Sticks and stones may break my bones, but hollow points expand on impact.
Two whole goddamned days without her and I was a fucking mess.
She’d gone on some emergency trip home because her mom had gotten sick, and I hadn’t heard a thing from her since.
I really shouldn’t be upset that she hadn’t called. That was a girl emotion…wasn’t it?
Fuck me, but I was turning into a girl.
And everyone noticed.
“What are you frowning about now?” Luke asked.
Luke, being my best friend, had the right to ask questions like that. That didn’t mean I had to answer him, though.
“I think you should pull in there, and we’ll get out and ask some questions,” I said, pointing to the dog park’s entrance.
Luke nodded, and we got out.
Mocha started barking and I rolled my eyes. Did she think I was going to leave her in the car? Did I ever leave her in the car?
No, but she acted like I did, which drew attention our way because she was anything but quiet about it.
“There goes the surprise attack,” Luke laughed.
I would’ve flipped him off, but we were in uniform. I was fairly positive that the chief probably wouldn’t like having pictures of me flipping off the assistant chief on social media.
Just last week they got a cop and his wife fighting while out at the mall.
What had been an innocent little spat between the couple had turned into a massive blow up of manic proportions when the person who’d taken the picture said he was ‘accosting a suspected shoplifter’ when in reality all he was doing was telling his wife that she didn’t need a new purse.
Which meant we were all now on our best behavior until this particular situation blew over.
“Alright, alright,” I said, letting Mocha out of the car. “You have to wear a leash, though. Dog park rules.”
If dogs could glare, she’d have done it when I put her leash on.
“What are we doing?” Luke asked.
I pointed to the dog park. “Let Mocha play. Ask some questions. See if anyone’s heard about the bait dogs that keep showing up dead all over Kilgore.”
“You’re not just going to go out there and ask that, are you?” He wondered as we started towards the gated area where the dogs were allowed to play.
I shook my head and gave him a telling glance.
Luke grinned but didn’t say anything either.
We worked well together, even though we didn’t get to do it often anymore since he’d become the assistant chief.
More often than not, he was chained to a desk except for when we had SWAT training or a SWAT call we needed to go on.
There were those rare days, though, that he got to get out and play with the big boys.
“Have you heard from your girl?” Luke asked.
I knew Luke meant well, but it was obvious he wasn’t taking the hint of ‘I don’t want to talk about it.’
“No. She hasn’t called,” I said.
He was silent for a few minutes before he asked, hesitantly, “Did you give her your number?”
I stopped in my tracks, wondering if I had given her my number.
Luke turned and his eyes were wide. “You’ve been whining for two whole days about her not calling you and you haven’t even given her your number?”
My mouth worked like a fish. “Goddamn, I’m an idiot.”
He laughed and we started walking.
Handing Mocha’s leash over to Luke I pulled my phone out of my pocket just as we reached the gates.
I pulled up the number I’d programmed in my phone the night the wall fell and typed out a text message.
Downy: Everything okay? –-D
The reply was instantaneous.
Memphis: Mom had what they think was a mild seizure, but they can’t figure out what caused it, and the only thing they’re telling us, after her cat scan is to use precaution when driving.
Memphis: This is Downy, right?
I smiled at the phone and replied before I shoved it back in my pocket.
Downy: Good. Yes. That wasn’t a dick. D=Downy. Let me know if you need me.
“You’re smiling like a woman,” Luke taunted me.
I shoved him with my shoulder and took Mocha’s leash back before unsnapping it from her collar. “Alright, psycho. Go play.”
Luke snorted at my use of ‘psycho.’
It’d been her new name ever since Memphis had left. It was as if Mocha had forgotten that she was a trained police dog.
She darted across the field like she was shot out of a gun. Her legs ate up the ground fast as she ran all the way to the end of the fence and started to come back.
“Jesus, what do you feed that dog?” Luke asked, shaking his head.
“Jet Fuel,” I quipped.
An amused snort came from our right where there was an older lady sitting on the bench with two dogs at her feet.
“My dogs used to do that, too, before they got to be older. That one looks like it’s still a baby,” the old woman said.
I smiled at her, pulling out my Southern Charm.
“She’s not a baby. She’s an adult. That’s just how she’s been since I’ve gotten her. Ninety or nothing,” I told her.
She smiled. “Those are the best kind, my boy.”
My eyes widened and I looked at Luke. I was pretty sure she wasn’t talking about the dog anymore, but the woman was freakin’ old. I didn’t even look at her as a ‘woman’ anymore. She was more like an asexual creature that I refused to even think about in that kind of light.
“Are these your dogs?” I asked, gesturing to the two at her feet.
She nodded and pointed across the field. “That one’s mine, too.”
She’d indicated a dog that Mocha was playing with. A Doberman Pincher.
My mind traveled back to the night I’d seen Memphis nearly get attacked by the dog, and I shuddered.
That’d been close. Too close.
That night, I’d gotten out of my truck and was excited to find her outside.
I hadn’t been able to see her, nor the dog, until she’d made it past the building, and what I’d seen had nearly gutted me.
My heart had been pounding, and I prayed that she’d stay still.
She hadn’t, and I’d had to think quickly.
My gun was in my hand before I’d even realized what I’d needed to do.
I’d taken aim and fired as soon as the dog’s body had bunched in readiness to strike.
My aim had been true, but Memphis hadn’t been aware of anything.
She’d been lost in her own personal nightmare, remembering back to when she was twelve years old and a dog she’d known all her life had torn into her like a stranger. A Doberman pincher.
The old lady’s dog was beautiful, stunning really.
However, I didn’t think I could ever look at one again and not see the beveled flesh at the back of Memphis’ neck, and the puckered scar to the right of her hipbone that denoted where the bullet had entered her skin.
The one, she told me, that her dad’s best friend had made while killing the dog right in front of her.
“Downy!” Luke growled.
I blinked and turned to find Luke looking at me expectantly.
“What?” I asked, raising my brow in question.
He tilted his head down to the old woman.
She smiled at me and said, “I asked if you’d heard anything about the dogs that keep going missing here.”
I turned my head slightly and furrowed my brows. “Dogs have been going missing from here?”
She nodded. “Yes. They’re taking dogs from here. Five of them, so far. There’s been one a week since the first one was taken. You didn’t know that? The owners said they reported it.”
I shook my head. “No. Well, that’s not entirely true. We’ve heard about the string of family pets going missing, but we hadn’t heard that there’d been so many coming from here.”
She nodded and stood. “Come with me, I’ll show you what I think.”
We walked with her, passing Mocha and the Doberman as we went.
I smiled at Mocha. There weren’t many dogs that could keep up with her in the quickness department, but the Doberman could. Easily.
“There’s a hole in the fence over here that’s been patched up, but it’s got a different color tie on it each time I come out here. It makes me think that it’s being used, and then replaced each time. Except they’re not using the same color ties, nor are they putting it in the same holes.” The woman pointed to a hole in the fence.
Luke and I walked up to it, stooping down on the balls of our feet to check out what she thought of as a ‘hole.’
And sure enough, there was one. A large one. Big enough not just for a dog, but a human as well.
“Call O’Keefe. Let’s get him out here to look at this, see what he thinks,” Luke ordered.
I nodded and pulled out my phone once again, smiling when I read the text from Memphis.
Memphis- I didn’t think it was a dick. At least not one that belonged to you anyhow. ;)
I snorted and exited out of the text from her and pulled up O’Keefe’s name and called him, explaining what we’d found.
“Alright, I’ll be out there in ten,” O’Keefe said.
O’Keefe was the detective that was put on this particular case.
After I’d taken down the dog that was going to attack Memphis, little pieces had started to be put together, and a dumping ground of dogs had been found not far off from our apartment complex.
What we thought was going on, was that they were dumping them in a creek off the highway. Except the water ran to nothing more than a trickle about a tenth of a mile down the creek.
That’d been where the dog that had nearly attacked Memphis was traced to after some officers had started to case the area.
What we thought happened was that the dog was dumped like the others that’d been found, except he hadn’t been dead, and had gotten out of the creek and up to the street where instinct had then taken over, carrying him in the direction of his home.
Except he’d encountered Memphis on the way, and had lost his life anyway.
Another text from Memphis popped up on my phone, and I would’ve read it, but a faraway form started to walk down the tree line. A person.
On the wrong side of the fence to be coming from anywhere else but the woods beyond the dog park.
The trail ran along the opposite side, so there was no way that he’d be coming from there, either.
“Two o’clock,” I rumbled quietly.
Luke didn’t bother to look up, only turning his eyes to look at what I was seeing.
He grunted. “Take Mocha.”
I nodded and started walking towards the gate, whistling to Mocha as I went.
She broke off from her new friend and came running at me, tongue lolling out, eyes alert.
I’d used our ‘time to work’ whistle for her.
She was a good girl when she had to work.
Now, if I’d tried to do that because we were leaving she would’ve ignored me.
She stepped up to my side, keeping pace with me as we walked out of the gate around the chain link fence.
The guy must’ve turned around, because when we reached the end of the fenced in dog area, he was gone.
I found grass that was folded over from his trek through, so we followed it until it ended in a wooded area.
After a quick search around, I walked back to the hole in the fence, this time to the opposite side.
O’Keefe was there, examining the hole with a trained eye.
“It’s being used a bit. The metal here is worn like it’s been pushed back and forth a lot. There’s stress marks in the links here,” he said, pointing at the links.
I’d seen that as well, but O’Keefe was the detective, so I let him detect. If he didn’t notice anything that I had, then I’d mention it, but until then I’d let him come up with his own conclusions.
The chief had charged us beat cops with asking questions to the public, asking if they’d seen or heard of anything.
He wanted answers, as did we.
Yet, as Luke and I were leaving an hour later, we were still just as unsure of what was going on now as we were when we arrived.
My phone vibrated again, this time with an email.
However, it reminded me of the text I’d gotten from Memphis earlier but had never read.
I about choked on my tongue as I read it.
I was also glad I wasn’t driving this time.
Memphis: I masturbated in your pants today. It was like you were there.
My heart thudded inside my chest at the idea of her masturbating, period. The idea that she was in my pants when she did it was just bonus points.
Downy: Where’d you get my pants from?
I could practically hear her laugh over the time and distance that was separating us.
Memphis: Trade secret. You’ll never know.
I snorted. I remembered exactly when she got them. It was when she took them off the floor of my room after I’d taken them off to get ready for work.
Regardless of where she got them, I was glad she was wearing something of mine.
However, the next morning, when I woke up to find a man on a bike staring me down with death in his eyes, I wasn’t so happy she’d brought the pants after all.