Flash Fiction: The Best Laid Plans

“How do we do this?” Lois asked as she pushed the baby stroller up the hill to her San Francisco home. “I mean, we both know getting Harold to agree is going to be a nightmare.”

“Harold, Smarold,” her best friend Chloe said giving her graying ponytail a defiant toss. “Since when have we done anything Harold has wanted us to do?”

Lois dug her house key out of the pocket of her jeans. “Yeah, but that was before I quit my job to stay home with Jonah, remember? I don’t exactly have loads of cash at my disposal like I did when I worked at the law firm.” “No,” Chloe said, lifting the front half of the stroller over the threshold as they headed inside, “but what you do have is time while that little fellow sleeps. Plus, nobody is a better researcher than you are. Let’s make use of your excellent skills and go from there.”

Lois sighed. “And you’ll provide the money? I mean, really? I can’t let you do that.”

Chloe snorted. “Let me? Don’t sell yourself short. I’m basically hiring you to make all of this happen. I have plenty of ideas, but we both know the last thing I have right now is time.”

“But that could all change if this works, right? You could quit and we could be together all the time.”

“Yes!” Chloe said. “That is the plan.”

That night after Jonah was down and Harold was happily watching the Giants play, Lois went to the dining room and opened up her computer.

How to get away with murder? she typed into the Google search bar. Yikes! What if something happened and the authorities seized her computer and saw this search? However, when the search results came up, all she found was a popular television series by the same name, starring Viola Davis as a “mysterious criminal defense professor.” Lois chuckled. Well, no worries there. Plus, six seasons? She might have to check out that show. They’d had a pretty good run.

Lois tried other searches, such as undetectable poisons. Ricin, she found. “Twice as deadly as a cobra bite.” Skimming further, she read, “Ricin is relatively easily made.” Hmm. That might work. She went on to research best practices of investigating detectives. “The devil’s in the details,” was the article’s main thesis. Okay, then, Chloe and I will have to cover every detail. Lois researched until Harold came into the dining room.

“What’cha doing?” he asked.

She closed her computer lid with a firm click. “Oh, nothing. Let’s go to bed before the baby wakes up. That’ll be soon enough.”

The next day, Lois called Chloe. “Okay, I’m in the information-gathering mode. I think ricin is the way to go.”

“Ricin?” Chloe said. “I was watching 48 Hours and the guy who killed his wife on there used eye drops that contained tetrahydrozoline. I mean what’s easier than Visine, for God’s sake?”

“A good point,” Lois conceded, “but is it undetectable for sure? I know ricin is and deadly as hell.”

“They said it was but maybe you should do more research. That’s the prudent thing to do.”

“True. But, if so, Visine probably would be better. Ricin is considered a biological weapon, after all.

“No need for overkill,” Chloe said.

They both chuckled.

Two weeks later, Lois had their plan in place. They were, in fact, going to go with ricin, mainly because Visine Advanced Relief was detectable for twelve hours in urine and semen. They both agreed that would never do. Lois had researched exactly how to administer the ricin and what to expect. Also, what suspicious behavior the investigators would be looking for from the spouse of the murder victim. “I know exactly how that should play out,” she said.

Chloe laughed. “I’m glad to hear all those years you spent in community theater are finally going to pay off.”

“I’m guessing this’ll just be the beginning of me using those skills,” Lois said with a glint in her eye.

The day finally came when it was time to approach Harold. Chloe came for dinner at Lois’s house and they had the whole evening planned down to the minute.

Right after dessert, after they sat down for brandy in the living room, Lois took a deep breath and said, “Honey, Chloe and I have some news. We’ve been planning the perfect murder.”

Harold’s face turned ashen. “But, Lois, we just had Jonah. This is not the right time.”

Chloe leaned forward. “Harold, I’m going to pay Lois to do it. That should help a bit with the family finances and we all know this process will cost some bucks to really get up to speed.”

“Murder?” Harold sighed. “But what about romance or historical fiction? Murder, I mean, it’s so sinister.”

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