Crackled: A Short Story in Seven Part Greyscale

The fan did little to dissipate the lazy curl of smoke from my cigarette. The ancient springs holding the thin mattress against my back were slowly losing their fight with gravity while also advancing their joust against my aching back.  Staring up at the ceiling I wonder how much harder this job would have been if I had been forced to walk upon that crackled surface, the points digging into my feet rushed in sensations of red life flowing through my veins.  A pleasant pain I’d only felt one other time when riding my bicycle barefoot.  It was hot that night. The kind of sticky, dark hot that I remembered from my childhood on the coast.  Even in the middle of West Texas I can’t escape the memories that haunt my dreams.  The smell of bleach from the nearby bathroom barely covers the meaty odor of too much blood.  Such a shame that housekeeping just couldn’t leave that do not disturb sign alone. Silly woman cost me double the time I had planned.  But none of that matters now.  Everything is sorted.  All that’s left is for me to finish this cigarette and walk across the way to catch my bus back to the city.  No need to hang around to see what happens next.  After years of practice, I’m far too good to leave any unfinished business in my work.  No one need ever know the true fates of Donald J. Becksworth and that silly little housekeeper who just wouldn’t leave well enough alone.

It had been a helluva night.  When Donnie first arrived we slipped into our old routine like no time had passed at all.  “You call this a choice? There isn’t a single decent bottle of vodka on the table!” he exclaimed.  I turn and face him holding behind me the special bottom of his favorite brew before throwing back my own taunt. “Why after all this time do you think I’m gonna make this easy for you?”  I shift the bottle of Belvedere Bespoke Silver to a spot in front of me on the bed to where he can see it along with a generous portion of my thigh.  Donnie takes the bait as the sun sinks into the clouds outside the window of our rented retreat.  He leans his weight into the King bed and moves across the surface towards me and the bottle.  He takes the bottle and reaches for me as I quickly slide back away from him and walk slowly over to the impromptu bar.  “All I know is that I love 19 Crimes wine,” I say over my shoulder as I pour myself a generous glass.  I find a cool spot on the wall and lean back just enough to shift my Alexander McQueen black lace night gown to keep Donnie’s interest on me instead of how much of his favorite bottle he was knocking back.  Ordinarily on a day like today I would have opened my door after running around all day thinking there would be three things waiting for me at home…my man, my peace and a cold glass of decourtet VSOP. But when Donnie texted me out of the blue, I knew that I could not pass up this opportunity.  I had waited years for this very moment.  My plan had to be flawless so that when I opened the door and he saw all of those bottles he would have no true idea of where this night would take us. Most importantly, nobody else could ever know what was about to go down.

The sex was a foregone conclusion. But to get myself through that part of the evening I conjured in my mind an image that tied me back to decades of women, shoulders bent, stitching their happiness, anger, fear and loneliness into our family tapestry.  I remember that I deserve to take my own pleasure in the passing of these moments but I keep at the forefront of my mind the purpose of this rendezvous.

Afterwards, I retreat to the tiny bathroom and sitting on the rented toilet I steal my mind and set my course to the work that now be completed. I wash up quickly and remove the backpack I stashed behind the shower curtain and remove my scrubs and toolkit.  I also remove the cleaning supplies I stashed in the tub and reposition them on the counter near the sink.  I can hear Donnie snoring up a storm through the thin wooden door.

I pause as I remember how Donnie and I first met through an old dating match site and how we cyber dated until the first time I said yes to his persist requests to meet in person. Talking through the computer always gave me a safe feeling that if something went wrong I could just log off, but he used to say that cyber dates suck and at some point people had to be bold enough to meet in person if they wanted to feel real chemistry.  We had plenty of that.  That is until I received an email one day from his wife.

I snap back to the present and remember that I have work to do.  I grab the tools that I need from my bag and make my way quietly back into the bedroom. For such a low budget hotel I have to admit that the bed frame is fantastic.  The pattern of the woodwork makes me wish I had more time to admire it.  Careful to avoid leaving any incriminating evidence in the wooden post’s crevices, I glance at the clock on the nightstand.  It shouldn’t be long now.  Right on cue Donnie begins to make gurgling sounds as though he’s having trouble breathing.  His eye snap open and he looks me in the eyes with a knowing question.  “Did you really think that I wouldn’t find out, you PIG!” I hiss at him as his airways close up and in minutes he stops moving altogether.  I give it another five minutes before I lean in and ease his body off of the bed.  Thankful that my genetics blessed me with more strength than most women of my size, it isn’t too difficult for me to cross the short distance with him over to the bathroom. I place him in the tub and proceed to sanitize his body of all evidence that we had been together.  I know I must move swiftly before his heart comes to a complete stop.  I slit both of his wrist wide open so that the heart will pump out his blood.  The smell is strong and coppery, but I endure it.  It took all night for me to dissect his body.  As I bagged the pieces of my former lover a giddiness came over me.  I decide to turn on the radio to fill the silence as I work on cleaning up the bathroom and bedroom.  Suddenly there is a knock on the door.  “Housekeeping!” She says.  “I’m fine, thanks, just leave the towels outside the room,” I yell.  Apparently she doesn’t hear me and uses her key to open the door.  There hasn’t been enough time for the bleach smell to staunch the smell of blood.  Our eyes meet and she starts to back towards the door.  I cross the room faster than she anticipated and muffle her scream as I close the door.  I make quick work of snapping her neck.  Fortunately, I still have on my gloves so I’ve left no marks on her body.  I look at her face and realize that she bears a striking resemblance to me.  A plan forms in my head.  I carefully open the door and quick for the presence of anyone in the passage.  Seeing none I roll her cart into the room and proceed to pack her and Donnie into it after removing her uniform.  I then put on her uniform and proceed to finish her cleaning shift.  I then clock out and wheel the cart with all the evidence back into my room until night time when I wheel the cart out of the side exit where I know the video camera is on the fritz cause the guy at the front desk told me so.  There I roll the cart into my rented van.  I grab the dead chicks keys and click the fob.  As luck would have it, her car is only two spaces over from my van.  I relocated her to her car and pose her to look as though she were surprised and attacked in the parking lot before closing the door and locking her inside with her keys.  Thankful for the cover of night, I return to my van and move it around to the other side of the hotel before returning to my room.  Thankfully, I had the presence of mind to return the chick’s clothes to her body and change into another set of spare clothes I kept in the van.  This time I enter the front door thankful that the front desk attendant it occupied with checking in a new guest.  I return to the room and lay down on the freshly made bed by my own hands and get the first peaceful night sleep I’ve had in ages.  I know it’ll have to be a quick nap because I still have to return the van before I head for the bus station at 6am.  I smile as I contemplate the expressions on the cops faces when they find the dead chick in her own car with several bags of unidentifiable remains in her trunk.  By the time they stumble on it, I know I’ll be across the border on my way to a new life.


Marta C. Youngblood is a writer, education and social entrepreneur based in Lubbock, Texas. For more information on her current projects visit


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