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A Little Housecleaning

by David Bart

About the Author: David Bart’s short fiction has been published in the Mystery Writers of America anthologies Show Business is Murder and A Hot and Sultry Night for Crime, which has recently been republished. He also has a story in the MWA anthology Life is Short and Then You Die as well as the anthology Fedora III. His short stories have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and Mystery Weekly Magazine.


His last partner would’ve said Wade was being haunted by the dead farmer lying there on the kitchen floor; like his ghost was groaning and moaning.

Wade shook his head, chuckling. Hell, all these old farmhouses across the Nebraska flatlands creak and groan. “Ain’t some silly damn ghost,” he said.

He glanced at his reflection in the night-blackened kitchen window. “Are you talkin’ to me?”

Classic De Niro.

Anyway, if there were ghosts, he’d have seen them by now; he’d snatched the life out of enough people during his forty-six years, surely they’d have bitched to him long before now.

Wade thumbed his lighter, a tiny orange flame appearing in the dark window pane—lit the butt and took a sustained drag; the searing in his chest reminded him of the scalding shame he’d felt after his first foster mother had caught him smoking. “Stupid little bastard, stealing my butts.” Smacked his six-year-old head—stars bursting—odor of cheap tequila and unwashed hair.

He’d had four more “moms” since then. Most okay, but that one had been a mean-spirited harpy.

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