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Ben Newell: Shower Scene

Art by Kevin Duncan © 2024

Shower Scene


Ben Newell





          Janet insisted that Robert wear his swim trunks in the shower.

She liked to kneel before her neighbor, the water sluicing over her lithe body, and remove them herself. Robert was more than happy to indulge her. He enjoyed the ritual, Janet knew, as much as she did, and the trunks were wet anyway.

Still, it was with an encroaching sadness that she had embarked on today’s tryst. Autumn would put the kibosh on their afternoon swims. And winter would mean dreary snow days in which Norman would stay home all day.

          Norman, she thought with abhorrence.

          It was high time they dispensed with her husband.

          Robert was gradually warming to the idea, and Janet felt confident that he would eventually cave. Just today while frolicking in the pool they had discussed the best way to do it. Janet was partial to poison. Robert thought it best to hire a professional.

          Either way she wanted her husband out of the picture by Christmas. Norman always took an extended vacation—sometimes a whole month—during the holiday season and she could no longer bear his dull company for that length of time.

          Now Robert soaped her shoulders and back and said, “It’s too bad your snake didn’t give him a heart attack. Talk about convenient . . .”

          Janet frowned. “Did you hear that?”

“I didn’t hear anything.”

“I think it’s the front—”

          “Relax, Janet. Norman’s at work. And he always—”

          “Works late,” she finished Robert’s sentence.

          This was true of her husband, especially with Halloween right around the corner.




          Entering the foyer of his house, keys jangling in one hand, his sample case dangling from the other, Norman grinned like a shark.

          The setup was perfect.

Taylor made, he thought, for one of his best pranks yet.

It’s a good thing I came home early . . .

As husband and wife Norman and Janet were constantly playing tricks on one another; theirs was a perpetual sparring match minus the fists and feet, a battle of wits to see who could devise the cleverest caper.   

Just last weekend Janet had gotten him good with that rubber snake. Norman had been sunning on a chaise lounge when the damnable thing had fallen from the weeping willow tree and landed on his thigh. Scrambling with panic, he had dropped his mojito and screamed to high heaven before realizing that the snake was a fake. Laughing hysterically, Janet had emerged from her hiding spot behind the shrubbery. Her self-satisfied smirk had said it all. Take that, Norman! Take it and top it!

Now he closed the door quietly and crept through the house, homing in on the master bathroom where his wife was taking a shower. She must’ve gone for an afternoon dip. He had heard the water running as soon as he opened the door, the prank blossoming inside his ever-scheming mind.

The new masks had arrived today. Halloween was just two months away. Norman had a quota to meet and damned if he wasn’t going to surpass it and win Salesman of the Year for the second year in a row. Last year’s award had netted him a substantial bonus, which he had used to finance the pool. The new masks were impressive and Norman felt confident that he could place them in most of the major chains, certainly TG&Y and Zayre, perhaps even Woolco.

But work was work and for the moment he was in play mode.

Norman crossed the threshold of their bedroom and placed his case on the queen-sized bed. He didn’t waste time making a selection. His favorite among the new samples was “Demented Witch”—a hideously wrinkled crone topped with a wild mop of grayish hair. Standing before Janet’s vanity, he slipped the rubber mask over his head and regarded his ghastly reflection in the mirror. Payback’s a bitch, Janet!

Norman’s heart hammered with excitement. He started for the bathroom.

Then he stopped.

The knife. You forgot the knife . . .

The rubber accessory had been included with the masks. It wasn’t retractable like an authentic stage knife, but at first glance the replica looked real enough, a large butcher’s knife of the kind Janet used to carve roast beef.

Gripping the plastic haft, Norman entered the bathroom, fancying himself a movie stalker as reached for the shower curtain.




Raising their hands to ward off the attack, Janet and Robert screamed in unison. Norman screamed, too. The shock of seeing another man with his wife battered his senses.

The shock of seeing another man with his wife battered his senses. Searing pain lanced down his left arm. The knife clattered to the floor. He clutched his chest with both hands and fell to the floor.

Janet stood there aghast. Robert hastened from the tile stall. He crouched beside the body and felt for a pulse.

“Dead,” he muttered.

“My God,” Janet said. “We scared him to death!”

Robert wrapped a towel around his waist. “I’ll call the police.” He hastened to the bedroom and used the phone on the nightstand.

The water was still running when Janet, the first traces of a smile creasing her features, emerged from the shower. She had intended to remove her husband’s mask, had gone so far as to bend over and reach for the deranged visage before changing her mind.

Leave it, Janet.

It was better this way, she decided, easier if Norman was the monster.


--The End--

Ben Newell dropped out of the Bennington Writing Seminars during his first semester, eventually resuming his studies at Spalding University where he earned an MFA. His short crime fiction has appeared in Bristol NoirShotgun HoneyYellow Mama, and others. 

Kevin D. Duncan was born 1958 in Alton, Illinois where he still resides. He has degrees in Political Science, Classics, and Art & Design. He has been freelancing illustration and cartoons for over 25 years. He has done editorial cartoons and editorial illustration for local and regional newspapers, including the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. His award-winning work has appeared in numerous small press zines, e-zines, and he has illustrated a few books. 

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