Just A Man

How do you undo a murder? How could I have known I’d miss Hunter so much?

He was a no-good, low-down jerk, but he’d been my jerk.

It wasn’t as if he ever hit me, abused me. He just annoyed me with his noisy ways, his love of guns, sports, being out with “the boys.” But he’d kept in shape, was good to me, and the sex was incredible.

After a while, it finally got to me, though, the way he watched Louise. He’d looked at other women before, but none was as sexy as Louise. Hunter could be charming, and he was awfully good-looking, as many jerks are. I could see Louise responding to him.

We’d be at our favorite bar, Lucky’s Place, and he’d flirt with Louise right in front of me. She’d hired on as a waitress in the last month. As far as I knew, Hunter never cheated on me, but I had this sinking feeling that this time would be different.

We weren’t getting any younger. We’d both be thirty-five later this year. I was a little plumper than when we’d married. Louise was still slim, in her twenties, obviously worked out, and although not gorgeous, pretty enough. And did I mention sexy?

It was all so trite. I hated how my stomach clenched when Louise approached our table, hips swaying, a big smile on her face. She was polite enough to me, but her focus was always on Hunter. As often happened with other women we interacted with, I felt invisible.

Hunter’s glance would linger as she walked away. It would take him a moment to look back at me, his expression a little guilty. It was so easy to read his mind.

One time we went to Lucky’s, Louise approached our table with her sexy walk and took our order. Then she caressed Hunter’s hand before heading to the bar. She wore a pair of skin-tight black jeans and a yellow scoop-necked tee shirt with no bra. When she brought our drinks, I could tell she was aroused, or very cold.

But it was hot in the bar.

Hunter stared. She bent low over the table, giving him a good view of her cleavage. Hunter’s Adam’s apple rose and fell, rose and fell. When Louise turned around, I grabbed him under the table. Our eyes met, then he looked away.

I couldn’t blame him. He was a man. I had never been one to deny reality. “Don’t even think about it,” I whispered, squeezing him hard. My glance caught his and shifted to my purse. He knew I had a gun in there.

He took a deep breath, then looked me in the eye. “Just because I look doesn’t mean I’ll touch.”

I wanted to believe him, but he’s a man.

I thought of insisting we go to a different bar, but the only other one in town was too rough for me, and the next closest was forty miles away.

So, we continued to go to Lucky’s. And Louise continued to flirt. She seemed to be fixated on Hunter. I watched her when she served other tables, and she never acted so blatantly with the other men.

One night Hunter’s best friend, Jerry, joined us. He rarely did the bar scene, so I was a little surprised to see him.

He watched the interplay between Louise and Hunter a couple of times when we ordered drinks. As she walked away with our third order, he said, “That’s a dangerous one.”

“What do you mean?” Hunter asked, his voice sharp.

“She’ll play you like a fiddle, then throw away the bow.”

Hunter rolled his eyes. “You know this how?”

“Because it happened to me. Before I was married.” He looked at me. “And again after I was married. Which, as you know, is why I’m no longer married.”

“You have a point?” Hunter took a quick pull on his longneck.

“My point is, she wouldn’t be worth it. Everyone loses in the end. Except Louise. She leaves happy.”

“Why would she be happy?”

Louise came with our orders, plunked them down, and gathered the empties, running her land along Hunter’s arm. He watched her do it, then dragged his eyes away.

As she sashayed off, Jerry shook his head. “She’d get what she wanted. And go scavenging again.”

Hunter scowled at his drink. “Since you’ve been burned twice and have no interest in her, and since I am happily married, we can now stop discussing Louise for the rest of the evening.”

Jerry shrugged. “Suits me.”

When we got home late that night, Hunter practically ripped my clothes off and made mad passionate love to me. But I had to wonder if he might be thinking about someone else.

Suddenly he was working late a couple of nights a week. He and “the boys” got together more frequently than before on Saturday afternoons to play softball. He knew I hated softball and would never think to attend a game.

The fourth time that happened, with a sinking feeling in my gut, I went to the field. And was totally surprised to see the guys playing softball. Including my guy.

Okay.

The next time he called to say he was working late, I went to the plant, found his car in the lot, and parked where he wouldn’t spot me. He never worked past eight-thirty, so when he hadn’t come out by eight, I drove home, calling myself all kinds of an idiot.

But I did it twice more, with the same results.

I checked for lipstick on his clothes, anyway. I sniffed for perfume when he first came home.

After three months, I decided I’d been wrong. I went shopping with a friend on the Saturdays he played ball. I stayed home and watched silly TV programs when he worked late.

I bitched a little about not seeing him enough. For a while, nothing changed when we went to Lucky’s. Louise pulled her same tricks. Hunter tried to ignore her. In about a month, though, she stopped serving our table, no matter where we sat. She had another waitress do it. I figured she was mad at Hunter for not succumbing to her charms. Inwardly, I smirked.

I didn’t smirk when Hunter came home with a hickey. He claimed it was an infected pimple. Like I’d never seen a hickey before.

Furious beyond words, I stomped out of the house and took a long, fast ride along the country roads, the radio blasting blues music to match my mood.

When I got home, Hunter was asleep in front of the TV. Probably Louise wore him out.

The next morning he woke when I came clomping down the stairs. He followed me to the kitchen and sat down at the table, rubbing his eyes.

“It’s not what you think. I stopped into Lucky’s for a quick one, and Louise came over to take my order. When she brought it back, she bent down and gave me the hickey. I swear.”

Oh, how I wanted to believe him. Should I? Could I?

I studied his face. It gave nothing away. I sighed. “Okay. I can totally imagine Louise doing that just to cause trouble. I suggest you not go to the bar alone again.

He nodded. Cocked his head at me. “Come here.”

I walked over to him. He grabbed me and pulled me into his lap. Kissed me. I almost forgot Louise. Almost.

Hunter stayed home the next Saturday. He didn’t work late as many days as he had been. This did not reassure me. I figured if he had nothing to hide, at least the working late would stay the same.

So I started stalking him again. I rented a car. Since I took care of our finances, Hunter being too lazy to do a good job, he’d never know.

The third time he called to say he was working late, something different happened. He left at quitting time and drove out of town to a motel notorious for one-hour rentals. He got a room. In a few minutes I saw Louise drive in and park around back. Then she knocked on Hunter’s door, and he let her in.

That’s when I snapped. Something exploded in my head, and my heart felt as if were crumbling, disintegrating inside my chest.

I sat, trying to calm down. But the longer I sat, the more the pressure built. I had to do something. I took my gun from my purse, walked to the door, and pounded on it so hard I was afraid I’d broken my hand.

Hunter’s shouted. “Who is it?”

I made my voice gruff. “Police. Open up.”

No spy hole. Hunter jerked the door open and stood staring at me open-mouthed while my gun pointed at the middle of his chest.

He staggered back a step, and I walked inside, closing the door behind me with my foot.

Louise stopped in the process of removing her yellow top. Her eyes wide, she let the shirt fall back into place. She looked beautiful and composed standing there.

This close, I couldn’t miss. I shot her in the neck so her death would be quick and sure. The carotid artery and jugular spurted blood as she crumpled to the floor.

No one shouted or pounded on the door. No one in this sleazy motel would want to get involved. I even heard a couple of car doors slam and people driving off as Hunter and I stood staring at Louise

Then his gaze turned to me. He plucked the gun from my hand. “Get out. Get out of here. Go home, and no matter what, say you were there all evening. I’ll take care of this.”

Stunned, I stared at him. “What are you going to do?”

He wiped the gun clean with the sheet. “This is my fault. I’ll get rid of the gun, and then I’m leaving town. Change my name. They’ll think I did it, and you’ll be in the clear.”

“You’d do that for me?”

“Yes, of course. I love you. Now go.”

They never found him, and no one else was ever accused of murdering Louise. Including me. Insufficient evidence. So, all I’m left with is what if’s.

How could I have known I’d miss Hunter so much

Bio

This year marks the sixteenth anniversary of Mysterical-e. I am delighted that one of my stories was in the first issue—Why I Quit Jogging—and that I am in twice now this year (After Hour Blues was in the March issue). I hope you will check out the archives for lots of great stories you may have missed.

I’ve had over sixty short stories published here and there (seems like most everywhere!), and writing short is my favorite thing to do, after eating chocolate. You can find out a lot about me on my website: www.janchristensen.com But not everything. Some stuff just has to remain mysterious.

8 Comments:

  1. Excellent story, Jan, and the surprise twist at the end really got me good.

  2. Excellent buildup and the ending surprised me. Well done!

  3. Great ending! I didn’t see that coming.

  4. Jan, I’ve read most of your stories and always enjoy them. I thought this was, by far, the best yet. The surprise ending blew me away. I tweeted the link.

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