Issue January 23, 2012

Literary LEO 2012

FLASH FICTION — HONORABLE MENTION

Conventional Murder

BY CORY BYRD

I entered the house through a crawlspace. Mr. Morton and his wife were home.

You have to step quietly on the tiles in the basement kitchen, and likewise on the hardwood in the living room. Creaks in the floor in a house you have not yet walked through are as unpredictable as blood spatter.

The possibility of getting caught mortifies me. It’s a lot more gratifying to just cut someone’s throat as they sleep and watch them die as they wake. It’s the strangest of visions, to see the grogginess of deep sleep waded through by a consciousness that at first realizes it’s in intense pain, and then that it can’t breathe. The quick and unexpected combination of facial expressions is like experiencing lost and forbidden pleasures.

Eventually, the TV went off, then the lights darkened. I waited for the Mortons’ breathing to become measured. It didn’t take long.

I readied my machete. I would kill Mrs. Morton first. Quickly, I put the base of the blade on her throat and pulled back, forcing my wrist down as I dragged the sharpened blade through muscle and tendon. It went through smoothly. His throat was rougher, but it yielded to the blade all the same. I wiped the machete on their floral bedspread as I watched them thrash. Their eyes opened in alarm, their limbs flailed, and they grasped for each other. They never saw me, as I had retracted to a corner shadow. There were a couple of croaks and grunts. I watched them die.

Then, about ten minutes after they had gone still and a sanguine smell had permeated the room, I walked over to Mr. Morton, careful not to step in any pooling blood and I whispered into his dead ear, “That’s what happens when you’re ugly.”