Yellow Mama Archives II

M. A. De Neve

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EXTRA INCOME

by M.A. De Neve

 

          Alice brought her latte to the girls’ table. She sat down and listened to her friends.

           “Police cars, ambulances, reporters. They were all at the Totter house last night.”

          “Another murder?”

          “What else?”

          “They’re still not saying if it’s a serial killer.”

          “Of course, it’s a serial killer.”

          “It doesn’t fit the serial killer pattern,” Alice told her friends. She sipped her caramel latte and started to explain.  “Serial killers usually target a specific type of victim. Brunettes are popular with some serial killers. The killers are often sexual predators who target young women. They might take souvenirs, but robbery is seldom the motive.”

          Her friends looked at her wide eyed.  

          “I read lots,” Alice  explained. When they continued to stare at her, she added, “Mystery novels.”

          “So, Miss Detective, I suppose you’re profiling for the cops.”  Phyllis asked her.

          “Don’t be ridiculous,” Alice told her. “I’m a retired math teacher.”

          “We can all do the math here,” Carol smiled at her. “Five victims, zero fingerprints. Zero clues. All the victims were robbed and their bank accounts raided.  This killer has stolen several thousand dollars.”

          “Speaking of math,” Lucy piped in, “My Social Security for this month isn’t due until tomorrow. Can anyone lend me a few dollars for bus fare?”

          Alice took out her wallet and laid a ten-dollar bill on the table. Everyone one knew retired teachers got great pensions. The other women had been secretaries or nurses or housewives. They didn’t get the big pension checks. At least Alice was generous.

 

          The killer used the self-check-out at the Kroger grocery store.

          Across the aisle, Kimberly Fonseca paid for her roasted chicken, pasta and almond milk with her debit card. The killer watched her as she pressed in her pin number. Kimberly was a divorcee, a receptionist at the local radio station and the daughter an elderly couple who’d moved to Florida years ago. She requested cash back from the self-serve checkout, pushed the money into her wallet, grabbed her groceries and walked to her car.

          The killer had purchased only a jar on mayonnaise. “Good morning, Mrs. Fonseca,” the killer called to Kimberly.

          “Good morning,” Kimberly returned the smile, and walked to her car.

          One hour and twenty minutes later, she heard a knock on her door. The killer stood out there. “You forgot your gloves at the self-checkout.”

          Kimberly shook her head. “Those aren’t mine.”

          “Pity. They are such nice gloves.” Her visitor slowly pulled the gloves over long, surprising-strong fingers and stepped forward, forcing her to step backward.

 

          “Ran her through with an umbrella, one of those with the sharp ends,” Alice told her friends at Starbucks the next morning.  “It was sitting right by the door inside her home.”

          “How do you know all that?”

          Alice shrugged, “I hear things.”

          “Well, my son is an EMT; he was one of those who…who you know, responded to the call. He was there before the cops got there. He said nobody is supposed to talk.” Carol said. “The police keep the details to themselves.”

          “But he talked, didn’t he?” Alice insisted. “They all do.”

          “He didn’t tell me anything,” Carol looked nervously into her coffee.

          “Question is how do you get all these details, Alice?” Lucy asked.

          “Honey, neighbors don’t have to wait for the six o’clock news to hear the details.”

          “You aren’t a neighbor. You live three streets over.”

          “I hear things.”

          “So what do you hear about the killer, this mad man?”

          “Who says it's a man?” Alice liked to keep the conversation moving. This should do it.

          “A woman couldn’t commit all those murders.”

          “Why not?”

          “She wouldn’t be strong enough.”

          “It doesn’t take a lot to strength to run someone through with an umbrella.”

          “And one of the victims was a man.  A woman couldn’t overpower a man.”

          “He wouldn’t have suspected her. No, this killer is someone the victims all trust.  Otherwise why would Kimberly have let him—or her—into her home. We all know there’s a killer amongst us.”

          The women all ordered chocolate croissants. Their Social Security checks had come direct deposit that very morning. They were flush, at least until the end of the  month.

 

          The killer finished eating potato pancakes and watched as the restaurant's night manager counted up his receipts and prepared to close shop. The killer had already paid for the meal and slowly prepared to walk home.

          “Is someone coming to get you?” the manager asked.

          “I’m walking.”

          “Wait up. Let’s walk together. It’s such a nice night. The bank is on the way.”  He held a green canvas envelope filled with cash.

          “Of course,” the killer smiled.

 

          The manager’s body was found the next morning behind a dumpster in the bank's parking lot. He’d been stabbed repeatedly with a knife from his own restaurant.  Of course, the killer hadn’t left any prints.

 

          Alice used hair spray to get out the blood stains her jacket. It was an old laundry secret. She sprayed the garment with the hair spray, let it dry and most stains disappeared. While the washing machine removed the hair spray and any evidence of last night’s crime, she went online to review her bank account.  She didn’t understand how her friends existed month to month on Social Security checks. Because of her teachers’ pension, she got a little more than the rest of them did. Still she liked having extra money.

          Alice decided she could afford that trip to Alaska. Who knew how many opportunities a cruise might offer to grow her retirement accounts.

The End





LOVE HURTS

 

             by M.A. De Neve

 

 

 

          We were always best friends.

          Homecoming king and queen.

          You captain of the football team and me, the head cheerleader.

          Romeo and Juliet, in the school play.

          Remember Becky Austin. You took her to the prom. Too bad what happened to her. She disappeared walking home from school a few weeks later. Her body was never found.

          After high school you went to New York. You were going to be a star. And you made it.

          You never came back, not even for the reunions.

          The others asked about you. I’d show them the pictures. You and me on the set of this or that movie. You and me at a famous restaurant. You and me shopping. The paparazzi caught a few shots of us. I was always “an unidentified female friend.”

          Was someone killing your fans? There was that tourist in Hollywood, the one who tried to break into your home. Her body was found in an abandoned car at some park.

          And then there was the girl who claimed she was your fiancÚ. The paparazzi had pictures of her pressed close to you. You said you were just good friends.

          Sure.

          There were a few other girls. They got too close to you and ended up dead. There were even some headlines about some crazy jealous fan stalking girls like me who got too close to you.

          Don’t worry about me, I told you. I’ll be okay.

           Often, we’d get together. Maybe it was just for laughs and to share some memories. You called me your special best friend.

          Of course, with you there are lots of other girls, lots of best friends. You were the biggest star of them all. The women all loved you.

          Some of them came to such tragic ends.

          Then came your arrest. The papers said you’d murdered a girl. It was the one who broke into your home, and then there was that girl the paparazzi said you lived with for a while and that actress with the big boobs from that spy movie.

          She was found with her throat slit.

          Seems you’re some kind of a serial killer.

          The evidence piled up, so neatly that some journalist suggested it might have been planted.

          Some people continued to believe in you. But your fall was fast and hard.

 

          I suppose many of your fans grieved. But lots of people were glad when you got lethal injection. Even some of the kids from school, the ones like me who used to love you so much, hated you when news of your crimes hit the papers.

          You always proclaimed your innocence. You said you were framed.

          Before you died, you asked for me.

          Why?

          “You aren’t going, are you?” Some friends asked. 


          I didn’t answer the question. The local newspaper wrote about how I’d been your best friend back in high school. You wanted me there at your execution.

          How could I go through that? How could I watch them kill you?

          I declined. I read about your execution. I cried when the hour came, and I knew you were dying.

          How I miss you, darling. I know we were just friends. We’d always been just friends. I couldn’t let those other women have you.

          You were so beautiful. You were meant to be mine.

          And now no one will have you.

 

 

 

Stealing Badges

 

by M.A. De Neve

 

         

 

          I stalk cops. Where they go, I go. They like coffee shops and fast-food restaurants. At McDonald's, I'm lucky enough to get behind an officer. I bump into him. Excuse me, I say. 

 

          I'm 52, gray-haired and overweight; my disguise for the day.

 

          He turns back to his partner. No one wants to look twice at an old lady. He is still in line when I walk out of the restaurant. I have his badge in my purse.

 

          Officer Drew is off duty when I trail him to a neighborhood bar. My look is very different on this day. I'm wearing a long blonde wig and a miniskirt. I do a fake  stumble; I brush against him. As I walk away, I consider flirting a little more, but I sure don't want him following me. I have his badge, his keys, and his wallet.

 

          I keep the badge, and the money, even the change. A girl has to make a living. I drop the rest of the wallet and the keys in a dumpster exactly ten blocks from the bar.

 

          The next night, I work, so I won't have as much time to devote to stalking cops. I perform at a comedy club. My act is magic. Doves fly from my scarves. I dance on air and pull a rabbit out of an umbrella.

 

          My act is pretty old. You've seen other magicians do the same tricks time and time again. It's really no trick to pull a rabbit from an umbrella. 

 

          When I'm not working, I live dangerously. Cops have guns and nightsticks, and they can get rough with wrongdoers. I collect their badges. Some people collect stamps, coins, dinner plates, or Beatles memorabilia. I collect badges.

 

          Serial killers collect souvenirs. Badges are my souvenirs. I wasn't always crazy mad at cops.

 

          I used to be Jay's magician assistant. I was Jay's wife too. He was black and I was white. We faced lots of discrimination. One night, after a show, I stayed behind in our dressing room. He went out to get our car. He said he'd pick me up at the stage door. I had just finished removing my makeup when I heard three gunshots.

 

          The cops who killed him said a liquor store had been robbed and he was moving away from them. They shot him in the back, and they got away with it. Jay couldn't have robbed that store. We'd finished our act moments before.

 

          The cops lied and they killed him.

 

          I decided to kill the cops that were there that night. I'd collect their badges, after I'd kill the men who killed my beloved Jay.

 

          I planned very carefully. I got a job in a coffee shop. Denny, the cop who fired the bullet into Jay's heart, stopped in every night. I decided I'd fill his thermos with arsenic. But then I couldn't do it. Instead, I laced the coffee with a fast-acting sleeping pill. When I walked out the door after my shift was over, he was asleep in his squad car. With gloved hands, I opened the car door. He hadn't locked it. I took his keys, his wallet, and his badge. That was the beginning of my life stalking cops and collecting badges.      

 

          I've stalked many cops and I've taken almost a hundred badges.

 

          It's not much of a revenge for what they took from me, but it's something.

 

          Tonight, I sit in the coffee shop, the one where I once worked and where I once drugged Denny. I come here often on the anniversary of the night Jay died. I watch the snowflakes fall and stare at the flickering lights that adorn the shop windows. I watch as the steam escapes my coffee cup. I clutch the badge of the man who destroyed my life.

 

          I watch as he enters the shop. He walks over to the counter. Perhaps if I tried again, I could . . .    

 

 

 

M.A. DeNeve is a retired college instructor, and crazy cat lady. Her short stories appeared in Over My Dead Body, Yellow Mama, Everyday Fiction, Cafe Lit, Freedom Fiction  and Mysterical -E. Her novels and chapbooks are available on Amazon.

 






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