by Bob'n Around
Invisible matters of the mind turned real into the written word.
|“We all have ghosts in our lives, past events and people who haunt us.” May Spiegel stared at the photographs. “How much do you want for them?”
Her’s was a simple life devoid of interest or stress. Comfort was her private god. She worshipped it in the numbing out constant white noise of her TV while munching on a sweet dessert as often as she could. Braving herself to face blackmail brought back the price she’d paid to find a haven in the life of a recluse. “Where did you get them?”
“If you want to get rid of ghosts, I have a plan, dearie. It is a new formula. You don’t have to pay me a cent. We can trade for it. Do what I ask and, ‘poof’, they are gone.” The woman sitting on May Spiegel’s couch was trim, elegant, hardly the kind to be associated with crime.
It was a curious situation. She was a complete stranger. No tendrils of May Spiegel’s bad past seemed connected to her. “I won’t risk working with third parties,” she said. “Part of the trade must include who you work for.”
“A friend of a friend,” was the upper crust reply.
May Spiegel had little wiggle room. Desperation made up for much. Living alone without social contacts had its benefits. There was no-one to observe or censure her when she throttled and strangled her guest. “Those photos.”
They were indelicate replicas of her wild youth. The seductions and poisonings had been a game of hurt pride and revenge. Each marriage came filled with dreams of perfection turning into nightmare. Who had connected the dots?
The ghosts of her past stared back at her from the faces of her five dead husbands. “Bastards wanted a trophy wife with no will of my own.” The honeymoon promised so much. The pattern emerged shortly after, expecting her to fill an impossible void of sex object, mother, slave.
When you can never be yourself, you learn to use disguise to advantage. There was a secret thrill to outwitting her partners and subduing them in the end. “A trade, is it? For what and for whom? The formula for getting away with murder wasn’t an easy one, as her current predicament proved.
Getting married again during a whirlwind romance was different this time. Love and passion had nothing to do with it. Each day was pure con to be submerged within. It was living life on the edge while hiding her away. It couldn’t last forever.
“My blackmailer betrays me and they won’t get what they want. My ghosts will knock on my door once again.” Her pattern spoke for itself. Any pursuer worth their salt would track her down. She knew that. Her marriage was a test to prove to herself she could do a perfect murder once again.
“Instead of trying to bleed me of my blood money, you’ll pay me to do what I do best.”
“Did you say something, dear?” Jack Kerney, her sixth husband asked, setting a breakfast tray in place. “You whispered quiet as a ghost.”
There it was again. The same reference coming up over and over again. Idle conversation? Was she making something out of nothing? That’s what ghosts were, weren’t they? “Nothing,” May leaned into a kiss, forcing her ghosts to turn back into nothing at all, at least for the moment.
They were eating at her. Wouldn’t leave her alone, now that they had found her the distant memories of her husbands thrived alive in her mind, again. Waiting was hard. She played at making innocent accidents happen to her mate, never her fault at all. Being the victim of becoming accident prone wasn’t a crime was it?
“Poor thing. That’s what you get for never picking up after yourself, darling. Next time you’ll break your neck.”
Jack reminded her of her first husband most of all. Both were absent minded, forgetting where they put things. It had made it easy for her first murder to take place. Her man had taken his medicine all right, mistakenly overdosed and died in his sleep with her next to him in their bed.
May had to be careful. She was on sleeping pills herself now, unable to get much rest. “The dead coming back to haunt and make me murder myself. How ironic.” She’d never felt shaky before. “A recipe for disaster.”
It was time to speed things up. If accidents didn’t do the trick, she’d have to manage something else. Receiving another copy of her dead husband’s photos along with one of her own where she now lived was shocking.
“You’re white as a ghost, is something wrong?” Jack reached for the envelope the pictures came in.
“Nothing. Nothing at all.” Was she looking guilty? May stuffed the photos behind her. “A little surprise I had planned for you. A secret. You can’t see until it’s ready. I’m going to have to revise it. Promise you won’t ask about it?”
“You’ve certainly been acting strange lately. So this is the reason why?” Jack gave back the envelope. “You shouldn’t excite yourself, this way. I like you just the way you are. My beautiful and loving trophy wife.”
Patterns whirled behind May’s closed blue eyes. She’d fallen into one again. Trapped. Subdued and subduer all in one. Her own worst ghost. “I think maybe I’ll take a short rest.”
“Want me to get your pills?”
Another shock wave shook through her. “No. I can manage. You have important business things to do.”
May’s hand fumbled in the medicine cabinet, came away with the poison pills meant for Jack instead of her sleeping tablets. “Good god.” She poured them down the drain. Accidents like that weren’t supposed to happen. She felt unnerved.
“Honey? Phone is for you.” Jack called out from below. “Says it is important. Want to take it up there?”
May hadn’t even heard it ring. “Thanks Jack, you can hang up now.”
“Are you ready?” The voice sounded vaguely familiar. “I don’t need to send the next photo of who I want taken care of. Bastard. Bigamist. Thrives off his wives. Murders them when bored.”
There was a pause. “How did you know it was Jack that was my problem? Are you psychic?”
May felt confused. It was like starting in mid conversation. “Do I know you?”
“A friend of a friend. Deceased, last time we had contact. You’re forgiven if this goes down well,” the voice said. “How will you do it? Just curious. It must already be on your mind.”
May floundered with what to say next. “A formula for getting rid of ghosts, you were willing to trade?”
“Yes. Do what I ask. He deserves it. No-one can do it better than you. “You want money but I have something better to offer.” Silence grew on the phone like an invisible specter. “You were going to do it anyway, right? I’ll meet you, how’s that? Help you do it, if you want. Be my pleasure.” Both hung up at the same time.
“Having a mystery guest tonight for dinner? That’s your surprise?” Jack’s eyebrows rose. I thought we’d have an intimate time together. Made plans of my own to make this night the time of your life.”
“Hmm. Afterwards, honey. Let your little wifey give you the surprise of your life. Please?” May prepared a special dinner. One that would hide the taste of the newly purchased rat poison in Jack’s favorite pre-meal drink.
“Ready? A toast?” May clicked glasses.
“Cheers. Does yours taste funny?” Jack eyed his wife with concealed impatience. “I added a little something to give it some zest.”
May swallowed the liquid, coughed as something caught in her throat and announced their guest. “You know Margy, don’t you, Jack?”
“Hello, husband mine. May gave you some loving attention for me that you can choke on. Poor taste, I know.” A gun appeared in his other wife’s hand pointed at his midsection.
“He poisoned me,” May sputtered, feeling her stomach begin twisting into agonizing knots. “Call 911.”
Jack was already reaching for the phone when Margy emptied her gun into his midsection.
Margy let the gun fall. “Lovers quarrel, May. This will be in your hand when the authorities find you. Your past and Jack’s will be laid out for both to be found along with your murder suicide pact.”
May fell, rolled, sprawling next to Jack’s inert body, gasping for breath. “Why? You got what you wanted.”
“Let me share a secret. I anonymously let Jack know about the ghosts in your past.” Margy knelt to rub May’s fingerprints on the gun.
She enjoyed watching Jack’s second wife writhe in the pain she deserved as she slowly died. “I had to keep my part of our bargain. The only formula on the market ‘proven’ for destroying ghosts that I’ve found, is to make those turning them into ghosts disappear along with them. Nighty night to you and Jack.”