“Ever since I first fell for books,” Maxine says, “I have been a lover of short stories. My father had a huge collection, and I was tortured with nightmares from reading “The Cask of Amontillado” and “The Tell Tale Heart” while still in grammar school. My older brother was a terror, so I understood “The Ransom of Red Chief” well. And I read the complete works of W. Somerset Maugham in a small, third floor walk-up apartment in the early ‘60s when I was home alone with a newborn baby as Nikita Khrushchev was placing missiles in Cuba and aiming them at the United States. I devoured short stories for years and then started writing my own some forty years ago.”
Stories by Maxine appear in the 2013, 2014, and 2015 editions of Maine’s Goose River Anthology available on Amazon. She wrote “Technology Gotcha?” for an assignment in Betsy Campbell’s Fiction Writing course during BOLLI’s 2015 fall term.
By Maxine Weintraub
Due to severe thunderstorms in the area, the flight from Phoenix to Dallas had been diverted to an Air Force base in Texas. Tons of huge, commercial airliners were lined up on the runways, like elephants standing in a row before entering the circus ring. Finally, the log jam opened, and they were airborne, Dallas bound. Bumpy, but who cared? Life was going to begin for her now. She knew it.
Barbara rushed off the plane in Dallas, hurried to the nearest airport store, and purchased a throw-away cell phone. Then, she went directly to the American Airlines waiting area until it was time for her Boston flight. The waiting area was fairly empty—two young couples sitting quite far away and one pleasant looking, middle-aged man sitting across from her on the usual uncomfortable plastic seat. He nodded and looked like he might strike up a conversation in order to pass the time. She was not interested. First of all, she had a most important call to make. She had waited months for this. And secondly, he was too young. Probably mid-fifties. Way too young.
She fiddled with the unfamiliar, cheap phone and dialed the number she had memorized two weeks earlier. The time was now.
“Hello? Hello?” The gruff voice asked for her identifying name.
“Charlotte,” Barbara told him.
“Okay. The job is done,” he growled, “and you owe me the balance. Cash. Now.”
“Currently,” she said, “I am stuck in the Dallas airport. Bad weather. I have the cash with me and will give it to you when I get to Boston. Or I can drop the envelop in a mailbox. What do you want?”
“Listen, lady. Your old man is dead. He’s in the alley behind Beacon Street, between Clarendon and Dartmouth, just like you ordered. Near his car. Looks like robbery. You owe me, and I want it now.”
“Okay, okay.” She was shaking. The miserable son of a bitch was dead. No more skirt chasing for him. No more humiliating nights for her. And she had his money. The hell with the prestige of being wife of the Chief of Surgery at Boston General Hospital. She had the bucks now, and her new life could officially begin. “Okay. I’ll be in Boston in a few hours and will follow through as arranged.”
“You better, lady, or you’ll be lyin’ in the morgue next to your old man.” He hung up.
Barbara was still shaking, both from terror and relief. It was done. Over. She had dealt with the under-scum of Boston to find a hit man—my God, had she really done that?—and had pulled it off.
She looked up, in a daze, at the man across the aisle. He had been on his cell too. Suddenly, two armed Dallas policemen were walking swiftly toward her. “Madam, please come with us.”
“What? What is happening?”
“Lady,” said the man from across the aisle. “You had that phone on speaker.”
In her capacity as BOLLI Matters’ literary editor, Maxine is in regular touch with the SGLs who offer BOLLI writing courses, with the Writers’ Guild Special Interest Group, and with the editor of “The Journal” to solicit material to feature in our BOLLI WRITERS column. Fiction and/or nonfiction in any genre is accepted.