By: Cat Sole
This was stupid, he thought as he dug. The dog was dead. Definitely dead.
The stupid yappy thing. Glenda loved it, doted on it, insisted it came everywhere with them.But John drew the line at the car. Front seats for humans only, even as the tiny rodent in the back yipped its head off.
For five blessed minutes on a drive to Target, John had had peace. Until Glenda had turned around and insisted that Doug was dead. That John bury him in the backyard. Until she had awoken at 2 am crying because what if Doug hadn’t been dead after all and John hadn’t meant to say “Well if he wasn’t then he is now” but he had, and now here he was, digging up a shoebox painted in sloppy gold in the middle in the night.
It’s dead, he thought, even as he hesitated to open the lid. Definitely dead. When I open this, I’m going to find Doug dead.
He didn’t know why he doubted it. Why there was a voice inside whispering that he really didn’t want to look inside this box. That he should just bury it again and put it from his mind for good.
Slowly but surely, John reached for the lid. Took a breath. And opened it.
The body of Eleanor Ringhaven was gone.
It had been the mystery of the morgue for six weeks now. The fifty-four-year-old widow and mother of two had suddenly dropped dead, on a cloudy afternoon in Target, while shopping for a self-timed, stainless steel milk frother. The autopsy had shown no medical fault, but her family had refused to donate the body to science, insisting that she travel to God the way he had made her.
And then, on the day of her funeral, Eleanor Ringhaven vanished.
They had buried an empty coffin. The extended family had not been informed; the police had. They were looking, they said, turning over every lead.
They never found her.
He hadn’t meant to do it.
It had happened so fast. One moment she was yelling in his face, something about trust and loyalty, then he was grabbing for her, to make her stay a second longer, to give him one more chance. Then she was at the bottom of the stairs.
There was no blood. Nothing appeared broken. She could have been sleeping.
He wasn’t sleeping. A hundred movie cliches were running through his head. Ammonia, bleach, duct tape and plastic. A saw.
He found everything he needed at Target. He needn’t have bothered. When he returned to his apartment, she was gone. No one questioned it, or him. He was free.
Two weeks later, he turned himself in anyway, only to find that the police had more important things to focus on.
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