Milton

John Greco
4 min readAug 14, 2023
Photo by Flemming Fuchs on Unsplash

The thinnest wire Milton Krane could find now stretched tightly across the top step of the staircase. Now all he had to do was wait. Beatrice was still in bed snoring up a storm as she always did. Milton was an early riser, up at five-thirty every morning whether or not it was a workday. Beatrice never rose before seven-thirty or eight. By that time, Milton had already gone for his morning run, showered, and had the coffee brewing. God forbid the coffee was not hot and steamy when Bea awoke.

He always thought of her as Bea, and when referring to her to other people called her that. She hated the abbreviated version of her name. When they first began dating, he once called her Bea, and she scolded him. “Never call me that! I’m not an insect!”

You’re worse than an insect he always said to himself. You’re pure venom. How he survived twenty-seven years married to this woman still amazes him.

As he sat at the kitchen table sipping his coffee and reading the morning paper, he wondered why it took him so long to realize that their marriage was a mistake. A big mistake, and he had to do something.

Of course, it had to look like an accident. After all, he didn’t want to spend the rest of his pathetic life in jail. Then again, prison life seemed like a good alternative to remaining married to Beatrice for another twenty years, he joked.

Milton checked the kitchen clock. It read seven twenty-five. She’ll be up and whining shortly, but not for long he smiled to himself. He was pouring himself a third cup of coffee when he heard her at the top of the stairs. “Is the coffee on?” she called out in a vocal tone that reminded him of self-anointed Bad Ass, Sargent Joshua Brady, his Drill Sargent from many years ago. He hated the bastard… almost as much as he hated Beatrice.

“Yes, dear,” he replied with sarcasm. “Hot and ready, like I am!”

“Idiot!” she responded.

And then suddenly Milton heard her scream as she tumbled down the stairs.

Milton took his time getting up from the kitchen table. With his coffee cup in hand, he walked into the hall. There he saw Beatrice lying at the bottom of the steps, in an unnaturally twisted position. Her eyes frozen open and staring directly at him.

He took another sip of coffee and then called 911.

Beatrice’s death was ruled an accident.

The funeral was a few days later. Beatrice’s younger sister and only living relative Blanche cried throughout. At forty-six years of age, Blanche still looked fantastic. Milton always wondered how it could be Beatrice and Blanche came from the same gene pool. Blanche was beautiful, smart, and had a pleasant personality. Beatrice’s looks went from bad to worse and had the personality of a barracuda.

Harry Shelton, Blanche’s husband, was a lucky man, Milton thought.

“You always wanted to get into her pants, Milt, didn’t you?”

Milton turned around quickly. No one was there. There couldn’t be. She is dead.

“You always wished you married Blanche instead, right? So much prettier than me, huh? Everyone always said she was so pretty and then they looked at me and shake their heads. Tell me, when you masturbated in the bathroom, see I knew you were doing it, did you close your eyes and visualize Blanche instead of me? I bet you did!”

“Shut up!” Milton said loud enough for the few folks who showed up at the ceremony to turn and look at him quizzically.

Milton bowed his head and faked wiping a tear or two. It wasn’t easy when you’re smiling inside knowing that you are finally free.

“I knew it was Blanche, Miltie. I’m right, ain’t I? Always am or should I say was? Fantasies Miltie, that’s as close as you will ever get.”

“You’re dead! So I’m not worried about you anymore. You’re out of my life for good,” he mumbled under his breath, hoping no one would hear.

“Are you doing okay, Milton?”

Milton jumped.

It was Blanche.

“Yes, I’m fine. It’s just this… all so sudden,” he mumbled.

“I know how you feel. I cannot believe it myself,” Blanche replied. She put her arms around him, and they hugged. He smelled her perfume. “I’m going to miss her, too. Beatrice could sometimes be difficult, but she had a big heart. When we were young, she got me through some rough times after our mother died.”

Milton said nothing.

Blanche smiled, patted his hand, and walked back to join her husband.

“What a bitch!” Beatrice said. “I took care of her after our Mom died and she has the nerve to call me difficult! She is the one who was always difficult with her crying and whining. Our mother was a pain in the rear! You never met her, and you were lucky about that. God, what a monster.”

That explains a lot, Milton thought.

“Let me tell you something, Miltie. Don’t! And I mean don’t get involved with Blanche. Keep her in your masturbatory dreams if you must, but don’t screw up her life. Actually, I don’t have to worry. What would she want with a weasel like you? Right?”

Beatrice let out a deep-throated evil laugh that Milton never heard before.

Even in death, she is haunting me, he thought.

“Damn right I am!”

“But you’re dead! I watched you tumble down the stairs. Your body lying there in an unnatural position. You’re dead. Just leave me alone!”

“Never!”

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John Greco

Author of various short story collections including, "Brooklyn Tales," "Harbor House," "Dark Secrets," and "The Late Show."