Guilt by association by Carl DeVere
This Sentence Starts The Story contest entry
"Give me twenty," I was mumbling. I wanted to sleep for twenty more minutes. It was early Saturday morning and my new wife and I were sleeping in. Suddenly my wife nudged me awake and said, "There's someone at the front door". I was grumpy at the news. It was still too early to deal with any intrusions. I groggily got into some sweat pants and a t-shirt. When I opened the door there were two men standing there...an older man and a much younger man.
The older man said, "Are you Thomas Nudnik?" I got upset, "It's pronounced Nood-nik--yeah that's me--who are you?"
"I'm Detective Bradley and this is my partner, Detective Newton," he stated. They both showed their badges. I checked to see if the badges were real and replied, "OK--what's this all about?"
"I'm sorry to inform you sir but your ex-wife Joanne was found murdered last night," he said, almost belligerently.
"Joanne!" I was stunned, "I don't know what to say"
"Can you tell us where you were last night?" Bradley continued, deadpan as ever.
"Wa-where was I?" I stammered, feeling a tightness in my throat.
Then Newton spoke in a much gentler manner--almost sympathetic, "You have to understand that it's our job to check out all possible leads--just routine"
I was covered and said it was my poker night and that I was there from around 9 PM to sun-up. Bradley asked to provide contact information to verify. I stuttered, "Sh-Sure I-I'll get you some names and numbers." I invited them in while I got my phone.
Just then my wife came down the stairs and asked what was going on. Bradley filled her in and asked where I was last night. She said that I was with her until my poker night at around 9 PM and came home at sun-up. I texted them the contacts. Newton then checked his phone and thanked me for my co-operation saying, "We'll let you know as soon as you're in the clear."
Cops--they are scary sometimes. I could not believe it. My mind was spinning. I thought about a drunken conversation that I had at a bar with a complete stranger about a week ago. I was upset with Joanne because she was now demanding double her alimony. The stranger said, "Have you ever seen that old Alfred Hitchcock movie, Strangers On a Train? I told him Hitch was my favorite director and that movie was a classic.
The stranger told me that he was also unhappy with his current wife and suggested we exchange murders. It would be a perfect crime since we were complete strangers. I thought that he was joking but quickly got into the fantasy mood. I showed him how I would kill his wife with a simple short rope strangulation. I even went so far as to give him Joanne's real address and how to get in.
Had he done it? Was I now expected to return the favor? What a dope I could be. What a mess.
I had wanted to kill Joanne. Would the cops grill some kind of confession out of me? Would the prosecutor find loopholes in where I was? There's no death sentence in this state--but I might get convicted. Murder might get me life. Would I be eligible for parole in twenty years? If the verdict was read and I was sentenced to life imprisonment--would I suddenly blurt out to the judge, "Give me twenty!"
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