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An Unwilling Patient

Smashwords Edition

Copyright 2010 Dennis Herrick

This short story won the 2010 Society of Southwestern Authors Short Story Contest and was published in the 2010 issue of Story Teller magazine under the title of “Missing.” Cover illustration is from office.microsoft.com/en-us/images.


An Unwilling Patient

by Dennis Herrick


TRYING TO jump-start my brain for the morning shift, I tossed a quarter into the foam cup next to the sheriff’s department coffee machine. I poured a cup of the thickest, vilest coffee in New Mexico. This should do the trick, I thought, grimacing.

Hey, Alec,” the deputy behind the counter called to me. “Aren’t you from Cochiti Pueblo?”

I was born there.”

The deputy waved me over. He gulped from a mug with a year’s worth of coffee stains and made a satisfied sigh. It was the same coffee I was choking on. “Did you hear about this?” He slid a sheriff’s report across the counter.

I knew the old man in the report, Salvador Suina. I was just a sheriff’s deputy, so I decided to talk to a detective. Just my luck, the one in was Howard Henckel. He scowled when I entered his office. Chewing a fat unlit cigar, he demanded, “What do you want?”

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