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“Is someone there?” Dick called as he lay stretched on the sofa watching soft porn on cable, a can of beer within easy reach on the coffee table.

Dick was taking the afternoon off in the townhouse of a friend who lived not far from Dick’s office.  His friend, actually his wife’s friend, Tom, was out of town, and he’d asked Dick to check on his cat, Whiskers.  Dick hadn’t seen the cat, but he’d heard her moving around upstairs.

Also not far from Tom’s house was the Southside Psychiatric Hospital where Dick’s wife, Jane, was being evaluated.  Jane had been under significant stress since her mother died and left Jane to manage her parents’ sizable estate.  She’d been doing well in therapy, but a recent series of psychotic episodes left Dick concerned for the safety of their daughter, Susie.  At least that’s what he’d told the admitting physician.

“Whiskers?” Dick called after hearing a thump in the hall.  “Here, kitty, kitty.”  Dick wasn’t much of a cat person, but he only had to freshen her water and fill her kibble bowl.  Tom will be returning tomorrow.

“Might as well get it out of the way,” Dick said to himself as he pushed off the couch and heard another thump. 

“Whiskers?  Is that you?” he called as he stepped through the doorway into the hall, and then, Whack! – the business end of a TaylorMade nine iron caught him on the left temple and he went down.

Dick was out, briefly, and blinked back to find his scowling wife standing over him. She wore a long raincoat over her hospital gown.

“What are you doing here?” she demanded, still brandishing the golf club.

“Me?” he sputtered.  “What are you doing here?” 

“I asked first.”

“Checking on Whiskers,” said Dick as he gently tested the sore spot on his forehead.  “How did you get in?” he asked.

“With a key,” she said flatly.  For a woman who had been committed due to her “dangerously erratic behavior”, she was displaying a remarkable degree of composure.

“Where’d you get a key?”

“Where do you think?”

“From Tom?  Are you sleeping with him?”

“Tom’s gay, you jerk,” she said, shaking her head as she raised the iron.  Dick knew that, but he also knew that Jane found Tom attractive.  

“He’s the only one I could trust,” she continued.  “I knew you were doing something, giving me something.”  Her eye twitched briefly, but she blinked it back into focus.  “I knew it.”

“Jeez, hon, what have they got you on?  You’re getting paranoid.”  

“It’s not what I’m on.  It’s what I was on.  You were slipping me psychedelics.”

“You keep talking like this and you’ll never get out.”

“They did a tox screen, asshole.  Standard procedure.  I had LSD in my system.  That could only have come from you.”

“And why would I do such a thing?” he asked as he started to push himself up.

“Stay put,” she threatened, hoisting the nine iron.

Dick did as he was told.  This was not working out the way he planned.  Jane had been committed for five days.  He had just that much time to get the accounts set up and transfer the funds, and it was already day three.

“It was all about power of attorney, wasn’t it?” she said.  “It was the only way you could get your hands on my parents’ estate.”

“That’s ‘kooky talk’”, he quipped, quoting one of his favorite lines from Seinfeld.

“I know about the trip to the Caymans tomorrow,” she countered.  “I got a list of charges from the credit card company.”

“How the hell did you get out, anyway?” said Dick stalling.

“It’s a hospital, not a prison, for chrissake.  I snuck out the back and walked off.  They don’t even know I’m gone.”

“Listen, Janey.  We can work this out,” said Dick as he righted himself, and Jane edged back toward the stairs.  “It’ll be your word against mine, and if they believe me, you’ll lose Susie.”

“What have you done with her?”

“Nothing.  She’s staying with Doreen for a few days.”

A ghost of confusion crossed Jane’s face and she retreated further up the stairs.  Her meds were wearing off and she felt increasingly unsettled.

“Let me drive you back.  I’ll fly to the Caymans and transfer my fair share of the estate.  We’ll get a divorce, and you’ll get custody.”

Jane’s resolve was fading fast.  It had all seemed so clear when she walked away from the psych ward that morning, but now doubt was creeping in on the cat's paws.

Dick slipped an umbrella from the stand to use as a shield and moved slowly up the stairs.  

“Don’t do this, Dick,” said Jane as she backed unsteadily and brandished the club. 

Dick continued to climb but lost his focus as he struggled to open the umbrella.  As if on cue, Whiskers made a dramatic entrance and darted between Dick’s legs, causing him to lose his balance.  Dick fell head under heels down the stairs, and Jane heard an ominous crack as her husband’s body crashed into the coat rack.  

Whiskers retreated to the kitchen, complaining loudly, but the house was otherwise serenely still.  Jane made her way haltingly down the stairs to discover that the only damage was to Dick.

This was not working out the way she planned, and Jane sensed a panic attack coming on.  She closed her eyes and took a few deep breaths, like she’d learned in therapy.  Reminding herself to stay in the moment, she opened her eyes and tried to make sense of what she saw, finally deciding that her husband had tragically tripped on the stairs, fallen, and broke his neck.  Whiskers wasn’t talking, so who was to say otherwise?  

Jane wiped the umbrella and nine iron and replaced them in the stand.  She freshened Whiskers’ bowls, then locked the door behind her and walked calmly back to Southside, where she arrived just in time for her afternoon meds.


Michael Glennon was born in Upper Darby PA and currently resides along the Jersey Shore.  He attended Antioch College and has worked a variety of day jobs (kindergarten teacher, desk clerk, insurance adjustor) since graduating.  His stories have appeared in The Red Herring Mystery Magazine and Horror Sleaze Trash, with another scheduled for publication in Close To The Bone.

He has also written two hardboiled detective novels.  


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