Picture3Who was written as part of a contest, the finalists of which were published in an anthology which is available on Amazon.


By Laura Rittenhouse

Alone at her desk, Theresa scans the few emails in her inbox. There’s not much there, after all it is her first day on the job. Three emails from her boss, the founder of the company, with subject lines that make clear they contain the background information he promised her. She’s anxious to open them and get started on making a good impression but the last email catches her eye; it’s from someone or something called, “adonis@hotmail.com”. She groans and smiles at the same time – spam already. She opens it hoping for some levity to relieve those first-day jitters.

“I hate that we can’t meet or talk but I’m sure you’re right, email is safer. I know you can use your IT magic to wipe this email from all systems. I’m sending from a new account because my last one was hacked. I hate internet cafes. I wouldn’t write at all but I found out that she might taste it if you put it in the red wine. Please, if you can, mix the vial into a glass of champagne. The bubbles will disguise the bitterness. I know she loves champagne so it won’t be a problem if you can get a bottle in front of her. Her drinking is just one more thing I hate about her. The world (and my life) will be a better place without the witch.

I’m counting the days until we’ll be free of her and can start the life we deserve. I love you.”


Who in the world is Adonis? Who is “she”, the woman about to be handed a champagne flute containing a vial of what? Is this a joke?

Theresa raises her eyes and peers through the glass wall of her office hoping to catch some of her colleagues staring and laughing. Nothing but a row of oversized monitors attended by young supplicants meets her gaze.

So now what? Call the police? How ridiculous will she sound, a new hire overreacting to a hoax? Maybe she should call the IT department. Tricia, the manager there, wasn’t exactly friendly when she setup Theresa’s laptop but wouldn’t she want to know about this kind of spam?

If it is spam.

If she could be sure it wasn’t, she would definitely call the police.

Theresa looks at her email address: TAW@SUPERCO.COM. Could there be another TAW here? She pulls up a staff list. She’s one of five with a last name beginning with W. Three are men so she can rule them out. Or can she? Could Adonis be writing to a man? Why not? A gay man might want to get rid of a woman. His mother, for example, the only thing standing between him and a huge inheritance? A wife he married before coming out? No, she can’t rule anyone out.

None, besides her, has a first name beginning with T but one has a first name beginning with R. That’s a common typo. Could someone named Ronald Wallace be in on a conspiracy to murder? She’d have to try to meet him.

Wait, Patricia, the head of IT, goes by Tricia. It would be an easy mistake to use a T instead of a P for her address. . .

“Come on,” her new boss sticks his head around Theresa’s doorframe, “time to introduce you to the troops.”

After shaking the hands of twelve young, undoubtedly innocent men, Theresa’s introduced to Ron Wallace. He’s wearing a gray hoodie which might be the costume du jour of a murderer, but that impish grin and uncombed forelock couldn’t be.

In the boardroom, she tries to summon the courage to mention the email to her boss who is standing next to her with a bottle of designer beer in one hand and a piece of pizza in the other. She’s met all four W’s on her list but none seem like a murderer to her. Not that she thinks she’d know one if she shook his hand.

Theresa takes a glass of red wine when Tricia offers it. She swallows two large gulps, hoping to gain enough courage to talk to her boss about the email.

A strong bitter taste fills her mouth. Tricia’s smile floats before her eyes long after the rest of the room grows dark.