“You serious?” my neighbor Joey said.
“You gotta be kidding!” his wife Sandy
My best friend Freddy’s hand was still
out. “Twenty bucks. From each of you.”
They looked at each other, then back
“Christina’s request,” Freddy said. “Via
living will. Wanna see her dead, you gotta pay.” He struggled not to laugh.
Dear Freddy. Best friend a kid could
have, though we weren’t kids, anymore. Maybe I was, now that I was dead. I bet
I could be any age I wanted.
But I wasn’t gone long enough to know.
“She can’t spend it,” Sandy hissed.
“Death,” Freddy said, “is a personal
The wake had just started, and they
were the first ones there. God, Sandy was annoying. If you had red lipstick on
your teeth, she’d lick hers, and say, “Christina, do this!” in a bar full of cute
She’d love to see if I had on red lipstick,
now. That was in my “living
will,” too: Once my lips were sewn shut, the right shade of lipstick should be
Pay up, bitch.
Why so early? A quick walk-through:
“Boo-hoo, I’m so sorry Christina is gone!”, then out the back door, and to
Boxer’s Brew. “Boo-hoo,” they’d keep up there, to scarf rounds of free drinks.
‘Cos they’d be forty bucks short.
Joey sniffed the air. Overpriced
flowers and formaldehyde, but also . . . “Is there a KFC or Popeye’s around here?”
Freddy smiled. “No.”
Well-done chicken wings, I’d
requested. Like a death row last meal, though I hadn’t killed anybody and couldn’t
eat them, myself.
Neither can you, I thought, smugly.
Biggest mooches, ever, Joey and Sandy. Always
in my fridge, but they
thought I didn’t know. Stealing the last beer I’d hid behind the mayo. Once, while
dieting, she’d opened my last chocolate pudding, ate one spoonful, then put it
back. Fat-ass bitch.
Twenty bucks, please.
Things are getting fuzzy. I go from loving
all this on like a movie screen, to fading out. Like leaving the theater with
the buttered popcorn on my seat. Without knowing who the killer was. Or if I
was even murdered.
If I was, one of them did it.
“You’re gonna get shot,” Freddy had
warned me, way back. I laughed.
Wise Freddy. We’d shared guys, some
with jealous wives. But we were there for each other. When one’s heart gave out
in my bed at 4 AM, who helped me dump the body? It was garbage night, so we
left the guy on a mattress up the block.
I was no angel. I wasn’t expecting
So, which one did it?
Plenty, I had, on both Joey and Sandy.
How she sneaked down to Jose the super, ‘cos she’d lost quarters in the dryer. But
their hamper was stuffed with soiled, stinking clothes. How Joey’d sneak over
to me, while she was “washing clothes.” How she crooked her pinky, giggling
about Joey’s size. How I’d seen stars, with the real thing.
How their intercom was patched on with
What goodies were in the wall.
How they’d robbed that old man, who
was found dead in 1-C.
So, which one killed me?
The rustle of bills assured me that one of them
paid. The box creaked
All I knew, Freddy knew, too. What we
didn’t, he would find out, soon. Somehow, he’d find out who did it. He’d make
Forty bucks was just the start.
His smile, like the Cheshire cat’s, transcended