DUCK, DUCK, GOOSED
By E. E. Williams
The time on the clock read 3:45
a.m. when the alarm sounded. Bill was up in a flash to turn it off. He hadn’t been
Susan turned over and groaned. “Too
early,” she whispered, and went back to sleep.
Bill stared down at her and
thought, You won’t have to worry about it
He got up from the bed, went into the bathroom
and dressed in the clothes he’d laid out the night before. Boots, insulated pants,
camo shirt and jacket. Back in the bedroom, he removed his Browning Maxus shotgun from
the closet. Cradling the weapon in his arms, he took a long, last look at his sleeping
wife. His mouth curled into a tight, mirthless smile.
you soon,” he said.
She didn’t respond.
Bill made his way out of the room and down the stairs
to the front foyer. Before opening the door, he grabbed his hat and earmuffs. It was cold
examined himself in the full-length mirror Susan had insisted he hang by the door so she
could check herself before going out. How many times, he wondered, had she checked herself
before seeing … him?
left the house and walked down the driveway to where a white Honda Pilot, belching exhaust
in the frigid morning air, waited for him. He climbed inside.
“Terry,” he said brusquely.
said with a solemn nod.
and his wife Trudy had moved into the neighborhood just a few months after Bill and Susan
and in the six years since, the four had become fast friends. The women got together often
for coffee in the mornings to discuss the things they couldn’t, or wouldn’t,
share with their husbands, while the men hung out watching football, drinking beer, bowling,
or, as they were doing this morning, duck hunting.
Bill thought both he and Terry looked
ridiculous decked out in their camo gear, like they were off to war or something, but where
they were going only the birds would notice so what did it matter. Together, the men had
built a blind on an inlet of the lake where no other hunters ventured. Once there, they
would be totally alone.
suited Bill just fine.
parked the car, and the men silently slogged their way to the blind. Beyond their initial
greeting, they hadn’t spoken, each man seemingly lost in his own thoughts.
Once settled into the blind,
Bill said, “Quiet this morning.”
“You, too,” Terry said. “Something up?”
“Well, now that you
ask, an anonymous someone sent me a picture last night.”
“Yeah. Hardcore stuff.”
“You don’t seem surprised.”
“Why should I be surprised?”
“Don’t know. Your
best friend tells you someone sent him some porn and all you got to say is, ‘Huh.’”
because someone sent me some pictures, too.”
“Show you mine if you
show me yours,” Terry said.
reached into pocket, pulled out his phone. Terry did the same. Each fiddled with their
devices, held them up for the other to see.
Bill’s phone was a picture of Susan, naked and legs spread, and between them, Terry.
Terry’s phone showed an equally nude Trudy straddling Bill.
Terry leveled his Syren XL R5 Waterfowler at Bill and
shouted “You sonavabi …” Bill didn’t let him finish but pulled
the trigger on the Browning. As Terry was blown back by the buckshot hitting and shredding
his chest, his finger reflexively yanked the Syren’s trigger. The blast removed much
of Bill’s face and painted the side wall of the blind in a red mist.
The twin booms reverberated
across the lake but were heard only by the V formation of ducks flying overhead.
Later that morning, Trudy
and Susan sat in Susan’s kitchen, drinking coffee.
“Did you call Terry?” Susan asked.
“Yes. He didn’t
nodded. “Bill didn’t answer, either.”
smiled at one another.
think it worked?” Trudy asked, fingering one of the tight coils of the auburn hair
that bunched at her shoulders. “Are they both dead?”
“I do, and yes,” Susan said. “I’ve gotten
pretty good at Photoshop. I could have put a donkey in those pictures, and you wouldn’t
be able to tell.”
one of them is still alive? He’ll be spending the rest of his days in prison for
about them? We weren’t there.”
wiped. I’ve also gotten pretty good at hacking phones. It's amazing what you can
learn on the Internet.”
leaned across the breakfast table, gently tucked back a stray strand of Susan’s blonde
mane, and softly kissed her lips.
why I love you, baby.”
to shut down that fake email account, though,” Susan said. “Just to be on the
stood and began unbuttoning her blouse.
she said. “Let’s go upstairs and take some more pictures.”
E. E. Williams is a former journalist who worked at some of the
country’s largest and best newspapers, including the New York Daily News,
the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and the Fresno Bee. At his last two
newspapers—The Muncie Star Press and Cherry Hill Courier Post—he
was both Executive Editor and General Manager.
During his 42-year career, he won numerous national and regional
awards for his writing and editing. His first two Noah Greene mystery novels
were published by a small North Carolina independent publisher that has since
gone out of business. (Not his fault, we don’t think.) The third book in the series
was published on the Amazon Kindle platform.