Fiction Written Works

Practice Piece 31 by Meghan Lynch

October 27, 1986 

The animated warble of the sportscasters’ voice carries through the room, and I’m sitting cross-legged on the floor watching game 7 of the World Series. My little sister Sally is painting her nails in her trademark red, feet propped up next to the Chinese take-out strewn across the coffee table. She absentmindedly huffs another drag of her cigarette, staring at the tv set with disinterest. 

I clear away the garbage and start putting away leftovers in the kitchen as an unmistakable chirping echoes from my bedroom. “Beeper!” Sally hollers from the other room, and I stumble across the apartment to grab it from my dresser. Minutes later, I’m holding my badge and shouldering my coat, and as Orosco strikes out the last hitter I rush out past Sally into the night. 

Droplets patter on my windshield, and the radio is gently humming to a song I can’t place. The neon signs of downtown Queens spill onto the sidewalks and leave colorful smears across the night as my car screeches past.

My brakes groan in protest as I pull to a stop in front of the building, and my partner Danny Anderson steps out to greet me. The broken streetlamp leaves him shrouded in shadow, save for the gentle glow of his cigarette illuminating the lines on his face. Propped against my car, I cross my arms and stare daggers at his head.

“Why didn’t you come last Friday? Sally sat on the curb for three hours. In the rain, Danny.” He simply gives a sheepish grin and hands me a steaming cup of coffee, gesturing with his notepad to the stairs. “Aw c’mon, please don’t take it too personally. She’s cute, but just not my type. Besides, I don’t know if I should date my coworker’s sister.” 

“Not even a call? Really?” “Yes, yes, I’m a jerk. I’ll make it up to you, I swear it. Now can we please talk about work?” I reluctantly nod and he walks ahead of me. As we scale the stairs to the fourth floor, he gives the rundown on the latest victim.

 “Andy Martinez, artist, age 24, lives alone. No family, save for some uncle in a home upstate, and he’s not too sound in the head. Super said he came up to harass the guy about rent, saw the door ajar, comes in to find him on the floor in his studio.” We come to a halt in front of the apartment, and the peeling gray paint of the door is covered with police tape. “Same letter as the others?” 

Danny’s ever-cheerful voice rings through the apartment as we enter “Yep. Still no other connections besides the notes. Last victim was shot with the unregistered pistol, this guy gets a garrote” he says, sidestepping the photographer. “Take a look around, see if you can gather anything. I’m gonna speak to the folks in the building, see if anyone could give me an idea if this guy had any visitors.”

Gingerly I step around the body to search for personal effects and Danny steps away. Finding nothing, I turn to where the note lies on the kitchen table. The handwriting is the same as on the note found with the last victim, messy scrawl in what appears to be rust red ink. Stark handwriting glares up at me from the page, 

In shadows deep, a secret I keep,

A haunting truth, in silence steep.

A life undone, a choice profound,

Whispers echo, on hallowed ground.

In dim-lit corners, shadows dance,

A tale of darkness, a fateful chance.

Confessions linger, heavy air,

A haunting truth, beyond repair.

Yet, in these verses, I confess,

Not of a crime, but words, no less.

A fictional tale, a darkened art,

A murder of ink, from a poet’s heart.

  • Danny Anderson

Danny enters the room, and wordlessly I hand him the note. His tan skin takes on an ashy hue and for a minute I question if he’s going to be sick. I call officer Martinez over, and when I show him the note I watch his face crumple in despair, then quickly smooth over in glossy professionalism. He strides over to Danny, who seems too shaken to even resist as he’s taken to the station. I can’t help but feel bad for the kid as he marches Danny down the stairs. He followed him around the station like a lost puppy, constantly searching for the approval of the senior detective.

As the weeks go by more evidence unfolds, tying Danny to each victim. Miriam Goldstein, the first victim. Her elderly neighbor claims she recalls a young man in the hallway as she brought in her groceries. Michael Wong, the bodega owner, was last seen with a tall guy in the store by Mr. Jackson. More and more eyewitness accounts keep pouring in, all claiming to have seen a guy like Danny around the crime scenes. 

Months later, I take my seat at the witness stand and swear to tell nothing but truth and the whole truth. I’m cross examined relentlessly, from his personal life to his temper, what his passions were. Who is he? I testify to an enraptured courtroom that while we weren’t particularly close outside of work, I do recall him mentioning a love for writing back when he was in college. Mostly prose, but he did say he had a certain fondness for poetry. He never had a temper, but I guess anything can hide beneath the surface.

When the jury reconvenes, the verdict is read aloud and stamps his fate. Danny is sentenced for the duration of his life, and I watch the once tall man sag under the weight of his future. A bright, promising detective burnt out like a dying star. 

However bright he may be, will he ever realize the one who pulled the strings is the one telling the story?

January 20, 1991

Danny Anderson is slumped in the corner of his cell when the clicking of heels becomes audible, then stops in front of his cell. I gaze down at the once proud man, now scruffy and aged beyond his years. “Get me out of here, I am begging you. Please help me.” His voice is raspy with disuse as he reaches through the bars, eyes pleading and leaking tears of desperation. “It’s good to see you again Danny”, I say as I clutch his hand. “It’s sad to see you like this.” I lean close to the bars, so close I can feel his breath on my face as I whisper. “Then again, maybe this could’ve been avoided if you’d just taken my sister on that date.” Those pathetic, sad eyes widen with realization as my words sink in. Hands claw out through the bars, sweeping through the air where I was just standing and all that comes out of my mouth is a dry laugh. “Good luck in here Danny. Maybe they’ll let you out sooner for good behavior”. Waving goodbye, I give a polite smile to the gate guard and stride to my cab sitting in front of the prison. I have to get moving, I’ve got a flight to catch.