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Bobby put his coffee down as the two detectives walked up to his booth. “You should’ve been there today, boys. The divorce hearing at family court spiraled to new lows.”

Whoa, slow down, Bobby, you’ll choke on that coffee.” Detective Rush smiled when he eased his hulking frame into the booth. “Start over from the top.”

Bobby took a slow sip of coffee, letting the silence build. “This nasty narcissistic guy, Toby, was on the stand. His wife’s lawyer was bombarding him with rapid-fire questions, and I could see him growing more and more agitated.”

Did his lawyer object?”

Well, yeah, but Judge Klandkoff overruled as fast as he objected. His lawyer got real red in the face.”

Rush cut him off, “Did this Toby snap?”

Bobby slammed his coffee down. “I guess maybe he snapped. The questions kept coming faster and faster about her 911 calls, stalking her, shoving her around and bruising her. Finally, he stood up in the witness stand and started screaming and pointing at his soon-to-be-ex wife. Judge K pounded her gavel so hard she nearly broke it.”

Bobby jabbed a pudgy finger at a column in the newspaper folded in front of him. “Today’s sad character was even a bigger jerk than this one in the paper.”

Smitty leaned over, “Whatcha got there, Bobby?”

An ex-husband in a contested divorce was murdered.”

Rush scoffed. “It’s below the fold on the back section, how important can it be? Up there with the food section?”

Well, it’s interesting to me. This is the second one in as many months. It’s not mentioned in the article, but both of the unsolved murder victims were nasty husbands in divorces in my courtroom.”

Really? Quite a coincidence,” Smitty said.

Yeah, it is. I remember both cases well. Despicable jerks; I can’t say anyone will miss them, but still.”

What? You think you stumbled onto a social justice warrior serial killer on the loose, Bobby?” Rush asked.

Don’t know. I might mention to Judge K, but she’s pretty busy.”

Rush and Smitty exchanged nods.

The waitress delivered two coffees and freshened up Bobby’s. “Donuts, Officers? I have some of the chocolate-glazed chocolate ones saved in the back ‘cause I know you fellas like them best.”

The three officers smiled.

Rush stretched his shoulders. “Millie, you do know your cops, don’t you? Since you set them aside, we’ll have to make them disappear. Bring ‘em, but just don’t get between them and Bobby. Could be dangerous.”

With that, she was gone.

How’d you get set up with Judge K, Bobby?”

I ran across her court a few times in my twenty-five years as a deputy sheriff; she seemed nice. I was planning to retire when her bailiff suddenly died in a weekend traffic accident and the Sheriff asked if I’d like to give the duty a try. I showed up the next Monday morning and have been there for three years now.”

Millie returned with the donuts and the conversation went quiet.

Smitty bit into a donut. “Mmm.”

Rush turned to Bobby. “You like the work?”

Seriously? Hours are 8 to 5, no weekends, no nights. Pretty cushy. I get some of the best freak shows in town. I love it. Besides, I still get to hear war stories from guys like you. The ones doing real police work.”

Nice,” said Rush.

Well, I have to admit, guys like Toby do piss me off, but there’s nothing I can do about it.”

Rush and Smitty exchanged glances before finishing their coffees and standing up.

Rush placed both palms on the table and leaned in. “Don’t be late for court, Bobby. We’re off to do some real police work.”

Bobby mock saluted them as they left.

Outside, Rush looked at his smiling partner. “No – it’s too soon for another unsolved murder of an ex-husband from a brutal divorce. I told you we need to take some time off.”

Smitty said, “I didn’t say today.”

I’m serious, you red-headed dwarf – it’s too soon. Bobby connected the two murders. Someone else might, too. We sure don’t want the Judge to make an official request for inquiry.”

Smitty kept smiling. He’d have the name and address by the end of shift.

NT Franklin Bio:

NT Franklin writes after his real job hoping one day to have it be his real job. He writes cozy mystery short stories, nostalgia short stories, and Flash Fiction. He has over 120 publications in ​​Page & Spine, Scarlet Leaf Review, Fiction on the Web, Madswirl, Postcard Shorts, 404 Words, 101 Words, Freedom Fiction, Burrst, Entropy, Alsina Publishing, Fifty-word stories, Dime Show Review, among others. When not reading or writing short stories, you might find him fishing or solving crossword puzzles.


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