Chapter Four

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A myriad of cleaning bottles—mostly empty—huddled together, clogging what little space was left under the sink. Stan fumbled with the wrench and pliers, unscrewing a slip nut connecting the trap to the adapter. His uniform shirt was draped over the back of a kitchen chair. A pair of baby blue slippers padded back and forth at Stan's feet.

"Did you find it yet?" Asked the soft feminine voice belonging to the worn slippers.

"Not yet, Ma. Hand me the bowl on the counter?"

An old wrinkled hand appeared under the sink. It shook from the weight of the glass bowl and old age. Stan placed the bowl on his stomach and removed the trap, a few inches of discoloured water landed in the bowl. He upended the trap into his hand catching the modest diamond engagement ring that fell out. It sparkled as the light refracted through the prism. There were days when he wished she'd lose it some place he couldn't get to. Maybe then she would move on.

His father had died over fifteen years ago when Stan was only seven. There wasn't much he could remember about his father. Sometimes he would wake with the fading sounds of yelling and stomping. The smell of cigarettes and stale beer in his nostrils.

He knew from friends and family that his dad was a drunk. The kind who got meaner the more he drank. He'd seen that kind of mean first hand. His second day on the job he'd accompanied Elle on a call. This was before Sheriff Bailey had died. He was all excited to be part of something that made a difference. They'd shown up to a noise complaint at a residence a little outside of town. It was in one of the newer complexes. The trees in front of the brick houses hadn't matured beyond the two trainers holding them in place on either side.

Before going in Elle had turned to him and said, "Whatever happens, whatever the husband says, stay calm. He'll bark a lot, but that's about it. Don't escalate the situation by trying to step in, watch what I do."

Stan nodded, not exactly sure what she meant, but eager to show he could follow instructions.

When the door opened to a small woman, eyes red, cheeks blotchy, he wasn't sure what he was supposed to do. Then the door whipped open wider and a tall, slim man in his late forties stood watching them, swaying. When he registered that there were two deputies standing on his front porch he turned to his wife. "Great, you called the cops. Real smooth, Diane. Now all the neighbours will have an after dinner show." He stepped forward and yelled out into the front yard. "Come on, guys! Pull out some chairs, bring some drinks!"

"I didn't call anyone." His wife took a step back as she said this.

"Sir, we got a call that there was a crash followed by shouting. I came to make sure everything was okay." Elle kept her hands loose by her side, her legs apart, sturdy, cautious.

The husband leaned forward, his eyes dropping to breast height. "I remember you. You've been here before." He smiled then. "Wanna come in for a drink?" His eyes hadn't left her chest.

Elle ignored him, looking to Diane. "Is everything all right?"

The husband stepped back, keeping his eyes on Elle. He wrapped his arm around his wife's shoulders and kissed the top of her head. "Course everything's all right. We're having a little bit of fun. It's Saturday!" He shouted this last bit into the yard.

"Sir, we're not here to stop any fun. We're only here out of concern. There was a crash, people were worried someone may be hurt. Is everyone okay?" Again, Elle directed this last question to Diane who nodded.

"Course we're okay. It was just the TV." He squeezed his wife closer to him.

"If it was the TV I would suggest you lower the volume."

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