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Dress Rehearsal

by Edward Lodi

About the Author: Edward Lodi has written more than 30 books, both fiction and nonfiction, as well as a poetry chapbook. His short fiction and poetry have appeared in numerous magazines and journals, such as Mystery Magazine, and in anthologies published by Cemetery Dance, Main Street Rag, Rock Village Publishing, Superior Shores Press, and others. His story “Charnel House” was featured on Night Terrors Podcast.


Jasper winced as Tina’s nails dug into his arm for the fifth time that morning. By evening the arm would be black and blue.

“Darling, it was an accident,” she mouthed, gripping tighter. “You’ve got to believe me. I didn’t mean to kill her.”

On cue, Jasper shifted his gaze from Tina to the crumpled form that lay at their feet. But before he could speak, an enraged Gary Brickland began shouting from third row center of the otherwise empty auditorium. “No, Tina. No. With emotion! Show some emotion!”

This was the director’s third outburst in the past ten minutes. Livid with frustration, the poor man sounded as though he might choke on his own spittle, or at least tear his hair out. Jasper inwardly cringed. The situation might have been comical if opening night wasn’t two days away.

As things stood, with Tina Constantine in the lead role the play was a guaranteed flop.

It was all Jasper’s fault. Like a besotted fool he’d insisted that Gary hire Tina, a total unknown, for the female lead. A seasoned actor with enough stage credits to attract a sizable audience, he’d threatened to walk away from the production if the director refused. What a mistake that had been! Tina might be great in bed, but on the stage … well, store-front mannequins demonstrated more talent.

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