Skip to main content

An Excerpt from The Dead Letter

The Dead Letter

“All right, I’m having an affair. So what? You don’t own me.”

Simone Villier hooked her thumbs under her waistband and rotated her hips slowly back and forth as she adjusted her skirt. She evoked an uncommon sensuality, and she was aware of its effects -- carnal glances from men, and the confused mix of disapproval and guilty envy from women.

Constable Jamie MacFarlane’s fingers gripped the web belt that held his service pistol, handcuffs, night light, and radio, and listened in disbelief. Like many other men around Charlottetown, Jamie MacFarlane had been drawn to her, but his advances had had greater success, and they had engaged in a fiery and tumultuous romance for eight months.

Now it was over. And tonight her alluring moves, which once had thrilled him, felt hollow, taunting, and cruel.

“Who is it?” he asked.

“I’m not going to tell you who it is. It’s none of your business.”
Simone looked away. His jealousy pleased her. Then, to fill the silence, she straightened a few items on her office desk and hoped that Jamie would stomp off into the night and be done with it, but he didn’t. He remained. He said nothing. The silence was uncomfortable. She ignored him and stared out the second-floor window of her office into the darkness of the harbour and focused on the beads of light that framed the skyline of the city of Charlottetown.

Then Jamie’s hand slammed the top of the desk, and his voice snapped like a bullet.

“I want to know! Who is it?”

“Screw you!”           

He grabbed her shoulders and shook her. Her eyes widened in surprise, then narrowed with anger, and she pulled away and circled behind her desk. Jamie didn’t follow.

“Then why! Tell me that,” he demanded.

“What difference does it make?” she asked, her tone quieter now. Tired, but not conciliatory. “We’re over. Finished. It was a laugh for a while. A few great times even. Now it’s done.”

“It’s not over ... not 'til I say it is.”

“You sound like a spoiled kid. Grow up.” Simone grabbed her jacket and strode toward the door, but Jamie blocked her way.

“You’re not leaving until I get an answer. Why?”

“You want to know why? Okay. Here the story. You were cute, but not cute enough. Is that reason enough? You were charming, but it wore so thin I could see right through you. Is that enough? No? How 'bout you work all the time! You’re not fun anymore ... and haven’t been for a long time. Is that enough? Plenty enough for me, anyway.”

“You’re just a fucking tramp!”           

“And what are you? You think that cop uniform makes you some big shot? You’re not. You’re nobody! A big mouth with pocket change.”

“Slut!”

“Loser! Oh ... and here’s another reason! I’m pregnant ... and before that idea starts rollin’ around your empty head, it’s not yours.”

The muscles in MacFarlane’s jaw flexed.

“How long?”

“Three months or so.”

“You’ve been bangin’ him ... and me ... for the last three months.

Who is he?”

Simone laughed.

“Oh, it’s been a lot longer than that. And you don’t need to know. It’s none of your business.”

“Who is he?” he shouted. “Do I know him?” He grabbed Simone and shook her hard until her head snapped back and forth like a broken toy and her face blanched. “Who is he? Who is he?”

She struggled in his grip like a frightened dog, squirmed and writhed. Her strength and tenacity surprised him. His hands slipped as the point of her shoe caught him sharply on the shin. Simone broke away. Her right hand swiped painfully across his eye. As she took a step back, his one hand rose to his eye, and his other dropped onto the top of the desk. It fell on a heavy metal three-hole punch. With an emerging hatred, he swung the club-like machine above his head and struck, down and diagonally, across her skull. The bone sounded with a sharp crack, and Simone fell to the floor.

She remained motionless but for her eyes, which were closing slowly, like those of a cat drifting into sleep.

Return to Summary