Burying the Truth – a short story

My short story, Burying the Truth, is out today. Please enjoy a short excerpt below. Thanks, Ethan

 

Burying the Truth

“You know how I feel about having guns in my home,” Stacy said. A frown appeared on her forehead as she pushed aside her salad plate.

Mark dropped his spoon on the table and looked at his wife. He thought she had given up arguing with him about the shotgun. “I know. That’s why we don’t have any, and I always use the ones at the range. I’m just storing Tim’s shotgun for a couple of days.” He wanted to add that it was their home, not just hers, as it had been since they got married seven years ago. But he knew better than to fuel Stacy’s fire. He just wanted to enjoy his dinner in peace.

“So, why can’t he keep it in his house?”

Mark sighed. They had already gone over this once, two hours ago, when he came back from the shooting range, but Stacy still needed to vent about it. Tim was one of the partners of the criminal law firm where Mark worked as a junior associate. Tim’s tendency to make Mark put in late nights, sometimes even on weekends, had earned him Stacy’s ire. “Tim tried the shotgun, liked it, and bought it. He needs a locker to store it, but they were out of the ones he wanted at the range. His young kids get everywhere, so it makes sense I keep it. The range’s closed tomorrow; it’s Sunday. Tim will go back on Monday and his order should be in by then.”

Stacy took a sip of her water then refilled her glass from the pitcher in the middle of the dining table. She sat back in her chair. “My dad taught me how to use shotguns, but I don’t like them. I want that thing out of my house first thing Monday morning.” She turned her head and pointed at the hallway closet where Mark had placed the shotgun in one of the drawers, in front of the cleaning supplies. Nutmeg, their brindle lab—who was lying in front of the closet—flicked her tail, thinking Stacy was pointing at her.

“Sure, by all means,” Mark said. “These mash potatoes are delicious,” he added, eager to change the subject. He fed a spoonful to his mouth.

Stacy grinned, savoring her victory in silence. She picked up her fork and nibbled on a piece of lettuce.

“Have you seen our new neighbors yet?” Mark asked.

The house across the street had been emptied a week ago, but no one had moved in yet.

“No, I haven’t seen anyone.”

“I wonder what the deal is with that.”

Stacy shrugged. “Maybe the new owners haven’t sold their old place. The market is still slow.”

“It could be. Can you pass me the water?”

“Sure.”

Mark filled his glass and took a small sip. He cut into his juicy sirloin steak and looked through the windows at their neighbor’s unkempt lawn. Julie, the elderly owner of the bungalow behind their house who lived alone, had been in the hospital over the last week. “Without Julie, it’s so quiet around here,” he said after he finished chewing.

“Yes, and we should take advantage of her absence and tackle that ugly corner by the back alley tomorrow morning.”

Julie was always outside, especially on weekends, watering her flowerbeds, puttering in her vegetable garden or giving Stacy advice on how she should take better care of her own yard, much to Stacy’s annoyance.

Mark sighed. “I thought we were taking the morning off. It’s supposed to be ninety degrees, humid and scorching.”

Stacy shook her head. “Our aspens and cherries are going to die in their buckets if we don’t plant them soon. We’ve been putting this off for too long. If we work a couple of hours in the morning before it gets too hot, we should get it done.”

Mark smiled at her words. We? You’ll point at the ground where the trees should go and I’ll be the schmuck buried in the dirt up to my waist. “Sure, honey,” he said and cut another chunk of his steak.

He didn’t mind landscaping, especially the rockwork, the mulching, and the planting of flowers and shrubs. The big trees—three-year-old aspens and cherries, with roots stretching four feet in their wire baskets and weighting over a hundred pounds—were another matter altogether. They had two aspens and two cherries sitting in their driveway. Each tree would take at least half an hour of digging and almost the same time to finish planting and watering.

Nutmeg yawned quite loudly then moved slowly toward the dining table. She stretched, flicked her tail, and let out a low bark.

“Looks like she wants to go outside,” Stacy said.

Mark glanced at his watch. Ten to eight. I can make it on time for the baseball game, if it’s a quick walk. “I’ll take her. Then I’ll finish my supper while watching the game.”

“Thanks, sweetie.”

“No problem, honey.”

 * * *

Nutmeg took Mark to the back alley, where she relieved herself on a brown patch of grass, a few feet away from Julie’s half-withered rose bushes. The dog cleaned her paws by throwing back swift kicks. She proceeded to sniff along the fence, her snout to the ground. She stopped to burrow then listened as a couple of squirrels ran through the branches of a tall maple in another neighbor’s yard.

“Let’s go, Nutmeg,” Mark encouraged her.

She listened and they hurried through the curving alley leading to a small park next to the bus stop. Mark noticed a white van stopped by the bus stand. A young man with a mop of curly blond hair was sitting behind the wheel. His passenger was an older-looking bald man. They were both staring at the house in front of the bus stop. Mark knew the neurosurgeon, Lynda, who lived there with her husband. He had been to her place once for a block party. Lynda’s house was almost a mansion. No expenses were spared when they built their dream house.

Mark began to cross the street, to take a closer look at the van, especially at its license plate. Their neighborhood was generally safe and secure, but it had seen two daylight robberies in the last three weeks. Lynda’s house was full of the latest electronic gadgets. The police didn’t have any leads and admitted to expecting more robberies.

 

Check out the entire story by clicking here.

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