A Very Simple Crime

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Authors: Grant Jerkins
hamburger and fries resting in her lap.
    “Hey, got a minute?”
    “Leo, my loyal and trusty servant, come in.”
    Just as he was often shocked at his own sudden hair loss, Leo found himself taken aback at the changes the last few years had wrought on Paula. She had once been very pretty, and he supposed she still was, but now Paula’s features had an angular sharpness to them that hadn’t been there even a year ago. She was the same old Paula, maybe fifteen pounds lighter and with lines setting in around her tight mouth and open brown eyes. The weight loss and stress lines had given her a hardness that had never been there before. At least on the surface.
    “So, Paula, how they hangin’?”
    Paula pretended to adjust her crotch. “A little to the left, actually. What can I do for you, Leo?”
    “Well, actually, I was wondering what the status is on that Lee thing.”
    “Lee . . . Lee . . . Lee. Oh, yeah, the retard did it. Did the same thing five years ago. The family doesn’t want formal charges, neither do we. Right now he’s on the locked floor at the Hendrix Institute pending a judge’s order for placement at the state forensic facility. Maximum security. Seems pretty cut-and-dried.”
    “Yeah, it seems pretty cut-and-dried, but according to the coroner’s report—”
    “The coroner’s report? Since when do you have access to my files?”
    “I don’t. I just talked to the guy. I mean, I was there that night, so I’m interested. That’s all.”
    “Yeah, well you know, I still don’t know what the hell you thought you were doing by going out there. Your job is to prosecute delinquent traffic violations. If Bob found out—”
    “How would Bob find out? Are you gonna tell him? What? You think I enjoy hanging out in traffic court? I mean, goddamn it, Paula, gimme a break. You used to work for me. How do you think that makes me feel?”
    “Well, now you work for me. I would think that you’d be used to it by now. What do you expect from me? Should I resign because your feelings are hurt?” He was making her feel uncomfortable. Didn’t the fucker know who got him his lousy job in traffic court? She was sure it was humiliating, but, goddamn it, it also paid the bills. And wasn’t that what he wanted when he came to her begging for a job? And she had wanted to help out. She felt sorry for him and had gone to Bob to see what he would let her throw his way. And really, she and Bob had shared the same concern about the situation. It wasn’t that they held a grudge, it was that something like this might happen. That Leo might start bringing up the past. He might try to remind her of the way things used to be. He might make her feel uncomfortable.
    Paula took a bite from her burger and asked, “What is it you want from me?”
    “Just a chance. To do something besides speeding tickets.”
    “Ever since what happened, you’ve been looking for that big break. A way to prove yourself again. I know that. I respect that. But, Leo, you might as well face it, no one’s ever gonna forget what happened.” She felt bad. That was a low blow, but Christ, he was asking for it. What did he expect from her?
    Leo nodded his head. “Yeah, I know. No one’s ever gonna forget. Least of all you.” He turned to leave. And the shrug of defeat that passed through his shoulders was too much for her. She wasn’t fucking heartless, was she? She had, after all, once worked for this man. This pathetic excuse for a man who made her decidedly uncomfortable. She wasn’t a shrew, after all. For God’s sake, the man only wanted to feel like a man again. Who would it hurt if he asked a few questions?
    “Hold on.”
    “So what did he say?”
    “The coroner. Vedder. What did he say?”
    “He, uh, he said the wound, the wound was caused by a blow to the head with a blunt instrument inflicted by a left-handed individual.”
    “So the kid’s right-handed. I called the

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