Friday, November 30, 2012

One Red Paperclip

Write on Edge prompt:  “I spy with my little eye” is a popular game with children, and their acute observation picks up items adults may not look at twice. This week, choose one of the 14 items in this “I Spy” game and use it in a fiction or creative non-fiction piece. This is fiction.

"We got a live one here, Sarge," Officer Jones joked as he stuck his head into Malcolm's office.  "The victim was one George Marsh, the alleged's husband of 37 years.  Preliminary cause of death appears to be beaning with a cast iron skillet."

Malcolm nodded as he stood, straightening his tie. He was anxious to begin his first interrogation as detective, and he took pains to put on a stern visage as he entered the room and sat down.

At first glance, Harriet Marsh looked unremarkable.  She was on the plump side, with a ruddy,round face, and gray hair pulled tightly back into a severe bun.   He read aloud the charges against Harriet.

Harriet nodded, and Malcolm made a notation.

"Were you read your rights?  Do you want a lawyer?"  

Harriet said, rather cheerfully. "No need for a lawyer. I committed the crime."

Malcolm scribbled her words on the paper, then put quotations around them.

"Mrs. Marsh, why did you kill your husband?"

"Well, dear, it started on Monday." Harriet's voice was a bit shrill, on the verge of mania.  "I spent all week cleaning the house, while George was away on business. It wasn't easy; I'm not as young as I used to be, but it needed to be done."

Harriet rushed on, her haste to explain herself overwhelming any caution. 

"I cleaned out all of the closets and the attic. I scrubbed the floors. I dusted the ceilings.  I polished the furniture. I swept the patio. I cleaned the cornices. I fluffed the pillows and turned the mattresses.  I vacuumed.  I scrubbed the toilets. bathtubs, sinks. The house had never been so clean, not since we first moved in. George never even noticed."  Harriet paused, her eyebrows raised, waiting.

"That must have been difficult." Malcolm encouraged, as he continued taking notes. 

Harriet beamed at Malcolm, then her eyes grew angry.  "George walked in the house and dropped his suitcase. I could not believe it.  No kiss.  No 'I've missed you' or 'It's good to be home'.  He went straight to the fridge for a beer, then to his chair to watch some TV."

"Was that when you killed your husband?" Malcolm paused to glance at Harriet. Wisps of hair had escaped from the severe bun and formed a wavering corona around her face as she shook her head.

"Oh no, George used to watch TV like that every night after work.  I was used to that."

"Then what happened?"

"Well, I was about to go back into the kitchen, when George put his hand in his pants pocket, and pulled out a red paper clip."


"And then he threw that paper clip over his shoulder," Harriet seemed to expand, a sudden storm in the interrogation room.  She stood, indignant, her hair flying about her head, electric. "THAT MAN THREW THAT RED PAPER CLIP RIGHT ON MY CLEAN CARPET!!!!" 

Harriet threw herself across the table at Malcolm, her hands claws.


  1. Hehe!


    And a personal reoccurring fantasy!


  2. Too funny! Poor George ... he should have been more careful. Apparently Harriet was only being held together by that one red paper clip. Very fun to read. Visiting from WOE.

  3. OMG!! That is priceless :) If only we could all react like that!

  4. Oh, loved it! Made my day. After I cleaned the whole house this week I totally appreciate where Harriet is coming from. Someone give me a frying pan.

  5. This was really funny. I think she could get off if she has an all housewife jury.

  6. Oh Harriet! It reminds me of the Cell Block Tango in Chicago, one of my favorite bits of musical theater of all time.

    I enjoyed the description of her hair as a "wavering cornea."


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