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Julie Gladmore was sitting in bed in a violet, silk robe smoking a cigarette when I walked into her bedroom. I was covered in black, head to toe, from the cap on my head down to the combat boots that I wore on my feet. She finished off her nightly bedtime routine by spraying herself with an expensive fragrance that I immediately recognized. Her heart was pumping thru her chest and I could tell that she was momentarily startled but not at all surprised by my sudden presence when she looked up.

“Tsk, tsk, tsk, Julie, you do know that smoking can cause death, don’t you?” I warned her.

“Jessica.” She spoke my name solemnly.

“My daughter loves that perfume. She has been begging me for it for the past couple of months, but I keep telling her that I cannot justify a 13-year-old owning a $200.00 bottle of perfume.” I laughed to myself with exhilaration. Only once in my past had I felt this surging of power through my body as it pumped my relentless blood. On an every day basis I was a mild-mannered soccer…well actually, softball mom whose biggest care was which detergent to use to get the stains out of my daughter’s and husband’s clothes but there were times when I was wild, an uncontrollable lusty beast with a blood thirst to fulfil my desires at any cost.

“Jessica, I have not told anyone, I swear.” Julie pleaded and the desperation inched out of her eyes more with every passing moment. Her shaking hand rested the cigarette in the ashtray on her night stand next to an empty wine glass.

“…but you know…” I whispered longingly.

“No, no, I don’t!” She backtracked in vain as I pulled out the gun.

“Oh, Julie! I really hate to do this. It’s not your fault…really it was just a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.” I told her so that she would know that there were no hard feelings.

“Over the years you would always comment that Gretchen looked nothing like her father or I and everyone would laugh it off because that is common and no one would have ever suspected that Gretchen was not my daughter. It was all just a big joke, until a week ago when we were watching TV, isn’t that right Julie? That damned mystery show just HAD to re-air her case and with a picture of what she would look like today. It didn’t really even look like her.” I laughed.

“…but you knew. Right, then and there you put the pieces together and you knew and you tried to hide it, but I could see it all over your face and I knew that it would just be a matter of time before you told.” I finished.

“Why?” Julie asked moving slowly trying to inconspicuously place herself in a position to run while distracting me with her ridiculous question.

“BECAUSE I WANTED A BABY! And I couldn’t have one so I took one. I set a fire in her nursery and I just walked out the back door with her snuggled in my arms. Most people assumed her little newborn body had just been lost in the massive fire.” I explained neatly.

“You won’t get away with this. I won’t go down without a fight.” Julie protested just as I could tell that she was beginning to feel woozy.

“Oh, yes you will darling, that is what the sleeping pills are for.” I smiled. An “O” of surprise formed on her mouth as she felt her body weaken and melt back into the bed.

“My husband…” Julie spoke weakly. “I told him and he will figure this out! He won’t let you get away with it.”

At that point, I walked up to her when I realized that she was too faint to put up much of a fight and I got close enough to look directly into her eyes.

“No you didn’t, Julie! How do you think that I got in here?” I asked. “You’re husband came to me and he made no mention of our little secret.”

Her eyes widened in despair.

“Oh yes! I got so caught up in my own agenda that I forgot to tell you that your husband no longer loves you and he wants you dead too. This is just not your week, darling! He came to me and as far as he is concerned I am doing him a huge favor for which he will forever be indebted.”

Her body was incredibly limp now, but she was still conscious so I went on, considering that she was going to die for all of the this, the least that I could do was explain what was going on.

“Your husband is at my home right now. Gerald came over and gave me his key, I rode my bike over here and used his key to come in. My husband is out of town and Gretchen is staying over, at a friends. We will say that he came over to talk for a while, after all, we are old friends. He is my alibi and I am his. No one will suspect a thing.” I could see her eyes shift toward the gun.

“I don’t plan to use this. It’s just a prop.” I pointed the gun at her face and fired which caused the toy to make a inconsequential clicking sound.

“I just brought this to keep you in line. What do you think, I’m a monster or something? I could never shoot anyone. You are going to drop your lit cigarette on this hideous rug and it is going to catch fire which will spread to these thick drapes and burn this house like a paper plane, I am sure of it. I’ve done this before. Similar to the way you fell asleep last year with a cigarette in your hand…after a few drinks I might add.” I snickered at how her previous folly was aiding in my crime.

“What a disaster!” I reminisced.

By this time she was completely unable to speak, but her eyes said it all; they were frozen in fear.

“Don’t worry, you won’t feel a thing!” I assured her as I picked up an oversized pillow that lay next to her and placed it tightly upon her face. Her body moved slightly but the drugs that Gerald put into her wine earlier that night were rendering her almost completely powerless by this time and suffocating her could not have been easier. When I removed the pillow from her face her eyes were still wide open, frozen with that same fear and for a moment I thought that maybe she was still alive, but she wasn’t. She was dead. I took her cigarette from the ashtray on the night stand and placed it on the plush rug where I lit a fire. Next, I went to the heavy drapes and I began another fire there and finally on her bedspread I started the last fire and I headed for the door confident that my secret was secure once again.

I turned and walked back to the night stand where I picked up the clear ornate bottle.

“There is no reason why Gretchen shouldn’t have the perfume.” I told Julie before I walked out of her room, out of her home, locked the door behind me and set off triumphantly on my bike with her home burning brightly behind me.

JeanNicole Rivers