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Estimated reading time — 5 minutes

From her cubicle, Veronica saw the light blinking on her console. While not uncommon, working the morning shift was more sedate. Usually only car accidents during the morning commute.

She adjusted her headset and pressed the blinking button. “Nine One One, what is the nature of your emergency?” Veronica calmly opened the call with.

Heavy breathing and some feint sobbing on the other line. Obviously male, to Veronica’s ears, but she couldn’t place much. The monitor showed that the call was from a cellular phone coming from Bakersfield, one of the suburbs on the east side of the county.


“My wife is dead. She’s been killed,” the male voice on the line said.

“Sir? Can I get your name?” Veronica asked.

“Arthur. Arthur Malley,” the man responded.

“And where are you calling from, Arthur?”

“118 Rolley Avenue. Bakersfield. It’s a house. No apartment number.”

Veronica began entering the information into the system. Police, fire and ambulance all within a five-minute hike. She entered in the 10-25 data she just received. As she continued the conversation, Veronica watched the closest to scene depart on her screen.


“Is there anyone else in the house right now?”

“No. I mean, I have a bunny outside in the coop.”

“Does anyone else live in the house besides you and your wife?”

“It’s just us. Our daughter is grown.”

“Arthur, where is your wife now? Is she breathing?”

“She’s in my arms on the floor. I know she’s dead. You need to send the police right now.”

“Sir, I have already alerted police, fire and ambulance. They’re on the way. Please answer my questions. You said that your wife was killed. Is the killer still in the house?”

“We need help. I need the police,” Arthur responded.

Veronica almost broke character, as Arthur not responding to the question properly means she had to repeat herself. But, she remembered, the dude just lost his wife, probably right in front of him, so she resumed speaking with respect and empathy.

It was not something she was trained to do, and not something she heard her fellow colleagues employ. She had just made the conscious decision to be kind to the citizens calling in, as they’re frequently having the worst day of their life.

“Arthur, are you in any danger? Is the killer still in your house?”

“I’m the killer!” Arthur screamed. “The police need to get me out of here.”

Veronica wasn’t taken aback so much as she was shocked at the candor. She had taken many calls from criminals, but none that admitted to their crime so blatantly.

She added the code 10-33, and pinged additional squad cars to the scene.

“Arthur, the police should arrive within a couple of minutes. How did you kill your wife?”

“I stabbed her. Repeatedly. Until her heart stopped.”

Arthur’s voice trembled. Veronica could tell that he was using full effort to get the words out despite his tears.

“How did you stab her,” Vernonica asked. “What did you use?”

“A knife. From the kitchen.”

“And where is the knife now?”

“On the floor next to us.”

“Where are you now?”

“The living room.”

“And your wife’s body–?”

“In my arms. I’m holding her.”

Arthur’s weeping became more audible. Veronica gave him a moment to work it through. Her screen showed the officers, now three black and whites en route, were still 150 seconds out.

Per protocol, while holding for officers, Veronica was trained to keep a victim or assailant on the line. Not for safety. Not to control the situation. But, simply to gather evidence on record that could be used in the ensuing investigation.

Veronica readied herself for the important question. When Arthur’s bawling subsided enough, she resumed.


“Sir–Arthur, why did you stab your wife?”

“I don’t know. We were in the kitchen. I was cooking eggs and sausage while she put the toast in. Then, I lost control of my body. I grabbed the knife next to the stove. I turned to face Daisy. I took a step towards her. I knew that my body was in the motion to stab her. I screamed out to her to run away, but I don’t– It took her a moment to process.

“After the knife went into her shoulder, my arm pulled back. She screamed and fell to the floor. She crawled away, yelling at me. I just couldn’t stop. I can’t explain it.

“I — my body — followed her into the living room. I tried to tell her that I couldn’t control myself. That she needs to get away from me. My body picked her up by the neck. She was screaming and crying and shouting hateful things at me as I plunged the knife into her chest over and over.

“The screaming stopped. I stabbed. The crying stopped. I stabbed. Her heart stopped…”

Arthur stopped. Silence. Vernonica found it difficult to dismiss this as a pure fabrication, due to how sincere Arthur sounded. She had dealt with spouses that have killed due to medical or financial reasons, but, for obvious reasons, they never directly admitted to guilt. Surely not to some lowly 911 dispatcher. Their reasonings were fully fleshed out in failed attempts to avoid being arrested.

“How did you know her heart stopped, Arthur?” Veronica asked.

“Because I could control my body again.”

Veronica rubbed her eyes. “No one is going to believe him,” she thought. She was wondering why she was pretending to believe him.

The sorrow in his voice caused her to have just a moment of pity on the man. But Veronica knew that he was a murderer, no matter how sorry he felt for it. “Keep it calm, get the info,” she told herself.

“Has anything like this happened to you before, Arthur?” Veronica asked.

“No, of course not. I’m not a…” Arthur’s voice trailed of as he realized that he was, in fact, a killer.

Part of Veronica wanted to say something, anything to comfort him. Then her logic jumped back and realized that this guy gave her some cock and bull story to evoke sympathy. He planned this. He spent time coming up with this story. She knew he did.
And his lie would never hold merit. How could it?

“What did you do after the stabbing?” Veronica asked, trying to get him to refocus.

“I dropped the knife. I lowered Daisy to the floor. I kissed her forehead. When I had it in me, I popped in my Bluetooth and called you.”

“Wait, how long ago did this happen, Arthur?”

“Just now. About two minutes before I called emergency.”

Vernoica sat for a moment in silence. She saw that the police were pulling onto Rolley Avenue.


“If I could do this,” Arthur interjected. “I mean, if this could happen, where I could just kill Daisy without any control, I need to be taken away. There’s something wrong. And my–.”

Arthur’s words became incoherent through his sobbing. Veronica knew it was just a moment before Arthur would get his wish.

SLAM! Vernoica heard the police kick open the door from Arthur’s phoneline. Some garbled shouting to lay on the floor with hands behind the back. Lots of muffled crashes and thuds and yelling.

Then, crystal clear, through the commotion, Veronica heard Arthur’s voice.

“It’s happening again,” he said.

This was followed by a barrage of commands to get on the floor. To listen. To obey. To drop the knife.

“Shoot me!” Arthur commanded.

“Arthur, shut up!” Veronica yelled. “Do what the officers are telling you!”

“I can’t! Shoot me! I’m not in contr–.”

Veronica listened to the gunfire on the other line. She estimated around twenty-five shots in total. Then, silence.

The brief moment of quiet was broken by a scream.

“Officer down! Officer down!” Veronica heard.

“Run! All of you, run! Get out of here!” she heard Arthur shout. “I can’t stop!”

Muffled commands from the officers. Another scream. More gunshots. Then, the line cut out.

Veronica took off her headset. She watched her screen as two SWAT units were deployed. Her task was completed, and now she had downtime until the next call. There was no way for her to know what actually happened. Unless this made the news, this was the end for Veronica.

Veronica sat back and wondered if Arthur had shut off the stove. She wondered if his bunny would be okay. She wondered what the daughter’s name was.

Credit: Shawn M. Essler


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