Dead Again
by Sherry Lawrence

"How many times can you kill a man? I mean, before he really dies? Once, twice, maybe three times?

"No, that can't be right. I have already killed Floyd six times during the past two months.

"Sometimes it's even a bit confusing to me. I mean, which particular method I used at which time...

"It's also a bit exhausting--killing a man six times involves a considerable amount of energy! First there's the planning and all of the various preparations, not to mention the actual execution of the plan. Yes, indeed, very exhausting. And time consuming. I have more important things to do with my life than to spend it killing Floyd. (Or having to worry about how long it will be before I'll be forced to do it all over again!)"

Two uniformed officers leaned against the edge of the cluttered desk while Sergeant McBride adjusted the volume on the small portable tape recorder that he had placed on top of a stack of papers that needed to be filed, if he ever had the time.

Having been a deputy sheriff for nearly 34 years, he thought he had heard all of the strange confessions possible for crimes that occurred in his jurisdiction. However, as he sat slumped down in the chair at his desk, he shook his head in disbelief.

Across from him, a spry woman of at least 76 years sat rigidly on the edge of a hard-backed chair, chattering away as if oblivious to the soft whirring sound the tape recorder made as it captured her every word.

"You would think, by now, that he would have the decency to die. Why, I gave him the best years of my life. With not so much as a 'thank you' to show for it. But that was before.

"He should understand now that I'll never forgive him. Yes, that's my motto, "Never forgive and never forget."

"Of course the first time I killed him was the easiest. No, it does not become easier with practice. Each additional killing requires more planning, more detailed preparations, and of course, a more intricate disposal plan. After all, once you present a bona fide corpse to the authorities, you can't very well continue depositing that same corpse, 'on their doorstep,' so to speak, now can you?"

Sergeant McBride offered a cup of coffee to the old woman as she chattered on, but she didn't seem to notice. She was lost in her own thoughts.

"The late August heat contributed significantly to my original plan. So well planned, it was, too. He never suspected. He never even suspected. Men are such fools.

"True. I had met him at one of the local bars. Years ago. 'Ladies nite,' it was. You know, when drinks for ladies are only fifty cents each?"

She paused. She seemed to expect some sort of response from him. The sergeant nodded.

"So what did you expect, a preacher man, maybe?" He used to say that all the time, as he'd pop the top to another can of beer. Wouldn't even put it in a glass. A disgusting sort of man. Had no respect. Always chasing after the women. And he probably caught a few, too. Disgusting!

"Well, it was really quite simple. Exchanging his anti-hypertensive medication for some little sugar pills--I forget what they call them now."

"Placebos," the sergeant interjected.

"Yes, that's it. Quite simple really. The pharmaceutical companies are really quite obliging. For convenience sake, most pills appear similar in size and sometimes even colors. And who bothers checking those tiny markings inscribed on the tablets before you swallow them? Certainly not Floyd.

"The detectives were actually quite pleasant. Oh, the usual sort of questions, I suppose. 'Yes, Mr. Dawdson had a heart condition. No, he took his medication quite regularly. I'm not sure, he never discussed his business matters with me...but he did seem upset about something. No, it wasn't really an argument. A minor disagreement, perhaps. I always tried not to aggravate him. It's just not good to argue with a man who has a heart condition, but you understand that, I'm sure.'

"And so they carted away the remains and I looked forward to peace and quiet. That was about two months ago. A week or so after Floyd's 'unfortunate' (and fatal) heart attack, while finishing up my shopping down at the supermarket, I happened across an old, dear friend, Gladys. Gladys Nussbaum. And who should be standing bedside her, chatting away, but Floyd.

"Of course I was momentarily taken aback, but quickly regained my presence of mind. Graciously, most graciously mind you, I invited him to join me for dinner later that evening.

"Arriving at nearly 8 o'clock--that man had never been on time in his life. I'm certain of it! Why, he'd be late for his own funeral if I didn't rearrange everything to accommodate for his tardiness. Dinner was ready at 6 o'clock. By the time he arrived, the roast was over-cooked, not to mention the vegetables. A disgusting man, indeed.

"Trying to be so polite, he was. Offering to help with the clearing up after dinner. Why, he barely even noticed as I plunged the skewer into the base of his neck. As he crumpled to the floor, I remember thinking, 'Such a bother!'

"Fortunately, for me, I had not..."

Sergeant McBride leaned forward and pushed the "off" button on the tape recorder. He quietly instructed the two uniformed officers to pick up the necessary paperwork and begin a search of the house and yard.

"If I were you," he cautioned, "I'd start with the deep freezer."

The old woman chattered on, without seeming to notice that she had lost her audience.

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