Mercury Poisoning: a game of chess


Not long ago, Darlene Berenson and Randal Sizemore were married to each other.  Darlene’s family had all the money and Randal didn’t have any family to speak of, except his half-brother, George, who was paying through the nose for his wife’s adult kids’ mortgages and car payments and barely made it from paycheck to paycheck himself .  When Darlene filed for divorce, Randal thought he would get half of everything and possibly alimony.  But her attorney father was very clever and Randal got nothing, except Darlene’s new 1957 Mercury Montclair Convertible, which he had been in love with from the day Darlene came home with her.  It was a parting gift from her. Unfortunately, he didn’t have a anything for Darlene–at least, not yet.

Darlene was pregnant and didn’t want Randal in her life or her child’s. Once the divorce was final, Darlene waited 60 days before telling Randal that she was pregnant.  In the meantime she started seeing other men, in particular, a nice Jewish, gay man, who was her best friend and neighbor in college.  He agreed to stand in as the father so Randal wouldn’t think it was his.  Randal didn’t buy any of it. He knew her gay friend, Lou, and no matter how attractive Darlene was, Lou would have a difficult time being straight even for a minute. Which meant that Randal was a father. Now, all he had to do was convince Darlene to let him be the responsible and loving father that his father never was.

Trying to get visitation rights, or the more desired, partial custody of his kid, was taking its toll on Randal.  Over the past several weeks, Randal’s attorney filed so many motions, Randal was suffering from motion sickness (a little lawyer humor from his kooky lawyer).  He was tired of courts and judges; attorneys and paperwork.  Meanwhile, a virtual wall was erected around Darlene and he wasn’t able to see her or even talk with her on the phone, which he was sure was her father’s doing.  So, he decided to visit Darlene’s attorney and best friend, Kate Voltone.  At first, Kate would not see him, but after begging and threatening suicide, she finally gave in.  Their meeting was anything but friendly, even after all the times she came to the house.  Kate loved his cooking and would call him every week to find out the week’s menu.  Darlene was pretty much the same way.  She had simple tastes, really, for a girl growing up eating caviar–the most expensive kind.  She liked his Del Monaco steaks on the grill, a loaded, baked potato and a salad. Randal actually missed cooking for the girls.

The meeting took place in an Indian restaurant in Little Havana, Miami.  Kate didn’t want to lose her position at the law firm for talking with the enemy.  In 1957 it wasn’t easy for a woman to make it to the big leagues. The prestigious firm Kate worked for belonged to Darlene’s father.  So, when Randal asked to meet with Darlene, Kate was very reluctant to set up a meeting.  Randal reminded her of all the meals he cooked for her and the fun times when they all got together.  Often, when Darlene and Kate went out together they would take along Randal, calling him “girlfriend” or “third wheel”.   Last Halloween, they dressed Randal as a woman and Darlene and Kate dressed as men.  Kate chuckled about that and finally agreed to the meeting.  She was pretty sure Darlene would agree.

After the meeting with Kate, Randal and his beloved Mercury went for a ride outside the city.  It was a warm, sunny day in Miami, not too humid.   He had the convertible top down and Elvis playing on the radio.   He drove up the coast with no particular destination in mind.  Randal was just plain happy that he would get to see Darlene.  He could see his plan beginning to take shape. He would continue the “nice guy” routine and get Darlene to allow him visitation with the kid. He would be a great father and at the same time he would work his way back into Darlene’s life.  Once all the chess pieces were in place, he’d  sacrifice his queen, get custody of the kid and become the trustee of the kid’s money.  Or, he’d let Darlene’s father buy him off and give the kid to his rich grandfather.  There were a lot of chess pieces to move around and it would take time.  He just had to be patient.  The payoff could be millions.  Yes, it was a beautiful day, driving his yellow, Mercury convertible.  That gave Randal a great idea.  He did it once before long ago. Now, if he could remember the formula it would be an undetectable murder.  He would spread the poison on the leather covering of the Mercury’s steering wheel, and somehow get Darlene in the driver’s seat.  He chuckled to himself–Mercury poisoning–how cool is that?

What Randal didn’t know was that someone else was playing a game of chess and Randal was  a mere pawn.
(to be continued…)Image


Inspiration Monday–Window Lizards
Prompt:  Mercury Poisoning
Photo:   1957 Mercury Montclair Convertible, yellow
Word Count:  845
Many thanks to Stephanie Orges at Be Kind Rewrite for hosting Inspiration Monday





When I was a kid I wanted to be an "atomic" scientist. Not anything my mother expected of me. Well, I became a scientist, just not an atomic one.

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Posted in 1950's, anthropology, fiction, Florida, inspiration monday, Mercury, murder, nostalgia, poison
13 comments on “Mercury Poisoning: a game of chess
  1. Doobster418 says:

    Ah, a continuing tale of suspense and intrigue. Me thinks Randal is toast.

    • Lucy says:

      Really? The greedy murderous worm is toast? Then, who is playing the other game of chess? Mind you, I haven’t determined that yet. So give it your best shot. Which I really don’t need to say because you always give your best. Lucy of the Doobster punctuation and grammar fan club.

  2. Doobster418 says:

    Hmm. Well Darlene or her father are the most obvious chess players. But it could be the nice, Jewish, gay man (although I’m not sure what his motive would be). Or perhaps Kate has some sort of vendetta against Randal. Maybe his cooking gave her food poisoning once. I’m sure you’ll come up with something good.

  3. At first I was all, oh, what a nice guy. Wants to be involved in his kid’s life, likes cooking for the girls…then, suddenly, his true motives revealed!

    An interesting and fun character study.

  4. moi says:

    I was feeling sorry for Randall until the end… nice twist.

    • Lucy says:

      So was I. That’s when I knew I had to make him bad Let’s see how well he plays chess.

      What did you think of my story: A Fitting Curse? The night walkers came from Estonian folklore–I just embellished a bit.


      • moi says:

        I really liked it, It reminded me of one of those films where there are multiple different threads that all come together at the end, very good.

  5. Kate Loveton says:

    Ah, geez, just when I was wondering what was going to happen next, you hit me with the ‘to be continued’ teaser! Bad Lucy! Randal is such a sleaze ball. I hope Kate (nice name) is the one who ends up moving chess pieces around. After all, she is a lawyer… Great use of the prompt; I’ll look forward to seeing what you do with this next prompt!

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