By Mary Vigliante Szydlowski

The District Attorney passed the pictures to the bailiff, who in turn gave them to the jury forewoman. "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the defendant would have you believe she is a pillar of society. A church going woman. A God-fearing woman. A kind, caring, gentle woman. A good woman! Tell me, does this look like the work of a good woman? Or does this look like the work of a coldhearted killer, a murderous fiend?"

One of the jurywomen gasped when she saw the pictures. The man in the photo was covered in blood. He'd been hit in the head with a blunt object.

"Tell me Mrs. Rasmussen...your husband...did he mistreat you?"

"No, I can't say that he did," she admitted. "He was a good provider an all, but he wasn't perfect; he had his faults!"

"Faults? Exactly what were his faults Mrs. Rasmussen? They must have been grievous? They must have been unforgivable? Exactly what sin did this man commit that made you unleash your rage, your vengeance on this poor trusting soul? Was he not a loving husband to you?"

"Well yes, I guess you could say he was."

"And you were married for a long time?"


"How long?"

"It was thirty-five years, last May."

"And in all that time, was he ever unfaithful to you?"


"Did he beat you?"

"Well no, he never done that."

"Was he a drunkard then?"


"Did he starve you? Malign you? Abuse you in any way?"

"Can't say that he did."

"He sounds like he was a good husband."

"I guess you could say that."

"Well then why did you go into your bedroom at 3 AM in the morning? When this hardworking man, this loving husband, was fast asleep and bash him in the head with this?" He grabbed the toilet seat from the table and brandished it over his head. "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, this was a crime of premeditated murder. Mrs. Rasmussen planned to kill her husband when she unscrewed the toilet seat from its moorings on the commode. She knew exactly what she was doing when she sneaked back into the bedroom and brought the toilet seat repeatedly down on her poor husband's head. This wasn't a case of temporary insanity, as the defense would have you believe. This was cold-blooded murder! And why, why did she do it? What reason does she give for committing this dastardly deed, this heinous crime? Mr. Rasmussen had one fatal flaw and she killed him for it! No matter how much she nagged. How much she berated, yelled, or complained, she couldn't make him bend to her will. Tell me Mrs. Rasmussen exactly what did your husband do that unleashed such blood lust? What drove you to kill him?"

"He left the damn toilet seat up!"

"He left the toilet seat up? That was his crime...the unpardonable sin? That's why you killed him?" he said with a smirk on his face. "No more questions!"

The defense attorney rose from her seat at the table, "Mrs. Rasmussen did your husband know his forgetfulness upset you?"

"Sure he did! It's not like I hadn't told him a hundred times before. But he turned a deaf ear. What is so hard about lowering the seat after you pee that a man can't remember to do it?"

"Tell me Mrs. Rasmussen, what exactly happened that night?"

"I got up like usual to go to the bathroom at about 2 in the morning. I didn't turn on the light so as not to disturb Burt. It was real dark. I went into the bathroom, lifted my nightgown and..."

"And then what happened?"

"I fell into the toilet and couldn't get out. I kept yelling for Burt, but he's a sound sleeper. I couldn't wake him. I kept wriggling and wiggling. But my bottom was stuck tight. The porcelain was freezing. I got goosebumbs on my behind, which only made things worse. Finally I used my toes to open the door under the sink and take out a bottle of shampoo. It took me a while before I was able to get it to where I could grab it with my hands. I poured the shampoo around the rim and over my bare fanny and finally got loose. This was the sixth time I'd fallen into the toilet in four months. One time my back was hurt so bad I had to go to the hospital. I kept telling him to put the seat down but he refused to remember. There was no reasoning with that man! He was so stubborn! So set in his ways! I begged, I pleaded, I used my feminine wiles, but nothing worked. He couldn't get it through his thick skull that leaving the seat up was dangerous. Used to be I'd only fall into the john once or twice a year, but then I started plopping in the pot more frequently. It was like Burt planned it. Like he meant to do it. He was a spiteful man! Sometimes he'd go for months putting the seat down, lulling me into the false belief that he'd truly changed, that he'd reformed, that it was safe to go to the bathroom at night. And then, then when I least expected it, up it would go. It was a mean-spirited cruel trick he played on me. It drove me crazy never knowing if this was the night the seat would be up. You stumble into the bathroom, half asleep, wanting nothing more than to do your business and shuffle back to your warm bed and your sweet dreams but then, then," she started sobbing. "What was I to do? I didn't want to kill him! But I had to! It was self-defense!"

"No more questions. The Defense rests." The female attorney's eyes scanned the faces of the jury: nine women and three men. The women looked at each other knowingly. It was obvious where their sympathies lay. The men looked shocked and strangely frightened. She breathed a sigh of relief. Mrs. Rasmussen would get off and be home in time for tea!

Ms. Szydlowski's short stories, articles, children's stories, essays, and poems have appeared in newspapers, literary magazines, children's magazines, and other publications. She has published six adult novels under various pseudonyms and is also the author of three children's books. Her most recent children's book, Kia's Manatee, was published in August 2011 by Operation Outreach-USA and is being used as a 2nd grade reader in classrooms around the country that participate in the OO-USA children's literacy program.

You may visit the author's website at http://www.maryviglianteszydlowski.com.

Copyright 2012 Mary Vigliante Szydlowski. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited. OMDB! and OMDB! logos are trademarks of Over My Dead Body!

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