Rope and Whisper

I wrote the first draft of this story in about 45 minutes during an exercise in a Creative Writing class. The inspiration was surprisingly simple and effective: the professor passed out two envelopes, one containing characters and the other, settings on campus. Students were told to choose two characters and one location at random, then go to the location and write. When I returned, this story is what had emerged. Afterward, I polished it a little, cleaned up all the typos and some of the language, and now it’s ready to join the cult of Damn Short Stories. Okay, I lied; there’s no cult. Dammit.

Rope and Whisper

Vinnie closed his eyes and breathed deeply. The soothing rush of water through Strenger Plaza’s fountain washed over and through him, and he imagined that somehow, it cleansed his soul of the grotesque scene which hung in the air not fifty feet from where he stood. One hand rested on the cold metal rail of the gurney that would convey her body back to his father’s mortuary in the back of the hearse; the other stayed solemnly upon his pounding heart as he silently invoked a godless prayer for her. As the soothing whisper of the fountain calmed his restless heart, he breathed deeply and wished it were just a bit cooler. “Why d’ya think she wanted to be hung, Vinnie?” Arnold Johnson, the lone detective sent to review the crime scene, was a peculiarly ordinary man, so extremely plain of face, body and style that he actually stood out only in how completely noteworthy he was not.

Vinnie exhaled. “It’s hanged, Arnie. She hanged herself.” Vinnie opened his eyes and looked again. She was a beautiful young thing, early twenties, and although he’d seen death many times in the ten years since graduating high school and joining his father’s mortuary business, this one was different. “What’s da fuggin’ difference?” Arnold asked, as he took a long pull from his coffee. He eyeballed Vinnie with disdain, irritated by both his composure and what he thought of as his holier-than-thou ‘Oooh, I can spell and say things all grammatical-like’ attitude. Vinnie’s eyes remained fixed on her sweetly innocent face, which even in death seemed to smile with warmth and welcoming. Her body, still suspended several feet above the ground slowly twisted with the rope as he replied, “The latter means a rope is tied around your neck and you’re dropped to your death. The former means that you have a big dick.”

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