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Cops & Robbers

Stephen Graham Jones


My wife’s glasses were driving her crazy, so before too long she started killing people in quiet ways. She was remarkably efficient. As a homicide detective, I had nothing but respect for her manners. However, the fact remained that she was breaking laws I was sworn to uphold. Over the next few years, then, we did the dance we were supposed to do—hunter, prey; prey; hunter; she almost but never quite falling for our many baits, me slamming my badge down on my captain’s desk so many times that it bent the clasp—but at the end of the song we had to acknowledge that we were evenly matched. Any good marriage counselor would have told us the same thing. Our dinner talk and our pillow talk were formal, polite, model. We both washed our hands after work, commented in our individual ways on the bodies piling up in the newspaper, and kissed each other off into the city the next morning. Soon enough, retirement was looming before me, and she was the only active case I hadn’t been able to close. At my farewell banquet she held my large hand in her smaller one, and then, that night in the foyer, the bulb overhead not yet warm, her mask slipped a bit, her killer’s fingers reaching under my suit jacket, to my shoulder holster, but after twenty-five years on the force I was expecting this too. She came up from the formed leather not with my service revolver, but a pair of gold-rimmed reading glasses. They matched my new watch. She inspected them from every angle then lowered her face to them, looked up to me with them on—looked out of them to me—and said nice, turning to face object after object in the foyer, as if they were all new, and in this way we walked together into what was supposed to be our twilight years, but felt more like dawn.

Stephen Graham Jones has three novels published, The Fast Red Road, The Bird is Gone, and All the Beautiful Sinners, and a story collection out in March: Bleed Into Me. He currently teaches fiction writing at Texas Tech University.

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