The Decoy

By Joseph Logsdon

If Grace Moore had been a little less attentive, she never would've suspected her tenant of murder. Needing the extra money, Grace allowed people to rent her luxurious apartment building. Surely, a murderer couldn't afford such a place? Grace thought that, but when she discovered that Brian Nelson was bringing women to his apartment every night, she started to have second thoughts. One afternoon, Grace discussed her suspicions with her husband.

"He's a weirdo," Grace stated as she entered the bedroom.

"Well, we can't exactly kick him out for that, can we?"

"It's not that I think he's a bad person, it's just I feel that he's hiding something," she stated.

"What do you mean?"

"Every night, after you go to bed, I see him with multiple women," she stated.

"That's not a crime, is it?"

"Paul, you have to understand, I usually don't get involved in this sort of thing," she stated.

"What are you involved in, exactly?"

"I'm sorry, I can't let him stay," she announced.

"You mean, you're going to evict him?"

"The way I see it, I have no choice," she stated.

"What has he done to deserve that?"

"Well, for one thing, he's being very inappropriate. Under no circumstances, will I allow prostitution under my roof. If he thinks that we're going to allow that kind of behavior, he's got another thing coming."

"It really isn't any of our business, is it?"

"It isn't our business, it's our duty. Besides, we already have enough money, don't we? Why, just last week, I learned that our annual income was more than we ever could've dreamed. Trust me, we don't need Brian Nelson."

"Well, if you think we'll be fine, go ahead," Paul replied.

That night, Grace tried to enter Brian's apartment, but, before she could make it to the door, she noticed that his bedroom light was on. Hoping to avoid him, Grace hid in the darkness. Around midnight, the door opened. He was carrying the body of a woman, who had apparently been strangled. Grace watched in horror as he removed the body from the property. The following morning, she called the police.

"My name is Blake, Tony Blake," the detective stated as he lit his cigarette.

"It's nice to meet you, Mr. Blake," Grace stated as Tony entered the apartment.

"We arrested Brian, but honestly, I don't think it's going to stick," he stated.

"Why not?"

"You said that you saw him carrying a body out of his apartment, correct?"

"Are you saying that I imagined the body?"

"You saw a body, it just wasn't dead," Blake laughed.

"What do you mean, wasn't dead?"

"Apparently, Brian was taking his girlfriend home. She was drunk, so drunk that she could barely talk, let alone drive herself home. Now, it's perfectly understandable why you would be suspicious. As you know, there's been a killer in your neighborhood for years. We've tried to locate him, but he always manages to get the upper hand. From your perspective, it's no wonder you thought Brian was the murderer. I mean, when we questioned him, it was almost like he was hiding something. Well, whatever it was, it certainly wasn't criminal."

"You mean, I had the wrong man?"

"You did, I'm afraid," he stated.

The following night, Grace wanted to apologize to Brian. When she entered his apartment, it seemed as if he had given up on life. Wanting to make things right, Grace placed her hand on his rough shoulder.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to embarrass you," she stated.

"Mrs. Moore, I don't blame you," he stated.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, you were right about one thing, there is a killer in this apartment building," Brian stated.

"How do you know that?"

"Because I've been searching for him," he answered.

"Well, have you found him?"

"Even though I can't prove it, I know it's him," Brian sighed.

"Who?"

"Believe me, you don't want to know," Brian stated.

"Mr. Nelson, if there's a killer under my roof, then I can assure you, I have a right to know," she stated.

"Don't worry, you will know," he stated.

"What do you mean?"

"I'm sure, given time, that he will come out to play," Brian laughed.

"You should tell me now, before he comes out to play," she sighed.

"Go home, Mrs. Moore," Brian stated.

Getting nowhere with Brian, Grace returned home. The apartment was a cold, damp grave as she walked through the door. She was grateful to see her husband, but at the same time, she also felt uneasy as he stared at her.

"I've been waiting," Paul stated.

"You're usually in bed by this time, aren't you?"

"I'm not sleepy," Paul replied.

"I just apologized to Brian," she stated.

"He's a good kid, isn't he?"

"Yeah, I guess," she replied.

"Too bad, this could've been so easy," Paul stated.

"What do you mean?"

"Seemingly, Brian was the perfect suspect, but in the end, that copper cleared his name. Well, no matter, I'll just have to improvise," Paul laughed.

"What are you talking about?"

"I want to play with you," Paul laughed.

"You're not making any sense," she cried.

"Are you that fucking stupid?"

"Paul, I've never heard you talk like that before," she cried.

"That's because you never bothered to get to know me. Let's be honest, we haven't been that close, have we? I mean, yeah, the sex has been great, but sex alone can't save a marriage. You, I believe, never knew what it was like to suffer as a child. I, on the other hand, suffered more than you could ever hope to. Maybe, if I had grown up in a stable home, instead of a lousy junkyard, I would've been a better man. I thought, hoped, that Brian would've been convicted of those murders. If he had, then this wouldn't be necessary," Paul laughed.

"What do you mean?"

"I'm going to kill you, Grace. That way, no one will discover my secret," Paul laughed.

Paul placed his hands around her throat, but, before he could do anymore, the door opened. Wasting no time, Tony Blake fired two bullets into Paul's chest. When it was all said and done, Paul was dead.

"What took you so long?"

"I had to be sure," Tony replied.

"Why did you make me do this, anyway?"

"Well, since we knew that Brian wasn't the killer, it had to be someone else. Given your husband's troubled past, we decided to have you act as a decoy. I must say, it worked better than we thought," Blake laughed.

"Do me a favor, don't do it again," she grunted.

"The day I come up with this kind of plan again, will be the day I retire," Tony stated.

The End