Her Judas Eyes
by B J Bourg
“Why the long face?”
Nelson Walton shrugged his shoulders and took another sip of his Miller Lite. “Just tired, I guess.”
Jerry Stewart waved the bartender over and ordered another round. “Tired of what?”
“You know, the same old thing, day after day.”
“Dude, what on earth are you talking about?”
Nelson drained the last of the warm beer and grimaced. “You know, it’s the last ounce of beer that tastes like crap. Why don’t they just remove that last ounce so we can enjoy the whole damn thing?”
“Nelson, you really need to tell me what’s going on. You haven’t been this depressed since you lost your Golden Retriever, Sally, in second grade. What was that — thirty years ago?”
“Thirty-two and a half. In case you’ve forgotten, we’re forty.”
“Is that what this is about? You going through a midlife crisis?”
“Nope.” Nelson took a long swig of his fresh, ice-cold brew. He burped and then stared across the table at Jerry. “Cindy’s cheating on me.”
Jerry’s mouth dropped open. “You’re kidding!”
Nelson shook his head. “I found a hotel receipt under the seat in her car. She admitted everything.”
Neither man spoke for several minutes. Each concentrated on the bottle of beer before them on the table. Finally, Jerry broke the silence. “What’re you going to do?”
“I don’t know.”
“Who’s the dude?”
“Some asshole she met on the Internet. She said he didn’t know she was married.”
“As God is my witness, I’ll kill that dude for you!”
Nelson shook his head and leaned forward. “No, it’s not a dude I need you to kill. It’s her.”
“Her?” Jerry’s voice was incredulous. He stared into Nelson’s unwavering eyes. “You mean, Cindy?”
“Yeah. It’s time I started a new life.”
“Just get a divorce.”
“Can’t do it.”
“Sure you can. I know a lawyer who —”
“If I divorce her, I’ll have nothing. She hasn’t worked since we’ve been married. I’ll have to pay alimony, lose half my pension, she’ll get the house.” Nelson shook his head. “Nope, can’t do it. You need to get rid of her for me.”
Jerry cast an uneasy glance around the empty barroom. “Are you asking me to kill your wife?”
“You can’t be serious! Dude, this is crazy!”
“You owe me.”
“What? I owe you? What the hell are you talking about?”
“Do I need to remind you about the insurance job I pulled for you?”
“That’s a whole lot different than murder. I could go to jail for the rest of my life!”
“I thought we were best friends.”
“We are —”
“Then prove it. Do this one thing for me.”
Jerry slowly shook his head. “I’m sorry, Nelson. I can’t kill a person. I can’t commit murder.”
“Then I’ll have to turn myself in to the authorities and confess to setting fire to your house. I’ll have to tell them how you paid me to do it and how you bought that business with the insurance money. You’ll lose everything and you’ll rot in a jail cell.”
Jerry’s eyes narrowed and the muscles in his jaw tightened. “You wouldn’t dare.”
“And why wouldn’t I?”
“You’d go to jail, too.”
“I told you I’m starting a new life. If that new life is spent in jail, it’d be better than staring into the Judas eyes of my wife.” Nelson stood to leave. He looked down at Jerry and a wicked smile split his face. “Besides, my best friend will be there.”
* * *
Nelson slept on the couch that night, despite his wife’s pleas for him to join her in their bedroom. He rose earlier than usual the next morning and trudged through the workday. Cindy’s searing confession was never far from his thoughts.
“Mr. Walton, line two’s for you,” the secretary called over the intercom just before knockoff time.
Nelson turned from his computer and snatched up the receiver. “This is Nelson.”
“I’ll do it.”
“Hold on.” Nelson slid his chair toward the door and knocked it shut with his foot. “What do you mean?”
“I’ll do what you asked in the bar.”
“Okay, uh, good.” Nelson scratched his head. “How... how are you going to do it?”
“Not on the phone. Meet me in one hour where we met yesterday.”
Nelson hung up the phone and rushed to the barroom. He sat at their usual table and had to wait over an hour for Jerry to arrive. Jerry bought two beers and then took his seat across from Nelson. He slid a Miller Lite to Nelson. “Are you sure you want me to do this?”
Nelson nodded. “Absolutely.”
“Okay.” Jerry took a deep breath. “I was thinking about making it look like a robbery that went bad.”
Nelson nodded, his eyes excited.
“I’ll need the keys to your house and you’ll have to work late one night.”
“That’s perfect. I’m scheduled to work late next Thursday... been scheduled for a month.”
“Good. I’ll do it in the morning, right after you leave for work.”
“No! The cops are going to think I killed her before I left for work.”
Jerry’s brow furrowed. “Good point. How about around lunchtime?”
“That’ll work. I’ll take a couple of the secretaries to lunch to make an alibi. And then, when I return home from work, I’ll make the discovery.” Nelson leaned forward. “How... what are you going to use?”
“I was going to use a gun, if that’s okay with you.”
“Yeah, as long as they can’t trace it.”
“I’ll use my Ruger .357.”
“The one you bought at the gun show last year?”
“Yep. It’s not on my name and I’ll just cut it up with my torch when I’m done.”
Nelson took a deep breath and exhaled. “Sounds like we’re all set. I really appreciate you doing this for me.”
* * *
On the night before the big day, Nelson moved back into the bedroom. When he walked in carrying his pillow and blanket, Cindy looked up with questioning eyes.
“I forgive you,” Nelson said.
Cindy burst into tears. She leaped from the bed and jumped into Nelson’s arms. “Baby,” she wailed, “I’m so sorry! I don’t know what came over me!”
Nelson leaned back and stared into Cindy’s moist, blue eyes. “We’ve been together too long to let something like this come between us.”
Cindy sighed. “I don’t deserve you.”
No, you don’t, Nelson thought. Instead, he said, “I’m lucky to have someone like you.” He led Cindy to bed and she snuggled against him. He reached over and flipped the switch on the lamp, and then stared into the darkness, unable to sleep. When he finally drifted off, he dreamed that he lay beside a skeleton. The skeleton was clutching at his throat, making it difficult for him to breathe. He jerked awake, drenched in sweat. Glancing at his clock, he decided to get dressed for work. He slipped out of bed, rushed through his shower and pulled on his clothes.
As he was walking out the bedroom, a groggy Cindy called from the bed, “Baby, you forgot to kiss me good-bye.”
“Oh, sorry.” Nelson backtracked to the bed and kissed Cindy’s forehead. “I didn’t want to wake you up.”
“You can wake me up anytime.” Cindy reached out and hugged Nelson tight. “Can I meet you for lunch?”
“Uh, I... I think I have to work through lunch today.”
Cindy frowned. “What do you mean?”
“I’m a little behind on my work and I think I need to get caught up. You know, I’ve been a little distracted lately with what happened with you, you know. I’m not saying it’s your fault, but —”
Cindy pushed her index finger against his lips. “I understand. I’ll be here waiting for you.”
Nelson nodded and hurried out the door.
* * *
Time seemed to stand still at work. When lunchtime finally crept around, he took the secretaries to Chili’s. They returned an hour and a half later and he went straight to his office and called Jerry’s cell phone. When Jerry answered, he sounded out of breath.
“Is it done?” Nelson asked.
“Okay...good... right... okay. Now, all I have to do is go home this afternoon and make a report.” Nelson ran his hand through his thick hair. “Uh, how are you doing?”
“I’m okay.” Jerry’s voice shook slightly.
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah. Just be cool when you talk to the cops. I don’t need any problems in my life right now.”
* * *
Five hours later, Nelson sat in his car and stared at the front door to his house. He gripped the steering wheel with trembling hands. “This is it,” he said aloud, “time to put an exclamation point on my old life and create a new beginning for myself.”
Nelson stepped out of the car and walked around to the side of his house. The door was open a crack. When he drew nearer, he saw that the doorframe was splintered and the chain lay on the floor inside the kitchen. He stepped gingerly through the opening and tiptoed through the kitchen. He scanned the floor, searching for Cindy’s body. He made it to the living room and saw a spot of blood on the carpet. His heart pounded in his chest. His palms dripped sweat. He thought about bailing, but stopped. Think about your future, he reminded himself. He slunk down the hallway, following the blood drops. They were larger in the hall and they led to the master bedroom.
When Nelson reached the door to the master bedroom, he paused. Taking a deep breath, he reached for the doorknob. His fingertips barely brushed the doorknob when a moan from inside caused him to yelp and jump back. He slammed into the opposite wall and stood frozen. What the hell was that?
There it was again — this time louder. Cindy? Nelson’s mind raced. How can that —
Something slammed against the wall inside the room. Without thinking, Nelson rushed through the door. He stopped dead in his shoes and stared in horror at his wife’s nude body lying on the floor. She was covered in blood. Her hands and legs were bound with duct tape and there was a piece of the gray tape across her mouth. She stared at him with wild eyes, struggling to free herself.
Nelson hesitated, not knowing what to do. Cindy moaned, trying to talk. He stepped forward. “What happened?” he asked, almost to himself. Cindy moaned louder. He knelt beside her.
“I’ll tell you what happened,” a voice boomed from behind him.
Nelson spun around and fell back against Cindy, who groaned in pain. He found himself looking into the barrel of a large revolver. Just beyond the looming muzzle, he saw Jerry’s face.
“What the —”
Jerry’s face split into a wicked grin. “What? Are you surprised?”
“What... what’s going on?”
“You interrupted the rape and murder of your wife.”
Nelson breathed a sigh of relief. “Oh, I thought you said you were going to make it look like a robbery.”
“Yeah, but rape was more believable, considering how beautiful Cindy is.”
Nelson started to get up, but Jerry kicked his shoulder. Nelson fell back. A sharp pain stabbed at his arm. “Are you crazy?”
“It’s gotta look real,” Jerry said.
Nelson was confused. He tried to read Jerry’s face. “What happens next?”
“Cindy’s attacker hears you drive up. He hides over there in the closet.”
Nelson looked toward the closet door. It was open.
Jerry continued. “When you rush through the door and find Cindy lying here, her attacker gets the drop on you. Shoots you right through the head.” Jerry stretched out his arm and closed his left eye, aiming with the right.
“Whoa! Whoa! We’re best friends, Jerry! We’re in this together.”
Jerry nodded. “Absolutely. Later in the night, I drop by like I always do. I find the side door busted and I come in here to find you and Cindy like this. At the funeral, being the good friend that I am, I stare down at your coffin and promise to take real good care of Cindy. We get married...” Jerry leaned over to look past Nelson at Cindy. “What, a year after Nelson’s untimely death?”
Nelson stared into her cold, blue eyes. It suddenly hit him. He spun around and jumped to his feet. “It was you! You were sleeping with my wife!”
“I love Cindy like you never could.”
Nelson pointed in Cindy’s direction. “You call this love?”
“That’s the toughest thing I ever did.” Jerry swallowed hard and a tear slid down his face. “But it had to be done.”
“You are one twisted —”
Jerry took a deep breath and squeezed the trigger. The explosion was deafening. Nelson clutched his chest and staggered backward, tripping over Cindy’s body and falling hard to the floor. He stared up at Jerry, who now stood directly above him. “You asked for a new life,” Jerry said softly. “Now I’m giving it to you. And, as a bonus, you won’t have to look into your wife’s Judas eyes.”
There was a second explosion that Nelson never heard...
Copyright © 2006 by B J Bourg