by Gail Farrelly
Silver bells at Christmas no longer have that same old ring to them, at least not for me. Especially a set of bells packed with a Derringer. Yep, that's right – a Derringer!
The trouble began a month ago when my wife and I had another argument. Once again, she was complaining that I didn't spend enough time with her, give her enough attention, or consider her feelings – yada, yada, yada. She was right, but I was sick of listening to the same old, same old, especially from a middle-aged wife who had a boyfriend, so I went to the hall closet, grabbed my Derringer, and shot her once in the back of the head. Finito!
A few minutes later I was off to the neighborhood pub to establish an alibi. Besides, killing made me thirsty.
My one big problem was what to do with the gun. I wanted it out of my hands. I had cleaned it off carefully with some bleach and paper towels, throwing the paper towels away in a public trash bin a few blocks from my home. I didn't think the gun could be traced back to me. I had bought it 30 years ago in the Bronx from a street thug. I don't think he kept records. But still – I was desperate to find a hiding place for the gun, just to be on the safe side. I don't watch CSI for nothing.
Walking home from the pub a few hours later, I passed the church and had a brainstorm. I knew that just that day the Ladies Society (my wife had been a member) had begun to set up the Christmas decorations, and I was hopeful that here my Derringer would find a home.
The church was open all night, so I went in. Luckily there was no one there, and I saw my chance. I tucked the gun into the largest bell in a huge cluster of silver bells, part of a Christmas display in the back of the church. Fortunately for me, the bell had a rim circling its interior, a rim a few inches from the inner wall of the bell. Just the right size for holding a Derringer.
Whew! My gun had found a home. The sign on the church door that read “Come home for Christmas” was definitely not false advertising.
Wearing the mask of a shocked and grieving spouse, I reported finding my wife's body. I knew that the police considered me a suspect, but to the public they dutifully called me a ‘person of interest' and said that I was helping them with their inquiries. They've questioned me on several occasions; but luckily they've never found anything of interest connected to this particular person of interest.
Everything went pretty well for the next couple of weeks. My wife and I had always kept our marital troubles to ourselves, so friends and relatives felt my wife's killing was just a random act of violence. They were supportive of me and fell all over themselves to comfort the grieving widower. That was why I felt confident attending the Christmas Eve supper at the church and mingling with about a hundred neighbors. Big mistake.
The dinner and Christmas carols were uneventful. I was just about to call it a night when the kindly butterball of a minister, now holding, of all things, the silver bells display, rose from his table to address the group. And he was looking straight at me. Yikes!
He smiled when he said, “We have one member of our congregation who suffered a terrible loss this year, so we decided as a group to present him with a little token of our esteem, spirit, and fellowship.” Suddenly people were standing, giving me sympathetic smiles, and urging me to go forward to accept my gift. Uh-oh.
“I couldn't,” I sputtered. “I don't deserve it.” I figured that maybe the humility would mask my terror. And, of course, I really felt that I didn't deserve this piece of rotten luck. I was stuck to my chair.
But a minute later, the kindly minister, proudly bearing the bells, was heading for my table to make a personal delivery. When he reached me, he said, “We give you this gift with our prayers and hopes that the happy sounds of music and joy will once again return to your life.” To say nothing of the sound of a Derringer suddenly firing I was thinking, as I smiled weakly and put my hands out to accept (v ery, very gingerly) the gift. All those fruitcakes I had accepted over the years as gifts, but longed to return, were nothing in comparison to the hot potato of a gift I was holding in my arms.
Now I look forward to a new year of madly scrounging around to get rid of those silver bells with the neatly packaged Derringer. It was easier to get rid of a wife.
I have a terrible suspicion that my life has become a plot in a Stephen King horror story. I look at those silver bells on my mantelpiece. Sometimes they seem to be talking to me. I cringe in fear and put my hands over my ears. Sure, I can dump the bells. But the question is: can they find a way to boomerang back? The bells must know that this is the era of Barack Obama. “Yes we can,” they constantly chime!