Thursday Affair

03/05/24

They were married, but not to each other. Their destruction was mutually assured. You’re telling my husband? Not before I tell your wife.

They met at a school drop-off, and were late for pick-up.

During their third tryst they discovered they were also into guns. They took turns pulling the trigger on probably-empty cylinders, late for pick-up again.

“I want to feel it go off,” she said later, aiming at the motel ceiling. Reflected light from the courtyard pool danced between black bar shadows cast by louvered blinds.

“I know a place,” he said.

Getting away together at night wasn’t the hard part. The hard part was waiting for a truck to cover the sound. Gunshots thundered below the overpass.

He saw something fall in the shadows, and ran ahead. She followed, smoke coiling from the revolver in her hand.

“He’s dead,” he said, squatting beside the body.

“Who was he?”

“Dunno,” he said. “Some bum.”

In a gap in traffic they heard water trickling.

“Did we shoot him?” she asked.

“Your prints are on the gun,” he said.

“Gun’s registered to you,” she said.

He lit up the corpse’s face with his cellphone. Its cheek was gone.

“Look at the hole we made,” she said.

They made love beneath the bridge.

They went back to their pick-ups and drop-offs and soccer games and jazz dance class, meeting at the motel most Thursdays. No one came for them for the murder. It didn’t make the news.

“I want to do it again,” she said.

“We were lucky,” he said.

“It should be someone on purpose this time,” she said. “Someone who has it coming.”

“Maybe we have it coming,” he said.

“Not yet,” she said.

They rolled slowly through the mission district. It was raining and the streets were clear aside from the sleeping lumps and folded-over people standing stark to sustain their high.

The man on the bike swerved left into traffic, hard right, sharp back left again. He rode a cheap BMX bike with the saddle low and his knees were bent as he pedaled. He wore a hoodie, his face shadowed. A white sock showed between his right shoe and pants cuff. His left ankle was bare.

She slowed and he powered down the window. When the man rolled over to make a sale, he calmly pointed the gun at him and shot him.

She chirped the tires and was around the corner seconds after the bike and the body tilted over onto the street.

“Just Say No,” she said, slowing at lights enough to check traffic, but not stopping.

“War On Drugs,” he said.

They made love in the back of the car, working around the baby seat. She traced their initials and a valentine where their breath fogged the window. A cop saw they were white, told them it wasn’t a safe neighborhood and they should get a room.

They drove through for burgers. She picked the salad.

She said she was pregnant and it had to be his.

That Saturday she held a barbeque and they all four got together, along with families from the cul-de-sac. They teased each other with lingering glances, daring their spouses to see. They put out folding white tables in the garage for crafts. The kids got along and they promised to do it again.

Her husband shot himself when she started to show.

He found other places to be on Thursdays and left her texts on read.

When she came to his house he went to find his gun then remembered she had his gun.

She stood in his driveway and called his name and he had no choice but to go out. The neighbors saw.

She laughed.

“What, you think I’m here to boil your kid’s bunny?” she said.

She held up her phone.

“I don’t have a husband for you to tell anymore, so I told your wife,” she said.

She handed him a paper sack. From the weight he knew it held his gun.

She went back to her car, started the engine. When she saw him coming with the gun, she made sure the doors were unlocked.

“Now,” she said.

~ fin ~

paul-ryan-oconnor

After a decades-long career in video games, Paul Ryan O’Connor turned to a life of crime (writing). His debut short story appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine in 2023. You can follow Paul’s weekly crime fiction blog — The Hourglass — and the latest news on Paul’s stories at www.paulryanoconnor.com