By Stephen D. Rogers
I watched the cars speeding around the rotary, paid special attention to ones that veered off to head over the canal.
Despite the “Cape Cod Tunnel” stickers that locals bought to infuriate the tourists, there were only two ways off the Cape. Since I couldn’t see him going out of his way to take the Sagamore Bridge, I was waiting in the IHOP parking lot at the foot of the Bourne.
Smith was a red-headed man who drove a white Chevrolet and if he was going to come this way he’d do it in the next twenty minutes.
He claimed to have received Jesus but his wife suspected that any ecstasy he might be experiencing had less to do with conversion to Christ than with an ex-girlfriend in Wareham.
“Gateway to the Cape,” my client had snorted into her coffee. “More like Gateway to the c–”
A white sedan cut off my reverie as sharply as it did a rental truck in a last ditch effort to change lanes before passing the exit for the bridge. It wasn’t him.
The advantage of a rotary was that if you missed your target you could simply circle around and try again. People didn’t though. They drove as if their first shot was their last, using horn, finger, and unflinching bulk as they risked all. To hell with the consequences.
Across the road from the restaurant was a State Police barracks. I’d never seen a trooper posted at the rotary. In the time it took to write up a single moving violation, five more occurred. Who could keep up with the paperwork?
Another white car approached, a young woman whiplashing enthusiastically to the song on the radio.
I shifted in my seat.
My client couldn’t pinpoint where the ex-girlfriend lived. Postal delivery was not a given right in Wareham and the tramp used a P.O. box as well as an unlisted number.
Why the suspicion?
Her husband had been unusually happy lately.
“Maybe he found peace,” I said.
“He found a piece all right.” She reached for her cigarettes, her cracked fingernail polish complementing the nicotine stains. “She blew him once in high school and he’s pined for her ever since.”
If the economy had been better or my overhead lower, I would have passed. Domestic was dirty. No matter how the investigation went, the client felt shamed and I was the messenger who knew the truth.
I much preferred background work for human resource departments but no one was hiring right now. Reminding myself that rent was due, I agreed to determine whether her husband was lying.
She grinned through the smoke. “Then I’ll really have the bastard. He thinks his life is miserable now?”
Two cars entered the rotary. The second contained the husband.
As he started up the approach to the bridge, I pulled out of the parking lot behind him.
So Mrs. Smith had been right about her husband slipping religious services. Bad choice. Church worked as well as an affair to get him out of the house and it was less dangerous.
Mid-bridge the Chevrolet suddenly stopped.
I hit my brakes and the driver behind me followed suit, white-knuckled and swearing in my rearview. Further back I thought I heard a crash but in front of me the husband had climbed onto the roof of his car and raised his hands in supplication.
Some people found happiness in attaining, others in letting go. My client was wrong after all. Her husband had been going to church just long enough to reconcile himself.
As I grabbed for my door handle he lowered his arms.
I had one foot on the pavement when he leaped over the safety barrier.
I reached the walkway as he hit the water below.
Time returned to normal and I heard the traffic again, drivers scrambling from their cars, screams.
From experience I knew I’d have no trouble breaking the news to my client, writing the report, calculating the bill. The image of her husband’s peaceful resolve, however, that would haunt me.
I gripped the railing and stared down at the canal, cursing a blue streak.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR (Fall 2002)
Stephen D. Rogers has published stories in HandHeldCrime, Judas, and Plots With Guns. When not setting down words of mystery, Stephen keeps http://www.stephendrogers.com nice for visitors.