Saturday, April 30, 2011

#SampleSunday: How to Plan a Murder from "Killing Julie Morris"

An excerpt from my short story  "Killing Julie Morris" which is one of the stories in my collection, love, murder, etc.. When rich Julie Morris complains about the ice fountain designed for her kid's birthday party, a driver for the ice company starts thinking about things....

from Killing Julie Morris

I meant what I said,” he calls to me. “You don’t have to take the long run every time.”
I turn and shade my eyes looking up at him. “I know that. I like it.”
He shakes his head, jumps down, and walks closer. “Look, just because you’re my sister doesn’t mean you have to keep proving yourself to these guys here. We all know you’re tougher than the rest of us.” He’s grinning but his eyes are serious. “Manny said you haven’t been getting back until after dark every night. That’s nuts. The other drivers can swap off, no need for you to always be the last one in. Give yourself a break. Have some fun.”
I look down at our work boots. Toe to toe Vinnie isn’t much taller than me. Being big and muscular and tough is good in a man. He’s never realized it’s not the same for a woman. Vinnie has a wife and four kids. My last tank of fish died from neglect. He doesn’t see the difference.
I like driving up the coast,” I say. “I never get tired of it. I’ll try to go a little faster and get back earlier.”
Vinnie puts his hand on my shoulder. “That’s not the point. I don’t care when you get back. I just hate seeing you work longer hours than the rest of us.”
You work all the time, you just do it at home. Josephine said you were working on plans for that fountain all weekend.”
Vinnie sighs. “Yeah, well, that was a waste of time. Looks like I’ll be working on it again tonight.”
When’s the party?”
Not until June but you know Julie Morris — you can’t start too early to make plans for one of her parties.”
Why baseball bats?”
He laughs. “She said it’s her kid’s birthday and she’s inviting his Midget League team but I think she’s just sucking up to Henry Crane.”
Henry Crane?” I stare at him.
Yeah.” Vinnie taps the toe of his workboot with the ice bat, keeping his eyes lowered. “He’s the coach this year and she wants to make sure her kid gets to play a lot.” He shakes his head.
I take a deep breath. “You could tell her to get lost.”
He nods. ”Yeah, I could.”
But he won’t. That’s how Vinnie is.
I take the ice bat from him and, with a grin, pretend to swing it toward his head. “Well, the party isn’t until June. Maybe you’ll get lucky and somebody’ll shoot her and put her out of her misery.”
He laughs out loud. “We can only hope.”
He is still laughing as he turns and walks back to his ice plant. He got a kick out of the idea of Julie Morris being put out of her misery. Good. Because I’ve been thinking about ways to do that for years.

I’ve been driving this ice truck since high school and I’ve learned some real useful stuff. One is that you can watch what is going on all over the place. You drive the same roads every day and you have plenty of opportunity to watch people - it’s amazing how predictable most folks are. The other thing is you become invisible. I bet it’s the same for all delivery people but folks get so used to seeing you and your truck making your rounds they stop seeing you altogether. I like that.
I don’t remember when exactly I started thinking about killing Julie Morris. I’ve known her since first grade and until about sixth she was alright. Back then she was Julie Kaplanski and nothing special until we got into junior high and Julie got popular. She and her crowd tormented anyone who wasn’t in their group. I never knew why Julie singled me out for an added dose of torment. Maybe because I was tall and awkward and not much interested in girl things. But I think it had a lot to do with Vinnie, too. Vinnie is two years older and girls started fluttering around him from the time he was a Midget League baseball player himself which is really funny because Vinnie has never had eyes for anyone but Josephine. They’ve been together forever.
Even if it wasn’t for Josephine, Julie never would have been happy with Vinnie. Norwood Morris is her type. A big money guy, some kind of Washington lobbyist character, with lots of dough for buying lots of stuff. He travels, she spends. Perfect. In more ways than one.
That’s the thing about my work, I see everything. And I see Julie Morris when she doesn’t want to be seen. Like when her car is at fleabags, parked around back out of sight, in the afternoons when the kid’s at school and the nanny is available to pick him up. Julie Morris wouldn’t want folks to know what a slut she is. I don’t count of course. That’s what pisses me off the most. She knows I drive my ice truck. She’s even given me one of her phony little condescending smiles when she drives past me as I’m filling the ice machines outside those motels. But I don’t count to Julie Morris. Julie Morris doesn’t have to worry about a homely, gawky old maid who works for her brother’s ice company — not beautiful, rich, perfect Julie Morris, even when she’s riding her latest baloney pony at some fleabag motel on Route 1A. Why would someone like Julie Morris care if someone like me knows what she’s up to? Julie Morris is too far above me.
She thinks.
There are places you shouldn’t let your mind go to. When it starts you think you are just entertaining yourself, having a little bit of harmless fun. But then you start thinking about how you could actually do this thing, that’s when the real trouble starts. Continued...

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