Flash #021 – Retribution by Richard Preston


RITA LOOKED OVER THE NOTES pinned to the tree, looking for one note in particular. Eventually, she found it, slightly covered by yet another posting. The note simply read, “Rita, I burn for you. Call me.”

The note needed no signature. Rita knew who had placed it there. Slowly, she exhaled. Now, finally, she knew it was really over. She could finally move on.

She wondered what Frank was doing now, and it shocked her to realize that she really didn’t care. He was no longer a part of her life. He’d been married to her for twenty-eight years, but then he thought he could fool around with that floozy of a secretary. Had he thought she was stupid? Had he thought she wouldn’t find out?

Well, she had found out, and it had hit her hard. She’d wanted her revenge, but what could she do to him. She’d thought of killing him while he slept, but for him, it would be relatively short and painless, and she would be arrested and would go on suffering. Death was too good for him. She’d thought of divorcing him, but all that would do is give the floozy an open shot at Frank. The thought of the floozy living in her house made Rita sick. What then?

Slowly, the thought came to Rita that the only just thing was to take away the thing that he loved most, his money. Without money, the floozy would drift away, but Frank poor and destitute, that thought pleased Rita. And then providence lent her a hand. The insurance bill for Frank’s business came. Frank wrote the check, and as usual, asked Rita to mail it. She said she would, but pocketed it instead. Had he noticed the check had not been cashed, and he asked her about it, she would have told him she’d mailed it and he would believe her, and why shouldn’t he. He was the untrustworthy one, not her. From then on, she watched the mail. When the late notice came, followed by the second notice and finally by the final notice, she pocketed each of them. Finally, a letter came saying that Frank’s insurance was being cancelled if he didn’t pay within seven days.

Rita waited out the seven days, and then a few days longer just to make sure. Frank was defenseless now. Finally, when she felt the time was right, she confronted Frank with his infidelity. He didn’t deny it. He just left. Rita waited a few more days. She was getting good at that. Then she called a phone number.

“Hello,” a voice answered. She gave him the address of Frank’s business, and the voice said, “As we agreed, half in advance, and half after it burns. Are you ready to pay?”


“Good.” They arranged a meeting and the payment was made. That had been three days ago, and now Rita could imagine it, Frank’s business a charred pile of rubble, and finally, at long last, a smile crept across Rita’s face. It really was all over.


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