Time by Craig Izard

1:30 already? Goddamn it to hell! Of all the days I could randomly choose to squander, this is not it. I look around my smaller than small apartment in hopes that a source of inspiration will manifest itself as an apparition in the classic muse tradition – perhaps rising from behind the lumpy, beige sofa which I currently occupy or possibly from behind the moth-worn grey curtain hanging shapelessly next to my window, which hasn’t seen Windex since I moved in. No, not to be. I close my eyes, wondering if my depression inducing surroundings are to blame for my chronic lack of inspiration. If I can’t decide how to murder this woman before 5:00 pm today, I’m screwed.

Ice pick, box cutter, serrated kitchen knife: all within my immediate vicinity and none acceptable. But wait—the ice pick driven with precise insertion, say in the ear, that would be very effective. She will be leaving work, taking the subway to the gym. That’s the only window of time I have available. The icepick. That could work. But blood has a tendency to stand out on a public street – you might as well paint a red arrow on the sidewalk pointing to the source of the spill, alerting everyone in that block to another messy urban fatality, and that same red arrow pointing to the fleeing perpetrator—me. Surely someone has accomplished this before, and so here I am googling “icepick weaponized”. After the ads, the first hit: a movie? “Icepick Murders.” No, but wait. IMDB rating: 6.7. Really? And there’s the trailer.

Now it’s almost three o’clock. I’ve wasted all afternoon on a fucking movie. And I’m nowhere closer – public ice picking is a seriously flawed idea. Maybe something at her work – if I can get inside unnoticed and spike her water with arsenic. It can be obtained in a soluble crystalline powder that would be odorless, tasteless, and extremely difficult to detect as the symptoms initially mimic food poisoning. But wait. Think! This woman is a senior analyst with the CIA. You need a security clearance just to get in the door. Another stupid idea. What time is it now?

Okay. I can arrange a courier to deliver a package to her containing paper laced with Fentanyl. Why do we say something is ‘laced’ with a deadly substance? Such a pretty word in such a horrific context. I’ve got to know the origin. Stop! No! There’s no time for that. The courier—the fentanyl—think! An overseas return address. Somewhere in the middle east—she’ll think it’s from one of her covert sources who she turned and is still controlling. She’ll accept that package, open it, and....then it’ll be traced back to me from having delivered it to the courier. Damn!

What time is it now? I’ve screwed this up. There’s no way to pull this off before...

Of course, the telephone has to ring at this very moment. The powers of the universe must have concluded at some point to mark up my permanent record for a big cosmic joke. And here it is—but I’ve got to take this call.

She begins speaking before I have a chance to say hello. In her mind, she is continuing our conversation from yesterday. And she is probably correct.

“If you don’t finish it before 5:00, you know what’s going to happen, don’t you?”

“I’m...” I begin but am immediately cut off.

“No more extensions. If you don’t come through, it’s over.” Now she actually pauses, as if she is waiting for my response, but no, she is taking a drag off her cigarette. She exhales as she says, “I’m just your editor. I’ve got a boss, and he’s gonna want the advance back if you don’t give us the first three chapters this afternoon. Am I going to have to take the subway and come push you back on track?”

A true lightbulb moment is a serendipitous rarity. But there it was and that’s my ending!

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