Short story: The Dress

Hello, it’s been a while since I inflicted my story telling abilities on you, my dear readers, but today I found a marvellous prompt on todaysauthor.com’s Write Now post. http://todaysauthor.com/2016/02/09/write-now-prompt-for-february-9-2016/

This is my at least five minutes of writing. Once I’m finished I’m going back to the novel, book two. I finished the first draft of book one yesterday! I’m very happy with myself.

He considered his options carefully as he stared across the desk at the unhelpful customer service agent.

Jon wasn’t a violent man, not really. There was the odd incident, sure, but nothing serious. Nothing he’d been arrested for, so far. This ridiculous individual might just break his streak though. It was a simple matter; the dress didn’t fit, he wanted to return it. Why would the woman not accept it and give him his money back?

“I’m sorry sir, but this dress has been worn, I can’t accept it as a return.”

“It’s been tried on for size, that’s all.”

“I’m sorry sir, but our returns policy clearly states ‘I don’t care what your returns policy states, I want my money back.”

Really, he was being quite reasonable, he hadn’t even raised his voice. Clearly this idiot wasn’t going to help. He considered his options carefully as he stared across the desk at the unhelpful customer services agent. He could ask to see the manager? That wouldn’t do any good, these people always back each other up. This happened far too many times; why did he always get the idiots?

Flexing his hands, feeling the pop as the instrument flicked in to place, Jon slapped at the woman’s hand grabbing his dress back. The silly woman winced.

“If you won’t help, I’ll have to take things in to my own hands, your manager should expect a letter to your head office,” He peered at the name tag on her breast, “Michelle.”

Jon turned, walking away, smiling.

“Sir, sir, please, that’s unnecessar…” Michelle sighed as the difficult customer walked through the store doors, carrying the bag and flexing his wrists again in that odd fashion, as he had before slapping her hand away from the dress. That had stung, which was unexpected, although the slap hadn’t been that hard.

Michelle looked at her hand where a small welt had raised itself in the seconds since the man had left.

“Are you all right Shelly? He was an odd one.” Janice, Michelle’s shift manager walked over to the customer services desk from her hiding place in the changing rooms.

“Yeah, I think, he didn’t half give me a slap though. Look at my hand.”

“Ow, that looks painful, I think you should see the first aider.”

“Ah, it’s nothing, I’ve had worse mozzy bites.”

“Shelly!”

“All right, all right, I’ll go and see Em on my break.”

“Go now, I don’t think you should leave that, it’s getting redder.”

Michelle looked down at her hand where the welt had got larger, swelling to the size of a two pound coin in the few minutes since their customer had left.

“There’s something odd Jan, I’m sure that dress wasn’t even one of ours.”

“That is odd, you think it was a fraud attempt?”

“Maybe?”

“I think I’ll contact security, he might still be in the shopping centre.”

“Yeah, that might be an idea, we don’t want anyone else getting scammed just because it didn’t work here. Wow, Shelly, sit down.”

Michelle, face draining almost white, struggled unsteadily to stay upright. Janice reached out to grab her arm, missed her grip and watched as Michelle fell to the floor.

Janice pressed the but to send broadcast on the store information system,

“First aid to customer service desk, first aid to customer service desk, as soon as possible.”

 

Jon watched the news as his wife brought him a cup of tea. She stood by his chair listening.

“How awful, that poor woman.”

“Man.”

“No, they said she.”

“Was a man pretending to be a woman, they said so.”

“Jon, you can’t say that any more.” She tutted, and turned away to get the tin of biscuits, “Did you enjoy your trip to town earlier?”

“Yes dear, I picked your dress up from the dry cleaners.” Jon smiled and sipped his tea. Tomorrow he’d have to refill the device but tonight he would enjoy the feeling of satisfaction from a good days work.

 


Backstory

How did I get from the prompt to the story?

Well, I saw the prompt and my brain immediately went MASS MURDERER!!!! because that’s how my brain works apparently. If I were going to flesh this out in to a longer story it would go something like this.

Our villain is Jon, a retired ex-insurance salesman and professional grumpy old man. He likes to go fishing, a hobby he took up on retiring for thirty years in insurance. Before that he did 17 years in the British Army. He always felt that he was unfairly overlooked, first in the Forces, and then with his company, having made it to lower management  but no further. His ire was especially directed at  a young man who started years after him and quickly rose through the company, transitioning to her real identity as a woman in the process. Jon is convinced that his colleague had no more ability than anyone else and was promoted over him in order to fulfil some quota or other. When he retires, Jon takes up fishing, a hobby he knows his former colleague enjoys. She is his first victim. the next half dozen are other trans men and women, some chosen for a perceived slight, such as the waiter in a restaurant who accidentally spilt water on the table, and some are people he considers to be in the ‘wrong’ profession. Michelle – as far as Jon is concerned a ‘man’ working in a women’s clothes store – is of the second category and his last victim. He was going to get rid of the new neighbour, an elderly woman who transitioned late in life after a long period in the army and then twenty years as a crane driver, but decides not too as it might bring the police too close.

The police, however are already on his trail, a sharp eyed officer investigating hate crimes has been looking into the deaths of eight transgender people, and is struggling to find a connection until she recognises the face smiling up at the camera from the CCTV in the shopping centre as one she’d seen on a restaurant cameras footage, after a young waiter was killed. the pictures are released to the public and advertised on the lunch time news.

Jon’s wife sees the news and drops her dinner plate. Jon is out fishing but will be back soon. She turns the television off, cleans up the mess on the floor and puts in all in the kitchen sink. Jon returns just as she is putting on her coat. She tells him his dinner is in the microwave, she has to go to see their daughter. Leaving the house she gets in to the car and drives to a friends house instead, where she nervously tells her friend what she suspects and they call the police together.

Meanwhile, Jon notices the broken plate in the sink, mutters about untidiness, and gets a phone call from his daughter. Surprised, he interrogates her about her mother and then turns the television on. The still pictures from the latest murder are playing again on the 24 hour news channel and Jon realises his wife must have seen them. He goes to find her. Since she isn’t at their daughter’s house he decides she must be with the one friend she’s managed to make and keep, despite his efforts.

And thus he is arrested attempting to murder his wife and her friend.

 

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