Plausible Deniability

By Richard L. Matta


I’m ocean fishing for striped bass (“Stripers”) … deliberately within cell phone range of home, where they’ll be another battle on her birthday. Conscience restrained me before, but sometimes events push you beyond your tipping point—tear away decency, set actions in motion which can’t be undone, exposing you to new risks.

This reminds me how close I’ve come to death—fishing alone, slick bloody boat deck, shockingly cold water. It just takes a lapse in concentration while leaning over the gunnel as you gaffe or net a fish. I leave big fish to professionals … too much risk. I checked our life insurance policy recently—it seemed like a good idea. I’ve given all this a lot of thought and covered my tracks. I have what’s called ‘plausible deniability.’

She deserves it you know. Did I ever ask for scantily clad women to jump out of a birthday cake and dance for me? No, I’d consider that crass, demeaning to her. I tried to provide better gifts than she could have imagined. She’d smile then sneer and snarl. She wanted me to show love and trust her way. When she brought it up again last week, I decided she’d pushed me too far for the last time.

Short time ago—just before the call home and texts with real-time pictures—the fishing reels were screaming. During the fish fight I didn’t think about anything else … what a great distraction. But afterward I was half tempted to try to stop what was about to begin … tell her to visit a friend, but that would be like calling back an explosion that’s about to precipitate an avalanche. Better just to stay far from the scene and make sure there’s no residue on your hands.

Life will be different when I get back, but there’s no linking it to me. Hopefully stupidity will play a part … it’s always the stupid lucky who get away with it, right? Anyway, I discovered cryptocurrency bitcoin is a wonderful thing to avoid tracing what is spent where (especially when you have cash which no one knows about) and throw-away phones come in handy, too. Now I just need to deal with the aftermath, the questions I might be asked.

It’s nearly four hours later and I’m heading home. I’m not sure exactly what I’ll find there. The people I hired: big powerful-looking types who wear disguises, professionals who use their well-trained muscle to generate screams or create a shock effect. I’m sure they permanently resolved the problem and left no evidence behind.

As I open the front door, I hear loud noises inside, then it’s dead quiet. In the family room I find her girlfriends are blushing and silent. She appears—I smile and hug her, tell her happy birthday, adding it was a good day of fishing, and I have Stripper fillets for her girlfriends.

So much for plausible deniability.


(Bio: Richard L Matta grew up in New York’s Hudson Valley and now lives in San Diego. He practiced forensic science, is a recreational sailor and fisherman, and mostly chauffeurs his golden-doodle dog around town. His work appears in New Verse News, Healing Muse, The Haven, Dewdrop, and several anthologies.)

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