I needed to get the smell of fear off me. Cop houses always smell of sweat, fear, and desperation. The Aster cop house was small, with almost no real heavy duty crime, but it still had that smell.
I had been home from the police department just long enough to take a shower, when the phone rang. “Hello,” I said. I seldom look at the caller ID on my cell phone, so I had no idea who was calling.
“Max it’s Helen, could I impose on you for some help. Jack and I took a serious look at that building this afternoon. We decided to take it on a three month trial lease. We really don’t want to do much to it until we see what business is like, but we need to empty it and clean. Cheryl is going to help us clean tonight, I was wondering, if you would help empty the place out. We wouldn’t know what to do with some of the things, we saw during our walk through.”
“What kinds of things,” I asked.
“Just odds and ends, but we would feel better, if you took a look at them.” she said.
“Of course I will be more than happy to help. Hell, I will even help with the cleaning,” I suggested. “So, you want me to give Cheryl a ride?” I asked.
“That would be fine, or I can come get her, either way,” she suggested.
“I will take care of it. What time do you want us there?” I asked.
“It’s six now and already dark. How about I bring dinner and we begin at seven? Would that be alright?” Helen asked.
“It’s fine with me. I will have to call Cheryl, but I’m sure she will be okay with it. Oh bring Skeeter. I’m sure there is something she can do.”
“If nothing else, she can make us smile.” Helen said it and her love for the dog was in her voice, even over the phone.
“Oh yes,” I said in agreement.
I woke Cheryl up, when I called her. I could tell from the groggy voice. “Hey Helen just called. I’m going to give you a ride to the new place. We need to be there by 7PM but it’s only a five minute drive. Why don’t you come down around quarter till and we can leave right away?”
“Sure, I just need a shower and I’ll be awake and good to go.” she said. “Oh are you alright?”
“I’m fine why?”
“A little bird tole me you and Mike were in cop trouble,” she said.
I knew which little bird that was. “Oh it was nothing at all. So let me get my hair dry and drink some coffee. I will see you in a bit.”
“Yes you will,” Cheryl said.
While I waited, I did dry my hair. That took very little time since my hair is very thin. I also drank coffee while I searched for my most raggedy jeans and sweat shirt. I knew that if I were to help with the cleaning, I would most likely get chemicals on my clothes. I usually did.
“So you and Gwen are sharing pillow talk?” I asked when Cheryl showed up at my door. I knew it sounded like I was jealous, and I guess that I was a little. Cheryl had been away for a long time and was just enjoying her freedom. I knew I needed to back off and let her have her fun. She wasn’t hurting anyone who was helpless. We were all grownups.
“You are jealous, that is so cute,” she said.
“I know, but hey. it’s what people who care about people do. Try to keep them out of trouble.” I informed her.
They were supposed to change coverage on you at four. Instead Mike called to tell her that you two were going to meet with the chief of police. I knew then that you were in some kind of shit. After we hung up just now, I found a message from Gwen. It said that it had all worked out somehow and for me not to worry about you. It’s what people, who care about people do, worry,” she told me.
“Alright, lets go clean the new place,” I suggested as I turned to the door. Cheryl pulled me to her for one serious kiss. Then she patted my ass and said, “I know you think I’m a bitch for screwing around on you, but I need this. It could never be forever with us anyway.” she said.
“I know,” I said it a little sadly.
The things Helen didn’t know what to do with were mostly small tools and magazines. I sorted through them, while skeeter made a pest of herself wanting to love on me. I couldn’t get enough of her love, so I wasn’t sure we would get anything done. Since jack was busy scrubbing walls, it was my job to do the tools alone. I finally finished them. Some were broken, but some looked as though they might have been misplaced, then just showed up after the move.
There were also some magazines about cars. I had no idea who would want that kind of thing, so I tossed them. The tools, I figured, we could donate to the bike shop. Those guys could never have too many tools. At least that’s how I figured it.
“I found this in the upstairs closet. They don’t seem to have used it as part of the car lot. It has an outside entrance and looks as though there has been a hair salon up there,” Helen informed me.
“What would hair dressers need with a crossbow?” I asked myself out loud.
“Beats the hell out of me,” Jack said. since he had over heard us.
“Jack, if you don’t want this thing, I will take it. It isn’t a great bow, but it is adequate.” I suggested.
“I got no use for it Max, take it and I hope you find a use for it.” he said.
I remembered the Russian and said, “Oh I’m sure something will come along someday.” It was a fiberglass and composition number. I had no idea the value of it. Some of those things were worth a few bucks. Some were good only for hanging on the wall of someone’s den. The one I had in my hand might or might not be any good. If nothing else. I figured that it would look cool on my wall.
The next morning, on my way to breakfast, I rode my bike past the building. It was empty and nothing was happening at all. I didn’t expect Helen to be open, but I thought there might be someone there working.
After my walk, I rode by again. The difference then was one car in the parking lot. It seemed to belong to a couple of college girls with a staple gun. They were putting up poster as fast as they could go.
It looked as though Helen and Jack had opted for truly easy wall coverings. They appeared to be travel posters mostly. Probably from one of her employee’s basement. I rode past without stopping. I had nothing in common with the college kids.
I spent the morning on the computer. Mostly I watched old TV shows. I did catch up on a couple of newer ones that I had missed the night before. Periodically I left the apartment for drives around town. I checked on Helen’s new space several times. I did it to get out and make sure the cops weren’t going to play games with me.
By late afternoon, I was satisfied that the chief had put an official ’do not touch’ sign on our cars. I knew that it was a good thing, since I didn’t want to spend time and money taking cops to court. I had roots in Aster and didn’t want to start over. Besides I guessed the number of cops in town at about fifty or less. I could just outlast them. The cop turnover in any town is huge.
By 7PM I was ready to really test the cop waters. I looked out the window and said, “I’m going to the Cop Out. Does anyone have the balls to come along.” I knew at least one of them heard me.
I walked down the covered walkway in front of the building until I reached Cheryl’s apartment. I knocked on the door, since I heard a noise inside. “Hi Max, what’s happening?” Cheryl asked.
“Well, I’m going to pick up a couple of pizza’s and go to the Cop Out to dance and get felt up. You wanna come along? That is if you don’t have plans.”
“How about I take my plans with us?” she suggested.
“Which one is it?” I asked.
“It’s me,” Kate said.
“Sure come on, the more the merrier.” I suggested “Now if Gwen is the one with the camera tonight, we will be Cheryl’s gang. We just need leather jackets,” I suggested.
“You are so behind,” Kate said. “It’s cut off denim jackets now.”
“Thanks for telling me,” I admitted but it was sarcasm pure and simple.
The three of us arrived with a pizza each. We pushed together two empty tables, then placed the open pizza boxes on them. Once the pizza was out, we began to mingle. I saw Jerry with a dark haired lady, I had never seen before. I figured she must be the new girlfriend Blevins talked about earlier. I decided not to go introduce myself. If Jerry wanted to do that fine, but I wasn’t going to start it.
Kate gave Jerry a hard look, but said nothing. I didn’t rattle her cage either. Cheryl was already the center of attention for three younger men. I still found it amusing that men fawned over her. It was those boobs for sure. She was just a washed out blond otherwise.
Blevins caught my eye, then motioned me over to his table. Also at the table sat a man younger than Blevins,, but he had the same intense look as Blevins.
“So what up with you tonight?’ I asked Blevins.
“You are all the buzz at the station. They say you beat up on the chief,” Blevins commented with a smile.
“Not me, I was there, but Jen did the damage.” I admitted.
“Whoever did it, there was a memo read at role call today. The memo said that you and your friends were to be treated as any other citizen. If there was any harassment reported, officers would be gone. There is a zero tolerance as far as you are concerned.”
“I didn’t write the memo, but I do know how cops think.” I said. “The thin blue line, us against them, all that bullshit.”
“Let me tell you something. You aren’t the first one to report Burris. You are just the first one with video. Burris could have skated with anyone else and might have anyway without the dead bang video,. Now he is on thin, thin ice. I don’t think that even his daddy can save his job.” Blevins said.
“Well I want you to know, we did not ask for his head on a plate,” I said.
“The word is out about what you got for not making it official, or using it in the TV show.” Blevins said.
“Oh what did I get?” I asked.
“You got me,” Blevins said quietly. “Mickey here is training to take over the heavy lifting, I am going to be your technical adviser and believe it or not the narrator of the show. Mike came to talk to me, when the chief assigned me to comment on the content of your show. Mike likes my voice and my ability to read narrations, so he offered me the gig. It’s only part time of course, but it sounds like fun. But don’t worry Max, I won’t be working with you. Just with the tapes.”
“Amazing just fucking amazing. So is Mickey going to maintain our special relationship?” I asked.
“I was under the impression that you and the City Attorney would be having the special relationship.” Mickey said.
“Son, you can have too many special relationships,” I said.
“Don’t worry Max, I still head up the detective bureau, you call me if you need something. You probably won’t get it, but call anyway.” he demanded. “By the way I made command rank, because of all the shit you brought down on me, so thanks for that.”
I wasn’t sure how genuine the thank you was. It could have been for Mickey’s benefit. “Not a problem Big Guy you pulled my ass our of the fire a time or two.” I said it just to be nice. We had never talked to each other like that, so mine was for the new guy’s ears for sure.