Crossword Puzzle

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic


“What is a five letter word for a verbal bad attitude?” I asked my wife Jo.

“You and those crossword puzzles! How would I know? I thought they were for your entertainment, not to torment me with those silly clues,” she griped.

Well, at least I had my word now – gripe. She somehow did manage to spark an idea every time, even when she didn't intend to be helpful. “Thanks, honey,” I said.

“Don't get sarcastic,” she snapped.

“No, you actually did help,” I said innocently.

“Right,” she responded.

“Now don't you get sarcastic,” I wanted to say, but thought better of it, kept my mouth shut and just smiled at her. So some of my choices of fun weren't exactly the same as hers, but we did share a few interests. For example, we both liked our jobs, working as hired assassins.

Just then I got a call on my unlisted number. “Hello, who's calling?”

The voice on the line was a woman, speaking in almost a whisper. “My name is Jenna. I got your number from a friend named Sally. Are you the one that she hired to remove her husband?”

“Jenna, I have no idea what you're talking about. You just tell me what you're calling me for,” I answered.

“Yes, of course. I'm looking for the same service but I need you to remove a guy that is stalking me. He won't let up and the police aren't being helpful at all. I did a restraining order but that doesn't seem to be stopping him. Can you help me?” she responded, still whispering.

“Are you in danger right now, Jenna? Is that why you're whispering?”

“No, I don't think he's around right now, but I can never be sure. He's sneaky. Also, my daughter is sleeping in the other room and I don't want her to hear me. So can you help me out?”

“Perhaps. We will need to meet to work out the details. Give me a time and a public location, and I'll meet you tomorrow. If I take the job, you'll need to give me $3000 up front. Will that work for you?”

“OK. I can meet you at the Starbucks on 5Avenue at 9:30 in the morning. I'll have the money and can give you all the details then.”

The next morning I met Jenna and took the job. Seems this guy was a real sleaze that had a record as long as your arm. Jenna, a young divorced mother, had met him at a bar and he had conned her into going out with him a few times until she started seeing his possessive violence-prone side and told him to get lost. He turned out to be the kind that wouldn't take no for an answer and had been stalking her for over two months. Jenna even had some photos of him she had taken while they were dating, so that was going to be helpful. She told me his name was Daniel Gander.

“Jo, will you help me out on this job?” I asked later that morning.

“Sure. Sounds like a good idea to get rid of a guy like this anyways. We should almost do it for free, but that would set a bad precedent. What do you have in mind?” We went over the plans and got ready. That night we were both dolled up, hoping to catch this guy's eye at the tavern where he hung out. As we entered the tavern separately, we made sure not to look like we even knew each other. Jo headed to the bar, so I took a small table towards the side. We didn't see him in there yet, so we just nursed our drinks and waited.

Probably about an hour later, I noticed him in the doorway checking out the place. Since Jo and I were both new to the tavern, I think he was deciding which of us to approach first. Because Jo was at the bar, he chose to pick on her. He probably figured if she blew him off, he could make it look like he hadn't approached her and could just slither over to my table later. Jo took him on right away, which was part of the plan. Now it was my turn to move. I left the tavern and found his car that Jenna had described to me. Luckily it was unlocked, so I climbed into the back seat and hid under a convenient blanket he had on the floor. When he and Jo came out about 20 minutes later, I had everything ready. They got into the car, Daniel started the engine, and we started off.

“Where shall we go?” Jo asked him.

“I know a real quiet spot out in the country that I think you'll like,” he replied.

“Sounds perfect. How far is it?” Jo was playing her part perfectly, as always. I admired her ability to act as if a guy was exciting and attractive to her, even though I knew she actually disliked men in general and even some she particularly hated.

“It's not far. Are you in a hurry?” he asked.

“Just to have you to myself,” she answered with a smile in her voice. If I didn't know my wife as well as I did, that answer would have roused my jealousy for sure. Daniel just laughed a self-satisfied laugh and kept driving. When we stopped about ten minutes later, Jo let out a sigh.

“This is really pretty! You can see the whole town all lit up from here and that moon is beautiful tonight. Let me get out and look,” she gushed as she hopped out of the car. This was a surprise to Daniel who gave a little grunt to see her out of reach, but then I popped up and held the gun to his head before he could exit the car.

“What the hell!” was his response, as he slowly put his hands up, looking into the rear view mirror to see if he could see me. Jo had her gun out now too and was over beside his car door with him in her sights. She was standing back far enough for him to open his door and get out slowly while we both kept him covered. “What's this all about?” he asked from his position face down on the ground.

“We just have a crossword puzzle question for you,” I said.

“What? What are you talking about? Who are you two anyway?”

“No, that's not the question and we need you to answer our question first. Now listen carefully and do your best to answer. What do you call a person that follows another person around and keeps coming around that person, making them feel threatened and uncomfortable, even when asked to stop?”

“What? I don't know what you're talking about,“ he protested.

“Oh, I think you do. You probably could get a good idea of the answer from what you've been doing to Jenna. You remember her, don't you? Now tell me, what is your answer? We really need to know your answer to complete our crossword puzzle and neither one of us are very patient, I'm sorry to say.” I flipped the hammer on my gun so the click would let him know I was serious.

“OK! OK! Stalker. That's the answer. Are you happy now? That Jenna had it coming, though.”

“Well, you certainly have given the right answer, Daniel, but I don't care to hear why you think anyone on this planet deserves the treatment you've been giving Jenna because no matter what you say, you are wrong. Since we don't think you deserve to continue this bad behavior and all your other bad behaviors, I'm sorry to say that we aren't going to allow you to complete your own crossword puzzle, namely your life. Now get up slowly and put your hands behind your back.”

He got up and stood there while I put a plastic band on his wrists as Jo kept her gun trained on him. “What are you going to do?” he whined.

“Don't worry, you'll find out soon enough,” I said.

After the car left the promontory and exploded, Jo and I walked down the hill and got into our second car left hidden among some trees off the roadway, then headed back to the tavern to pick up our other car. Jenna gave us the other half of our fee once the official police report went out that Daniel Gander's burned body had been identified inside his car that had gone off the promontory that night. It was recorded as an unsolved case. Jo and I donated the other $3000 to the Victims of Rape, Stalking and Domestic Abuse Program run by the local social services.

I finished my crossword puzzle that night and started another one.

Submitted: February 05, 2018

© Copyright 2021 E.M. Jones. All rights reserved.

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