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Arthur Kill
About the Author: Jeff Somers ( began writing by court order as an attempt to steer his creative impulses away from engineering genetic grotesqueries. He has published nine novels, including the Avery Cates Series ( and the Ustari Cycle. He also writes about books for Barnes and Noble and and about the craft of writing for Writer’s Digest, which will publish his book on the craft of writing, Writing Without Rules in 2018. He lives in Hoboken with his wife.

He stood with his hands in his pockets, staring out at the water, smoking. The moon was huge in the sky, a dinner plate beaming down into the rippling water. It was quiet, and frigid; he thought the only source of heat for miles around was his Saint Luis cigar, a tiny red coal that firmed up when he drew on it and faded away when he let his hand drop to his side. It was a tough draw. He liked the taste, but keeping the thing lit was proving to be a chore.

The beach was his. Someone had left a pile of beer cans down closer to the water line, but they were long gone.

He walked a little closer to the water. He felt good. Light and energetic, filled with nervous energy. It was a familiar feeling—he remembered it as a kid before getting into scraps in the schoolyard, he remembered it when he’d been in the Marines, he remembered it on the job every time he stepped out of the precinct. He didn’t like it—it was nausea and a trembling excitement that always made him want to piss—but it was familiar, who he was.

He walked to the tide line and stuck the cigar in his mouth. Undoing his fly, he spread his legs and tried to piss into the ocean. As usual, nothing happened. He made another in a long series of mental notes to go see a doctor and find out if this was just getting old, or if it was cancer, or what.

Zipping himself up, he turned back to the dark beach and started walking back towards the road. His cigar had gone dead and he took his lighter out, the orange flame leaping up, eager to burn. Spinning the cigar in his mouth as he walked, he puffed until it had a nice even burn again and snapped the lighter shut. He stopped suddenly and looked around. He’d taken Dee here so many times, decades ago. When they’d been young. They’d made love a few times on the sand, in the dark, nervous about getting caught—it had never been as romantic or exciting as he’d expected; they’d always been rushed and awkward and vaguely ashamed. Sometimes they’d just sat there, watching the water, freezing their asses off.

And now Dee was dead.

Walking back to the car, he pictured her—tall and blonde, cheerful. He didn’t think about the bad times, the fighting and the drinking, the things he called her. He remembered her young and lovely when they’d first gotten married, and he remembered her older and calmer after the divorce. How many divorced couples became friends, years later? Not many, he thought. That meant something. He’d never wanted to be married to Dee again, but he’d come to like her again. And now she was dead. Suicide, the police said.

He paused at the car and looked back down the path at the beach. He didn’t believe it. When Dee had caught him with that waitress from Lee’s, she hadn’t gotten depressed. She hadn’t gotten sad. She hadn’t given up. She’d gotten mad and she’d damn near killed him.

He smiled a little, opening the door and sliding behind the wheel. That was, somehow, how he always remembered Deidre. Spitting fire at him, eyes blazing, the fucking knife in her hand.

The car started with a smooth rumble. Flicking on the lights and putting it into reverse, he shook his head a little. Not Dee. Dee would never kill herself.

The streets were quiet and dark. He sailed down Richmond and drove the speed limit, taking it easy. He knew the roads and if he got pulled over he still had his badge in the glove compartment, but he didn’t feel like racing around. He sat in the dark silence and watched the yellow lines and trees speed by in his headlights, alone on the road. He took the turns from memory. Dee had gotten the house and he hadn’t argued about it; he’d never liked the place. He didn’t like the layout, he didn’t like Staten Island, and he didn’t like driving to and from Manhattan every fucking day, and he’d let her know it, every opportunity he had.

The house was dark when he turned in the drive. He killed the engine and sat in the car for a few moments, staring at the drab white ranch-style place. His name was still on the deed; they’d never gotten around to changing it even after she’d taken over the mortgage payments; his lawyer had told him to make sure he changed it in case she fell behind, but he knew better. Dee never missed a bill.

He let himself in through the patio doors which, he knew, had never locked correctly. Every time they went out to dinner he’d expected to come home to find the place robbed, and when the divorce came through he’d hoped she would be robbed. Somehow no one had ever noticed it.

This story appears in our JAN 2018 Issue
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