My Sweet Rose Detective Short Fiction By Byron Eflock Main

My Sweet Rose: Detective Short Fiction By Byron Eflock

Byron Eflock, author of “My Sweet Rose”, has previously published short fiction in TQR and Aphelion, among others. 

As Detective Derozan walked up the concrete walk to the bungalow—its one lane driveway packed with police activity—he glanced across the block at the Kent County cruiser parked there. Briefly, he wondered why the neighboring county was on site. Was there a jurisdiction question? They were several miles from the county line.

In the bungalow, he stretched his gloves into place and took in the scene. “This the victim?” He pointed at the man on the floor, head practically gone from an apparent shotgun blast. It was a rhetorical question, meant only to engage the officer, a young woman new to the force in the last couple years.

Officer Madison nodded. “Well, one of them.”

“This the victim?” He pointed at the man on the floor, head practically gone from an apparent shotgun blast.

Derozan kneeled to take a look. The man was wearing a cardigan over a striped polo and khakis, a little pudge in the middle, thick arms, body twisted onto its side. A discoloration showed on his neck under the gore. Using a kerchief, the detective wiped it away to reveal a large birthmark and some dark hairs. The shotgun lay beside him, as if dropped there once shot.

“More than one?” he said. “No one mentioned a second.”

“I’m sorry, Detective. When I called it in, well—I hadn’t found the other one.”

“Was it in the basement?” The bungalow couldn’t be more than 800 square feet. The implication was clear, and Madison reddened, but Derozan kept talking. “Really not much left of this one. Got any ID?”

She gestured to his back pocket. “He had a wallet. Theodore Carver.”


Madison shrugged. “Guess so. I mean, he’s got no face, but height, weight seem about right.”

“Photographer still here?”

“I think he went out back for some air.”

Derozan grunted. He was riffling through the writing desk beside the man’s body. “I assume he got this room?”

“Yes, sir, he got everything so far.”

The chair was tipped, and he righted it, looked up to the ceiling where the blood and brains had mostly deposited. The space below it, stained with gore, had been cordoned off.

“Splatter should be here soon,” Madison said, following his gaze.

“Splatter? What do we need them for?” He mimed the shot at an angle from where the man sat at the desk prior to death. “Call them off. And get evidence in here.” He tipped a digital recorder from the drawer up for her to see

She snapped her fingers at the evidence collector in the kitchen. George glanced at her, then resumed what he was doing.

“What is that thing? Some kind of underwater camera?” she said.

“The recorder?” Derozan asked incredulously. He couldn’t be getting that old yet, that a young woman couldn’t recognize a simple recorder. Not even one that uses a tape, but a digital.

“Oh, I think my phone does that.”

“Of course it does,” he muttered under his breath. It did, that was true. He didn’t carry a recorder anymore either. “Where’s the other body?” he asked, walking away.

“Um, in the—” But Derozan was already in the adjacent room, with a dining table and china cabinet and dingy brown décor, same as the living room and entry. A woman lay upon it stiffly, rope marks on her wrists and neck, eyes stuck open, thick dark hair splayed behind her as if intentional. She was beautiful, Derozan couldn’t help but think, even in the ugliness of death. Behind him, Madison stepped into the doorway.

“Find her like this?”

“Yes sir.”

“And the ropes?”


“She was tied at one point, wrists”—he lifted the cuff of her pants—“ankles. Neck.”

Madison swallowed hard. “I haven’t found ropes, sir. I’m sorry.”

He waved her off. “Check the closets. Bedroom. Cellar?”

“I’m afraid wasn’t much to see, Detective. It looked like a murder-suicide, you know? Once we found the woman.”

“Did it,” he said dryly.

He found the ropes half-burnt in the fireplace, the ashes still a bit warm. “Evidence,” he said again, and slipped out of the house, snapping the gloves off and pleased to see the Kent County cruiser had left.


Later, at his desk, Derozan pulled out the digital recorder from its evidence bag. He sorted through its files, hit play on one a few days old. The man seemed to be reciting a letter to himself, as if composing it. It cut off abruptly. The most recent recording was at the bottom of the list. He hit play.

“Where do I begin?” the man’s baritone said. “My name is Theodore Carver. Teddy, my friends call me. Zach was one of my friends. Back in college, we were buddies. Zach was the crazy one, you know, bonging liquor, drag-racing down Main, girl on each arm but they looked like escorts, you know? No one I knew.”

The audio dropped out, and Derozan checked to see if it still counted down. The seconds ticked off before Teddy’s voice returned. Had he been crying? There was a slight crackle to his voice.

“Rose was my college sweetheart, and we married once she graduated. Zach—well, we lost touch for a few years, moved here to Fallston, and, well—one day he showed up. I was away, but uh, he knew Rose, and they had tea.

“Rose loved white tea with honey. We’d make it at home, waiting for the pot to whistle, chatting over a paper or making love on the futon. Sometimes we’d go out to the coffee house on Center and Locust, downtown between the barber and the bookstore, and sit in one of their high chairs around a perfectly round, tall table, flicking sugar packets at each other until our teas came.” Carver chuckled, and the audio went dead for a moment again, followed by some ruffling.

“Now Zach was having tea with my wife instead of me, at my own house, while I was at work. They even went to the café downtown, you know, the one like a bistro with checkered floors and a bakery. Of course, I didn’t know any of this yet. Anyway—” A sound like a chair scraping followed.

“The memory—it’s branded in my head. How can I forget? I hadn’t seen her cry since her cat died, and here she was, out of the blue, face red and tears spilling out. Her big brown eyes were so sad, but they were also—they were also—so condemning. Like it was somehow my fault, but I didn’t even know what it was.” Here he sniffled as if holding back his own tears.

“She asked me if I still loved her. I was crestfallen, but when I tried to hug her, she blocked me. I asked what I’d done, but she only cried more. After that, I fell into pampering her, right? Calling her from work to tell her I loved her. Bringing home Mallo Cups so she could eat them like Reese’s. Lots of hugs and kisses, embracing her from behind, offering my shoulder to cry on. Flowers of course, a fortune on roses and daisies and whatever other clap they sell. Nothing worked. She shunned me.” He took a big breath and went on. Derozan filled up another page of notes and flipped the page.

“That’s when the murders started. Well, Rose loved thin crust extra cheese with mushroom and green peppers from Dino’s across the river. We waited a while, you know, it’s a different county, but not far, so they deliver here but takes time. A couple hours later, they’re closed, still no pizza, I call Domino’s instead.

Figured they lost our order, you know? They found him a week later, ten miles in the wrong direction, our pizza and a few others still on the seat beside him. He’d been bludgeoned and left outside his car along the river, half-floating in the water with the seatbelt wrapped round his neck. I talked to the cops, you know, but I didn’t have much. I’d ordered pizza and it didn’t come, hadn’t paid yet, so—” Derozan could almost hear the shrug over the recording.

He paused it, jotting down more notes, and looked up Dino’s on maps to ring them up. Despite some confusion and emotion at bringing it back up fresh, they confirmed the incident, but it had been almost a year. He would have to call Kent County PD when this was finished. He pressed play.

“From that day on, she barely talked cept a grunt, and I’d find her staring at me from the porch as I watched TV, like I was some monster she had to keep her eye on. Still, I tried to connect with her. She couldn’t be blaming me for the pizza guy, I mean, come on! I came home one day and set my arms about her neck, like I used to do for years, and I thought she had cardiac arrest. ‘It’s just me, Marshmallow,’ I tell her, using my nick for her. ‘Teddy’—but that didn’t work. She was literally shaking and as if struck mute.

“It was a few weeks later I found the receipt. Two white teas from that café downtown, the one with the bakery and what. Anyway, she and I, we hadn’t done that in ages. So I asked her, you know, kinda hopeful actually. Maybe she got a new girlfriend, or maybe she gone to an interview for a job at last. Maybe her sister came to town, I dunno, not like she would tell me, she didn’t tell me anything anymore. But she was never close to her sister, and anyway, they lived hours away, in the district.

“But Rose went ashen at the question, and instantly I thought affair. I mean, it all lined up, didn’t it? But I couldn’t say the word. I couldn’t bring myself to ask her. And she, well I musta grown fangs judging by how she looked at me, like I wanted to eat her alive. She began sobbing, but when I tried to hold her, she screamed and fought at me. So I threw up my arms and let her run off. Can’t say I weren’t fighting back my own tears by this point.”

Judging by the big breaths he took and the hitch in his voice, he was crying again, on the other end of this recording. Derozan skipped ahead a dozen or so seconds.

“—counseling,” Carver was saying. “No therapy. Even mention medication, might as well tell her she looked like Bigfoot. But I was at my rope’s end. I thought I’d go to a counselor myself, maybe get some ideas, see if there was something I’d done or could do. But then I ran into Zach.

“I’d been stopping at Wanda’s In-and-Out Convenience Mart at the river, the one across from Dino’s, ever since we’d lived here. On that day, I grabbed toilet paper and a case of 7-Up, and was checking out. Wanda smiled teeth orange from years of smoking, and three more chins appeared at the effort. ‘How’s the kids?’ she asked. ‘I don’t have kids, Wanda.’ Wanda was the sort who knew every customer she ever had, and could never remember which one was which. Some days I didn’t feel like arguing, and simply told her, ‘They’re fine.’ It’s easier than seeing all that blubber blush.

“I left, hands full, you know, backing into the door so my butt would open it. The bell rang, and Wanda waved at me and smiled. I nodded back and turned to head for my car. He was standing three feet away with the same devilish grin and belligerent stare I’d become accustomed to in college. I wasn’t ready for it this time.

“‘Zach…’ I stumbled for something to say.

“‘Say hi to Rose for me,’ he said, and brushed by me and through the door, still grinning like Austin Powers. I waited in my car, staring at him as he rummaged through every item in the aisles. When he emerged, still grinning, he waved a box of white tea bags at me as he walked past. I laid rubber in reverse to get out of there.

“I’d barely stepped through the door when the sirens started. I froze, flashes of the pizza delivery boy mingling with Zach and Wanda darting through my head. I shrugged it off. I was overthinking it. Zach was nuts in college, but he wasn’t the only one. People changed. Grew up. Maybe he was screwing my wife, maybe he wasn’t. But that didn’t make him a killer.

“A few hours later, the cops showed up at my door. Wanda had been blown away by her own shotgun, by the looks of it, and, according to the tapes, I was the last one in the store before she died—before the video abruptly ended, I interpreted it—and did I see anything out of place? I nearly fainted. I was questioned by the same detectives as the Dino’s incident, but though they seemed more suspicious, they assured me I had nothing to worry about.

“It was another month or so when I ran into Rob at a mall in the city. Rob and I had been roommates and best friends in college, but hadn’t seen each other since Zach crashed our graduation party by setting the yard on fire.” A chuckle here, then he continued. “We’d gotten jobs in different towns, fell in love and married women the other didn’t know, and he’d even had a kid. I’d seen a picture in their Christmas letter. Cute little fellow.

“We hit it off right away. ‘How ya doin, Bear?’ He loved to call me Bear, cause he knew it pissed me off, and he would squeeze me like a real teddy bear.

“I punched him on the arm and laughed. ‘Like crap. You?’

“‘Better than the O’s. Waddaya think, bullpen? They need a lead-off hitter.’

“I remember grunting. ‘Since when do you like baseball, Robbie?’

“‘I don’t. I don’t like weather either, but at least baseball seemed more interesting.’

“‘Not by a lot,” I’d said. “Who’s our weatherman, that fat bastard?’

“‘Speaking of which, how’ve you been?’ he asked.

“‘Like crap, I told you. You have lunch yet?’

“‘Yep, but what the hey. It’s on you.’

Derozan paused the recording. Something about this regurgitated conversation struck him as odd, almost like Carver was reading lines from a play. He scrolled back through his notes. Was there something else too? But he couldn’t place it, and hit play.

“After lunch, he invited Rose and I up to their house for dinner the following week. It was a few towns away, but not so far. I told him we wouldn’t be dinner that easily, but promised we’d be there if I could pry Rose away from the house. He had no idea how literally I meant that.

“Somehow I managed to convince her to go. She put on her pearls and fixed up her hair with a dowel, dabbed some perfume on her wrists. She looked like a Spanish queen. I pecked her on the cheek, but for all my attention, she ignored me. We didn’t talk the whole trip, until I put the car in park as we sat in their driveway. ‘Listen, Rose,’ I said and faced her. ‘We can’t do this tonight, not like this. We’re gonna at least have to act like we like each other, okay?’ She gave me a wry, mirthless smile that I took for a ‘yes,’ and we got out and went to the front door. I was at the wrong house; actually, the wrong street. I wanted Regent Lane, and was on Regent Street. I apologized and as we walked back to our car, I stole a glance at Rose. I can’t blame her for that look of contempt, of exasperation; I’d made a fool of myself.

“When we turned onto Regent Lane, my stomach knotted. The sky over the normally quiet neighborhood was awash in swirling blue and red lights. I pulled the car across the street from their house. Cops swarmed the yard. Through the bay windows I saw a woman sitting in a chair, immobile. A woman cop held her shoulder, leaning down, saying something to her. Before I got out of the car, I stole another glance at Rose. She was deathly pale, tense against her seatbelt like a dog raring to bolt. She refused to look at me.

“I stepped out of the car and walked across the street. A policeman stopped me, and I peered over his shoulder. I asked him what was going on.

“‘Police business, sir, please go back to your car.’

“‘This is my friend’s house, me and my wife were having dinner here tonight.’

That comment landed me a few hours of interrogation. Rob had been found by his wife early that afternoon, slouched over in his favorite armchair, a bullet through his head. No forced entry, no sign of anger or tension on his face. Like he had been talking to an old friend.

I gulped. Where had I been? I told them. I told them everything I knew. I told them everything I could tell them, without dragging me and Rose and the other murders into it. Without sounding like a looney bin. Without showing the guilt I couldn’t help but feel; that I had killed him, by leading Zach to him. Zach was always a madman, but now he was a psychopath, and there was no clean way for me to tell the police. It would all fall on me. I kept quiet.

“After that, Rose locked herself in her room and only came out for food and drink. At first, I left dinner and a mug of hot white tea outside her door. It would sit there for days, before I’d throw it out. I’d come home to a bachelor pad, watch television all evening to distract myself, and sleep a few hours on the futon. I’d wake up too early and sit at the breakfast table, staring at the calendar and the waterfall or desert or mountain lake hanging above the days and month. One day I fell asleep at the breakfast table, and awoke to the sound of a faucet running and the refrigerator door opening and closing. I got up, still in socks and bedclothes, and stepped around the corner of the fridge. Rose stood there in her robe, her back to me, hair disheveled and roughly pinned up.

“Rose!” I cried. It was a stupid thing to do, but I was still half asleep and overjoyed just to see her again. She turned around, and I’ll never forget the look in her eyes. Fear. Pain. Rings hung beneath her eyes like a felled tree. She looked decades older. I held out my arms to hug her, and she ran upstairs like she’d seen the boogeyman and slammed her door.

“It went on like that for months. It came to the point where catching a glimpse of her was like seeing a shooting star. If she’d had any other family, I’d have expected her to be long gone. But her mother was dead, her father in a nursing home with early Alzheimer’s, and of her sisters, one lived in a dorm on campus, and the other had a live-in boyfriend in a tiny three-room apartment above a bar in downtown D.C. She was stuck, and we both knew it.

“I began to fear getting served with papers. Every time Amazon rang the bell, or the neighbor slowed past our house, I imagined a manila folder and those terrible words. As bad as things were, I couldn’t imagine divorce. I wanted to fix it. To love her and show her it wasn’t me.

“Then this morning, things changed. I sat at the breakfast table, already dressed and ready to go, drinking a glass of orange juice with a cream Danish and skimming the paper. She appeared in the doorway, leaning on its frame, staring at me. She no longer looked frightened, only melancholy.

“I choked on the Danish and gasped. ‘Rose!’ I didn’t dare move, for fear she’d turn and run back upstairs. We gazed into each other’s eyes for a while, and finally I got up and went toward her. She didn’t run away. I held her to my chest, buried her face in my bosom, let tears stream onto the top of her head. ‘I’m so sorry, Rose. So sorry,’ I mumbled into her hair, not knowing why I was sorry but feeling it was the only right thing to say.

“‘Rose, do you still love me?’

“She looked deep into my eyes for several seconds, then settled her head back into my bosom. ‘Yes,” she whispered. ‘I do.’

“‘Then kiss me.’

“She remained silent for a long moment, then muttered in a cracking voice, ‘I can’t.’

“‘Then at least look at me,’ I said, and gently nudged my finger under her chin to raise her head. She stared at me with doleful eyes, and I resisted the urge to kiss her, to hug her tighter, to never let go of her ever again.

“’Marshmallow, make me a promise.’”

“Her eyes didn’t leave mine, but a ring of moistness hung around them.

“’Under no circumstances are you to leave this house with anyone, okay? Not a soul. Keep it under lock and key. Okay? Will you do this for me? It’s very important.’

“She nodded her acceptance. I looked at the clock. I was late for work. I started to pull away from her, and stopped. I held her at arm’s length and told her, ‘And don’t let anyone in either, okay? No one. It’s not safe. Someone’s out to get us, and until I figure out why, don’t leave the house or let anyone in. Okay?’

“‘Not even you?’

“‘Well, yes, me, Rose. But I have a key anyway. But no one else, okay?’

She nodded.

“‘I really have to get to work. I’ll bring us home something special for dinner.’

“She smiled, and I blew a kiss at her as I shut the door. I should have stayed home. I should have called in sick. Maybe everything would have been different.

“I came home with two lasagne dinners from Travani’s Fine Ristorante and a single white rose. I turned the key in the lock and pushed open the door with my hip.

“Rose lay on the floor. Her hands and feet were tied, her mouth gagged with one of my shirts. Her pants were pulled down to her knees, and her panties cut up and thrown aside. Her neck was red with rope burn. The eyes that had looked at me with newfound love that morning now lay frozen in shock and terror.

“The lasagnes fell to the floor and splattered, and I beside them.”

There was a long pause, and Derozan, not for the first time, checked the time remaining. It ticked down under a minute, then Carver resumed, voice cracked and defeated. Good acting? Derozan wasn’t sure. He had a lot of checking up on facts in other counties to accomplish before he could put this mess together. And in the meantime, the ME would likely rule it a murder-suicide. Death by husband. Derozan gritted his teeth as Carver spoke.

“I don’t even know how I managed to record this, and I don’t know if anyone will find it. But if I’m gone, look into these things. Find Zach. He killed my Rose. My dear—my precious marshmallow. Why did he have to take Rose from me? I don’t care if I spend the rest of my life in prison, I will find him. I will crush him like he—”

Abruptly the recording ended. No gunshot, no goodbye. Like someone else had pressed the “stop” button before the confrontation.

No, he couldn’t go too far down that rabbit hole. He had police work to do first. If it lined up, he could entertain the thought of this Zach. Until then…


The next morning, he called Officer Madison to his desk. “Take a listen,” he said. “You were there, tell me if anything seems off.” He gave her the recorder and headphones. When she had finished, she removed the headphones and sat back heavily.

“Got anything?”

“Maybe.” She rocked slowly, brow furrowed. “Have you followed up on any of it?”

“Yeah. It all checks out. Kent County will be by later to pick up the recorder, see if they can use it on their open cases.”

“You think this Zach, he exists? Or like, is Carver trying to shift the blame?”

“I don’t know. Why do that if you’re just gonna off yourself?”

“Good point,” Madison said. “What if the killer did the recording, you know, to confuse us?”

“Sure. Then we’re assuming there is a killer, which means Carver could have done the recording himself, too. We track anyone down might know his voice?”

“Well, we can look at her sisters, or—well, it might be a long shot.”

“Out with it,” Derozan demanded.

“I know a guy used to work at Wanda’s. Before it shut down after, well—after Wanda was shot. If Carver was a regular like he said, maybe he knows him.”

“Get him on the phone.”

He picked up on the second ring. “This is Les.”

“Les, hey, it’s Madison.”

“Maddie! How you doing, girl? Cop life treating you well?”

“Yeah, it suits me. You know how I am.”

Derozan rolled his hand in a “let’s go” motion. She nodded.

“Listen, Les,” she said, cutting him off. “Sorry, this isn’t a social call. How far away are you from the station?”

“Right up the street as usual. You need me for something?”

“Just to jog your memory a little. Something about your time at Wanda’s.”

The line went dead for a long moment. “They never found that bastard what killed her,” he said at last, sounding like a different guy. “I be right down.”

She was flipping through her notes when she suddenly stopped and looked up alarmed. “I got something,” she said, her voice low and eyes bright.

“Tell me.”

“Early on, Carver says Zach knew Rose because they all knew each other from college. Right? Well, later he meets his college roommate and best friend, Rob, and says he didn’t know Rose. He said”—she checked her notes— “‘married women the other didn’t know,’” she quoted.

Derozan tapped a pencil on the desk. But what’s it mean? He felt Madison’s eyes on him.

“That’s it, right? We caught him in a lie,” she said, barely holding her excitement.

“Or…” Derozan said. “He’s confused. He misspoke.” He shrugged. “Look, it’s good work, but it doesn’t prove anything yet. Keep at it.”

She deflated, but Les walked in the front door, and she hurried over to meet him. They played a clip for him from one of the innocuous parts and posed the question.

“Yah, that’s him. Funny fellow, that Carver,” he said, removing the headphones.

“Funny? How is he funny?”

“He’d come in, you know, get in arguments. Be yelling in the back sometimes. Whole conversations. Made me nervous, to be honest, but he was always sweet as peach tea with me.”

“Arguing with who?” Derozan asked.

“Whom,” Madison said, then blushed when they both looked at her. “Sorry,” she muttered.

“He called him Zach, I think. Yes, that was the name. Zach.”

The detective shared a look with the officer. “Zach,” Derozan repeated. “You’re sure?”

“Oh yeah. Definitely Zach. But he was funny like I said. You think he had something to do with Wanda? You know they never did find her shotgun, the one killed her.”

Derozan didn’t know that. He jotted it down, then with inspiration, asked Madison to retrieve the weapon used to kill Carver from evidence. “Funny. You keep using that word. Why is he funny for arguing with this fellow Zach?”

“I never thought he’d be the one,” Les was saying, mostly to himself. “I mean, he didn’t seem violent, except when he arguing back there.”

Derozan grew impatient and tried to snap Les back to the precinct. “Tell me about Zach, give me a description.”

“Sorry? Oh, yes. He was funny all right. And Zach, well I never saw him, as such. Maybe I’m not explaining it well enough. See, Teddy, well, Carver, you know, he be yelling at this Zach fellow, but then he’d answer and say his own name.”

Derozan stopped writing in his notepad and looked up. “Say that again?”

“I never saw no Zach. I think—well, I don’t know this, but I think he was arguing with himself. Like how people do, but in their heads?”

Derozan leaned back in his seat as Madison returned with the shotgun.

“That’s it!” Les exclaimed.

“Now hold up,” Derozan said. “How do you know?”

He pointed at the butt where some faint scratchings could be seen. “Her initials. WL.”

“Wanda Leiter,” Madison said, a far-off look in her eyes. Then she met Derozan’s.

“Thanks, Les, you’ve been a huge help.” She ushered him out the door.

“Shit,” Derozan said. “Carver killed Wanda. He probably killed them all.”

“Wait, what about Zach? I think it looks like he—”

Derozan’s shaking head stopped her. “Zach is Carver. They’re the same.” He hung his head and leaned into the desk.

“Shit,” she said, echoing him. “You mean like Fight Club? How’d you work that out?”

“From Les.”



A plain-clothed detective stepped through the door, badge in hand and piece showing at his side. Derozan stood up, brandishing the recorder in its evidence baggie. “Jenkins,” the man said, offering a hand. “Kent Police.”

“Detective,” Derozan said, shaking the man’s hand. “Got it right here. Just fill out my form.”

“Derozan, is it?” Jenkins said as he scribbled a signature on the form.

“That’s right,” Derozan said. “You the detective on this case?”

“I was. It went cold, but this could help.” He peered into the other room. “That the weapon?” The man held him with piercing eyes and a big smile.

Derozan looked back at Madison at his desk, still holding the shotgun like a staff across her arms. He sighed. “Yeah, that’s the one.”

The man cocked his head, holding the smile.

“Let me add it to the list,” Derozan said with resignation.

“It’s in good hands, trust me, Detective. You’ll have it whenever you need it.”

He signed it over and watched him leave before returning to Madison. “You are dismissed, Officer,” Derozan said coldly.

“Look, I’m sorry, I screwed up bad, I admit. But I been thinking.”

Derozan sighed and sat back, composing himself. “You just gave our murder weapon to another precinct.”

“Technically, you did,” she muttered, then held up a hand. “Sorry. Look. I thought about the audio, and something didn’t sit right.”

“The audio’s a lie. There’s no Zach.”

“Yes, but… hear me out. He thinks there’s a Zach, right? Like he doesn’t realize he’s what? Disassociated? So he makes this whole recording, thinking Zach is responsible for all the murders. He doesn’t even know, right? Then he shoots himself, thinking he’s shooting Zach.”

The detective looked thoughtful for a moment before shaking his head. “Either way. Does it even matter?”

At that moment, Les charged back into the station and straight over to their desk, agitated. “Who was that fellow?”

Derozan stood up and made to restrain him. “Now Les, you need to calm down.”

“That fellow! The one just left with the nice suit and holster. Who was he?”

“Detective Jenkins. He’s from Kent—”

“No he isn’t. Or if he is… he the spitting image of Carver!”

Derozan felt the blood drain from his face. Madison took the cue and escorted Les to a seat near the entrance, but kept glancing back at Derozan. He dug out the wallet from its evidence bag and opened it, and with a single glance, knew what he’d missed. Blonde hair on the license, not black like the body’s. And those eyes—he’d just seen those eyes, piercing at him, insisting on the shotgun without having to say a word.

He ran outside, looking up and down the street, then returned to Les. “The man, where did you see him?”

“He was walking past my shop.”

“Did you see where he went?”

“I watched him a moment, then ran straight here.”

Derozan jumped in his cruiser and patrolled up and down the streets, but the man was gone. And with him, Teddy Carver, aka Zach.

He dialed up Kent and spoke to the same woman as earlier. “Morning,” he said, trying to stay calm and professional. “Hey listen, uh, when do you think your detective will be here?”

“Oh my, I’m so sorry, but we probably won’t be getting down to Fallston today, Detective.”

He swallowed but his throat felt constricted. He managed to say, “Oh?”

“One of our detectives went missing, can’t seem to reach him, but they found his car. I’m sure it’s nothing, probably another bender. He’s been so hard after this Leiter case, sometimes it gets to them, I’m sure you understand.” She sounded apologetic.

“Of course,” he croaked. “Tell me, your detective… does he have… does he have blonde hair, a bit stocky, brown eyes?”

“Oh, no,” she said. “Jenkins has black hair and a birthmark, can’t miss it, back of his neck.”

The phone fell from Derozan’s hand. He jumped up. “I need an APB!” he called out. “Now!”

“Hello?” the woman said from the hanging cradle.

Madison retrieved the phone and replied to the lady, apologizing.

“Like I told the detective,” the woman said. “We can’t locate Detective Jenkins at the moment, but we’ll have someone down in a few days. Don’t worry, this case isn’t going anywhere. Why, just the other day, I was talking with Mrs Jenkins—that’s the detective’s wife—you know, she’s got the most beautiful black hair I’ve ever seen, and the rosiest cheeks! Why it’s no wonder they named her Rose!”


If you’ve enjoyed “My Sweet Rose”, you can visit our free digital archive of flash fiction here. Additionally, premium short fiction published by Mystery Tribune on a quarterly basis is available digitally here.

For online archive of short fiction (longer pieces) on Mystery Tribune website, you can visit here.

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