With Friends Like That

By Susan Palmquist

"Remember when you said if there's anything you could ever do for me all I had to do was ask? That time's arrived."

Marty Simmons didn't think he'd see the man who'd saved his life ever again. But here he was almost one year later standing on his front door step.

"Pete, it's great to see you. Come in."

Marty stepped aside to let Pete into the house.

"Excuse the mess around here. My wife's out of town for a few days."

"Ah, yes, Nancy that's her name, right?"

"You've got a good memory."

"Never forget a name or a face," said Marty. "And it's just as well she's gone because I'd prefer that my little predicament stay between the two of us."

"Why don't we go through to the kitchen and get something to drink."

Marty was about to close the front door when he noticed Pete glance out at the driveway.

"Is there someone else with you?" asked Marty.

"No, it's just...will my car be all right out there in the street?"

"Sure, it's as safe as it can be. This is a nice neighborhood; almost zero crime rate."

Marty shut the door and led Pete through to the kitchen.

"Great place you've got here. I should seriously think about buying my own house. I mean it's the best time to snag a bargain."

Marty switched off the oven. "Can I get you something to eat or drink?"

"No, that's fine. Like I said, I just stopped by to see if you'd do me a favor."

"That's right. I'm getting intrigued," he said sliding a casserole dish out of the oven.

"I've got a dead body out in the trunk of my car. I need your help getting rid of it."

Marty dropped the casserole dish on the floor and then fell backwards thinking there was a chair there to catch him. There wasn't because he'd moved it when he'd washed the floor two hours ago. He hit the ground with a thump.

"I can't help you with anything like that."

"Then you're not a man of your word. When I pulled you up from the edge of the cliff you said if there was any way you could repay me, all I had to do was name it. I'm here, and I'm naming it."

"That didn't include getting rid of dead bodies."

"Come on, it won't take us long. Your wife's away, she'll never know anything about it if that's all that's bothering you."

"All that's bothering me..." Marty got up and walked over to the back door and opened it. "Leave my house now and I'll forget we had this conversation."

Pete walked over to where he stood. Marty thought he was going to actually follow his request, but instead he snatched the knob from Marty's hand before slamming the door shut.

"This isn't very polite," said Pete. He walked over to the countertop and lifted up a bottle of brandy, checked the label, and then poured himself a glass.

"You were seconds away from going over the edge. If I hadn't been there that day we wouldn't even be having this conversation."

Pete sat before taking a sip from the brandy.

"We really should get rid of that body as soon as possible. He's been in the trunk for twelve hours, and I can feel it's turning humid."

"I'm calling the police," said Marty, rushing over to the phone.

"I'll tell them you helped kill him," said Pete just as Marty stabbed the first number with his finger.

"I bet you can't guess what I do for a living. Let me give you a clue. The day I saved you, I'd just pushed a man over the cliff."

"A hit man," said Marty putting the phone down. He could feel sweat breaking out on his forehead. "The man out there..."

"Another one of my jobs. And if it helps ease your conscience, he wasn't a very nice man...beat his wife. She's the one who hired me."

Marty eyed the brandy; he could really use a drink now.

"Why me?" asked Marty.

"The man just so happened to be living in your neighborhood."

Marty couldn't believe what he was hearing. He could feel his heartbeat starting to quicken. In his neighborhood...he might even know the man.

"So how are we going to dispose of him?"

Pete looked around the kitchen.

"Do you happen to have a disposal unit?"

Marty carefully inched his way along the countertop preventing Pete from seeing the switch on the wall.

"No, forget that, that would take us forever and we'd have to cut him up first."

Marty flopped over the sink. He could feel acid rising in his throat. He was going to be sick.

"What's out in your back garden? Let's see no neighbors at the back, perfect. You get the shovel and I'll get the body."

Pete left the kitchen. Marty considered phoning the police, but then had a better idea. He took a deep breath and stepped into the garden. He walked to the potting shed to find the biggest and heaviest shovel he owned.

Marty headed out to the street, looked around and then crept up behind Pete as he was learning over the trunk of the car. He lifted the shovel up and hit Pete square in the head. Pete conveniently fell into the open trunk.

But wait a minute, Pete's trunk was empty, there wasn't a body in there. What had he done? Pete must have played a practical joke on him, and now he'd killed him.

He felt lightheaded so he made his way back inside the house. He sat at the kitchen table and could feel his heart beating faster. He shouldn't have pushed himself physically like that because the doctor had warned him.

The first twinge of pain hit his chest and then his upper left arm. He rushed over to the cupboard, knocking the bottle of brandy onto the floor alongside the contents of the spilled casserole dish.

Marty didn't make it to the cupboard. He collapsed on the floor, his face now smeared with a combination of brandy and beef stew. If he could just get to his nitro pills. He started to crawl across the floor, but a foot crushed one of his hands preventing from reaching into the cupboard. He looked up to see Pete standing there holding a wad of tissues against his profusely bleeding scalp.

"My pills."

Pete pulled on the handle, opened the door, pulled out the bottle containing Marty's heart medication and flung them to the other side of the kitchen."I don't think you'll be needing those," said Pete.

"Why are you doing this? That wasn't very funny telling me about the dead body in your car."

"Think about it Marty. Man like you with a heart condition, me purposely trying to scare you."

"How did you know about my heart problem, only my doctor and my..."

"Wife. She's one patient lady. She wanted you dead last year. You didn't just slip at off the cliff, she pushed you. I saw her, but I saved you. I told her I'd tell the police, but then she decided to hire me to come here today to scare you to death."

Marty looked up and saw Pete had now left. If he could just inch his way over to where Pete had thrown his medication. He'd take his little pill and everything would be okay. If he could do it wouldn't Nancy be surprised when she returned home from her mother's house to find him still alive yet again? He eased himself across the room, thinking she'd be the one who'd die of fright, not him.

SUSAN PALMQUIST is both a freelance writer and author. Her short stories have appeared in US and UK publications including Woman's World. She writes both mysteries and romances. When she's not writing she's teaching online writing workshops and is a tutor for an online writing school. Her favorite pastimes are getting lost in a good book, cooking and gardening.

Her short story "Neighbors" was published on omdb! in March, 2012.

Copyright 2012 Susan Palmquist. 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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