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Dan Speers

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Twice upon a Murder:



The (Practically) True Tale

of the Premature Confession

of Les Lejeune, Lately in Jail


By Dan Speers



Poetic Prose and Prosody

  When I first read about the news event that inspired this story, I immediately saw both the natural irony and the intrinsic humor. I knew it would make it a great short story.


  Of course, I had to change the locale to one with which I am more familiar, create motives and conflicts that might explain the event, and add depth to the characters to provide a logical or at least, plausible rationale for their actions.


  But, I also saw an underlying pathos that has colored the history of human affairs and inspired stories told as ballads, narrative poems, and the prose poems that have provided a rich store of tales, myths and even history.


  From the epic poem, Homer's Odyssey, to Chaucer's

Cahterbury Tales to Joyce's Finnegans Wake and even the literary ballads of Keats, Thomas and Kipling, prose poems have captured both the tales and the human rythms of emotion to express the feelings and dreams of the audience.


  So I chose to write this short story as a prose poem, adding the elements of style and structure, and a metrical scheme that reflected the naturals rythms of life--an exploitation of a stress prosody that creates its own background, a music that flows without being noticed like the background themes in a movie or the unheard melodies that soothe our moods and make more pleasant our shopping in a store.


  The stress, emphasis, alliteration and rhyming of this prose poem are all intended to add a sense of reader participation as the story paints a living portrait of a lackluster life trapped between hope and despair,  desparation and transformation.


  None of this is intended to force anyone to read this tale as poetry. Even

Chaucer expressed a prayer that none "thee mismetre for defaulte of tongue." My ear is mine alone and there are as many different ways to read a poem as there are interpretations of how to sing "The Star Spangled Banner."


  But should you find yourself falling into a rythmn or a kind of pattern that sings to your inner literary being, then rejoice. You have heard the pulse of a living heart--and it is likely your own.

There wasn’t a thing he could ever do right,                         

Nothing at all, according to his wife.                                    

He couldn’t hold a job to save his life                                   

And what jobs he got would start a fight.                             

“Les Lejeune, you bonehead, blockhead numb-nuts.            

“Born a loser, you addle-pated klutz,                                    

“You’ve ruined my life, you worthless, witless itch mite.”   


Les wasn’t adverse to helping Fran at home,                        

But he loaded the dishwasher all wrong.                              

In the whites the colors didn’t belong.                                  

He inadvertently broke her comb                                          

In the sink with the brush and the mirror.                             

Fran even nixed the lunch he delivered                                 

“The buns on these burgers are harder than chrome.”           


Les Lejeune had tried to give his wife his best                     

And it wasn’t solely to appease her.                                      

In his heart he truly longed to please her.                              

Perhaps tonight she’d grant his request                                 

And invite him once more to nest her bed                             

But Fran’s scathing distain he got instead.                            

His hardy amour slackened, a hopeless quest.                       


Even so, hope is not unique to the meek;                              

Lust does power a robust incentive.                                      

Baring champagne, showered, shaved and scented              

Les presented himself for critique,                                        

Yet, despite his charm, Fran found him wanting.                 

She ranted and raged, laughed and taunted                          

His manhood, yelling, “Don’t come near me, you freak.”     


From somewhere deep inside, a little boy cried;                   

A belt of leather slaps a bare behind,                                     

A father’s drunken voice harsh and unkind.                         

And there’s a never a place to hide,                                      

From school bullies, girls playing him a fool.            

He tasted salty blood and champagne cruel                          

As the glass Fran flung slashed his face side to side.            


Anger choked his throat, exploded in his brain                     

Les had stood so much, no more could he stand;                  

He blindly swung the magnum in his hand.                          

Yes, he heard the crunch, the cry of pain                              

But avenging angels had been invoked                                 

Knee to chest, with a pillow to Fran’s throat                        

And mouth, pressing down again and again.                        


Until dead. Dead? What shameful evil had he wrought?     

Les tossed the pillow to one side, raised her                         

Frail body and cried, “I’m sorry, my love,                            

“Please don’t die.” But it was all for naught--                      

Even the breath he breathed into his wife                             

Found lips as languid in death as in life;                               

For murder now, he most surely would be caught.               


Frantic, Les paced back and forth, his mind on fire              

There was no lie, no tale he could invent                               

To make her death appear an accident;                                  

It was an impossible quagmire.                                              

Unless… Wait. Yes. He had nothing to fear                         

If he could make her body disappear.                                   

No spousal kill, no killer. No lies, no liar.                              


Les knew best how to suppress the evidence.                                   

The land behind his acre spread                                             

Was predisposed to dispose of the dead,                              

Conservation land, protected and fenced,                             

Dedicated to plant preservation,                                            

A protected wildlife reservation. 

Burying Fran beneath the fronds made perfect sense.




Oh, fab-fabulous day of marvelous bliss                               

With freedom new found in a life hard won,                        

A spirit unbound, victorious dawn,                                       

Rising from the oppressive abyss,                                          

To become the man he wanted to be                                     

Free at last from the chains of tyranny.                                 

Welcome to a world where nothing is amiss.                        


Les felt no need to shower or shave or scent                         

And while he wasn’t exactly a prude                                    

He had never cavorted in the nude,                                       

And absent a boor to voice dissent                                        

He let everything lie just where it lay                                    

Piles and piles growing higher every day.                             

In every way, Les was completely content.                           


In this journey ‘twix ennui and ecstasy                                 

Came a day which inside was dark and gray,                                  

Although a ray of sunlight did betray                                               

A brilliant outdoors for all to see.                                          

Except Les, who from a stupor arose                                    

With dollop of blue cheese stuck to his nose,                        

A plate of buffalo wing bones ‘neath his knee.                     


With eyes red and teary, Les vaguely made out                    

An empty wine bottle, scores of beer cans,                               

Corn chips in a bag in chili drowned and                              

A plate of beans he thought he’d thrown out.                                   

His head was the size of a large pizza pie,                             

His mouth tasted of rust and twice as dry                          

And his nose was stuffed with goop resembling grout.        


Les stumbled to pee, a burning sensation.                             

Ransacked every cabinet for aspirin;                                     

Finally settled for a glass of gin.                                            

Tried to revive his respiration                                                

Sucking measured breaths but to no avail.                            

With the air in the house too rank and stale,                         

He sought fresh air for rehabilitation.                                    


Since a pair of jeans that fit was elusive                                

Les combined t-shirt and stretchy chinos,                             

Stepped over the paper plates and Cheetos,                          

Forced the screen door that first didn’t give                         

Because of newspapers piled on the stoop,                           

And off to the park he did staunchly troop                           

Squinting in a sun viciously excessive.                                  


Once, Les had been a regular in this park                              

Running daily to keep himself in shape.                                

He found he enjoyed the escape                                

From his house that had become so dark.                              

Why, he could get used to this again—what?                                   

Why were the people in the park in shock?                           

They flowed around him as if he were a rock.                      


Les could see clearly now. Those that didn’t stare                

Moved past quickly, giving him a wide berth;                                  

Others turned their heads, pale or stifling mirth,                   

Boobs, cretins, rubes. Why should he even care?                  

But then askance, he glimpsed a stunning dream,                 

A runner so pretty he’d never seen,                                       

A woman of grace and loveliness rare.                                  


The path turned gold as she approached. Les spellbound.    

Raised high his hand, his head, his heart, his eyes;                      

The supplicant seeking her grace surprised                            

When she turned her head, disgust profound                        

And wrinkled her nose in obvious pain.                                

She never wanted to see him again.                                       

Shocked and dejected, he cried and fled to ground.            




Alone in his mausoleum once a home                        

Les cringed at the image in the mirror,                                  

The grizzly beard and hair, clothes akimbo                           

Like an evil, maniacal gnome                                                 

Summer sweat oozing down his ragged gut                          

Smelling like crap that would “gag a maggot,”                     

Les had to decide between life and a tomb.                          


His anger exploded like a man gone mad.                             

Furiously, Les ripped away the wretched rags,                     

Fuming, throwing trash in boxes and bags,                           

Dumping fruit and bread and meat gone bad.                                   

Beer bottles and cans and towels with mold,                                    

Smurf-covered take-outs and pizza grown old.                     

Half-bit sans and tuna cans reeking dead shad.                    


From attic above to the basement below                               

Les continued his relentless assault;                                      

For two days and nights with nary a halt                              

He swabbed the scourge and made the house glow              

As he mopped and washed, as he brushed and cleaned        

He made the house shine, he made the house gleam             

But even then, there was a long way to go.                           


For over an hour, Les stood in the shower                            

Bathing his body in hot scalding steam.                                

With soap and suds, he scoured his manhood clean.             

And though with beard so stubbornly dour,                         

With scissors and blade and fierce fortitude                         

What was once hirsute was now wholly nude                       

And what once was weak was now filled with power.         


From the basement Les lugged the treadmill upstairs.          

From under the bed came the abs machine                            

With built-in timer and calorie screen.                                   

The stationary bike with repairs                                             

Was now churning away as good as new.                             

And a set of weights soon made a debut.                             

Diet and exercise was the state of affairs.                             


With days and nights assiduously applied,                            

Les had no regret for his decision.                                           

He never deviated from his mission,                                     

His lofty goal would not be denied.                                      

Lean and trim, clean and buff, he hit the park                      

Searching, he found that girl and made his mark 

And in time, she did consent to be his bride.




Oh, fab-fabulous life of marvelous bliss                                

To be living in love with a princess                                        

With every wish bathed in a warm caress.                             

Yet, here and there something was amiss . . ..                                   

It started small, a bra left on a chair                                      

A shoe askew, a sock chocked, panties there                        

But with lovers, faults are easy to dismiss.                            


Except. As time went by, it kept getting worse.                   

Candy wrappers, bon bons, toothpaste cap gone.                 

Shorts and shirts left where they didn’t belong.                   

She never even put away her purse.                                       

Well, Les thought he might give it a mention                        

In a word that would catch her attention                              

But then she accused him of nagging, and cursed.                           


The situation deteriorated.                                                     

Never a night without an argument                                       

Never a day without its discontent.                                       

Marital bliss was quite overrated.                                          

Although Les was not completely flummoxed                      

There was plenty of room were Fran was boxed                   

It was the solution Les contemplated.                                               


But on the very night Les planned his revenge                     

His princess came from the mall with a dog.                         

Dog? In his spotlessly clean house? A dog?                          

Never, Les cried, completely unhinged,                                

He grabbed the little puppy from her arms                            

And tossed it out back as she screamed in alarm.                 

At such ferocity, she fearfully cringed.                                 


“Puppy, puppy,” she cried hours into the night.                                

Then, an excited yap came from the black,

There was no doubt, the dog was coming back.

Trailing dirt, the dog was now in sight,

Bringing a trophy it had found outside

Dropping it on the kitchen floor with pride.

It was a skull the puppy drug to the light.


Les was shaken to the core, his secret known.

He confessed at once to his awful crime;

Convicted at trial with long prison time.

The irony was no proof was shown

For the skull the dog found that night so cold

A fossil, thirty-five hundred years old,

It was. A male. Small. Identity unknown.




Fossil Skull Identified;

Confessed Murderer Held

NEWS ITEM—Macclesfield, Eng. A local man confessed to the murder of his wife 23 years earlier after excavations at a peat bog bordering the man’s backyard uncovered a well-preserved skull.

  On the strength of his confession, Les Lejuene, a caretaker at the Weston Park Care Home, Moss Lane, was convicted in the death of his wife, the former Francene Chaloner of Wilmslow and Handforth.

  After testing, however, the Oxford University Research Laboratory for Archaeology determined that the skull was a part of the fossil remains of a young man who died as the result of a blow to the head some 3,500 years earlier.

  Lejuene is serving a life sentence at Frankland (HM Prison), Durham. His wife's body was never found.


The End

Copyright 2010 by Daniel E. Speers

  LIke the story? This is an experiment in making my short stories available for the fans of my poetry, novels and other writings. Instead of publishing my stories in magazines or literary journals, I will publish them here where they can be read for free. If you enjoyed this story and would like to support and encourage publication of such stories in the future, please consider a donation. Feel free to write a review if you wish. I love fan mail. And don't forget to read The Poetry Blog where I publish short story ideas. You might try your hand at short story writing yourself.