A Complicated Death

It was an elaborate trap. Jerry smiled at his genius as he walked around the empty apartment. Jerry discovered his wife was having an affair after he returned from his business trip two days early. Jerry might have never known of her relationship had he not taken the red-eye and seen the man slipping out of his apartment in the early morning.

Jerry was heartbroken by the sight of the man. He and Doris had been married for fifteen years and had been dating off and on in high school before that. It had never occurred to him that she would cheat on him. Sure, his business trips stole him away from home for weeks at a time, but he needed to work to pay the bills. Besides, when he was home, he would take her out and made sure she was treated right.

Jerry took time to admire the white leather couch and matching pair of chairs that adorned their living room. The sixty-inch flat screen with surround sound pulled in his friends during football season and her friends for a girl’s movie night. That would soon all end. Jerry wondered why Doris would throw everything away. He was tempted to wait, and ask her why. Perhaps it was better to be patient and maybe try to work things out.

He walked into their bedroom. The sheets were still piled up on top of the bed. A used condom sat in the trashcan next to his side. No, nothing was worth saving. Why should he sacrifice his dignity? Still, he should at least talk to her, just in case. Jerry pulled out his cell phone and dialed Doris’ cell phone.

“Hi, honey. I saw your number come up. Where are you?”

Jerry cleared his throat, “Oh you know, still stuck out in Kansas at the plant. I just thought I would call before I go inside and start working again. How are things at home?”

There was a long pause. Jerry hoped Doris was having a crisis of conscience. “Oh you know, dreadfully boring dear. I have absolutely nothing to do when I get home from work. Just lots of nights with a glass of wine and a bubble bath.”

Jerry allowed himself to chuckle at her description. “It sounds tough, honey. You know, I was thinking, I may ask for some time off. After all, with all the extra time I’ve worked this past year, and the vacation that rolled over from last year, I could easily take a month off.  Maybe we could go someplace romantic like the Bahamas.”

“Don’t be silly, dear. I still have to work, and I can’t possibly get any time off. Maybe you could go on a fishing trip with one of your buddies.”

“So you don’t mind me being gone fishing even though I’ve traveled so much for work?”

Doris got quiet. Jerry wondered if she was suspicious, let her question, he thought. Doris finally spoke up. “Oh no, honey. I don’t mind. I mean, you do work hard, and we all need a break. I just can’t possibly tear myself away from my career at the moment.”

“Not even for a week?”

“I’m afraid not, babe.”

Babe was not a word she had used since their high school days. She dropped it years ago and said it sounded childish.  Jerry wondered what other words she had started to use again. “Well, I need to get into the office. I’ll see you in a few days. I love you.”

“Bye.” Doris hung up her phone.

With a sigh of resignation, Jerry walked into the laundry room and threw the breaker for the gas water heater. He turned around to the water heater closet and opened the door. With the tip of his pocket knife, he carefully poked a hole in the gas line.  Jerry smiled and walked out of the laundry room. When Doris and her lover decided to clean-up, they would be hit with cold water. Doris or the stranger would come to check the breaker. As soon as the break was thrown, the on-demand pilot would ignite and take out the apartment.

About the time Doris got off work Jerry positioned himself inside the coffee shop across from the apartment building and ordered himself a cup. Like clockwork, Doris came walking down the street from her office building. Just ten yards behind her walked the man he saw leave his apartment that fateful morning. The two went inside the tall apartment building, and Jerry waited.

Two hours later the strange man came walking out of the apartment building. His clothes were wrinkled and his hair disheveled.  Jerry waited another thirty minutes. When nothing happened, we went up to investigate. He found the apartment door unlocked and walked in. He could hear moaning coming from his bedroom and stealthily moved to see what was wrong. There on the bed lay Doris. She had a knife stuck through each hand, pinning her to the bed. Her moans mixed grief with agony. Jerry’s heart broke for his wife.

“Doris! What happened?”

“It was awful; he attacked me. A strange man came into the apartment.”

“Let me get a wet washcloth.”

Jerry heard a sound behind him and turned around. The stranger who he had watched pushed him against the wall. To Jerry’s surprise, his wife sat up and yelled, “Beat him, John! Teach this bum to spy on us!”

A mixture of shock, sadness, and rage filled up Jerry. John took a swing, but Jerry ducked. The sound of John’s knuckles finding a stud behind the drywall gave way to a scream of pain from John. Jerry quickly pushed John’s head into the bedpost, and he crumpled to the ground.

“I don’t understand Doris. I thought you were stabbed.”

“Halloween props, you idiot. We used them for our party last year. Did you think I didn’t notice you looking out the coffee shop window? How long have you known?”

“Long enough.”

Jerry started to leave when Doris spoke up.

“What, you’re not even going to try to fight over me?”

“I would always fight for you, but never over you. John can have you. By the way, you should probably get that his under some cold water.”

With that, Jerry walked out.  He seethed with anger, left the building and started walking down the street. Ten blocks later he finally calmed himself and found a hotel for the night.

The next morning he flipped on the t.v. news and drank his coffee as he tried to figure out how he would get his belongings. The local news station headlined that an explosion caused by a gas leak destroyed an apartment in the city. Two people were known dead.

Jerry sat back, smiled, and started planning where he would go shopping for new clothes.



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