He said I had it in me, that killer instinct.
But he couldn't have known about Gloria.
That happened when I was sixteen. Water under
the bridge, like they say… and Gloria, too.
The producer said I was what he was looking
for. Somebody who could kill his wife with
a smile on his face. He offered me a part
in his latest movie if I could come to California
and didn't lose that sharp edge. He told
me that twice.
The producer saw me in an off-off-Broadway
play in New York City. One of those improv
places on Canal Street near the river that
would never make it to the Palace. Another
guy told me he was thinking about doing a
theatrical version of Taxi Driver and took
my name. Said he wanted me to play the lead.
But I never heard from him again. That was
months ago and nobody ever saw the guy after
that. I remember he kept winking at his girlfriend.
He was conning me. That's the way a con man
operates. I know the signs. I saw it in a
I told my roommate, Jason, about the deal
to go to Hollywood, at least about the big
part in a movie. He said he got the same
offer from the guy and was thinking about
taking him up on it. I didn't believe him.
Jason always had a better story than anybody
else did. He also thought he was a better
actor than I was. He was wrong on that one,
I told everybody I was heading to California
to be in the movies. Jason said he was going
to do that himself. He asked me how I was
gonna get there since I didn't have a car.
He had one. He said I could go with him if
I paid for half the gas. I could do that…
sort of. I spent a lot of my money on clothes
so I could dress the part of an actor. I
had an image to maintain. The same one the
producer saw when he offered me that job
if I'd do that extra bit of business for
him. The clothes paid off.
Jason bored everybody about his Hollywood
contract. I knew he wasn't offered the same
deal I was given. Jason never played a tough
guy on stage. He was the sensitive type.
James Dean to my Brando.
Now here I was sitting in a cheap motel in
Los Angeles, waiting for my call to the producer
to go through. I was looking at the guy's
fancy business card and listening to canned
What pissed me off was I didn't get a card
from the movie guy. Jason did. But the guy
asked me to come out here and kill his wife
and get a part in his movie. Not Jason.
I asked Jason how he got the business card
while we were on the road. He laughed. He
was always laughing. He had his teeth whitened
and flashed that phony smile of his. He said
the producer saw something in him... probably
his own reflection in those teeth. Jason
said the producer saw an inner something
in him that would light up the screen. The
producer said it was something the camera
would love. Something that would grab the
audience and leave them wanting more… I thought
I was going to barf. The producer told me
I had an edge. That was all, except the part
about getting rid of his wife with a smile
on my face. The producer had a grin on his
mug when he said it. I knew what that meant.
Jason said I didn't have any acting range.
All I could play was a tough guy and that
wouldn't get me very far. It got me to California.
Jason only got as far as Arizona. I told
him I could put lots of emotion on the screen.
I'd just think about something that made
me mad like him laughing at me for not having
a fancy set of wheels or any money or having
to sleep in the car while he spent the night
in a motel. That made me mad. But what really
griped me was him having the producer's business
card. It should have been mine.
The son-of-a-bitch laughed at me when I told
him I thought we had a flat tire, but he
pulled the car off the parkway anyway. I
can still remember the sound of the bones
snapping when I broke his neck with my bare
hands. I'll call up that emotion when the
cameras rolled. I would just think of Jason
saying it was him the producer wanted and
So there I was standing behind his car in
some remote hellhole in the desert. Just
sand and no people. Except for that highway
patrol officer who drove up right as I was
pushing Jason into the trunk. The officer
didn't see Jason. Just me. I told him I stopped
to answer nature's call. He got a laugh out
of that. I got back in the car and drove
I left Jason in a ditch right at the state
border. You could see the WELCOME TO CALIFORNIA
sign from there. At least Jason got to see
California… sort of.
There was a detour on the parkway that led
to what I thought was a restaurant. It looked
like the Taco Bell in the Bronx except there
was a palm tree next to it. It turned out
to be an agricultural checking station. I
thought maybe California had toll roads,
but they just wanted to make sure I wasn't
bringing any fruit or nuts into the state.
"Just me," I told the guard. I
even said I had a movie deal. He gave me
one of those looks like he didn't believe
me. It was the raised eyebrow stare. I was
good at that expression, too. I'd practiced
it until I could raise just one brow and
He waved me through and I headed for Los
Angeles. There's nothing in that part of
California except sand. I started thinking
maybe the cities dried up and blew away.
After about a million miles, I found a batch
of fast food places. No pastrami. No cheesecake.
No delicatessen. There was a pizza place.
I'd settle for that. But it wasn't like Luigi's.
Not even close.
But that wasn't my only problem. When I looked
in my wallet, I saw that I had spent most
of my money on gas. And then I realized I
hadn't taken Jason's wallet before I dumped
him in that culvert. I couldn't go back looking
for him. I'd run into that highway patrolman
I had enough money left for one more tank
of unleaded and a hotel room, but I might
not be eating for a while. That's when I
saw a girl in a pair of short jeans and a
tank top standing along the side of the road.
She had a cardboard sign she was holding
up. It said: Hollywood or Bust.
I pulled over.
"You going to Los Angeles?" I asked.
"If that's near Hollywood, I am. I'm
an actress." She sort of posed there
like one of those centerfold girls. I'd seen
tons of pretty girls in the theater district
in New York. They were a dime a dozen. This
girl was worth a little less.
"You got any money for gas?" I
"Yeah. I got some money. You goin' to
Los Angeles, too?"
"Yeah. We share the cost or you're back
on the pavement. Got it?"
She checked over my car, then me. Then she
tossed her suitcase in the backseat and climbed
in. She said her name was Addison. I told
her my name was Leonardo and that I was an
"You don't look like a Leonardo."
"What does that mean?"
"It means your name's gotta fit the
person you want to be. I feel like an Addison
or maybe a Stephanie today. I wanted to be
Delilah, but sometimes I forget how to spell
it, so I figured I better pick something
easier. So what's your real name?"
"Jason," I said, trying that one
on for size. "Do I look like a Jason?"
She cocked her head. "No. Your car looks
like it belongs to a Jason. It's kinda fancy.
I like guys with fancy cars. You look more
like a guy who would drive an old Chevy…
or steal one."
"What name should I have?"
"You could be a Nick. Or how about Rad?
I went to school with a boy named Rad. He's
in prison now. Or maybe you could be Shade.
Now there's a name. It would go with your
black T-shirt and jeans. Just pick a name
you can spell." She laughed. "Where
"Were you ever on Broadway?"
"Just finished a play. I was the lead.
A producer saw me and-"
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. He asked you to be
in his movie. I hear that from 'producers'-"
She made quote signs with her fingers. "…all
the time. All they want is me in their bed
for the night. Never gets any farther than
that. What do you have to do for him to get
in his movie?"
For a dumb blonde she was asking an awful
lot of questions. I kept driving.
"So what did this big producer guy say
to you?" she asked again since I hadn't
"He said I had an inner something that
would light up the screen. He said I had
a face the camera would love. Something about
me would grab the audience and leave them
"He said all that? Wow. I just get propositioned
and a few bucks for my time. I bet some of
them weren't even in the movie business.
But they paid for it. Big time. So this guy
thought you were that good, huh? What movie
are you gonna be in? Why didn't he fly you
out here? Would there be a part for me in
She yakked for another hundred miles until
I saw the gas gauge was low. I pulled into
a filling station and filled up. She paid.
I told her I paid the time before and now
we were even. When I started the car, it
coughed and wheezed until the engine turned
"That doesn't sound good," she
said as I pulled onto the road. "The
car's probably over-heating. Did you check
the water in the radiator? If there's a leak,
you could be dry. I had a boyfriend who had
that happen to his car. Nearly ruined that
piece of crap. Had to get a new radiator
'cause the old one cracked or exploded or
whatever they do. I don't know much about
cars, but I know when one sounds like it
isn't gonna make it. Yours sure sounds like
that. Maybe you need an oil change. I'm not
gonna split the cost of that with you. I
don't even think this is your car. What did
you do, steal it? Maybe I should look for
another ride. I have-"
I gripped the wheel with my left hand and
hit her in the side of the head with my right.
I heard her head hit the glass and crack.
Her head, not the glass. She crumpled in
the seat while blood oozed out of the back
of her head. I pushed her down to the floor
just in case anybody could see in the car
while I was driving.
I kept watching her, but she didn't move.
When I got close to Los Angeles I touched
her and she was getting stiff.
There was a small road off that section of
parkway and I took it. I drove a little ways
and then pulled in behind a few straggly
trees. Boy, nothin' grows in this desert
without water. There wasn't anybody around,
so I dragged her out of the car and dumped
her behind a prickly bush covered with bright
I found a few dollars in the tiny pocket
of her short jeans and then got back in the
car. I went through her suitcase and found
even more money. She must have been good
in bed because she had a lot of dough. And
she had a gun.
A few of the guys in the neighborhood back
home had one. Never fired one myself except
on stage. Always liked doing that role. I'd
stick the thing in my belt and strut around
and look like I wanted to shoot everybody.
You just have to call up some old memory
and live it there on stage and squint a lot
to let everybody know you meant business.
I'd think about my old man when he used to
beat up my mother. Not that she didn't deserve
it 'cause she used to beat up me and my sister.
The stupid engine took even longer to turn
over this time, but I managed to drive a
few more miles before the car started banging
and clanking. I was on the outskirts of Los
Angeles when I saw an exit sign, so I got
off just as smoke began pouring out from
under the hood. I pulled into the weeds and
This was another Tobacco Road garden spot.
I got out and walked into the center of town
that was three blocks long. Three short blocks.
I saw a used car dealership and had a thought.
I jogged back to the car, wiped most of Addison's
blood off the seat with an old sock, and
changed into my nicer pair of slacks. I put
on a black sports coat over my black T-shirt,
slicked back my hair, and tucked her gun
in my waistband. Then I strolled into the
dealership's office like I owned the world
and asked the guy behind the counter if he
could give me a few bucks on my car. Said
I wanted to get rid of it since we already
had two cars and I was going to buy the wife
something nice. He looked me over and said
he'd check it out. He was the owner of the
place. I told him I had parked up the street.
I said I ran out of gas.
He got the kid who worked on the lot to tow
the car into the work bay while I filled
out some papers.
"We'll check her over to see what we
can give you on it. You live around here?"
"No. From out of town. Here on business.
Decided to surprise the wife with a diamond
bracelet. I'll fly home."
He looked at me again. I could tell he was
thinking about something.
"You got the pink slip on this here
car of yours?'
He took a step back. There was something
in his eyes that said I screwed up my lines.
I moved toward him. His helper was still
in the lot. I saw him through the front window.
The owner stepped back some more.
"Get out now and I won't call the cops,"
I yanked the gun out of my waistband and
pulled the trigger. Once, twice, three times.
Nothing. The damn thing wasn't loaded.
The guy grinned at me like I was the idiot.
I stepped toward him and hit him with the
butt end of the gun. He stopped laughing
and fell to his knees. I had dropped the
gun by then, but the guy didn't scream because
I had grabbed his throat before he could
open his big mouth. He was a short guy. Short
and fat. His neck was thick. It took both
hands. I didn't hear any bones break but
his face turned red before his eyes bulged
and he went limp.
I snatched a handful of keys on the rack
behind the counter. They were to the vehicles
on the lot. One had a big #19 on it. The
kid who towed my car was still busying himself
around the area. I walked out the door, went
over to Jason's car, grabbed my suitcase,
and then went looking for car number nineteen.
The parking spots weren't marked. I pressed
the button on the key and the car next to
me chirped. I jumped a foot.
I eased around to the other side and pretended
to be admiring the silky lines of the slick,
silver car. I opened the driver-side door
and dropped into the front seat. With the
key in my hand, I stared down at the dashboard.
The stupid car didn't have an ignition.
"How the hell do you start this thing?"
The kid wiping down the vehicles in the lot
looked over the top of the car he was polishing
and smiled. I smiled back and got out of
the silver car.
The next key I looked at was #5. The key
didn't have a button to push, so I wandered
around the front of the lot trying to get
a clue where it was parked.
"What number do you want?" called
He pointed toward the first row of cars and
then glanced back at the office. I walked
over to the row he indicated but still didn't
know which car.
"The fifth one," he called out.
As I walked down the row of vehicles, I kept
looking back at the kid. I spotted #5 and
looked at him again. This time he stopped
wiping down the red Corvette he was shining
and started to walk to the office. I got
into the driver's seat of the older model
car, shut the door, and turned over the engine.
At least this four-wheel chariot started
like a normal car.
By then the kid was mounting the steps to
the office. I gunned the engine and got out
of there. But the old buggy was nearly out
of gas. I'm sure lucky I took Addison's money.
I filled up and headed into the big city.
That was just a few days ago. I dumped the
old car after I found a place to stay.
And here I sat in a crummy motel in Hollywood,
waiting for the producer to come on the line.
I told his secretary I had his card and that
he had seen me in a play in New York and
that he had asked me to call him when I got
into town. She asked my name again and I
told her. I gave her the name of the play
and that her boss said he had a special part
for me in an upcoming movie.
She put me on hold again.
While I waited, I noticed the television
in the motel room went to the local news.
They were running the story about the car
dealership guy getting strangled and about
the car towed into the lot. The cops noticed
the blood in the front passenger seat and
evidence of another body in the trunk. They
were looking for a young, good-looking man
in a black shirt. Good-looking. I liked that.
They were also hunting for a guy named Mike
Corlon. That was the name I had written on
the dealership form.
The news reporter kind of smirked and said,
"Do you think he meant Michael Corleone?
You know, like the gangster in The Godfather."
The news guy also said that maybe the killer
was trying to be funny. Or maybe he didn't
know how to spell the name.
That made me think of Addison… Delilah… whatever
her name was. We both had trouble with spelling
our aliases. But hey, I'm an actor. We don't
have to know how to spell.
Anyway, it turned out her name was Daisy.
Somebody found her body. And here I thought
California was so big nobody would find her.
It's easier hiding a body in the East River
near Astoria. And ol' Daisy had a rap sheet.
Seems she would pick up guys along the highway,
pull a gun, and steal their money. Got to
hand it to her. She sure had the Hollywood
actress act down pretty good. She might have
made it big in the movies.
The producer's secretary finally came back
on the line.
"Mr. Woodruff can see you tomorrow at
ten. Do you know how to get to the office?"
"Yeah. No problem. Ten."
I spent the rest of the day trying to figure
out where the hell his office was and how
to get there by bus. Then somebody told me
it would be easier to take the subway. I
thought the guy was being a smart ass since
he knew I was from New York, but they really
have a subway in Los Angeles. I could walk
to the subway entrance on Western and go
north to the Universal City stop. Piece of
I wore a black shirt with the black T-shirt
underneath. I used a laundromat to wash my
jeans and I cleaned up my shoes. None of
the stuff I got from Jason fit, so I dumped
it in a Goodwill bin. I sure wish I had taken
I got to the meeting on time. The subways
run every ten-twelve minutes. Just like home.
I could get used to this. Woodruff's secretary
pointed to his office and I walked in.
Woodruff was a big man. I guess he ate regularly.
His head was shaved, but I don't think it
was a fashion statement. Guys his age, fifty-ish,
were "follicle-ly" challenged.
He was kinda sizing me up like he didn't
"Where are you from again?"
"New York." I said it with attitude.
This bum didn't know me from Adam.
"Long way from the Big Apple. How'd
you get out here?"
"Flew. Don't have a car. Nobody I know
has one in New York."
"That's New York for ya. I saw some
really good plays when I was there. You…
you were in that artsy one on Canal Street.
Right? Just the 'killer' I was looking for.
Didn't know if you would take me up on my
offer. Glad you did. Really glad you did."
He did remember me. I knew I had presence
on the stage. And Jason said I was totally
forgettable. What did he know?
"Well, I'm glad you came to see me.
I don't give my card to everybody I meet.
Sometimes fate just lets things happen."
He smiled. I knew what he meant.
This guy was so cool. He remembered me, but
he wanted to keep this strictly professional.
No need to advertise the deed I was to perform.
And I could improvise, too. Did it a million
times in acting class. Give me a scene to
play and I'll deliver.
"I've played a lot of bad boys on stage.
I can do the same thing for you."
He gave me a knowing nod.
"I'll have you meet my wife and get
that over with. Then we can schedule rehearsals.
My location scout has a few places lined
up. I'll have my secretary get you a script.
Familiarize yourself with the part. Are you
"Yeah. If I can get this thing with
my wife taken care of first, the more time
I can devote to the main scenes in the film.
Did we talk about this in New York?"
"Not much, just the part about your
"Oh. I was pulling what hair I have
left out over that one. Read the script,
then come by tonight and we can take care
of the old ball and chain." He laughed
at that. "And thanks for doing this.
It means a great deal to me."
"My secretary will arrange for a car
to pick you up." He stopped and looked
at me. "I'll make it worth your while."
He gave a small nod and went back to the
work he had on his desk.
Woodruff's secretary was waiting for me.
She had me sign a contract and then handed
me a script.
"This one's marked up already, but there
will be rewrites before they even get you
in front of the camera. You know how it goes."
She looked me up and down. "You'll be
great in the part. He does know how to pick
I took the script.
"Where are you staying?" she asked.
I didn't want to give her the name of the
fleabag joint that I could afford, but I
had seen a better hotel a few blocks away
that would work.
"The Hollywood Star Hotel."
She did one of those slow turns with her
head that said I had made a joke. Only thing
was-I didn't know the punch line, but I knew
how to ad lib.
"Any place to hang my hat," I said.
"At least it's on the main drag and
not one of those cheesy Hollywood day spas
that charge by the hour. Dumps like the Nomad
Inn or The Last Retreat, for God's sake,
are strictly for wannabe actors when they
first come to Tinseltown and end up selling
themselves on the street."
The last motel she named was mine. No wonder
the manager was surprised I wanted to rent
a room for the week.
"The Hollywood Star was the only place
I could find," I said and shrugged.
"I'm moving into an apartment the first
of the month."
She gave me one of those looks that said
she half believed me. Then she said, "Have
you ever seen his wife in a movie?"
I was surprised she asked about the wife,
but then I took a closer look at this babe.
She could have been in the movies herself.
She filled out her sweater like a Victoria's
Secret model. Oh. I get it. I was getting
rid of the "ball and chain" so
this tootsie could move into the main house.
Happens all the time.
I shook my head in answer to her question.
She pointed to a picture on the wall. In
fact, there were several pictures of the
same famous face. Jeez. Woodruff's old lady
was Lydia Marshall. She had a great career.
She had to be a good ten years older than
Woodruff. Maybe they couldn't do another
facelift on her or maybe she was getting
too temperamental and he didn't want to put
up with her anymore.
I get it. This was Sorry, Wrong Number meets
Double Indemnity. Instead of the husband
being blackmailed, he wants the wife dead
to collect the insurance. Sure. He needed
the money. I looked around his office. Everything
looked old, except for the hot secretary.
She had a lot of good miles left on her.
"What do you think of her?" I asked.
She hesitated and looked away. Boy was that
a sign of guilt. She knew what her boss wanted
me to do. "She has a mind of her own.
I guess that's what you get when you've made
so many Oscar-winning movies. You take care
of her and Don- Mr. Woodruff- will do what
he can for your career."
So it's "Don" to Little Miss Cute
Tush Secretary. I bet she uses his first
name whenever nobody's around.
"The car will be at your… hotel at seven.
She was hiding something. I could see it
in her face. It was one of those looks that
said she knew our secret. I raised a conspiratorial
eyebrow and she gave me a slight nod.
I tucked the script under my arm and left.
I rode the subway back to the Western Avenue
station and scoped out the Hollywood Star
Hotel. On second look, it was a little seedy,
too. The couple heading to an upstairs room
at that hour kind of told me the place wasn't
exactly a Christian Science Reading Room.
I walked back to my motel. I ironed my wrinkled
slacks and shirt. I had to borrow the iron
from the scrub lady who was cleaning out
the room across the hall. The place needed
to be fumigated before they let anybody else
occupy it. I knew the maid expected a tip,
but I'm sure she knew she wouldn't get one
from me. She gave me that ten-second stare
and her hand went out to me, palm up, but
I ran my own hand through my hair like a
50s rock star, ignoring her, and went into
my room and closed the door.
The rest of the day was spent reading the
script. I got the leading man's part. The
character's name was circled and all his
lines were highlighted with a yellow marker.
I guess Woodruff wanted me to find my part
The storyline was dark. My character was
moody and tough. There was a part for an
older woman who has a nasty boyfriend who
roughs her up and gets his head blown off
in the first scene. As I kept reading, the
woman's role ate up half the script. If this
was Lydia Marshall's part, Woodruff must
want her out of the way fast so he could
put another actress into the role before
too much film was in the can. I wondered
who they had in the wings. Old Lydia Marshall
would be perfect for this role.
But my part, the male lead, was awesome.
This guy was cool and quoted Shakespeare.
I'd have to brush up on the bard before cameras
rolled. I'm glad I didn't get stuck with
the part of the guy who gets killed. He was
one tough s.o.b., but kind of stupid, if
you know what I mean.
Woodruff saw something in me that spoke to
him, he wanted me in the lead, and I wasn't
about to disappoint him. And all it would
cost is me getting rid of his wife… with
I was on the sidewalk outside the other hotel
at seven. A limo pulled to the curb and at
first I thought it was a hearse, it was so
long. I got in. Man, this was great. We drove
up into the hills to a high-class neighborhood
like you see in the movies. But this time
I was starring in the picture.
The limo dropped me at the front door and
a man was waiting there to let me in. He
was dressed better than I was, but come to
find out, he was the butler. I thought they
were only in the movies. He showed me into
a room the size of the lobby at the Plaza.
He even offered me a drink. I said I'd take
a beer and his eyebrow went up. Everybody
must be able to do that in Hollywood. Then
the idiot poured the beer in a glass. Both
my eyebrows went up on that one.
A few minutes later Woodruff came in. He
was wearing a different suit than what he
had on in the office this morning. It looked
pretty sharp considering the size of the
"Did you read your part?"
"Yeah. Thanks for marking the scenes.
I've been practicing all afternoon."
He gave me an odd look like maybe I was kidding
him, but I wanted to thank him for highlighting
my lines. I had almost as many as the leading
"I want you to take care of this thing
with my wife now. She's been nagging me for
a month and when I saw you in that play I
thought you could take care of her for me.
I couldn't find anybody here in L.A. who
had that killer look. I guess Californians
have gotten too soft."
We both laughed.
"Where is she?"
"In the library." He pointed to
a pair of big wooden doors.
"I take it the guy who showed me in
here will handle things when I'm finished."
"Whatever you need. Do you want another
I shook my head.
"Thanks again for flying out here to
do this. But it will make the movie shoot
a lot easier once my wife's taken care of.
I shook my head again. I was getting into
the part and had to concentrate.
"Marriage can make you do things you
never thought you'd do. Maybe I should have
tried this with my first wife. She was an
actress. It would have been a lot easier…
He gave a short laugh. I wondered if he got
rid of that "ball and chain," too.
I walked into the room. I'd never seen so
many books except when I had to do detention
in my high school library. Lydia Marshall
was sitting in a big chair reading a script.
I wanted to tell her she didn't have to bother.
Her old man was replacing her in the part.
She looked up and I saw that famous face.
It looked kinda rough now. Just like she
was supposed to look in that first scene
when the young tough beats her up before
he gets his head shot off. Special effects
will do a great job with that.
She was wearing a chunky necklace that looked
like it was made of broken beer bottles.
It covered most of her neck, but even from
where I stood I could see the sagging wrinkles.
"Are you the boy Don picked? He said
you had something."
I didn't like the "boy" part.
"Do you know your lines? I suggested
a couple of changes and the studio will send
around the rewrites by Thursday. I'll tell
you what I want you to do when the time comes.
Come a little closer." She looked me
over. "At least you're tall enough.
A lot of the guys I've worked with are shorter
than I am and I have to wear flats. I hate
wearing flats. My legs are still my biggest
asset and the camera loves them. My personal
trainer makes sure they stay that way."
She dropped her script and stood up. She
got closer and studied me.
"Yeah. You do have that look. Hate to
mess up that face, but the part will be memorable."
I smiled at her and stepped closer. Something
about the move made her nervous. She put
her hand out like she was going to push me
There was fear in her eyes.
"Do you want to do the first scene when
I come into your bedroom?" I asked.
I knew that scene got me very close to her.
"Bedroom? Your scene is in the living
room. Just follow the script. You only have
three lines. I do most of the dialogue."
She kept talking, but I had tuned her out.
What she was saying didn't make any sense
anyway. That was probably all the new stuff
she wanted the director to add. What she
didn't know was the rewrite her husband had
in mind. I knew that part.
I smiled at her again. Her eyebrows went
up as she tried to back away.
My hands were around her throat by then.
She managed a few screams. One really loud
one. I pushed her down on the couch so I
could pin her under my knee as I squeezed,
but the old gal's legs were in great shape.
That's when I heard yelling behind me. I
turned my head and saw Woodruff. He was screaming
at me. The old fart who had opened the front
door was there, too, with a baseball bat
in his hand.
Woodruff kept yelling. I kept smiling just
like he wanted me to while I was trying to
kill his wife.
Then I heard a gunshot. It echoed in the
room. I didn't know where it came from, but
the noise hurt my ears and my chest seemed
to be on fire. I rolled sideways and Lydia
slipped out of my reach. The room started
to swim in front of me, but I could still
see Lydia as she slid off the couch and onto
the floor. She was shaking her head.
I turned around and caught a glimpse of Woodruff
with a gun in his hand. He had knelt down
next to his wife. He was playing his role
really well. You know, the distraught husband
part. Boy, he sure had the angst down. I
could almost swear he didn't want me to kill
Originally published in LAst Resort, an anthology
presented by Sisters-in-Crime Los Angeles
in April 2017, published by Down and Out
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