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I stood on the sidewalk in front of the place. There were racks of specialty magazines for people interested in unlikely things. There were several rows of out-of-town newspapers. Down at the far end of the newsstand was an alley. Maybe three steps this side of it there was a faint rusty brown stain spread across the sidewalk and over the curb into the gutter. I stepped over it and walked into the alley.
The alley was dark, but that was no surprise. The only surprise was that I started to feel the old cop adrenaline starting up again, just walking down a dark alley late at night. Suddenly I really wanted this guy. I wanted to find whoever had killed Roscoe and put him in a small cell with a couple of very friendly body-builders.
The night air started to feel charged. It felt good to be doing cop work again, and that made me a little mad, but I nosed around for a minute anyway. I wasn’t expecting to find anything, and I didn’t. By getting down on one knee and squinting I did find the spot where the rusty stains started. There was a large splat, and then a trickle leading back out of the alley to the stain on the sidewalk.
I followed the trickle back to the big stain and stood over it, looking down.
Blood is hard to wash out. But sooner or later the rain, the sun, and the passing feet wear away the stains. This stain was just about all that was left of Roscoe McAuley and when it was gone there would be nothing left of him at all except a piece of rock with his name on it and a couple of loose memories. What he was, what he did, what he thought and cared about—that was already gone. All that was hosed away a lot easier than blood stains—a lot quicker, too.
“I’m sorry, Roscoe,” I said to the stain. It didn’t answer. I walked back up the hill and climbed into a bed that was too soft and smelled of mothballs and cigarettes.
Jeff Lindsay is the award-winning author of the seven New York Times bestselling Dexter novels upon which the international hit TV show Dexter is based. His books appear in more than 30 languages and have sold millions of copies around the world. Jeff is a graduate of Middlebury College, Celebration Mime Clown School, and has a double MFA from Carnegie Mellon. Although a full-time writer now, he has worked as an actor, comic, director, MC, DJ, singer, songwriter, composer, musician, story analyst, script doctor, and screenwriter.
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