Death's Parting Shot

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  No Houses
Love hurts. Sometimes it does worse than that.

Submitted: August 29, 2016

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Submitted: May 23, 2016



Death’s Parting Shot

He was not exactly sure when it happened. It could have been two years ago or it could have been all thirteen years of his marriage. Harvey Rose did not know. He just knew he hated his wife.  She was this nameless, faceless beast that somehow managed to suck the air out of his lungs every time he was in the room with her. Nothing he said or did was good enough. She complained all the time about everything.

Even how he took out the garbage.

Harvey was a janitor.  Not the most glamorous job, but it paid the bills. And if there was one thing Harvey could do well, it was take out the trash.

Harvey was depressed. Friday’s always depressed him. For most people it meant time off, excitement or spending more time with loved ones. Not Harvey. It meant two days off with the wife.  Two days of hell. The wife would heckle him about how juvenile his favorite TV programs were and how he should pick up a book once in a while.

Why would she say that to him? She knew Harvey had trouble reading. Always did. Did it stop her from lording over him about his only making it to the sixth grade? Hell no! She went to a fancy community college. She loved to remind him of that. Well, he did not need a reminder. She kept the paper tacked up on the wall in the bedroom as proof of how smart she was.

About the bedroom. 

Well that’s where things got weird.  Harvey had to stay on one side of the bed and promise not to touch her. Harvey did not understand why she would ask such a thing. Husbands are supposed to touch wives, right? And the way he figured it, she liked to be touched.  She was always doing it to herself. Sometimes she even used things that made humming noises, like bees. Harvey knew there would be no sleep on those nights. She would moan, scream and thrash around the bed. It used to give him an awful fright; now he was used to it.

Harvey could not understand why she married him. Wives are supposed to compliment their husband. He knew it to be fact. He had seen it on TV somewhere.

Not his wife. She was always going on about his hair—or what was left of it and teasing him unmercifully about his gut.

So unfair.

She spent most of her days working out. There was at least one night a week where she would take an overnight bag and not come home till the morning. She could do that. She did not have a job to go to. But that never stopped her from razzing him about being a janitor.

Who cares about being a janitor when you can live in a big house like the one that we have? Did his being a janitor stop her from going out and getting that fancy sports car? No sir, it didn’t.

Mom and dad left a lot of money for Harvey. More money than he knew what to do with.

Harvey’s wife sure did not have that problem. She knew exactly what to do with money.  She enjoyed spending it.

This was another reason why Harvey hated his wife.


It was quitting time and Harvey just could not go home. He sat in the men’s locker room and thought of ways he could delay the start of the weekend when his best friend on the job, Sid, came up and slapped him on the back.

“What’s good buddy?”

Sid was a good guy. Nice, friendly and he loved to drink.

Especially when Harvey was buying.

“Ah, you know, Sid. “’Nother weekend means mo time wit the wife.  But I can’t do it, Sid. I can’t live like dis no more.”

Sid sat next to Harvey and said, “Seems to me with a looker like that, you’d want to get home as soon as possible.”

“I already told you, it ain’t like dat.”

“And I already told YOU there’s an easy solution to your problem.  You just are too damn stubborn.” 

“Stubboren? Stubboren? Course I am! You talking ‘bout murder!”

“Lower your voice.  I’m talking about life. Yours. You just don’t know it, but she’s killing you. Don’t look at me that way. Yeah, she’s killing you. It’s just by inches. Look at you. Thirty two and you look sixty. Practically no hair and your gut sticks out like a bowling ball.”

“Now you sound like her.”

“Hey, I’m your friend. Just trying to make a point here. You don’t eat right. Your blood pressure must be sky high too. There’s nothing healthy about you. How long do you think you can live like this?”

Harvey was clearly faltering.

“Well….yeah…I know…but…”

Sid broke in and said, “Look, let’s not talk here. We’ll grab a brew. You got nothing waiting for you at home anyway.”

Harvey nodded.  It was true. There was nothing at home for him. He hated his wife.


Sid loved Kelly’s Pub. The beers were cheap and the place was dark, but friendly. And it was filled with working stiffs like him. 

“Thanks for buying the first round.”

“Sure thing, Sid.”

I always buy the rounds, thought Harvey. 

Sid was a nice guy and Harvey was interested in what he had to say.

Sid wasted no time.

“I know a guy, who knows a guy, who knows another guy, who knows another guy, who solves problems for people like you.”

On the walk over to the pub, Harvey started to warm to the idea. The thought of no longer having that ball and chain wrapped around him was exciting.

“What would I haveta do?”

Sid drained his mug.


“Nothin'? C’mon Sid what cha tryin to pull?”



“That’s right pal. Money. All you have to do is meet the guy, pay him and then no more problems.” 

“How much will this cost?”

“Got no idea. I’d imagine the man will tell you his price when you see him.”

Harvey was wringing his hands together furiously. 

“Th…this won’t work.  Sh…she takes care of the money. Says I only need what she gives me.”

Sid shook his head.

“You’re just going to have to grow a pair buddy. It’s your money anyway.”

“Yeah, I know but I’m not good wit it.”

“Pal, just think. With the little nest egg you got, women will be lining up around the block for you. Gals that will treat you right. Be nice to you all the time.”

Sid gestured to a well-built brunette wearing a halter top and tight jeans.

“How would you like to come home to HER every night?  Imagine someone like her treating you like a king…attending to your every need.”

Sid leaned forward for emphasis.

“I mean EVERY need.”

Harvey’s eyes grew wide, he looked at the woman and then back at his friend. He took a deep breath and said “O…ok, Sid I’m in.”

“Very good. Here’s the man’s card. Now let’s talk about my finder’s fee.”


Monday could not come fast enough for Harvey.  As instructed by Sid, he called the man from a payphone. The man answered on the first ring.

Harvey told the man all about his problem. The man listened and said very little.  He gave Harvey a price. A reasonable one. Said he was going to give Harvey a discount for his trouble. What a nice guy. Harvey could not stop thanking the man. Unnecessary, the man told him. Said something about killing two birds with one stone. Harvey had no idea what he was talking about. All he knew was that he would be free soon.

Harvey returned home that night to face the usual routine of insults, ridicule and complaining from his wife. This time, he did not mind because he knew what was going to happen to her. And it was going to happen next Saturday night. Harvey went to bed early and thought of how great his new life was going to be.


The next week went by excruciatingly slow for Harvey.  The weekend could not come fast enough!

That Saturday was the strangest in all the thirteen years of being married. His wife was nice to him. Honest to goodness.

She made him breakfast AND lunch.  She told him she got him a gift.  She told Harvey it was a surprise and he would get it tonight. 

She even made dinner reservations at some fancy restaurant that he could not pronounce.

For the two of them.

It was like she knew what was going to happen to her and wanted to make up for all the bad things she had said and done to him.

Harvey picked out his favorite suit for dinner.  It still fit after all these years.

Except in the waist.

Normally his wife would tease him but not now. She was too busy making herself look pretty. And she succeeded. She was, as Sid would say, a looker.

She went to a different part of the house to make phone calls. Harvey had no idea who she was talking to. All he could make out was “Yeah I know,” “everything is set,” “of course it’s ready,” “I told,” and “he has no clue.”

Harvey did not care who she was talking to. He did not care if they missed their dinner because of her continual phone calls.

He knew what was going to happen at eleven pm.

Just then Harvey heard a knock at the door.  He was upstairs trying to find the button to the pants of his suit. It had popped off when he tried to get it around his stomach.

His wife was already downstairs so she answered the door.  When she opened it, Harvey heard her gasp and say, “What are you doing here now? I thought I said…..”

Her voice was interrupted by two soft sounds Harvey could not quite make out.

Harvey hitched up his pants and lumbered down the stairs to find the man he hired standing over his now-dead wife.

An incredulous Harvey could only manage to say, “Y...yer early.”

“And YOU'RE late.”

The man shot Harvey twice and he fell on top of his wife.If the man who stood over the bodies had any sense of humor, he would have laughed at the situation.

What were the chances of two people hiring the same person to kill each other, on the same day? It did not matter to the man. This was all just business.

Besides, there’s nothing funny about death.

© Copyright 2018 Ethan Howard. All rights reserved.

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