Today, we learn the fate of our friends introduced to you in yesterday’s Micro-Fiction Monday.
By: Rachel A. Carrera
Close to an hour later, Ron whistled as he headed out his back door. “Brody! Come on, boy, it’s time to eat!” He curiously looked across the hedge to Steve’s back yard.
Steve smirked as he stepped out of his car and made a beeline to his grill. He fanned a puff of smoke that smelled of charred meat. He cut into the meat and blew on it, then took a bite. As he chewed, he stretched his back and eyed Ron. “Your dog’s dead, Crane. I told you to keep that mutt away from here.” He cut into the meat and shoved another bite in his mouth, then chewed it heartily.
Ron stepped toward the hedge. “So, you did see him.”
Steve sneered and cut another bite. “See him? I tasted him! He’s delicious. You want a bite?” He held up a forkful of meat then thrust it in his mouth and smiled wickedly as he chewed.
Ron’s nostrils flared as he glared at his neighbor. Then he took a deep breath and folded his arms as he smirked. “Well, I’m glad you’re enjoying that barbecue so much. But that’s not Brody you’re eating. It’s Laura.”
* * *
The color drained from Steve’s face as he digested Ron’s words. His knees buckled, and he steadied himself on the back of his lawn chair. He spit the meat on the ground and felt a bit of vomit rise to his throat. “What?”
Ron threw his head back and cackled wildly. “You didn’t notice that meat looked a little different than when you left? Or that it was seasoned a little differently? Oh, there was no break-in at your store, was there? Heh heh. Yeah, I know all about it. Yeah, as soon as you got that call from the police and left, Laura was happy to let me in your house. I don’t think she even knew what hit her.”
Steve’s stomach lurched, and he willed himself not to faint. “Wh— What did you do? Where’s my wife?” His eyes grew large, and his breathing quickened.
Ron pointed to the grill and chuckled. “I just told you, man. She’s right there. She put up a little bit of a fight, but in the end, it was easy to overpower her.”
Steve’s hands trembled, and his face felt prickly, then he leaned over the chair and vomited the contents of his stomach. He clutched his belly and took a few deep breaths. As he stood upright, he turned and lunged toward Ron, then changed his mind and raced inside his house. “Laura! Laura, where are you?” He ran from room to room as he searched for her. “Laura!”
* * *
Laura smiled and stood just as Ron walked back into his living room. “Thank you both for being so understanding. I’m so sorry Steve took things this far. I hope you know he would’ve never hurt Brody.” She knelt down and petted the dog. “He loves dogs. He was just so upset ever since Murray died last year, he’s held a grudge ever since. I think he just doesn’t want to blame himself for allowing Murray to stay out for so long unsupervised.”
Katie nodded and patted Laura’s shoulder. “Well, thank you for bringing Brody home. And I’m so sorry he bit your hand. Are you sure you’re okay? We’d be glad to pay for you to see a doctor.”
Laura shook her head and pulled the hand towel more tightly around her palm. “No, it’s not deep. And it’s not Brody’s fault. Steve had him locked upstairs in our bathroom. I think he wanted to worry you or something, and the dog got scared. He didn’t mean to hurt me. I’m just glad the police called when that alarm went off so I could bring him back home.”
Ron smiled and scratched Brody’s head. “Well, thanks again, Laura. I’m sorry all this got out of hand last year. I really do miss hanging out with you guys and having all our great barbecues.”
Laura gasped. “Oh! Speaking of barbecues, I’d better get home. Steve’s grilling some porterhouse steaks, and I’m afraid they might be the last ones we have for a while. His business isn’t doing too well these days, and we’re behind on our mortgage. If something doesn’t change, I don’t know what we’re going to do.” She patted her tummy and half-smiled. “And to top it off, I haven’t told him yet, but we’re gonna have a baby.”
* * *
Steve burst into the master bathroom and found a small puddle of blood on the floor and a bloody handprint on the sink. He fell to his knees, and tears welled in his eyes. “Laura, shit! I can’t go on without you! Our credit’s gone. I’m losing the store. You were the only good thing left in my life!” He held his head in his hands, and his chest heaved as he sobbed. “What have I done? Why did I threaten that stupid dog? Damn, Baby, I’m so sorry!”
He cried for a few moments then wiped his nose on his arm and pulled himself to stand. He tried to catch his breath as he headed into his bedroom and stood in front of his dresser. He opened the top drawer and pulled out a Glock 38. He pulled the cartridge out of the handgrip and examined it. He took a deep breath and pushed the cartridge back in, then wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. “Laura, I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”
He rushed downstairs and flung open the back door. He stormed to the hedge separating his yard from the Cranes’. He squeezed through an opening and headed toward his neighbors’ house with a determined gait. His face was on fire, and he narrowed his red rimmed eyes. As soon as the back door flew open, he fired blindly into the house. “Take that, Crane!”
Laura gasped and clutched her chest where the bullet entered. She made a gurgling noise as she melted to the floor of the back porch. “Steve? Why’d you—”
Let’s talk: Would this post have been too long if I combined yesterday’s and today’s? Would you ever trick a neighbor who had been unkind to you?