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."