Friday, April 20, 2018

Hitman's Wife by JD Langert

A hitman is given a job at an inconvenient time in JD Langert's funny flash.

"Tansy, tell me why there is a body in my trunk when I'm supposed to be picking my wife up for a picnic?"

Basil stared at the tied-up body in the back of his black 1972 Imperial LeBaron. The man, protests muffled through the duct-tape over his mouth, stared back with teary, pleading eyes.

Basil slammed the trunk closed.

Tansy, an overweight man in a tailored black suit, chuckled at the younger man's distress. "Sorry, son, but you know there's no real time off in our line of work. Boss wants this trash pushing up daisies tonight."

Basil groaned. "And what am I supposed to tell my wife? I've already canceled three dates this month!"

Tansy raised a brow. "Wow, settling down has really changed you. I remember when you'd be raring to take as many jobs as possible. Course, I don't blame you. Lily's a sweet gal, ain't she? Maybe a bit slow, but that's good for our business."

"Don't talk about my wife like that." The younger man scowled before pressing a hand to his head.

"Well?"

Basil stepped into the driver's seat of his car, starting the engine. "I'll do it, but I better be paid extra for this."

Tansy pointed towards the passenger side's vanity mirror. "Don't worry, this was important so we already tucked your bonus in there. Give Lily my regards!"



Basil drove up beside a line of middle-class Chicago condominiums, his frown deepening as he watched a blonde woman in a yellow sundress walk up to the Imperial with a large smile.

"Welcome back, Honey! The food was getting cold!" She displayed the items she was carrying: a wicker picnic basket balanced on one hip and a red and white checker-patterned blanket in her left hand. "Mayfair's was crazy today! They were trying to charge an extra seven cents for the cranberries you like so much, but I talked them down -"

Basil's smile was strained. "Quite a steal. Lily..."

"- And I'm so glad that it was Pansy in charge of meat today, I know that Calla wouldn't have given me such a good deal. It took me hours to cook everything, but it turned out so well!"

Beaming, Lily opened the picnic basket. Inside, it was clear the packer had gone to painstaking lengths. At the top of the basket was a smaller container with a blue napkin upon it, likely the fried chicken given the shape and golden crumbs around the base. Grapes and apples, both barely in season, were arranged elegantly along the sides. To top it all off, there was an entire loaf of freshly baked banana bread at the bottom of the basket; the smell of melted butter and cranberries wafting upwards.

"What do you think?"

Basil faltered under Lily's expectant look. "I... just wanted to say it looks great."

He opened the passenger side's door. "Let's go, we're burning daylight."

Lily went to drop the picnic basket in the back before pausing.

"Honey, why is there a shovel in the back?"

He tensed.

"I... was going to plant a tree later."

She beamed. "You're such an angel!"

She deposited her load and placed herself beside him. He started the engine, checked the road behind him, and they were off towards the park.

Thump.

Basil's fingers tensed around the steering wheel as Lily glanced around. "What was that?"

"Nothing, we just went over a bump."

"Oh, okay. How was work at the construction company today?"

"It was fine, though one my coworkers made trouble. He was trying to sell information to a... rival construction company."

She nodded, watching the buildings pass by. "Had to sack him?"

He snorted. "Oh yeah, sacked is a pretty good definition."

Lily reached into her pocket, bringing out a small make-up compact. "I was so busy cooking I had no time to freshen up." She frowned. "Oh dear, the mirror is broken."

Before Basil could stop her, Lily reached up and pulled down the vanity mirror. Green bills floated down into her lap.

"Honey..."

"Y-Yes?" Basil swallowed.

She leaned over and kissed him, leaving a faint imprint of lipstick to which she cleaned off a moment later. "Why, you didn't tell me you got a bonus? Now we can really celebrate!"

Basil exhaled. "Uh, yeah, it's actually an advance payment for a... current job -"

THUMP.

He coughed, trying to cover up the sound but unsuccessful given Lily's frown.

"There it is again..."

"Just the tires! I've been meaning to get them checked."

This time Lily's frown did not disappear. Instead, she looked towards where the sound had come from.

THUMP.

He tensed, sweat rolling down his brow as he gripped the steering wheel tighter. Lily glanced back and forth from Basil to the trunk.

"A-Anyway, Lily, you were -"

"Basil, stop the car."

"What, why? Sorry, Lily, I'll get the tires checked tomorrow -"

"Basil, honey, please stop the car."

He swallowed, the car slowly rolling to a stop. It didn't matter since they were already at their destination in the park, a secluded area with plenty of trees and shrubbery.

Lily opened her door and briskly walked towards the trunk. Basil scrambled out of the Imperial, rushing in an attempt to stop her.

It was too late as she opened the trunk, staring down at the gagged man who wiggled against his restraints.

Basil held his breath.

"...Could you please be quiet? My husband and I are on a date."

Both Basil and the gagged man looked at her incredulously, but she only continued to smile, closing the trunk without further ado.

At Basil's wide eyes, she shook her head as if addressing a silly child.

"Honey, who do you think cleans the blood stains? Though, please try to be more careful, fabric cleaner is up a whole four cents this week."

She retrieved the picnic basket from the car, taking his hand with a smile.

"Now, let's go enjoy our picnic."

7 comments:

  1. Dark humor and a fun read. I thought it was a particularly deft touch to describe the items in the picnic basket in such detail...juxtaposed in the reader’s mind with the doomed fellow in the trunk.

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  2. A dark, 'What took you so long to tell me?' tale - told with pace, tension and a final blast of humour. Many thanks,
    Ceinwen

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  3. Nice twist at the end. I also liked that Lily's intelligence being in doubt colored her actions until you realize she's been in on it the whole time. Well done.

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  4. Enjoyed this fun read. Tension built up nicely as the story progressed. As Edward said, Lily being presented as "a bit slow" had us going until the very end!
    Beryl.

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  5. Enjoyable fun read. The way you built up the tension to the final twist was like delivering a joke right to the hilarious punchline. Beautifully done.

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  6. Perfect flash fiction, great story hard man does what his wife tells him. She"s not what he thought.
    Mike McC

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