the short story project



The Night Tom Ruined His Marriage


By John Lynch

Tom always suspected his wife was unfaithful. When he got home from work early one evening and saw an unrecognizable car in the driveway, he was immediately suspicious.

It was fall in Worcester, and nature was dying all around him. Every door and window was closed tight to keep the chill out. He slipped through the side gate and into the backyard. As he peeped through the sliding glass doors into the back guest room, he saw two silhouettes on the daybed.

They’re fucking. 

He watched for a moment, lit a Kool with his tumbling hands.

Who was this shadow having sex with his wife? 

Was it the man worked in her office she sometimes mentioned?

That “nice mechanic” who changed her oil at Jiffey Lube?

The “know it all” yoga instructor she claimed she hated from her class?

His best friend Steve?  

No, it was no one he knew. He did not recognize the fancy car in the driveway.

The blood pounded in his temples. Should he burst through the front door, singing Frank Sinatra’s “GUESS I’LL HAVE TO CHANGE MY PLANS?” Perhaps rush into the room naked and ask to join the fun? 


He went back to his car, reached in the glove box and took out his Glock 19. It was a licensed gun he carried for protection.  His office was in a bad neighborhood, and he often walked to his car at night alone.  His wife hated guns, so he hid it in his car. He’d carried it from the car to the office and from the office to the car every day for the last year without her knowing.  

He kept it loaded – he would have no time to put bullets in the chamber if he had to act quickly. 

He crept back through the gate and onto the back patio.  

He was now six feet from the sliding glass door –moans of ecstasy from the silhouettes.

Two shadows moving in a sexual dance.  

She was on top of him, her arching back facing him. She moved up and down in rhythm.

Adrenaline hit Tom now – he was almost turned on by the whole thing.  

How many nights did she have like this? He always called on his way home, but tonight he’d been so caught up in the Celtics game he forgot.  He’d lied to her, saying it was going to be late night – tax season, lots to clean up. That must have been why she felt safe fucking this man in his home.      

He raised the gun and fired through the glass twice. The first bullet shattered the glass. The second shot hit her in the back of the head – blood splattered above the daybed, staining their Rene Magritte knock-off painting of the green apple in front of the man’s face. 

She fell like a bag of potatoes to the floor.  

The naked man jumped up in shock, screamed some nonsensical gibberish and ran toward Tom.  Still a silhouette, all Tom could see was this naked, muscular form rushing toward him in a panic and rage. 

Tom stepped back and fired. The man stumbled closer; Tom fired again. He hit the man in the chest twice. The man’s momentum sent him crashing through the shattered glass onto the patio. 

As blood oozed from his chest, he just kept muttering, “Why? Why?”

Tom looked at the dying man’s face as the stranger’s bloody mouth grasped for air. 

He entered the house to see his wife one more time. As he rolled the bloody, naked corpse over, his breath stopped for a second, his face a mixture of madness and confusion. 


Tom smoked a cigarette on the front porch, the empty gun next to him. The dying tree in the front yard had shed all the leaves. He would have to rake before the first snowfall.

If it only didn’t get dark so goddamn early this time of year.

When his wife came walking up the driveway with a six-pack of Budweiser and a large pizza he almost laughed. He thought of saying something like, “Honey, you are not going to believe this day.”

“There she is” were his only words. She would soon see the carnage he’d left for her in the guest room.

“You’re home early. Have you seen my sister’s new man? Judging from his car at least this one has a job. They’re staying with us for a few days before they head to the Cape.  What’s the matter with you?”

He took a long drag of his Kool, noticing for the first time she had her sister’s eyes.





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *