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  • Mark Wm Smith

Short Story: Desert Miles, Scene 5


“Don’t bother calling.” Emmeline stomped out of the kitchen.

Miles found her packing a bag in their undersized bedroom.

“Unless you’re dead,” she said to the suitcase. “And certainly not if you’re in jail,” she told the dresser drawer. Emmeline rolled her shoulders into a hunch, lifted the heavy travel case high and dropped the wheels to the floor with a bounce. “Keep your hands off the cookies.” She whooshed past Miles in a breeze. “They’re for the church bake sale.” This last came over the slapping sound of their screen door as Emmeline launched toward her eighties model Honda Civic.

Miles slumped onto the padded, lime green kitchen chair purchased at auction from the Coral Sunrise Cafe after the food poisoning of two base personnel in 1983. Miles realized now that the event was a portent of times to come. Those times were now.

Juneau curled across Miles’s foot with no apparent discomfort.

Telling Emmeline of his plans to search Konnelig’s for clues to the Walters kid’s murder was one more Miles-ism than she could take. A smile broke loose at Emmeline’s witty label for his inspirational flashes. Juneau’s mournful whimper erased it.

“It’s not my fault she’s overly cautious.” Miles nudged the dog with his free toe. “Maybe Deputy Riley is right, J. I should just take dad’s offer to return to school. Become a banker.”

Juneau snorted.

“Only who helps Whittling Jim if I shove off of this?” Miles scrunched his eyebrows and stared into the lazy patterns of chestnut brown and white fur that identified his particular Beagle. “No one, J,” Miles concluded aloud. He had to set his fanatical, open-handed, and gloomy-witted friend free from Bullhead County’s spoiling law enforcement.

Miles shoved himself out of the visually repulsive chair.

Juneau clambered to his four astonished feet.

Miles rummaged the junk drawer until he found his flashlight. “Come on, Juneau. Let’s get Jim out of jail.”

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