TW: gore, murder
In Carson City, the savory smell of Italian spices permeates the air as hungry customers scarf down their favorite meals in Georginio’s Italian Restaurant. Never one to be late, Alex arrives thirty minutes early, and is seated at his private balcony sixty feet high overlooking the beautiful city. He sits with his head held high and brushes his jet-black hair with his fingers; making sure that every strand is in place. Feeling satisfied, he reaches down, and triple checks his brand-new silk tie to make sure it’s perfectly straight. Nothing must be out of place, for perfection is a skill that only a handful of people achieve.
He reaches down and reorganizes the silverware until it meets his high standards. Even though he’s been here a hundred times over, the waiters never set the table to his liking. He bites his tongue to keep from cursing. First impressions are everything and if you're not up to snuff, no one will take you seriously.
Recognition dawns on his face as he hears a raspy old voice call to him.
This must be Ben. Time to go to work…
“Alex, I’m so glad you could make it!” Ben calls out.
Ben is wearing a nice black suit with a dark navy-blue tie and shiny black shoes. It looks identical to what Alex is wearing. His long white greasy hair is slicked back and neatly tied in a ponytail.
He spreads his arms wide and says, “We must shop at the same stores, yeah?”
Alex rises and throws his hand out for a traditional handshake. “You must be Ben. It’s good to meet you.”
Ben slaps his hand against Alex’s and squeezes hard. “You can always tell a lot by a man’s handshake. Shall we sit down and talk about some business?”
Alex smiles and says, “Yes, please have a seat!”
Ben sits down and looks at the table with wide eyes. He grabs the silverware and scatters them about. He narrows his eyes and stares at Alex. “You know what’s wrong with this table?” he asks.
Alex grimaces, and replies, “What? I think the table is perfect.”
“Too perfect,” Ben says, separating his napkin. “I get nervous when things are too perfect!” Pointing his finger at Alex he continues, “I see right through this act. You think you're the perfect con man, but what you don’t understand is that perfection is ignorance and ignorance is dangerous in our line of work.”
Ben pauses to take a sip of water from a crystal-clear wine glass as the waitress approaches them. She is wearing a black uniform that perfectly matches her curly hair. Alex notices her name tag is upside down and bites his tongue again at her foolishness.
“Can I take your orders gentleman?” she asks.
Ben looks up, and arrogantly replies, “Come back in a few minutes darlin’, we haven’t decided yet.”
She smiles warmly, nods her head and walks away rolling her eyes.
Alex frowns, “Can we talk about business now?”
Ben clears his throat with a loud gurgling sound. “Yes,” he says. Pointing over to an elderly woman sitting alone just inside the restaurant, he goes on, “That’s the dame I told you about. She’s worth millions. She's a little loony, but I wager a man like you can easily con her into thinking that you're her long lost lover.”
Alex looks over at her and notices her fancy red gown and exquisite jewelry. Her white hair must have been professionally styled because there’s no way she could do that herself. Her pale white complexion complimented her soft blue eyes that would make any man blush – even for her age.
Alex looks back at Ben and asks, “Are you sure about this? She looks perfectly fine to me.”
Waving his hands over the table Ben replies, “Yes I’m sure. She might be a little eccentric, but that's why I need the best guy for the job. I’ve been following this dame for weeks, and if it’s one thing I know it’s that a handsome con man like you can win her over, and then we can steal her money!”
A moment of silence fills the table as Alex thinks it over. He clenches his jaw and looks back over at the woman. I’ve done this hundreds of times, but what does he want out of the deal?
Alex nods his head and says, “Alright, I’ll do it, but what’s in it for you?”
Ben cocks his head to one side and says, “I get half of course! I did all the work finding this dame, and let’s just say I’m not as handsome as I used to be. I mean look at me, I’m no Tom Cruise! You have the best chance to sweep her off her feet!”
“What’s her name anyway?” Alex asks.
Ben softly whispers, “Sue Arden.”
Alex stands up from the table and adjusts his tie again. He stares down into Ben’s eyes with fierce determination. “I’m no Tom Cruise either, but I have been compared to Brad Pitt,” he says smiling.
“Wish me luck. It’s showtime!”
“Good luck Alex. I hope you don’t fuck this up!”
I can see through his bullshit, so I just pray that she doesn’t. I need that money, Ben thought to himself.
Alex strolls inside the dining area and with his good looks, he immediately catches Sue’s eye. She stares at him intently and Alex knew at that moment it was now or never.
Alex gasps and cries out, “SUE!!”
Sue ruffles her wrinkly forehead and squints her eyes. “Do I know you?”
Alex opens his eyes wide, and says, “Awe, you don’t remember me!? I’m Alex, we used to go out all the time!”
Sue looks up, lost in her own thoughts. “Alex...Alex...hmmm… you know I think I might know who you are.”
Alex pulls up a chair and sits down next to her. He reaches over and grabs her hand. “Sue, my one and only sweetheart. I know it's been a long time, but can you ever forgive me for losing track of you?”
“Yes… I think I can,” she says. “Tell me something Alex… were we lovers?”
Alex smiles delightfully as he softly says, “Why yes we were! Every day as a matter of fact, and twice on Saturday’s because on Sunday’s we would go to church.”
Sue starts laughing hysterically. “Oh...I knew you were that young sex machine I met years ago! I can’t believe I forgot about you!”
“Don’t worry about it sweetheart! The truth is - I’ve missed you so deeply and so terribly,” he says. “I don’t know how I’ve been able to survive without you!”
His attention turns to his tie, and as his perfectly manicured hands reach up to fix it, Sue quickly beats him there. “Oh, my sexy young stud muffin’ let me fix that for you!”
Alex opens his eyes wide with shock...
Meanwhile outside on the balcony, Ben watches the scene as he eats a platter of spaghetti with meatballs and a side of garlic bread. He starts to gag at the sight of Sue rubbing Alex’s face while she loosens up his tie. While the scene disturbed him, something about the way she was acting felt off. He watched her for weeks and this wasn’t her typical behavior. She usually looks steadfast in her surroundings, but here she looks completely carefree.
Sue slides her hand up and down Alex’s chiseled chest. “Have you been working out big boy?”
Alex could feel his skin cry out in agony like it wanted to jump off his bones and run away. He knew his plan was working. How could it not? This isn’t the first time he has swindled money away from a rich woman. This was his game and after hundreds of encounters he knew that her money was his for the taking.
Everything is going according to plan, and Alex senses another scratch mark in the win column. He swallows his pride and allows Sue to grope him all over. Just as her greedy hands slide over to his upper leg, he feels the need to say something...anything.
“Sue?” he cries out in a squeaky voice. “Would you like to get out of here and have some real fun back at your place?”
Sue sucks in her bottom lip and lustfully smiles at him. “Oh...you are a bad boy!” she says. “What about your friend over there in that private balcony?”
Caught off guard Alex replies, “Oh, that’s just my friend Ben. Don’t worry about him. When I saw you, I told him that I just had to say hello.”
“Mmm…hmm. Why don’t you tell your friend goodbye and we can get out of here?” she says with a warm smile etched on her face.
Alex quickly rises and runs out to the balcony. He grabs the patio doors and smiles back at Sue who is watching him intently as he closes the doors. Ben pushes his plate to the side and brushes the crumbs from his lap.
“Well... It worked Ben! She wants to go back to her place, and I think I’ll be able to take everything she has in a couple of weeks.”
Ben turns his head to the side and says, “I don’t know about this one. Something just doesn’t feel right with this dame. She isn’t acting right.”
“Don’t be silly! All of these women act funny around me, it’s just my perfect nature and charisma,” he replies.
Ben shakes his head no, and says, “I don’t think so. I can usually see right through people and something is off with this one!”
Alex starts laughing. “I can tell that you're new to this game, so just sit back and relax. Her money will soon be ours!”
Just then the patio doors slide open and Sue walks in leaning heavy on her cane. She looks around to make sure no one is looking and closes the doors behind her. Alex and Ben quickly walk over to her.
“What are you doing Sue? I was coming right back,” Alex says.
Sue starts chuckling to herself. “Do you boys think I’m stupid! I know a scam when I see one!”
Ben points at her and snarls, “Look here you stupid old-”
Sue slams her cane into Ben’s face like a hockey player would smack a hockey puck. His nose starts spewing blood, and he stumbles backward holding the gushing wound. Sue limps towards him as Alex watches the scene play out before him. He is completely paralyzed like a bolt out of the blue.
What the hell is going on here!?!
Blood squirts up into Ben’s eyes and the only thing he can see is Sue creeping closer and closer to him in a red blur. He backs away until his butt presses up against the patio edge. He turns his head in vain to look out over the ledge and Sue smacks him again with her cane. Ben tumbles over the edge of the balcony and screams in horror as he falls to his death hitting the pavement with a bloody splat.
Alex, still frozen in fear, starts to tremble. Sue can hear his knees knocking together like worn out ball bearings. She inches her way back over to him, and notices that his eyes are glassy.
“What’s the matter, stud muffin’? You didn’t know I like to play rough?”
His lips start to quiver, “Wh-what did you do!?”
“Oh, tiger! Your hair is all a mess. You like things to be perfect! Let me brush it for you,” she insists.
Sue reaches up and starts brushing Alex’s hair like he was her baby. His black hair feels so smooth like feathers on a chicken. She makes sure that every strand is perfect. Then suddenly, she smells the scent of urine as pee streams down his leg.
“Oh my, look what you did,” she gasps. “Oh no, your tie isn’t straight. Let me fix it for YOU!!”
Sue grabs his silk tie and wraps it around his neck. Alex gasps for air as she drags him to the edge of the balcony by beating him across his head with her cane. Alex’s perfect face now looks like a bruised peach.
“What’s a matter with my PERFECT man, huh? Do you still want my money!?”
Alex starts coughing as Sue tightens her grip on his tie. He can’t muster any words to say anything.
“There’s no way in Hell that I’m gonna let you have one cent!! You ignorant asshole!”
Oh God, it can’t end like this!
With one final smack with her cane, Alex flips over the edge and falls sixty feet – crashing down on a taxi cab parked at the entrance.
Just then the patio doors burst open and two police officers storm in. Falling to her knees Sue looks the two men over and starts crying.
“Ma’am are you alright what happened here?”
“Those two men tried to rob me and then they attacked me. Out of self-defense I had to protect myself.”
One of the police officers walk over to help her up. “Don’t worry ma’am, I’m sure those fuckers got what they deserved.”
Sue turns around and looks out over the edge of the restaurant, and smiles.
“Oh yes… I think they did get what they deserved…”
As the final glimmer of light fades from Alex’s eyes his last thought echoes through his conscience.
After hundreds of successes, my schemes have taken on a new meaning with my death. Please… please… don’t let it end like this…
Sue’s hysterical laughter booming down from the balcony is the last thing he hears as everlasting darkness takes him.
Daniel R. Hayes
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Wow, that's one tough lady :-) I was reading this thinking hey, it's a cool story with no ghouls, vampires, zombies, and not even a whiff of blood. Then wham! That grannie's sure been practising her martial arts :-) I noticed one small slip - I think you should use the term "waitress" rather than "waiter". But I like the way it irritates him that her name tag is upside down :-) Great story, and as entertaining as ever :-)
Thank you so much B.G. I actually wrote this several months ago, and just changed a few things to make it work. Nice catch on the waiter, I didn't even notice that... lol :) Yep, no ghost or ghouls just a crazy old lady who knows how to kick some ass. Thank you for the wonderful comments, now I'm off to read your new story ;)
Hey Daniel, Perfection is ignorance is such a catchy title that arose my keenness to go back and select one of your good stories. First thing, it's well matched and perfectly done with the prompt. Next, bad guy Alex had a perfect dressing etiquette, and it was OK, but his sense of perfection in fraudery was his fool's paradise and that's what he realized, in the end. (After hundreds of successes, my scheme have taken on a new meaning, with my death. Please...please don't let it end like this). Also, I liked the way you portrayed your ...
Hi there! So, I wrote this story a long time ago and it was based on 2 prompts. The first one was created by my writing buddy and I can't remember what she based it on, but I held on to this one for the longest time. Then I saw a prompt where I could add this to Reedsy and I'm glad it worked out. Thanks for taking the time to read this. I really appreciate it. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas!! :)
Thank you. I'm wishing for you and your family a happy and prosperous new year! :)
Great story! Being eccentric doesn’t necessarily mean feeble minded. Forgetfulness doesn’t include I spotting a liar. This could make a good tv episode. I Enjoyed reading this.
Thank Ramona, I'm glad you liked the story. I appreciate those comments :)
That ended grimly. Great story! That old lady can fight!
Thank you so much Charlie, I'm so glad you liked this one :)
Very entertaining! Have you ever seen the musical Chicago? I really wanted to sing a verse about her and the con artists in cellblock tango hahaha!
Hi Beth, I have seen that musical ;) I love the comments, so funny. Thank you so much for that. This was an older story I wrote a few months ago, I just changed some things to make it fit with the prompt. I'm so glad you liked it. :) :) Looking forward to your next story!
This week has been a bit tough- it’s iffy that I get one out this week. (But I still have two days!)
I completely understand about the rough week. I just bought your book on amazon and I followed you too :) I can't wait to read it!!!
I like the new perspective from the con artists. It's so fun to see what people come up with on here. Nice work as usual!
Thank you so much Charli, I really appreciate that :)
I got to say, I didn't expect the ending! It was really well worded, and easy to read all the way, which sometimes stories can be hard to. This was wonderful, but I would like to comment on the 'bolt of blue' part, I mean maybe you were speaking about how it was shocking he didn't know what to do? I don't know , but I think it's 'bolt OUT of the blue'. But regardless, this is really really good.
Thank you so much Gemma! I'm really glad you liked this one. I thought it would be a nice twist to let Sue turn the tables on those idiots... lol :) Thanks for reading this and the wonderful comments :)
One possibility that went through my mind was if Sue was faking and I was right! I really enjoyed this story and I found it funny when Alex was frightened. I quite agree with the title and I totally root for Sue (she wasn't far off in her lie). I kind of wish my grandmother could posses Sue's spryness and skills. See you anon, Ruth
Hi Ruthy, thank you so much for those wonderful comments! I wrote this story a few months ago and just changed a few things to make it work with the prompt. I'm glad you rooted for Sue, because she is a tough old gal ;)
Oh my gosh! I had a feeling where this was going, but that was just because I am familiar with your style. If I hadn't already read a lot of your work, I'd have been delightfully surprised by the twist of Sue taking care of things herself. It makes me think of that old movie scene "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" .... great premise for Sue. There is only one thing that didn't quite add up for me....that she has some amnesia, but can still spot a con. I don't think that's very consistent, which distracts from the f...
Hi Kristin! Thank you so much for reading this story. Your right about the amnesia part. I wrote this story a long time ago, and I changed some things to make it work with the prompt. I did overlook the inconsistency part. I went back and changed that. Now she is just a regular rich eccentric loony tunes old lady, who still wins in the end :) Thanks for pointing that out. I'll also have to work on making those twists a little harder to predict since you're on to my tricks... lol As always thank you for the wonderful comments, I really...
Man, Sue was on fire! Amnesia didn't affect her Bōjutsu training!! :) Awesome story, as always. Alex was interesting, the desire for perfection even in the way he viewed the table, Ben was the polar opposite. These two could have made a great team of characters with such different voices, but Sue decided to clean up that possibility. :) Speaking of Sue he has a dark side, sure she was protecting her assets, but she seemed to enjoy it a bit too much! LOL! This was another great plot, you didn't need anything supernatural or fantastic, just s...
Hey Cole, I'm so glad you liked this one. I actually wrote it several months ago and just added a few things to make it work with the prompt. Bojutsu training... lol, I love it. I wanted to make the ending scene more violent but I thought what I had was good enough. I could have made her turn into some demon or something ;) Thanks for those amazing comments and reading this, as always I really appreciate it! :)
Excellent! I really liked it. We need more stories with strong elderly persons. :>
Thank you Jon, I agree that we need more stories with elderly people :)
Brilliant. I really enjoyed it, I'm laughing as I type. Good work!
Thank you so much Rachel, I'm so glad you liked it. I wrote this story several months ago, and just changed a few things to make it work with the prompt ;)
Wonderful thriller. I love the suspense built throughout their scheme and how Sue's abnormal behavior foreshadows her turning the tables on the conmen. Great work!
Hi Kennedy, thank you so much for taking the time to read this. I really appreciate the wonderful comments :)
Nice 👍 I like the idea of an elderly lady getting one up over some con men. Fun story. If you want crit I'd suggest that you could cut a lot of the explanation about what the men are doing and let the reader figure it out. You spell it out a little too much perhaps. For example, you could probably cut this entire paragraph: The game was easy enough. Usually they feel lonely and want attention, so he gives them pleasures they could only dream of. When the time presents itself, he gets them to sign all their money over to him. Then by some...
Thanks for reading the story and the critique. I deleted the entire paragraph. I wrote it that way because some people may not understand the motivation, and then some people will say that I explained too much. I did think that it was explaining too much, so I cut it. Thanks for the amazing comments, I really appreciate it :)