The clock on the far side of the desk read 3:27. Jacob glanced out the window to confirm his sneaky suspicion that it was AM instead of PM. As his eyes swept across the room he noticed the heap of crumpled pieces of paper representing his failed attempts at his column for tomorrow's edition of the local newspaper. Mr. Carlson's job had many perks; staying up all night trying to meet a deadline wasn't one of them.

He had nothing better to do however, no kids to return home to, and the former Mrs. Carlson wouldn't be seeing him anytime soon. Jacob smiled at that thought. His fingers darted across his typewriter as a new headline appeared at the top of the page: "The bitch who is my ex-wife" That should make an interesting column.

Jacob hated his ex with a passion, and this would be a good way to really piss her off. Jacob finished his column and drove home. Another full day's work. The clock on the far side of the desk read 3:59.

* * *

Detective Edwards sipped his morning coffee, as he read the early edition of the local paper. A certain column captured his interest. Working in the homicide department for the past thirteen years left Edwards very adept at picking up clues like this. After finishing the hate column, Jason Edwards sat down his coffee and muttered to himself, "This is it."

"What did you say dear?" his wife just now entering the kitchen.

"Nothing," Edwards knew he had already found his job for this week.

* * *

"I read your column today Jacob."

Karen's voice sounded even more annoying over the phone, Jacob thought.

Jacob contemplated hanging up on her right now, "It's all true so a slander suit's no good."

"As long as I get my alimony check you can write whatever you want."

"Why did you really call, Karen? Did you get your weekly beating from Tom last night?"

"He just gets a little drunk sometimes, I can take care of myself."

"Then do that and leave me alone." With that Jacob hung up. He could care less if her boyfriend killed her. She deserved it.

Jacob left work early that day. He had things to attend to.

* * *

Tom Myers laughed as he finished Jacob's column, donned his hardhat and returned to his building site. Tom was foreman of the crew building a new office complex across the road from Karen's house.

"I told you it would make you laugh Tom."

"Everything he said was true. Smartest thing Jacob ever did was get out of that marriage."

"Why are you still with that bitch anyway."

"I don't know, man. You should have seen her yesterday, she really pissed me off, I could've killed her."

"Maybe you should just steer clear of her for a while, man. With that temper of yours, you're gonna do something you'll regret."

"Just get back to work, Justin. I'll take care of my own life."

A state police patrol car drove by at that moment as if to drive Justin's point home.

* * *

Jason Edwards sat in his darkened office staring at the newspaper clipping of Jacob Carlson's article. He knew. Either from some innate sixth sense or simply from being in this line of work too long, he knew. Tonight was the night. And tomorrow he'd have to put together the pieces.

* * *

Jacob had been driving around town for nearly two hours. It helped him think. He had left work early so he could fix this problem and here he was, delaying the inevitable. The clock on the dash of his Honda Accord read 8:07. It was beginning to get dark. The last rays of sunlight were sinking behind the horizon. Jacob stopped the car and fished around in his left pocket for a quarter.

Jacob felt dumb for putting a decision as important as this in the hands of fate, but it was the only way he could make up his mind. Jacob flipped the coin. It came up tails, and he drove around for a few more hours trying to summon up the courage to flip the coin again.

* * *

Tom had gotten off work at seven, and he was now spending some quality time in the local bar with his friends.

"Hey how about another round of cold ones for me and my friends," he said while motioning to get the attention of the bartender.

Several hours later Tom staggered out of the bar and began the short drive to Karen's house.

* * *
Karen awoke at the sound of a truck screeching to a halt in the driveway outside and quickly glanced at the clock. It was 12:02. She walked down to the kitchen expecting to find Tom, raiding the refrigerator as usual. The kitchen light was off, so Karen headed for the living room.

Karen heard the sound of breathing behind her just as the blunt end of a mason's hammer connected with the back of her skull. Karen's hand flew to up to the hole in her head as she dropped to her knees. Another bone crushing hit to the top of the head sent her limp body to the floor.

The killer dropped the hammer beside her lifeless form, and made his swift exit.

* * *

Early morning found Detective Jason Edwards responding to a homicide at the residence of Karen Carlson.

Several squad cars were already parked outside of the house as Edwards arrived in his. Jason exited the car slowly, taking a cursory glance around the scene, to make sure he didn't miss anything. A red Ford pickup was parked crookedly in the middle of the driveway. The screen door was standing open as two officers emerged carry the body of Mrs. Carlson.

Edwards stopped the procession, and unzipped the body bag to take a look at the victim's shattered skull. He closed the bag and let the body proceed on its way to the county morgue.

Edwards cautiously stepped into the house, careful not to disturb anything. One officer stood over the outline, taking pictures.

"Make sure to get one of the truck outside," Edwards said.

"Lieutenant Prescott already had me get one sir."

"Good."

Edwards eyed the blood stained hammer lying on the floor, just to the right of the outline.

"No question about the murder weapon this time, Jason." The voice belonged to Prescott.

"No. What else have you got?"

"Pretty open and shut I think. I might have not needed you this time. Her boyfriend called it in. Says he found her like this when he woke up. Apparently he was out partying with his buddies last night and got a little drunk. Probably wouldn't even remember doing it. He works at the sight across the street, easy access to the murder weapon."

"Everyone had easy access to the murder weapon."

"Okay so what's your take on it?"

"Did you read the paper yesterday? Her ex-husband didn't seem to think much of her. The timing's a nice coincidence too don't you think?"

"Alright, you follow that up and I'll stick with the abusive boyfriend."

"Deal."

* * *

Edwards walked into the office of Jacob Carlson cautiously, absorbing every detail.

Jacob stood up from his desk, "How did I know this was coming? Let me save you the trouble. I didn't like her, our marriage was hell, maybe I even thought about killing her, but I didn't. I personally would put my money on that boyfriend of hers."

Edwards paused taking everything in, his mind racing through questions of plausibility. Who was the more likely killer? Who should I spend my time on? Two of them, why did it have to be two? Which one?

"Where were you last night between the hours of eleven and one?"

"I don't have to answer your questions?"

"No you don't. But I could haul your ass downtown and you could answer them there. This is simple, throw me an alibi, I check it out then I leave you alone."

"I was out driving most of the night, it relaxes me."

"Alone?"

"Yes."

Bingo

"No one to corroborate your story?"

"No."

"Did you happen to drive bye your ex-wife's house last night?"

"No." Carlson was becoming agitated.

"You had to make an alimony payment yesterday according to your article, have you sent the check?"

"I hadn't gotten around to it."

"I guess you won't have to now."

"I have deadlines to meet and I'm going to ask you to leave now."

"I'll be in touch," Jason smiled on the way out. He had his man.

* * *

Prescott met Edwards just as he was opening the door to his office.

"What'd you get on the ex?"

"He's our man."

"This is so like you. You've got a mountain of evidence against the boyfriend and you set your sight on someone else."

"The boyfriend was too drunk to walk, let alone kill anyone. The ex has no alibi, and he hates her. I could see it in his eyes; he wanted her dead. Give me a little time and I might even get a confession out of him."

"You're sure?"

"Absolutely. You can trust me, I did these way before you started here."

"I take full credit for the case as usual?"

"Of course. Don't worry, we won't even need a trial this time, I can make this guy actually believe he killed her."

"You keep killing people and feeding me arrests like this and I'll be Chief of Police in no time."

"Count on it, I'll go pick him up."

"Any idea who you'll kill next week?"

"No, but I'll watch the papers, those columnists are real psychos."