Detective Story

By Abigail Oswald

Copyright © 2019

In my other life I walk around Los Angeles with a gun on my hip and meditate on the bodies of dead women. I’ve solved the crime of the decade four times now; I could do it with my eyes closed. I’ve chased every criminal and mourned every victim, as there’s a finite number of both. Sometimes on the street I pass men I swear I’ve killed before. Seems like no one ever dies in this goddamned town.

*

I’m beginning to wonder whether anything exists beyond the city limits. A few times I’ve packed my bags and made for the border, but there’s always something. I hear a siren, or a gun goes off, my hands spin the wheel of their own accord and before I know it I’m back in West Hollywood, I’m in Thai Town, I’m in Elysian Heights. My partner speaks wistfully of New York, but LA is all I can remember.

*

Most of my time’s spent driving. The world around me shifts to black-and-white when I slide behind the wheel and staticky jazz pumps out of the sky, though I’m the only one who hears it. Sometimes I turn the siren on for the hell of it and passersby lurch out of the way, like the angel of death has just announced its presence. Like they wouldn’t just pop back up after I hit them, not just intact but whole again, as if I’d never touched them at all. I’m beginning to suspect we might all be indestructible. Sometimes I test these limits.

*

There’s a psychic I visit when I’m off duty. She says in my past life I was a cop, that I’ve always been a cop and I always will be, and she doesn’t need a crystal ball to tell her so. My eyes, she says. I haven’t slept in years.

*

Sometimes at the peak of my hopelessness I climb to the tallest building in the city and hurl myself off the ledge. I listen to the nothing hum of the concrete as my body knits itself back together again, and then I get back up and head to the car. At any given moment there’s a corpse snow-angeled out across a Los Angeles parking lot, washed in blood, waiting to be avenged. And I’m a cop. I always have been.

Abigail Oswald is a writer whose work predominantly examines themes of celebrity, crime, and girlhood. She holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and currently resides in Connecticut. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Fugue, Gone Lawn, Hobart, Necessary Fiction, Split Lip, Sundog and elsewhere. You can find her online at abigailwashere.com.