A Perfect Murder

The idea came to Janet slowly, over weeks and months. At first, it had seemed unthinkable—something she would not, could not do. But as the idea took root and flowered into a plan of action, she realized she was, indeed, capable of committing murder.

In fact, the planning of the act was therapeutic—even comforting. Her confusion, pain, and hot rage morphed into a cold kernel of anger that was somehow more tolerable. She would no longer be the victim—he would. That detestable man who had stolen her innocence would be her victim.

Yes, she could murder him. And with relish.

At first, she didn’t believe recent news reports of adult women recalling sexual abuse they had experienced as a child. Repressed memory? It seemed ridiculous that someone would unconsciously avoid thinking about traumatic experiences. Wouldn’t it be etched into her brain if something horrible happened to her? How could she forget she had been sexually abused?

But, over time, she wondered if that would explain the confusing snippets of memories, as well as the perplexing absence of recollections, that haunted her. The unexplained feelings of shame and her meekness as a child. Her low self-esteem as a teen. The hatred she felt for her stepfather. Her strained relationship with her mother, who had not divorced him until long after she left that dysfunctional home.

Analytical as she was, Janet read everything she could find about repressed memories. Afternoons, while her husband was at work, she reclined on the sofa, absorbing the latest research on the subject, tears soaking her lashes and blurring her vision. Secretly, as an adult with grown children, counseling and hypnosis confirmed what had happened to her as a child.

Janet could recall only a few details of the abuse, which was a blessing, but she remembered enough to know it was true. She now understood why her initial love for her mother’s husband had transformed into intense hatred. The teenage rebellion that drove her from home at sixteen finally made sense. And she knew, without a doubt, the man her mother married had groomed her from early childhood. He had touched her in totally inappropriate ways even though he was the only father she knew.

Janet decided to confront him about his abuse. And then murder him. She imagined going to his house and his reaction to seeing her. She liked to think she would not scream obscenities but that she would remain calm and cool. Sometimes, she would look in the mirror, practice what she would say, and feel the rage build until she was on the edge of losing control.

No, I must remain calm. She told herself. If I am to commit murder I must stay in control. There is no excuse for losing my power and making mistakes.

She considered how to murder him. Poison? Yes, that would be the way to do it. She knew nothing about firearms. Buying and learning how to use a gun was too complicated. Besides, shooting him would be messy. And it would be obvious how he died. By poisoning him, he would be found dead, and nobody would suspect he had been murdered.

Perhaps she would sit beside him and offer him a poisoned drink, smiling and pretending concern for him. And when there was no turning back, she would tell him what she had done and wait for the panic in his eyes—the knowledge that he would die. Then, she would taunt him with what she knew he feared: the fire and brimstone of hell for sinners like himself.

For weeks, she plotted how to do the deed. The drunken lout lived in a remote shack on the edge of her hometown. Perfect. Few neighbors and fewer friends. It was only an hour’s drive from her home. She could go there and back and not be missed. Her Lexus would attract attention, so she would rent a car using a credit card she would get for just that purpose. She wondered if she should disguise herself. That would be a reasonable precaution in case someone saw her at his shack.

Janet had always taken pride in her appearance. A petite blonde, she wore expensive clothes that accentuated her curvy figure. Her discretely highlighted hair was always impeccably styled in a classic cut. She never left her lavish home in an upscale neighborhood without makeup. She carefully applied cosmetics, transforming herself into a stunning woman who turned heads wherever she went. Yes, a disguise was essential.

She drove to a nearby town to shop at a Salvation Army store. But even though she had tried to “dress down,” she attracted too much attention.

“Can I help you find something,” an overly curious clerk offered.

“No, thank you.” She murmured, embarrassed, “I’m just browsing for a friend.”

Janet was overwhelmed by the abundance of racks of clothing on display. She deliberately browsed two sizes larger than her size 6. She pulled out a dull-colored plaid flannel shirt she wouldn’t ordinarily wear. Yes, it was satisfactorily sloppy and plain. It would do. She tossed it in her cart. Glancing around the store, she realized other customers were watching her. She hurriedly moved down the rack and selected a pair of khakis one size larger than usual.

As she headed toward the checkout stand, she spotted a display of hats. Janet loved hats. Before she realized it, she was trying on one and then another, admiring herself in the mirror attached to the stand. One darling hat, in particular, was perfect to wear in her convertible.

“That one was made for you.” The nosy clerk said, causing Janet to jump in alarm. “You should definitely buy it.”

“Yeah. I think I will.” She said as she tossed it in her basket with the flannel shirt and khaki pants.

But she grabbed a grubby OU ball cap and threw it in as well as she hurried to check out, paying with cash—no credit card for these purchases.

Her husband had a late business meeting that night, and she was glad to have the evening to herself. She showered and shampooed, scrubbing her face free of cosmetics. Instead of blow-drying her hair, she let it air dry and pulled it into a rough ponytail at the nape of her neck.

The khakis were too long. They dragged the floor, but when she cuffed the pant legs she realized she forgot to buy tacky shoes at the Salvation Army. She rummaged the back of her closet until she found an old pair of wine-stained sneakers.

Pulling the ball cap on her still-damp hair, she examined herself in the full-length mirror in her walk-in closet. Who are you? She asked her reflection.

Pleased with her disguise, she concentrated on the specifics of the murder. The devil is in the details, she reminded herself, giggling.

Gloves. She must remember gloves. She would leave no fingerprints. There must be no evidence of her having been there

As an added precaution, after the murder, she would find a secluded country road to change clothes. She would take an ordinary trash bag to dispose of the items she had used for the deed in a gas station dumpster.

To her surprise, she found she was enjoying planning the murder—going over the details repeatedly to make sure nothing was overlooked.

Antifreeze was an obvious choice for the poison. A recent television show depicting a murder gave her the idea. Odorless, colorless, and sweet tasting, it would be easy to add to a milkshake she would take him. He loved sweets, she recalled.

She would watch him drink the milkshake, and when it was almost gone, she would confront him with what he had done—that he used her innocence for his gratification. She repeatedly played the scene in her mind—how she would phrase her accusations, making him confess. She imagined telling him the milkshake was poisoned. She wanted, no needed, him to know she was exacting revenge after all these years. She fantasized about seeing the look on his face when he realized she was murdering him. She could almost smell his fear. She yearned to witness the life light leave his eyes.

But, being practical, she researched antifreeze poisoning and learned that, after ingesting antifreeze, it could be several hours before symptoms occurred. And it could take a few days before he died. What if he had enough sense to go to the hospital when he became ill, and some overzealous ER doctor recognized the symptoms? No, poisoning him with antifreeze was not a good choice.

She considered murdering him with digoxin, a medication commonly used for cardiac disease. An overdose of the drug would literally stop his heart which had a certain poetic appeal. However, acquiring digoxin would be problematic. And the dosage and effect were iffy. It could take too long to kill him.

Perhaps she could inject him with rapid-acting insulin. She could manage to acquire a vial or two. She would surprise him with whiskey and then get him sloppy drunk. It would be easy to spill some on his shirt. Then, as a dutiful stepdaughter, she would help him change. She would be ready with a loaded syringe in her pocket, and when his upper arm was accessible, she would quickly inject the insulin.

Of course, he would know she had given him a shot, but it would be too late. It couldn’t be taken back. And then she would tell him what she had done and why. She reveled in imagining how she would taunt him, watching and waiting as he alternately sweated and chilled while the insulin drew life-giving glucose from his blood. Finally, she knew he would become increasingly confused and lose consciousness. He might even have a seizure.

She would give him another insulin injection once he lost consciousness to ensure he had a deadly dose. As a nurse, this was the one time she would not be concerned about an overdose.

It could be days before his body was discovered. Nobody would suspect murder. And, if they did, her visit would not be suspicious. Even if a murder investigation were initiated, insulin would not be found at autopsy.

After considerable thought and research, she chose an overdose of rapid-acting insulin as the perfect choice for an undetected murder.

The question became not if or how she would do the murder, but when.

She waited patiently for the perfect time. Finally, a calmness came over her. The rage no longer haunted her. She felt at peace with what she was about to do. She was an ordinary woman who lived a typical middle-class life. She never imagined she could intentionally harm anyone, much less commit a cold-blooded, calculated murder. And yet, that is precisely what she was preparing to do. She felt no guilt, nor did she have second thoughts. It was merely a matter of timing when she would finally enact her plan to murder the man.

Time passed.

Her brother telephoned with what he called “bad news.” Their stepfather had been found dead several days after his death. His body was severely decomposed.

“Probably his heart,” he said. “They don’t know for sure. But we all know he was drinking himself to death, so it’s not a big surprise.”

There was no question of foul play.

There was to be a funeral of sorts. There was no family left, no friends. He and their mother were making the final plans. She wouldn’t go. She had no intention of pretending grief or, as the saying goes, “paying her respects” to a man she had detested almost her entire life. She knew she would not be able to fake grief.

She only regretted that he died before she had a chance to murder him.

Or did he?

Repressed memories are peculiar that way.

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About the Author

Jeanean Doherty is a wannabe author who penned short stories and journals for fun but wasn’t sure what to do with them. She dreamed of creating an epic novel “someday”—or, at least, a book a few people would enjoy reading. She recently discovered writers’ groups, conferences, and contests and was encouraged to be a winner in every competition she entered. Finally, she is hard at work writing an extensively researched historical narrative while writing shorter pieces to improve her writing craft.