“Hey, doll, tell me something,” the fat uniformed cop called out as I passed by where he stood leaning against a water cooler.
I stopped and looked at him, hoping my intense lack of interest was clearly readable on my face. “Yeah?”
“You’re lookin’ for Bowen, right? You come in here for him a lot these days.”
“Well,” he looked over his shoulder at his buddy the desk jockey who smirked and put his head down. “It’s you, or it’s one of his informants or it’s a witness—but it’s always women. I mean, today it’s you, yesterday it’s that chick Rena-- like he’s handin’ somethin’ out in there. Why him, is what we wanna know.”
They looked at me to answer. I was unsettled by the stream of women parading through my mind but tried to compose myself before I spoke.
“Well,” I said contemplatively. “I guess it’s his cock—it’s really great.”
The fat one was struck silent while his buddy cackled. I walked into the Homicide office and cornered Greg.
“Let me tell you what that asshole out there just said to me,” I said. And I told him. Then I sat on the table directly in front of him and waited.
Greg put his head down.
“What do you want me to say, Alice? Bobby knows a lot of people.”
It had been four months since we started sleeping together. Just that morning I’d woken up with his arms tightly around me, his cheek pressed against my head as he slept. The night before, we’d sat up until the wee hours talking.
“I did the math,” he’d said as he cleared the take-out boxes off the kitchen counter and I sipped wine in the living room. “It’s fourteen years, seven months and three days.”
“The difference.” He came around the corner still holding a pair of used chopsticks. “The difference in our ages.”
He stood still in the nameless space between living room and kitchen, head cocked and eyes trained on mine.
I nodded. “That sounds right.”
For a moment I turned my attention to the television. When I glanced again in the direction of the kitchen I saw him still standing there. I waited for him to continue, but he just threw the chopsticks at the sink and walked over to the couch and sat down. He lit a cigarette, took a drink from the bottle of beer on the coffee table. When I put my hand on his arm he pulled away from me.
“What are we doing, Alice?” he exhaled as he spoke, leaned forward so he was resting all his weight on his elbows which were on his knees.
“Well, Bobby, you’re the detective here, but I’m pretty sure we’re watching a bad movie on USA.”
He shook his head and stood up to facilitate his pacing habit. “You’re a smart ass.”
As he made the first lap around the living room I asked him what he was talking about; I was told that he was talking about us. I could hear the italics in his voice when he said the word and it made me a little nervous.
“You realize,” he continued, “that I knew how to drive when you were born?”
I couldn’t help but giggle at that, which didn’t please him at all.
“You couldn’t drive legally,” I offered.
“I was in high school, Alice. That doesn’t bother you?”
“Do your friends know about us, about me? What do they say?”
“Mostly they’re shocked you’re a cop. They’re pretty occupied with that part right now.” I sipped my wine, took one of his cigarettes and tried to make the conversation stop by ignoring it.
“You realize I’m old enough, biologically, to be your father?”
“My father is fifty two.”
“You’re missing the point, Alice.”
“The point, Bobby, is ridiculous. I don’t care about the point. I like being with you; I have fun with you, I like to fuck you—I really like to fuck you. Plus,” I smiled at him and blew a smoke ring. “You’re smarter than I am, and I’ve never met a man who was smarter than me.”
He stood still, leaned over the coffee table and dropped ashes in the direction of the ashtray. “You don’t care, at all—you have no problem dating a man almost fifteen years older than you? That doesn’t bother you?”
“Are we dating, Bobby? I thought it was something a little more clandestine. If we’re dating we should probably see each other in the daylight at some point.”
“If you were sixty, Bobby, it might be kind of creepy; but you’re not. You’re still young, and you’re sexy and I like being with you. So let it go, please?”
After that he made love to me. Then we ran through the talk again, when I wanted to go another round and was informed curtly that was not to be expected to perform like a twenty year old.
I’d thought things were pretty well settled after that; until twelve hours later when I was sitting on a table playing interrogation with his partner.
“Who’s Rena?” I asked Greg.
He shifted uncomfortably. “I don’t know, Alice. Some woman he knows—a banker or something. I’ve only met her once or twice.”
“Mm hmm.” I slid off the table and slung my purse over my shoulder.
There was chaos in my head; a little voice suggesting I might want to calm down, that perhaps I was over-reacting and headed for embarrassment, and a cheerleading squad of other women, lead by a five foot nine, blonde banker in Frederick’s lingerie.
“Where are you going? I thought you two were going to lunch?” Greg sounded concerned and a bit guilty.
“Yeah, and where the fuck is he, then? Why don’t you tell him I came by, and if he has time in his busy social schedule he can call me later.”
By later I did not mean three days, but he apparently took it that way. For the past few months I’d seen Bobby once or twice a week at the station when I brought him lunch and we ate in his office; other than that, it was anybody’s guess when he might show up at my door. I was busy with assignments and he had his crime-fighting and all, so I told myself had no choice but to squeeze each other in on random nights. Until the image of other women was planted in my mind, I never really felt slighted. After the incident with the fat cop and the pointless conversation with Greg, however, I was indignant and upset. By the time he decided to drop in on Saturday afternoon I was ready to strangle him.
“What happened to you Wednesday?” he asked as he walked in and made his way to the kitchen. “Do you have a beer? I feel like a beer.”
“Me? What happened to you Wednesday?”
“I had to meet with the Commissioner. I figured you’d wait.”
“I had an interview.”
He was leaning against my counter with a beer in his hand and his head cocked. He was staring at me in the way that made me suspect he could see through me, which made me angrier than I was already.
“Who’s Rena?” I asked, hating the jealous girlfriend in my voice and the fact that I couldn’t control her.
“Rena?” He took a long swallow from his beer, then set it down on the counter. “She’s an investment banker; I met her on a case a few years ago.”
I stood with my hands on my hips. “Anything else?”
“And we have dinner occasionally. What’s wrong with you?”
“You’ve got quite a reputation, Bobby, did you know that? I certainly didn’t; I had no idea you were so fucking popular. Did you and Rena have fun Tuesday? That was quite the dinner date, if it started before you even left work.”
“What? I haven’t been out with her in weeks, Alice. She came by Tuesday ‘cause she wanted a parking ticket fixed. Not that it’s any of your business.”
“I don’t ask you what you do when we’re not together. Do you want to tell me you haven’t been out with anybody else?”
“I haven’t been. I was satisfied with you. How many women have you been fucking behind my back, Bobby? Just your banker or were there some more?”
“I haven’t been fucking anybody behind your back,” he slammed his hand down on the counter, his face was flushed. “When did this get so serious? When did we say no one else, huh? Because I don’t remember.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know I had to spell it out for you. Generally, Bobby, when I’m sleeping with someone on a weekly basis, and he can occasionally be bothered to take me out for a drink, I assume he’s not sticking his dick in every other chick that walks in front of him.”
“What makes you think that’s what I’ve been doing? Tell me. I’ve been out a few times with some friends—nothing serious. I haven’t broken any promises to you, I haven’t lied to you.”
“No, you’ve just…” I stopped myself, took a breath. “You know what, Bobby? I’m not doing this. I thought your little talk about needing to be sure I was serious meant that you were. So I was wrong. Why don’t you just go?”
“Alice, you don’t…”
I turned my back, walked into the living room. “Go, Bobby.”