Have Yourself a Merry Little Fourth-of-July: Mystery Short Story

Jun 29, 2017 | 2017 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze, Terrific Tales

by Tom Raber

Enjoy this never before published mystery short story.

“We’ll kill him July Fourth. Think, Dummy, think. All the firecrackers going off, a gunshot will blend right in. We kill him in plain sight, or I should say, plain sound.”

“That is not an original idea. I’ve read that scenario in two-hundred-and fifty-three-thousand and one-fourth mystery novels. If you read anything more than the warning label on your packs of cigarettes, you’d have known that. But the cops do. Besides, cops can hear the difference between an M-Eighty and a gunshot.”gun

“You fool. Bang. Both make a big bang. No way a patrol car can tell the difference in a boom. I can prove it.”

“You’re right. The patrol car can’t tell the difference, the cop inside can.”

“You read too many detective novels for your own good. What happens in detective novels? The detective always solves the case. In real life lots of cases go unsolved. That’s why they have cold case departments. And usually the cases just get colder ‘til they icier than the Antarctic. But, say I put some stock in your hypotheses. If they can tell the difference between the sound of firecracker and a gunshot, not that I believe it, not that I’m saying that they can, but if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”

“We get a gun that sounds no louder than a firecracker?”

“No, lunkhead. I don’t have a lab to test the decibels between guns and ‘crackers. No, instead, we get a whole bunch of firecrackers, bunch of the big-bang works. And we open up the squelcher’s door and toss ‘em all in with a good blaster cap to set them all off. It’s a Fourth-of-
July fireworks accident.”

“Why can’t the squelcher run out when he sees us open the door and throw something in?”

“He can’t outrun dynamite. That’s what a firecracker is, a little stick of dynamite.”fireworks

“How much does he owe you?”


“Wouldn’t it be easier to work a payment schedule out with him than kill him?”

“Look, he’s not going to pay. Some guys smuggle drugs, rob a bank, whatever to pay off what they owe. But he’s not going to. He’s planning on hightailing it out of the country, my sources tell me. So, I got to show the other ‘borrowers’ that you don’t mess with the King. You don’t pay, you die. Plus I don’t trust him. He may try to take out insurance, make a pre-emptive strike himself, so I won’t be alive to track him to South America. So, you want the job or not. Two-thousand for an hours work, I’ll get the ‘supplies’ tomorrow.”

“Two-thousand don’t seem like a lot to settle that kind of debt.”

“What? I’m already losing fifty-g’s. With your payment, fifty-two. Look, you want the job or not. If you don’t, I got to find someone else today and get the explosives.”money

“I’ll take it.”

“Okay, I’ll meet you at the pier, at dusk on the fourth.”

“I made sure there’ll be a lot of noise in his neighborhood. I got a good neighbor to ‘donate’ firecrackers to every kid within three blocks. I just talked to the ‘good neighbor’ on my cell. Already there were so many blasts going off, I could hardly hear him.”

“Like here.”

“Oh yeah, they’re having a lot of on-shore parties. Wow, that was a loud one. Well, here’s your supply.”fireworks

“Mind if I test one?”

“Sure….here you go…hey back up a little…hey…HEY, what…What?”

“I know the receptions not so great, but…there wasn’t even any sirens. I guess The King was right, the patrol cars can’t tell the difference between a firecracker and a gunshot even when they’re right around the corner. Oh, and thanks for the up-front payment, you don’t have to leave the country now. Ha, ha, yeah, you couldn’t afford to leave the country now anyway, but, five-thousand is better to pay than fifty to get someone off your back. And hey, have a happy Fourth-of-July.”

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section.


Tom Raber is primarily a playwright and hae had several 10-minute & 1-act’s produced, among them, the Carrolwood players in Florida, Garfield Players, and the Actors Studio–not THE Actors Studio but the late great lamented actors studio of WAUL in Cleveland where he was a playwright-in-residence. Tom also had several short stories published in the 1980s in small press magazines–Thin Ice, Haunts, and others. Also, though now a vegetarian, he used to be a “diner’s digest” restaurant reviewer for Ohio Magazine.


  1. Entertaining story. Clever writing with the twist at the end, enjoyed that very much.

  2. Great story! Have a happy Fourth of July weekend.

    • thanks for the nice comment and i’m glad you enjoyed it. tom

  3. Clever story with a neat twist at the end. Good job.

    • thanks for the nice comment and i’m glad you enjoyed it. tom

    • thanks earl, i’m glad you liked it, tom


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