Stephens

Dishonorable discharge.

The words alone made my skin hot and my blood simmer. My trigger finger jerked as I stood in the court. It always jerked. Four months straight on that rooftop staring though the same scope made sure of that.

“Lieutenant Stephens.” The judge looked over her paperwork. “This is the last preceding in the case of murder and violations within the Geneva Conventions. You still stand by your plea of not guilty.”

I stood stiffly, my finger still jerking slightly.

“Lieutenant!”

I snapped my head up to her. “Yes ma’am, my plea has not changed.”

She nodded her head and settled back into her chair, thumbing through her paperwork. Today ended the fourth court hearing. I maintained my innocence throughout and remained internally furious at the accusations. I spent an eternity on that cursed rooftop protecting my brothers, and this was the respect I got. I did what I had to. The Geneva Conventions were created to ensure a level of fairness during wartime, but wartime’s anything but fair.

“I’ve gone over all of the outstanding evidence, testimonials, and video that has been presented to the court.” She shuffled her paper in front of her, a bead of sweat running down her cheek. Court Marshal Mathis was a friend of mine. Receiving judgment from her continued to be particularly painful. I fought alongside her son in Iraq, pulled his bleeding body from the street after the ground unit ran into an IED. I had received a medal of honor for my actions. Now none of that seemed to matter.

“Lieutenant Stephens, it is in the opinion of the court that your actions were beyond the reasonable display of force, and were completely unjustified. In all three counts of murder, you are found guilty of these war crimes. It is with the most utmost regret that I now issue a dishonorable discharge. Your war crimes will be judged at a separate hearing, with a separate judge and jury.” She slowly stood up, wiping her cheek. “I’m sorry, John.”

She walked from the stand. I was then escorted out. I would be released, I knew that much. I looked forward to it. My old friend Jack Daniels was waiting for me, and he never judged.

Sabrina

I hated the VIP room. My pockets weighed me down at the end of the night, sure, and being one of the dancers that everyone wanted always ensured an invitation, but I hated it. Lil Vinny and his entourage had decided to come to the Midnight Cabaret after their show, and the boss was ecstatic. They picked three of us as soon as they entered—a finger flicking casually to each, then a thumb jabbed towards the VIP entrance, a lazy smirk on their faces. I wore my fishnet getup, which is always a crowd pleaser, and happened to be onstage when they entered.

He pointed to me, Vanessa, and the new girl, Valerie.

We entered the room and the smell of testosterone and alcohol seemed to slap us, saturating the air. Lil Vinny sat at the corner table snorting coke from the surface, jerking his head up and slapping his cheeks once finished.

“Come here, girl! Come here!” he said to me, waving me over.

“Hey big daddy,” I said with a smile, sitting in his lap. I could feel him through his pants. I rolled my eyes when he wasn’t looking.

Same damn thing every time.

Vanessa jumped on the VIP stage, and Valorie sat at another table, crossing her legs and wrapping her arms around her stomach.

“Whas wrong wit’chyo friend?” Vinny asked me. His breath smelled like stale cognac.

“Take it easy on her, big daddy.” I said, sliding to his side. “New girl.”

“Ay yo bitch!” he yelled. “Get up on this table, huh?”

Talking like that to the dancers usually bought a ticket out of the building, but celebrities got what they wanted. Valorie climbed up on the table, her legs shaking. Her brow started to sweat as she jumped into her only routine.

Vinny stopped paying attention to her and draped an arm around my shoulder. The liquor mixed with his body odor and I held my breath, turning my head. His stubble scraped my neck, and clammy palms gripped my thigh.

“Ain’t got no VIP VIP room, know what I’m sayin’?”

“You’re in VIP, baby.” I made my voice purr in his ear. He shivered; I knew just how to work these types of guys. He ran his hands up my legs, and I shot a glance at the door, hoping one of the bouncers would see. They didn’t.

Maybe they weren’t even watching.

“You ain’t never had no real man, huh?” His golden teeth hanging on by a K9, I hid my smirk.

He’d started on my neck again when Valerie slipped on her high heel, falling down to her knees. Her hair fell across her face, forcing her to stumble up and push it from her eyes.

“Stupid bitch!” Vinny said laughing, echoed by his group of look-alikes. “Here!” He reached in his pocket and threw a one-dollar bill on the table. “Thas all you worth—get outta here!”

Ignoring the dollar, Valerie slipped off of the table and fled the room, covering her face with her hands.

“Why don’t you get up there, bitch,” he said. I gritted my teeth, throwing one leg over his lap and straddling him.

“I think I’m good right here.” I whispered in his ear, letting my long hair graze his chest and neck. He looked into the ceiling and breathed deeply as I brought myself closer, reaching into his fur coat pocket.

God, I hated the VIP Room.

Lil Vinny and his group did end up getting kicked out that night. He insulted the manager and within minutes the bouncers were escorting them off the premises. I found Valerie in the locker room at the end of the night, her make up smeared down her face. All night she didn’t work—no tips in her jar.

I squeezed her shoulder and placed a rolled-up wad of bills on the counter in front of her. I had made $900 that night in my own tips.

“Complements of Vinny,” I told her, before walking off.

Damn new girls. Sometimes they win, sometimes they lose, and sometimes it’s both.

VP Mason

She called me that night in a panic.

“They’re next door, Dad! I can hear them!”

“Lock your doors, get Evelin to the bathroom, and lock that too!” I paced my bedroom in my robe—Laura sat straight up in bed as we listened to Sarah begin locking doors on the other end.

“Has she called the police?” Laura asked, face pale.

My pace didn’t slow. “I’m sure.”

It killed me being on the other side of the state from her, but my job demanded me here—and hers there. Her husband—or ex, I should say—had left a year ago, off to find bigger and better things, leaving my daughter and granddaughter to live on their own. Sarah was more than capable, but with the lack of income she was forced to move, and her new neighborhood wasn’t exactly what I wanted for her.

On the other side of the call, Sarah herded Evelin into the bathroom. Her oldest daughter, Samantha, had moved out months ago to a dorm room.

Evelin cried softly in the background. “I hate this place,” Sarah said under her breath.

“Did you call the police?”

“Yes, Dad.” I could hear a hint of irritation, but I couldn’t be mad. Not when she was in danger—there was a tremble in her voice, and the phone was catching Evelin’s sniffling.

“I’m just asking, baby.”

“You can hear them! They’re tearing the complex apart.”

A loud bang rang from the receiver, and Evelin cried a bit harder. Sarah quieted her as best she could.

Laura and I sat listening, helpless. I should have pushed harder when I asked if she wanted to stay with us a while, get back on her feet, after her ex left. She’d refused out of pride, but maybe if I’d argued—

 

The next morning, I called in a favor. The secret service was going to train us both on firearm operation. She had never shot before, and I had little experience, so the thought of us learning together seemed not only necessary, but like a good opportunity to spend time with my daughter. Being the vice president leaves little time to socialize with those whom you truly want.

She drove up the following weekend and we went gun shopping. I told her to pick what she wanted; no price was too much. She ended up choosing a snub-nose 38, chrome with a pink handle. Always was the girly-girl.

 

We arrived at the secret service range thirty minutes early. My daughter sat in the front seat, bouncing up and down like a child ready to ride the roller coaster. I smiled at her, and she laughed a little, raising an eyebrow at me.

“What?” she asked.

“Just amazing how you’ve grown up.”

She slapped my arm lightly and we both hopped out the car, heading to the front door.

My cell phone rang—never out of the ordinary, so I ignored the call. Another call came immediately after, and I fished the phone from my pocket to set it on silent. Our instructor had his arms crossed; his black suit shined in the soft glow of the overhead lamps.

Sarah smiled, rocking on her tip-toes.

“Ready, Mr. Mason?” he asked.

I nodded. I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket.

We followed the man through the door. My hand had almost closed it when a set of long-fingernailed fingers gripped it from the other side and pulled it open.

A stern-looking woman with mousy-brown hair and a downturned mouth greeted me, her free hand brandishing a phone. “Mr. Mason,” she said.

With a nod I took the phone, trying not to sigh. I brought the receiver to my ear.

I held a firm posture in the doorway as I listened to the phone. It took all I had to keep my voice neutral. “Yes, sir.”

I handed the receptionist the phone back and shot a glance at Sarah. She nodded, pinching one side of her mouth.

“Everything okay?” she asked, voice flat.

I felt a grimace come to my face in place of a smile. “Absolutely, baby.”

“You have to go, through?”

“Afraid so.”

I kissed her forehead and shook the instructor’s hand before I walked out the building.

I hated lying to her, but I always had to, especially with things like this. Everything wasn’t okay—far from it.

The Russians had just declared war with the only enemy they had. Us.

Marie

I stood at the mouth of the cave. A frigid breeze blew from its belly.

“Go in,” Sasha urged.

“Bitch, you go in!” I crossed my arms, shivering in the cold.

Thomas and Will stood behind us. A double date, I guess you could say. Still nervous to be out and about with the two, I pulled my hoodie over my head. Sasha had talked them into coming. Two star football players, mixed up with the likes of us, or me, rather. Sasha always grabbed the attention of the boys. She filled out at an early age, forcing her mom to buy custom bras for her God-gifted talents that she shook in every direction she could.

She huffed and turned her head, eyeing one of the boys. “You coming, Will?”

The boy was built like a stack of bricks, just not as smart. He took two small steps, standing next to her.

“Well, we’re going in.” She flipped her hair to the side, smacking my face as she passed. Will grabbed her hand and followed her into the blackness, her giggles echoing from the opening moments later.

I felt a hand on the small of my back, and Thomas gripped me closer.

“We don’t have to go in if you don’t want to,” he said.

I absolutely wanted to go in, I just didn’t want to go in with him. I knew Sasha’s plan for the day. I had told her I lost my virginity years ago. I was lying, of course, just trying to match one of her stories. I pressed her for months about checking out this cave, but she always gave an excuse. Boys, mainly. Now that boys played a part, there were no excuses to make.

I felt Thomas’ hand grab a feel of my ass. “We can just… you know, go to the creek or something.”

“No,” I said, taking a few steps forward. “Let’s go.”

My shoulders ran into the walls, but I didn’t warn Thomas. He cursed at every collision, trying to keep up. He tried to talk me out of it. I think, secretly, he was afraid of the unknown. The student body dubbed the place haunted, so naturally I wanted to see it.

Cigarette smoke wafted through the cave—Thomas lit one of his own. His lighter sparked, revealing the dark rock that lined the walls. Sasha giggled again further down, breathing heavy. She had already gotten started.

I did my best to keep a distance from Thomas, but his hand found my waist, and he pulled me into him, placing his lips near my neck. His smoke-masked breath was nauseating.

“Stop,” I said, pushing back slightly.

“Come on.” His hand went up my back, feeling under my shirt.

“I said stop!” I pushed him backwards and twisted his wrist with a turn of my own.

He yelped, jumping away from me. “Alright, alright! Crazy bitch!”

“What the fuck, Maire!” Sasha yelled from the depths of the darkness.

I backed up until I hit the wall, and stayed frozen there.

Thomas sighed, then flicked his lighter for another smoke. The small firelight bounced off the walls.

I screamed.

“The fuck!” Thomas yelled.

I sprinted from the cave, smashing into the walls until the sunlight bent into the dark. Screams followed me out, then the heavy footsteps of the others. Sasha burst through the opening, her shirt missing. The cave vomited Will back out, his clumsy feet sending him somersaulting into the light. Then came Thomas, scratch marks running down his face and his nose bleeding. He tore past me, crashing into the trees behind us. Sasha and I were left alone, the moon looming behind us.

“What the hell did you do, Marie?” Sasha cried.

I couldn’t answer. I stared back into the cave, wishing I could see it again. Sasha shoved me down as she stormed off shirtless after the two boys.

I stood up, barely registering my movement, and slowly walked back to the mouth of the cave, peering inside. I couldn’t see her, but I could hear her breathing. Her hair was long, her eyes black, and when Thomas had sparked his lighter, she had stood directly behind him, both hands up, with nails the length of carpenter screws.

“Thank you,” I whispered.

From the abyss, I heard a giggle.

Marcus

They called me a cheater. They said no way that I could have done it by myself, and that I shouldn’t win first place. I wanted to punch her father in the face.

I had recreated a UHF radio from scratch, using only items I found in or around the house. Elizabeth’s dad was furious, only because he did the project for her. Everyone knew—she’d bragged about it every day that week.

“What’d you do, son? Hire an engineer?” His plump face was bright red, sweat starting to form at his brow.

“It’s all me, sir,” I said, holding my fists tightly. “My dad didn’t do it for me.”

I’d thought he would take offense to that, and I was right.

“That’s not fair to my daughter!” he huffed. “She worked her tail off on her project, only to be won out by a damn cheat!”

“Mr. Robbins, please calm down. The judging is final.” Mrs. Dupest held her hands up as she spoke, voice placating. “Elizabeth’s project is good, as well.”

“The best!” he yelled. “I’m going to have this decision reevaluated!” The man stormed out of the room, his daughter close behind him.

“Don’t worry,” she said, grabbing my shoulder, “he won’t.”

I didn’t care either way—what turned my stomach was that he’d called me a cheater. I worked my ass off on that project. Radios were my specialty, and to have someone mad because I was smarter than them really got under my skin.

I walked home from school that day, still seething at the man in my head. Contemplating what I should have said to completely humiliate him. It’s always too late though.

I walked through the school doors the next morning and got a few looks I couldn’t put my finger on. I was sort of used to looks, though, so I just kept walking. I thought nothing of it until Mrs. Dupest rounded the corner and stopped on her heels, expression full of disappointment. My project had been disqualified.

“They have proof that you didn’t make the radio, Marcus,” she told me. Her voice was soft, pitying. That made it worse.

“Fucking how?” I cried—I was in the middle of the hallway, making a scene, but I didn’t care.

Apparently, Mr. Robbins had found a blueprint of the exact radio I created, which wasn’t hard; the concept is universal. The catch was that he’d also found a website where you can order them handmade. I was dubbed a cheater and my project was withdrawn from the competition. The school re-judged the submissions, and Elizabeth had to do a live demonstration on how her power-generating alternator worked. Her father stood on the sidelines coaching her the entire time. The sight made me sick.

When it didn’t work, her father pushed through the crowd of onlooking parents and tried to show her—it still wouldn’t work. After another three attempts, her father, in a rage, slammed the device to the floor; it shattered into pieces, bits skidding on the floor.

Elizabeth didn’t win, either.

A bittersweet smile on my face, I collected my project after everyone had left. Mrs. Dupest entered the cafeteria just as I entered.

“It really was a good project,” she said.

I shrugged my shoulders.

She patted my back and slipped an envelope into the cardboard box that held my project. “Have a good weekend, Marcus.”

It was a long drive home. I just wanted to throw everything away by the time I parked—I plopped the box next to the trash bin outside unceremoniously. The letter fell out the side, landing address-side-up, and I could read Mrs. Dupest’s curly handwriting spelling out my name. Shaking the dirt and gravel off, I took it from the ground and opened it.

Inside, I found a $500 gift card and the letter of acknowledgement awarded to the first-place winner.

Gesilea

My chest felt fit to burst, and my vision had blurred to colors and light hours ago out of dazed boredom and tedium. The heat was burdening, pushing on our backs like another bag to carry, and my mother believed that we were close to the border. She was right, but also uninformed of the patrolling men that hunted us.

We had escaped from my father’s house days before. My mother wanted nothing more than for me to experience life outside the confinements of a drug lord’s nightmare. But when someone who possesses that kind of power feels they have lost something, retrieving their property is of no complication—and meager property we were.

The engines were drawing closer, the violent yells from their occupants shouting for us to stop; my mother wouldn’t listen. I was pulled through thorns, yanked across rocks, and thrown into the rare shadows that we could find. Only, now, it mattered not where we hid. They had found us.

The tires squealed through the dry dirt, popping above the rocks, tearing through the unforgiving cactus, forcing us into the unknown distance. Then suddenly the truck screamed to a stop—my mother threw her head backwards to gauge why, and I could see her pallid face, sweat on her forehead and fear in her eyes. But we soon found out. The ground beneath us disappeared and we started to free-fall down a massive elevation, landing on every stone that God had placed within its bearing. My mother groaned in pain as we slid to a stop, holding her side.

“Are… are you okay, baby?” she asked, crawling towards me.

I didn’t speak, for two men stood towering over us. One held rope, the other a pistol. I was yanked from the ground; the pistol-wielding goon gripped tight around my waist, pulling me from my mother with a rough yank. Rope was then thrown around my mother’s feet, knotted round her broken ankles.

“Please, please just let us go!” she pleaded to the man, but his face was stone like, impassive. My mother threw her hands over her face and screamed into her palms. I glanced up at my kidnapper, then made a daring move I can’t believe to this day. My teeth sank into his forearm and I was dropped, the man’s pistol falling beside me as he howled in pain.

I reached down, wrapping my hands around the grip, and pointed the barrel squarely at the man. Beneath my fingers the trigger moved, and he dropped.

My aim directed towards the rope-bearer; he froze. Again, I squeezed, and he dropped on top of my mother. The pistol shook in my grip, and distantly I felt myself taking in what I had done. I felt the handle be taken from my grasp, and I fell into my mother’s chest, unblinking. She held me at a shoulders distance and nodded her head, shoving the pistol into the waist of her jeans.

The men’s truck’s engine still idled. I helped her to the door, ignoring the wrong way her ankles bent. She glanced back at the bodies that lay in the desert heat, then shot me look, forcing a smile.

“Feel like driving?”

Joge

The murder was senseless. There was nothing to gain from it, no beef to settle. Mrs. Gonzales, 84 years old, living in the same house her entire life. The streets called her Mamma Maria. The set could stop in at any time for a hot meal. She made the best tamales in Laredo.

She’d bled out in the kitchen with a slit throat. The high-ranking members above me deemed it my fault. The street’s safety rested on my shoulders, and I’d failed her. I refused to believe them at first, until I saw the signs.

Since birth, we were warned of Cuco. Misbehave and Cuco comes. One of my foot soldiers mentioned the idea. I laughed it off, then; this was obviously gang retaliation. We retained many enemies over the years, my set especially, and to even consider this being done by a folklore boogeyman would have jeopardized my rank.

But the signs were there. The footprints, the smell—even the bag. I had been in Mama Maria’s kitchen just the night before, and I hadn’t noticed any bag. But the next morning it sat on the kitchen counter, filled with bones stained with the blood of their owners.

We didn’t call the police; no reason to. We were more capable of delivering justice than those brainwashed, corruption-filled wastes of life. The service was held in our graveyard, where they always were. As her body was lowered into the dirt, we tossed roses onto the casket. Rain followed, muddying the fresh dirt lain over her.

Each of our high-ranking soldiers attended the recession at her home, many sullen and grim, some hiding tears. I walked past the doorstep and shivered at the eerie silence that greeted me; it seemed to fill the house’s interior with something foreign. Mama Maria always had her music playing and something cooking in the kitchen. The only sound that resonated in the home now were the six sets of heavy footsteps of the ones she left behind.

“Any ideas?” Somoto ran his hand through his gray beard, eyes tired.

I didn’t say what was on my mind.

Manny pushed his fingers through his hair. “Cartel, maybe? We paid them, right?”

“Always give them their cut,” Somoto said. “It doesn’t make sense.”

The walls creaked and the floorboards moaned from the wind, bringing in the storm. Somoto lit a cigarette. “I heard a rumor of Cuco,” he said.

Manny burst into laughter, but it faded when he saw Somoto’s face stay unsmiling. “You’re serious?”

He blew smoke from the side of his mouth. “You think I’m not?”

Manny’s jaw dropped a little, and I saw his eyes dart to me. “Cuco… Like when we were kids?”

“The signs are all there,” I said. “You’re not the first to say it, Somo.”

“I know.”

Manny stammered, scratching his head. “Wh-what do you even know about Cuco?”

Throwing the black bag over his shoulder, Somoto headed towards the door. “Probably more than you think.”

Daja

I had trained three years for this moment. Countless hours in the gym and in the ring had molded me into peak condition.

This fight was far from regular; this was a grudge match. My opponent had taken the title last year. It wasn’t that she was faster, more agile, stronger, better trained—no, nothing fair. But you take away a fighter’s sight and it’s no contest.

No points for guessing who won that match.

Stinging powder, my coach had called it. I didn’t see her do it, but there was no other explanation. I had taken many face shots in my 12 years of kickboxing, too many to count, and none had ever affected me like that. Two taps to the face and my eyes were watering and on fire, blurring my vision to shit. My retinas burned, swelling my eyelids and forcing me to close them. I didn’t see the rest of the fight, obviously.

Now was the time for redemption. Deliverance. Revenge.

She bounced in her corner, a smug smile aimed at me. She bobbed her shoulders, throwing a few practice kicks out.

I bit my mouthpiece hard, feeling my teeth compress the plastic.

The bell rang. In a second, we were on autopilot—a foot whistled by my ear and I dodged, pulling left.

A leg sweep to her ankle had her flat on the ground.

I dove on top and her glove met my eyes. The stinging started immediately. No room for error; I had to act now before my sight went. I’d expected this.

It still stung like hell, though; I let her back up, my glove sweeping at my face and futilely trying to get the burning to stop.

I had one chance.

I kicked right. She blocked. I faked left. She followed.

The crowd’s screaming faded into the background; I could hear them, distantly, as the girl’s smug expression started to cloud as my eyes swelled. I had to do it now.

I jumped into the air, snapping my ankle forward with force into her neck and jaw. I felt the momentum push her back—under my foot, I felt her bones splinter, and the next instant she was on the ground. I swore I heard them crack.

The ref stopped the fight.

Revenge doesn’t feel like it should when it’s not earned, but to hell with it. My coach hurried me back to the locker room without a glance back, but I had seen her already. She wasn’t coming back for another rematch.

As my coach left the room, he tossed my socks and ankle wraps into the trash can. Metal sheets clanged on the bottom.

 

Donte

“She’s sick, Donte, you can come and get her next week when she’s feeling better,” Tayna said with a yawn. Her voice was tinny over the phone, but I could hear her disdain.

“I’ll take her medicine with me. I can take care of her, too.” I kept my nerve. I had to keep my cool.

“She’s resting; she doesn’t need to see anybody.”

“She needs to see her father, and her father needs to see her!” I couldn’t help it, I was about to fly off the handle. This was the second time this month she’d done this to me.

“Fuck you, Donte! She doesn’t want to see you, anyway!”

I lowered the phone and pressed it to my chest, breathing deeply, slowing my heart rate, and trying not to swerve my car into oncoming traffic. “Just please…” I said, lowering my voice. “Please let me see my daughter.”

The relationship had ended months ago, and Tayna took every chance she got to use Danielle against me. It killed me not seeing her for three weeks.

“No, Donte, you can see her next week. Quit calling, she’ll call you when she wants.”

The phone went dead. I held the receiver to my ear, hoping it would ring again. It didn’t. Slowly I lowered the phone, then tossed it into the passenger seat. My fingers gripped the steering wheel to the point of cramps, and an eighteen-wheeler flew by in the opposing lane.

“Next one I see,” I whispered, but I knew I wouldn’t. The windshield became blurry through my tears, and my temples pinched with pain.

Why are things so goddamn hard?

A moment later it came. My eyes opened up the flood gates, and the tears ran. My lungs coughed up the sobs that I was too proud to release. I guess they weren’t. When my crying became violent I made myself pull over to the side of the road, the rain beating the side of my car like marbles.

I slumped my head against the steering wheel, on the verge of hyperventilating.

My phone beeped. A text message.

I knew it was Tayna—she would usually send me texts after we got off the phone. Never nice things. I wasn’t going to answer it, or even look at it, but then it occurred to me it could have been work.

I slid the phone’s lockscreen open.

“I love you, daddy.”

It was Danielle.

I put the phone to my chest and wiped my eyes. Somehow, it all felt worth it.

 

Nurse Evens

“Well, somebody took it,” Cali said, holding her hands over her face. “I had them all portioned out—every scrip I had to fill, and now two of them are gone.”

“You sure you counted out all thirteen?” I asked.

She glared in my direction. I threw my hands up. “’Was just asking. That’s more than normal.”

“Chief is going to blame me again. I know it.”

I felt sorry for her, hard not to. Cali truly possessed the best intentions in everything she did.

Well, almost everything.

Being a pharmaceutical assistant still in college couldn’t have been easy on her. Medical marijuana had come up missing, the third incident in a month. The Chief wrote off the first, but the second one came down on Cali. More than likely the third would, too.

“I’ll sniff around,” I said, “see what I can find out. Maybe the Chief will let this one go, too.”

“I already have two write ups, Kathy. I’m gone for sure.”

I gripped her shoulder softly. “Hey… Don’t think like that, it’s going to be all right. I’ll talk to the Chief, okay?”

She looked up from her hands, black mascara running from her eyes. She forced the corners of her lips to reach toward her ears. “Thank you.”

“Don’t sweat it.” I patted her back and made my way to the door.

“Kathy—”

I turned my head.

“I’m… I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about the affair. They made me swear not to say anything.”

I nodded my head. “I don’t hold anything against you, Cali. I’ll talk to you soon.”

The door clicked behind me and I made my way to the chief’s office, knocking twice. When he called for me to open it, I shuffled in, coming closer to his desk.

“So…” he drawled, taking his glasses off, “find out anything?”

“She’s been selling it, Chief. I feel bad for telling you, but it has to stop.”

The chief was a large man, and his chair creaked with agony when he leaned back, crossing his arms across his belly. “All right.” He rubbed the bridge of his nose. “Thanks, Kathy.”

“Yes, sir.” I walked out of his office and headed to my car, I had been off the clock for two hours already. My grey Honda sat waiting for me in its usual spot in the back corner, away from the cameras. I pulled the door shut behind me, reached in my bra, and pulled out what I had been waiting for all day. I lit the end, taking a long drag in and coughing at the potent smoke.

“Damn…” I sighed, staring at the lit joint. “Nothing like the good stuff.”

Love To Hear From You

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