by Angela Doll Carlson

“Now, come on Pete, what got into you?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Of course, you gotta know it was an accident!”

“Yeah, of course.”

“After all, we lived next door to each other for thirty years.”

“I know it.”

“Her husband, Don, was my best friend.”

“He was a good man.”

“It was a real loss to the neighborhood when he went.”

“Ran the local chapter of the Moose Lodge, I know it.”

“Well, you know, I did the best I could after he went, try to keep things up and keep the lodge going and the neighborhood on track.”

“No one is questioning that, Pete.”

“I lived in that same house on Catalpa all my grown life.”

“Quiet block. Real nice.”

“And with Don and Betty next door, well, it was the best possible situation for Lucille and myself.”

“Look, we all know how much you cared for them, Pete. We just need to know what happened.”

“Oh, it’s all kind of a blur now, Steve. My head is killing me.”

“You need to get the doc in here again, Pete? We can get the doc if you need him.”

“No, no. It’s all right. It’s just a little bruise on my forehead. Lucille would kill me if she saw this. She had a thing about head injuries.”

“Lovely woman, your Lucille.”

“I miss her every day, Steve. Every day.”

“Well, just take your time, Pete and start at the beginning. Just tell me whatever you remember, okay?”

“Okay, Steve. I’ll do what I can.”

“That’s all we ask, Pete.”

“I got up, like always, just after six and made some coffee. Lucille usually made the coffee but you know, since she passed I’ve been doing my best with it. I’m down to making it instant these days, which would have killed Lucille to see but there you have it.”

“My wife hates instant too. I think it’s okay.”

“So I had my coffee and I look out the window and see Betty’s little dog, Pumpkin out there, sniffing at the fence. He sniffed there, pawing and digging and just making a damn mess.”

“She’s had that dog a long time.”

“Since Don went, I figure. She ran right out and got that dog.”

“Don hated dogs. I remember that.”

“Yeah, well Pumpkin just dug and dug and it started to annoy me so I hollered out at it to stop and it ran off a minute. Next thing I know it’s barking its fool head off, bark and bark and bark and you know the sound that dog makes, like nails on a chalkboard hitting you square in between the ears.”

“I don’t care much for little yippy dogs like that but that’s just me.”

“No, well, it barked its fool head for I don’t know how long before Betty came out and dragged him inside.”

“Well, that’s a relief.”

“Yeah, but it wasn’t long before she let him back out again and there he was digging and barking. That went on all morning. I finally went over there, you know, to make sure everything was okay.”

“To make sure the dog was okay?”

“I don’t know, I guess so.”


“And she…Betty… came to the door in her nightgown and I was surprised at that because I never knew her to be unkempt like that, especially so close to lunch time.”

“So close to lunchtime?”

“Sure, I mean she might be wearing her nightgown in the morning and maybe early in the evening, getting a jump on a good night’s sleep, but never so close to lunch.”

“Okay. So you talked to her.”

“I did. I told her that the dog was disturbing me and that she’d best get him under some control.”

“And what did she say? Was she upset by that?”

“Well, she didn’t invite me in, so that was one indication, I guess.”

“She didn’t invite you in? Does she usually invite you in while wearing her night gown?”

“Only sometimes, you know, us being both widowed and all.”

“Wait. Okay. I’m sorry, go on.”

“So, she didn’t invite me in and that was strange. I thought maybe something was amiss so I asked her about it.”

“And what did she say?”

“She said it was none of my damn business. Can you buy that? Damn business.”

“I see.”

“I knew it then, she was giving me the shove off and I poked my head inside a little and saw a pair of brown shoes next to the door, loafers.”


“Men’s loafers. Brown.”


“Yeah, right? So I said, ‘What exactly is going on in there?’ and she said again, none of my damn business.”

“Well, that’s gotta hurt.”

“After all these years!”

“All these years?”

“I thought we really had something there and she just goes and does something like this.”

“How long’s this been going on Pete? Lucille only passed a few weeks ago!”

“Steve, I could not even tell you how long. She is a minx. That woman has needled her way into my life since day one. Day one!”

“What are you saying? You’ve been having an affair?”

“I am only human, Steve. So you can see how this hurt and then that dog…”

“The dog?”

“Yep, came right out the door and planted one right on my ankle. Hurt like hell. I can show you the marks.”

“Well, we’ll have the doc take a look, don’t worry.”

“He laid his evil fangs into me and I howled and then I kicked him off and he came at me again. Betty finally called him off me and back in the house but you can imagine how I was feeling.”

“Insult to injury.”

“You bet.”

“Well, I think we have what we need then, Pete. Looks like you had a motive after all, I’m sad to say.”

“I’m afraid so.”

“But, wait, you said it was an accident.”

“Of course it was an accident! What do you think I am, crazy?”

“I don’t understand, Pete. That poor woman was just crossing the road when you ran her over like that and you said it was an accident.”

“It was! I was aiming for the dog.”

◊ ◊ ◊

Angela Doll Carlson
Angela Doll Carlson is a poet, fiction writer and essayist whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in Apeiron Review, Thin Air Magazine, Eastern Iowa Review, Rock & Sling, St. Katherine Review, Ink & Letters, Whale Road Review, Ruminate Magazine, Elephant Journal and Art House America. Her memoir, Nearly Orthodox: On Being a Modern Woman in an Ancient Tradition from Ancient Faith Publishers was published in 2014. Her next book, Garden in the East is now available. Angela currently lives in Chicago, IL with her husband, David and her four outrageously spirited yet remarkably likable children.

6 thoughts on “Pumpkin

  1. Well done for the most part. As written, the interrogator could be a cop or a buddy; the ambiguity might be intentional, but I would opt for a “good” cop. Maybe, too, using “unkempt” “amiss” and “evil fangs” is a tad off for Pete. AGB

  2. I liked the story a lot until the end. I suppose it was inevitable but I would prefer it if the owner of the brown shoes was taking the dog for a walk (recognize those shoes anywhere) and Pete offed the pair in one shot.

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