by Don Stoll
Funny, the hard time Detective
Inspector Ellen Flay of the York and North
East Yorkshire Police had
finding someone to grant her unorthodox requests. Like the bloke was afraid of her,
which under the conditions was rubbish. Dishy chap named Tommy would cuff her,
then say You hold the key just in case.
Slip it between her lips, business end out, so she could reach the lock.
She’d spit it out saying Not the long hard thing I want in there.
He’d make like to put it back and she’d say Tommy, use your head: everything
you’re about to do to me, get me gasping and howling, and I’m supposed to keep
that key between my lips?
He’d give his puppy look and
she’d say More likely I’d swallow it and he’d say Just
in case. She’d say In case what? He’d say I could have a heart attack.
Brand-new Constable Tommy was, while
she was a seasoned Detective Inspector, recipient of not one but two Special
Commendations. But the difference between Tommy and herself boiled down to more
than age and rank. Tommy had gotten into police work to uphold the law. He wondered
if everything Flay wanted to do in the bedroom was legal or otherwise on the up
and up. Morally, like.
But maybe that was it, Flay
thought, never mind him being so fit. What with guilt and all, dishy Tommy
could have thought himself into a heart attack.
Flay thought guilt was bollocks.
people who felt guiltiest had no clue what to feel guilty about. Would Tommy
know to feel guilty about some of the nonsense he’d be called on to do as a copper?
Snatching some innocent colored bloke off the street to pin a crime on, say, or
knocking the poor chap about to get a confession. Good chance Tommy’s guilt and
“morality” would accept that sort of rubbish even if it wouldn’t accept giving Ellen
Flay everything she wanted in the bedroom. Long and short of it was, blokes
like Tommy didn’t know who they were. That left them at the mercy of guilt and
“morality.” Flay knew who she was, so she knew what she would do in bed
and what she wouldn’t do to “solve” a crime and stick some poor sod in
Flay had gotten into police work
adventure. Which is what she saw in Colin.
had a couple in The Phoenix, on George Street, when this bloke maybe about fifty,
good decade older than her, swaggered in and took up residence at the other end
of the bar. Got that Ray Davies look,
Flay thought, meaning on the craggy side: long sharp nose with a bit of a hump got
playing sport or fighting, deep creases setting off his cheeks, lips carved big
like a black chap’s. Appreciating me as
much as I appreciate him despite this silly perm, she thought. Smiling
at me and what a smile, that Ray
Davies smile his crooked crown jewel except slanting up to the right instead of
the left. You a Kink too? Kinky like
me? You thinking Girl, you really got me
goin’? Speak to me and stop chatting with Fat-ass
next to you.
“Been years,” Fat-ass
said. “Had enough
of London then? Decided God’s Country’s good enough for you?”
Fat-ass had called him—rubbing and blowing on his hands said, “Can’t get a real
winter down South.”
still summer, Flay thought, but
winter never far off here in North Yorkshire. What a summer, though: Yanks on
the moon, know they’ll never have another Kennedy in the White House, whacking
great music festival in the States, Leeds United the champions. And of
surpassing personal significance Ellen
Flay discovers her exotic sexual appetites.
“South in this case meaning
Africa,” Colin added. “Left London. . . not sure how many years ago.”
“London were too quiet for
likes of you?”
Fat-ass grinned as Flay thought Better
not have a good word for apartheid, or I’m right off you Colin.
Colin looked at Flay before answering. She
didn’t know what to make of that, or of the look he gave her with his darting
eyes once he’d spoken. Because he’d lowered his voice just a bit, but she was
sure he’d said something about SWAPO, and pretty sure he hadn’t lowered too
much just so she could hear. She thought He
a mercenary? But for which side? But whole point is it doesn’t matter, right?
Or he selling arms?
And she thought Testing me? Letting me hear SWAPO to see if I’d turn tail and run or be
drawn like a moth to the flame?
She nudged her glass forward so
would sit there like an invitation.
to burn, she thought. Feel on fire
already and want to keep burning.
Colin said “You dry, luv?”
“Highly personal inquiry, isn’t it?” she said.
“You a gynecologist?”
Colin smiled his craggy crooked
A Ray Davies smile except with those lips carved big like a black chap’s
slanting up to the right instead of the left.
“Anyroad,” he said to
you’ll excuse me.”
He came down to her end of the bar
the barman asked, “Gin and tonic again?”
Flay nodded. She was a great one
pleases and thank you’s with barmen and the like. But she was that taken with
Colin, she forgot herself. He can handle
himself, she thought. Hard beneath
that leather jacket, and a hard man’s good to find.
Ellen,” she said. “And I heard the other chap call you Colin.”
who’s pissing off even as I speak, she thought.
“Don’t be a stranger,”
Fat-ass said on
his way to the door.
“You headed out then, Mike?”
he doesn’t give a fuck, Flay thought. Wouldn’t
want to sound concerned, twat might change his mind and stay.
“See me mates round Old White Swan,” Fat-ass said winking at Colin and
nodding toward Flay. “Don’t do nowt I wouldn’t do.”
“That a new do?” Colin
said. “Goal was
to look black?”
“That a problem?” Flay
“Reckon your hair’s
a winner however
you do it up.”
Flay appreciated the compliment.
been self-conscious about her perm since getting it on the weekend, but thought
now maybe she could make peace with it.
“You from round here?”
she said. “That
why. . .”
“Why Mike knows me?”
Fat-ass knows you, she thought.
“More between Bradford and
Huddersfield,” he said. “Know Mike from Bradford. Worked with him.”
“What sort of work you do?”
“Whatever needs doing,”
He reached for her hair.
“You mind?” he said.
He took hold of a curl forward of
left ear and tugged it toward himself. Out of the corner of her eye Flay saw him
insert his finger into the hollow.
“Each curl forming a lovely
orifice,” she said. “Each orifice a bonus added to the three common-or-garden
“Not a gynecologist,”
he grinned. “But
I’ll do a bit of probing, you don’t mind. What line you in?”
“Totally boring,” she
shrugged. “Own a
company, makes parts for tellies.”
of picking at least one pub for nobody to know you, she thought, not every bloke
at ease with a copper.
Golden Fleece over on Pavement also good for that till I investigated the
“Must do all right,”
The barman brought her drink. She
remembered her thank you while thinking Why’s
he care? Thought mercenaries and arms
dealers and the like shat five-pound notes.
“Not going to stand here wide-open
you,” she smiled, “show you my books or other private matters. But yeah,
money’s good enough.”
“Good enough for what?”
he said, and
for the barman he added, nodding at his pint, “Tip a whisky in there,
“Depends on what’s to
be bought. You
grin to cover a multitude of sins, she thought. But I want sin.
“Now you doing the probing,”
“That a problem?”
“Only if your hands are cold.”
He slid his hand toward her and
took it in her own hand.
“What your politics, luv?”
he said, too
quietly for the barman to hear.
“Can’t afford politics,”
she said just
as quietly. “Out to make a quid, sell my parts to whoever’s buying.”
“We’ll discuss your
parts later,” he
said. “But for my part, was selling to SWAPO—let you infer what I was
selling—when some other blokes who knew what I was selling saw an opportunity.”
Flay sipped her gin and tonic.
“Blokes get everything?”
“Paid for your drink, didn’t
didn’t swim here from South Africa.”
“Landed on your feet then?”
“Still standing. Not on my
“Like to see you on your knees,”
said, squeezing his hand.
Nothing stood between her and one
tonic after another. Certainly not Colin, who happily allowed her to buy him
one pint after another and one whisky after another after being more
forthcoming about the extent of his recent financial embarrassment.
effects included making Flay wonder if she’d be able to muster the energy for a
good shag, not a question that often troubled her. Yet the inclusion among said
effects of her growing inability to judge whether it might be wise to fly like
a moth to the flame and burn neutralized all misgivings about her declining
energy level. As closing time approached her thoughts were in the vein of I’ll
do whatever he wants.
Last call came and Colin shoved
his stool, pleased he could still stand. He took Flay’s hand and made for the
exit, saying “Don’t want to create suspicion by hanging on till the end.”
Outside, he turned left. A table
chairs had sat unused on the sidewalk all evening because of the cold. With his
free hand—the one not dragging Flay along—he collected a chair. He plunked it
down in front of the high brick wall that started where The Phoenix building
“Pretend you’re waiting
for a bus,” he
drove, she thought. But parked where?
She looked down George Street in
direction they’d been going. She didn’t see her car. She looked back the other
way. She didn’t see Colin, but she heard him swearing. His voice was coming
from where the spiked fence began at the far end of the building.
heard his big body hitting the ground. The muffled noise told her he’d hit the
grass. She thought it was odd he’d tried to climb over the fence.
But she also thought Maybe a four-foot fall, he’s fine.
Flay woke up wondering why she had
wake up since she had such a frightful headache. Bloody cold too, she thought.
Studying her watch with the pretty
illuminated face—it took studying because she wasn’t yet in the best condition
to be making out the time—she thought God’s
truth 3 AM.
She thought Did I drive here?
She thought Where’s here anyway?
She thought That sound of breaking glass, that real or a dream?
She thought And if it’s real where’d it come from?
thought Fucking hell, that big
sheet-glass window front of The
But she saw only an empty space
six foot wide and four foot high where the glass should have been. She got out
of her chair. Wobbling a bit less with every step she went over to the empty
space to peer into the pub, wondering
Who’d do such a thing?
remembered I drove here and car’s next
street over but suddenly she didn’t care because she remembered Colin.
other side of that fence, she remembered. Should see if he’s all right.
she thought Looks like a crime here, should look
at that first.
And then she thought Fucking hell, Colin’s done
she called through where the window had been.
I’ll get the door.”
“But what you doing in there?”
He swore as making his way through
darkness he collided with something.
“You break this window, Colin?”
“No, luv, broke of its own
He fiddled with the door.
“Was going to break in the
but. . .”
He opened the door.
“Had a kip and woke up to dead quiet, so why
not come at it straight on?” he said.
He yanked her hands toward his crotch.
“Got something big and fat
pockets,” he said.
He moved her hand in circles over
wad of notes in there,” he said.
“Tonight’s take, and”—moving her other hand in circles over his left
pocket—“you know what that is, luv.”
“You short, I can lend you
“But don’t have to pay
this back, do
I?” he laughed.
He kissed her mouth with his
beer-and-whisky stink. She said “I’m a police officer” and thought maybe she
oughtn’t to have done that.
He pushed her away.
“Lying cow,” he said.
Flay would later ask herself Why’d I stand there
like a target?
would often happen when she looked in the mirror at the scar on her upper lip. But
she found she could live with it as time passed.
She hadn’t seen him swing
his arm. Reeling
backward, assisted in the effort to plant her feet by her success in clutching both
sides of the doorframe, a shower of liquid washed over her. She knew the
bastard had struck her with a beer mug.
She would infer later that he hadn’t
her to right herself so quickly. Because instead of following up with a second
blow like any sensible bastard bent on mayhem would have done, he only stood
His bloody cheek made her angry.
arrogant bastard never moved except for the arm that raised toward his mouth—meaning
to swallow the beer he hadn’t spilled—the mug he’d used to inflict a scar on
the wrong person.
She noticed a mug on the table to
left. A little puddle of beer, flat as piss, sat on the bottom and a fag butt
too. She hefted the mug in her right hand and with the piss puddle and fag butt
along for the ride swung the mug backhand, smooth like that lovely Arthur Ashe
who’d won the U.S. Open last year, aiming at Colin’s mug as he drank.
She didn’t give a toss that with her blow she’d
cut her hand. Colin was down for the count. She switched on the overhead
The effects of her adrenaline rush
having faded, her pain was conspicuous. But less so than her amusement at seeing
that Colin now gave the appearance of possessing an authentic Ray Davies smile:
the cut from her blow began at the left corner of his mouth and angled
diagonally upward to the left.
She thought it a pity he’d
turned out a
bastard, since he was so yummy.
Don Stoll has fiction forthcoming in The
Helix; Green Hills
Literary Lantern; The Main Street
Rag; Sarasvati; Between These Shores
in the Dirt; and Children, Churches
and Daddies. His stories have appeared recently in Eclectica
(tinyurl.com/y73wnmgq) and Erotic
Review (twice: tinyurl.com/y8nkc73z and tinyurl.com/y36zcvut). In
2008, Don and his wife founded their nonprofit
bring new schools, clean water, and clinics emphasizing women's and
children's health to three contiguous Tanzanian villages.
A. F. Knott is a self-taught collage artist focused on
book layout and book cover design as well networking in conjunction with Hekate
Publishing, one of its missions, bringing together artist and writer. Sometimes seen
selling in New York City's Union Square Park. Work can be found on
exchange of ideas welcome: firstname.lastname@example.org