The Crime

First published in Hobart, September 15, 2022. Copyright 2022 by Tetman Callis.

          What brought us back together was the crime. I should shut up.

          You must believe me. I wouldn’t lie to you. Not any more than I absolutely had to.

          She was seeing someone else. Maybe. I didn’t catch them. Not like that. But I did catch them, like this: I came home from work. Of course I came home from work. I lived there.

          I’m not telling you everything. You can go now.

          Still here? Okay. I came home from work. Maybe I came home early. Our place was at the top of the stairway. One of those iron and concrete stairways in one of those apartment complexes that are cheap and get thrown up real fast. At the bottom of the stairway was the parking lot. I parked. I walked. She and this guy sat on the bottom step.

          I didn’t hurt him, except maybe his feelings. He’d been a soldier, in someone else’s army. A good army, from what I heard. Killed enemies and civilians and won wars.

          They say, If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime. They are right.

          There was a storm and those apartment buildings were so cheap, one of them fell right down, from the top.

          I don’t know if she was seeing him. Except for that night, she was. This is definite. He was there. I arrived. She introduced us. I didn’t smile. I don’t think we shook hands. He got up and left.

          It wasn’t working out. We didn’t talk about it. We never talked about it. Not ever.

          We did what we had to do—we were in complete and sad agreement—and that was that. Afterwards, we grew back together. Partners in crime.

          Oh, the crime. You want to know about the crime. We killed someone. We never knew who it was. It wasn’t him, I can tell you that. He may still be alive, to this very day.