89.5 WNIJ recently invited listeners to participate in Three-Minute Fiction, a “very short story” contest inspired by an NPR series of the same name. GK Wuori, a DeKalb native, Pushcart Prize-winning author and Illinois Arts Council Fellow, wrote the story prompt and selected five winners and five honorable mention commendations.
Author Terry Dickow was awarded first place in the Three-Minute Fiction competition with Untitled.
(Untitled) by Terry Dickow
The handcuffs hurt. They cut into my wrists. At least they prevented me from rubbing my eyes, which still burned.
Next to me in the holding pen was a one legged man charged with pick pocketing. Across from me was a blind man charged with robbing a convenience store. He pointed a shoe horn at the clerk and demanded money. The clerk refused and called police as the shoe horn man yelled, “Bang. Bang. Damn it, stand still when I shoot.”
The night had begun on a happy note.
Terry, an old friend from college, called and we agreed to meet for a drink at Crazy Joe’s, a popular watering hole.
Although we lived in the same town, just blocks apart, we hardly ever got together. Terry was pretty quiet and kept to himself. We sat in the bar, sipping our beers and not talking about college. A baseball game was on television, no one was watching.
Finally, Terry spoke.
“I’ve done something bad. I need your help. But don’t go near my house and don’t try to call my wife.”
Terry always had a dark side. He used to pull the wings off of flies and rename them crawls.
“Do you have a shovel I could borrow?”
We went to my house and I gave him the shovel. In the back of my mind, I knew what happened.
He killed his wife. Now he was going to bury her.
I couldn’t call the cops. Let’s say I had jumped to conclusions a few times and police were reluctant to believe me. Again.
I needed proof.
I followed Terry as he disappeared into the blackness of his yard.
I heard the sound of a shovel. I edged around a corner and watched him dig the grave.
What excuse would he use? She was kidnapped? Disappeared? Ran away?
I found an open window. I stuck my head in. Realizing it was too dark, I used my phone. The black and white tiled floor revealed no hint of mayhem. The living room was next but nothing was out of place.
Lights in the kitchen were on. A wine bottle and two glasses were on the counter. The wine was the only red I saw.
The muffled sound of digging continued. He was quiet, I’d give him that.
I went to the bedroom.
The open window had a screen.
I pulled out my Swiss army knife and quietly cut away the fabric.
I stuck my head through the opening and turned on my light.
A blond haired, bare breasted beauty screamed and then a burning blast hit my eyes. I heard a voice yelling something about a burglar and 911.
I fell, and hit my head.
Later, Terry convinced police to drop the charges. After all, I was a friend.
The trouble caused by me being a snoop paled in comparison to Terry’s problem. He never finished the hole for the magnolia tree he promised his wife he would plant for her forgotten birthday.
I got off easy.
For more information on the Three-Minute Fiction “very short story” competition, please visit wnij.org.