Authors: JC Coulton
I open my eyes after a short dreamless sleep. Carrie is the first thing on my mind. Carrie and what she could be doing right now. I call the hotel room. No answer. She must be with Cooper. The thought makes my jaw clench. The more I think about it the more I realize it’s time to have a serious conversation. We need to talk about what this is. I want her to be mine. I want her to feel like she’s mine. I want her to feel the same way I do.
I call the hotel room again. She could well be in the shower. Part of me wants to go over there, but it’s not my case anymore. The only reason I’d go is jealousy. I admit it. I’m jealous. I want her to myself. I want to make sure Cooper is doing a good job. I want control over this woman. Not to take control but for her to give it to me, of her own volition.
Irrational fears are bubbling up inside. I must need to go to a meeting. I’m not thinking rationally. Surely, there’s no reason to believe anything is happening with Carrie and Cooper. The fact that I’m thinking it is evidence of nothing more than my insecurity. More than that though, it tells me I’m falling for her, and she matters. I try the hotel room again. There’s still no answer. It’s time for me to get up and let this go.
My room looks the same and for a moment I imagine how it would be if Carrie lived here with me. We would redecorate. I would want her to have a say on how things look and feel. Jesus I’m so pussy-whipped right now. Ryan would laugh if he could see inside my head.
Shaking off the anxiety from my restless morning, I head downstairs. The place is empty again. George will be at school and Brenda at work. I’m still naked and it feels good to be a guy, I’m free to be myself in all my glory as I walk into the kitchen. I’m sporting the beginning of another hard on and I wish she were here.
I put on some brown bread to toast, and start poaching a couple of eggs. I’m hungry. A power-packed protein breakfast will fix that. Soon I’ll go for a workout. There’s no better way to shift the mind then exercise, strong coffee, fried eggs and incredible sex. Since the last option is off the menu for now, I might as well make the most of my day with what I can.
My laundry is folded and ready so I get into my gym gear. I like working out in an old tee shirt and gym shorts. No need for lycra. As long as it soaks up the sweat, I’m happy. It’s always been one of my philosophies to use clothes until they fall apart. I get comfortable with things I like. Plus why waste money buying gym outfits for sweating in? Who cares what people think. I’m not gonna shave today either. The only thing I need to do is get my head on straight and make sure Carrie’s okay.
I listen to hardcore rock on the way to the gym. It amps me up. Puts me where I need to be. This case has to crack for me soon. I know it. I always get at them when I’m least expecting it. Exercise will free my mind to think about it in new ways. And it will shut down the anxiety.
I manage to get downstairs to the gym at the station without running into anyone important. There are a couple of other guys training today. I’m pleased. I don’t feel like working out alone, so we team up for some sparring and bag work. They’re cross fitters. Part of the new generation of cops, they meet up most mornings and work out so hard they make themselves sick. And then they do it all again after their shifts. I’m grateful to catch them at this time of the afternoon. I used to find it ludicrous, but now I revel in the escape of joining them.
There’s one other Detective and a guy I don’t know who outranks me. He’s leading the workout session. That’s the good thing about the cops. There’s a natural hierarchy. No need to prove yourself over and over again in an environment with this many men. It’d be torture if that was the case. Going by rank just works. It’s simple and I follow his lead. I do press-ups on my knuckles, bear walks and some alternating sparring sessions have me burning up those eggs like a racehorse. Right now I’m thinking of nothing more than drawing a breath.
One of the guys pulls out some bungee cords. The pair of them have me working to maximum intensity. My core is burning and all my strength is being used to hold the strain as the two of them fight against my resistance. An hour passes, then another and I’m starting to realize this is exactly what I needed. Time with the boys. Muscle work and the physical drain on my body.
I walk out of there dripping in sweat, but so calm. There’s something to be said for boxing. It may be a violent sport, but when you’re trying to protect yourself from a punch to the jaw, it’s easy to stop thinking and focus on what’s imperative. When I’m sparring, all I need to do is hit and avoid being hit. Things are simple. I got in some good punches too. I haven’t been in a proper fight for years, but that was oddly satisfying.
The drive home passes in a flash. When I walk back in the door of the apartment, I’m in a completely different state of mind. Then I notice the folder sitting on the kitchen bench. It’s George’s medical report. It talks about the angle of the break and mentions that he was referred for a psychological assessment. It’s standard practice when a kid won’t admit how they were hurt, but it jolts me into action. This is obviously more than just a little fall and I need to get on top of what happened.
George is lucky in one sense, his teacher, Mrs Baldwin, is one of the best in the school. She looks after his class and every time I’ve gone in with Brenda for parent conferences, I’ve been impressed by her compassion and intuitive style of teaching. She’s exactly what he needs. Sensitive but firm. She’s a bit like Carrie, now that I think about it. Mrs Baldwin has that same energy about her. Capable. As if no problem’s too much for her. I’m glad George has her as a role model.
I should have phoned her as soon as it happened. I was distracted by Carrie and the case. I left it to Brenda and I shouldn’t have. I call her now. It’s time to get to the bottom of this. Luckily she’s on some sort of afternoon recess or break. I get right through to her cell phone. It’s rare for teachers to have any time for themselves. The first thing I do is thank her.
“Mrs Baldwin, it’s Blake Anderson here, George’s Uncle. How are you?”
“Mr. Anderson,” she greets me, and is so pleasant. “How can I help you? Is everything okay at home?”
“I’d like to discuss George’s injury…” She’s silent so I continue. “He’s still not admitting how he was hurt and frankly, it’s worrying, especially when I see a request for a psychiatric assessment in his medical report.”
“Thanks for the call Blake, she answers. “I appreciate being asked.”
“I’m sure Brenda discussed this with you at the time,” I continue, “but I’m wondering if anything else has come to light. You know George pretty well. I’d like to think you’d know if something is happening with him that we should know about.”
“I think I do know what’s been going on. I can at least make an educated guess. George has become quite close with Melinda Munroe of late. He may not have mentioned her to you. She’s a darling little thing. Very intelligent, very caring. They spend time together at the school vegetable garden and they often play board games at lunchtime.”
“Board games? That’s out of character. I haven’t heard a word from him on this girl. Do you think they’re developing a crush?”
“No. I haven’t seen any evidence of that. It’s my policy to discuss this sort of behaviour with the students when it comes up. He’s more of an older brother to her, and just as protective. Anyway, I mention it because lately, Melinda has been gaining confidence on the jungle gym. Despite this, the competition out there is somewhat fierce. The boys tend to own that section of the yard so she’s been attempting but struggling to make inroads. I don’t know for sure, but I figure when George fell it was because he was protecting Melinda.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, the sad truth is no matter how many playground monitors we have on duty, there’s always a moment when the kids are left to fend for themselves out there. If it went down anything like I suspect, Melinda could have launched herself out along the top three rungs and then been overtaken by a bigger boy.”
“Do you think someone tried to hurt her and George defended her?” I have to ask.
“I doubt someone would purposely cause harm to someone so little, but I remember seeing George stick around to help her on prior days when this happened. My best guess is that he stuck up for her, fell and then was too embarrassed to tell you why. None of the boys his age like to admit girls are important to them. If Melinda matters to him as much as I think she does, it could be the reason behind the secrecy.”
“I guess that makes sense,” I say, still confused he wouldn’t just come out and tell us.
“You must remember how it was to be in elementary school, Mr. Anderson?”
“These first experiences are painfully embarrassing. They’re finding their way to a whole new level of intimacy with the opposite sex. With that comes a natural desire to conceal any events they consider clumsy.”
Her take on things is refreshing. I’d been imagining bullies, abuse or worse. “So you don’t know for sure, but this is your best guess?”
“All I know is what I see every day. George doesn’t display any of the warning behaviours of abuse. He doesn’t seem to be avoiding any of the other kids, and his natural desire to protect those who are weaker than he, well, it’s admirable.”
“I’m relieved to hear this.”
“Your nephew is a good kid. He has a lot of potential, Mr. Anderson.”
I say goodbye and hang up the phone, feeling like a proud father—well, as close to one as I can be anyway. If George is making a name for himself as a kid who looks after the smaller kids, then Brenda and I have been doing something right.
Tears come to my eyes. I’m surprised by the intensity of my relief. Part of me has always worried that I’m too broken to ever be a good father. People say that we parent the way we were raised. If that were truly the case, then George would be a mess. Brenda and I were not blessed with a healthy family environment growing up. We’re doing the best we can with George. It’s a tribute to her strength and the power of new beginnings. For the first time, I really start to see that the move to New York was for the best. Part of me, the alcoholic part, believes I’m not worthy of this kind of happiness. But I am. This is living proof. This kid we are molding together is the reason I can’t give up.
The only missing part of the puzzle is Carrie. If I can make her believe we belong together, things would be close to perfect. I used to think I knew what love is, but this is different. This is something I can’t have ever imagined being possible. When I first got sober, I thought my heart would never recover from Neon’s manipulation, from the fear of my childhood, and from the anger.
I can’t wait to share this with Brenda. I’ll bet she already has a good idea. It’s possible she’s been talking to Mrs. Baldwin herself. I need to spend more time at home. I’ve hardly spoken a word to my sister in the last few weeks. Brenda and George are my life. As long as I have them and Carrie, that’s all the family I need. I bound upstairs. The world suddenly feels a little friendlier.
As the afternoon passes, my good mood refuses to fade. I’ve got a coffee date planned with my sponsor. Mark has been good to me over the years. He continues to be the most non-judgmental and honest sounding bound I have. We meet at a coffee shop near his place. It’s only ten minutes away from the local meetinghouse. I’m damned lucky to have his time.
My realizations about Carrie haven’t faded either. If anything, I’m becoming more aware of how I feel about her. It’s time to talk about it with another man. Ryan’s a great friend, but I need advice from someone who knows me and has been there.
I get our coffees and then proceed to lay out all the details. I don’t say much about the case but I tell him how it’s affected me. We talk about the past and my jealousy. We talk about my fear of getting too close. I swear if anyone could hear this conversation, they’d think I’ve gone so soft. Despite that, it’s refreshing to let my guard down and be brutally honest with someone. Part of me pities all the macho guys out there that don’t have the capacity or opportunity to open up.
Yes, I’m a man. I’ve a cock and tattoos. I like to cuss and lift weights. I’m stubborn and willful and jealous sometimes, but I’m still human. There’s got to be room for some humanity with all the ego we men tend to walk around with. I’d lose my mind otherwise. I’ve got a high-pressure job and a readymade family; I need to keep a balance somehow. Thank God for friends like Mark.
We talk for a while and I feel better. He encourages me to be honest with Carrie. It sounds so simple. I don’t purposely try to deceive her, but I could be more upfront about the way I feel. I could tell her I care. That I’ve always cared.
The hour passes quickly and it’s time to hit the AA meeting. It’s a newcomers’ meeting. Mark is the chairman and he’s asked me to share my story. I’m happy to tell people where I’ve come from. It’ll remind me how good things really are. It’ll be good to acknowledge my history and how far I’ve come.
The meeting is held in an old church hall about a block away from where we had coffee. We walk there in compatible silence. He’s getting older, but people still notice when Mark walks into the room. He’s got stature and an unavoidable presence. Mark is the type of man I hope to be one day.
There are a bunch of people standing outside the hall. AA is full of a strange collection of misfits. Guys from the street mixed in with Manhattan housewives and downtown doctors. The disease of alcoholism does not discriminate. Seeing the non-conformity of the crowd comforts me. It would be easy to judge and beat myself up. It’s instinctual for me to not feel good enough. But this helps. Walking up to the crowd and greeting some of them by name, it makes me feel like I belong here.
We filter our way in to the hall. Chairs are set up in a circle. There’s a table full of pamphlets and some older ladies walking around with cups of coffee. The meeting starts and I sit down in the front row. People read from a book, and then I’m invited up the front. There’s a microphone and a podium. It could be intimidating, but I know all I have to do is tell the truth.
“I’m Blake, I’m an alcoholic…” Before I know it my story is flowing. It takes no effort to show a room full of people who I am. I wish it were as easy to do it with the woman I love. I speak for nearly half an hour and afterwards, the room erupts in applause. Whatever I’ve said must have struck a chord. When I take a seat, people turn to make eye contact and nod, and a couple of men pat me on the back.
I listen and relate to almost everything shared by those who get up after me. I find myself nodding along and when we break for coffee afterwards, a couple of young guys come up and start conversations. Mark has told me that it’s time to start sponsoring other men. I give out my phone number to one guy and pause to chat with another who’s smoking outside.
The car park is nearly empty as we stand there but I notice a dark sedan parked across the street. It looks like a couple of guys are sitting in the front seat and I can’t see if they’re looking over at me or not. I feel the hair on the back of my neck prickle. Is someone following me? I don’t know for sure but I’ve learned to trust my gut, and it’s telling me I need to find out what they’re up to.
Something tells me it’s the FBI. I don’t know why I’d be under surveillance, but usually my first thought in these situations is the right one. Cooper will be advising my seniors on my progress in the investigation. It could easily be them checking up on me. If he thinks there’s been any wrongdoing, I’ll be the subject of an investigation for sure. At least it’s not the Internal Affairs guys.
The only other person it could be is Neon. Her behaviour in the car was strange. I understand she’s not mentally right in the head anymore. It makes me sad, but if she’s trying to keep tabs on me, it makes sense her guys would be here. It’s not common knowledge that I come to these meetings. I don’t broadcast my alcoholism to everyone. Only the important people in my life know about my recovery.
Whoever is doing this to me deserves a clip to the jaw. I’m furious at the invasion of privacy, and that everyone here could have their own anonymity blown. We have meetings in secret for a reason. People judge addicts and alcoholics. It’s one of the reasons members feel safe enough to attend these meetings. They’re not supposed to be subject to any surveillance. My blood begins to boil.
I’m about to sprint across the road to check when the taillights turn on. Whoever it is has seen that I’ve made them. Before I do, a small girl runs down the sidewalk towards the car, with a few balloons in her hand. The driver of the car must be her father. I must be a paranoid fool. It’s a simple birthday party pick-up, and here I am projecting my own insecurities. Maybe I need to take some time off, take a holiday somewhere. Jesus.
I refocus on the conversation I was trying to have with the young guy from the AA meeting. He’s just come out of jail. Now that I know the FBI is not following me, I regain some perspective. I remember I want to help this man. He’s in trouble, and the last person he expects to help him is a cop. Although I don’t share about my job in meetings, word gets around. It’s often the younger men, the ones already on the road to trouble, who ask for advice.
A couple of others come outside, someone is handing cake around on napkins. There’s coffee at a side table up against the building. The atmosphere feels warm and inviting. Mark is laughing with another guy and people seem genuinely happier than when they arrived. It’s the polar opposite of the life I used to lead. I wish Carrie could see this. I wish she could feel what it’s like to belong to something. Since April was taken, she’s been forced to keep to herself. I want to take that loneliness away.
Mark looks over at me. “All good, brother?”
I nod and agree to stick around for coffee with him and a few of the guys. Since this case got hot I haven’t been going to meetings. I’ve noticed the difference, being here. No man is an island. It’s a saying that I should tattoo to my wrist. When I’m angry and losing control, I need to remember there’s a solution. It’s fine to go work the punching bag or lift weights, but there’s more to life than that.
Neon would spit out her mouthful of vodka if she heard me say that. I never would have
, let alone
something so new age when we were together. AA has changed me. Being a cop has changed me, but lately, seeing Carrie again has changed me.
I hang around for coffee with the guys who stay back. I wish she were here with us now. There’s something so calming about her presence. I want to hold her in my arms. I want to talk to her and just hang out. I end up leaving early anyway. Home is the next stop and I’m glad to have the house to myself. All of a sudden I’m tired. The gym and the meeting wore me out. It’s my day off, and I start back my shift later tonight. A nap right now is only going to work out if I set my alarm, which I do.
As usual, the moment my head hits the pillow my mind comes alive. For once, I’m not punishing myself. Instead, I’m feeling gratitude for the way my life has changed. There was something so empowering about being able to say no to Neon when she kissed me. That woman was a drug to me, an obsession for so many years. I gave her my power, but early today, I took it back again.
My next train of thought is saving April. If I’m strong enough to say no to Neon, then it’s time I start using her as the resource of information she really is. I need to work her like I do my informants, not keep her as an old friend. If I can just get a moment to ask her directly, I’m sure I’ll know if she’s telling the truth or not. I used to be able to tell when she was lying. When we used to play poker together, Neon’s lip tends to curl up on one side when she was bluffing. Jesus, if I ever let her know I noticed her do that, I would have been in for a world of grief. But I didn’t. Maybe there’s hope for a lead after all. If everything Neon and I ever shared comes down to me finding April, then everything Neon put me through up until now has been worth it.
I may be off the case, but this is different. Information from her can actually help. Carrie should agree, even if Cooper and the FBI don’t. They’ll surely see any action from the NYPD as an encroachment on their territory. Even if I do have something of value to offer, I need to be careful not to step on any feet. It’s risky, but it’s definitely worth a trip over there. I’ll do that later. For now, I need some shuteye.
My thoughts stray again to the woman I love. The way her skin feels, the way her hair smells. It’s crazy but the simplest things about her make me wild. I wonder what she’s doing now. I know what I want her to be doing. Those lips belong on my body. I’d give almost everything to hold her right now, to make her my own.
I’m instantly hard, reaching down I stroke myself and feel my cock jump in response. I cup my fist around the head of my cock, and imagine it’s her mouth. Those warm wet lips are wide open, and I picture her tongue sliding around and around the tip of my head. The thought makes me groan out loud. I think of burying myself inside her mouth then spinning her around to feast on her sopping pussy as she sucks me. She’s just the right size and I want to part her sweet, warm pussy lips and lick her into a frenzy.
I’m more excited with every stroke. In my fantasy, she gives herself to me completely. Opens her legs and welcomes me in. I want to suckle on her neck; nipping and licking until she’s screaming for mercy. I know how much she loves to ride my cock, so the thought of her climbing aboard and sliding that tight pussy right down to my balls makes me explode my come. I can’t help shouting out before I slip into a peaceful, exhausted dream state.