Reginald held up his wine glass. “To the lovely dinner you’ve prepared, my dear Kimberly.”

“Well, most of the credit goes to Alfred, of course. But I helped.” She smiled and held up her wine glass. “In celebration of another year well spent in your company, my sweet husband.”

“How do you like the wine,” he said.

“An excellent choice.”

He set down his glass and began to cut his roast beef. “Thanks for agreeing to this quiet dinner at home.”

“It was a great idea, Honey. This is such a nice change from the hustle and bustle of the typical New Year’s Eve parties we attend.”

“Yes, it is.” Reginald swallowed. “This roast beef is simply magnificent.”

“Thank you.”

“And I would like to start a new tradition: each of us shall announce our resolutions on New Year’s Eve.”

“But, Dear, isn’t that considered bad luck?”

“That’s what they say. But I say they’re wrong. Now, would you like to go first?”

“Well, since it is your idea, I think you should go first.”

“Very well. My resolution for the new year is…to KILL YOU.”

Kimberly’s smile morphed into an evil grin. “Really? Well, my resolution is to KILL YOU.”

“And how to you propose to commit this heinous act? Do you have a gun? Or perhaps you think you can strangle me with your bare hands. Come now, My Dear, you don’t have it in you.”

“But you do.”

“What are you talking about?”

“It was in the roast beef. The poison.”

“You poisoned me?” He began to laugh.

“You think this is funny? You’re going to be dead in ten minutes. Then we’ll see how funny it is.”

“Where did you get the poison? From Alfred?”

Kimberly’s chin dropped. “You poisoned me too?”

“It was in the wine.”

“God, no!”

“But he gave me the antidote—in case I accidently drank from the wrong glass.” He rushed to the china cabinet and opened a drawer. ” Where is it? You took it.” He turned to glare at Kimberly, who was no longer at the table.

She was rummaging through the hutch, on the opposite wall. “Mine’s gone too. Shit! Now what am I going to do?”

Reginald checked his watch. “We’ve got eight minutes.”

Kimberly grabbed her stomach. “I’m already…feeling…sick.” She collapsed to the hardwood floor.

“That bastard. Why did we trust him?”

“Why did you put him in our will? Idiot!”

“He’s been with us for fifteen years. He’s like family.”

“Yeah. Family that wants to kill you.”

“Damnit.” Reginald’s knees gave way and he fell to the floor.

The dining room door swung open and Alfred walked in, sipping tea from one of Kimberly’s heirloom China cups. As their butler, he knew those cups were never to be used. “Oh, my. What’s the matter with you two?”

Reginald screamed at him with a hoarse voice. “We’re dying, you son of a bitch!”

“But this is what you wanted—to kill each other. I just helped you do it.”

Kimberly said, “I told you he couldn’t be trusted.”

“Oh, how the mighty have fallen.” Alfred walked in closer. “Now I’ll never have to hear your petty complaints again. I’ll never have to drive you to your pedicures or spas or dinner parties. I’ll never again be forced to—” Alfred’s cup slipped off his finger and fell to the floor, shattering.

Reginald looked up. “What’s the matter, Alfred? Feeling weak?”

“My stomach…is cramping.” His legs gave way, and his knees hit the floor, the bone crunching against the hardwood.

“Well,” said Reginald, “I’m sorry to hear that.” His voice sounded stronger.

“Yes,” said Kimberly, “that’s a shame.” She stood up.

Alfred watched her in disbelief.

Reginald stood up and brushed off his slacks. “This floor is dusty, Alfred. I’m very disappointed in your work.”

Alfred rolled onto the floor and looked up at them. “But…how?”

“Well, you see,” said Reginald, “I wanted to add you to our will. But Kimberly was concerned.”

“That’s right,” said Kimberly. “I didn’t trust you, Alfred. We know all about your gambling problem.”

“So,” said Reginald, “we decided to test your loyalty. We began to argue regularly. And the fights became more bitter each day. We wanted to convince you that we hated each other.”

“Then,” said Kimberly, “I asked for your help. And when I told you I wanted to kill Reginald, you were quick to tell me you could obtain an undetectable poison for the job. You also promised me an antidote—just in case I accidentally took some of the poison.”

“And you were more than happy to offer the same help to me,” said Reginald. “You suggested that I poison Kimberly’s wine. And you told Kimberly she should poison my roast beef. You knew that we had hidden our bottles of antidote in the dining room.”

“So, said Kimberly, “you stole the antidote, thinking we would both die, leaving you our entire estate.”

Alfred struggled to speak. “You didn’t poison each other? It was all an act?”

“Pretty good acting, huh?”

“I think we’re ready for Hollywood,” said Kimberly.

“We knew you would celebrate our demise with a cup of your special tea. And just in case you decided to poison us yourself…” He reached into his pocket and took out a small bottle. “The bottles you stole from our hiding places had water in them.”

Alfred’s shaky finger pointed to the bottle in Reginald’s hand. “Please…give me the antidote. Please, I beg you. I’ll do anything.”

“Gee, I don’t know, Alfred. What do you think, Honey?”

Kimberly shook her head.

“Actually,” said Reginald, “I’m surprised you didn’t notice that your beloved tea leaves were a bit moist tonight.”

Alfred tried to speak.

Reginald bent over and cupped his ear. “What’s that, Old Man?”

Alfred coughed and forced himself to speak. “You’ll go to prison for this.”

Reginald and Kimberly laughed.

Kimberly said, “No, we won’t. You’re the one who bought the poison.”

“And your suicide won’t be a surprise, really,” said Reginald. “I’ve been telling my poker buddies for weeks that you’ve been depressed lately.”

The dining room door burst open and two large men stepped in. “Is this the home of Alfred Smith—the butler?”

“How dare you break into my house,” said Reginald.

One of the men saw Alfred lying on the floor, and pulled a pistol. “Is that him?”

Reginald and Kimberly stepped back.

“Yes,” said Reginald, “that’s him.”

The two men walked over to Alfred.

The man with the gun said, “Alfred Smith, this is for non-payment of debt—$250,000 to be exact.” He aimed the gun at his head.

“No, please,” said Alfred, holding up his trembling hand.

Reginald and Kimberly leaned back against the wall, frozen in fear.

The man fired a single shot into Alfred’s forehead. Then he quickly turned and nailed Reginald with two rapid-fire rounds to the heart, followed by two for Kimberly.

As the men walked out, one of them said, “So, have you got any New Year’s resolutions?”

“Nah. I’m good.”

“Yeah, me too.”


Copyright © 2011 Robert Burton Robinson