"Never seen anything like it in my life."
My ex-partner looked at me with a wary grin. "Somehow, I have a hard time believing that."
"Believe it, Loyd. I've seen a lot of bodies.... Smelled 'em. Touched 'em to check for a pulse. Even helped bag and tag 'em before the force got all fancy-schmancy and got the CSI unit. But I've never had two bodies show up in a ten-foot-deep hole--in my backyard, in a car, no less!"
Loyd shrugged. "Well, Hap, I guess when the ex-detective won't come to the case, the case comes to the detective...."
I sighed and bit back my next worry: when my butterfly heard about this, she'd hit the roof.
Darlene, whom I affectionately call "my little butterfly," had already put up with a lot of my off-the-wall antics over the months we'd known each other. The first, but definitely not the last, was my habit of insisting everyone refer to me as Hap.
My staunch German parents must have resented my coming into this world and intruding on their lifestyle. They gave me the name Karl to go along with a last name that no one can spell, let alone pronounce. So everyone just calls me Hap. Somehow, I managed to survive childhood and eventually became a homicide detective attached to, by invitation, a special forces squad in Fort Worth, a city where homes range from twenty rooms and eight baths to a cardboard box and a path leading to the outhouse. My place was a few steps up from the cardboard box version, but in my career, I'd been in more than a few homes that my house would've fit in ten times over.
By the time I left the squad last year, Darlene and I had grown inseparable.
Before Darlene and I got together, during one of those rare periods when Loyd and I weren't chasing leads or thin air, he told me he thought Darlene was cuter than a little fluffy kitten. Personally, I thought comparing her to a butterfly that never seemed to rest was more fitting for her 5'3" frame that looked like a tube of toothpaste squeezed in all the right places.
Still, I said, "You're right on the money, Loyd. And I'll share a little secret. If I happened to find that little kitten on my doorstep, I'd do almost anything to keep her."
"So why don't you just tell her that?"
"Yeah, sure. What would an adorable little thing like her want with an aging, beat-up cop?"
"You could always knock her in the head and carry her home, caveman-style."
"I think there are laws against that nowadays."
But I forgot that this partner and best friend couldn't keep much of anything to himself. He had to go and blab that conversation to his girlfriend Judy. Of course Judy just had to mention it to Darlene ... who'd told me, long before then, that she had her eye on a place in the country. I had no idea at the time it was my place she was thinking of.