Simona Osborne answered the door herself. Though she hadn’t been seen outside her house in many years, she was impeccably dressed, with fashionable clothes that were only a decade or two out of date draped over her, as well as a boa made of something that looked both fancy and authentic. “Well, Sheriff Decker. Now, this is a surprise. Tell me, is it common for members of our local law enforcement to deliver baked goods to elderly women, or did you make a special exception for little old me?”

Decker roughly pushed the bag of breads and cookies into Simona’s hands. “A delivery was the only way your boy at the gate would let me through,” he groused. “Nobody respects this badge anymore.”

“Oh, they surely don’t, Sheriff, they surely don’t,” cooed Simona. She set the great bag o’crusty goodies on her floor. “After all, the badge is just metal on its own. It’s the person behind the badge that commands respect. Or not, as the case may be.”

“You’re such a nasty woman,” Decker spat. “Don’t think I haven’t heard about what goes on in this house.”

“Oh, is that why you’re here? To investigate the salacious rumors? Well, then, let me put your mind at ease, Sheriff. They’re all true. This house is in fact owned by a woman of advanced years and independent means, who enjoys both her privacy and the freedom it allows.” She flashed a smile of lightly tobacco-browned teeth, before taking a quick drag on her cigarette holder. “And I’m sure there’s pirate gold clutched in the arms of a dead husband in the witch’s coven I keep downstairs too, though I must admit that I prefer the Xbox and Netflix to murder and spellcasting these days.”

Decker made an exasperated noise. “See? That’s just the kind of thing I’m talking about. People agree with me, lots of people, when I look at this place and wonder where the money’s coming from. How many drugs are you selling, Osborne? How many humans are you trafficking?”

“Sounds like a question for my accountant,” said Simona coolly. “Why don’t you send him a nice lawful subpoena and find out?”

“Mr. Osborne was always talking like that too,” Decker said. “I remember my father, great man that he was, always saying that Osborne was acting like he had something to hide.”

“Funny that, a doctor not wanting to spill secrets to a lawyer, hmm?” Simona smiled. “Now, was there something I can do for you, Sheriff? If you have business with Dr. Osborne, you know where to find him in the graveyard.”

“You’re hiding folks in this house,” Decker said, red in the face. “Folks that ought to be rounded up. Criminals and rapists, most likely. Vandals and the like, responsible for desecrating our statue, I shouldn’t be surprised to learn. I need to take them in, ask some questions about what’s been going on in town.”

“Oh, of course, Sheriff,” Simona said with a warm smile. “I’d be happy to show you all of the fugitives I’m allegedly harboring. All I ask in return is a small gift.”

“Hmph. A bribe, you mean?” Decker said.

“A warrant. Though your first thought going to ‘bribe’ does explain an awful lot about the state of law enforcement in this city.”

“If you don’t obey, when I come back with a warrant, you’ll wind up in the county slammer along with every last wetback you’ve got in your basement,” Decker sneered. “Every last peso they’ve given you won’t do you much good when you’re behind bars, you stupid old half-blooded bitch. You’ll wind up where you should’ve been when your father was whoring around with your mother.”

“Oh dear, such a predicament. If only I had known, I would’ve arranged to be born to parents that met the approval of Teddy Decker,” Simona said. “Remind me to say the same to all of your half-brother and half-sisters running around Higbee when Teddy Sr. used to make legal…housecalls.”

  • Like what you see? Purchase a print or ebook version!