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by Michael Grant Smith

To be the police chief’s son. What an easy occupation — awarded as a birthright, never earned. Our whole town despises him and everything he does.

Look at him. See his face? It’s the unlined mask of someone oblivious to the sting of consequences. His pie-hole could utter lies about the pressure of being held to higher standards. The little pink ears sift secrets. Wide-set eyes always on the lookout for mischief. The police chief’s son is a meritless stooge, bred for accidental and undeserved success. It doesn’t matter if his features are symmetrical and posture is excellent.

He’s cunning, this police chief’s son. The work he does for volunteer social programs is simply a front. He gains the organizations’ trust and then destroys them from the inside. You want to defend him because of the hours upon hours he spends with UNICEF, and Save the Children, and other agencies? Fools like you sustain his treachery.

We reject his account of how he happened to be walking past the retirement home as it caught fire. Contrary to security camera playback and credible eyewitness reports, we believe it unlikely he rushed in there to save those twelve people. He probably ignited the blaze himself and had to ask for directions in order to escape! Residents followed him to safety because they were old and feeble, incapable of judging his true character or motives.

Ill people die in hospitals every day. Many car accidents result in serious injuries, leading to death or impairment. Some woman’s schnauzer froze solid in the snow last January. The diner ran out of whole wheat sandwich bread during the lunch rush on Tuesday. What were the whereabouts of the police chief’s son? Does he have alibis for all of these incidents?

Plenty of rumors expose the depths of wickedness to which the police chief’s son will descend. The evidence exists in plain view if you know where to look. Most of the particulars are unverified or circumstantial, but they describe the offenses we imagine he would commit. It’s better to guess the facts first and then fill in all the details as we go. Our town’s citizens are not stupid.

Someone once loaned the police chief’s son a small sum of money, no more than fifty dollars. The lender was never heard from or seen again, although the exact sequence of events and whether they really occurred are both unclear. The police chief’s son wants it this way!

Michael Grant Smith wears sleeveless T-shirts, weather permitting. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in elimae, The Airgonaut, The Cabinet of Heed, Ellipsis Zine, Spelk, Bending Genres, Unbroken Journal, MoonPark Review, and elsewhere. Michael resides in Ohio. He has traveled to Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Cincinnati. To learn too much about Michael, please visit michaelgrantsmith.com and @MGSatMGScom.