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dead ends 1: beginnings that went nowhere

Just for the sake of doing SOMETHING with these, over the next few days I’ll be posting openings I never followed up on. Here’s my first (and thus far only) attempt at a hard-boiled detective opening.
Rogelio was dead.

A few days earlier he and I had argued about baseball. He insisted the game was purer before they started regulating and requiring doping, before steroid regimens became a part of the league rules. I told him he was naive. The game was never pure, I said. They’d been doping in secret since long before the regs got changed. Things got heated, he called me an irredeemable cynical asshole, and I told him to go fuck himself.

But now Rogelio was dead, and I was crouching over his body. With two bullets through the chest, I imagined he didn’t care much about baseball anymore.

“Look,” the cop said, “I called you here first as a courtesy, man. But the black and whites are gonna roll up here any minute.”

“Give me a second, Marcus.” I bit my lip.

“Jaime you don’t have a second. Landsman is gonna be right behind the black and whites, and if HE sees your ass here–”

“Landsman can fuck himself,” I said. I stood up and slipped a cigarette out of the soft pack in my jacket pocket. I lit it. “You haven’t touched him since you found him?”


“Who would leave him in the middle of a field like this?”

“West Side detectives ain’t got a lot of friends,” Marcus said.

“But plenty of that other thing,” I answered. A quarter mile away I saw the blue and reds flash as the first of the two patrols came over the top of the hill in the dark. “Thanks for the heads up, Marc.” I took one last drag on my cigarette and one more look at my old partner’s corpse. There was more light in the midnight sky than there was in his eyes. I stepped on the cig and climbed onto my bike. “You’ll keep me posted if Landsman’s goons find anything interesting?”

Marcus looked over his shoulder at the approaching cars. I saw his shoulders rise and fall in a sigh. He turned back to face me.

“We’ll see,” he said.

I started the engine and rode back toward the road.


About Justin Jacoby Smith

I’m Justin Jacoby Smith. Some people call me “hoosteen.” I live just outside Washington, DC. I like punk rock & country songs. I’m a data monkey. I Occupy DC, because a better world is possible. I’m a cohost & contributor for Voices of the 99%. I’ve served on the editorial board of the DC Mic Check. I briefly developed digital strategy for The Parley. I write poems. Sometimes I get published. Dig it.

One response to “dead ends 1: beginnings that went nowhere

  1. Y u use a The Wire character as the name of a detective? Is it an allusion or bitng?

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