BREATHLESS • by Glenn Mori

“If I had thought of, if I’d felt any reason at all to stop, I would have. You know I would have stopped. Well, maybe you don’t know me that well. I mean, we’ve only met that one other time, at Julie’s birthday party, right? But you know me a bit, and you know Julie, and any one that is a friend of hers has to be a certain type of person, and that person definitely would have stopped. But I didn’t feel a thing, or rather, my car didn’t feel a thing. No bump, no vibration, nothing.

“You can imagine my surprise when the police showed up at my door. They knocked just as I was checking my lipstick, putting on my shearling jacket, getting ready to leave for work. Scared the living daylights out of me. I mean, you don’t expect someone at that time of the day, right? I had an important meeting with the Muscone Foundation and my head was tied up in figures and presentation approaches because the Foundation, you know, is very old fashioned and proper, so it’s necessary to take their old world perspectives into consideration. No PowerPoint here. Just handshakes and under the table gifts of cigars and Pieropan Soave Classico La Rocca, which I happen to know they’re partial to. And lots of cleavage, which is why I was bringing my intern Kati. With just an ‘i’. Supposedly to give her training, but the more window dressing the better.

“So the doorbell rings and I literally jump out of my skin! Well, not really, obviously, but, what’s the opposite? Metaphorically. I did drop my coffee. There’s a spot on my carpet to prove it. I put my foot on that spot when I opened the door so no one would see anything. If you come over one day, promise you won’t look. Anyway, now I’m jittery from the coffee, jittery because I dropped my coffee, jittery because I was interrupted from thinking about the presentation, and jittery because my adrenaline has been spiked by shock of the doorbell when I’m standing right at the door.

“So anyhow, I open it, and there’s one hot cop; tall, dark wavy hair with snow glistening in it, filling out his suit nicely. He’s smiling a lopsided smile and you know what that means; he’s checking me out and he’s liking what he’s seeing. I’m wearing my Eileen Fisher layering sweater for the presentation; discreet, but also very sheer.

“Unfortunately he’s got a butch partner. Can I say ‘butch’? Is that a no-no? I’m not gay so I’m not supposed to say things like that. At least that’s what Kati says. Anyway, Officer Hunky has this short haired, male-looking partner. I don’t look at her much, but he’s very easy on the eyes, let me tell you. His partner gets aggressive. Jealous, maybe. She might have been more interested in me than he was, but hey, I’m just not wired that way. I can’t help it!

“Anyhow, they start asking these questions. Are you the owner of a Honda? Were you driving it Wednesday at 4:30? Is there anyone else who drives your car? I tell them I’m the only owner of a Honda who’s not Chinese that I know of. That seems to annoy them, or at least her. Maybe because she’s black, but I was only trying to help. And it’s true! The only reason I have the Honda is because I got it in the divorce settlement. God knows why that bozo bought it, but it’s all I could get out of him. I had the seats steam cleaned before I touched it. I don’t want to know what or who he’d done in there.

“My Beemer gave out last month so I had no choice but to start driving the Honda. Max, Julie’s friend Max — I don’t know if you know him, I didn’t see him there tonight, I guess because it was a Christmas party — he said he’d get me a deal on a new Beemer but he and I haven’t been able to connect yet. Not that I’d want to mind you; Jewish guys aren’t my type. But anyway, for now I’m driving the Honda.

“Anyway, I tell the cops I’ve got to get going, that I’ve got an important meeting to go to and it’s starting to snow again. That’s when she says I’m not going anywhere, that I’m not driving anymore because they think I’m the driver of a hit and run. I say hit and run what? She says hit and run on a pedestrian; someone knocked down a pedestrian and drove off. I said I don’t remember that, and they ask what do I remember. I say all I know is I was trying to get to a meeting across town but I didn’t know the cross street. So was I in that area, she says, and I say yes, of course. And do I remember seeing someone walking on the street to avoid a snowbank? I say no. What do you remember about driving down Dolphin Street he asks. I say not much of anything. I was on the phone the entire time talking to Kati back at the office. She was trying to help me find my meeting.

“Apparently someone says they saw the whole thing and followed me, got my license plate and reported it. I think it’s all BS, that my ex has put someone up to this because I don’t remember a thing. Oh, there’s my place, right on the corner. You can pull into the entrance for the underground parking; at least they’ve finally cleared the snow from the driveway. Thank you so much for giving me a ride home! It was lovely to see you again, and I hope you have a Merry Christmas!”


Fiction is Glenn Mori’s most recent area of study. The first discipline was music, where he completed a masters degree in music composition, followed by accounting, more practice with jazz music, and then writing about online poker, where he remains winning micro stakes player. His ruminations about fiction can be found at www.intermittentrain.com.


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 average 3.6 stars • 33 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction

  • Oonah V Joslin

    Breathless — yes from all that talking on the phone! Off with her airhead! Great tone on this story. Very compelling.

  • Lisa Walpole Finch

    I agree with Oonah! Your m.c. is breathless (and thoughtless). You’ve captured her senselessness perfectly. A really good read.

  • Perfect slow boiler exposure of this awful person going full-tilt into her prejudicial and self absorbed monologue; talking ‘at’ someone who may as well not exist because in her world that person is just a convenience. Delightfully vile!

  • Sorry Suzanne, Lisa and Oonah, and Glenn – this did nothing for me.

  • Sarah Crysl Akhtar

    Well, you’ve completely ruined my day, because I’m sure the anagram of “Muscone” is staring me in the face and I just can’t see it…the straight meaning doesn’t seem to hold any irony so I’m convinced it’s a joke I don’t get…

    I didn’t find it a convincing female voice, and I can’t decide on the sex of the person giving her the ride home from the party. I think the admission of sight-pimping Kati would be to another woman, as would the underscoring of expensive clothing, and the descriptions of the cops is girlfriend talk. On the other hand, her tone is the sort of trying-to-be-kittenish-and-failing you’d use if you’re this type–who flirts with anything with a male appendage. And she’d get a guy to take her home from the party.

    This is a form I like, but a breathless ride has to end in a worthwhile destination. I’m with Jeff. No vote from me.

    • It’s very minor-league psychopathic – glib, superficial, manipulative. If you haven’t met one of these, consider yourself very lucky!

      • Sarah Crysl Akhtar

        Did I say that people like this don’t exist? No–just that I don’t think this was a convincing portrayal of one.

        • No you didn’t and you said you weren’t convinced, which is fair enough. I was though; the voice is very plausible to me and, I thought, well-drawn.

          • Sarah Crysl Akhtar

            Maybe this will help, going forward.
            It’s not criminal malfeasance to dislike what many, or most people like. It’s not an attack on their judgment.
            I dislike probably 70-80% of what’s published here. But that 20% is worth waiting for; I have no problem plowing through a month’s worth of stories to find that astonishing piece that flattens me with its beauty, or wit, or pathos.
            EDF is like the Three Bears’ House. Something for everyone. You just need the patience to wait for the stuff that suits your own taste. It’s a great thing to serve so many palates.

  • Paul A. Freeman

    I enjoyed the voice immensely. My only problems were with the first paragraph, especially the first sentence (it had me flummoxed because grammatically it felt a bit dodgy and it raised the long unanswered question of ‘stop’ what?) and midway through the last paragraph, with the jarring, ‘Oh, there’s my place.’ The one problem led to the other since it felt like the MC was addressing me, perhaps on the phone, for virtually the whole story, then I was pulled out of that scenario into another one.

    I hope that makes sense. Anyhow, as I said, the voice was excellent.

    • Glenn Mori

      It does make sense, and thanks, Paul. Writing single character dialogue requires even more distance from actual transcribed dialogue than normal prose as one needs to force in elements that could be offered by description (character description, actions, setting, and other techniques), and I think I missed one with the ‘stop’ that you point out.

  • Very entertaining, and a great voice – love the part where she goes for the classic hyperbole of ‘literally’ and then backtracks. This felt very realistic in a stream-of-narcissistic-consciousness way. I enjoyed it a great deal.

  • S Conroy

    On balance I really liked the voice and decided as the story progressed that she was addressing someone in the male ‘non-hottie but useful’ category. It reminded me of the voice in the fake silly-girly diaries in ‘Gone Girl’ and in parts also of the genuine psycho-voice. My problem was – perhaps because of Gone Girl associations – I expected that there was some kind of codified whodunnit in here and I kept trying to piece it together. Julie’s party, Christmas Party, 4.30 hit and run, Max…etc. I didn’t get anywhere with this and am still wondering if I’m literally metaphorically barking up the wrong tree.

    • Sarah Crysl Akhtar

      “No matter how self-obsessed she is, it’s hard to imagine her not feeling the impact of the shock.”

      I think there it’s plausible to say that she’s lying–even to herself. She’s not the type to stop and investigate…

      • S Conroy

        Okay… that could explain it. I was wondering there’s a degree of self-obsession that dampens all other sense perceptions, but simply lying to herself would certainly be in character and not such an obscure phenomena.

  • Michael Stang

    Senselessness (to quote Lisa) is a great read, and the genre (if I may) reminds me of countless classics. But this speed ride by Glenn Mori is heavy over the top. There are shades of brilliance and the ending is understandable, however, from start to finish I had nothing to expect something more.

  • MPmcgurty

    I have mixed reactions to this. On one hand, I think the voice is well-done, to the point I accepted small inconsistencies because it’s how peope talk. I had no trouble visualizing a woman. On the other hand, this was simply a monologue by a (psychopath?). Missing is some hint as to why she’s free if they have a witness to her crime. I did enjoy reading it.

    • MPmcgurty

      By the way, if this was written in response to EDF’s request for December material, my appreciation of it grows. It’s clever and funny, while somewhat chilling. Given more time, perhaps my problem with it would have been resolved. Regardless, it was a fun, and somewhat creepy (in a good way), read.

  • As others have said, I also thought the voice was done very well. The rest of this story struck me as a bit pointless. There’s no resolution (not that one is ever required), and I had more questions when I was finished. The last paragraph really threw me as well. I too assumed the MC was addressing the reader up until that point.

    Thanks for sharing.