Three O'Clock by Lamont A. Turner

Lamont A. Turner's character wonders if he can put his unusual curse to good use, by targeting an unpleasant politican.

I've never wanted to hurt anybody. I don't even have much of a temper. I have, up until recently, lived a normal, quiet existence, bothering no one. Even now I can honestly say I have never had the desire to kill anyone, and have certainly never made plans involving homicide, yet every day at three o'clock pm I find myself in situations that cast me in the role of the agent of death. I have no idea why this happens. I only know it happens at the same time every day, and that I am powerless to stop it.

It started one afternoon about six months ago. While driving home from the store, I had been stopped by a crossing guard so a group of children could cross the street. Just after they had started across, I released the brake and sped toward them, stopping only a few feet short of running them down. I claimed I had had a muscle spasm in my foot and apologized, to the satisfaction of no one, but I really had no idea why I had almost murdered a group of children.

The next day, the hammer I was using to fix my fence slipped out of my hand as I raised it to pound in a nail. Flung over my shoulder, it just missed the head of my neighbor who had come to complain about the racket I was making. The day after that, I tapped a man on the shoulder to ask him for directions. The man, who was wearing headphones at the time, was so startled by my attempt to get his attention he stumbled forward into the street where he was almost run over by a bus. And so it went every day thereafter. At exactly three o'clock I would inadvertently do something to imperil the life of someone.

After about a month of narrow misses, I caused my first fatality when the wheel of the shopping cart I was pushing fell off in the parking lot, causing the cart to tumble over into the path of an oncoming car. Swerving to avoid the cart, the driver collided with an elderly woman, sending her flying up over the hood of the car. She was dead before she hit the ground. Of course, the police faulted the driver, a teenager, for speeding through the parking lot, and some of the witnesses faulted the store for the faulty cart, but I knew I was the real culprit. It had been me, or rather the curse I carried, that had killed that woman.

I began to stay home in the afternoons, but found my precautions to have little effect. The mailman had a heart attack on my front lawn, and the house across the street burned down. One day the man delivering the weather report on the news suffered an aneurism and died on the air as I watched. Resigned to my fate, I determined to travel to Washington DC where my unique situation might at least be of some benefit to my fellow man.

It was about a twenty hour drive from my home in Austin to Washington, but I wasn't about to fly and chance being stuck in the air when the fatal hour struck. I set out at five minutes after three, hoping to spare some poor soul along the way by reaching my destination before the hour rolled around again. If I couldn't stop the deaths, I could at least try to limit their scope and not kill people in other communities. As I drove, I often glanced down at the photo of "Honest" Jim Calloway I had taped to my dashboard. I had no idea if my experiment would work, and I would be able to direct the curse in a particular direction, but Honest Jim was more than deserving of the honor. A thirty two year veteran of Congress, he had amassed a fortune while the district he represented took on the aspect of a third world country.

Honest Jim was scheduled to speak before the League of Religious Freedom, a group apparently dedicated to eradicating all science from our public discourse, right around the appropriate hour. I'd already arranged to be in the audience. I, of course, had some qualms concerning my decision to take a more active role in my forced avocation, but I'd convinced myself this was the purpose for which I had been chosen. If I had to kill people, I might as well kill the ones the world would be better off without.

Sandwiching myself between a young man with a bowtie and a crewcut, and an old man who wheezed and rattled like a car running on two cylinders, I stared up at the podium from the front row. Somebody calling himself Reverend Roy was firing up the crowd in anticipation of Honest Jim's big entrance. The young man to my right was enthralled, the old man seemed preoccupied with keeping his lungs working, and I tried to shut out as much of the pablum as I could by recalling the lyrics of old songs.

Honest Jim, who could have just as easily, and quite a bit more truthfully, been called Big Jim, finally waddled to the podium, just as I was about to doze off. He greeted the applause with a wave of his big meaty hand and waited for the crowd to settle down.

"We are at war," he began. "The infidels in Washington are out to remove God from our land and from our lives."

He went on like that for about fifteen minutes, then looked at his watch and launched into his concluding remarks. I looked at my watch. It was only 2:50. I had to do something to keep him there. Just as he was finishing up, I stood up and suggested the Senator lead us in a hymn. He gaped at me, trying to think up a plan to extricate himself from my trap, but gave up when a woman behind me leapt to her feet and suggested "Amazing Grace."

After my fourth "Again!" Calloway waved us off and was about to make his escape, when I stood and asked to shake "the hand of the next President." Obviously thrilled with my flattering prognostication, he looked around to make sure the cameras were still filming, and leaned over the edge of the stage with an outstretched hand. Right on schedule, he toppled off, landing on the old man next to me. Withing seconds, men in suits came flooding in from all directions to help pull the Senator to his feet. He was dazed, but, disappointingly, otherwise unharmed. The same couldn't be said for the old man. He had been thoroughly flattened under Calloway's bulk. Those last two cylinders had finally given out.

While hopeful that killing your constituents would be bad for one's political career, I couldn't help but feel sorry for the old man, and disappointed I had failed to enlist my curse in a good cause. There really was no controlling it. It wasn't until I saw the headlines the next day that I began to feel a little better.

"Freak Accident Leads To Gruesome Discovery!" was the lead story that day in the Washington Post. When the authorities had gone to inform the crushed man's wife of the accident, they'd found her in the living room - and the kitchen - and the bedroom. She'd been hacked to bits and strewn about the couple's home like so much dirty laundry. Two more bodies were discovered buried in the backyard, and evidence of a third was found in the basement. The old man had deserved his fate, perhaps even more than Honest Jim would have.

As soon as I returned home, I started researching the people I, or rather, the curse had killed. The old woman run down in the parking lot was about to evict an even more elderly woman from one of her properties. The newscaster had been accused of sexually harassing his interns. Every one of them I could trace had some history of being thoroughly horrible people. That was probably why my neighbor avoided having a hammer go through his head. Being a nasty old crab didn't rise to the level of a capital offense as far as the curse was concerned. I never did find out what the mailman had done, but I suspect the incidents of missing mail on his route declined after his passing.

I no longer hide when three o'clock rolls around. In fact, I make it a point to be out and about, surrounded by as many people as possible. Death has a tough job. It makes sense he would outsource some of the labor. I do sometimes wonder though, who has been assigned to cover all the other hours of the day. Perhaps I should only go out at three.


  1. Some good dark humor with a sharp point. Nicely done.

  2. Makes you wonder how many people suffer from similar "curses" but never notice. Probably best not to try to channel or control this sort of curse if you do have it.

  3. A super read - well paced, exciting, humorous. The descriptions and action were vivid and you kept up the tempo throughout. I really enjoyed this