A 250-words story written in 2004.
The first cracker proved to be a damp squib. The only noise it made
was of paper tearing.
“Bad luck, what?”, chuckled Colonel Pickering. Everybody, gathered
round the table for the Christmas dinner, joined in the merriment with
double entendres such as ‘firing blanks’. These were aimed at the
Colonel who had acquired a reputation as a lady-killer. His good looks
had melted many a female heart; a fact of which his wife Gwendoline,
sitting on his right, was painfully aware but powerless to do
He turned his attention to the woman on his left and with a mischievous
smile, asked: “Shall we have a go?”. She was obviously the intended
target of his next seduction. The acquiescent quarry took hold of the
cracker which was being proffered and gave a mighty heave. The report
that followed was much louder than expected. Colonel Pickering went
rigid as if he had been seized by a fit; he clutched his right leg and
at the same time slumped forward onto the table. While people were
running round the room, inanely asking: “Is there a doctor in the
house?”, somebody had the presence of mind to ring ‘999’. Gwendoline
seemed in shock. Her hands were nervously clasping a small pistol
which, unseen by the others, she quickly transferred to her handbag.
With any luck, she thought, by the time the corpse was examined, the
poisoned pellet which she had fired into his thigh would have dissolved
without leaving any trace.
© Luigi Pagano (2004)