By Ron Cooper
Silver Medal, General Fiction
Sue’s Prius was in the driveway beside Deputy Blevins’s Ford F250, and no lights were on in the house when Sergeant Dalton dropped Blevins off at the curb. Sue and their daughter Diana were surely upstairs asleep. Blevins entered quietly and was greeted by their Airedale terrier.
“Hey, Apollo,” Blevins said. He squatted and rubbed the dog’s ears. “Why aren’t you up in bed with Diana?”
Blevins left his boots by the door, sat on the couch with the dog curled beside him, and turned on the television. He kept the sound low and scrolled through the cable movie channels. Cool Hand Luke, his favorite film, had just started. Blevins could watch for a few minutes, have a couple of glasses of the bourbon he had bought earlier, then creep upstairs to slide into bed beside Sue. He knew that Sue did not expect him home from the conference until the next day, and he wondered if she would be frightened when she awoke in the morning and felt him there. Perhaps if she found him on the couch after she was fully wake she would not be startled. He was more tired than he thought he would be. His eyelids began to sag.
He was awakened by a noise in the kitchen, perhaps the backdoor closing. Then he heard a man’s voice. Blevins rolled off the couch. He drew his .45 from the holster on the coffee table and pushed off the safety. In the murk of sleep or drunkenness, he moved through the den in a crouch, the pistol leading the way. As he got to the kitchen door, the light came on. A man said, “Jesus.”
Blevins fired twice.
Sue crumpled to the floor like a dropped marionette.