The Thanksgiving Day Face Transplant: An Original Mystery Short Story

Nov 19, 2011 | 2011 Articles, Contributors, Mysteryrat's Maze, Terrific Tales

by Gail Farrelly

Enjoy this Thanksgiving mystery short story by Gail Farrelly, originally published online several years ago! Watch for another original Thanksgiving mystery this coming Wednesday evening. Enjoy!

I’m thankful I was born a Mafia princess.

I’ve enjoyed my birthright for most days of my 41 years.

I was especially glad of my “princess” status last fall when I hatched a plan to prevent my arrest on murder charges. You see, three weeks before, I had shot and killed my cheating husband, Sal Locatelli, in our co-op in New York City. I had done it with utmost care and precision. I had left no forensic evidence and had a credible alibi.

One problem, though. I had been caught on videotape in the hallway entering and leaving our co-op building right at the time of the murder. Careless, you say? I prefer to think of it as unlucky. A “family” member had taken care of disconnecting the video camera, but apparently some good Samaritan had connected it again, right before the murder. Yikes!

So my face had become a liability. It was the only thing connecting me to the murder. The police, I feared, would be coming to arrest me any day.

What to do? It was when I was watching a rerun of the Sopranos that the idea came to me. The theme song, “Woke Up This Morning,” got me thinking. It was that line, “Got Yourself a Gun” that kept replaying in my head. I began to think. What if I “Got Myself a Face.” A new face, that is. I hummed along with the music, then slightly changed the lyrics. This time I was singing to myself, “Get Yourself a Face.” Yes! Now I had a plan.

Plain old plastic surgery was not an option. I had already had more than my share of that. No, it was a whole new face I needed, and I knew exactly how it could be done. Just a few days before, I had been reading an article about something that was formerly the stuff of science fiction — face transplants. Medical scientists in many areas of the globe had been perfecting the operation for years.

I put the “family” onto it, and within a few days, they had found me a face. It belonged to Jenny Melville, a 31-year-old prostitute who had overdosed on the streets of Boston. She had no further need for her face. Perfect! Her death was kept a secret from official sources. My father blackmailed one of the world’s finest surgeons into doing the surgery, and we were in business. On Thanksgiving Day, I traded in my 41-year-old face for one that was ten years younger.

I had a lot to be thankful for, not the least of which was a new face!

Throughout the surgery and painful recovery period in Boston, I kept my eye on the prize: a new face — and a 31-year-old one at that! I kept thinking of those makeover shows on TV in which ugly ducklings, after much pain and suffering, were turned into swans. I was confident that the same thing would happen to me.

And it did! I had no major medical complications. I suffered a lot of pain, but it was worth it. I said a prayer every day for the late Jenny Melville. After all, I looked exactly like her. She had been a beautiful woman, and my surgeon had taken great care, even making some modifications to my underlying bone structure, to make the transformation complete. Her face was my face. I moved back to New York, bought a condo, established a new identity using the name of Elisa Clarkson, and thought I was home free.

But six months later there was a knock on the door. “Open up lady, it’s the police.” Uh-oh.

I opened the door and the two detectives, a Mutt and Jeff pair, introduced themselves. I had no choice but to invite them in. Then they dropped the bombshell. The tall one said, “Jenny Melville, I presume.” I gulped but tried to remain calm as he continued, “We have a warrant for your arrest for the murder of your husband, Horace Melville, in San Diego. We’ve been all over the country, looking for you for five years.”

He pulled handcuffs from his pocket. “Put your hands behind your back, lady.”

As he cuffed me, I protested, “Don’t be ridiculous. My name is Elissa Clarkson, and I don’t know anybody by the name of Melville. I’ve never even been to California.”

The short detective was unimpressed. “Yeah, yeah, tell that to your defense attorney.”

“Or to Oprah,” the tall one added. They both had a laugh at my expense. Then the short one read me my rights, and looked me in the eye. “It’s that mug of yours. A nice one, gotta say. We have it all on tape. You shot your husband outside the 7-Eleven and thought you got away with it. You can change your name and move across the country, Ms. Melville, or whatever you’re calling yourself now, but you can’t change your face. We got the whole story on a security tape. The tape doesn’t lie, lady.”

Tell me about it, I was thinking. The tall detective once again added his two cents. “It was you all right, and you’re going down for it.”

Being brought out of my condo by the police, I had a moment of total despair. My family had a lot of power but it wasn’t brainpower. Why were they stupid enough to find me the face of a murderer? Why weren’t they more careful in checking out the background of Jenny Melville? I remember thinking, “Wait until my father hears about this. Heads will roll.” Then I had a moment of black humor. Maybe some of those rolling heads could be inventoried for the “new face” business. After all, the Mafia is always looking for ways to expand their business.

My “Thanksgiving” face wasn’t something to be thankful for after all. So now I’m thoroughly disgusted and sitting in a California jail awaiting trial. It’s bad enough to be jailed for the murder of your scum of a husband. But to be in jail for the murder of someone else’s scum of a husband! What a bummer.

I’ve put out the word. I’m in the market for another face. This one belonging to somebody with a clean record. No murderers need apply! But first things first. I have to get out of this cell. It won’t be easy. There are only two choices: a prison break or bail. No chance of the latter, so guess it’ll have to be the former. No sweat. There’s a cute prison guard by the name of Vince Spinelli. He may see things the way my family does. My father will have a word with him. He’ll make Vince an offer he can’t refuse.

Then I’m movin’ on out.

If you love mysteries, why not check out Left Coast Crime:
Mystery Conference in Sacramento, March 29-April 1, 2012.Registration through 12/31/2011 is only $210 (it goes up to $225 after that). Registration information can be found at the conventionwebsite, or by sending an email to or

Gail Farrelly writes mystery novels and short stories as well as Op-Eds & satire pieces on, a British website. Her first mystery, Beaned In Boston was named to the Washington Irving Book Selection List. Gail’s other books are Duped By Derivatives & Creamed at Commencement. She’s working on a fourth mystery, The Virtual Heiress. Gail shares a website with her sister Rita, also a mystery writer; first chapters of the Farrelly mysteries are available on the website.

1 Comment

  1. Clever story!!!


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