Summer Short from Melodie Campbell

July is Hell

I came back to the squad car with two coffees, both black.

Bill was fanning himself with yesterday’s newspaper.  “It’s frigging middle of the night, for crissake.  How can it still be so hot?”

I shrugged.  “July is hell.  Always will be.”  I passed him the cup of java.

“This job is hell,” Bill muttered, leaning back in the seat.  His thick body showed the wear and tear of thirty years on the job. He removed the lid carefully and threw it on the dash.  Then he sighed. “I’ve got bad news for you.”

I was alert now.  Looking keen.

His grey eyebrows creased into a frown.  “You know that perp who raped those young girls back in March.”
I nodded. Of course I knew.  We had worked that case around the clock.

Bill looked at me, then quickly away.  “They got him off on a technicality.”

I cursed. We’d tracked him for weeks.  We knew he was guilty, even if he had worn a balaclava.  It was all in the way he reacted when we arrested him.  You just know. That smile…

“I know,” Bill mumbled.  “Damned lawyers. Time for me to get out of this hellhole.  Do something positive with the rest of my life.”

“So you’re really going to retire, then?”

He nodded.  “This case made up my mind.  I’m finished with it.”

He looked over at me.  “You have your own decisions to make.  You’re young.  You sure you want to stay in this game?”

I made a point to look serious.  “It’s what I do, Bill.  What I’ve always wanted to do.”

He shook his head.  Then he took another sip.  “Just be careful you don’t get completely disillusioned, like I am.  It’s not healthy.  Letting scum like that go free, on a technicality.”  He snorted in disgust.

“He’ll go to hell when he’s dead,” I said evenly.

“You really believe that stuff?”  Bill’s voice was soft.  “Well, you just go on believing it, Chris.  Maybe it will keep you sane.”

I doubt it, I thought to myself.  I doubted it again when I took a knife to the perp’s throat the next night.

It only took me a few hours to track him down.  That’s the advantage of being a cop and a woman.  You know how to find people, you know how to kill, and you know how to cover your tracks.  

He was going to hell all right, but I swear it was just as hot here.

Melodie Campbell got her start writing comedy. She has over 200 publications including 40 short stories and five novels. Melodie has won six awards for fiction and is the Executive Director of Crime Writers of Canada. She is the author of The Goddaughter series and the Land's End books.

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