The victim looks at me with wet diamonds in her eyelashes. She’s a lot younger than me, maybe mid-twenties, real college-girl look about her—thick thighs, narrow glasses, jeans and a tight purple sweater. Her lip is swollen, but otherwise, there isn’t a mark on her face. I’m guessing robbery or rape. She’s clutching a leather purse; that narrows it down. It isn’t until Corey clears his throat that I realize I’m staring. I can’t help it, my wife’s made me sleep on the couch for the last month—that is, when she isn’t at her girlfriend’s, and I don’t mean the broads she plays bridge with. She’s been some cocktail waitress’ all-you-can-eat buffet for the last month or so, giving me some runaround about needing to “find herself as a woman.” I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t heartbroken, but in Crimson City, heartbreak isn’t something I can wear on my sleeve. Not when I’ve got a city full of junkies, thugs and rapists to take care of.
I shake my head and shuffle some papers on my desk, eavesdropping. Corey gets to the real meat of the investigation, “Tell me everything that happened leading up to the rape.” I was right. I’ve been here long enough to tell who comes in complaining of what. “You can tell me, you’re safe here.”
“I went over to my ex-boyfriend’s,” she answers, dabbing her eyes and glancing over at me. I’m staring again. “Nathan Bacman, he’s a lawyer with Aaronson, Bacman and Bateman.” I know the Bacman firm, brass briefcase boys who represent the rich and the guilty, diamond-studded scumbags like Warren Harris and Patrick Martin. “I finally worked up the courage to break up with him and when I told him, he begged me to sleep with him one last time. I said no and turned to leave, but the door locked automatically. He grabbed my arm and threw me onto the couch. I was wearing a dress, and he just yanked down my underwear and . . . .” She starts to cry harder. It breaks my heart, which is pretty unusual because I’ve heard worse stories that leave me stonefaced. “Afterwards he told me I could shower. He even got out my pink towel for me. I got up to leave and he kissed me goodbye. I took a taxi home and showered there. I shouldn’t have done that, should I?”
Frankie wanders in, his eyes at half-mast. Another lost weekend. Some damn hero he is. He gets a cup of black coffee, but doesn’t offer to grab one for me. I already had a cup on my way out the door, but that doesn’t matter. Partners are supposed to do that kind of thing for each other. “Who’s the girl scout?” he hisses.
I shrug. I don’t know who the hell she is, I got her ex’s name, but not hers. She’s just another victim right now, just another broad with blood in her panties.
“We’ll send over a Detective to collect the evidence,” Corey tells her. I’ve got a feeling he means one of us and I hope he means Frankie. I’m not in the mood to go pawing through some dame’s dirty underthings. Frankie, on the other hand, is always anxious to get out of the station—it means he’s less likely to get caught junking on the job. “In the meantime, we’ll send someone over to pick up Nathan for questioning.” I don’t want to do that either, so I pretend to scribble on some papers. “If you want to get some rest, Detective Finn will lead you down to the barracks. We’ll come get you if we have any other questions.”
She nods and I stand. “Come on,” is all I can think to say. She follows me into the elevator and watches the floor the whole time. I stare at her when I think she’s not looking and try to think of something else to say.
The barracks are empty as usual. She sits on one of the bunks with her legs just a little bit apart. I hate slacks. I hope she can’t see my hard-on. She’d have to be blind not to notice.
“Do you have something I could sleep in?” she asks, twirling her foot in a circle on the stone floor. “I don’t really like to sleep in my clothes.”
I’m dumbstruck. Does this place look like a department store? I open up my locker and take out a tee-shirt I use in the weight room. It’s clean enough. “Will this do?”
She smiles. “Sure,” she agrees, catching it in both hands.
I begin towards the elevator, but she stops me. “Can you stay here for awhile?” she pleads. “I’m still shaken up and I don’t want to be alone.”
How the hell am I supposed to say no? I sit on the opposite bunk and she gestures towards the door. “Look away,” she demands. Maybe it’s been too long, but I swear there’s a hint of backhanded seduction, she’s only making me turn away so she can surprise me. Wishful thinking.
Imagine my surprise when I turn back and she’s got on just the tee-shirt. Christ, I haven’t seen a woman that undressed since my girlie rag subscription ran out. Her black panties look brand new.
She stands up and sits next to me, tracing her fingertip down my bicep. I wish they were as firm as they used to be, firm as her thighs. “So strong . . . .” she purrs. “I know you’ll protect me.”
I know what she’s doing. I know it’s wrong, maybe this dame’s a nympho or a black widow or she’s going to castrate me in place of her rapist, but all those maybes don’t stop me from kissing her. She doesn’t slap me or reach for the razor hidden in her snatch, she kisses back. Her tongue slips past my lips and I savor the taste. She grips my head like she’s testing a melon in the grocery store, tugging my lips with her teeth.
I slide my hand up and squeeze her tits a couple times before taking my shirt back. I want her hard and I want her now, throw her against the wall and shove myself into her. It’s been months since I’ve been laid, and from the way she’s moaning, it looks like I might get my wish. She undoes my zipper and slides her hand into my pants, feeling for herself how great she makes me feel. It’s a good thing stamina is my strong point. I’m starting to sweat. The captain or another cop could walk in at any moment, catch me banging the victim, take my badge and let Bacman walk free.
“There’s only one way,” she whispers into my neck, licking the perspiration off my shoulder. She guides me inside her panties and I pull her down on my dick so hard I nearly fall over. She guides me onto my back and nibbles my ear. “I know you can protect me.”
I park my car outside the address she gave me, 0508 Gunn Street. I get hard while I sit there, but it’s not from thinking about her. I used to get stiff during interrogations, hot with anger and the threat of violence. I almost shot my load once when I shoved a child rapist’s face into the table. Sometimes I wonder if the only thing separating me from all the junk of this city is a residual boy scout sense of right and wrong. It doesn’t seem fair, but who am I to complain?
Nathan Bacman rounds the corner with a sack of groceries and narrow bottle in a gold-patterned plastic bag. Wine. Real sophisticated, this one. Taking out sissy law-school punks isn’t any fun, but I promised I’d take care of her, and that means taking care of him.
I get behind him when he unlocks his door and flash my tin. He rolls his eyes and in the street light I see a pink shirt collar poking out of his blue jacket. I’m not the fashion police, but I don’t mind moonlighting in this case. “Let’s go inside and have a little chat,” I suggest, putting my hand on the muscle at the intersection of his neck and shoulder.
“I already spoke with another officer,” he insists, backing into his hallway. “You don’t know Olivia, this is all a misunderstanding . . . .”
I deck him before he can finish his sentence. He sprawls and drops his bags. I was right, red wine. Or blood. By the time I’m through with him, the cleanup crew won’t be able to tell the difference. I stomp his shin and he screams, assuming the position. I kick him once in the gut and bend down to seize the collar of his stupid shirt. I wish I had a witty remark, but all I’ve got is a snarl before I shove him into the mirror. I know that’s blood; fragments of broken glass glitter in the cuts on his face.
He’s blubbering and I wish Olivia was here to see her justice. He’s got to be bleeding internally, so I give him one more kick just to make sure. Now it’s just a matter of time, waiting for his pulse to stop. Of course, I could make that a lot quicker with my gun, but I want to savor this one. He pukes as he tries to crawl for the phone. I crush his hand with my boots and he screams. I walk on his spine until he passes out—another few minutes before her problems are over. My balls are as blue as my dress uniform, so I yank it out and top myself off. Twice in one day. I didn’t cum that much on my honeymoon.
I waited for Olivia at Mary’s, reading the paper over a terrible cup of coffee. There’s no such thing as good coffee in this town and that’s the way I like it. Some jerk’s got a coffee shop downtown promising to serve the morning’s necessity with whipped cream and cinnamon and raspberry syrup, but I feel the same way about coffee as I do about liquor—leave it the hell alone. Mary’s is the only place in Crimson City where a man can get a real cup of coffee; bitter, burnt, black.
The paper says it was a break and enter job. There’s no mention of Olivia’s complaint and nothing to tie it to me. I smile and dig into my eggs; I’m not more than a forkful in when Olivia slides into my booth. I didn’t even hear her come up behind me. She’s ditched the cheaters and curled her hair, even her thick thighs look pin-up perfect in backseamed nylons.
“Nice work,” she says. Millie brings another round of coffee and she doesn’t add a thing. Good girl.
“Thanks,” I say, lifting my cup for a toast. She smiles and taps her mug against mine. “So I was thinking,” I start. I haven’t done this in a while, but if my wife’s going to get some on the side, there’s no reason I shouldn’t take the same privilege. “Do you want to go get a drink tomorrow night? We could go someplace nice, maybe Hiro’s for dinner or someplace for drinks?”
She laughs and shakes her head, pursing her dark red lips. “Detective,” she coos. “I think it’s best if you and I never speak again. After all, we don’t want people drawing conclusions. I’d hate to get you into trouble.”
Two years ago I look a bullet in my side and this feels a hundred times worse. I sink back against the booth and she just shrugs. “Sorry, Detective.”
“But honey . . . .” I try. “I said . . .you said . . .”
“I know what I said, and I know what you did. You protected me, and I appreciate that. I just don’t think you and I should get involved, less someone put the pieces together. Thanks again, but don’t say hello if you see me on the street.”
She stands and starts to saunter past me, but stops right next to my head. “And don’t even try to pin this on me because I hurt your feelings—after all, I never asked you to kill him.”
I grab her hand. “Did he?” I ask. Pink shirt shyster or no, I couldn’t live with myself if I killed an innocent man, let alone get played by a dame just because she pulled my dick. “Did he really?”
She purses her lips and averts her eyes to the unused pile of creamers between us. “What does it matter now?” she answers. “Keep yourself out of trouble, Archer.”