Teri lost her husband in the same way that she lost her keys every morning.

Sometimes, she remembered him.

On most days, she worried about him.

Occasionally, she forgot that she even had a husband.

Teri was a surfer chick from California who smoked way too much weed, and then she got old.

Pete was not the type of man to cheat on her. He liked to read his newspaper and then go for a short walk around the neighborhood.

Perhaps, he might be knocking on the door at any moment, Teri thought.

KNOCKING…

When she opened it, it was a delivery man.

“Pete?” She asked.

“I’m Bill,” the middle-aged man said. He smiled and pointed to his name-tag. “I was told that you would sign for the package?”

“Okay,” Teri agreed.

She pursed her rose-colored lips together, and then signed.

“Much obliged.”

“What could be in these boxes?” Teri whispered.

She used her pen to cut the tape around them.

They were 6 feet tall.

“One, two, three, four,” Teri counted. Then she plied the cardboard up and over.

There was human hair there and what looked like a person who wasn’t breathing.

“Oh, my god!”

But then a note fluttered to the floor.

Teri, this is just a reminder that you are house sitting. Alan, Marilyn, Andy, and Clayton will be your guests for this evening. Take care of them and they will take care of you. Position them near the picture window. -Babe

“Oh—they’re mannequins,” Teri laughed. “They nearly gave me a heart-attack. They’re not real, but they look real. They can keep me company until Pete comes back. He will be so surprised that we have a family again. My, they don’t look like mannequins—more like taxidermies,” Teri observed. “I guess we won’t need to feed them,” she giggled.

Teri arranged Alan and Marilyn on the couch. They wore baseball jerseys and looked like a married couple in their 50s. Alan had a mustache and Marilyn had curly gray hair.

Teri groomed them, and then shifted her attention to the two boys. She combed Clayton’s hair, and then looked at Andy. “He’s a clean-cut boy. That other one—he’s a player.”

Teri watched her favorite show, The End is Near. It was about a pastor who prophesied. She made popcorn in her microwave and it exploded.

KNOCKING…

“Who could that be? At midnight?” Teri asked. “Maybe, Pete has been whoring, but that’s not like him.”

More KNOCKING…

Teri rushed into the kitchen, and looked for something to defend herself with.

There was a butcher knife there, and she grabbed it.

Then, she ran upstairs and hid in the closet.

The front door burst open.

“Hey man, I thought you said they were on vacation?”

“They are.”

“But look in the living room? There’s a whole family in there.”

“Those are just dummies, just like the owners,” the short man said.

“Where’s the gold?”

“It’s upstairs, in the closet.”

They walked up, and left the dummies in the living room.

Teri inched farther back into the closet, until she bumped against a safe. The door was open, and she felt her hand into the hole and touched gold coins.

Then the door revealed the light, and the coat rack parted, and two men were staring at her.

“Now, put it down, and we won’t hurt you,” the short man said.

Teri clung to her butcher knife, like a life raft.

The tall man stretched-out his hand, and she swiped at it.

“She nearly cut-off my fuckin hand! Get that bitch!”

The tall man reached for Teri, and she cut him. Blood squirted out of his finger, like a fire hose.”

“Damn!”

Teri’s face was splattered with blood. Her black hair and green eyes made her look like a witch.

“Just give me your gun!” The short man said, but then he noticed Teri’s face changing.

“Pete?”

They turned around.

A man with a baseball bat hit two home runs. Their brains leaked into the floor.

“Who are you?” Teri asked.

“I’m Babe Ruth.”

“Oh—that’s my favorite candy bar,” Teri said.

“I’ve got a game to catch, so I got to go.”

“You’re a great player.”

Teri walked downstairs and watched the baseball game. It was the 9th inning stretch. Then, she took a break and mopped her bloody floor.

“You boys made such a mess with your brains. Funny—it seemed like you had no brains at all, but I guess I was wrong.

Teri laid the bodies into the carboard boxes. She closed them up and wrote, Return to Sender in Black Sharpy Marker.

Then she pushed them down the stairs and they slid to the front door, like children in potato sacks.

She collected her gold coins and cash from the safe and put them in her purse. “Somebody has to pay my salary,” she said. “Well, if my husband isn’t going to show up, I’d better leave him a note.”

Pete. Where are you? You’d better not be whoring. -Teri

Then, the California Girl caught the yellow cab.

“Where to, miss?”

“I don’t know. I’m looking for my husband. Wait… I’m getting a text.”

An address popped into her phone.

“Can you take me there?” She showed him the address to the baseball diamond.

The End

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