A simple premise; a bold promise
To present one story per day, every day—providing exceptional authors with exposure and avid readers with first-rate fiction.

Today's Story by Patricia Childers

I like those tears. You are in intense pain.

Tea and no sympathy

“I helped myself to tea, Mr. Canmarus,” Martha said, bustling into the living room. “Or may I call you Bob?” She expected no reply and did not receive one.

Bob Canmarus sat in a sadly frayed plaid recliner, head awkwardly pointing toward his right shoulder.  Martha placed a small pillow between his head and body. “That’ll help,” she said.

Martha carefully placed her cup of tea on the side table, brushing back an ashtray to clear a spot, and collapsed onto the saggy sofa facing her audience of one. “I really dislike these low couches, Bob. Bad knees,” she told him, gesturing with her lime green cane. “Once I’m down, it’s hard to get back up.” Martha laughed when she said this, although it certainly was true enough.

Martha assessed Bob’s physical appearance and found it to be on par with the others. His face looked serene, although his body was quite stiff to the touch. She jabbed his leg with her cane expecting no reaction, and she did not receive one. He had begun to drool and she could see the dampness on the pillow.

“It’s not my pillow, Bob, so I really don’t mind if you drool all over it,” Martha said, and waited patiently. Finally small tears appeared in the corners of his eyes. “Excellent,” she said. “Now we can begin.”

“You know, Bob,” Martha said. “You can find every answer to every question on the Internet nowadays.” He was unable to nod in agreement although Martha was sure he understood. “Just like I found you,” she said.

Martha absently smoothed the apron of her cotton dress and admired her new black leather pumps. “These shoes are great, Bob. They don’t hurt my feet at all, although I’m sure you could care less about my feet. Or is it you couldn’t care less? That silly phrase confuses me.” She reached for the tea cup. “There really is no hurry now.” She sipped, sighed, and sipped again.

Martha set the cup down. “When I initially read about your exploits two years ago, Bob, I thought to myself: I’ve got to keep track of this guy. I think he’s one of them, and I was right. I usually am right about this type of thing. And unfortunately you did not let me down.” Bob was silent of course, but Martha felt it was important he knew.

“I’ve lived a long time; 72 years this August, and I’ve accumulated a wealth of knowledge. Mostly about trivial stuff no one else finds the least bit interesting.” She patted her sparse gray hair for a moment distracted by her memories. “And I thought, after my husband died a few years ago, just what legacy will I leave when I depart this world?”

Martha paused, waiting patiently for a reply, and received none. “It is not often I have the opportunity to talk without being interrupted, Bob, and I thank you for that.” Another tear slid down his cheek onto the pillow.

“I like those tears,” she said and smiled broadly. “Do you know what that means, Bob? It means, in technical terms, that all of the pain fibers in your body are firing. You are in intense pain. I understand from my research that it feels like your whole body is on fire.”

Martha paused and regarded her victim. “Blink once if I’m right,” she said, and laughed. “I’m just kidding, I know you can’t blink. It’s part of the drug I gave you — pancuronium bromide.”

“I found it on the Internet. You see, Bob, there are three drugs in an executioner’s cocktail. The first is sodium thiopental. It will knock you out, so you can’t feel the pain of the bromide when it paralyzes you.” Martha was smug, anxious to share her knowledge.

“Then the third drug,” she continued, “potassium chloride, will stop your heart.”

“I thought to myself,” Martha mused, “what if you injected just the second drug into a person — the paralyzing, terribly painful part. It’s long acting so I will have your complete attention, and it’s relatively difficult to identify until months after you’re dead.”

Martha took time to arrange herself on the couch, trying not to slouch. She could hear her mother telling her to sit up straight and she didn’t want to disappoint.

“Yes, Bob,” Martha said. “You are going to die today and it’s important that you know why.” She especially enjoyed this part of the conversation, or maybe monologue is a better word, she thought. She relished it, planned it carefully, and loved every minute.

The small pillow below Bob’s head absorbed more tears. “I want you to know that I am cognizant of the fact that somewhere in your childhood you didn’t receive the love and attention you needed. And I want you to know that from the depths of my heart, I just don’t give a shit.” It felt good to say it.

Martha took advantage of her rapt audience to further philosophize. “I always wondered when I said my nightly prayers, just what did ‘deliver us from evil’ mean? What happens to evil people like you, Bob? When you die, I mean.”

“Is it possible that you will burn in hell in the afterlife? Or, I remember reading, truly evil people come back reincarnated as lesser beings or even animals.” Martha paused for his opinion. “What do you think about that, Bob?”

Martha sighed, and took another sip of tea. “Antioxidants. This tea has antioxidants. What the heck does that mean?”

“But I digress,” she continued. “It is a conundrum then, Bob. If I truly believe you will be punished at some point and receive some type of retribution for your evil crimes, I can rest easy knowing the children you hurt will be avenged.” Martha shrugged. “But sadly for you, Bob, I think that is a load of crap. I need to know in my lifetime that you have suffered and that you won’t be free to ever do an evil deed again.”

Martha lifted her green cane and slammed it against Bob’s knee, not once but twice. “You make me so angry.” Her eyes filled with tears and she wiped them away with her sleeve.

“I don’t know why you thought it was okay to do that to little children. Inside yourself, you must be already dead.” Martha gave that some thought. “I hope not, because I want you to be very alive for your death.”

Martha reassessed the situation. “Would you like some tea, Bob?” she asked. “I’m going to refresh my cup.” With that, Martha began the process of getting off the couch, using the arm as a lever. On the second try she found herself upright and limped into the kitchen with her cup.

Hot tea in hand, Martha returned to her perch on the couch. “Just why do I need antioxidants, Bob?” she asked. “I think it’s a scam, but then again I think everything is a scam.”

Martha said nothing for a while. “It’s important for me to know, that you know your actions are what have led to your untimely demise.”

“How old are you, Bob?” she asked. “I understand from my research that you are only 28. You have accomplished a great deal of evil in that short time.”

Martha reached into her bag and removed some paperwork. She read each page thoroughly, as if memorizing the facts. “Domestic abuse, sex offender, battery, child abuse…” She put the papers down. “You’ve been very busy.”

“You probably thought that being acquitted this time because of a legal snafu was a good thing.” Martha absently sucked in her cheeks and clicked her dentures. The small pillow had changed from red to burgundy where the wet was.

“I believe this opportunity is serendipitous. It allows me to bring closure and I want that to be part of my legacy.” Martha stared at a light fixture behind Bob’s left shoulder. “I don’t mind being the executioner. No, I don’t mind at all.”

Martha lifted herself off the couch again, in several movements. She listened to the silence and felt a sense of calmness come over her.

“Did you know that everyone dies of pneumonia?” Martha asked. “Yes, it’s true. My mother told me. When your organs fail your lungs fill with fluid and you die. My mother knew everything.” She thought of her mother then, and felt a tremendous, heavy sadness. “I miss my mother every day,” she said. “Do you miss your mother? Did you have a mother, Bob?”

Bob’s face glistened with sweat and his unblinking eyes stared at Martha.

“I wonder what it feels like to be on fire,” she said to him. “Is it terribly painful?” From his demeanor she couldn’t tell what he thought. “I can only hope it is terrible.”

Martha bent over at the waist and searched through her bag for the needle. “Time to get this show on the road,” she said with a smile.

“You know Bob, I want to thank you for being a junkie. I noticed the needle marks on your arms, so this extra delicious dose of pancuronium bromide won’t look so out of place. This will merely keep you paralyzed until you die later on today.”

With the practiced precision of a nurse, Martha injected Bob. “My late husband was a diabetic,” she explained. “So I’m really good at giving people shots.”

Martha stood back and admired her work. “Oh, and in case you’re wondering, and I know you are curious — first your diaphragm will collapse, then your lungs and your heart, but I won’t be here for that part, darn it.”

Martha took her cell phone out of her bag, hoisting the strap onto her shoulder. “Evelyn,” she said into the phone. “It’s done. I think we can make the senior discount lunch buffet if we hurry.”

As if an afterthought, Martha turned to face the man in the chair. “Is there anything I can get for you, Bob?” Of course, no answer. She smiled, more to herself than to him, and gently closed the door behind her.


Patricia is the oldest living middle-aged woman, living large in the Midwest. Writer by day, grandmother by night.


To comment on this story, visit Fiction365’s Facebook page.