Fiction 500 | Short Stories

What Happened

When the salesman arrived home, he tried explaining it to his wife at the dinner table. He said it hadn't sounded like a gunshot. It sounded...flat? Wooden. Like a drawer being slammed shut. One shot to the head, while she was still asleep, then the killer jumped out the window and left a trail of broken reeds through the marsh that separated the hotel from the Interstate.

"Not that I would have known it from the real thing," he said. "The only gunshots I've ever heard are in the movies."

He told her about the other guests at the hotel. The woman in the room next to his, and the young guy in the room next to hers. After the police and television crews had left, the three of them stayed on the balcony talking into the evening.

"You hear a million random sounds in a hotel," the woman had said. "But this, it just didn't sound right. I went outside right away to see what was going on."

"Yeah, that was the messed-up thing," the young guy had added. "It was all the way at the other end of the building, but I heard it above my own air conditioner, the TV, everything."

They'd stood there under the yellow glare from the canister lights, shaking their heads.

"He's still out there," the salesman said to his wife, wiping the tears from his eyes.

"I'm so glad you're home," his wife said, stroking his arm.

"They'll never catch him," the salesman said. "I just have this feeling. He murdered that woman, and he's going to get away with it."