Grief

by Gary Floyd

Slightly used tombstone. Near mint condition. Perfect for someone named Robert Fuller. $1000 dollars or best offer.

Everyone makes mistakes. Fuller or Fulton, what’s the difference? One slip-up, and I’m out a thousand bucks. I can only imagine my boss’s anger. Thank God, I own the company. I can only imagine my wife’s anger. Thank God, she doesn’t know. A thousand dollars, out of pocket. My company is almost bankrupt. I can’t afford such mistakes.

I have an idea. The phonebook: Fuller, Chris…; Fuller, Paul…; Fuller R (possibly)…; Fuller, Robert (OK)…; another Fuller, Robert (better). I recognize an address. Better yet. Not the second one. It’s second Robert Fuller’s lucky day. First Robert Fuller isn’t so fortunate. His wife will soon find my business card. I know it’ll work out for everyone involved: first Robert Fuller being the exception.

I chuckle. Imagine Wile E. Coyote receiving a package from the ACME Company, unwrapping it, and finding an anvil inside: designed to drop from high places. I go to plan B as Mr. Coyote’s plans rarely work. A high powered rifle, a scope, and me at a distance. With my ingenuity, the roadrunner would soon be roadkill. That’s all folks.

I spend time scoping out the first Mr. Fuller’s neighborhood. It’s lovely: big houses, large yards, and tree line drives. There are ample opportunities for a man to leave his vehicle, slip into the woods, kill someone, and casually drive home. I can’t delay. Mr. Fulton’s rush order is overdue and I try to be conscientious.

Tuesday: I perspire while assembling my rifle. As I do so, I calmly track a man who walks between the Fuller residence and a car, several times. I spent hours planning. What if I miss? I’ll have to start over. I’m out of the car, hiding in a patch of trees. A car slowly drives around the bend. I hold my breath until it passes. Did he notice the truck parked there? Thank God, I’m driving my brother-in-law’s truck. A moment passes. Nothing but birds and wind rustling the leaves. The man is outside again. I raise my rifle, squeeze my trigger, there’s a pop, and the man buckles in the driveway. I quietly leave.

I wait all day by my phone, and then the next day, and soon another. Nobody calls. Two weeks pass: soon television crews, yellow tape, and the police pack up and leave. I return to the street mindful that the police are still following leads. I ask a boy on a bicycle, where the Fullers live. He says they moved six months ago. I pretend I’m not shocked. I think how I’ll have to look up second Robert Fuller’s address on Mapquest. I maintain my composure subtly asking, “Any idea where they went?”

Later that night, I’ll slip a business card onto the grieving family’s porch. It’s never too late to try to drum up business.

 

BIO: Gary Floyd is a Massachusetts writer who has worked as both a journalist and teacher for at-risk youth. He has attended the Wildacres Writers Conference in North Carolina annually for the past twenty-two years. He has worked on novels and only recently has learned the art of flash fiction. So far the experiment is going well.