The Last Laugh: A Mystery Short Story

Jan 19, 2013 | 2013 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze, Terrific Tales

by Jonette Stabbert

This story previously appeared in the Winter 2007 issue of the now defunct online magazine Mouth Full of Bullets.

Bootsy was small but strong; all those workouts in the gym kept her lithe and muscled. Nonetheless, dragging a dead man through the woods was hard work and she was relieved when she finally reached the clearing that the summer people used for campfires.

She kicked piles of leaves out of the way, then removed a cotton handkerchief from Orville’s jacket pocket and wiped her face. Despite the crisp autumn air, she was sweating like a pig; the white cotton turned tan from her makeup. She gave Orville’s body a mighty kick. “Bastard!” she shouted. God, that felt good. She kicked him some more.

“You won’t laugh at me anymore, you smug son-of-a-bitch,” she yelled. “Who’s got the last laugh now, huh?” He would never again call her a stupid bimbo, never go on about how he’d only married her for her looks, about how she was just poor white trash and how grateful she should be for the roof over her head and her fine clothes. She’d never again have to do all the disgusting things he demanded of her in return for being his wife. She’d put up with it, because being a rich creep’s young trophy wife was better than being a poor exotic dancer. But now she was a widow–a very rich one, even though he’d told her that he’d left her nothing in his will.

It didn’t take long to collect a suitable amount of firewood. It was as if it had been lying around, waiting for her to gather it together. The wood was dry and the twigs snapped easily.

Bootsy lit the match and watched the fire start. Building fires was the only useful thing she had learned from the Girl Scouts. She sat on her haunches and watched the flames lick at the corpse. For a moment, she debated whether to toss in her wedding ring, but then decided she would keep it as a souvenir.

Damn! She’d forgotten to remove Orville’s ring. The bones would burn to nothing, she was fairly sure, but if anyone found the ring… So what? With the kind of money she had, she could buy her way out of any trouble. Maybe she should burn down the house, too, as a final gesture.

Nah. She’d just pick up a plane ticket and fly off to some sunny Mediterranean country. Maybe she’d go to Cannes. Or St. Tropez. Maybe a talent scout or film producer would discover her. She could possibly become famous. Then she’d be rich and famous.

She wanted him to burn. There was no way she was going to allow that evil s.o.b. to have a funeral, knowing it would draw crowds of his rich cronies who would give speeches about how wonderful and clever he was. No way! He would burn in Hell, but first, she’d give him a preparatory roasting.

It was Orville’s own fault he was dead. If only he hadn’t laughed at her. That’s what finally killed him. He had laughed at her many times in the past, but never non-stop. He’d called her all kinds of insulting names in the past, too. This time had been different. He wouldn’t stop. He roared. She’d told him how she was divorcing him because she’d come into a fortune. He laughed so hard he cried when she told him she’d gotten the good news in an email from a Nigerian princess. He’d paused to ask a question. She replied that of course she’d sent her bank details. Sheesh! He must have believed that she was truly stupid; how else could she arrange to receive millions of dollars for helping the princess?

What was so funny? Orville laughed and laughed until his face turned red. He laughed until he ran out of breath and he clutched his chest and his face turned blue.

Bootsy strutted back to the house, casting one last look over her shoulder. Now she’d never know what was so funny, but she yelled one more time at the fire,

“The last laugh’s on me, Orville!”

Jonette Stabbert lives in the Netherlands. Besides flash fiction, she has also written widely on travel, motivation, humor, books and other subjects. She was on the original editorial staff of Flashquake and edits Amsterdam Scriptum (currently on hiatus).


  1. Very cute story!


  2. Very funny!

  3. Enjoyed it. Very clever. Not one wasted word!

  4. Thanks for the laughs, Jonette. Nice story.

  5. Excellent story, Jonette. Clever and well-written. I wonder if her Nigerian princess is the same one who’d going to make me filthy rich.

  6. Ha! Ha! Ha! Does that mean I’ll have to share my fortune with Earl Staggs and now also with Bootsy?? I knew it was too good to be true!!! Great quick turned clever story!!!


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