Trish Dudley was pissed. More than that, she was heartbroken. Worst of all, she couldn't admit to herself how hurt she was. She hadn't heard from Thomas since kissing him goodbye at the bus station three days ago.

That cheap fucking dirtbag, she steamed, sipping coffee. Of course he used me. Had fun and enjoyed himself while he was with me, but he was using me the whole time. Of course. How could I be so stupid?!

She was wearing her blue contacts. She tended to play with accessories and different looks after breakups. She felt jipped that she was born with blond hair and brown eyes. What's the point of having blond hair if you got brown eyes? she thought. The blue-eyed girls get the good ones. I'm as good as leftovers for the rest of the snakes.

Snakes. It was strange how much she found herself visualizing all kinds of snakes lately. Her imagination pictured rattlers, but there were garter snakes and bull snakes, too. That, and the snakes who don't ever fucking call you after they promise. Those goddamn snakes. They were all writhing around in her skull, a wad of scaly knots cinching on every thought.

Fucking snakes. I hate snakes!  She shook her head and sipped her coffee.

She'd done enough psychology on herself and with different therapists to know she had a hang-up. Phone calls – or lack thereof – were triggers. It wasn't a mystery why. The phone made her anxious because it conjured the memory of being stood up on the night of her senior prom. The boy she liked had asked her to prom a week before. Then he never picked her up as promised. She slept by the phone in her gown, sick with questions. She found out at school that he was making out with another girl at the dance. A girl who had blond hair and blue eyes.

Fucking phones, she thought.

She hated herself for getting sucked into Thomas. I even bought him a fucking bus ticket. She was fuming again. Around and around, the snakes slithered. There was no escape but to go through the proper steps with each and every one, no matter how ugly it felt to handle them all.

She let out a deep breath and relaxed her grip on the cooling mug. It was time to go to work anyway. Work saved her mind. Saved her from the silent vortex of an empty home.

Her cell phone rang as she got into her squad car. She didn't recognize the number.


"Trish! Hello?"

She didn't recognize the voice at first. She hadn't heard Tom over the phone before.

"Trish? Hello?"

A flash went through her. She almost hung up.

"Tom? Hi."

She left the pause dangling on the air. She wasn't about to let him feel like she cared so much. If he was playing cool, she could, too. But his voice wasn't cool. It sounded hurried. Desperate.

"Trish, I'm at the Sublette County Jail in Wyoming."

AuthorDerek Franz