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Gut-Shots: To Be Opened Upon My Death by Roy Dorman

Falling out of Love can lead to messy business. Especially in The Gutter.

To Be Opened Upon My Death by Roy Dorman

“Two hours ago your husband gave me $25,000 to have you killed. He’ll give me another $25,000 when the job’s done,” said Johnny Baxter.

Johnny was meeting with the wife of Michael Farley, a local real estate wheeler-dealer, who was doing pretty well now that the housing market had finally started to turn around.

He and Jessica Farley were in a dark little working class watering hole a few blocks off Rush Street in downtown Chicago. It was 2:30 in the afternoon and they were the only customers in the place. The bartender was watching the Cubs game and barely looked at him when Johnny picked up drinks at the bar and carried them back to the booth. The volume on the TV was turned up loud and that worked just fine as far as Johnny was concerned.

“This briefcase right here has the $25,000. I was thinkin’ that maybe you’d like to up the ante,” said Johnny, pointing to battered black leather briefcase on the booth’s table top.

“Actually, since Illinois has some marital property provisions, I think that probably half of the money in that briefcase is technically mine,” said Jessica with a little smirk. “What if I gave you $25,000 plus that to kill Michael?”

“That’s still only $50,000. I was lookin’ to come out of this with a little more. That’s why I asked if you wanted to meet,” said Johnny. “To give you the chance to save your life. Michael’s got connections in town, ya know. There’d be some risk takin’ him out instead of you.”

Jessica had made some connections of her own recently. Just after they sat down she had taken a pistol equipped with a silencer from her purse and had it cradled in her lap. “I could go another $10,000, but that’s it. If you were going to kill me for $50,000, I don’t see why $50,000 wouldn’t be enough to do Michael. Risk must be a big part of your business.”

“Hey, I could kill you or Michael, I don’t care. Or even both of you if I feel pissy. Hell, I could just keep the $25,000 and let your estate sue me for breach of contract,” said Johnny, laughing at his own attempt at humor.

“So, you could kill me, or Michael, or both of us. I think that you left out one other option,” said Jessica as she shot Johnny point blank in the forehead. “You forgot neither. Neither is another option.”

At the sound of the muffled shot, the bartender looked around the bar with a puzzled look on his face but then went back to game. After putting the gun back into her purse, Jessica arranged Johnny so that he was sitting up straight in the booth and looking away from the bar. She picked up the briefcase and walked out. The bartender didn’t even see her leave. It wasn’t until a walk-off double knocked in the winning run ending the game in the bottom of the ninth that he finally came over to see if more drinks were needed.
Later that evening, Jessica was standing in the kitchen drinking a glass of wine when Michael got home. If he was surprised to see her, his face didn’t show it.

“So, how was your day, Michael?” asked Jessica. “Your dinner’s in the microwave; I’ll nuke it a bit while you wash up.”

Now Michael did show a little bit of confusion. He wondered why she was being so nice to him; so “wifey.” She hadn’t made him dinner in weeks. “Oh, I closed on a couple of properties and made offers on a couple of others that looked good,” he said. “Same ol’, same ol’. What about you?”

“Oh, we can talk when you sit down to dinner,” said Jessica.

When Michael returned, Jessica had put his dinner on the table in the place he had usually occupied back when they used to eat meals together. Jessica was sitting opposite him in her usual spot.

“Aren’t you going to have something to eat?” asked Michael as he started in on the fettuccini Alfredo.

“No, I had a late lunch; I’m just going to drink my dinner tonight.”

Michael saw that she had refilled her glass. He shrugged and continued to eat. He then watched as Jessica picked up a briefcase from the floor by her chair and set it on the table. She then aimed the pistol she’d had on her lap at Michael.

“I met with a business acquaintance of yours by the name of Johnny this afternoon,” said Jessica. “He wanted me to give him money to kill you. We couldn’t come to an agreement and I’m afraid I had to kill him.”

“Now hold on, Jessica,” said Michael. “You don’t have all the pieces to the puzzle.”

“Oh, I think I know as much as I need to; I know you pretty well. I made out three letters and gave them to people I trust this afternoon. Just in case you get any more ideas. Ya know, you should probably do the same; how do ya know I didn’t put something in that fettuccini?’

Johnny grimaced and set down his fork. “I think I know you better than you think….”

Just then, the doorbell rang. “Expecting company?” asked Jessica, standing up to get the door but not letting her aim waver from Michael’s chest.

“Yeah, I am. I think you’ll be surprised by who it is,” said Michael.

Jessica opened the door to an attractive young woman carrying a briefcase.

“Come in, come in,” said Jessica, waving the pistol toward the kitchen.

“I can come back later if you folks are in the middle of something,” said the woman.

“No, Brenda, come on in,” called Michael from the kitchen. “I was just about to tell Jessica about our little business arrangement.”

Brenda sat at the table and gave Michael a “What the hell are you doing?” look. “Just put the briefcase on the table next to that other one, Brenda,” said Jessica. “I can hardly wait to hear what you two cooked up.”

“Well,” started Michael. “Brenda here is, or was, Johnny’s wife. She wanted somebody to get rid of Johnny for her, but was afraid that whoever she talked to would take it back to Johnny. Brenda and I met when she was at an open house I was giving on the north side a few weeks back. We had a couple of drinks afterward and she let me know about her dilemma. Between the two of us, we came up with a plan that would work for everybody.”

“Everybody except Johnny, that is,” said Jessica.

“Right, right, everybody except Johnny,” laughed Michael. “I was to hire Johnny to kill you. When I met with Johnny and we settled on $50,000, I joked with him that I was getting by cheap; you would probably give him more to kill me. I knew that you had that pistol and that you probably wouldn’t be able to come with a deal you liked with Johnny. The rest is history, right?”

“Except, asshole, what if Johnny had just killed me?” asked Jessica. “What if he hadn’t taken the hint? Never mind, it’s done. So what’s in the briefcase, Brenda?”

Brenda looked at Michael and he nodded that she should go ahead and tell Jessica. “I offered Michael $50,000 to kill Johnny. Johnny’s briefcase there has the $25,000 down payment that I gave to Michael and he gave to Johnny to kill you. My briefcase here is the final $25,000 for killing Johnny.”

“It would appear that the money in these two briefcases belongs to me. After all, I killed Johnny, right? Now I might be stating the obvious here, but can either of you think of a reason that I shouldn’t just kill you both right now and move on with my life?” Jessica asked.

“Now that’s why I asked Brenda to come over tonight,” said Michael. “You and I both know that you haven’t been happy married to me for quite some time now. Brenda and I have been seeing each other and would like to be together. Ya know, get married. I’d give you a really great divorce settlement, plus the $50,000 is yours to keep. So whadda ya think?”

Jessica thought about it for five seconds. Then shot Michael and Brenda. With their unsavory business connections, the police would probably tie their deaths to Johnny’s. Since Jessica only knew a couple of small-time street thugs, they wouldn’t be likely to connect her to this mess. She just had to find a believable place to put the bodies so that they could be “discovered.”

“Let’s just hope these dopes didn’t have the sense to leave any “To Be Opened Upon My Death” letters,” she muttered, closing the trunk of Michael’s Cadillac.

Roy Dorman is retired from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Benefits Office. Unlike many of the characters in the stories he writes, Roy rarely shoots people he disagrees with. He usually doesn’t even raise his voice. So much for “Write What You Know.” Roy has had stories published in Yellow Mama, Shotgun Honey, Near To the Knuckle, and a number of other online and print magazines including Dark Dossier.

"To Be Opened Upon My Death" first appeared at England's Close To The Bone