And Then Silence...

Updated on January 27, 2017

The banging on the door continued for several minutes as Detective Peter O'Brien stepped closer to the door, listening for movement inside. From the upstairs apartment he heard a shuffling sound, so he continued rapping at the door with more intensity.

“Damn Pete, you're gonna break the door down,” said a female uniform as she leaned against the side wall with her weapon drawn.

“Put that thing away,” he barked. “That's how accidental shootings happen!”

“We are in the projects,” she half whispered.

“Put the gun away now!” he ordered.

O'Brien watched someone pull out the box fan from the window in that very same apartment upstairs and an old black man stuck his head and shoulders out.

“Pete is that you?” asked the old man.

“Mr. Washington?”

“Call me Willie.”

“Willie we got a domestic call from someone in your building.”

The old man grimaced.

“Did you hear anything?”

William Washington swallowed hard. He moved his head into the apartment just a bit, but still had enough to keep the conversation with O'Brien going. He snapped his fingers as if trying to recall something.

“Yeah, I heard something.”

“What did you hear, Willie.”

“Wanda, remember her?”

O'Brien nodded.

“She use to make peanut butter sandwiches for you guys when you were kids,” he said smiling.

“I remember Willie,” said O'Brien. “Choke sandwiches.”

He smiled and O'Brien smiled back.

“Wanda was suffering from dementia for some time now,” he said with a look of distance in his eyes.

“I'm sorry Willie.”

“Sometimes she comes back and recognizes me,” he said somberly. “I treasure those visits.”

O'Brien nodded.

“She came back tonight for a short visit,” he continued. “She tells me every time she comes back that her time is up and if I love her I would end her suffering. She really wanted me to take her life.”

A Look of horror swept over the detective's face, and he dropped his gaze to the porch. For a moment he felt frozen, unable to speak, then he shuffled his right foot as he looked up at Mr. Washington.

“What did you do?”

First, he was obviously frightened about the next words that were going to come from his mouth. Secondly, he had to tell someone.

“I loved her so much,” he said softly. “I had to prove it.”

O'Brien watched William Washington with eyes wide and felt uneasy for several reasons including the fact that he couldn't picture Willie killing his dear wife. Also he noticed that Willie considered himself the victim and not the murderer, this was a bit surprising.

“Is she upstairs with you?” O'Brien asked.

“Yes,” he replied slowly. “It was very difficult for me to do it. She told me she loved me in her last breath. I cried like a baby for an hour. I cried until my eyes went dry. I loved that woman. We were partners in crime and in time.”

“Willie, you're gonna have to let us in.”

“I put on her favorite black cotton sweater, Pete,” he continued. “I didn't put no bra on because I can't get those things in them. Kind of clumsy, and I hope she didn't mind. I want her to be remembered as the prettiest girl in the cemetery.”

“Willie, come open the door, now.”

“Okay, Pete,” he replied as he tucked his head back into the apartment and closed the window.

O'Brien waited for a few minutes and then he kicked in the front door. Seconds later there was a gunshot and then silence. The detective and the female uniform quickly ran to Washington's apartment and kicked in his door too.

Washington was still alive but dying quickly from a gunshot to the head. O'Brien found him on the bed next to his wife holding her hand. The bed, pillows and the headboard was covered in blood, and Washington was whimpering as his head rocked up and down.

The female uniformed walked over to the window and opened it up so the spirits could be free. O'Brien just stood still trying to make sense of the horrific scene that just unfolded right before his eyes.

© 2016 Frank Atanacio


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    • Frank Atanacio profile imageAUTHOR

      Frank Atanacio 

      2 years ago from Shelton

      Thank you so much John. Jack and Nikki for checking out this old flash fiction.. bless you guys

    • nikkikhan10 profile image

      Nikki Khan 

      2 years ago from London

      Love is mysterious and amazing.Just loved the dialogues and scene was woven perfectly.Awesome writing Frank.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      I never liked working suicide cases. Good story. Took me right in.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Tragic death and suicide. Very sad.

    • Frank Atanacio profile imageAUTHOR

      Frank Atanacio 

      4 years ago from Shelton

      thank you so much for reading Peggy Woods :)

    • profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      4 years ago

      Such a sad story and a very believable one. Brings up all kinds of ethical questions but one's heart has to go to people struggling with issues like this. Nicely done!

    • Frank Atanacio profile imageAUTHOR

      Frank Atanacio 

      4 years ago from Shelton

      thank you so much Deb Hirt for visiting bless you

    • profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      4 years ago

      That was powerful, but they are still together, probably making cookies for the other kids in another dimension.

    • Frank Atanacio profile imageAUTHOR

      Frank Atanacio 

      4 years ago from Shelton

      thank you so much mckbirdbks and pstraubie48 for checking out my silence

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      4 years ago from North Central Florida

      O Frank...sad but hard it is for those who have loved each other for so long to be on the planet when one has gone (albeit if by the hand of one of them).

      Your writing always keeps me reading from beginning to end. I am so sorry I am not around so much is going on with my family that I just do not take the time to come here. I am always glad that I do.

      Just know Angels are headed your way ps

    • mckbirdbks profile image


      4 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Frank. Your story telling becomes tighter and tighter. You paint the scenes so well, we are there within the story.

    • Frank Atanacio profile imageAUTHOR

      Frank Atanacio 

      4 years ago from Shelton

      thank you so much Perspycacious, Cam, Audrey, MsDora, Genna East, and Missy.. thanks for stopping by my silence...:)

    • Missy Smith profile image

      Missy Smith 

      4 years ago from Florida

      So sad. I mean, what else is there to say. Great story! :)

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      What a pleasure to see my favorite fiction writers published on LetterPile. You, Mike (Mckbrdbks), Bill Holland, Ruby (AlwaysExploring), and more. And what a terrific, poignant story, Frank. You know who to pull is into the scene every time.

      I agree with Ruby in that I couldn't dislike Willie. Legal euthanasia almost passed in Massachusetts a few years back for terminally ill patients; it was defeated by a thin margin of 2.5%. When my time comes, I only hope I can leave this world with dignity, without causing long, drawn-out pain to my family and loved ones.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      4 years ago from The Caribbean

      Love does do crazy things. It happens and no one to tell the story in a more acceptable way than you, Frank.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      4 years ago from California

      This feels both intense and sad--really nice writing Frank!

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 

      4 years ago from Traverse City, MI

      Frank, you fearlessly carried this one through to the hard ending. It's difficult to do sometimes. "So the spirits could be free." I'm glad you included that touch of sensitivity at the end of this well told, sad story.

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 

      4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      Great story, Frank, and it says so much about the agony of dementia and Alzheimer's disease, the futile feelings of helplessness, and the parameters of assisted suicide. I wish I had written this as well as you did.

    • Frank Atanacio profile imageAUTHOR

      Frank Atanacio 

      4 years ago from Shelton

      thanks a lot billybuc for the compliment :)

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      In many ways, our writing is similar....when you write about the underbelly of society, your writing is powerful, which is no easy trick in a flash fiction...great job, buddy!

    • Frank Atanacio profile imageAUTHOR

      Frank Atanacio 

      4 years ago from Shelton

      thank you Flourish Anyway...:)

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      Startling and so sad. Mr. Kevorkian of sorts only not as peaceable.

    • Frank Atanacio profile imageAUTHOR

      Frank Atanacio 

      4 years ago from Shelton

      Hey thanks so much fpherj48, good to see you again..:) Frank

    • fpherj48 profile image


      4 years ago from Carson City

      Frank....You never disappoint. This short packs a wallop. Old Willie did what he thought he needed to as though fulfilling his wife's last request was simply meant to be. Dementia was the real demon here and a love in desperation took Willie & Wanda to their eternal home. You've left your readers shaken Frank, but with a gentle acceptance of what had to be..........Bravo!

    • Frank Atanacio profile imageAUTHOR

      Frank Atanacio 

      4 years ago from Shelton

      Thank you guys so much for reading my short.. Manatita, Dana Tate, Cyndi10, btrbell, Faith Reaper, Jodah.. bless all you guys :)

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Sad but beautiful, Frank. If that time ever comes..who knows what my wife and I would do...we have often said we want to go together. Poor Willie.

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 

      4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Wow! Well done! So very sad yet intriguing

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 

      4 years ago from southern USA

      Ah, Frank,

      This one really tore my heart out for Willie and his one true love in life ...Guess death did them part one way or another.

      Each skillfully and creatively crafted line make this flash fiction truly a great read. You are a Master of the flash.

      I will give you a Bravo!

      Peace and blessings

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 

      4 years ago from Georgia

      You expertly capture the feelings of sadness. The story is so touching that we feel the characters' pain and bewilderment that this is the way life ends for some. Life can be so cruel when we enter those last years. Take care. Cyndi

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 

      4 years ago from LOS ANGELES

      Poor Willie. I felt sad for him. I wonder why she wanted him to do it and not do it herself was it the dementia? Oh well the plot made for a good story.

    • manatita44 profile image


      4 years ago from london

      Sad, poignant, but it happens, as you so rightly show. Sometimes in real life when two are so close, they don't outlive each other too long. A little different this one. Great!

    • Frank Atanacio profile imageAUTHOR

      Frank Atanacio 

      4 years ago from Shelton

      thank you so much Pegcole, Savvydating.. Jive Clive.. Eric and Venkatchari oh and you to Shyron for stopping by and visiting bless you all :)

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      4 years ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Touching and terrifying at the same time, Frank. I imagine this went on throughout the ages in old times. Lord have mercy.

    • savvydating profile image


      4 years ago

      I hope to God nobody I know ever asks me that question. I don't think I would do it, but I guess we never know unless we're put in that situation. Such a sad story. Beautifully done, Frank. I am sorry they both chose to go in this violent manner. There was no doubt, though, that Willie loved his wife.

    • clivewilliams profile image

      Clive Williams 

      4 years ago from Jamaica

      Nice Frank, these are great movie shorts.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Wow you covered so much ground in so little words. Several concepts I will be thinking of throughout some time. Thanks.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      4 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Exciting and interesting story.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 

      4 years ago from Texas

      Oh Frank, how sad it is to love so much that you feel compelled to do as their loved one asks, even though they know that the person is in distress. I could not do this, poor Willie was put into a difficult situation.

      Like Ruby, our gem of a friend says, some people would use euthanasia illegally.

      Blessings my friend.

    • Frank Atanacio profile imageAUTHOR

      Frank Atanacio 

      4 years ago from Shelton

      hey thanks so much always exploring :)

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Wow Frank, what a sad scene. Somehow I couldn't dislike Willie, he loved his wife. When are we going to realize that euthanasia is legal in most civilized countries. We put our pets to sleep when they are in pain and no hope for survival, yet we let our loved one's suffer. I loved your story. PS. I know some people would use euthanasia illegally, so who knows?


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