Carry that Weight
by emeraldcite and emdashpoet
She spent the night in a dumpster; that wasn’t what she deserved.
John didn’t discover the body. That honor went to the gangly kid from the fast food place across the street with eyes red from crying, or maybe from the cigarette he breathed through.
The kid said she had a pretty face, at least until someone made it so she couldn’t have an open casket.
The kid’s hands shook; ash fell to the ground. He took another drag, coughed acrid smoke, kept talking.
John’s detective badge, the monkey on his back, felt a hundred years old. He wanted to duck to the next alley, away from the flashing lights and murmuring crowd, take a drag himself—let all those years melt away.
He needed to focus.
Everyone in this town was broken; now here was another kid broken by memories, smoking years off his life.
John nodded his head in all the right places, but noticed his notes were now gibberish. There was a disconnect somewhere. Like bad wiring.
John had the sudden urge to call his daughter. He’d met the guy she’d run off with once. They exchanged some words, then she’d left at just eighteen. They should catch up. He wasn’t that bad anymore.
“Did you get that?” the kid said.
“Yeah, I got it all.”
“Sherry. Sherry Stipes. That’s the name I remember. The name her friend said.”
Then it all faded to static for John.
That was the day Detective John Stipes decided to retire.