Thursday, September 23, 2010


This is my story for the first prompt of Flash Fiction Friday, and the prompt is a great one. We were supposed to use the following as the first sentence: 'Why aren't shoes ever abandoned in pairs?' The possibilities are endless. Make sure you check out the site and read every one of the stories. I most certainly plan to. I really enjoy seeing what different people do with the same phrase or prompt. No two are ever the same. So, without further ado, my little tale. Hope you enjoy.


“Why aren’t shoes ever abandoned in pairs?”

When I said that out loud, I wasn’t so much asking with the hope of receiving an answer, as I was attempting to ease the tension on what was quickly promising to become yet another in a long line of depressing and disappointing investigations.

I’m a detective--homicide’s my specialty, and whatever the outcome of any of my cases, trust me, nobody wins. The thing is, there’s always a somebody who dies, always a mother or father who lose a child, always a grandma or grandpa brought to their knees in shame when they find out their grandbaby’s a killer. Oh yeah. It’s really rewarding work. Whichever way you look at it, it’s nothing but loss all the way around.

And tonight? I got sent out to the warehouse and dock district at 2 am because some good citizen, who chose to remain nameless and who had no legitimate reason for being down there in that hellhole anyway, stumbled upon a large pool of blood, and about 20 feet away, a woman’s red high heeled shoe. Just the one. In its heyday, it probably had some sparkle. I wondered if it’s owner had some too. Sparkle, that is.

Damn, I hate this one. I hate them all, but cases like this, I despise most of all. I’m going to walk around in a haze, wondering what kind of a woman wore that shoe and what was she doing down here and where is she now and why did she leave the one shoe behind for me to find. And she did leave it there for me to find. I’m sure of it. Well, I know why. To push me back to waking up staring at the bottom of a whiskey bottle, wondering where the fuck I was. It’s been four years, 8 months, 3 weeks, 6 days, and 13 hours, give or take. Just in case you were wondering.

“Boss? Hey, boss? You still with me?”

My partner. The next Dirty Harry Callahan? Not likely. The little hotshot believes he’s super cop. The way he pushes, he won’t live to see 30, but his mom will get his badge in a nice frame for her mantle. So there’s that.

So, there’s a whole lot of nothing to do now; just go home and wait for something. And dream of my mystery lady wearing her one red high heeled shoe. And wondering. Is she safe and warm tonight? Is she anything? Tonight?


Her body washed up the next afternoon and got caught in the pilings by one of the piers. She still had the little tote bag fastened to her waste-band with a safety pin, and the red high heeled shoe’s mate was still tucked safely inside. I should have seen it. I should have known it belonged to Rosie. Old and worn, with a touch of light. Like her. Before.

I’d known Rosie for the past 10 or 15 from my very first beat. We all used to call her Nosey Rosie, because she was always where she shouldn’t have been, watching what she shouldn’t have been watching, taking what she shouldn’t have been taking… You get the picture. Once I made detective, and a few more bucks, I made sure I slipped her a twenty every Sunday night on the corner of Harris and Champlain to cover a roof for the week and some eats. Thing is, I was temporarily tapped yesterday, and figured I’d catch up with her Monday evening. Well, it’s Monday evening, and Rosie just got zipped up in a gray body bag. So much for the best laid plans…

The man surfaced about a hour after Rosie did--gutted like a fish. No doubt the owner of the entire blood pool. No ID, no fingerprints--no fingers, actually. Teeth still there though, so maybe we can get something from dental records; although, his didn’t appear to have enjoyed too many regular 6-month checkups. But, you never know. He was wearing a fairly decent looking suit when he was sliced and diced, so maybe someone might miss him and report it. Then, Adam 12 and I will find out who he was, which usually puts you on the road to resolution. But for some reason, I have my doubts about solving this one. It’s my gut again telling me not to get my hopes up. Years of slurping the hard stuff have messed it up something awful, but when it talks to me, it’s usually right.

Decided to begin the paper trail before Cap got his hooks in me. Our precinct captain was a by-the-book, dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’ kind of prick. Not that there’s anything really wrong with doing things right, you understand, but there are times when his attitude really gets in the way of good police work. Know what I mean? Anyhow, I get to the station and start grabbing some of the forms, when Himself summons me to his office.

It would appear there’s been some word from the top, whatever and whoever that is, that this case needs to be solved just as quickly as is humanly possible. Apparently, our gentleman, who had the misfortune of running into a descendant of Jack The Ripper, was of more importance than I had realized, fairly decent suit notwithstanding. I was informed that the large blood deposit had been 'removed' so as not to associate that area of town with his demise. Evidently, the techs were being 'advised' to confirm that he was 'violated' elsewhere, and dumped up river and just so happened to drift there.

Hmmm. The things people will do so as not to tarnish somebody’s reputation. I didn’t give a damn why he was there. All I gave a crap about was that he was murdered there and dumped like yesterday’s leftovers. There was somebody bigger than me though who did care if people knew he was there, so that’s the way it would be written up. For me, by the way--not by me. I was told I didn’t need to 'worry' myself about writing this one up. It was all being taken care of. I could just go home and look forward to the next callout at 2 am.

I asked my esteemed boss about Rosie and the shoe she lost. I mean, she was there where she obviously shouldn’t have been--again, and saw what she shouldn’t have seen, and paid for it with her life this time. I suggested maybe dusting the shoe for prints, DNA, something, and was told it had been sent to City with her body to be ‘disposed of’. There would definitely be no mention of Cozy Rosie…Nosey Rosie, I corrected him…whatever, he continued. No mention of her or that ridiculous shoe in the vicinity of this crime. That would just be adding way too much more drama to an already extremely stressful situation. ‘Extremely stressful situation’? What?


Went to the corner diner and had a BLT and black coffee and waited until I saw my boss leave the building. I went back in and dropped my gun and badge on his desk. Made a stop on my way home and picked up a quart of one of my old friends. Just poured myself a shot.

Rosie had always said that I was one of the good guys, and she also said that I was smart enough to know when to tap out. Here’s to you, Rose. I sure as hell hope you were at least half right…


  1. Hey Joyce. Once again on the dead end streets where justice and right have no place and absolutely no meaning. Masterful hand in leading the reader to the same tired and dusty conclusions that left the cop nowhere else to go except out with his loneliness and, of course, his good and faithful Kentucky companion. Kind of a happy ending though. Rose told him he'd know when. So even dead she took care of him.

  2. Poor Nosey Rosie. No justice for her or the gutted fat cat. Love the language, the first person narrative. Hope to see more of this.

  3. Took me a second read through to see it clearly, but this is pretty tightly constructed. The paragraph about the Captain's fastidiousness and the one about the partner set the table nicely. Always impressive in such a compressed format.

    I also particularly like the second paragraph. Doesn't seem typical for a cop.

  4. Classic Joyce. This is full of your blend of hard edged realism and humour.

  5. Kinda story that makes you want to loosen your tie, pour three fingers of the good stuff, lean back in your chair and stare out at the rain, thinking about nothing because nothing is easier to think about than that story running around in your head.
    Thanks for putting me in a place I'd sort of forgotten, Joyce. It needed remembering.