JSW Prompt 3-10-2017


“Nothing,” she replied calmly.

“Right, so how come you aren’t looking at me?”

“Really, Jeremy? Psychoanalyzing me now?”

“I’m sorry, darling, but….”

“But what?” She sniffed dismissively. “You think I’m some murderer?”

That came out of nowhere. “No, I just wanted to know if you were burying treasure in our backyard.” Where had the murderer comment come from? Even as he wondered, he didn’t really want to know. Guilt was a strong motivator, but what did she have to feel guilty for?

“I’ve got to go to work,” she replied, taking up her purse.

“Of course.” He kissed her cheek. “I’m grilling tonight.”

“Sounds wonderful.”

Would there, he wondered, be grilling tonight?

He watched her drive away, mind still wrestling with the question of the garden. Maybe, he was wrong. It had happened before.

Maybe she had been burying food scraps or… a dead mouse she’d found in the yard….. or…. He pushed such thoughts away. Forced himself to clean up the breakfast dishes before heading to his home office. No patients today, but he had piles of papers to work through.

By lunchtime, his curiosity overwhelmed him and he had to go to the garden. Taking a trowel, he walked to where she’d been digging. Did he really want to know? Was it worth breaking her trust to find something meaningless like a dead mouse? Their cat brought in dead creatures all the time, but Kathy had never buried them before.

Kneeling, he started turning soil. Murderer didn’t mean she’d really killed somebody, he told himself. She would consider herself a murderer if she’d accidentally killed said mouse. That didn’t make her ‘one who murders’ or was he just finding excuses?

Maybe her paranoia was returning. Or maybe his. Maybe she’d had an affair, thought he wasn’t sure how that might equal digging in the garden.  Maybe…..

He kept digging until his trowel hit something hard.

Daily Post One Word Prompt 7-8-2016


The Neighbors, Part 1

There are those among us who live false lives. Nasty men. Vicious women. Forgotten children. You will never see them. They pretend normalcy; friends and neighbors and co-workers. Inside they are monsters.

Am I one? Some things are best discovered on your own.

They moved in in late July, one rusty truck filled with rickety furniture, broken plastic toys and a mangy dog tied to the tailgate. I watched for an hour, until the truck was unloaded, before heading out to welcome them to the neighborhood.

James, Jane and little Janice. Could smell them half my yard away.

I introduced myself without offering to shake hands. Who knew what I’d come back with that I hadn’t had before.

“You come a long ways?”

“From Phoenix.”

“Nice place, Phoenix. So I’ve been told.”

He shrugged, bored already.

Janice ran over tugging the dog behind her. I stepped back just enough to keep her from grabbing my slacks.

“Do you have a dog?”

“No.  I don’t.”

“Did you used to have one?”

I shook my head. “Don’t like dogs.”

Her face fell. The dog snuffed the grass, lift his leg.

Least he was on their yard. I’d need a fence, I decided. And soon.


Daily Post One Word Prompt – Hope


The Midnight Hour, Part 4

He’d stood over a lot of bodies in his life; kids, adults and anything in between. Being a detective in Chicago brought one face to face with the dead on a daily basis. He’d moved here to raise his daughter in a safer place, but was anyplace really safe?  Long as human scuffed in the dirt, folks were going to die.

But like this? Stupid kids. And by kids he meant anybody under twenty-five. Maybe, after tonight, thirty.

Their whole lives in front of them. What a waste.

He knelt by the body, using his pen to look under and around Mark’s neck. Broken hitting the big-ass rock. Why did kids hang around places like this? Drugs, sex? Why didn’t they learn? Only last year, his deputy had fallen down this hill, but he was alive. Just a matter of inches alive, but alive.

Accident or deliberate?

He looked up. Wish I could, wish I might. He’d given up wishing on stars a long time ago.

He’d have to bring in Mary, hoping for a truth he knew didn’t exist. She hung with Mark and that delinquent, Bobby.  Better bring in Bobby, too. He had to put suspicion anywhere it would be with Bobby. The boy was bad, had always been bad. Then again, apples didn’t fall far from the tree. Look at his old man. Beat the shit out of the kid until Bobby got old enough to hit back.

He wasn’t a whitewasher. He was a good cop, a solid cop. He’d never taken a bribe or thrown a case or planted evidence, but if it came down to Bobby or Mary, his baby girl was not going to jail. She wasn’t even going to be involved. She had a life to be ruined.

Damn daughters and their teen-age heart breaks. In love with both boys for different reason. Had them fighting over her. A disaster in the making, but he’d done nothing. It was different in your own house. If his wife had still been alive thing might have been different, but she wasn’t. Her death the only one he could neither solve nor prevent.

He nodded for the Coroner and rose, stepping away from the body. Began the long climb back up the hill as his Deputies searched the top for clues.

Moving to the back of his car, he popped the trunk and pulled back the carpet, holding it up with a shoulder. Reaching into a bag, he pulled out a cigarette butt. He’d started the stash when Mary started dating Bobby Wymith, knowing  – without admitting he’d ever cross that line – he would need it one day.

But could he cross that line? Crossing meant he was a bad cop, or did it?  Was he framing or making sure justice was served?

Dropping the butt into the pocket of his jacket, he moved just beyond the perimeter of the search, listening to the reports. Trash bagged but it would be useless. Scuffed footprints and tire tracks; useless.

He reached into his pocket, fingering the cigarette butt before pulling it out.

Far in the distance, the whine of a siren startled the night. His fingers opened.