Aphelion Issue 289, Volume 27
November 2023
Long Fiction and Serials
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
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by Thomas Reynolds

As the key sliced
Into the lock,
She became Sam Spade.

She slipped into the room,
Detecting a presence,
Like Marley’s ghost,

The kind of chill
That makes gumshoes drink
And refrigerators whine.

From the middle of the room,
She gawked
At a whirring air vent

Attempting to resuscitate
A house even the coroner
Would label defunct.

Blooey. Rubbed out.
Even the piano keys
Sounded hollow.

Even the mirror could barely
Muster a reflection,
Her face blurred and dusky.

Her hand gripped the phone
And checked for prints,
Holding it to her ear

As if it were set to ring
But even that was dead.
“Hello,” she mouthed.

The parakeet in the cage
leaped from its perch
onto the water dish,

stabbing its beak
through the bars as if
it were ready to sing.

Ready to name the killer
Who entered with gloves
Last Saturday night

And erased his mistress,
Ripping her name
From the phone book,

Exiting on cat feet
With another body
Express-laned for the morgue.

“He’s coming for you too,
little bird,” the gumshoe said,
“and for me someday.”

The only mystery is when
And who was her mother exactly,
the twenty-year old debutante

in the fading photograph,
a real five-star dame,
with a look in her eye

like she won’t give much away?
You gotta sort through clues
Starting with the bureau.

Extending to the bedroom,
Through kitchen cabinets.
A gumshoe’s life, she lamented.

She caressed the glass
Blew a quick kiss,
Then set to work.

© 2011 Thomas Reynolds

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