2 Percent: Noir Flash Fiction By Lissa Marie Redmond
Lissa Marie Redmond, author of 2 Percent, is a former cold case homicide detective who is now a full time writer. She is the author of the Cold Case Investigation series from Midnight Ink Books and has published short stories in Buffalo Noir among others.
“I have a surprise for everyone,” Olivia Valenci announced to everyone seated around the dining room table. Her family looked up from their meals to see what the just-returned-home college freshman was up to.
“You failed out of school?” her twelve-year-old brother Anthony asked. He was quickly swatted on the arm by his mother, Kate.
“What is it, honey?” Olivia’s dad prompted from the head of the table, where he had his spiral ham and mashed potato dinner spread out before him like a king at a grand medieval feast.
“As you know,” Olivia’s voice took on that dramatic tone she used when she wanted maximum attention, “my nineteenth birthday was February fifth. My roommate at Smithson gave me a DNA kit from FindYourLegacy.com and I have the results right here.” She held up a sealed white envelope. “I thought it’d be fun to open it and read the analysis to the whole family while I’m home for spring break.”
My roommate at Smithson gave me a DNA kit from FindYourLegacy.com and I have the results right here…
“It’s going to be a very boring report,” Grandma Valenci commented as she shoveled potatoes into her mouth, washing it down with a copious amount of red wine. “Your father is 100 percent Italian and your mother is100 percent Irish. End of story.”
“I know, I know. But my friend Kyle, who lives in my dorm, took the test and found out he was 10 percent native American and 12 percent French and that led to him to doing all this research, and he discovered his great grandfather was adopted—”
“What about dork? It should say you’re 100 percent dork,” Anthony giggled into his napkin. Olivia glared across the table at her little brother. He draped the white cloth across his head, letting it droop down to hide his smirking face.
“I don’t think those things are very accurate,” Uncle Nils said. “What about contamination from the lab workers? I’m sure their rules aren’t as stringent as police labs.”
“Open it up,” Uncle Nils’s wife, Aunt Maria, told Olivia. “It’ll be fun.”
Pushing back her chair, Olivia stood up, brandishing the envelope in front of her like a sword.
“Maybe we should wait until after dinner,” her mother said. “Let everyone enjoy their meals while they’re hot.”
Vince Valenci waved his wife off. “Let her read it now. Don’t be a party pooper.”
“Thanks, Daddy.” Olivia beamed at her father as she slid her fingernail under the flap. It tore open and she extracted the page, shaking it out. “It says—” she cleared her throat and began to read: “—that I am 51 percent Irish.”
“That’s no surprise, is it Kate? Considering your maiden name is Connelly.” Grandma Valenci glanced at her daughter-in-law, taking another sip of wine.
Olivia’s eyebrows furrowed. “I think there must be a mistake.”
“Does anyone want more ham?” Kate Valenci jumped up, grabbing an empty platter.
Her husband’s hand shot out and clamped down on her wrist, holding it tight. The platter dropped back on the table with a loud thump. “Why’s that, Sweetie?” he asked Olivia, his voice low and gravelly.
“It says here that I’m 47 percent Scandinavian.” Olivia looked around the table, eyes wide. “We’re not Scandinavian. Uncle Nils is Swedish, right? He was born there. But we’re not Swedish. We’re Italian. Did they mix up the test somehow?”
Vince’s face clouded over with fury. “Vince—” his wife squeaked as he dragged her out of the dining room by her arm, through the side door, and into the kitchen.
“Kate!” Nils yelled, balling up his napkin and throwing it on his plate.
Aunt Maria burst into tears, covering her face with her hands.
“What is going on?” Olivia asked, her voice rising in panic. The sounds of Vince’s wrath came thundering from the kitchen.
“How could you, Nils?” Grandma Valenci demanded. “After everything Vince did for you?”
Uncle Nils rose from his seat, snatching the piece of paper from Olivia’s hand. “This is all a big mistake. Let me go and talk to Vince.” With that he ran into the kitchen fray. The sounds of a scuffle broke out: dishes smashing, chairs being hurled, Kate begging for the two men to stop. Grandma Valenci patted the wailing Aunt Maria on the hand as the fight raged on.
“This is all a big mistake. Let me go and talk to Vince.”
Kate came running back into the room, the front of her yellow dress dappled in red splotches, followed by Uncle Nils.
“Oh my God!” Olivia screamed at the site of Uncle Nils staggering in, a meat cleaver jutting out from his chest. Blood drenched the front of his white polo shirt, spreading in a darkening star from the impaled kitchen utensil. He stumbled a few feet and collapsed in a heap next to Anthony’s chair.
“Someone call 911!” Kate yelled, sinking to the floor next to the bleeding man. She tried to staunch the flow of blood with one of the linen napkins, but it was immediately drenched through. Olivia fumbled for her phone from her back pocket and frantically tried to punch in the numbers.
Vince stormed out of the kitchen and threw the piece of paper down on top of his dying brother-in-law. “How do you like these results, Nils?” he spat, giving the dying man a nasty boot to the side for good measure. “How do you like this percentage?”
“I don’t get it,” Anthony said in utter confusion, eyes bouncing from his sobbing aunt to his enraged father. “What was the other 2 percent?”
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