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September 15, 2022 Fiction

Three Tales

Tetman Callis

Three Tales photo

Night Boat Moon Cops Couple Kill

I came out. I don’t remember what I had been doing.

It was dark out. The sky was black. I saw the moon rising over the lake. A full moon in a black sky.

Clouds went by in front of the moon. They would move in front of the moon and block its light, and the sky and the night would get very dark, then the clouds would move off.  There was a breeze, but not strong. There were trees close in front of me. The swaying branches and leaves sometimes blocked the moon and clouds and lake.

The lake is at the end of a short street around the corner from my house.

The clouds did this: some of them blew by in front of the moon as if they were a backdrop painted on a stage set. I’d never seen clouds do that before. I didn’t know what to make of it, if I was seeing right or was distracted a moment, or maybe I was asleep.  Walking in my sleep.

Maybe that’s why I can’t remember what I was doing before I came out.

But it was nice to be out and see the lake and all. It seemed like weeks had gone by, or maybe even forever, but that can’t be—anyway, it seemed like a long time, and it was nice to be out.

On the corner I was at, where I stopped and stood looking down the short street to the lake, there was a house. A bungalow, raised up off the street a bit, with concrete steps going up one side to a small porch and a front door. The windows were open and there were a couple lights on and I could hear the people inside, see them moving around.  

The windows were the casement kind with lots of panes. I was down at street level and looking up.

The people were a young couple and they were talking about their drugs, all these drugs they had, like cocaine and I don’t remember what all, but they were talking and laughing and they were pretty loud, not shouting but I could hear some of what they were saying and I thought it was foolish of them to be talking so loud.

They seemed happy. They were going to do drugs and sell drugs and feel good and have fun and buy things and their friends were going to like them.  

That’s what they said.  

A boat chugged by, along the shoreline, pretty close. It was a motor launch, old-fashioned, nothing fancy, with what sounded like a diesel engine. The launch was low in the water and rolling on the waves, which were cresting a few feet high. I wasn’t sure what kind of boat it was but thought it might be a police boat. I don’t remember if I thought that before I saw the cops or if it came to me after.  

The cops, there were two of them. One was uniformed and one was plainclothes. They came up the short street from the direction of the lake and they climbed the stairs up to the young couple’s porch and they knocked. I didn’t hear all that they said, but I heard enough to know that the cops were there because they knew the young couple had drugs and were going to do deals.  

The young couple answered the door. They didn’t sound scared. In fact, they got confrontational and told the cops that no way were they going—no way were the cops going to be able to do anything about it.  

The next thing I knew they were fighting, the two cops and the young couple. I don’t know why the cops didn’t pull their guns or their Tasers or something, but they didn’t.  Too bad.   

The young couple were vicious and they were beating the hell out of the cops, all four of them practically falling out of the house and ending up on the far side of it, over by my house, where they were rolling around in the dirt of the parkway, the dust all puffing up in the moonlight, and the couple were—they were doing more than beating the cops up, they were killing them.   

I couldn’t move. It was like my legs turned to water or something and I couldn’t move, I just watched.  

The guy picked up a big rock and he held the plainclothes cop down on the ground underneath him and was beating him to death with the rock, while his wife—if they were married, I don’t know if they were or not—was rolling around with the uniformed cop—who was bigger than she was, but she was a wildcat—she had her hands around his neck and was strangling him. Finally he stopped thrashing about and I guess he was dead, and by this time her husband—if they were married—had finished off the plainclothes.  

All this time I was just standing there.   

All I had come out for was I wanted to be outside, see the sky—I didn’t even know there was going to be a full moon. It was nice to see it and the lake and the weird clouds, which I don’t think I’m ever going to figure out.   

But I hadn’t wanted to see the rest of what I saw.   

And I even more didn’t want the young couple to see me. They didn’t seem to have noticed me. I stood on the corner, mostly in the dark, keeping still, waiting to see what would happen next. 


My Sweet Julie, Naked and Wailing

I hadn’t seen Julie in a long time. When she showed up, it was a surprise. Hey, Julie, I said.

Hey, she said back.

What a surprise, I said.

Life is like that, she said.

Can you give me a ride? she said.

You know I can, I said.

That’s so sweet, she said.

You’re still the same sweet pushover, she said.

You know that nothing’s ever going to happen between us, she said.

Julie, you know—, I said, and I stopped before I finished. How to say what was in my heart? After all this time? It didn’t matter. Blood was in my heart. My car was in the parking garage. I opened the passenger door so she could get in. Ever the gentleman, she said.

You know I always liked that about you, she said.

So many guys never are, she said.

She has a beautiful smile. What can I tell you about a beautiful smile? You know one when you see one.

And her face was always open and trusting. Not like some sucker, some mark set to be played, but like someone open to seeing what’s in the world and judging it—no, not judging, that’s the wrong word—meeting it on its own terms, accepting what it presented without being afraid.

You can see why I might love Julie.

She sat in my car, front seat, passenger side. She busied herself with her purse. I came around to get in on the driver’s side and looked up and saw my boss walking by, heading to his own car. It was a big SUV and his wife was already in it.

My boss was a good man. But he was a boss. Cold and predatory in that way. His smile wasn’t like Julie’s. It never lost its cold predation, even when it was at its friendliest and most genuine.

I should say, he had been a cop. That may have had something to do with it. He smiled when he saw Julie and he looked at me with this smile and he said, Hey.

Hey, boss, I said.

Looks like you’ve got yourself a real honey, he said.

There was no way, in the parking garage with Julie waiting in my car and the boss there passing by and his wife waiting for him in his own car—a bigger and nicer car than mine, but he was a boss—there was no way I was going to make any attempt at even a short version of the History of Julie and Me.

Yeah, boss, I said and I smiled.

About my smile, not much. It is what it is.

Now, to cut to the chase—there was no chase. I gave Julie a ride to this place where she said she needed to go, a particular shop in a particular shopping mall. I didn’t care. I would have given her a ride anywhere. I hadn’t seen her in a long time. It was good to see her again. That smile.

Now, a word about what she was wearing.

She was fully clothed. She wore pants and some kind of shirt, and a pale yellow jacket that looked a little big but not too heavy. Almost a windbreaker kind of thing.

No, I don’t know what she wore underneath. Go figure. I figure it was the usual sort of stuff girls wear. Bra, panties, socks, you know?

We got to the mall and where should I park the car?

It’s okay, this is as close as we can park, she said.

It’s down at the other end, she said.

Will you come with me? she said.

Of course I would come with her.

And so I did. And so we got out of the car and walked the long walk to the other end of the mall. It was nice to be with Julie. I never thought I would see her again, and there she was. We talked as we walked. You know how it is. People chat. What they say is never important. The important thing is, they talk.

Converse. Common human intercourse. The old meaning, before all it came to mean was sex.

I would have sexed with Julie, of course. I don’t know if it showed. My boss’s smile had implied that he, for one, thought I was about to drive Julie off to some intimate engagement. That was not ever going to happen.

I’m not sure it ever mattered.

You know—matters of the heart, and all that.

So Julie and I chatted along, nothing important. We went to the shop where she had some sort of business to see to—I didn’t pay attention, it wasn’t my business—then we left and walked the long walk back to my car.

There were people all around. It was a shopping mall. Not terribly crowded, but a fair number of people.

I was nattering on about I don’t know what, and we walked along. Julie walked beside me but just a little behind me, just out of my peripheral sight.

Jimmy, I’m so cold, she said.

Said? It was almost a wail. I turned to look.

She had stopped and was bending down, almost folding up within herself. She was completely naked.

Julie! I said.

Julie, where are your clothes? I said.

She waved an arm haphazardly behind.

I lost them along the way, she wailed.

She was crying now, her face all scrunched up.

There were people all around, passing by. They looked like they were doing their best to ignore this wailing naked girl in the middle of the mall.

I wish one of them had come up to me along the way and had told me, Hey, buddy, this girl you’re with, she’s taking her clothes of and dropping them along the way, you should pay attention.

Maybe the one who did that would even have picked up her clothes and come up and said, Hey, here, her clothes.

Her jacket would have been nice. I didn’t have mine, couldn’t take it off and cover Julie. My sweet Julie. Naked now and wailing in the mall.

I’m so cold, she cried.

No one helped. I can’t say I blame them. I’m a person too.


The Crime

What brought us back together was the crime. I should shut up.

You must believe me. I wouldn’t lie to you. Not any more than I absolutely had to.

She was seeing someone else. Maybe. I didn’t catch them. Not like that. But I did catch them, like this: I came home from work. Of course I came home from work. I lived there.

I’m not telling you everything. You can go now.

Still here? Okay. I came home from work. Maybe I came home early. Our place was at the top of the stairway. One of those iron and concrete stairways in one of those apartment complexes that are cheap and get thrown up real fast. At the bottom of the stairway was the parking lot. I parked. I walked. She and this guy sat on the bottom step.

I didn’t hurt him, except maybe his feelings. He’d been a soldier, in someone else’s army. A good army, from what I heard. Killed enemies and civilians and won wars. They say, If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime. They are right.

There was a storm and those apartment buildings were so cheap, one of them fell right down, from the top.

I don’t know if she was seeing him. Except for that night, she was. This is definite. He was there. I arrived. She introduced us. I didn’t smile. I don’t think we shook hands. He got up and left.

It wasn’t working out. We didn’t talk about it. We never talked about it. Not ever.

We did what we had to do—we were in complete and sad agreement—and that was that. Afterwards, we grew back together. Partners in crime.

Oh, the crime. You want to know about the crime. We killed someone. We never knew who it was. It wasn’t him, I can tell you that. He may still be alive, to this very day.


image: Joshua Hebburn