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After We Lost Her

by Joseph S. Walker

About the Author: Joseph S. Walker is a member of the Mystery Writers of America. His work has appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, The First Line, and a number of anthologies. He lives in Indiana and teaches online literature courses.


The first time I ever thought a girl was cute was when Cindy Parks moved to town in the third grade, already wearing her red hair in the pageboy cut she never changed. Every other girl in the class had hair at least to her shoulder blades. Cindy got teased for that, but never by me.

Twenty years later, we were two years into a marriage that I kept telling myself was working. The jokes I made about wearing her down into finally accepting one of my proposals were starting to sound a little bitter, even to me.

One night she came home and told me about a cop she’d helped depose that day. Detective Cassie Evans, just hired away from Dallas. “Fucking robot,” Cindy said. She was sitting on the kitchen counter, swinging her legs, drinking wine from a tumbler. “Real stick up her ass. I mean, she’s good looking, seems smart, but she just looks right through you. Never cracked a smile. What an uptight bitch.”

“Well,” I said. “Any luck, you’ll never have to see her again.”

I didn’t know that was the day I started to lose her.

By then I was managing a bar my family owned in Hillsboro, about an hour outside Cincinnati. It was the closest I was allowed to the real family business. Cindy was commuting into the city and doing office work for the DA. Some of my relatives found that amusing. I tried to keep us away from the ones who didn’t.

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