Special Victims

Colleen Kearney Rich

Pam doesn’t plan to lie. It just slips out. Imagined life made real. The girl at work, her face so open and genuine, asking “Are you seeing anyone?” over Panera salads and passionfruit tea. Pam says yes before she realizes it, and blushes deeply. The girl is thrilled. “I want to hear all about him.” Pam pulls the details from her television crush, a detective on a police procedural that runs on cable almost daily, a show she watches over and over. If she really thinks about it, in a lot of ways, he is her ideal man, and she is seeing him, just about every day—so it really isn’t a lie.

After that afternoon, the girl asks about her social life from time to time. “What are you two up to this weekend?” Pam says they are staying in tonight, waves goodbye to the girl as they walk to their cars at the end of the day. They are staying in tonight. Pam’s detective lover has to work. He’s always at work. He investigates a child murder, then, in the next episode, tries to get a junkie into rehab. Pam sits the glow of the television with her red wine and frozen pizza, admiring the detective’s patience with broken people, his firmness with the perps. She loves the soulful way he talks to the junkie. They never fight. He never cheats. Pam knows without a doubt he is the only man for her.

Colleen Kearney Rich is the author of the chapbooks Things You Won’t Tell Your Therapist (Finishing Line Press, 2019) and Bunnyman Bridge (A3 Press). Her writing has been published in the literary journals SmokeLong Quarterly, Wigleaf, Matchbook, and Pithead Chapel, among others. One of the founding editors of So to Speak: A Feminist Journal of Language and Art, she has an MFA from George Mason University in Virginia, where she also works.