Sunday, September 20, 2015


by nicolette nelson

illustrated by konrad kraus

zorina and aaron did not really like each other very much, but they stayed married for thirty-three years, because neither of them wanted to upset their parents by divorcing or getting separated.

aaron worked in the sales and marketing department of a company that manufactured parts for electric can openers and for similar devices with strictly industrial use. it was a very demanding and exhausting job that required that he keep track of a million things, and he resented the fact that no one appreciated him, or took any interest in the details of his day to day existence.

zorina had been a waitress and hostess at a large chain restaurant, but never worked after their marriage. this was in accordance with the unexpressed but clear desires of both their sets of parents.

in the first days of their marriage, zorina made a pretense of interest in aaron’s job, but she gave up after a few weeks.

zorina dreamed of being a great and famous artist of some kind. she could not decide if she wanted to be a painter, a novelist, a poet, a songwriter, a filmmaker, or a conceptual artist.

when she made a few references to her dreams to aaron, he snickered.

“yes, everybody wants to be famous,” was his only comment.

zorina’s dreams were never mentioned again. nor did she make any attempt to act on them - despite the time she had on her hands - for fear of arousing aaron’s ridicule.

neither aaron nor zorina were gourmets. aaron ate in the cafeteria at work - often three meals as he increasingly worked long hours. zorina mostly ate at, or got takeout from, dunkin donuts or mcdonalds or domino’s.

so zorina’s days drifted by, mostly watching television and reading detective and romance novels.

finally aaron dropped dead at work.

his death was ruled a heart attack, but his parents were convinced zorina had somehow killed him and they asked the police to investigate.

the police told them they could find no evidence that aaron’s death was from anything but natural causes.

aaron had not made a will. there was enough money left in their joint bank accounts for zorina to live for about two years. zorina was also eligible to receive some spousal social security benefits - at a reduced rate as she was not at “retirement age”, and a small social security benefit from her own distant days of employment.

rather than look for a job, zorina decided to pursue her dream of becoming a famous artist or writer of some kind.

she decided she would try painting first. if she was not successful after two years, she would write a novel.

a week after aaron’s modest funeral, zorina went to an arts supply store and made a number of purchases. the store was in a section of the city she was not familiar with.

the clerk in the store was a polite young man who answered all her questions about what she needed with a friendly smile and many helpful suggestions.

a week later she went back to the store, and although the friendly young man was not there , and had been replaced by a surly young woman dressed in black, she made some more purchases.

as she was reaching into her purse for her car keys, she heard a voice behind her.


as her name was not estelle, she did not turn around.

suddenly her arm was grabbed from behind. she almost dropped the bag of art supplies she had tucked under her arm.

zorina turned and saw a man she had never seen before, a man about her own age, with a pale angry face and the long white hair and droopy mustache of the proverbial “aging hippie.”

“don’t know me, huh, estelle?” the man shouted. “it’s been a long time, i grant you that.”

the situation was so ridiculous zorina was not the least bit frightened. besides, there were a number of people passing by, in the street filled with respectable businesses.

“i’m sorry, sir, but you are mistaking me - “

“bullshit! i thought i saw you here last week. i almost gave up seeing you again, but here you are. you fucking bitch!”

zorina looked around. surely someone would come to her aid, and tell the man he was out of line.

the man took a gun out of the waistband of his pants - it had been concealed beneath his red and yellow hawaiian shirt - and shot zorina in the chest.

several witnesses called 911. the police and an ambulance arrived in three minutes, while the gumnan stood over zorina, sobbing like a child. the gun lay on the sidewalk beside him where he had immediately dropped it.

zorina died in the ambulance.

the police quickly determined that it was indeed a case of mistaken identity and that there had been no connection between zorina and the gunman, whose name was roger davison.

“estelle” was tracked down seven hundred miles away, a grandmother taking care of her wayward daughter’s three children.

aaron’s parents were having none of it. they were more convinced than ever that zorina, in collusion with her lover roger davison, had murdered aaron.

when they got no satisfaction from the police or the district attorney, they hired a private detective to investigate aaron’s death.


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