"You really are an inspiring person to be around. Did you ever consider a career as an undertaker?" I sank back on the bed, wishing I was at home. Wishing none of this had happened, but intrigued despite myself. Intrigued by David Eric Laine. Cop extraordinaire. "No wait, that would probably seem too cheery to you."
"Sorry." David flushed and his skin looked more mottled. "I get carried away sometimes. Just know this, there's no danger to you from this investigation. If that status ever changes I will personally step in to ensure you are protected to the fullest extent of the law."
I loved his intensity. I'd never seen that in another person before. He might not be anything special to look at but he had a presence that even I felt.
"Okay," I said softly. "I believe you. Now where do we go from here?"
"If I bring in a sketch artist will you be able to work with her to give us a picture of this guy?"
"Sure, no problem." I twisted my neck to try to unkink it. "I only have one condition."
David was suddenly wary. Was he going to think this was more charity?
"And what's that?" he asked.
"I want you to have dinner with me some night. If you're worried about being seen in public, we can eat at my place. I'm a fair cook, if I say so myself --"
"I'm not sure that's a good idea, Chris."
At least he had dropped the 'sir'. "Why not? Consider it a consultation."
"It might look like I was coaching you."
"Shit." I hadn't thought of that. "Then we don't discuss the case. You don't even know if it's going to go to trial yet, so what's to discuss?"
David poked at his face some more. I was beginning to see he did that when he got nervous. I smiled to myself. The big guy was getting ready to fall.
"I suppose a dinner is acceptable. At your place. The less publicity the better."
David pulled out an LAPD business card with his name and station house on it. Digging out a pen he scribbled a second number on the back. "My home number. Like most cops it's not listed. Try not to pass it out in any toilets, okay? Not unless they're really upscale ones."
"So if I can only find a Hancock Park gay bar they can call you for a good time?"
"With classy johns, right. Something like that. If I'm going to sell my virtue I may as well make it worth something."
"Does Hancock Park even have gays? They roll up the sidewalks at dusk, maybe they drive the queers out at the same time. Make the place safe for normal folks."
"They tried that in Beverly Hills," David said. "No one got their hair done for a month. It was a total mess. A city in chaos."
I laughed. He was funny and smart. There was more and more to find appealing about this strange, intense man.
David squared his shoulders and held out his hand to me. I took it, marveling again at the gentleness in his grip. He could have crushed my fingers but did no more than squeeze them lightly. I had the sudden urge to pull him down on the bed beside me. A man built like the proverbial brick shit house, big hands, broad chested - did he have a dick to match? Why did I suspect he was packing more than the obligatory .38 police special?
And why did I care?
"I should get moving," David said apparently oblivious to the lascivious thoughts racing through my overheated mind. "I'll bring that police sketch artist by later today. Perhaps I'll call first, I wouldn't be surprised if they discharge you soon."
"One can only hope."
He laughed, squeezed my hand once more then left. For a big man he moved quickly, without any of that lumbering you see in some large guys.
I couldn't stop thinking about him after he'd left. I'm not the noble type person. I see an attractive man I get the hots for him. I pursue him. Often as not I land him, at least for a night. I know I'm considered pretty damned hot myself by a good number of people. David was right, the gay community revered beauty. Image was all.
Truth is I don't spend a lot of time talking to the guys I do pick up. The Bobby's of this world are rarely Rhodes Scholars. Stringing a sentence together with more than monosyllables can be a daunting task for some of them.
It never bothered me before. I had a few friends I talked with, mostly men, one or two women - my fuck partners were in a separate category. It was like I compartmentalized my life into little boxes. Sex. Friends. Work.
David didn't fit in any of them. So why did he intrigue me so much?
And what the hell was I going to do about it?
The sketch artist showed up an hour later. She was a dumpy, dog-faced woman who introduced herself as Claire Maddox, sat in the single chair the room boasted and whipped out a twelve by eighteen sketch pad and a pencil. She flipped the pad open to a clean sheet and started doodling.
She was good. Not only at drawing, but at extracting information from me. I remembered things about the bank robber - shooter that I hadn't told David. Occasionally she would show me the sketch and ask me to comment on it. With that as a visual aid I was able to see where she had got it wrong. And where it was just right.
When she was done she had produced a sketch that chilled me with it's accuracy. Right down to the empty eyes that had stared into mine.
"Junkie eyes," the artist commented. "Wouldn't surprise me."
"Nothing surprises me anymore."
I imagine a lot of cops get that way. What must it be like to constantly swim in the sewers of humanity that were like a plague on this city? How did someone who had no safe harbor to go to cope?
But no matter how I thought about it, what I felt for David was not pity.
I almost wish it was. I could have handled that a lot easier.
My doctor, a Dr. Hirudo Rasmussan, finally showed up around one o'clock. He stood at the bottom of my bed for the longest time, hemming and hawing over my chart then finally approached me. He peered at me over his reading glasses like I was a specimen in a jar of formaldehyde and not a very interesting one at that. I'm not used to being looked at that way. I didn't like it one bit.
After a few questions he determined that we were fine and unless the headaches persisted we could no doubt expect a full recovery in a short time.
"Can we go home then?"
"Eh? Yes, yes, of course. Home is always best, is it not?"
"It's where the heart is I'm told. Or maybe I should say where our heart is."
He told me I could go home and made a note in my charts that made it so. I got the paperwork going immediately. Fortunately DataTEK had full medical so they'd have the privilege of dealing with this claim.
It still took nearly another two hours before I could get dressed and make good my escape.
In the lobby I nearly ran head long into David. He upt out his hand to steady my.
[More to come]
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