I'm experimenting with flash fiction, that is mysteries under five hundred words. I'm struggling to set the hook and land the story. So I've come to Working Stiffs and my dear friends for advice.
Here's a little something I call THE HOBBY. What do you think?
Mary Wilson stared through the peep hole in her front door at the clean cut young man standing on her porch. Against her better judgment, she opened the door. “May I help you?”
“Ma'am, sorry to disturb you. I'm selling magazine subscriptions to pay my way through community college? Would you be interested in supporting me?” The young man smiled, his short dull brown hair waving in the wind.
Mary smiled. “Of course, come in. May I get you a glass of iced tea? You must be parched.”
“That would be so nice.” He wiped his shoes on the welcome mat and enteredthe humble bungalow.
“Follow me in the kitchen. Sit here.” Mary pointed at the worn kitchen chair, the paint peeling from years of careful use. “Would you like an apple?” She took the butcher knife from the block, and made quick work of quartering the apple. She poured the glass of iced tea and sat the apple before the young man.
He drank greedily, his thirst obvious. He wiped the back of his hand across his moist lips. “Ma'am, do you know which magazine you would like?” He pushed the catalog toward her. “The ordering information is right there.” He pointed at the fine print on the back of the page.
“Do you have Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine? Or perhaps something with true crime?” Mary fingered the edge of the butcher knife, as her smile started to slip.
“No, but we have People Magazine, Time, and Newsweek. Would you like one of those?” His voice fluttered with a quiver.
Mary gripped the knife. “No, I would not. I. Have. One. Hobby.” She accentuated each word with a sinister pause. “What did you say your name was?”
“Um, I didn't.” He wiggled in his chair, his youthful swagger evaporating. “I'd better be going.” He snatched the catalog from the table, nearly tripping over the cat as he ran to the front door.
Mary fingered the blade and sighed. Oh well, it was for the best. She cleared the dirty glass from the table, placing it in the sink. As she gazed out the window at her collection of brightly painted wooden crosses, each with a single name painted in black.
She only had one hobby.