This story is by Len Richelle and was part of our 2018 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
It had been two weeks since joining the new dating website. At forty-nine, he was desperate to be married, and finally gained the courage to go online in pursuit of finding a wife. His rapidly deteriorating health motivated him to do it soon. With his weak heart and failing kidneys, Fred knew his time to find happiness was limited.
Sienna was used to the attention from her online profile. Her piercing green eyes combined with her olive skin and coal black hair gave her an exotic look that attracted many. She used her attributes to get whatever she wanted, even if it meant destroying lives in the process. Her first husband, Gavin, died tragically when his car spun out of control off the steep cliff. It couldn’t be proven that Sienna had anything to do with the failed brakes, and she collected the enormous payout from his insurance policy. Then there was Terrance, whom Sienna married over a weekend in Vegas. There was much speculation about his drowning in the tub, yet Sienna was the only beneficiary named in his will. Fred would be her next prey, and although he was the least desirable out of all her victims, the burly, older man would be the next wealthy fool to fall into Sienna’s dangerous web. She stared at the photo of the hefty figure propped against a silver Bentley in the driveway of a large Mediterranean home and thought, money can make anyone attractive.
Sienna moved quickly, using her charm and good looks like she always did to make men weak. She would win his heart, kill him off, and then collect his money – an evil ploy she had become accustomed to. It was wicked, but Sienna didn’t care. Money was everything to her and she was running out of it fast. Her true love, Rex, left her with a hefty sum before going to prison, but between shopping and spa treatments, Sienna blew through that money in no time. Now she was broke, and there was no telling when Rex’s parole would come through. Don’t worry babe, I’ll be out soon, said Rex in a letter he wrote her six months ago. Sure, she thought. In the meantime, I’ll just do what I have to do.
It wasn’t long before the unseemly couple became serious. For Fred, he envisioned their future together; a beautiful wedding, children, happiness. Sienna, however, looked at Fred and only saw dollar signs. What else could she find attractive about the obese older man who slobbered in his sleep? Everything else about him repulsed her.
They were courting only a few months when Fred asked Sienna to marry him. “Yes,” said Sienna. She donned a fake smile as he placed the three-carat stone on her finger. So far, so good, she thought. Everything was moving as planned.
“Fred, let’s just go to the courthouse. I don’t want to be bothered with a big to-do,” she said. Aware of his debilitating health, she knew she had to act swiftly. Fred obliged his fiancée’s wish and quickly made the arrangements for the courthouse ceremony. Gladys, Fred’s mother, was the only one in attendance to witness the nuptials. The family matriarch was skeptical of her new daughter-in-law and made no hesitation in showing her disapproval. In the midst of their ceremonial kiss, Gladys coldly interrupted the new couple. “If we’re done here, I’ll head home. I have a program to watch.” She barely glanced at the newlyweds before hurrying out the door.
It didn’t matter to Sienna, though. She was now married to a wealthy man whose health was rapidly declining. It wouldn’t be long before his kidneys failed or his heart gave out, and Sienna would be there to collect all the money. Rex and I will be so well off when he comes home from prison.
For a year, Sienna waited for that time to come. When she grew impatient, she tried to speed up the process as much as possible without anyone detecting her ruse. First, she substituted some of his kidney medication with similar looking over-the-counter allergy pills. When that didn’t seem to have an effect, she switched his heart medication with diet pills. She waited and watched as signs of his failing health progressed. Any day now.
It wasn’t long before her plan worked. One morning while in bed, Sienna heard a loud crash coming from downstairs. Her first instinct was to run down to help him, but the evil inside her convinced her to roll over and go back to sleep. When she woke up later that morning, Sienna found Fred laying on the kitchen floor.
She put on a good performance when breaking the news to Gladys. “Oh, God, if only I’d found him before it was too late,” she cried.
Gladys handled the arrangements, and buried Fred in the family plot. That was fine with Sienna. She couldn’t be bothered with such boring details. Her mind was on the money she would receive from Fred’s estate, and Rex, who would be out on parole any day. She looked around and admired the beautiful abode. She was proud of her accomplishment, and couldn’t wait to share it with Rex.
Two weeks later, after a full day of shopping and pampering, Sienna was home relaxing when someone knocked on the door. Gladys. Sienna didn’t bother to hide the look of displeasure on her face when she answered. She vowed to forbid Gladys from ever stepping foot inside her home as soon as she received the money from Fred’s estate.
“What are you doing here?” asked Sienna.
“What do you mean? This is my house,” said Gladys. She pushed past Sienna and sat on the settee in the hall.
“No, I don’t think so. Whatever belonged to my husband is mine now. So, if you don’t mind, I’d like you to lea-“
Gladys scoffed, then stood up. “Oh, is that what you think?” She reached inside her large purse, pulled out several documents and waved them in Sienna’s face. “I guess you really didn’t know your husband – my son very well.”
“What are you talking about?” asked Sienna.
Suddenly, there was another knock on the door. Sienna hoped it was Rex, finally coming home from prison. She had given him the address in her last letter. Babe, we’ve struck it big! Here’s the address to our new home!
The two women looked towards the door, then back at each other. Gladys continued. “Didn’t you know? Fred never owned this property. In fact, Fred didn’t have any money. My underachieving son hardly ever worked. I bought everything, including your ring! He even begged me to let him live in this house – said it would help him attract a wife.” Gladys pointed her crooked finger in Sienna’s face and continued. “Unfortunately, he ended up with you.”
She’s lying, Sienna thought. She just doesn’t want me to have any of the money.
The knock on the door grew louder. Sienna was reluctant to open it. She didn’t want Rex to witness the commotion. “It’s time for you to get out of my house,” she said.
“I’m leaving my house, for now,” said Gladys. “and soon you will be too.” The knock turned into loud banging and Gladys waited for Sienna to answer. Sienna walked towards the door and very slowly grabbed the knob.
“And by the way,” said Gladys. Sienna looked back at her. “there was an investigation conducted and the police tested those pills you were giving my son.”
Sienna’s pulse raced and her mouth went dry. “What are you talking about?”
“Open the door, you’ll see.”
Stunned by the news and fearing that she had been exposed, Sienna’s trembling hand slowly cracked open the door and two police officers busted through.
“Are you Sienna Ford?”
“You’re under arrest for the murder of Fred Ford.”
An officer placed handcuffs tightly around her wrists. Gladys stood in the background and snickered as Sienna was escorted out the door. As the police sedan made its way down the long driveway, Sienna slumped down into the backseat. She felt remorse, but only for getting caught. She envisioned Fred’s body lying face up on the kitchen floor. He was still gasping for air when she had finally come downstairs, yet she sat at the breakfast table sipping coffee while she patiently waited until he took his last breath.
Sienna shook her head to shut the gruesome vision out of her mind. She sat up and looked out of the backseat window to take in what would probably be her last image of freedom. Then she saw him. The tall, attractive, muscular man carrying a duffle bag walking past the police car. He didn’t notice her in the backseat. He was too occupied with the piece of paper in his hand. He stopped to read it, then looked up at the house. Nodding excitedly with approval, Rex turned up the driveway and headed towards the door.