Latest Pulp Modern Flash Stories

Crime and Punishment by Michael A. Raithel

“My concern is that the timeline seems to be a bit off here,” said Detective Gonzales with a sympathetic smile.

He was the good cop; fortyish, fit, and neatly dressed in a sportscoat over an open-collar blue shirt.  Gonzales was probably a family man, indulged his wife and kids, went to church, and coached youth sports.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Neighborhood door cams show Mr. Trevino passing by with the parcel at 10:37 am. You called in the suspicious package report at 11:15. And the first 911 calls came in around 11:45.”

“Okay, so?”

“So, it looks like you didn’t call the police until after Mr. Trevino picked up the package,” Gonzales said.

“But the bigger problem is that none of the neighborhood cams recorded a delivery truck of any kind Saturday morning,” Detective Kravet said.

He was the bad cop; late fifties, middle-aged spread, short-cropped hair, and a cop’s mustache on a ruddy face. Kravet was probably paying alimony to a couple of ex-wives because his real loves were bourbon, scotch, and rye.

“No Amazon, no UPS, no FedEx; nothing. The postal carrier doesn’t get to that neighborhood until the afternoon.  So, how did that package get to the front door?” Kravet continued.

“I don’t know what to say.”

“Remind us what were you doing at your mother’s house.”  Kravet said.

“As I told you before, I was cleaning it out.  Mother died three weeks ago, and I’ve driven out here every weekend to sort through 87-years of family belongings.”

“And you heard a knock on the door,” Gonzales said.

“Yes.  I was cleaning out the kitchen when I heard a knock on the front door. By the time I got there, the person was gone, and the suspicious package was on the doorstep.”

“It was suspicious, how?” Gonzales asked.

“I told you, it just didn’t look right.”

“Didn’t look right because…” Gonzales prodded.

“As I said, it was wrapped in brown paper and twine. It was obviously not from Amazon or one of the other delivery services. It looked homemade.

“You called 911 immediately?”  Kravet continued.

“Yes, pretty much.”

“Not by the timeline we’ve established,” Kravet said.

“Well, it may have taken me a few minutes to decide whether or not to call. I didn’t want to waste the police’s time if it was from an old friend of hers.”

“You do know that the bomb shredded Mr. Trevino and took off his associate’s right leg, don’t you?” Kravet nodded at the glossy pictures on the table.

“Yea, I read that,” I said.  “I also read that the garage where they opened the package was filled with stolen merchandise. According to the article, Mr. Trevino and his… ah… associate Mr. Singh were prolific porch pirates. I read that the police recovered a lot of unopened packages; many from Mother’s neighborhood.”

“If you made the bomb, we will find out,” Kravet said.

“I didn’t, so I’m not worried.”

“How did your mother die?” Gonzales asked.

“She had a serious heart problem and didn’t take her medication.”

“No?  Why not?”

“Mother was an invalid and had her medications delivered.  Somebody was targeting her neighborhood and stole her medication several weeks in a row. Mother reported it to her pharmacy and they were trying to get a new prescription to her.  But.. well… you know…”

Gonzales’ eyes widened with understanding.

“You murdering bastard,” Kravet said.

“Well gentlemen, I’ve been more than generous with my time and I have a long trip home.  If you are not charging me with anything, I think I’ll be on my way.”

When I got back in my car, I looked at the box of Mother’s belongings I had placed on the passenger seat.  At the top was her prized possession; an object she and her first husband had frequently argued over. He said it was a serving dish; she, an ash tray. Which was it?  I didn’t know for sure, but I would have plenty of time to think about it on my long drive home.



Michael A. Raithel is the author of five computer programming books, over 200 technical papers and programming blogs, and a book of computer humor: It Only Hurts When I Hit ENTER.  His stories have been published in Shotgun Honey and Pulp Modern.  Michael is a lifelong gym rat and an avid marathoner.

About PulpModern

One comment

  1. Good “Dostoevsky” flash!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *