Friday, January 22, 2010

An Uncle

A car horn jolted Nick out of his reverie. He sat in a favorite leather bound chair by the window in Uncle's study and looked at his wife with bleary eyes. Her peevish expression faded when she finally had his attention. “Yes?” he said with a slight inclination of his head, and put down his drink.

“You're being rude, you know. Go handle those people out there.”

“Forgive me but I'm going to need some more time alone.” He refilled the glass.

“Oh really? Well, sure. Of course.” She left without another word and slammed the door shut.

Nick looked out the window and saw three people striding up the short drive to the house. He gulped more of his drink, needing the alcohol to burn away the bile clogging his throat.

Many years ago Nick became Uncle's ward.  His mother, a much beloved housemaid to the family, left the infant boy with Uncle and his late wife, and returned to her husband and children in their Central American village. Nick's biological father was never found. While never usually overtly affectionate, Uncle raised him in a dutiful and kind manner.

Just yesterday, the elderly man died in his bed.

Uncle once made an offer he thought would set his ward on a path of redemption. “I'll pay all the fees and living expenses if you go to law school.” But Nick refused. By then, he operated a successful business he enjoyed. Many times over the years, the money he made was more than he could have hoped, even as a lawyer.

Unfortunately, those lucrative times were gone.

Of course, I counted on Uncle's damn millions taking care of the rest of it,  he thought as he swallowed the last of the scotch.

Earlier, after he greeted and comforted all who came over with their black clothes, their potlucks, and their memories, Nick stepped into the study for private time with Uncle's lawyer. 

“I don't know why you thought you and your wife were in Mr. Stanford's will,” were the lawyer's last words before he left Nick shaken and nursing his drink.

He wished he knew that particular truth sooner.

The sharp knock at the door of the study jolted Nick out of his reverie. “Yes, yes, come the hell in.” He stood up and flung the glass at the fireplace, and waited for the detective to walk over to him and recite him his rights, while two policemen clicked handcuffs around his wrists, then guided him to the door.

As they walked past the people gathered and silent in the hallway, Nick looked up and saw his wife's ashen face and stopped. She reached out and grabbed the front of his shirt. “You know how to fix this don't you, Nicky?”

The police pulled her away and pushed him out the door. When they reached the car, and before a strong hand held his head down and helped him slide into the back seat, Nick turned for a last look at Uncle's house.

There were many things he knew how to do, how to fix. He was certain he had been careful one more time.

Yes, Nick was a killer. But I'm no lawyer, he thought as he was driven from the only home he never had.


  1. Anonymous7:50 AM

    Now I'm wondering what that "business" Nick had actually was! Compelling characters here, Marisa. Well done!

  2. Excellent use of word choices to leave the clues without making it obvious. They were all there but I wasn't expecting the ending. Great story!

  3. I like, how would you say double predicament ending.
    Also, got quite drawn into this as well

    Good stuff

  4. Ooh, lawyers take another hit.

    I like the ending, a good punch.

    Straight From Hel

  5. This one sucked me right in. Agree with Laura, although I did expect the ending, and great story.
    -David G Shrock

  6. A compelling read, with interesting characters. The ending is quite slick.

  7. Ah, the 'business'. Good story, and I didn't see it coming, so you fooled me. Fun stuff. One itty bitty thing that pulled me out -- 'out of his reverie' used twice.

    Blasted Uncles... and grateful wards - not! Peace, Linda

  8. Anonymous10:13 AM

    My goodness! Do you just write these stories on the fly? I can barley squeeze out one in a year! :D

    Really well done! I love reading your posts. Always entertaining. :)

    ~ Corra

    from the desk of a writer

  9. Anonymous10:14 AM

    barley = barely

    (unless you prefer the twang!)


  10. You hardly ever read flash fiction in the mystery genre but I think this is it. You successfully put all the pieces together of a rather complex plot while also creating real and believable characters. Excellent!

  11. Heh, I was kind of waiting for Nick to be a dark superhero or something. Ward of a super rich "Uncle", parents not in the picture... Guess he went the other way, maybe not super - but a villian.
    Very cool story!

  12. I have to wonder why his mother left him as a boy? Did she already see his murderous nature? So much mystery packed in one story, well done!

  13. I liked the feel of this story, I imagined my favorite old classic movies and mystery stories. There were good details of the action in this story. Very compelling!!

    I'm amazed with how you come up with so many diverse topics and characters to write about and you seem to really understand them all.

  14. Ooh, very good. Poor lawyers, I almost feel sorry for them ;-)

    Great stuff

  15. My parwents always wanted me to be a lawyer and follow in father's footsteps. I became a writer instead and 'killed' them on paper if not in actuality like Nick!

    So I'm with you 100% of the way in your story. (Pats stomach contentedly)

    Marc Nash

  16. Great feel to this piece. I too want to know more about Nick's business. He's an excellent character, any chance of a follow-up?

  17. Ooo, nasty Nick. If only he'd had a father to look after him...

    The suspense is killing me--was the uncle the father? Was there a gun involved, completing the line from Warren Zevon?

    Good work, Marissa.

  18. I agree with Sam. Great feel to this piece. Loved the writing, particularly the first paragraph where the description painted a vivid picture in my mind. (Also agree w/ Laura about the excellent word choices that left clues.) Wonderful story!

  19. Yes, like others I was drawn in immediately. I loved the wife and how you sketched there relationship so elegantly. Really enjoyed this, thank you!

  20. Fabulous job with the characters, and the story, as usual Marisa. I too hope we'll see a follow-up for Nick. Fun stuff!

  21. Marisa. . .

    AWESOME! I always get such a kick out of these kinds of stories - rich uncles, murder, money. . . perfect.

    I was not expecting the ending at ALL which makes it work even more!

    Nice job.


  22. This was great Marisa!
    Even with all the clues I didn't figure it out until I read the ending.
    Loved the choice of words in the last line: "the only home he never had."

  23. Anonymous2:54 PM

    Better a killer than a lawyer, I say. Great story, Marisa. I do wonder if Uncle was actually "Dad," but it's a nice hook that's keeping me thinking after the stories over. Actually, there's a good bit of that here. It's the sign of a good story. Thanks! ~ Olivia

  24. I didn't anticipate that ending, Marisa! Good misdirection. I'd say the old guy had it coming to him... Nice story.

  25. And justice was served. Cool.

  26. Very cool story. From looking like he was wronged to proving he got exactly what he deserved, it was a satisfying story. Great job!

  27. Sounds like Nick could have been a building contractor or something of the sort. Maybe he should have hit the books after all, so he could have at least figured out how to get away with it. His poor wife seemed surprised. Your characters always seem like real people to me...

  28. Loved the pacing, LOVED the last line. This had such a great black and white feel that really appealed to me.

  29. Love this Nick character. I felt as though I were watching an old black and white film. I actually pictured Humphrey Bogart in the role as Nick.

    Marissa, this was brilliant! My kind of story.

    Great Job!

  30. Great ending and excellent characters. Loved reading this one. Thanks, Marisa!

  31. Now I'm wondering how he could "fix" this like his wife said. Well done!

  32. You never know with those wards, do you? I was wondering what kind of business made more money than being a lawyer. I guess now we know why it failed -- he just wasn't careful enough.

    Nicely told!


  33. Great word choice, and although I should have expected the ending I had no idea. But at least he's not a lawyer. :)

  34. I kept wondering about the "business." Nice twist!

  35. Neatly done. I agree this has an old movie feel to it. And I love old movies.

  36. Great last line. I really enjoyed the story, and found myself wanting to know more about the wife - something about the first thing we ever know about her is her "peevish" expression just draws me in.

  37. I doubt that Nick's wife will stick around while he's in the clink! Ouch!

  38. OMG! Love this! Made me wish it was a book and could keep reading!

  39. Yeah, Nick definitely made the right choice when decided to skip law school, lol. ;-p

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