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Good Reads

Your 2020 Summer Reading List: Harry Hunsicker’s ‘Dallas After Midnight’

Ray Wylie Hubbard's ode to the city at night finds its way into author Harry Hunsicker's pen.
By Harry Hunsicker |
Terri Muldoon

Jimmy showed her the gun, polished steel bright in the moonlight. 

Gloria touched the barrel and smiled.

They had a plan and it was simple, like something from a movie. Jimmy should know; he watched a lot of movies. In all those foster homes, he was the best when it came to being quiet and staring at whatever was on the screen.

He’d chosen a spot in the alley behind her husband’s office. He was working late, Gloria’s husband, a big case coming up. 

“Are you sure?” Gloria asked.

Jimmy nodded. She stroked his cheek and kissed him.

He had met Gloria and her husband, Nick, when he’d started working at their house as a handyman. 

They were a pretty couple, Nick and Gloria. She wore clothes like Jimmy’s mom used to when she was hostessing at that club on Northwest Highway. Real tight. Nick spent a lot of time in the gym. He was cut like those guys Jimmy used to see in the prison yard. Always flexing his muscles.

Gloria and Nick were nice to Jimmy. Gloria cooked him breakfast sometimes, Pop-Tarts and cereal and orange juice, his favorites. Nick gave him some of his old clothes, pointers on how to dress to impress.

Yeah, they were nice to Jimmy but not to each other. Clear as day, Gloria and Nick weren’t meant to be together. They weren’t—what was the word that counselor used one time?—compatible with each other.

But not being compatible didn’t mean you had to treat somebody bad. Jimmy didn’t like that part. In his 25 years on this earth, he’d seen enough of people not being nice to each other to last a lifetime.

Gloria, when she was out by the pool in her bikini, used to talk about Nick and the cheating and the drugs. One time, she told Jimmy about the life insurance policies they had on each other, money that would be all hers if Nick were dead.

The first time she’d talked about the insurance, Nick had come outside and asked Jimmy to help him move some stuff in the garage, so they had to stop. 

The next week, Gloria brought up the insurance again, how she’d give Jimmy some of the money if he’d help her. This time they were in the bedroom, and Jimmy, well, he didn’t like to dwell on what they’d just done.

So, Jimmy came up with the plan. Gloria liked what she heard. Jimmy understood the plan had to be a secret, which was OK because he knew how to keep quiet. That was something you learned real fast when you were in the system, the stuff you weren’t supposed to talk about. How to go along to get along. Whatever it took. 

It was late, after midnight, and the Dallas skyline sparkled like the diamond bracelet on Gloria’s wrist as she dropped him off in the alley. She parked by the back door to Nick’s office. His Mercedes was in the shop. She was there to give him a ride home. She blew Jimmy a kiss and went inside.

Jimmy hid behind a dumpster. He cocked the hammer and waited.

A few minutes later, Gloria came back out, looking angry. 

“It’s all right, Jimmy,” she said. “Nick’s not even here.”

Jimmy stepped from the shadows. He fired once, the bullet hitting her in the chest. 

She stared at him for a moment, her face confused, before she fell to the ground.

From the direction of the street came the sound of boot heels on concrete. A moment later, Nick appeared. He was wearing those black Luccheses that Jimmy liked and a white tank top.

They kissed.

Nick said, “That was a real good plan, Jimmy. Glad you thought of it.”

Jimmy smiled.

“Wait here. I’ll be right back.” Nick darted into his office.

Jimmy hoped he was getting the insurance papers. Then he and Nick could go somewhere, just the two of them.

A moment later, Jimmy heard a siren as a police car sped down the alley and screeched to a halt by Gloria’s body. Jimmy realized that he’d made a big mistake. Nick wasn’t coming back with the insurance papers.

He turned to face the police and started shooting.

Harry Hunsicker is the former executive vice president of the Mystery Writers of America and the author of eight crime thrillers, including Texas Sicario and The Devil’s Country. He is a fourth-generation native of Dallas, and his fiction has been shortlisted for both the Shamus and Thriller awards.

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