“Do you have any idea what time it is?” Mary said through crinkled eyes, cracking the door. “Besides, you’re not supposed to be here. It’s over, and I mean it this time.”
“Just one more chance,” Frank said, shoving his foot in the door. Tonight wouldn’t be the first-second chance Mary gave him. More like the fiftieth. The last time he broke her heart, she promised it was over for good. But that’s not how Mary’s heart worked. When she saw Frank’s thick, black hair and oval blue eyes, she couldn’t resist taking him back.
“It’s not going to work this time.” Mary dropped her gaze, blinking back tears. “There’s nothing left to say. I think you’d better leave.”
“No,” Frank said. “I’m not going anywhere until we get this right. We’ve gone round and round in circles, and—”
“Get what, right?” Mary screwed up her face. “What do I have to get right?” Mary had been going to counseling for the past year, thinking everything was her fault. Frank gaslight Mary into believing she was losing her mind. “I can be miserable on my own.”
“Look, I’m in trouble, and I could use some help.”
Mary rolled her eyes hard. “I should have known that’s what this was about. You’re only here to use me again.”
Frank looked over his shoulder as a neighbor’s porch light turned on. “Would you let me in already?” The last time the neighbor, Mr. Jones, saw Frank at Mary’s house, things escalated to a fistfight. It ended with Mr. Jones in the hospital for three weeks. Frank was violent, but only when pushed, and Mr. Jones liked to push Frank’s buttons. Jones wanted Frank to believe Mary didn’t love in and that she’d been unfaithful. Mr. &Mrs. Jones gossiped rumors, so half of what they said wasn’t remotely true.
Mary took a lumbered step back and opened the door. “Well, don’t just stand there,” Mary said, waving him inside.
Frank slipped through the door and locked it.
“Would you calm down?” Mary said. “You’re making me nervous.”
“You should; we should be nervous—”
“Woah,”—Mary held her hands in front of her body—”Whatever you’ve gotten yourself into is on you. Don’t get me involved.”
“It’s a little too late for the self-righteous attitude, wouldn’t you say?”
“Get on with it. What are you doing here?”
Mary took a step toward the door.
“No,” Frank said, grabbing Mary’s hand.
“Get your goddamn hand off me.”
“I know you hated my fling with Becca, but she’s dead.”
“Excuse me?” Mary’s ears perked. “What the fuck did you just say?”
“I may or may not have accidentally killed Becca.”
Mary slammed her fists on her hips and crinkled her eyes. “What’s that got to do with me?”
“I need you to help me dump her body.”
“Dump her body?” Mary shouted. “Are you insane?”
Frank held a finger to her lips. “Relax,” he said, nodding in the general direction of her nosey neighbor. “I need you to help me get rid of her. You have a raised truck that should get us into the thick brush. I need to get rid of Mary’s body. “You realize cops can make impressions of tire tracks, right?”
“So, I’ll buy you a brand new pair of tires,” Frank said, giving her a cocky wink.
“Well, I could use a pair of new tires. I’m in.”
Frank slapped his hands together and rubbed them together. “Alright. Let’s get started.”
Mary suggested they change clothes into all black. Black jeans, a shirt, and a black stocking cap to cover their ears. “We can’t get caught.”
“We won’t,” Frank said. “After this, we can go back to living our normal life.”
Mary raised a brow. “You mean it?” Mary couldn’t believe she asked and waited for a letdown. “No more crime.”
“Scout’s honor,” Frank said.
They changed clothes and slid into a car, passing stoplights and street signs with snow pushed to either side of the street. When they drove over a thud, Mary seized with terror. “What’s that?”
“How can you just … just drive around with a dead body?” Mary said, glancing at his eyes, which didn’t move from the road.
“What choice did I have?”
“Could have chopped up the body,” Mary said.
“Seriously?” Frank’s mouth hung open.
“I touch a nerve?” Mary said with a smile, tugging at the corner of her mouth.
“Don be silly. She drugged me, so I’m kind of out of it.”
“And that’s why you killed her?”
“No, I killed her because she was going to turn me in.”
“Turn you in for what?”
“What’s with all the questions?”
“Well, excuse me for wanting to know why there’s a dead body in the car!” Mary said.
Frank blew out his lips. “You’re right. I’m in trouble.”
“You’re killing me here. What is this trouble?”
“Becca was going to snitch on me.”
“For growing pot.”
Mary pushed herself straight up. “You’re getting me into drugs and murder?”
“Relax. It’s not exactly as bad as it sounds.”
“You’re under investigation, and there’s a dead body in your car. Don’t tell me you’re not in trouble.”
Frank shut the lights off, making the bumpy way through patches of evergreen trees, and the silent death of darkness hovered above. A soft breeze westbound pulled her ponytail below.
“Thanks for coming,” Frank said as he popped the trunk. “You didn’t have to.”
Mary tucked her bangs back behind her ear. “Had little a choice now, did I?”
Frank gave her a half-grin. “Grab her upper half.”
Mary swooped to grab Becca’s feet, but her eyes slammed open.
“What?” Frank said.
“She’s not dead, that’s what!”
“Oh, no, she’s not the one who’s going to die. Get buried, dear.”
Mary raised a brow. “I guess I don’t understand.”
Becca crawled out of the trunk and struggled with Mary, placing handcuffs on her wrists. “I still don’t get what’s happening.”
“You’re going to die. That’s what’s happening, dear.”
“For what? I mean, why?”
“I want your money, but I don’t want you. Now, I got it all.”
“But we weren’t married.”
“But we left each other in our wills.”
Becca placed a blindfold over her eyes. “You won’t feel a thing, Mary. I promise.”
Becca raised the pistol; Frank closed his eyes and shoved his fingers in his ears. A single shot rang out. Frank opened his eyes, blood dripping from a gunshot wound.
“You, Bitch!” Frank said, stumbling to his knees.
“You didn’t think I was going to kill another woman for you, did you?”
Frank’s body hit the ground like a wet blanket slapping the floor.
“What do you say we get something to eat, Mary?”
“I’m down. It’s after midnight, and there’s this little diner off 34th avenue I’ve always wanted to try.”
(© 2022 AC)