Flash Fiction: Punctuality by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is to use the following five words in a writing: marble, TV, evil, butcher, couch.

Today’s post comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Check out her anthology, OUT OF THE CAVE, horror stories for 13+. Twenty-one stories by twenty-one authors. Available on Amazon and Smashwords. Makes a GREAT Christmas gift!



by Cathy MacKenzie

Barrett wasn’t called Barry the Butcher for nothing. He was an excellent meat carver, could name every cut and knew precisely how long to cook each to perfection. Amy, his wife, a vegetarian, wasn’t exactly impressed by her husband’s skills, and while Barrett barbecued and seared, Amy boiled and sautéed.

Their marriage was strong and loving. Every night, they’d watch TV while reclining on the couch, their bodies entwined. Barrett’s butcher shop did so well, he one day brought home a marble statue for Amy. Just a gift for my sweetie, he told her. And it wasn’t even her birthday! How nice was that?

Barrett, as precise and punctual as his wife, closed his shop at precisely 5:30 p.m. through the week and at 4:00 on Sundays, which was never a busy day. He’d spend thirty minutes cleaning up and would then head home. Barrett had timed his stride using the watch Amy had given to him on his last birthday: fifteen minutes exactly from office to home.

One Sunday at 4:02 p.m., a brush as soft as a butterfly wing caressed Amy’s face. She touched her cheek at the unusual occurrence, and warmth coursed through her body.

When the clock reached 4:46 p.m., Amy wondered where her husband was. He should have been home at 4:45. She put aside the pot of potatoes, her heart beating erratically. Where was he?

Amy decided she’d wait until seven o’clock. If he hadn’t appeared by then, she’d go look for him. In retrospect, she should have gone much earlier. He’d never been late previously without calling, so why had she waited that night?

At 5:21, while eying the clock, a cold breeze hit her face. What was that? She rubbed her arms and her heart shuddered. Barrett? Should she go or wait? No, she had resolved to wait until seven, and punctilious Amy didn’t back down from her decisions.

At 7.01 p.m., she had donned her coat and was out the door.

Barrett’s shop, both the interior and exterior, was dark when she arrived. She pounded on the locked door. He’d never given her a key, and at that moment, she wondered why that was. She walked around the building, to the back door that opened into the alley where the garbage cans were located. That door, too, as she expected, was locked.

What to do?

Was he fooling around? He had eyed Myrtle Davison, who lived two blocks over. Amy had never before seen such a look of lust in her husband’s eyes. Had he deserted her, cleaned out their savings? No, without her signature, he couldn’t withdraw more than a thousand dollars from their joint account. He could have absconded with money he’d hoarded from the shop—if he hoarded money. Barrett sometimes used the wall safe if he couldn’t reach the bank before the close of day. But no, he wouldn’t leave her, not like that. Their marriage was perfect.

Or did she live in that fictional place called Candyland where everything was sweet and delicious?

Within minutes, Amy quit her pondering and called the police. What else could she have done? Her husband was missing, after all. She must report him.

The police broke down the door of the butcher shop to find Barrett dead in a pool of blood behind the counter. The officer made a rash determination that he had severed his left arm at 4:02 p.m. because the watch, which he wore on his left wrist, had stopped at that precise moment, no doubt when the amputated limb hit the concrete floor. His heart must have stopped then, too, otherwise why hadn’t he sought help? At least that’s the quick judgement the police officer made

But Amy remembered the cold flash at 5:21 and, though she didn’t dispute the officer, knew he’d passed at that exact moment. Thinking of the cold flash brought to mind the earlier warmth that had spread through her, and she realized Barrett’s soul had touched her when he fell, telling her it was okay, that he loved her.

Amy couldn’t live with herself. Though she’d always poo-pooed women’s intuition, she should have realized something was amiss, and had she done so, she would have been out the door at 4:03 p.m. and reached her husband’s shop before 4:30. He would have been alive!

Instead, because of her inaction, he had suffered a horrible accident and passed on. Alone. In a pool of blood.

How could she have allowed such a catastrophe? Evil, evil woman, she admonished herself.


The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Dorothy Colinco. www.dorothycolinco.com

CaraMarie Christy: https://calamariwriting.wordpress.com/


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