MURDER IN THE KEY OF E - LAURA ROBERTS
Anna stuffed the typewriter’s E key into the white button-down shirt’s breast pocket.
“I don’t like this, Vronsky,” she said. He was busy typing madly on the broken machine, sending one last letter to the manager, knowing it would be forwarded to the cops as evidence of his deranged mind.
“Quiet, Anna,” he said, “I’m trying to make this look legit.”
“Do you even love me?” she wanted to ask him. Watching him type, wild-eyed, on the Remington Rand, she was no longer sure she cared.
Framing Ernest Hemingway for the murder of Vronsky’s former boss, the manager of the Mauna Loa Meridian, was a terrible idea, but at some point Anna had stopped giving a damn. Vronsky had always been unstable, but when he’d been fired for humping the help in the honeymoon suite reserved for the famous writer, he’d lost the plot completely. In a rage, he’d sent detailed death threats to the manager, who in turn had notified the 5-0. It was only a matter of time now.
Anna had always found Vronsky’s dramatic temperament to be charming, evidence of his passion for her. Now she found it was simple mental illness, and she didn’t relish the thought of being an accessory to murder, much less a frame-up. Sitting here in Hemingway's suite, watching as her lover banged out a fraudulent confession on the typewriter with the broken E key they were planting as evidence, she wondered if she’d ever really loved him.
Sure, they’d had good times together. They had first met when Anna moved from the wintry depths of northern Michigan to the sultry paradise of the Big Island. She’d needed a job, and had started working for the hotel’s housekeeping staff. Mostly she’d been tasked with completing the complimentary guest laundry service, but had recently graduated to making beds and minting pillows. Vronsky was the handsome valet, and they’d met surreptitiously in the guest rooms Anna had been charged with keeping clean, soiling the sheets before she tucked them into tightly creased hospital corners. She’d found the whole affair completely consuming, and more than a little kinky; Vronsky often liked to do it in the backseats of guests’ rental cars, particularly the Beemers and all-too-rare Aston Martins.
Before he’d been fired, Vronsky had been talking about marriage, but now he was consumed by revenge. Anna had tried to reason with him, pleaded with him to let it go, had even spoken to a friend who worked for a rival hotel about a bellhop job, but Vronsky wouldn’t hear of it. And now, here they were, attempting to frame a famous author for an altogether obvious revenge plot.
Anna wasn’t sure how her life had come to this, but she wanted out.
“I’m calling the police,” she said, walking towards the telephone.
“You’ll do no such thing!” Vronsky shouted, intercepting her as she snatched up the receiver. He wrestled it away from Anna and threw her down on the bed.
“You’ve gone mad! Don’t you see? This will never work!”
“It will if you keep quiet. Now here, get rid of this,” Vronsky said, stuffing the broken E key into her housekeeping blouse pocket and handing her one of Hemingway’s soiled shirts.
Anna left the room, the E key searing her breast like a scarlet letter. She was sure everyone knew what they were up to. Hemingway had gone out earlier to do some sightseeing. The typewriter’s gunshot blasts of keys against roller, and its damning DING! at the end of each line were hardly subtle, and she was sure someone had heard this commotion.
By the time she’d reached the lobby, the manager was eyeing her suspiciously, and she was sure the jig was up.
“Anna, may I speak with you for a moment?” he called.
“It’s Vronsky; he’s gone mad!” she cried, quickly crossing the floor. “He’s planning to frame Hemingway.”
“You traitorous bitch!” Vronsky screamed. He had followed Anna down to the lobby, and now pointed the gun directly at her. The manager dove to the floor as Vronsky fired upon his own true love, driving a bullet into her heart.
Luckily for Anna, the Remington Rand’s E key deflected a great deal of the bullet’s impact. Vronsky, however, was not so lucky, as an ambush of police detectives opened fire upon the lad after his first shot left the chamber. He dropped to the ground with a wet thud, and together they lay there, their pooling blood swirling on the Roman marble in a final tango before Anna was rushed to the hospital to recover from her newly broken heart.
BIO: Laura Roberts is currently duking it out with her first novel, Naked Montreal, covering the Sin City of the North from all its sordid, sexy back alleys. She also edits the literary rebellion, Black Heart Magazine, in her free time, and is always looking for new submissions to shock her synapses. You can follow her like a peeping Tom on Twitter @originaloflaura.
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