“I love you.”
Liars lie. That’s what they do. Still, Mrs. Todd Marsh, formerly Ms. Beverly O’Conner was tired of listening to such nonsense. They had been driving for an hour now, and he hadn’t stopped talking. It was comical the way he insisted on carrying out the little charade. He might’ve written, “Just Married,” on the back window, but he didn’t love her. He planned to kill her; his nervous babble an unfortunate tell of a guilty conscience. She puckered her glossy lips and blew him a kiss. He offered a greasy grin.
Musky after-shave covers up cheap cigars, but not ill intentions. As a lady of means, she had educated herself in the way of scoundrels, and he was not a hard case.
He came to her in a dapper suit, dressed up manners, and a bounty of flowers and flattery. He never missed a chance to please her; and blushing, she’d admit he was well equipped in every way. He was perfect. Therefore, he was suspect. It was unfortunate he never managed to prove otherwise. She would’ve been good for him. He was just too bent on monetary gains to see it. Tragic.
After a courtship of mere months, he’d asked for her hand. She said yes. Not out of love, but curiosity. What did this magic man have up his sleeve? She loved a good trick.
“I’ve got a surprise waiting for you in Vegas.” He cracked his window open. “Whew, it’s a warm night.”
“Oh, I love surprises. I can’t wait.” She gave her best feminine squeal. Perhaps one day she’d take up acting.
It took time to uncover his plan. The numbskull didn’t wait for an empty house to gab about his dirty deeds. Thought it sufficient to hide in the bedroom with a phone to his ear, but fools don’t whisper, and a fool he proved to be. She had sat by the door and listened. His plan, his secrets, were basic and boring: a bouncy bottom blond in Palm Springs, the million dollar life insurance policy, the hired hitman waiting in Vegas.
Typical male. Ego driven. So cliché. Not a bit of creativity or romance in his plan, and he hired someone to do a job she could do herself. Wimp. How Ms. Bouncy Bottoms could stand him, she didn’t know.
“Being awfully quiet over there.”
“Just admiring the full moon,” she said. “Have you ever heard of a moon wish?”
He checked his watch. “Nope. Can’t say I have.” He pressed on the gas.
“If you make a wish under a full moon on your wedding night, your wish will come true.”
“Oh yeah.” He didn’t care.
“Yes, and that’s what I want to do. It’s my wedding night, there’s a full moon, and I want to make a moon wish.”
“Are you serious? Right now? I really don’t want to be late.”
“The hitman can wait.”
“No, he— Wait. What?”
“The hotel can wait. I know the perfect place. It’ll be so romantic. Please, I know how much you love me, and you wouldn’t deny me an opportunity for such a special moment. One quick moon wish, and we’re off to Vegas. Please.”
He relented. Impressive. He planned to kill her yet he was willing to indulge her one last whim. He might’ve proved to be a decent fellow had he not been such a malcontent.
Mrs. Marsh leaned over and gave her hubby a wet peck on the cheek. “You’re the best.” She couldn’t say for sure, it was too dark, but he might’ve blushed. How sweet. The charade was exhausting, and she was glad it was nearly over, but she would, admittedly, miss the romantic adlibs.
She pointed her red-nailed finger towards the dashboard window. “Take a left up here. The Paradise Cliffs exit. We’ll have an amazing view up there. Look, right here, take this left.”
“What?” He had been in a daze; thinking about God knows what, perhaps rotting in hell for eternity. Whatever it was, he missed the turn, spun around, and barely avoided the heavy tap of an oncoming semi-truck. The driver sounded his horn, and they swerved to the side of the road.
“My Lord.” She crossed her hands over her chest. “You nearly killed me.”
After a series of obscenities she’d never repeat, Mr. Dazed and Confused gripped the steering wheel and took several deep breaths in and out. “Sorry.” His sweaty black hair stuck to the sides of his face. How pitiful.
“Oh dear. Are you too shaken up to drive? We can call the whole thing off.”
“No. No.” He stared at her, his mouth agape. “I’ll be okay. Are you okay? You look okay.”
She confirmed she was okay. Her heart hadn’t missed a beat. Her veil was tangled in her hair, and she calmly removed it. He put the car in drive and took the exit.
Paradise Cliffs provided a perfect panoramic view of Paradise City, and the full moon illuminated the otherwise starless sky like God’s own lighthouse. Had it been a Friday or Saturday night, the cliffs would’ve been full of parked lovers. Had it been a Sunday night there would’ve been stargazers with long telescopes staring towards Heaven. Tonight—a mundane Monday—the cliffs were empty. Mrs. Marsh knew this of course. She had grown up near the cliffs, had parked with lovers and gawked at the stars, but mostly she had made moon wishes.
“There’s the moon alright.” He leaned on the hood of the car and lit a cigarette. Filthy habit.
“Isn’t it glorious? It’s so magical. Like God lighting the way home.”
He flicked his cigarette into the canyon. “Yeah, it’s great, all round and bright. Let’s make our wish and be done with it.”
What an unromantic buffoon. She couldn’t stand his uncultured ways a moment longer. The lying litterbug couldn’t see beauty in anything that didn’t bounce around in a bunny suit. She had to agree. Let’s be done with it.
“Come on, closer.” She took his sweaty palm and walked him to the edge of the cliff.
“Now close your eyes and hold out your arms like this.” She held her arms high in front of her, fingers stretched, head bowed. She closed her eyes and wished on the moon that the murderous scalawag standing next to her would fall off this cliff and tumble out of her life. She believed in the moon’s power to grant her such a wish, as it had granted her wishes before, and when she heard the skidding of dirt, she thought it done. But when she opened her eyes, her face drooped with disappointment. He was still there, eyes open, looking down, digging the tip of his shoe in the dirt.
“Well, I made my wish.” A liar to the end. “Man,” he laughed. “Did you? Must’ve. You looked like you sure were into it.” He dared to mock.
“I made my wish.”
“Cool. Think it’ll come true?”
“Yes.” Then she took one step back, one step left and stood behind him. “Although,” she said, “sometimes a moon wish needs a little help.” With open palms against his tuxedoed back, she gave Mr. Lying Lips one swift solid push. He hadn’t the time to think. For a rollicking second he wobbled on his tiptoes, then, face first, he fell off the cliff and tumbled out of her life.
Goodbye Sweet Prince.
She dusted off her hands. Easy peasy. Just as she had wished for: a swift, and neat execution. Well, she meant to say, an accident. What an unfortunate accident.
The only thing she hadn’t accounted for was the horrible gurgling sounds coming from the bottom of the cliff. She couldn’t stand listening to a guilty man succumb to his sins. It was time to go.
“I love you too.” Ms. Beverley O’Conner, formerly Mrs. Todd Marsh shouted down to her soon to be deceased husband. His response was too muddled to understand and most likely rubbish anyways.
She looked up at the moon and graciously mouthed, “Thank you.” Then attempting to keep it clean (should she need it again) Ms. O’Conner held up the edge of her wedding dress and walked back to the car.