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  • Writer's pictureJabe Stafford


An unknown cell number flashed a text onto Grant’s phone. “He’s en-route now. I can only force him to the tunnel. Don’t expect me to hide the body. Or the motorcycle.”

Clean rain on soil and pavement filled Grant’s mouth when he hawked and spat. It smacked against the trunk of a pine, its branches splattered against the side of the tunnel and overpass where it’d splintered and fallen. He cuddled the shovel under one arm and paced back and forth under the tree, texting one-and-a-half-handed. “My daughter deserves her father. Out of prison.”

He covered the phone with the inside of his leather jacket. Drops struck it and dribbled onto his jeans. The number again. “Then we shouldn’t do shit that’ll get us canned. A mystery to the head is an accident.” Grant filled in the rest of the text for himself.

Engines and sirens shrieked from the tunnel’s far end. He savored one lung-burning breath, then replied, “It has to be me. Duty’s coming.”

With that, he hurled the phone over the guardrail into the ravine on the opposite side of the highway. The device whipped between trees end over end, a spiral of droplets in the summer drencher. In the slits between trunks, he could see churning waters rushing though the ravine.

“Deserve and receive.”

Grant hefted the shovel and crossed to the tunnel’s lip.

More screeching, growling. Flooding the air.

Elbow up, ears sharp, he stepped into the road and swung for the speeding biker's helmet. Plastic and metal cracked over the roar of the bike’s engine. A thick-necked man folded back on himself, tumbling the wrong way against his own momentum. He skidded, halted under the guardrail.

Grant hunched behind his jacket didn’t acknowledge the copper-haired woman that screamed past in a state police cruiser. Its dashcam could pick up a nod of acknowledgement and get them canned. The officer switched her siren off, skirted the wrecked bike, then took the corner and was gone behind the pines.

Rocking the shovel’s splintered pieces in his arms, he crossed to the ravine and pitched them in. With the helmet off, the near-dead man on the road next to him could hear Grant’s hiss. “Rapist.”

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