By Nomar Knight
Tommy Tatum got the nickname Tommy Tantrum when he was fourteen-years-old. He had a habit of annoying the girls in his class. The tall lanky fellow would inevitably end up on the floor after a round of hair pulling. The girls would get the upper hand with one swift kick in the nuts. His suffering eventually morphed to a full blown tantrum.
Years later, Tommy grew up and married Carla Towns. She was a petite sweet thing who had never gotten sick a day in her life. It amazed the neighbors how Carla became a klutz soon after marrying Tommy.
The borough of Brooklyn was huge and had several hospitals nearby. Every time Carla “fell” Tommy would take her to a different hospital. One day a doctor recognized the signs of abuse. That same doctor met with a horrible accident. The brakes in her car had malfunctioned and she crashed under a truck.
On a cold night in the city, Tommy’s short fuse ignited after a month long layoff from work. Carla should have known not to suggest she look for employment. The one thing Tommy hated losing was his pride. No longer a young boy who threw tantrums, he replaced that aggression by pounding on Carla every time his ego felt threatened.
“I’m sorry, Tommy. I didn’t mean it.” Carla sobbed and cowered away from Tommy’s raised fist.
“How many times I have to tell you? I’m the man of the house! I provide for you.”
Normally, after pounding her head and face he would stop and drink a bottle of whisky. Then he would coddle her out of guilt to try and ease her pain. Somehow, he always managed to convince Carla to hide the bruises under a pound of makeup.
As Tommy Tantrum struck down on Carla, his blind rage prevented him from seeing how awkward Carla’s head snapped back. It wasn’t until he realized his fists, and the mattress sheets were filled with so much blood that he stopped and panicked.
Instead of reaching for his usual escape in a bottle, he flipped on his laptop and found an internet site that boasted about unique problem solving. The company’s name was Extreme Cleaners and Tommy never expected to see me, an old classmate, at his door.
Tommy’s eyes looked haunted, his hair disheveled.
“It’s been a long time, Tommy.”
I tried to peek behind him to get a look at the crime scene but he coddled the door close to his body.
“Are you going to call the cops if you don’t like what you see?”
“We promise discretion.” I stared at him with as much compassion as I could muster. “Do you have the two grand in cash?”
Once he let me in the apartment, I could see how his body trembled. He led me to the bedroom where I saw what was left of Carla.
“Is that Carla Towns?”
He nodded. “She’s my wife.”
I set a bag on the floor and put on latex gloves. “Not anymore.”
He opened a small safe that was in a closet and muttered, “Damn woman is costing me my life savings.”
While he fetched the cash, I recalled how Carla had treated me in high school. Her eyes beamed when we talked and she usually twirled her hair. Too bad my old man moved us out of state. I had pretty much forgotten about Carla until I faced enormous challenges as an Army Ranger. As soon as I served my tour, I looked up the beautiful Carla. Unfortunately, Tommy Tantrum had already married her.
“Here you go.” Tommy held a wad of hundred dollar bills.
Without hesitating I shoved them in my pocket.
“Aren’t you going to count it?
I remained silent, pulled an axe out of the large duffle bag along with plastic coverings and trash bags.
“Maybe you should go to a pub or something.”
The compassion I had demonstrated earlier had vanished, replaced by disgust.
“Nah, it’s okay. I can handle it.”
I scanned the room, spotting a bottle of whiskey on the dresser. “You might want some of that.” I said, gesturing to the booze.
He took it and remained in the living room while I went through my cleaning ritual.
After a couple of hours, I placed the sealed trash bags with what was left of Carla’s remains on the floor near the entrance of the living room.
He stared at me through tear filled eyes. “How come you don’t have any blood on you?”
Secrets were power and I didn’t intend to empower Tommy.
Changing the subject, I asked, “Have you gotten your story straight about Carla’s disappearance?”
He shifted baggy, haunted eyes away from my gaze then whispered, “The cops won’t believe me.”
“That’s the trouble with crimes of passion. You didn’t plan for contingencies.”
A confused look consumed him.
“That’s why it’s best to plan ahead. You know, to cover your tracks against those pesky CSI guys.”
“I didn’t know I was going to kill her.” He bowed his head and sobbed as if though he showed remorse for what he had done.
“Ah, but I knew you would eventually kill her. You were a ticking time bomb.”
“How could you know? I haven’t seen you in years until today.”
“That’s true, but a year ago you crossed paths with me in the worse way possible.”
“I don’t understand.”
I stepped closer to Tommy, about ten feet away and continued to enlighten him.
“I was married to an amazing woman. She had a great heart and always looked out for battered women. Imagine my surprise when you took Carla to the emergency room where she worked.
Tommy Tantrum’s face paled.
I continued, “Then when my wife, the doctor that tried to have you jailed, the same doctor that died in a suspicious accident. Well…”
As he rose from the sofa, I pulled out my .45 caliber pistol, equipped with a silencer.
He was about to speak but shut his mouth when I aimed my weapon at him.
“You’re poison Tommy Tantrum. You stole any chance I had with Carla and then you snuffed the life out of my wife.”
I pulled another sheet of plastic from the bag.
“Spread that on the floor for me.”
“How stupid do you think I am?”
“Actually, you haven’t checked if I cleaned your bedroom.”
His eyes popped.
“I’ll save you the time. Everything is the same mess only now your wife is chopped up and in these garbage bags.”
“Are you going to kill me or are you going to break your word and call the cops?”
I pumped a round, striking his belly.
“I promised discretion and I meant it.”
Tommy sprawled on the floor, his body writhing in a silent tantrum of death.
“You know, Tommy, at first I had planned on making this look like a murder suicide, but then I decided, no one is ever going to find your body, but they will find Carla’s.”
I stood near his head and watched as he whimpered.
“You took away any future I could have had with Carla. You took away my wife. So now I took your job away. My father is on the board of directors in that company. And lastly I’m taking away the illusion you tried so hard to maintain. You’ve never been a good man and now when your wife’s chopped up corpse is found, you will be a fugitive for your name is tarnished forever.
Tommy Tantrum was Extreme Cleaners first client and he most certainly would not be the last.
- 1, 268 words
© Copyright Nomar Knight 2014. All rights reserved.
A Knight Chills Flash Fiction Presentation.