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I first saw her while shopping at the market. Passing her, I noticed her blue eyes, all the more striking because of her dark hair. We got into neighboring checkout lines. She turned and caught my stare. I looked away, feeling embarrassed.
The next morning I was in the classic literature section of a bookstore, and there she was, in a tight-fitting outfit that outlined her slim figure. Though a bit nervous, I went up to her and she remembered seeing me at the market. We joked about running into each other like this, and then discussed 19th-Century Russian writers. One thing led to another and I gained her name, Jenny Parker. As we chatted, she was open enough for us to exchange numbers.
Over the next few weeks we took walks in the park and strolled the city streets; the usual things couples do. We then began to spend time at my place, two-three times a week. It was best for her because she told me she lived with her invalid mother. All the while, we never... well, consummated our relationship. Jenny thought we needed more time. Not wanting to lose her, I went along with it.
A few weeks later we were in my living room, where she suddenly clawed at me, hollering No, Jack, no!
I hadn't been doing anything, and Jack was my father's name, not mine.
Attacking me as she was, I shoved her away. She fell back. Her head hit the fireplace hearth. Blood pooled over the bricks. Her eyes were open, fading to red.
God forgive me, I had killed her.
I rushed out and ran down the stairs into the lobby. Got control of myself and called the police.
“When you showed up,” I told the detective, “we came up here and—
"Yes, Paul," Detective Ackerman interrupted, "Up here, where there's no body and no blood." Then asked, "Were you on drugs, maybe hallucinating?"
"No, no, it was all too real, and I don't do drugs."
"Before you called us, did you get rid of the body and clean up the mess?"
"Absolutely not. I couldn't do a thing like that."
A knock at the door and Ackerman's partner entered the apartment. "Sorry it took so long."
"That's all right," Ackerman said. "Gave me a chance to do a thorough inspection and hear Paul's story."
His partner opened a folder and handed it to Ackerman. As Ackerman read it, his expression turned grim.
When done, he gave me a remorseful look. "I suppose you know about your father."
"I don't know anything about him. He left us when I was two years old."
Ackerman exchanged a glance with his partner, and then said: "That's when your mother legally changed her last name, along with yours." He drew a deep breath. "The reason was because back then your father had been executed for the murder of Jenny Parker."
"I don't understand."
Ackerman pulled a photo from the folder. He placed it on the coffee table. "This her?"
I leaned forward and gazed at it, nodding slowly, stunned. My only thought: for the sins of my father…
Phillip Frey is a published author with a history of screenwriting and acting. He is the writer and director of three short films and currently devotes himself to writing prose.
Published o the Kaidankai May 11, 2022.
Linda Gould hosts the Kaidankai, a weekly blog and podcast of fiction read out loud that explores the entire world of ghosts and the supernatural. The stories are touching, scary, gruesome, funny, and heartwarming. New episodes every Wednesday.