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No Strings Attached   By: (1915-1993)

No Strings Attached by Lester Del Rey

First Page:

Transcriber's Note:

This etext was produced from IF Worlds of Science Fiction June 1954. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.

No Strings Attached

By Lester del Rey

Illustrated by Kelly Freas

Poor Henry was an unhappy husband whose wife had a habit of using bad clichès. Alféar was a genii who was, quite like most humans, a creature of habit. Their murder compact was absolutely perfect, with

Committing a perfect murder is a simple matter. Drive out some night to a lonely road, find a single person walking along out of sight of anyone else, offer him a ride, knife him, and go home. In such a crime, there's no reason to connect killer and victim no motive, no clue, no suspect.

To achieve the perfect murder of a man's own wife, however, is a different matter. For obvious reasons, husbands are always high on the suspect list. Who has a better reason for such a crime?

Henry Aimsworth had been pondering the problem with more than academic interest for some time. It wasn't that he hated his wife. He simply couldn't stand the sight or sound of her; even thinking about her made his flesh crawl. If she had been willing to give him a divorce, he'd have been content to wish her all the happiness she was capable of discovering. But Emma, unfortunately, was fond of being his wife; perhaps she was even fond of him. Worse, she was too rigidly bound to trite morality to give him grounds to sue.

There was no hope of her straying. What had been good enough for her mother was good enough for her, and saved all need of thinking; a woman needed a husband, her place was in the home, marriage was forever, and what would the neighbors think? Anyhow, she'd have had difficulty being unfaithful, even if she tried. She'd been gaining some ten pounds every year for the eleven years they had been married, and she'd long since stopped worrying about taking care of her appearance.

He looked up at her now, letting the book drop to his lap. She sat watching the television screen with a vacant look on her face, while some comic went through a tired routine. If she enjoyed it, there was no sign, though she spent half her life in front of the screen. Then the comic went off, and dancers came on. She went back to darning a pair of his socks, as seriously as if she didn't know that he had always refused to wear the lumpy results. Her stockings had runs, and she still wore the faded apron in which she'd cooked supper.

He contrasted her with Shirley unconsciously, and shuddered. In the year since Shirley Bates had come to work in his rare book store, he'd done a lot of such shuddering, and never because of the slim blonde warmth of his assistant. Since that hot day in August when they'd closed the shop early and he'd suggested a ride in the country to cool off, he and Shirley....

He was interrupted in his more pleasant thoughts by the crash of scissors onto the floor, and his eyes focussed on the deepening folds of fat as Emma bent to retrieve them. "Company coming," she said, before he could think of anything to prevent the mistaken cliché. Then she became aware that he was staring at her. "Did you take the garbage out, Henry?"

"Yes, dear," he answered woodenly. Then, because he knew it was coming anyhow, he filled in the inevitable. "Cleanliness is next to godliness."

She nodded solemnly, and began putting aside her darning. "That's finished. Mama always said a stitch in time saves nine. If you'd cut your toenails, Henry...."

He could feel his skin begin to tingle with irritation. But there was no escape. If he went upstairs to his bedroom, she'd be up at once, puttering about. If he went to the basement, she'd find the canned food needed checking. A woman's place was with her husband, as she'd repeatedly told him... Continue reading book >>

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