by Gail Farrelly
Gail has shared many of her short stories with KRL and we are excited to have this New Year’s story of hers to share with you now.
They say New Year’s Eve in New York is special. Well, this one was, that’s for sure. At least for me.
I stare down at the stained blue rug. The corpse has been wheeled out to the mortuary van, but the chalk outline of the literary critic’s tortured body remains as a creepy reminder for me and the other ten members of my writing club. The clock is striking twelve; the New Year has begun. But still — I can’t take my eyes off that outline.
She was a critic who had always ripped apart my mystery stories, saying that they lacked structure, realism and verve. And she had constantly reminded me that motive, means, and opportunity — all three of them — were needed to make a good mystery.
She would have liked tonight’s story. Except for the ending.
You see, she was allergic to peanuts, and I just happened to have a bag of them in my purse. And, oops! A few peanut crumbs had landed in her drink when she left it unattended on the piano for a few minutes. In my mind, I toast the late critic for reminding me about means and opportunity. As to motive? She herself provided that.
At many meetings of the writing club, I had quietly seethed at her ruthless criticism. She had taken my dignity, my reputation, and my pride while tearing apart my work. But tonight she had stepped over the line and taken something much more valuable.
It happened downstairs a few hours ago. Just as I was about to back my Jeep Cherokee into a nice big parking space down the block, she sneaked up from the rear in her mini Cooper and maneuvered herself into the space. My space!
I continue to stare at the chalk outline and feel no guilt. I could stand it when she constantly criticized my work and whittled away at my enthusiasm for writing. But this time she had gone too far. Enough!
As a native New Yorker, she should have known better. Stealing a parking space is punishable by death.
And there’s no appeal