That was worth a genuine smile.

“Sounds good. Look forward to seeing you as always,” she said in perfect small town tone before hanging up. There wasn’t much time, but she didn’t need it. Finally, some fun! She was back and packing when Don arrived. Evers wasn’t long behind. “Bags are packed and in the bedroom,” she announced cheerfully. She walked out, leaving the cramped duplex forever.

It took only two days for Louise to call Olive. “It’s not like Marge. She didn’t call and she’s not answering her phone. I haven’t even seen her at her window.” They agreed Louise should call Sherriff Barlowe, who was none too pleased to be bothered about it. Louise never did like the Sherriff. She sure didn’t vote for her.

“I know something’s wrong, Sherriff. If she’s sick, she’s horribly sick and needs help. In any case, I’m formally requesting you send someone to check on her,” Louise told her stiffly.

Barlowe sighed. “Mickey’s on a call. Guess you’re stuck with me. I’ll go over and let you know what I find.”

“We’ll meet you there.” Louise’s excitement level suddenly raced.

When Barlowe pulled up, she found Louise and her gossipy friend, Olive, waiting. Louise waved around a key. “I found it. It was in a fake rock near the front door.”

“Stay here, ladies,” the Sherriff ordered as she entered. She was glad she did. She didn’t take five steps before the scent of decomp was in the air. Never did get used to that smell. She clicked on her radio. “Adele, call Delbert over at the funeral home. Tell him it’s a medical examiner call.”

© 2011 JC Rosen

Incorporating two #storystarters by Clifford Fryman (aka @CliffordFryman).


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14 thoughts on “FlashFic: Witness

  1. Johanna Harness December 16, 2011 at 6:48 am Reply

    You always draw me right into the story and leave me wanting more. Thanks for this, Jess!


    • JC Rosen December 17, 2011 at 2:57 am Reply

      You wanted more! For me, there’s no higher praise.Thanks, Johanna.

      Take care,


  2. John Wiswell December 16, 2011 at 3:12 pm Reply

    A nice, crackling end to the setup of anonymity.


    • JC Rosen December 17, 2011 at 2:58 am Reply

      I love how you put that, John. I’m glad it worked for you. Thanks for letting me know. Happy holidays to you and yours!

      Take care,


  3. Sonia Lal December 16, 2011 at 7:43 pm Reply

    Oh loved that ending. I wasn’t expecting that.


    • JC Rosen December 17, 2011 at 3:00 am Reply

      Excellent, I snuck up on you. I was hoping that would be the case. Thanks for leaving a comment, Sonia. Happy holidays!

      Take care,


  4. cookme25 December 16, 2011 at 10:00 pm Reply

    Very interesting, confused me a bit but I loved it none the less!


    • JC Rosen December 17, 2011 at 3:03 am Reply

      I don’t usually write in this POV. It has a tendency to become a muddle if one doesn’t treat it properly. Sorry about the confusion – maybe I can edit to make it more clear. In any case, I’m glad it worked for you all the same, cookie. Thanks a bunch for letting me know what you thought. Happy holidays!

      Take care,


  5. Steve Green December 17, 2011 at 6:43 am Reply

    Whatever these two are testifying to, it must be big. When the witness protection starts bumping off people who have witnessed their witnesses it all starts to get a teeny bit conspiracy-theory and paranoid. This is the sort of stuff that makes good films.


    • JC Rosen December 18, 2011 at 5:16 pm Reply

      Thank you so much for your comment, Steve. It gave me a goofy grin from beginning to end. I wondered if anyone would take the implied behaviors that way. It’s gratifying to know it was one of the possible interpretations. I agree completely, done that way there are the conspiracy and paranoia angles to address. Turning this into a film would be fun!

      Take care and hope your holidays are happy,


  6. ~Tim December 17, 2011 at 1:30 pm Reply

    Big Brother is watching, and apparently he’s in quite the sour mood.


    • JC Rosen December 18, 2011 at 5:20 pm Reply

      I choose to think Big Brother is always watching. Safer that way. Wait,if Big Brother’s watching he may read this story. I wonder if they’ll put me in the Protection Program because I “obviously know too much?” Hope their sour moods have passed. Thanks for reading and commenting, Tim. Really appreciate it.

      Take care, happy holidays to you,


  7. tom gillespie December 19, 2011 at 6:53 am Reply

    Great tale.. Loved the twist .. reminded me of that insane suburban normality Ray Liotta and his wife were living in at the end of Goodfellas… You just never know who’s next door!


    • JC Rosen December 19, 2011 at 10:13 am Reply

      Thank you, Tom. I’m happy you enjoyed it and the twist worked for you. You realize now I’m going to have to watch “Goodfellas,” right? I’m not generally a Mob-type movie chick, but you have me curious. True, though: you just never know who’s next door. After all, it may be some nutso fiction writer. I appreciate the feedback, thanks.

      Take care and happy holidays,


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