I think it’s the Eagles. A guy’s singing about seven women who want to own or stone him. For me, it’s two women. One definitely wants to stone me. The other doesn’t know me, but I may have saved her life.

I’m sitting in a brand new 1972 Ford Galaxie 500, watching a redhead walk into Wrigley’s Supermarket. I didn’t like giving up the Fury, until I discovered the Galaxie had AM/FM. I flip to national news, about a burglary at a D.C. office and a hurricane hitting the east coast. We don’t get many hurricanes in Michigan. I change stations.

I’m a detective. I track down criminals, but let someone else do the judging. Suspects know I don’t look down on them, so they tell me things. One even invited me to his mother’s funeral. Larry Brothers didn’t do that, but he told me about chopping off his mother’s fingers and putting them in sandwich bags.

We weren’t involved in that case. I didn’t get tied in with Larry until he started killing other women. Specifically, women coming out of supermarkets with grocery bags. Larry always left the bags with the body. He might be a killer, he told me, but he was no thief.

Larry didn’t kill them as they walked out of the store. Too many people around. He’d poke a gun in their backs and invite them for a ride. I told Cindy, if anyone ever tells you to get in a car, don’t. You have a better chance out in the open. She said I was morbid. 

Cindy’s the one who wants to stone me. I met her when she saw a getaway car. I thought she was cute, she thought I was brave, and we went from there. The sex was fantastic. Cindy said the thought of me shooting people turned her on. That didn’t make sense to me, but I didn’t argue. The arguing came later, when she wanted me to “express my feelings.” Then she wanted me to stay home more. I don’t understand women. They get hot about the work you do, but then they want you to stop working so much. Like the song on the radio now, a girl named Brandy trying to understand why her sailor boyfriend went back out to sea. I mean, where the hell else would he go?

I stretch my legs. The Galaxie is roomier than the Fury. No power, though. Damn smog control sucks the life out of the engine.

My first contact with Larry came from the grocery bag by the latest victim. This time, he got careless. Not the receipt–he always left that. It helped identify Sharon Galway as the body facedown in a creek, her nipples cut out, along with all ten fingers and a couple of toes, all sealed in sandwich bags piled beside the body, next to a bottle of Wella Balsam shampoo. 

But this time, Larry left “cut and sewn” carpet fibers, used in 1950s American cars, with perchloroethylene on one fiber. Dry cleaners use that, so I got a list from local cleaners of recent pickups. After crosschecking that against motor vehicle records, I had a list with Larry’s name.

Long story short, I arrested Larry. He’s a big guy, but he didn’t fight me. I drove the long way to the station, and we talked again after he was booked. I asked where he grew up, what he watched on television, that kind of thing. Since I hadn’t asked about the murders, I didn’t worry about lawyers. Just a friendly conversation.

I flip the dial again. Eric Clapton’s asking Layla what she’ll do when she gets lonely. If I tried that on Cindy, she’d throw a shoe at me. Cindy thinks I don’t have feelings. Maybe that’s true. But I can listen to a suspect without getting emotional. So when Larry discussed which sandwich bags are best for fingers, I didn’t react, except to think he’d made it easier to collect evidence. I stopped him to read his rights, but by then he was on a roll. Larry won’t be using sandwich bags anymore.

I’m sitting in front of the salon where Cindy works. She slammed the door, after calling me a cold, unfeeling bastard. But I see the redhead leaving Wrigley’s Supermarket next door, juggling three bags, and I think maybe it’s OK if I am cold and unfeeling. For one of those women, anyway.

Leone’s stories have appeared in several mystery anthologies, most recently, Level Best Books’ 2017 anthology, Busted: Arresting Stories from the Beat. She had four mini-mysteries in Woman’s World. Leone is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. She lives in Charlottesville.

Copyright © 2018 Leone Ciporin. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited.