Before I take a shot at a very short story, I must bow to The Absolute Master, Jeffrey Whitmore, whose “Bedtime Story” is perfectly crafted and only 55 words long.
The night was cold; my heart was colder. Twinkling stars haloed a full moon. Up ahead my getaway car looked like nothing more than a dream, sensuous and surreal as it bathed in the pearly light. Suddenly the crisp air was scented with perfume…some flower, perhaps rhododendron.
I didn’t care. It was all stupid, and I really hated stupidity then.
What idiot would follow me into the parking lot after I even threatened to kill that stupid, sugary receptionist on the way out? It could only be…
“Mr. Doe, it’s the receptionist!”
Dumb bitch took me seriously when I told her my name was “John Doe,” but failed to take me seriously when I waved a gun, first at her criminally stupid boss…during which her response was a deranged smile…and then at herself.
“Sir, you forgot your gun.”
Brilliant. I imagined how easily I could testify on behalf of anyone wishing to prove this fool’s incompetence. I turned. There she was with a huge, shit-eating grin, holding my gun out toward me, silencer and all. I darted a glance around the parking lot, but there was no one left to see…if I used it on her after all.
Only reason I hadn’t used it on her boss was because I didn’t think I was stupid, at least at the time, and this state has the death penalty. I’d worn those annoying gloves while in the office, thinking it would be better to leave an otherwise-untraceable gun behind. That way I wouldn’t have it on me if anyone was smart enough to recognize me from my well-publicized trips to other states and call the cops.
But I’d always felt it was a waste of time to concern myself over the intelligence of others, and there were limits to my patience. Here was this unforgivably dull-witted receptionist, holding my gun out toward me with a silly, frilly hankie, no less, who actually laughed when I approached and snatched it back.
Why thank me? But if I’d been tempted to ask the imbecile or do the right thing with the gun she’d so thoughtfully returned, by ridding the world of her, she gave me little time. Instead she darted off to start up one of the three cars, including mine, left in the lot. The few other employees working overtime must have all fled when I threatened to kill the boss.
It was then that I heard the first siren. Funny, my gun felt too warm in my bare hand…for a weapon that hadn’t been fired. Much later, awaiting arraignment, I heard the cops listening to the local news: “Receptionist flees for her life after madman, who’s committed similar atrocities in six other states, murders her boss for the crime of being stupid.”