Friday, March 14, 2008

March FFC: Richard Badalamente: The Knockoff


by Richard Badalamente

Molly hung her purse over the ear on the back of her chair rail, making sure the Gucci logo was on the outside where everyone could see it.

Janice stared at the purse. Hmm, nine hundred bucks.

The bus boy came to the table with water. Molly kept talking while she checked him out. As he was walking away she turned to Janice and said in a stage whisper, “Nice butt.”

Janice raised a manicured eyebrow and smiled with just half her mouth.

Molly rose from her chair. “I have to pee so bad my crowns are rusting.”She took her purse from the back of the chair.

“I’ll watch your purse, if you’d like,” said Janice.

“Are you kidding? I’ve got my face in there,” Molly said, striking a dramatic pose, before turning and heading towards the Ladies.

Janice watched momentarily, then rose quickly and said to Molly’s retreating back, “I’ll go with you.”

Molly didn’t even turn around. Just raised her hand in acknowledgement. Janice made a show about checking her make up once in the Ladies, while Molly set her purse on the tile counter and headed for a stall.

As soon as Janice heard the tinkle of Molly’s stream, she grabbed Molly’s purse and holding the clasp so it wouldn’t make a snapping noise, she opened it. She checked the printing on the label, ran her thumb across it. She heard Molly’s stream stop and heard toilet paper being pulled from the roll. She hurriedly checked the label. The printing was clean. No misspellings as far as she could tell. She started to pull at it and that’s when the side pocket flipped open and she saw the gun.

The next sequence of events seemed to happen in slow motion for Janice. The purse fell from her fingers, hit the edge of the counter, turned over and spilled its contents to the floor; compact, lipstick, eye shadow pencil, wallet, and then the gun. Janice watched as the gun fell to the floor, hitting on its handle and going off with an ear shattering report that reverberated off the bathroom walls.

“Uh, oh,” was all Janice could manage.

She stared dumbstruck at the ugly, matte-black pistol lying on the tile floor next to a spinning lipstick -- Bubblegum pink. Then she heard a moan and a thud and looked at the door to the stall directly across from her. There was a neat, round hole in the door and beneath it Janice could see Molly’s elbow and the back of her head.

She picked up the purse. The label had pulled loose.

“Hah!” she said, “It is a knockoff!”


Richard Badalamente writes fiction and non-fiction, sometimes confusing the two, especially when writing about politics. He completed a 120,000-word novel last year only to realize he’d have a better chance getting two 60,000-word novels published. He’s also written a novella, a novelette, numerous short stories, and many poems, some of which have actually been published. “The Knockoff” is his first foray into flash fiction. Per Richard, "It was fun."


Eaton Bennett said...

Very funny! I am still chuckling
That really appealed to my sense of humor. Good quick pace and a smooth read. I'm sure there is a moral about touching other people's purses :)

~Liz~ said...

I love the ending to this story! You managed to make the tension rise quickly, twist it, and leave me laughing. Great job!

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Geez. It's hard to like Molly, but Janice's single-mindedness is every bit as chilling.

Anonymous said...

A bit violent, but definitely has a fine streak of black humor. Who cares if you've just committed a murder if you've proved your suspicions about a counterfeit handbag!

A. Catherine Noon said...

HA! This is really cute. I didn't even see that coming. I love how you do a ropadope with it, in terms of making us think Janice is going to steal the purse. I also like the observation, the ugly matte black of the gun. Excellent!

bunnygirl said...

Nice dark humor and solid writing. The gun came as a surprise and I'm glad you didn't have Janice use it on purpose. Where do you live, though, where busboys are sexy? I wanna go there! Around here, they're all short stocky Mayans up from Central America. Not my fantasy-type at all.

Kathleen Oxley said...

Ha! Great ending. I was left with several questions - Are these two ladies friends? What did Molly plan to do with the gun? How is Janice going to explain what happened? But, still a fun read!


D.T. KElly said...


As I read it, I had a problem with he gun going off (horrible cliche that only happens in the movies) but the last line makes the whole thing work.


Gwen Mitchell said...

It was funny, and a cute play on words. And your skill in writing is evident. However, a few things jogged me out - 'the ear of the chair' is an unfamiliar term to me. Also, I'm confused logistically how the gun could shoot Janice as it fell from Molly's hands when she hadn't even touched it. Maybe when it hit the floor, but then it wouldn't have been at the right angle to kill Molly. And the last thing was the spinning lipstick - lipstick lids are usually opaque, so the color wouldn't show (liked it spinning on the floor, though) and the only way she would know it was by what was on her lips, so it is out of place.

Overall though, a fine snarky little piece. Well done.