Killing Mom

My wife warned me that she would kill my mother. Honestly I didn’t care as long as she didn’t get caught. Besides, I knew Dana wouldn’t have the guts to do it. Was I really to believe that the woman who needed me to kill a little spider or centipede would be able to go and kill a grown woman?

I’d actually thought of what it would be like to kill my mother several times myself. Of course I never had the courage or even the reason to do so, although I’d been pushed close. She’d never done anything quite worthy of death though.

That is until the day she just went too far.

Even still, I didn’t think my wife would really kill her. But I didn’t imagine my mother would go that far either.

“I told you I’d do it,” Dana said to me when she walked into the door covered in blood.

Killing Mom

“What did you do?” I asked, forgetting all about what she had told me. “Are you okay?” I added, just in case she was hurt.

“I’m the best I’ve ever been,” she said with a wild smile I’d never seen before.

“What happened? Why are you covered in blood? Why are you the best you’ve ever been? Why are you smiling like that?” I rattled out the questions so fast I was sure she wouldn’t understand me.

“You know what happened,” she said, the smile somehow stretching wider across her narrow face.

I nodded like I knew because I knew I was supposed. Women were always assuming men knew things we didn’t.

“I’m going to go get cleaned up,” Dana said as she tossed her bloody gloves at me. They slapped my torso and then slid to the floor, leaving a red sticky streak down the front of my favorite T-shirt.

“Sounds like a good idea,” I told her after picking up the gloves. A partial red handprint clung to the vinyl floor. I wiped it up with a damp paper towel while Dana went to clean up. Then I tossed the gloves and paper towel in the wastebasket.

A few minutes later, just as I had settled myself onto the couch to watch the news, the doorbell rang. I waited a minute before getting up to see if Dana would answer it. She didn’t. The doorbell rang again, this time with a sense of urgency. I pried myself off the couch and stomped to the door, my footsteps echoing in the hallway.

Out of habit, I glanced out the sidelight windows to see who was disturbing my relaxation time. Two police officers stood on the front porch. One had his arm at a right angle, hand resting on his hip near his gun. The other had some papers in his hand.

It didn’t take long for me to figure out what Dana had done.

“Dear, the cops are here,” I called up to her.

The doorbell rang again, followed by three furious knocks.

“Get rid of ‘em,” Dana yelled down.

I shrugged and opened the door. I had nothing to hide.

“What can I do for you, officers?” I asked politely.

“Is your wife ho—what the hell’s on your shirt?” the paranoid officer interrupted himself.

I looked down and remembered I had my mom’s blood all over my shirt. At least I thought it was my mom’s.

“That’s just a pattern,” I responded. “I got this at Abercrombie and Fitch.”

The officers looked at each other, trying to assess my clothing. I tried to get a feel for them and how serious the situation was.

“Doesn’t look like an Abercrombie shirt,” the officer with the papers said in a high voice. It clicked then that she was a lady cop, which put me a little on edge. For some reason I’ve always been intimidated by women in male-dominated professions.

“Maybe it’s not,” I told her. “I get all those stores confused. Besides, my wife buys most of my clothing.”

She gave a bit of a sneer at the last comment before asking again to see my wife.

“She’s upstairs unwinding after a long day at work,” I said.

“We need to speak to her right away,” the male cop said. His arm was no longer cocked.

“Dana,” I yelled up the stairs. “There’s some people here to see you.” I decided not to say cops because it would’ve looked more suspicious, like I was trying to prep her for something.

“I’m in the bathroom,” Dana called back just loud enough for us to hear.

The two cops and I stared at each other for a moment before I realized my manners. “Wanna come in?” I asked.

“I think that might be best,” the lady cop said.

I led the cops into the living room and offered them seats on the couch. There was a commercial for hemorrhoid treatment on the TV.

“That’s interesting,” I said about the commercial, trying to think of a good joke to tell. Neither of the cops responded.

We sat in silence for a few minutes, but Dana didn’t come down.

“Should I go get her?” I asked when the news started covering a murder case.

“We’ll wait,” the male cop responded. I wasn’t sure if he meant they’d wait for me to go get her or they’d wait until she came down. I guessed the former and asked if they wanted anything to drink. They just shook their heads.

“Well I’m going to have a beer,” I announced. As I headed for the fridge I overheard the reporter saying something about how they weren’t able to release the name of the victim yet. Either that or they couldn’t identify him or her. I pulled a Bud Light can out of the fridge and popped open the tab.

On the way back to the couch I took a swig and let out a refreshed “:Ahh.” I wiped my mouth and said, “That really hit the spot.” Honestly, the beer tasted like shit, and I wished that I had gotten a glass of sweet white wine instead, but I wanted to look tough for these cops.

I put down the beer quickly while we continued to wait for Dana. After five minutes and three belches, the lady cop told me to go get Dana but not to try anything. I wasn’t sure what she meant by that. I wasn’t really in the mood to try anything anyway, especially not with cops in the house.

When I got upstairs, Dana was just sitting on the toilet. She wasn’t going to the bathroom or anything. The lid was closed and she was just sitting there.

“What are you doing?” I asked. “You can’t keep the cops waiting this long. It’s pretty damn suspicious.”

She looked at me like I was an idiot.

“What’s that look for?” I asked.

Somehow she flashed a look that suggested I was an even bigger idiot.

“In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I killed your mom today,” she said. “And you went and opened the door with a shirt covered in her blood.”

“I told them I bought it like this,” I said proudly.

“And do you really think they bought that?”

“I don’t see why not,” I admitted. “After all, I didn’t do anything wrong.”

“You had your mom,” she responded.

“I think you have that backwards.”

Dana stood up and mumbled a cliché about facing the music. We walked downstairs together, me just a step in front of her, my hand reaching back and holding hers.

The officers stood up when they saw Dana.

“Hello, Mrs. Allenson,” the lady copy said. “I’m Officer Grutt and this is Officer Soren.”

Dana shuddered at their salutation but greeted them politely and offered them something to drink while I wondered why they hadn’t introduced themselves to me.

“And how can I assist you today?” Dana asked after they turned down the beverages.

“We just have a couple questions for you right now,” Officer Grutt said. The fact that she was leading the questioning made her even more intimidating.

“Sure, go ahead,” Dana said confidently, but not in a way that made her seem cocky.

“Where were you today?” Officer Grutt asked.

“At work,” Dana said.

“All day?” Officer Grutt immediately replied.

“Except for the time I was getting ready for work, driving to work, driving home from work, and taking a bath,” Dana said. Somehow it didn’t come across as snarky. I know it would’ve sounded snarky if I had said it.

“When was the last time you saw Elizabeth Allenson?” Officer Grutt asked.

“That’s a funny story,” Dana replied.

While Dana told the story of my mom coming over unannounced when I wasn’t home and creeping into the backyard and staring in all the windows when Dana didn’t answer the first five doorbell rings, I wondered why the officers hadn’t told me that my mother was dead. Didn’t they usually do that sort of thing before they started questioning suspects?

“Wait a minute,” Officer Grutt interrupted when Dana was almost finished. “You mean to say that your husband’s mother came over uninvited and creeped around in your yard because you didn’t answer the door?”

“Yes, that’s correct, ma’m,” Dana said. Officer Grutt’s face was contorted in a way that it probably would’ve been if she walked into a crime scene and saw thirty mutilated bodies on the floor.

“If you don’t mind my asking,” the male officer chimed in, “why didn’t you just answer the door?”

Officer Grutt turned to her partner. “Are you serious?” she said. “The woman came over uninvited on her day off. I wouldn’t have answered the door either.” Officer Grutt shook her head at Officer Soren before turning back to my wife and expressing her condolences. I found it more than a little odd that she hadn’t offered me any. She was my mom after all.

Officer Grutt proceeded to ask Dana a few questions about my mother, like how often she called and if she’d ever thrown a guilt trip on her. They spent about forty-five minutes just conversing about how evil mothers-in-law tended to be. Officer Soren and I shrugged at each other and then became engrossed in something on a sports channel. The laughter of the ladies occasionally snapped me out of the television’s spell, but I didn’t hear much of anything they said.

“Well, I think we’re through here,” Officer Grutt said after awhile. She stood and thanked Dana for a lively conversation. Then she started to walk toward the door.

“There’s a bloody knife over there,” Officer Soren suddenly said when Officer Grutt was halfway to the door. I looked at where he was pointing and noticed the kitchen knife in the corner of the living room. The blood was so thick it looked like it had been soaked in raspberry jam.

Officer Grutt came back in the room for a moment and looked at the knife from a distance.

“Just looks like a kitchen knife with some jelly on it,” she said. I swear she winked at Dana when she said it. “Now let’s go,” she added.

Officer Soren got up and followed his dominant partner out of the room.

We escorted the officers to the door, and I was waiting for them to produce a warrant or arrest Dana or at least say they’d be in touch. But they didn’t utter a word about any of it.

The officers were out on the porch and we were about to close the door when Officer Grutt turned back and said to me, “Mr. Allenson, I’m sorry to say that your mother is dead.”

“Thanks,” I said with a nod. That’s really all I had wanted her to say to me the whole time. It was nice to get some confirmation. I know Dana had said she’d killed the woman, but are you ever really sure someone is dead until you hear it from some authority? Besides, with the number of times my mom had said things about how she might as well be dead or how she seemed like she was dead or any of that other nonsense, I couldn’t help but think the whole time that this was just some metaphor. Dana was simply expressing the fact that she had cut off ties with my mother once and for all.

When the officers were gone, Dana asked what I wanted for dinner.

“How about some steak?” I said.

“Sounds good,” she replied.

“Why didn’t you tell about the thing Mom did to push you over the edge?” I asked while the steaks, t-bones, were on the grill.

“Didn’t come up,” she said. “Besides, I’m not sure anyone would even believe that story. And if they did, imagine the nightmares.”

The steak was delicious, cooked rare just the way I like it. Then we hung out on the couch and watched some reality TV show before it was time to get ready for bed.

We were about to get into bed when my phone rang. The caller ID came up as unknown. I answered it anyway.

“Hello?” I asked.

“When can we get together again?” I heard a voice that sounded just like my mom’s on the other end.

I hung up the phone quickly and turned it off.

“Who was that?” Dana asked.

“Wrong number,” I told her before setting down the phone on my nightstand and climbing into bed.

I was sure it really was a wrong number, but I couldn’t help but think that there was someone out lurking in the bushes all night. I couldn’t find any evidence in the morning, but as we prepared to go to the funeral a few days later, I knew we hadn’t heard the last from my mother.

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Nathaniel Tower lives in the Twin Cities area with his wife and daughter. After teaching high school English for nine years, he decided to start a new career in writing / publishing / editing. His fiction has appeared in over two hundred online and print journals. In 2011, MuseItUp Publishing released his first novel, A Reason to Kill, followed a year later by his first novella, Hallways and Handguns. Nathaniel is the founding and managing editor of Bartleby Snopes Literary Magazine and Press. When he’s not doing writerly things, he likes to joggle (juggle and run simultaneously). He is the former world record holder for running a mile backwards while juggling. He is working on getting his record back. Find out more about Nathaniel at

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Also by Nathaniel Tower:

Nagging Wives, Foolish Husbands



Wendi Strang-Frost is a user experience designer at Ithaka. She is interested in leveraging comics and storyboards as deliverables in an agile development environment and how visual communication can lead to better application design. She has over 20 years of experience as an artist, illustrator, and designer. She has been practicing user experience design for the last seven years. Before entering the UXD field, Wendi spent time as a professional comic book artist, illustrator, and graphic designer. She has a B.F.A. from the University of Michigan's School of Art.

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