by Gary Hoffman
This story was first published in 2006 in Crime and Suspense.
“In order to wear these socks, I’m gonna have to go buy new shoes that are two sizes larger than the ones I usually wear, or go without shoes at all.”
Judy stood with her hands on her hips looking at me like I had completely lost my mind. Then her foot started tapping. I knew that sign. Small tears were starting to form in the corners of her eyes. “Do you have any idea how hard I worked on those socks?”
I had an idea. I watched her knitting for three nights in a row as we sat in front of the television. I cringed as she started working in the intricate argyle patterns with red and yellow yarn into the dark blue. I prayed they weren’t for me. My prayers went unanswered. “Look, Judy, since they are knitted, they’re thick. Thick enough that I can’t get my regular shoes on over them. And they are argyles. I don’t wear argyles.”
“Argyles are coming back in, you know.”
“Well, maybe for some people, but not for me. I remember wearing them as a teenager, but I figured I was done with them after that.”
Tears started rolling down her face. “You just don’t appreciate the things I do for you,” she said as she stormed from the room. And that was a small storm! I felt the breeze from her skirt as she turned, and the newspaper I was reading crinkled. The thunder struck when she slammed the door to her bedroom. I felt the vibrations go through my feet.
I let the newspaper fall to my lap and thought about all the things that had seemingly gone wrong with our marriage since we moved. We had led a perfectly normal life for our first 34 years together. We raised three kids in a house we added onto as each child arrived. The house was located in a nice suburban neighborhood just outside St. Louis. We had a fairly large yard and a two-car garage. The kids grew up at least semi-normal and moved on. I retired. We found ourselves with more house than we needed and more lawn to maintain than I cared to handle. We took a two-week trip to Florida and came back to St. Louis the owners of a wonderful, high-rise condo apartment in Miami. We sold our house and made the joyous move. Somewhere in the next few months, “joy” moved out and something unexplainable moved in.
She was now driving me insane. When we had the house, I could at least escape to my workshop in the garage, or go mow the lawn in summer, or shovel snow in winter. I now had no escape. I was imprisoned in six rooms with someone who had become an out-of-control knitting maniac!
The knitting started just a month after moving to Miami. Our condo was full of senior citizens with all kinds of time on their hands. Several of these time-manipulating seniors took it upon themselves to form clubs of all sorts. Judy had never knitted anything in her life, until one of our neighbors, Ronda Goldstein, convinced her to join the knitting club.
Now, anything and everything that could possibly be made by knitting was adorning our condo. A partial list included potholders, pillow covers, tablecloths, and even some clothing. The knitted undershorts were the final straw for me. Talk about itch! This had to stop. It was not only all these knitted items, but our savings were flying out the window with them. Flying out the window? That’s not such a bad idea.
When Judy finally came back from hiding in her bedroom, I purposely got her into an argument which had now become an everyday occurrence. Some of our neighbors had even commented about our fighting. They could hear us through the expensive, but cheaply-built walls.
All I asked was what we were going to have for supper, and she blew! We ended up screaming and yelling at each other for about 10 minutes. She finally left and ran into the kitchen. As soon as she was gone, I turned off the tape recorder in our entertainment system. From that last performance, I knew I had to get rid of her.
I left the apartment and went up on the roof, counting the steps from our front door to the roof. Once on the roof, I counted the steps to the edge of the roof. I now figured I was directly above our apartment. I took out my pocket knife and scratched a mark in the tiles that covered the wall around the roof. Now I just had to wait until the right time.
The right time came the next day. “Roger, I have something to show you,” I heard her say before she came into the living room.
“Okay.” I could hardly wait to see what kind of monstrosity she had now knitted. I didn’t have to wait long. She came in the room wearing a top and skirt she had knitted. The top wasn’t bad, but the skirt had huge red and pink flowers all over it. It looked she had knitted the skirt and flowers separately. The flowers looked like they were stuck all over the skirt in some haphazard manor. There were even strings of yarn sticking out from under them. I was hoping she never asked me to leave the apartment with her if she was going to wear it. But I knew that wasn’t going to happen.
“Well, what do you think?”
“What are those little pieces of yarn sticking out from under the flowers?”
“They’re just where I tacked them on. It’s not finished yet. Is that all you have to say about it?” She was starting to roil up again.
“No. No. It’s very nice. And by the way, there’s something I would like to show you.”
She looked a bit suspicious. “And what’s that?”
“We have to go to the roof to see it.”
“Yes. The condo a couple down must also have a knitting club. I was up on the roof earlier and saw they had a bunch of afghans hanging up on their roof. I just thought you might like to see them.”
“Why, yes, Roger. I would.” She turned and started for the front door. I turned on the tape recorder as I left, knowing there was a three-minute dead space at the beginning. When we got to the roof, I directed her to the place where I had put the mark. She stood by the edge and looked out. “I don’t see anything.”
“You have to kind of lean out and look around tennis court on the building next to us.” She leaned out and I shoved. Judy went over the edge of the 22-story building. I couldn’t bear to look after her. I just turned and immediately ran back to the 18th floor and into our apartment. Our “argument” was still going on virtue of the tape recorder. I hit the erase button on my way to open the window. I then dialed 911. “My wife just jumped out the window of our apartment. I need help.” I was trying to sound excited.
“What’s your name and address, sir?”
“Roger Rimes. I live at 9029 W. Circle Drive. Apartment 1847.”
“I’ll get people on the way, sir.”
I hung up the phone and ran to the elevator. By the time I got to the ground floor, there was a crowd of people around Judy’s body. I glanced at her, but couldn’t bring myself to really look closely. There was a policeman on the scene. “That’s my wife,” I told him. “I can’t take this. I’m going back up to my apartment.”
“Understandable, sir. Which apartment?”
“Someone will be up to talk to you, Mr. Rimes.”
Once I got back in the apartment, I poured a stiff drink to calm myself down. I was getting my story set in my mind when someone knocked on the door. I went to answer it and looked through the peep hole. A man wearing a white shirt and tie was standing there. I opened the door. “Mr. Rimes?”
“I’m Detective Stabler with the Miami Police Department.” He flashed a badge. “May I come in?”
“Please. I just can’t believe this happened.”
“Why don’t you tell me what happened, sir.”
“Well, Judy and I got into another argument this morning. It’s been happening a lot lately. I’m sure our neighbors can attest to that.”
“I’ll talk to them. Go on.”
“Well, during our argument, she just went crazy. She said she was going to end all of this. She ran over and just jumped out the window. I couldn’t believe it.”
“Yes, that is difficult to believe. Has she had any tendencies like this before?”
“Tell me about the clothing she was wearing.”
“Her clothing. Where did it come from?” the detective asked.
“I don’t see what that has to do with anything.”
“Please just tell me about the clothing, sir.”
“It was an outfit she knitted. It really wasn’t even completed yet. She had just worn it into the living room before we got into the argument, and then she jumped.”
“So, you say she jumped from that window over there?” Detective Stabler said nodding his head towards the window.
“Yes, that’s what I told you!” He was beginning to aggravate me.
“And you’re sure of that?”
“Of course I’m sure! What the hell kind of a question is that?”
“So how would you explain one of the flowers from her skirt being found hooked to a tile on the wall around the roof?”
“Mr. Rimes, you’re under arrest for the murder of Mrs. Judy Rimes.”
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Very entertaining, thanks – I enjoyed it a lot!
Good story, Gary.
Enjoyed it, Gary. Merry Christmas!