Another piece of flash fiction for my readers. Enjoy! And let me know what you think…
I’m so excited! I checked a mystery novel out of the library this afternoon. It’s the third one in the Dr. Franks series. Hubbie is out of town, so no one will complain if I read all night. As soon as I finish dinner, I pour myself a glass of wine and crawl into bed, stuffing all of the pillows behind my back. Sylvester the cat curls beside me. I take comfort in his warm fluffiness and open to the first page.
The town drunk goes rooting for food in a dumpster and finds a woman’s body. He’s afraid to tell the police, in case they think he did it, but pretty soon his buddies convince him that he must. The cops retrieve the body and send it for an autopsy. The medical examiner determines death by strangulation, with a good old-fashioned clue left behind – a fresh tattoo on the right hip. When the woman is identified as a young drug addict, the cops figure someone in the homeless community must have killed her. Dr. Franks, on the other hand, reads the autopsy report and thinks something doesn’t add up, though he doesn’t tell the reader what seems wrong. He goes to the morgue and examines the body. He is certain he saw the same tattoo on a patient only a few weeks ago.
I’m so deep into the story that I don’t even realize that I have finished my glass of wine when the next sentence peels off of the page. All I manage to read is ‘Bella strode’ before the words solidify into a woman.
I rub my eyes, wondering if the wine has a higher alcohol content that I realized, but, if so, the effect is incredibly strong because I feel a weight sink into the mattress next to me and smell jasmine. I stare as she rolls off the bed and starts walking out the bedroom door. She has short black hair. A brilliant black and red tattoo curls up from her shoulder-blade, protruding out the top of a red tank top.
Suddenly I come to. This is Bella, a tattoo artist. The great Doctor just asked her if she has any idea who decorated the victim’s hip.
“Wait,” I shout. “Where are you going?”
Bella turns and announces, “I’m escaping this plot.”
I sit up straight, “What do you mean, you’re leaving? You can’t. This is a library book. I have to return it in good shape. Get back in there,” I point at the now empty spot on the page where she is supposed to perform her next bit in the story.
“No way,” she turns and takes a step. I jump off the bed, disturbing Sylvester, who didn’t seem to notice Bella rolling over him, and go after her. She stumbles in her spiked heels, so it’s easy to catch her and grab her arm.
“Why are you doing this? I haven’t finished. I need to know how it turns out,” I insist.
“I can tell you how it ends. I’ve lived through this piece of shit thousands of times, every single time someone reads it, and I always lose. I’m pegged as the murderer, when I’m innocent!” she stops and glares at me. “Dr. Franks is a fraud. He misses half of the clues.”
“How do you know?”
“You think that a book is just what is on the page. Well it isn’t! We have a whole life that goes on behind the scenes. The stupid author ignores most of it. I’ve been watching all of the characters, and I figured out the last time someone read it and brought us to life who killed that young kid and how.”
“Oh, really!” I say, sarcastically.
“Of course. Let me go! I am going to find a typewriter and fix this stupid plot so that I am the detective, and I catch the murderer.”
I release her, realizing that her version might be even more interesting than the original story.
“There’s a computer in my office,” I point. “Make yourself at home. Would you like a glass of wine?”
“No way! I only drink martinis,” she shakes her head, and her many piercings sway back and forth. I stare at a tattoo on her arm.
“We don’t have any hard liquor,” I tell her.
“A cup of tea would be fine, then,” she shakes her head and enters the room.
I make her tea, then dress and leave the house. I need to clear my head. The wine must be spiked with magic mushrooms. I walk for over an hour until I am certain I am back to normal.
When I return, she is gone. I am certain for a minute that I hallucinated the entire encounter, but then I see my novel sitting next to the computer. When I open it, a small piece of paper flutters to the floor. I pick it up and see a drawing of the tattoo on Bella’s arm, her signature, and the words ‘Thank you.’