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Damaged People

by David Bart

About the Author: David Bart’s short fiction has been published in the Mystery Writers of America anthologies "Show Business is Murder", "A Hot and Sultry Night for Crime", "Life is Short and Then You Die" as well as the anthology "Fedora III". His work has appeared in "Mystery Weekly Magazine", "Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine" and "Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine".


A foggy vision of her pretty teenage face from forty years ago …

Leah saying goodbye to him on the Kirtland Air Force Base tarmac adjacent to the Albuquerque Sunport, the shrill whine of an Army transport plane firing up its engines.

As the hot desert wind tussled with her honey-blonde hair, Leah said, “Promise me, Creed Tolliver, you’ll get your butt back here when your tour’s over.”

A last kiss. “I promise,” he said.

Leah plummeting to her death …

Creed gasped, even though this image of her wasn’t any more real than the one of her teenage face … because Leah’s body had been removed from below the climbing cliff three days before he’d arrived back in New Mexico.

Beads of perspiration on his brow, heart hammering, eyes stinging; after a few moments he took a deep breath and shrugged—lopsidedly, because he only had one arm—thinking: tears won’t help the dead.

The two-hundred-foot limestone cliff loomed above, darkened in long streaks on its pale face by a recent mountain shower. A single rope hung from the rim about halfway down, the frayed end languidly swinging in the cooling breeze.

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