A Deadly House Call

Contributor: John Laneri

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Several years ago, I inadvertently contributed to the murder of a man named Jason Stone.

My involvement started with a phone call. It was the urgency of Jason’s tone that compelled me to get out of bed and tackle the weather on a dreary winter night.

Actually, I had never met the man, but his wife had been a longtime patient of mine. And, from what I could determine, she was having a severe anxiety attack associated with palpitations and hyperventilation.

For no particular reason, I elected to make a house call. It seemed an easy enough task – an hour or two of work then back to bed. Hysterical people, I knew, were often difficult to control and getting her to an emergency room could become an impossible task, especially in the dead of night.

My situation started when I turned onto his street and drove into a solid wall of fog. To my surprise, the house numbers were impossible to see.

Slowly, I cruised from house to house, trying to make out lights. Finally, I picked the most likely place based on Jason's hasty description and headed to the front door.

I rang the doorbell and waited.

“Who’s there?” a woman’s voice asked. “It’s two o’clock in the morning.”


I heard a gasp come from the other side of the door.

“Go away. And, please leave me alone.”

“Let me in,” I said, as I reached to jiggle the door handle, thinking something was wrong.

I heard footsteps shuffle away from the door. Then nothing.

I knocked again.

After failing to get any further response, I backed away and looked up and down the street, wondering.

Two doors away, I spotted a man moving in my direction.

“You’re at the wrong house,” he said breathlessly. “Hurry, my wife is completely out of control.”

I followed him across the lawn, mumbling something about scaring his neighbor to death.

He promised to convey my apologies, pausing only to tell me that she was an attractive woman that lived alone.

After treating his wife's anxiety with a intravenous sedative and listening to her ramble incoherently, I returned home and back to sleep. The next day, I called her house and left several messages on her voice mail. When she failed to respond to any of my phone calls, I soon forgot the matter.

Several weeks later, I heard on the news that the wife had shot and killed Jason Stone.

What I didn’t know at the time of my house call was that the woman at the door and Jason had been engaged in a neighborhood affair that was beginning to unravel once the demands of their activities began to complicate their lives.

Based on testimony at the trial, the wife stated that she had first learned of the relationship the very night of my house call – thus the reason for her anxiety reaction.

Unfortunately, by going to the wrong house, I initiated a series of complex interactions between all parties. My mistake, as benign as it seems, resulted in an angry confrontation, which ultimately resulted in a violent death.

Had I been able to decipher the wife's ramblings, then maybe Jason Stone would be alive, and his wife would not be in prison for putting a bullet in his head.

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John is a native born Texan living near Houston. His writing focuses on short stories and flash. Publications to his credit can be found on the internet and in several print edition periodicals.
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