Melted Chocolates, a short story by Chere Taylor at
Ralph Nas

Melted Chocolates

Melted Chocolates

written by: Chere Taylor


Detective Franklin Hendrickson (or just Frank, as he told most people with a disarming smile) rolled himself away from his partner’s desk and to his own in his office chair. He felt a little guilty doing so as his partner’s desk was immaculate, while Frank’s own desk was cluttered with folders, loose papers, coffee stains, and a portrait of his former partner, a black woman who had died in a hit-and-run car accident.

“What’s the world coming to?” His newest partner, Morty asked while trailing Frank to his desk. Morty was a small man with a Charlie Chaplin mustache and a soft, rounded belly. Not the sort one would normally think of as a police officer. Frank, on the other hand, was large and imposing, even if he too had a gut that suggested he enjoyed his beer and hoagies a bit too much. Together, they made for an awkward appearing, team. A chihuahua and a pit-bull, David and Goliath, etc.

“I don’t know,” Frank replied. He bent his head trying to decipher the report written in Morty’s messy scrawl. Trinity student, fatally beaten during an evening football game with five hundred potential witnesses. Was that enough to make up the entire student body? Christ.

“It used to be you could send your kids to school, and they’d be safe, get me?” Morty continued. “Not anymore. And this happened at a Catholic School?”

“Yep.” It was what Morty’s own notes said.

“Soon students will be shootin’ up each other at schools. Mark my words. You heard it here first.”


The year was 1974. A year that Frank would relish, especially in hindsight, given what would become his future. At the moment, however, he was a free man in the sense that he had finally gave himself permission to live the life he truly wanted. His wife of six months agreed to part on amicable terms. He recently made the rank of detective, and he even saw the title of lieutenant within his grasp. There were his many lovers to contend with, of course. But just as Bobbie, his former partner, had done, he was careful not to shit where he ate. It was one of his life’s mottos.

He glanced back at the photo of Bobbie. An attractive Negro, who was careful not to join any Martin Luther King demonstrations while residing in Monument, Massachusetts, or become involved with the local chapter of NAACP. Indeed she hardly seemed aware of any Civil Rights movement at all. Say it out loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud! For all of her caution, she still ended up dead, most likely the victim of a hate crime. Poor Bobbie. Bobbie was the only woman, including his estranged wife, who ever came close to understanding him.

He glared at his newest partner of less than a year, who was shiny-eyed and eager, like a puppy dog. But Bobbi’s death wasn’t his fault, Frank reminded himself.

“Let’s go.” He lifted his bulk from the chair.


It was early October in Monument, Massachusetts. Right before the ground hardened with frost, preparing for its first dumping of snow. The first evening star shone brightly on Trinity’s grounds, as if Venus herself approved of the school’s evening activities. A school that should have been locked up for the night, but somehow turned into a stadium for an illegal boxing match.

Despite the front doors being propped open, nobody directed them to the football field, where the murder allegedly took place. It was Morty who, snuffing about like a bloodhound, brought them past the numerous statues of crucified Christs and into the outdoor arena. Frank contentedly followed.

They entered a large, grassy football field, impressive in its size and maintenance. Trinity had money alright. And that made Frank think about all of the nasty jokes involving male-only private schools. Secret fuck parties. What sports did the lads play with no girls around? Did they handle their balls? Hardy-har-har. Yes sir. Real funny, Franklin.

He saw three police cars parked at various angles and an ambulance with the siren turned off. There were plenty of people about, mostly officers standing in tight little clusters, notepads out and interviewing uniformed students. Only students. Where the hell are the adults? Frank wondered. The headmasters? The school authority, while kids were out here murdering each other?

In the center of the field was a wooden stage, hastily constructed. Go Trinity Tigers! said a wooded sign attached to the stage. To the left of the stage was a sheet lying on the ground with something lumpy underneath. Frank was willing to bet that the lumps were the victim.

Off stage stood a boy in handcuffs. A boy? He was the size of a woolly mammoth. He reminded Frank of himself as a teen, the same elephant-like awkwardness mixed with strength. The boy’s eyes rolled in panic.

“So what the hell happened?” Morty asked the first police officer they encountered before Frank could even open his mouth.

“Damnedest thing. Two Trinity students, Jerry Renault and Emile Janza, were arranged to fight each other. By set up, I mean they were selling tickets to witness the fight of the century. The students got to choose which blow each kid could land on each other. And it went a little too far.”

“No shit,” Morty replied.

Frank wandered over to the sheet. He knelt down and lifted a corner, just enough to reveal the young man’s face. The teen looked like he might have been the handsome sort with his wavy, brown hair, a faint scattering of freckles. A wholesome kid. Too bad his skin was a ghastly shade of purple, his eyes were bloodshot and staring in shock. He had died hard. Frank noted all the broken blood vessels in the lad’s face. His neck appeared swollen and misshapen. Frank didn’t need a coroner to tell him that the kid died of a broken neck during the beating.

“Who is this?” Franklin asked while recovering the victim’s face.

“Jerry Renault. Emile is in custody.”

“Kids sold tickets to his murder?” Something inside Frank chilled. “No one offered to stop the beating, to help?”

The officer shrugged as if to say, Kids today. What are you going to do? Frank, for reasons he didn’t quite understand, suddenly wanted to strangle him.

“Who sold tickets?” he asked.

The officer scratched his bald head. “That’s something we can’t quite figure out yet.”

“You mirandized him?” Frank jerked his head towards the handcuffed boy.

But Morty was already on it. He stomped towards the handcuffed kid in his one hundred and fifty-pound body. The kid stared down at him as if he were addressing a flea.

“You! What’s your name?”

“I’m not tellin’ you nuthin’.”

“Tell him your name, Emile.” A gentle voice said.

For the first time, Frank saw another teen standing beside the handcuffed one. He was the one who had spoken. Like the victim, he also was good-looking, but in a polar opposite way. The light to Jerry’s dark. He had yellow hair, blue eyes, and soft, cupid bow lips. The type Frank’s former boyfriend would have called Hitler Candy for his yummy blondness. Not that Frank would ever be interested in dating teens. He felt a little embarrassed about the twenty-year-olds he pursued now despite his forty-three-year-old age.

The handcuffed kid instantly replied, “Emile Janza.”

“Alright Emile,” Morty said. “What happened here?”

Emile was silent.

“You want to go to jail, son?”

“I’m already going to jail!” Emile yelled. Frank guessed it was the adrenaline that made Emile shout.

“Well, maybe not. It depends on how much you cooperate. How do you know Jerry?”

“I don’t know nuthin’.”

“I didn’t ask if you knew nothing. I asked if you know Jerry.”

Emile’s eyes shifted towards the Hitler Candy, almost as if he were asking for permission to speak. The blonde kid appeared to be hardly aware of Emile’s presence. His eyes kept searching the horizon.

“No!” Emile blurted out.

“No, what?”

“I don’t ‘no’ nuthin’!”

The Hitler Candy suddenly lifted his fist to his mouth as if to stifle a laugh.

Franklin stood up, alarmed. He sensed that Emile was only two seconds away from the “I want a lawyer!” safety net. Or making a marriage commitment to “Knowin’ Nuthin’. Hell, he might not even had been Mirandized, which meant any information they gleaned from him couldn’t be used for prosecution. Morty could be such a fool sometimes.

“Hey Mort, the kid looks cold,” Frank said while casually strolling towards Emile. “Why don’t we get our friend to the station? Get him some coffee and we can ask him questions there. That is if he feels like talking.”

“I’m not your friend,” Emile muttered. But he saw some measure of relief in the boy’s eyes. Like most bullies, Frank suspected there was a coward buried down deep inside. That coward would squeal like a pig under the right kinds of pressure. It just needed to be teased out.

“I appreciate you’re not my friend,” Frank replied, without a hint of sarcasm.

Morty turned his head towards Frank and frowned. He had been having a good time playing Mr. Tough-guy Cop and Frank was spoiling the private image he had of himself.

Morty grabbed Emile’s forearm in a grip that was meant to convey strength and authority. “Let’s go!” He said. He pulled on that arm.

Emile didn’t move a single muscle. Morty might as well have been tugging at the Minuteman Statue in Concord for all the progress he made. For the first time, Emile smiled. A couple of chortles came from random officers. Morty whirled around, trying to catch all those who were a witness to his shame.

Three other police officers surrounded Emile and guided him towards a squad car. Emile didn’t resist. Mort trailed behind them, shouting unnecessary orders.

“Who are you to him?” Frank asked the blonde kid.

“A friend. My name is Archie Costello,” he offered his hand. “And you are?”

“Just call me Frank.” He took his hand.

Not a shy one this Archie, Frank thought. And unlike Emile, he couldn’t detect any stench of fear on him. He wasn’t sure if Archie’s attitude came from wisdom, arrogance, or stupidity.

“It’s a shame I left my camera at home. I could have photographed some evidence to help Emile out. Or maybe it would have fucked him further. I don’t know which. Emile?” Archie suddenly shouted, peering over Frank’s shoulder.

Emile’s back was facing Archie, as three other officers escorted him, but Frank had little doubt Emile was listening intently.

“Whatever you do, don’t ask for a lawyer. That’ll make you look even more guilty. Wait until your parents come back from Barbados. They’ll fix this situation. I promise you.”

“I want a lawyer!” Emile shouted. He twisted his neck to make sure Frank and all the officers heard him. “A lawyer. Lawyer!” he continued to yell as the officers stuffed him into the back of a police car.

Frank turned angrily towards Archie. Archie smiled sadly as if his pet dog had failed in performing a difficult trick.

“Emile,” Archie shook his head. “Never listens to reason.”

Morty jogged towards them now that he was done with supervising the tucking away of Emile. “You’re a photographer?” he asked.

“Sure, when it’s convenient. And you are?”

“Detective Mortimer Agnello.”

The two shook hands.

“Tell me what you know about this, son.”

“I’m a good friend of both Emile and Jerry. The last thing I wanted was for them to exchange blows with each other. Emile always had it out for Jerry. Tripping him in the hallways, trashing his locker. That sort of thing. Finally, Emile goes to Jerry and tells him the bullying would stop if he agreed to a fair fight.”

“And this was the fair fight?” Frank gestured towards the mock bull ring. “Getting murdered in front of all of his classmates?”

“The idea was that Jerry wouldn’t get pummeled. You saw the size of Emile. No way his skinny butt was going to beat that guy. It would have been like Wally Cox taking on that black boxer, Muhammad Ali. Plus, Jerry had all these boxes of chocolates that he never sold. So some kid decided to raffle off Jerry’s chocolates and sell tickets. If you buy a ticket, then you get to choose the boxing move that Jerry or Emile could perform. They had to take turns, see? That’s what made it fair. The winner of the fight, would’ve taken home the money. Of course, I knew it was a trap for Jerry. But he wouldn’t listen to me and it cost him his life.” Archie stared at his feet. He seemed near tears.

Morty put a reassuring hand on Archie’s shoulder. “Hold it together, son.”

Frank asked, “What did Emile have against Jerry?”

“I don’t know. Maybe because Jerry had that kind of face, you know. The kind certain kids want to punch? There was never any defiance in him. No backbone. That kind of frailty attracts trouble. I know it sounds cruel.”

Yes, Frank remembered hiding his own homosexuality during his teenage years. Even then, he wasn’t completely sure he was queer. The idea of being with a man, feeling his hand wander up and down his body and finally reaching into his groin, struck him as far more exciting than anything he could do with a woman. But hell, he thought. Maybe everyone felt that way deep down and all humanity went through the farce of dating and impregnating women to keep the population going.

At any rate, no one ever accused his six-foot, overweight carcass of being a fairy. Those accusations were pounded into the softer-appearing students, not unlike Archie. Frank remembered watching several classmates who may or may not have been queer get the crap beat out of them in the boy’s locker room, while he stood at a safe distance and did nothing.

“So Emile had it out for this kid?” Morty asked.

“Yes sir.”

“Was anyone else involved with setting up this fight?”

“I wouldn’t know, sir.”

He’s lying. Somehow this message was broadcast so loud, it might as well have been written across the sky. Perhaps it was in Archie’s aw-shucks posture. It was slightly overdone. Gee Officer Krupke, I’m very upset …

Morty picked up on it. “Are you sure?”

“Yes sir.” But again, his stoic, upright body suggested this was a lie. There was something too theatrical about Archie’s performance. Suddenly Frank felt like he was watching a one-act play starring the kindhearted kid who would never hurt a fly and the witty detective whose interrogating skills would force the truth out of the Hitler Candy.

“I’m not so sure.” Morty’s hand returned to Archie’s shoulder. “I think you’re a good kid. I see that in you. You’re afraid of getting another one of your friends in trouble. But being loyal to your friends does not mean allowing them to get away with murder.” Morty’s eyes glittered with excitement, with his dream of becoming the hero of the investigation.

Then came Morty’s killer line. “Please, son do it for Jerry. Be his friend one last time.”

“It was Obie.” Archie blurted out. “Obie Jameson. He sold the tickets.”

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