Death of A Door Slammer

By Dolores De Crisanti


In midtown Manhattan on a Wednesday night, two elderly ladies, Mary and Jane, were sitting in Mary’s living room apartment enjoying their favorite pastimes, drinking wine, eating junk food, and watching television.  Mostly they watched cop procedural shows but sometimes an old murder mystery movie or QVC.  Before they turned to their local news station most nights, they usually watched a cooking show, and even though Mary never cooked, she almost always bought the equipment featured. 


Mary jumped, almost spilling her wine and exclaimed, “Stop slamming the damn door for God’s sake!  That’s the third time tonight!  I’m going to kill him one of these days.”

“I’ll help,” Jane mumbled through a mouthful of chips and dip.  The commercial for Tostito’s was the one Mary watched before she went grocery shopping the day before, so that was the brand they were eating now.  Too lazy to make a list, she just bought the items she could remember seeing on television.  “I’m afraid of my stuff falling off the shelves every time he bangs that door.”  Their apartments were on either side of John’s, a nice enough young man except for his unfortunate habit of slamming his door whenever he entered and left his apartment.

“Okay.  Let’s do it, right now,” Mary said as she flipped her recliner to the upright position and started to stand.

“No, no,” Jane answered.  “Not now.  We have to plan how we’re going to do it first.”

“Alright.  Tomorrow.  We’ll do it like Martha and Abby Brewster did it Arsenic and Old Lace.  We’ll wear lace dresses and invite him over for elderberry wine and cake.  My new cake serving set was delivered on Thursday.  It will be nice to use that with my Royal Doulton china.  Should we serve pound or carrot cake?  Or a frosted-vanilla layer?  What tastes best with elderberry?  We’ll have to use store-bought wine and not homemade like they did, but we’ll add the arsenic and strychnine ourselves.”

“We’ll also need cyanide.  They also added a pinch of cyanide to the wine.”

“Where do we buy those poisons?  I doubt if the grocery store sells them.  Do you think we could buy them at Walgreens?"

“No, I doubt it.  Don’t the TV criminals usually go to a hardware store and tell the clerk that they have mice and need something to kill them?  We could do the same.  But what if the clerk gets suspicious?  And really Mary, get realistic.  How are we going to bury John?  We don’t have a brother Teddy to bury him in the basement for us.  And even if we could dig through the cement floor ourselves, someone might see us when they go down to do their laundry.”

“That’s it!  He usually does his laundry on Thursday,” Mary said.  “We can follow him down to the basement and then you can distract him and I’ll clobber him over the head with my cast-iron skillet.  It’s perfect for clobbering someone.”  Mary was as proud of her kitchen possessions as a weekend farmer was proud of his plants.  But whereas he would eat his plants when they were grown, she never used her equipment.

“Once he is dead, we’ll stuff him in the dryer and then come back up here.  We’ll stay together until he is found so that we can be each other’s alibi,” Jane said.

“Good.  But we can’t pick him up and stuff him in the dryer.  We’ll have to leave him on the floor.”

“But we have to.  Anytime someone is killed in the laundry room, the body is always found stuffed in the dryer.  It’s de rigueur.  We have to do it that way or we can’t kill him there.”  Jane was visualizing seeing John’s body tumbling round and round through the little glass door.  She liked the image.

“But he must weight 200 pounds.  We can’t lift him.  I’ve got a bad back, remember.  We have to come up with another way.”  Pour me another glass of wine while I think.”

BAM!  John’s door slammed again as he went out to do his weekly grocery shopping.

“That’s four times!”  Jane cried.  “Enough already!  Let’s not wait until tomorrow.  When he comes back up, let’s knock on his door and kill him now.”

“I thought you said we have to have a plan!  Doing it now is fine with me.  Ok!  After we kill him we have to slam the door real hard so he can hear how it sounds.”

“He won’t be able to.  He’s going to be dead.”

“Oh yeah, right.  How are we going to get him to let us in?”

“We can pretend we’re making a pie and ask him if we could borrow a cup of sugar.  We’ll put on some aprons and sprinkle some flour on our faces and hands to make it look like we really have been baking.  Do you have any aprons?”

Mary said, “Yeah, I just bought some with flowers on them.  They’re in the cabinet by the stove.  Top drawer.  And I’ll use my new QVC rolling pin to clobber him.”

“How’s his apartment?  Is it neat and clean?”

“How should I know?  I’ve never been in it.  Why does it matter what type of housekeeper he is?  We’re not going for dinner, we’re going to murder him.”

“Yes, it does,”  Jane replied.  “On television when someone is found murdered in their apartment, except for the battered body and the spilled blood, the rest of the apartment is always neat and clean unless the victim was robbed as well as killed.  So, unless we want to rob him, if there is anything out of place, we can’t kill him there.  Do you have any more wine?”

“I’ll get a bottle from the fridge.  He is a young man and if he is like my sister’s boys, his apartment is probably a disaster.”  When Mary came back she asked, “How about if we throw him down the elevator shaft?  They kill people a lot of people that way.”

“We’re not strong enough to force open the doors, raise the elevator and push his body under it.”  After a couple more sips of wine, she said, “I’ve got it!  We take him to a dark alley and do it there.”

“You’ve been watching too many British cop shows.  Just where would we find a dark alley in Manhattan?”

“There is an alley downtown, by my doctor’s office.  I always walk fast when I go by it.  There’s usually a crowd of derelicts hanging out over a fire barrel inside.  But if we do it at night, they’ll be sleeping.  They seem to be able to sleep through all kinds of noise so they probably won’t hear us.”

“But how do we get him to come down there with us?  If we say to him ‘Come with us down to Fulton Street so that we can kill you,’ I don’t think he will come, do you?”

“No matter how we do it, before he is dead, we have to tell him why.  So that maybe in his next life he won’t slam any more doors.”

“I’ve got it, Mary!  Remember when your niece visited last month?  He saw her in the hall and said that she was nice and that he would like to meet her the next time she came to visit you?”

“Yeah.  So?”

“Well, we’ll tell him that she is having a party and she has more girl friends than boy friends and she asked if we could invite him.  And she also asked if we could come and help her with the cooking and serving.  We’ll tell him she lives in the financial district and when we walk by that alley, we’ll push him in and we’ll kill him there.”

“Yes.  Then I’ll use my no-stick copper pan.  The cast-iron pan is too heavy to lug around.  If he questions why I’m carrying a pan, I’ll say I need it to cook the Swedish meatballs.  Wait.  What if the homeless do see us and report our descriptions to the police?  We’ll get caught and sent to prison.  I don’t think they have television there do they?”

“And wine.  I don’t think they let us have any while we’re there.”

“Not even with our meals?”

“Not even with our meals.”

“Damn.  The alley would have been perfect.  Alright, let’s think of some other way to bump him off.”  Mary said while making quotation marks with her raised fingers.

“We could wear disguises.”

“He definitely wouldn’t come with us then.  It’s not Halloween.  It’s April.  And no way am I listening to his door slamming from now until October, thank you very much.”  After some more sips of wine and some heavy thinking, Mary said, “I know!  A couple of nights ago the talking heads on the news mentioned a craze among the kids of dressing up like zombies.  I guess they get together and act out some television show.  We’ll say my niece is having a zombie party and we all have to go in costume.”

“I saw the same broadcast.  Apparently it's the thing now.”

“Yeah.  That will work.  And maybe, just to be sure they don’t interfere or call the police; we should bribe the bums as well.  We could give them some food or money.”

“Well, I wanted to use one of my new pans, but if we kill him with a leg of lamb, like in that old Alfred Hitchcock episode, we could leave it there for them to cook over their fire.  We could bribe them with that.”

“Yes.  Perfect.  Now we have a plan.  We need to buy our disguises and the leg of lamb.  How about Saturday night?  We could do it then.”

They clicked their glasses together.


# # #


Police are asking the public for help in solving the murder of John Murphy.  His zombie-clothed body was found in a small alley off Fulton Street.  He appears to have been hit over the head with a large, cylindrical object.  This crime was not declared a robbery, as Mr. Murphy’s wallet, credit cards, and identification were not taken.

About 8:00 am some vagrants stopped a passing policeman and said that they found the body the night before.  They did not give a reason for the delay in reporting the crime.  The only curious thing that the investigating officers noticed was that instead of the usual smell of rotting garbage and burning papers, as there usually is in an alley inhabited by the homeless, there was the lingering smell of roasted meat.


# # #

On Monday evening when the ladies were again in Mary’s apartment drinking their wine and watching their favorite show, a police detective paid them a visit.

“Hello sir, please come in.  My name is Mary and this is my neighbor Jane.  How can we help you?”

After introducing himself and showing the women his badge he said, “I’m trying to find information about your neighbor John.  Can you ladies help in any way?  How well did you know him?

“Sorry.  I forgot my manners.  There is a sequence that we are supposed to follow when a policeman comes, isn’t there?  Sorry, but I don’t remember it.  Is this where we offer you a glass of wine and you refuse it because you are on duty?  Or do we do it later in our conversation?”  Mary asked.

“That’s okay.  We’ll skip that routine.  Now, is there anything you could tell me about John that would help to find his murderer?”

“No, sorry officer,”  Jane said.  “We didn’t know him that well.  He was so much younger than us.  The only thing we know about him is his name was John and he slammed his door all the time.”

“So, someone rid the world of a door slammer, good.  My neighbor does the same thing and I swear, one of these days, they’re going to find him in a dark alley with his head bashed in.  Can either of you think of any other reason why someone would want him dead?”

Both of the old ladies shook their heads no.

“Well, whoever did it did a good deed for long suffering neighbors everywhere.  Thanks for your help and have a good day,” the officer said.  He shut the door quietly as he left.


# # #

About a month later the two ladies were again indulging in wine, munchies, and television when BAM!  Their new neighbor had just come home from work.

“Well,” Jane said.  We can’t use the alley again.  Any ideas?”


Submitted: January 12, 2018

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