Renaissance Online Magazine Fiction

FEBRUARY 2000 | VOL. 4, NO. 2



FICTION

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GEORGE KASHDAN, a former writer of "children's entertainment" including comic scripts for Superman, Batman and Star Trek, is from West New York, NJ. He is a contributing writer to Renaissance Online Magazine. His work has appeared in My Legacy, Dogwoood Tales and Murderous Intent.


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And They Died Happily Ever After

GEORGE KASHDAN

Far from India's teeming cities, our little village of Dranghara has remained steadfast to her ancient traditions. Our customs and religion have sustained us since the birth of time. Not that we eschew modern science and technology. Many of our villagers have sought their karma in the outside world. Some have become wealthy beyond imagination. One such villager is the great industrialist and benefactor, Changra Rajiswadi, who, we recently learned, has taken an American wife.

Tense, Wilma watches the clock. Alongside her, Changra snores loudly. "Damn you, Larry!" she's thinking. "If you lost your nerve ..."

A smash -- splintering glass -- Wilma relaxes.

"Changra," she whispers harshly, shaking the sleeping man.

He stirs. "What is it, my dear?"

"Someone's in the house."

Changra reaches under the pillow, then bolts to a sitting position. "My gun. Where is my gun?"

Wilma grins, ever so slightly. Changra senses her calm, gapes at the grinning intruder.

"Vengeance awaits you," he says.

The intruder raises his gun, fires point-blank. Changra flops to his back, blood pumping from his chest.

"Nice work, Larry darling," Wilma says. "Now, it's got to look like a real robbery. Start messing up the place."

"I'd rather mess with you, baby," the man says, reaching for Wilma.

She springs back. "Not now, stupid. We'll have plenty of time for that later. Put your gun away and get to work."

"Sure, baby." As he moves off, Wilma reaches under her pillow.

"Larry."

"Yeah?" Turning, he stares at the pistol in her hand. "Hey, like you said, baby, this ain't no time for games."

"Who's playing games?" She squeezes the trigger. Larry drops, gawking. Wilma comes closer, fires a couple more rounds into his skull. Then, with a handkerchief, she pulls his weapon from his pocket, drops it near his hand.

"You poor sap," she thinks, shaking her head. "Did you really believe I'd take all this risk to marry a loser like you?"

In Dranghari, there is much sadness. For we have learned of the death of Changra Rajiswadi -- murdered by a robber who broke into his house. It is only by sheer karma, we are told, that his American wife escaped the same fate.

The Inspector senses he's losing this one. Too many holes in the woman's story, but you can't build a case on holes. If he could find just one clue -- one tiny piece of evidence ...

"Your husband," he says, "was a good deal older than you, wasn't he, Mrs. Rajiswadi?"

"Dammit!" Wilma's lawyer barks. "What's that got to do with the murder?"

"Wait, Charles," Wilma says, "let's clear the air once and for all." Then, turning to the Inspector, "Yes, I married him for his money. Everyone knew that. Changra himself knew it."

The Inspector grins. "Is that why he bought himself a gun?"

"How many ways are you going to ask that same damn question?" the lawyer says with mock weariness.

Wilma places a gentle hand on his lap. "Please, Charles, the Inspector is only doing his job." Again gazing at the Inspector, "Changra bought the gun to protect me."

"And he always slept with it under his pillow?"

"Always."

"How come he didn't get to use it?"

"I told you, he was groggy. Before he could even reach for it, the burglar shot him."

"So then, while the burglar wasn't looking, you managed to slip the gun out from under the pillow."

"Exactly."

"How pat."

"Pat," the lawyer says. "That's short for pattycakes, which is what you're playing with my client. I demand you either arrest her or release her."

"I'll think about it. Meanwhile, she's not to leave the state or --"

"Bullshit! You've detained her long enough. Because of you, the poor woman can't even give her husband a proper funeral."

The Inspector peers at Wilma, dabbing her dry eyes with a kerchief. "Oh yes," he says, "I forgot. The funeral."

[ CONTINUED: a traditional funeral ]

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