Mariam’s Usual


Sam and Miriam met the old-fashioned way: Sam’s .38 still smoking as he stood over the dead body of Miriam’s husband. Sam looked up and there was a naked woman in front of him.

“Oh,” was all that Miriam said.

“Oh,” said Sam.

Miriam looked at Sam and said. “I’ll get my bag.”

Sam stood there and watched a very beautiful woman go from naked to elegantly dressed in one quick move of sliding a dress over her head. He looked down and tried to feel something for the body, but it was just a paycheck. The guy who had hired Sam had shrugged and said, “Shouldn’t have spent money he didn’t have. Don’t know why he spent it, but now you gotta do what you do.”

So here was Sam, standing here, wondering what to do about the girl. Right now he watched as she snapped her bag shut and smiled a small smile, just enough to let him know she had a bigger smile waiting if the moment arose.

She said, “Ready?”

He put the gun in his pocket and they walked out.


Later, in his apartment, they were lying in his bed.

“I need some new clothes,” she said.

“Anything,” he said.

So that’s what they bought: anything. And everything.  He was glad the credit card he had from Rico was one of those black ones with a high limit. Rico wouldn’t like him attracting attention with the card and there would be a payback. He’d owe Rico another favor, another job down the line.


Days later, she was putting on an elegant white dress when he came in from work.

“Don’t change,” she said.  “We’re getting married.”

So he got married wearing a grey suit that still smelled of gunpowder from the hit he’d just made.  Afterwards they went to a jewelry store and bought a ring that burned up two more of Rico’s cards.


They lived in a nice house with nice cars and a nice boat at the Harborwalk Marina. Sam earned it. There were so many jobs lined up to pay for it that life was almost like a 9 to 5:  get up, shave, look at the task list for the day. Hope it was an easy one so you could come home early and watch TV or maybe get in a round of golf. But, of course, the more you do, the more you screw up. And the more you screw up, the more trouble you get into.


Sam and Miriam met again a different way: the guard showing Miriam to the visitor’s side of the glass at the prison. Sam picked up the telephone on his side.

“What’s with the new ring?” he said, pointing to her finger.  The stone was twice the size of the one he’d bought her.

“Oh,” said Miriam.  “That’s from my new husband.”

~ fin ~

Michael Guillebeau’s first book, Josh Whoever (Five Star Mysteries, 2013) was a finalist for the 2014 Silver Falchion Award for Best First Novel: Literary Suspense, and received a starred review in Library Journal, and was named a Debut Mystery of the Month by Library Journal. His second book, A Study In Detail (Five Star Mysteries, 2015) received the following praise from the Midwest Book Review: “fresh, original and witty.” Guillebeau has published over twenty short stories, including three in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. Michael Guillebeau lives in Madison, Alabama and Panama City Beach, Florida. For more information, see