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Murder in the Form of a Question
About the Author: In 1995, one of Jacqueline Freimor's short stories won first prize in the unpublished writers category in MWA’s 50th Anniversary Short Story Competition and was subsequently published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. Since then, Jacqueline has had stories published in such venues as Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Vautrin, Black Cat Weekly, Rock and a Hard Place Magazine, and Mystery Magazine, among others, as well as in the e-zine Blue Murder and at

“What is the North Sea?” the chick in the middle said.

“Correct!” said whatshisname, the host of Jeopardy!

Rick shifted in his recliner, shoved a fistful of chips in his mouth, and thought, What a geek.

“I’ll take ‘Bodies of Water’ for four hundred,” the chick said. The camera zoomed in on her face and Rick’s finger stopped on its way to the remote’s Netflix button. Something about her seemed familiar. Rick squinted at the TV.

“The world’s third largest ocean, it includes the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf,” the host said. “Elizabeth.”

“What is the Indian Ocean?”


Rick frowned. Definitely something familiar about her. Where had they met? A bar? The annual insurance conference? He shook his head. He didn’t remember any pickup named Elizabeth. She wasn’t bad-looking though. If you liked ’em pale.

“And we’re back,” the host said. “Let’s meet our players. Our first challenger is a kindergarten teacher from Great Neck, New York, Elizabeth Gold. It says here …”

Oh, right, Rick thought—Lizzie Gold from Great Neck South. She’d been one of the nerds in high school. Quiet. Serious. He’d never spoken to her, but he’d seen her in the halls. Rick squinted at the screen again. She hadn’t changed much in the past fifteen years.

He’d say one thing for her; she was a font of useless knowledge. “What is pi?” Lizzie said, and “What is a sonnet?” and “Who is Herbert Hoover?” She answered question after question, buzzing in quicker than the other two contestants and getting the answer right every time.

By the end of the show, Lizzie had won $57,001, and Rick knew he wanted to meet this woman.

By the end of the week, Lizzie had won $267,355, and Rick knew he wanted to marry this woman.

By the time Lizzie finally lost a game, her winnings totaled more than nine hundred grand, and Rick knew what else he wanted to do.

He wanted to murder this woman.

Meeting Lizzie was easier than Rick had imagined. A little online digging unearthed the name and address of the school where she taught, so armed with a story about visiting his parents, he staked out the building and waited for her to appear. He’d worn the blue polo shirt Angela said set off his tan and brought out the color of his eyes; he looked good.

“Wait a minute—aren’t you Lizzie Gold, from South?” he said, feigning surprise at “accidentally” bumping into her on the sidewalk. Lizzie was flattered that star quarterback and team captain Rick Wellish remembered her; it took only five minutes to get her to agree to go out with him. It took only eight weeks to get her to agree to marry him.

Angela hadn’t liked it.

“Why do you have to marry her?” she’d said, pouting in the way that had always won arguments for her before. “How can you even think about it, when you love me?”

“Sweetie. I have to marry her if I want to get my hands on the money. After she’s dead, I’ll be rich, and we’ll get married like we planned. Just be patient, baby.”

In the end, Angela had given in. It was weird though: she hadn’t objected to him killing Lizzie, just to him marrying her first. Women, he’d thought. Go figure.

As soon as Rick and Lizzie returned from their honeymoon in Hawaii, Angela started to pester Rick about getting rid of Lizzie.

Rick traced a scuff on Angela’s kitchen table with his finger. “I don’t know when. I mean, not yet, right? It’ll look suspicious if she dies so soon after the wedding.”

Angela flared her nostrils. “Well, then, how are you going to do it?”

Rick shrugged. “I don’t know. Working on it.”

“I got you some stuff from the store.” Angela handed him a bottle marked danger in red type. “All the jewelers use this to clean the stones. It’s poison.” She narrowed her eyes. “I mean, if you’re serious about killing her.”

Rick took the bottle. “I said I was, didn’t I?”

This story appears in our MAR 2023 Issue
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