Sweetie (Story by R.C. Peris)

The girl, who was twelve, was bludgeoned to death. Sheriff Zion wasn’t sure who she was because her head was no badly bashed. A small purse was found a hundred yards from the body. Zion searched it. Dollar bills, lip gloss, a pink phone. It was Loralee Green. The Green’s were a black family who had lived in Marsh Glen for decades. The original Green’s had been slaves and had stayed in Marsh Glen and suffered through Reconstruction and Jim Crow. Each generation lost a member of the family brutally.

The scene was processed and Zion went to the Green house. Matilda Green howled when she was told about Loralee and John Green gripped her and stared stonily ahead.

“Where was she found?” asked John.

“In the woods. An area where a lot of high school kids hang out.”

“I want to see her,” said Matilda.

“I don’t recommend that now.” Zion shifted his feet.

“Now.” Matilda was firm.

Zion had his deputy take them to the coroner while he went back to the station to sift through evidence. There were two boxes with plastic bags. Zion sorted and then stopped when he saw a bracelet. Gold, pearls, and SWEETIE etched on it. Zion knew the bracelet. He had bought it for his daughter Caroline on a cruise ship in the Bahamas. Zion went home and called her Caroline. She was asleep in her bed and snoring. Her phone was charging in the living room. He looked at her phone. There were pictures of Caroline hitting Loralee. There were pictures of Caroline smiling next to Loralee’s battered body. There were also pictures of her friends hitting Loralee. Zion nearly collapsed but he steadied his balance.

Zion woke up his daughter. “How many were involved?”

Caroline looked petulant. “Four.”

“You all need to keep your mouths shut. Do you hear me? Get everyone to delete their photos. You say nothing about Loralee.”

“What are you going to do Dad?”

“Find some bum to pin this on. Why did you do it, Caroline?”

She shrugged her shoulders. “It was fun and…well…no one likes the Greens. They don’t belong in this town.”

Zion loved his daughter but he was afraid of her now. She was capable of the same treachery as his own Dad, a Ku Klux Klan leader. But blood ran thick and he wasn’t about to let his daughter go to prison. Loralee would become another tragedy and secret of Marsh Glen, Alabama.

THE END

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