Caught in the Act by Thomas Godwin

Nathan sat in the corner, in the lone chair of the hotel room, facing the door. An open pack of Marlboro Reds along with his cell phone sat on the end table beside him. Smoke drifted from a cigarette held loosely between his fingers. The ash had grown long and drooped down from the red cherry.

The cell phone on the end table buzzed a wavering, insect-like vibration. A younger, less mournful Nathan appeared on the screen with his arms around a middle-aged woman. Her long, golden hair framed a smiling face that seemed made for laughing. Nathan flicked his dead cigarette nonchalantly across the room. He clenched his hand into a fist before reaching down and touching the speakerphone icon on the screen.

“Hey babe,” he said.

“Hey sweetie.” Her voice was light and melodic. “Just thought I’d call and let you know I’m hanging back late tonight. That asshole Larry wants me to type up the depositions now instead of Monday.”

“Doesn’t he know he has other paralegals on hand?” Nathan asked.

“Sure does. But, they rarely handle medical research and case studies. He may be a piece of shit but he knows where the brains of this operation are.”

She giggled and his knuckles turned white as he gripped the cell phone.

“Do you need me to stop and get you anything when I head home?” she asked.

“No,” Nathan said. “There’s leftovers in the fridge, so I won’t go to bed hungry.”

“Alright, hon. I’m pulling in to the office now. I’ll get home as soon as I can.”

“See you soon,” Nathan said.

He sat there for a moment, unmoving. Voices floated down the breezeway outside of the hotel. He got up and moved toward the bed that was unruffled. He glanced at the tangled mass of sheets on the other, sat down on the corner. He reached into his waistband and pulled out a snub-nose .38 special, calmly setting it on his lap. The sound of the keycard sliding through the scanner came to him and he tensed a little. When the door opened, a man and woman stepped in, still laughing from the discussion outside.

Nathan raised the short muzzle of the .38. His hands did not tremble. The man and woman froze.

“Nathan,” the woman said.

Nathan pulled the trigger. The sound of the .38 in the small room was like a mini explosion. A hole appeared just below the swell of the woman’s left breast before sending her pin wheeling back through the door. Her arms were splayed out in front of her as she went, like a cartoon mummy without the bandages.

“Hello Larry,” Nathan said as he tossed the .38 onto the bed.

Larry pivoted on his heel and sprinted back down the breezeway, never once looking at the woman sprawled outside the door.  Nathan sat calmly on the corner of the bed. After a while, he placed his face into his hands as he heaved a great sigh. He remained that way, until the bright strobe of blue and red lights began to bathe the walls of the silent room.

Thomas Godwin

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6 thoughts on “Caught in the Act by Thomas Godwin

  1. Short and specific! Neatly done. You can certainly leave well enough alone, but I see this as a great beginning to a crime novel. It screams for answers that you don’t expect.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I appreciate that while one could assume the identity of “the woman”, we can’t say for certain. My mind is filled with “what ifs” and questions. This was short but effective. I like to try to be balanced in my comments however 1) my head hurts, 2) this was a concise piece, 3) it’s well-written. And so what I would say is that a redraft to consider certain word choices might be a useful exercise for this piece.

    Either way though, since I’m feeling too ill to read the book I’m supposed to at the moment, this slice of intrigue was definitely a pleasant morsel for a hungry brain.


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