by Karen Bayly
Jack Rosen, Private Detective,
rubbed the gingery stubble on his chin and eyeballed the heart-shaped box in front of him.
He’d already glimpsed inside and was in no hurry to take another peek. Bloody human
hearts did not rank amongst his favorite things, and the Valentine’s Day cupcake
sent by his wife, Lola, now danced a fandango in his stomach.
Across from him, a pair of lovely baby blues
pleaded. “So, you’ll take the case, Mr. Rosen?”
“Call me Jack.”
“And you must call me Honey.”
Honey Sommers presented
the perfect distraction for his hematophobia. Drop-dead gorgeous, her pink latex dress
hugged her body in all the right places. The white gloves and veiled hat came across as
over-the-top, but Jack could make out her features well enough to know she ticked all his
smiled at him, and he wondered what else those glossy red lips could do and whether she’d
let him find out. Maybe later.
“So, Honey. Tell me again what the message
‘Call the cops and you’re dead.’ Sorry. I shouldn’t have put the
note in with the heart.”
Yeah, you stupid broad,
he thought. He barely refrained from saying it out loud.
She stood and leaned over the box to inspect
the contents. Jack’s gaze flicked straight to the generous curve of her cleavage.
not entirely illegible.” She moved closer. “Enjoying the view, hon?”
He shrugged. “A lot
of women like you come through those doors. You’re not so special.”
“Oh, you already
made that clear.”
Jack’s forehead wrinkled in puzzlement. Those blue eyes. Oddly
I know you?”
“You don’t recognize me? I’m disappointed.
But I guess that’s the downside of using a mob-recommended surgeon.”
An uneasy sensation snaked up Jack’s spine.
“Helen? Helen Merrick?”
She struck a pose. “Ta-da!”
“Helen Merrick was a loser. Walked over by her sexist schmuck
of a boss … Oh, yeah. You. You treated her like trash.”
“Spare me. You took credit for her breakthroughs. Shared her
bed when you had nothing better on offer. She let you because she truly believed you’d
fall in love with her one day.”
“C’mon. You’re too smart for
“True. Why pine over a dumbass who married a showgirl called
Lola? Sweet Jesus, Jack, what a cliché!”
Jack tried to focus, but the room spun while two Honeys fought for
dominance in his vision. He rose and plopped right back down again.
“Not feeling well,
babe? No wonder. The cupcake was a killer. I counted on a sugar addict like you stuffing
his face ASAP. You won’t suffer long, though. According to my calculations, you’ll
be dead in, oh, about five minutes. Tops.”
“W-what have you done?” He slumped
forward, gasping, head turned to one side.
She draped herself over the desk, her eyes
level with his. “Don’t worry, baby. I’ll stay until you’re done.”
“My wife . . . she’ll be here soon.”
She giggled. “Lola’s
already here, hon.”
Dipping her hand in the box, she pulled out the bloodied heart and
held it in front of his face.
“Last week, she gave you her hand in marriage. Figuratively.
Today, she gives you her heart. Literally.”
Tears welled in Jack’s eyes.
“You bitch. You goddamn bitch.”
“Aw, don’t be a sore loser, Rosey-posey.”
Helpless, he stared as
she removed her blood-soaked gloves and the latex ones beneath, slipped them into a ziplock
bag, then into her handbag. He blinked when she pulled on a fresh pair of latex
gloves and wiped down any surfaces she may have touched.
Smirking, she plucked a strand from her wig
and placed it on his jacket. His lips moved, but no sound emerged.
“What’s that, baby? No, the hair is
not mine. And the note is from an unsolved case we handled a few years ago. Forensics
will find nothing to link either to me.”
He answered with a rattling sigh.
“Done already, Jack? Figures. You always
popped off quickly.”
She blew him a kiss.
“Happy Valentine’s Day, baby.”
once, Jack had no comeback.
Karen Bayly’s passion for
writing began as a child when she wrote soap operas for her dolls to perform. Her short
stories and poems have appeared in Yellow Mama Webzine, Black Petals
Magazine, Voluted Tales, Every Day Fiction, and anthologies from Black
Beacon Books, Black Hare Press, and Crystal Lake Publishing. She has published
one novel, Fortitude, a steampunk- inspired science fantasy. She lives
in Sydney, Australia with two cats, a guitar, and a ukulele.