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Text Message Murder

Writer’s Digest hands out writing prompts to tickle the creativity bone that lives somewhere in the body. Many are silly, but every once and awhile one comes along that I can’t resist.

Text Message Murder (750 wds or less)

You’re sitting at work one day and receive a text message from an unrecognized number. The text says, “I have the money and hid the body.” You think this is a practical joke from a friend, so you play along at first. But the more texts you receive, the more you realize that it isn’t a joke. Write the text conversation you have with this unknown texter.

“AC 371, Tower, runway 27, position and hold.”

“AC 371, position and hold.”

“Messaba 243 contact Departure.”

“Over to Departure, good day.”

“AC 371, Tower, cleared for takeoff 27.”

“Cleared for takeoff, 371.”

The day was overcast, hot, and the bank had started. During this time, I can’t so much as avert my eyes from the fifty story tower I sit, than take a breath. That day, I remember easily, I got a message. My phone vibrated on the table next to me and I glanced down. The outer readout on my phone read, “Unknown”.

“Delta 41, Tower, traffic holding short, cleared for landing, 18 center.”

“Cleared 18 center, 41.”

“Comair 421, Tower, hold in sequence.”

“421, hold in sequence.”

“AC 371 contact Departure.”

“Departure, 371.”

My arm was vibrating again, another unknown. There was a short break; I took the chance and flipped open my phone. Two messages; first, “I have the money”, and second, “The body is taken care of.”

I shot my head up, scanned the crowded tower, everyone deep in weeds, when I caught sight of a man I had only seen once. He was in training, maybe his first or second day, and I hadn’t met him yet. He was eyeballing me, paying no attention to his trainer jabbering away.

“Tower, Comair 421.”

I pounded the keys as fast as possible, “What?”

“Um, say again.”

“Tower, Comair 421, number one, are we clear?”

“Affirm, Comair 421, tower, runway 27, cleared for takeoff.”

My phone buzzed again, “I said, the situation is taken care of.” I glanced back over my shoulder to see the new guy’s head hung, slouched, holding a phone. I texted back, “Sure, bud, whatever you say.”

“Comair 412 contact Departure.”

“To Departure, good day.”

Another message; ground control was sending me another ten, maybe fifteen departures. I held back my rage and read the message. “He wants to see you, now.”

“Tower, Freedom 6124, visual 27.”

The new guy held his phone and looked up. We made eye contact, something clicked, but he looked away just as fast. I sent another text, “Who?” I watched him close, his mannerisms changed, and he opened his phone and started tapping the keys. My eyes grew wide and my face drained all its blood. He looked back at me, my phone vibrated, and it said, “Him”. With sudden confusion, I snapped my head back to the new guy to see him nod his head towards the guy sitting next to me.

“Tower, do you copy, Freedom 6124?”

Frank, a long time friend and colleague, was neck deep in traffic. Sweat beaded his forehead only to be caught by his black-haired comb-over. His thick, out-of-date glasses sat on the tip of his wart-infested nose. I looked back at the new guy only to find him gone.

“Tower, do you copy?”

“Freedom 6124, Tower, repeat.”

“Freedom 6124, visual 27 for landing.”

“Cleared for landing, Freedom 6124, runway 27.”

“Frank,” I said. He most likely couldn’t hear me, seeing as how his radio ear piece was lodged in his left ear. “Frank.”

“What? I’m a little busy here.”

“I know, I got this message saying the body was taken care of and to talk to you. What the hell?”

He continued his commands and pushed his spectacles further up his nose.

“Frank,” I said.

“Damnit, I thought we had an agreement!” He slid his chair closer to me as I held back the urge to jump out the window. He lowered his voice, “Listen, it is taken care of. We agreed to not to discuss it here. Do you know how much shit we can get into? Like the message said, it is taken care of; over, done, forget about it.”

“What? I don’t…”

“Listen to me, goddamit. I brought the new guy in so we can get it done clean, no problems. You said so yourself, you wanted this done. You said she wasn’t changing, you wanted kids and she didn’t. I tried to talk you out of it but you insisted it be done. It’s done, man; time to move on.”

“What? When did I say this?”

“Seriously? We had this discussion last night over drinks. You don’t remember?”

The memory flashed; beer bottles and tequila shots.

I jumped from my chair, threw off my headset, and said, “What the hell did you do to Susie, you prick?” My phone vibrated in my hand as I glared at Frank. I reverted my gaze to the phone.

“Susie was nice. I had some fun with her before it was over. So sad, she would have made one hell of a wife.”

I ran to the stairs on the other side of the tower, pounded the down button to the elevator, and what seemed years later I was outside. I shot my head this way and that; tears welled in my eyes and then caught sight of a car exiting the parking lot. It was the new guy. He raised his arm out of his car window and waved.

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