Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Forties Club Finalist #14

Home Early
by Matthew A. Hamilton

He came home early because of the snow.

“Honey, I’m home,” he said.

No answer. He called again. “Honey?”

“So this is what an empty house sounds like?” he thought.

He looked out the window. The snow was coming down harder, bigger flakes this time. Trees danced in the wind, branches snapped.

He cracked his knuckles, then picked up the phone and called the police.

“How long has she been missing,” the officer said.

“Don’t know,” he said. “I came home from work early because of the snow. They said it was going to be a big one. She wasn’t here when I got here.”

“So she’s been gone for less than a day then, your saying.”

“Yea, I guess so. What does that have to do with anything?”

“You saw her this morning?”

“Yes, of course,” he said. “So you coming to help me find her or what?” His voice was a mix of worry and anger. “The snow is coming down harder now and I’m getting worried.”

The cop relented, didn’t see the point in keeping with the 48 hour limit.

They searched for his wife for a week, but didn’t find her. They questioned him after that, called him a possible suspect.

“Fuck you!” he yelled. “I didn’t kill my wife.”

The cops harassed him for another week, then quit. Two days after that, he called the life insurance company to ask about his money, asked how soon he could get it.

(Matthew is a US Peace Corps Volunteer serving in the Philippines. He has work in Metazen Magazine, Crows Nest Magazine, The Battered Suitcase, and others. He has forthcoming work in Black Lantern Publishing. He is a member of the online writing group, Fictionaut and a regular contributor to the weekly flash challenge, 52/250. After his Peace Corps service, Matthew will attend Fairfield University's MFA program in creative writing.)


JR's Thumbprints said...

I'm guessing he probably killed her, that it was a crime of passion. Why else would he leave the jewels on her? (My guess is based on the photograph.)

On a different note: The Battered Suitcase - another notch under "my" rejection belt.

Jade L Blackwater said...

I most like the subtleties you use here that clue us in on the narrator - "so this is what an empty house..." and knuckle cracking, and the final line is a nice touch.

If you wanted, I think you could slip in a short, pointed question from the police, adding a line of dialog before he proclaims he didn't kill his wife.

Oddyoddyo13 said...


Nope. That doesn't make him look guilty at all.

Peter Dudley said...

I hope this is the beginning of a ghost story where she ends up haunting him.

Erratic Thoughts said...

Liar Liar pants on Fire...
He did sound fishy up there...
Really Great Work...

Katherine Tomlinson said...

Now that's ... cold. Good story.

Deb Smythe said...

Ooo, good story! Very subtle. Well done.

Dottie (Tink's Place) said...

Hi Matthew!

Nicely done, he surely did her in... let's hope he gets his.

Dottie :)

Vincent Kale said...

Sorry, this one didn't work for me. If he'd actually off'd his wife, why would he call out for her? Maybe he's a bit cracked and is doing it as a joke, but if it's just for the sake of tricking the reader, then it doesn't work.

Some of the transitions were a little clunky. Like the cops were resistant one second, then out in the woods searching the next. And as mentioned above, a line of dialogue before the guy denies killing his wife would have smoothed it out a bit.

JaneyV said...

I wonder if it was the wife who set him up....


Laurel said...

I love the way you use this line as a hinge for the piece:

“So this is what an empty house sounds like?” he thought.

I also thought it could have been done in italics, without the "he thought" tag, and saved you two word plus added a visual punch.

Aside from a typo I thought this was fantastic! Loved the story and the sneakiness of it. Positively insidious.

SzélsőFa said...

from this line on So this is what an empty house sounds like?” he thought i knew where the story was heading.
i smiled all the way :)

wv: unriddl

bekbek said...

Ha! I like Peter's suggestion! Fodder for a longer short story, or a novel?