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  • Writer's pictureTory Anne Brown

The Box of Kleenex - a short story

One of the stories from my dark side:

The box of Kleenex

Linda picked up the box of Kleenex and dabbed her eyes as the young, rookie police officer comforted her. Fifteen minutes before, she had stood over her dying husband, gun in her hand. He probably didn’t deserve to die. After all, she supposed that being critical of her meatloaf wasn’t a hanging offense, it was just that lately he was critical of everything. So what if she liked watching her daytime television? So what if he didn’t have his shirts ironed?

“He was lucky I gave him food on the table and clean clothes!” she thought as she sobbed again and went over the story she had rehearsed.

“I heard a noise in our back yard and I woke Sam. We have had problems with the homeless people entering our yard from the alleyway behind our house, police records show that.” Linda sobbed, grabbed more Kleenex, and continued.

“Sam, my husband, that’s his name, got out his gun, you know, to scare them off, but when he came down the stairs, he tripped on the ottoman. At some point I think he must have hit his head on the coffee table too, I don’t know. I heard the gun go off, twice I think,” she sobbed.

“He could have shot me!”

The detective who was taking down notes couldn’t help but notice blood on the flimsy pink tank top that barely contained her voluptuous chest, and the tight, form-fitting, denim shorts that Linda wore. He nodded, still staring admiringly at her heaving chest that appeared to be unrestricted by a bra. Linda saw the admiring glance that took in everything from her rich, auburn hair, down to her pedicured bare feet.

“Are you okay? Is any of this blood yours?” he asked but Linda shook her head as she continued to mop her tear-stained face. She had contemplated cutting herself for appearances, but she didn’t want to have any lasting, visible scars from this colossal mistake she was now in the midst of correcting.

“Did you see anything outside?” the senior officer asked as he took pictures of the inside and outside of the house and of the gun, then of her husband, the blood spatters, and the two bullet holes.

Linda thought the veteran officer looked like a short, squatty, toad and half expected him to flick out his tongue in the air. She almost grinned at the imagery before looking away from him and coming back into the present. Toad turned and took a snapshot of the coffee table.

“I didn’t see anyone. I think the gunshot or gunshots scared whoever was out there away. He’s still holding the gun. He just bought it so we would feel protected, and look what happened!” she sobbed.

“May I see your hands?” the coroner asked.

Linda wiped some of Sam’s blood off onto the handful of Kleenex, before stretching out her arms to the coroner, and offered her hands, palms up. The coroner took two swabs and swiped them across each of Linda’s hands before placing each of the swabs in two separate vials. He labeled them, then put them in his bag.

“What was that for?” she paused from her sobs long enough to ask.

“It looks like an accident but we still have to check for gun powder residue,” he answered.

Linda’s mouth fell open as she gazed wide-eyed from one to another of the men in the room. Her scrutiny of the officers’ expressions made them look away. She tried to avoid looking at her husband and the puddle of blood on the tan carpet.

“Dammit, I guess I’ll have to clean up after him one last time,” she thought as she silently cursed her husband for bleeding so profusely. She gazed at the officials in disbelief.

“You think I did this?” she asked, her voice raising an octave. She didn’t see holes in her story; she had to get them to believe her.

“Do I need a lawyer?” she asked as she paused to take a deep breath, much to the gratification of the men who had their eyes on her chest instead of watching her expression. The veteran officer flipped his notebook closed and ignored her question.

“Bob, it’s okay to take Mr. Avery now.”

“Tell me how you got blood on your hands again, Mrs. Avery,” Toad asked.

“Are you going to arrest me? For my husband’s accident? I’m not answering any more of your questions without my lawyer present,” Linda said, and backed away from the men and sat down on the third stair, Kleenex box in hand.

She leaned forward, took another tissue from the box, wiped her swollen eyes, and put her head in her hands, transferring some of the blood from her hands to her red, cascading hair. Her chest came close to tumbling out of her tank top but didn’t, much to the dismay of the men who were secretly encouraging the duo to roam freely from their skimpy confines.

“I tried to save him,” she started rocking herself and repeated again and again as tears again streamed down her face. She looked down at the wads of tissue in her bloody hands.

“Is there someone we can call for you, Mrs. Avery?” the rookie officer finally found his voice and asked her.

“Linda, please, my name is Linda,” she looked up at him and gave him a forced attempt at a watery smile. “I don’t know; I can’t think right now.”

“What do I do now? What am I going to do? Sam is dead,” she wailed again, a fresh river of tears dripped down onto her top. She dabbed her eyes again.

“Maybe we should call her an ambulance and have her checked out at the hospital,” the rookie suggested to the veteran.

Linda shook her head quickly then took a couple deep breaths, much to the delight of the men in the room who were watching her.

“No, I don’t want to do that that, but I can’t stay here tonight,” she softly hiccupped. “I’m going to get a room for a couple days. Do you have everything you need?”

“We have everything,” the coroner said as he and his partner rolled her husband’s body into a black vinyl bag, zipped it up with a finality that Linda secretly found refreshing, and then lifted him onto the gurney and strapped him down.

“Please give us a call if you can think of anything else, or just need to talk,” the detective handed his business card to her. She noted he had hand-written his cell phone number on the back of it; she tucked it into the strap of her tank top. His eyes followed her hand, then he dropped his gaze down to his notebook.

“I will,” she struggled to catch her breath before tears began to well up again.

“We will need to know where you are staying, in case we have more questions,” Toad stepped forward. Linda almost smiled at the thought that he should have hopped.

I’ll call you with the details,” she turned to face the detective, ignoring the short, squat veteran’s implied warning.

“Is this considered a crime scene or can I call someone to help with clean up?” she asked the room in general, to anyone who would answer.

“We’ve gotten everything we need. Do you have someone to help you? There are some companies that specialize in this sort of thing,” the detective offered. “I could get you their numbers if you like.”

“That would be good,” Linda nodded absently. She was already three steps ahead of him but it wouldn’t hurt to have an ally on the police force.

She went into the kitchen to book her hotel room, then returned to the living room as the toad took one last glance around, and the detective and rookie took one last, longing, look at her gorgeous, voluptuous body. She knew the effect she had on men; it was one of her many assets. She paused and straightened up her shoulders. The officers’ mouths dropped open but quickly closed as they hurried to the front door.

She saw them out, then shut the door behind them and locked it before breathing a huge sigh of relief. She frowned at the large, dark, puddle of blood on the carpet, shrugged, then reached inside her top and under her large breasts to retrieve the gloves she had worn to fire the gun. She would dispose of them later, she decided, as she strolled upstairs to shower off what was left of Sam’s wasted life and to finish packing the travel bag she had readied the previous week in preparation for this cause for celebration.

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