Choose Your Partner by Andrea Carlisle

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“He’s too cute to kill anybody.” Glory pointed to the television set at Hyland Puckett. They were showing footage from before his trial. This clip was of the arrest. I put down my beer, lit a cigarette, and took a good look. Face round as a cookie with babyish features. Dark hair and that scrub that looks half beard, half dirty face that every other man under thirty sports these days, pretending they’ve just crawled out of a foxhole. Boxy jeans and a blue tee shirt tight as Saran Wrap across his chest. A cobra tattoo coiled around his left arm. Before they put him in the patrol car, he looked straight at the camera and smirked.

A year later he wore a baggy orange jumpsuit in the courtroom. He stared at the floor, hair shaved off, left shoulder twitching. When they pronounced him guilty of murdering his wife, his head jerked up like a dead man on a rope. Smirk gone.

“Cute if you like dumb looking,” I said. “No surprise they found that puppy guilty with all they had on him.” Here’s my twenty-year-old daughter Glory thinking this murderer is good to look at. She’s not interested in courtroom shows but I am, and I’d watched a bit of Puckett’s trial before giving up when it got so obvious he’d done it. If I’d been on that jury I’d have found him guilty just by seeing the way he sat with his arms folded, glaring up at the ceiling half the time. He didn’t want anybody looking into his eyes. You don’t get to be a cashier at Freddie’s for thirty years and not know people. Some guys can stand there at the checkout with a steak stashed in their backpack, the code ripped off and the meat tucked in a Ziploc bag, and they can look right at you and pay for just a pack of gum. But not that many. I admit to taking a few things myself that weren’t paid for, but only when they were way overpriced.


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