Authors: JC Coulton
I can’t believe it. I got nothing; fuck all. I was so sure she’d take the bait I didn’t even consider this would happen. What a rookie I am. There’s nothing to do but create plan B. There should have already been a Plan B in place. Fuck!
Maybe she didn’t talk because her security was there. There’s a chance she’ll never talk. I’m often surprised at the level of stubbornness people are sometimes willing to perpetuate. There are innocent guys who are sitting in jail. Waiting out twenty years or so because they refuse to talk. They flat out refuse to tell the truth about who really committed their crimes.
It’s a misplaced level of loyalty. What they don’t realize is that by the time they get out, shit has changed. Hierarchies shift. The bosses they thought had the power to reward them for doing time are gone. It’s a nasty surprise.
I thought she would have told me what she knew. My ego was clearly misplaced. Shit, now what? I have no other leads, and I’m not even supposed to be on this case. What the fuck is the next step?
Marks’ words come to mind. The next step is to pause and get my head together. If I just take a moment, it’ll become clear. I get in the car and the first place my mind takes me is the pool hall I used to go to when Brenda and I first moved to the area.
The place is nearly empty when I get there. I greet the owner with a nod and head over to the back of the room. The rows of tables shine with rich green felt. They’re the type of tables you can find in any bar or club. I spent hours over them before I got sober.
I set up two tables. I rack the balls in neat matching triangles and play myself on stripes and spots alternately. After a while the concentration and the rhythm slows down my brain. I start to feel calmer; things begin to settle.
It looks like I have a few options. I can ditch this crazy Neon chase, and let the FBI handle it. It would be the sanest of every possible action available to me. It’s sensible to simply head back to the station and dedicate myself to the cases I’m assigned to. It would be the best way to make nice with Jacob and not make a bad name for myself with Cooper or the bureau.
I can find Neon and try again. Up the ante and offer her extra benefits. I’d have to hope no one ever finds out. It would mean the end of being one of the good cops. It would also mean having Neon chained to me for life. I’d never get away from the constant requests for more. She’d have me for pretty much anything she wanted.
The balls make a satisfying clunk as I move around both tables, sinking them one after the other. I forgot how much I love playing pool. The need for precision is comforting. It reminds me of pistol shooting practice. The smooth wood of the barrel in my hand as the stock kicks back. Shooting and pool. Both gentlemen’s games, both straight down the line. Both requiring peace of mind and a steady hand. I love it. This is probably why Brenda says I make a good cop. The toys and the machines, I’m a kid at heart.
I’m starting to enjoy myself now, moving faster, flicking balls into holes more fluidly. Moving between tables deftly. Bending over, making a strike and then moving to the next. It’s tactical and technical. I’m planning moves three shots ahead and I feel myself relaxing more than I have in days.
I must be there for an hour, not paying attention to anything except pocketing shots when I feel a tap on my shoulder.
“Looking for a game partner?” The voice is sultry. It’s an older woman dressed in a plunging top and tight jeans. I look up and smile at her, it’s such a cheesy line, but I’m not worried. I’m not in the game anyway.
“Sure, let’s play.” I let her rack up the balls and we start. I’m not interested in anything more than a game of pool. She gets that pretty quickly. My mind is on Carrie and what needs to be done. Grace is her name. She seems like a nice lady, so I take the time to ask her about what she does for a living. Her name is Grace, she’s a paralegal. Before I know it, she’s opening right up.
Without me even asking she starts talking about her ex-husband and their custody battle. I’m only thinking about the game, but I don’t mind listening to her talk my ear off while we play. I can tell she’s spent some time at the table. It’s cool. She’s good, and as we play, she starts to gain an edge on me. Soon she’s offering me a beer and the inevitable conversation about why I don’t drink begins. Surprisingly, she’s doesn’t push me for details. She accepts my decision and we keep playing.
We play quickly, and I start to have fun.
“So where’s your lady tonight, Blake?” She asks. “What’s got you up in here, looking all intense and lonely?”
It’s a good question. One I can’t really answer without telling her about the case. I can tell her about Carrie though.
“She’s angry at me tonight. I’m trying to work out what to do about it. I was just trying to help her out, and I think I got in the way.”
“That makes sense. Is she someone you really like?”
“I went to high school with her. We only just reconnected, and now it looks like I’ve fucked it up. If only I knew what I’d done.”
I sigh dramatically and she laughs, stepping happily into the role of counselor for me.
“Oh honey, you just need to keep talking to her, keep communicating and everything will come out in the wash. Is there another girl in the picture?”
“Sort of. My ex-girlfriend has been a nuisance, but I don’t have anything to hide. There’s no reason for Carrie to be jealous. I just wish I could see her and make everything okay again. For the first couple weeks we were together, it was so intense. I swear we just need a chance to talk it out. She gave me the cold shoulder on the way here, so I’m giving her some space. I didn’t want to, but I let her go.”
“What do you mean by let her go?” Grace’s drawl emerges more as she speaks. I realize she’s probably Texan.
“I mean I let her go, I let her take off for a run. I wanted to stop her. I tried to stop her, but her mind was made up!”
“And did you go after her?” I shake my head in response. “Of course not. I wasn’t going to chase her like a madman.”
Now it’s her sighing at me. “When will you men learn what’s good for you? Don’t you know that women want to be chased? We want a man that’ll come after us. Someone who’ll stop us from running away. Have you tried to call her yet?”
“No, I thought I’d give her some space to calm down.”
“That’s it, Blake. Get on your phone and call her up! She needs to hear your voice. It’ll let her know you care.”
I feel like I’m being told off by the mother I never had. Grace is standing there, self-righteous in her insistence that I call Carrie. It’s funny. Here I am trying to work out the next tactical step in the plan, when in fact all I needed was a woman in a pool hall to read me the riot act.
“Okay, okay, I’m going.”
“You just tell that girl how you feel and everything’s gonna be fine. Let her make the next move, Blake. If she’s running, it’s because she feels out of control. So give her back the reins, even if it’s for a second.”
I’ve been told. I put down my cue, take out my phone and head over to a quiet corner of the room. There’s not enough noise in here to warrant going outside, so I sit down on one of the padded benches and phone her.
It rings a couple of times and she picks up.
“Carrie, where are you?”
Her lack of additional information is where I start to realize that it’s not going to Grace’s plan, but what she says next completely floors me.
“Blake, I need to ask a really big favor of you.”
“Sure.” I say it without thinking much about what it could be.
“I need you to hang up the phone and never call me again. Do you hear me? Never.”
I swallow hard. My throat stings. This is the last thing I expected. The emotion rushes to the surface.
“Carrie wait, just listen…” I try telling her to wait. I can hear the desperation in my voice. But’s she’s already ended the call. She just cut me off. I look down at the floor and then back up at Grace who’s lining up her next shot.
I throw my phone on the floor and bury my head in my hands. I gave her back the control and look what happened. I know it’s not Grace’s fault. I still feel resentful. Heading back over to the table, I resume the game and say nothing. My stormy demeanor must give Grace all the hints she needs. She tactfully doesn’t torture me with any further questions.
I slam the balls down. My aggression is ruining my precision and I start to miss shots. There’s something about the way she stays silent that annoys me even more. I want to bait her into saying something, but I don’t. That’s old behaviour for me. Taking my anger out on other people in situations that aren’t there fault in the slightest.
I manage to hold back. The game is all but ruined anyway. In order to make sure she knows I don’t hold it against her I let her win. I try to make conversation, fully aware of the elephant in the room. I owe this stranger nothing, but I should probably address it. “Sorry Grace, it didn’t go so well.”
“I know honey. It’s okay. It’ll all work out in the end.”
I can tell she’s relieved I decided to break the tension. She takes a large gulp of her drink.
“Do you know why she’s so angry at you?”
“I have a feeling someone’s been feeding her information that’s not true.”
What I want to do is swear and cuss out the FBI, but this is an innocent bystander with no idea that I’m a cop, and no place knowing anything more about my situation.
Who knows what the truth is? I don’t, but I’d be willing to put money on the idea that Jason Cooper not only wants to get into Carrie’s pants, but he’s actively spreading lies about me to make it happen.
It’s time I head back to the station. I say my goodbyes to Grace, and pay her tab on the way out. It’s the least I can do considering the woman was just my confidant, therapist and almost the victim of my rage at this whole fucked-up situation.
Alcoholics often talk about the dark night of the soul. The time when they feel most alone and most prone to drink or self-destruct. It’s been many years since I felt that desperation. But tonight, after everything that has happened, I can’t help thinking of the phrase.
I was so sure that the plan with Neon would work. I should have had another option, given people are complex and unpredictable. The sudden illusion of control I had was intoxicating enough to stop me from thinking logically, like a cop. Now here I am without a plan, the woman I love won’t speak to me, and the screen of my phone has a giant crack in it. Life isn’t supposed to be easy for me right now.
I drive the outer freeways, pushing the vehicle to the top reach of its speed on the quieter stretches of road. It feels good to focus on the machine. The radio crackles. My shift is going on without me. The world continues to function, or dis-function, depending on how you look at it.
Even when I was a drunken asshole, women never spoke to me with the disdain that Carrie projected on the phone line tonight. Her voice was so cold. That line about doing her a favor. Jesus, that cut me. There was no need for that. It was so out of character for Carrie. Something tells me she’s really hurting.
The question is why? What happened between this morning and this evening to make her think so little of me? We’ve been getting closer lately; more intimate; more connected. If anyone had asked, I would refer to her as my girlfriend, or even my partner. I was gearing up to ask her to stay with me in New York. I was thinking about redecorating.
The only thing it can be is the FBI and her perception of my involvement with Neon. She must think I don’t believe her about the phone calls. Or that I’m still seeing Neon. Why else would an ex-girlfriend start harassing the current one? It’s a logical assumption that feelings still exist, but in my case, it’s not true.
I know without a doubt I should have told her the truth about my past involvement with Neon. Coming right out with the truth I still felt ashamed of would have been hard. But if I had, maybe things wouldn’t be where they are now. Fuck! I smack my palms down on the steering wheel.
I’ve made mistakes, but I’ve got no regrets. I don’t regret meeting Carrie or falling for her back then. I don’t regret leaving Cedar Rapids either. Brenda and I had to. I’ve made the best decisions possible in at every fork in the road. She can judge me all she wants, but that’s the truth. I’ve done what I’ve had to do. The pain in my chest intensifies for a second. It’s not regret. Just fear that I’ve lost her, and what we had—the chance at a future. Who would have thought I’d turn out to be so sentimental? Not me, that’s for sure.
Now my options are limited. I can’t use Neon as a source of information. I can’t connect with Carrie to learn about the FBI’s progress, and I can’t officially work on the case myself. There is no next move. I’m done. The thought is depressing, but true. I slow down and signal my turn. There’s no need to drive the streets when I should be resting. It’s not like I’ve got another move to make, anyway.
I swing the car around, the headlights look blue on the pavement as they illuminate trash cans and a stray dog that looks lazily up without really caring. I head back towards home. There’s nothing more to do, except rest and wait for my next move to be revealed. I’ll watch a movie and eat crackers with peanut butter. Brenda and I used to do that all the time when we moved out here. There was never enough money for proper meals back then. I have to remember how lucky I am to be working and safe.
I arrive home and relax on the couch. I turn the TV on and settle on some movie. It’s some futuristic fantasy with other-worldly characters wearing pastel turtleneck sweaters. I’m a movie lover, but it doesn’t hold my attention for long. The sofa is so comfortable I could stay here all night. It’ll play havoc with my back if I do, so I decide to have a nap and I end up closing my eyes with a full plate of crackers still in front of me.
Carrie and I are standing close; not touching, but I can feel her breath on my neck. We’re in a long hallway; it’s empty and dark. She’s beckoning me towards the light of a bathroom where the shower runs steaming hot behind her. The look in her eyes is playful and naughty, like she’s begging to be fucked. All the pain and fear of April’s disappearance does not exist here.
I know there’s nothing to do but follow her. She takes my hand and walks backwards, pulling me gently with her down the hallway. I’m looking into the depths of her eyes. Her lust is endless; pools of desire just waiting for me to make her mine. My cock is rock hard and growing as I thrust her up against the back wall of the bathroom and kick the door closed behind us.
The shower water hums and steams as I hold her against the warm tiles and slowly pull down the shoulder straps of her flimsy dress, first one then the other falls, allowing me access to her neck and shoulders. The silky material slides further down, dropping below her breasts. I inch it down even further, so she’s naked from the waist upwards. Her thighs shake as her breathing intensifies.
Carrie leans back against the wall, pressing her erect nipples out at me as her hips and pelvis undulate in waves under my strokes. I make the hair on her arms stand up, and send goosebumps in waves across them.
Her mouth drops open with desire. I bite her lower lip softly before moving down and kissing her nipples, alternating as I start to lick and suck one and then the other in my mouth.
I blow on them and then use my palms and the pads of my thumbs to tweak them into even harder peaks of pleasure, reveling in the way she starts to toss her head backwards, mumbling in pleasure. She’s going wild under my touch. She moans, breathing hard and whimpering as the tips of my fingers begin to breach the lace panties she’s wearing.
The material is soaking wet with desire. I slide them slowly down her thighs with the rest of her dress. My fingers stroke and touch the sensitive skin down her legs. The steam swirls around us, and she beckons me onto the tiles under the rushing water.
It rains down on her body in rivulets. I want to worship so I sink to my knees in front of her. I tell her to part her legs, and she does so without protest. The hot water streams down the inside of her thighs, sending a flush to the surface of her soft skin.
I gently part her outer lips and start to lick at her folds, sipping at her sweet nectar as she begins to get wet under my tongue, the hot water diluting her desire. I feel her thighs open further under my touch as she relaxes and accepts me into her body.
Her fingers snake into my hair, massaging my scalp in time with the plunges of my tongue on her clit. I slip my tongue under hood, alternating between swirling circles and her favorite flat-tongued caress. I reach around and grab her beautiful ass, squeezing and kneading it, pulling her into my mouth as she begins to wriggle and beg me to fuck her.
My cock is huge now, as thick as it gets and throbbing with desire for the moist passage my fingers have been exploring. She’s gasping for me. I stand up and her mouth is open, panting as our lips meet in another passionate kiss. I take her mouth, holding her cheeks as I kiss her deeply while my cock nudges at her pussy. The water’s still hot as she wraps her legs around me. Pulling my hardness into her slick cleft. She rubs me fluidly between the lips of her pussy, her whole body moving in a rhythm that beckons me to slide the tip of my engorged head inside so I can feel her clench around it.
I grab her hips and pick her up, whispering in her ear as I slide my cock deep inside of her. Her back is against the smooth wall of the shower. Our hips are locked together, and I begin to thrust with long, smooth strokes. I feel her body jerk at the peak of each entry. Her breasts press into me. As she starts to get closer to coming, her breathing quickens, and a red flush spreads up her neck.
The sound of the water rushes in my ears, the emotion on her face is obvious as she claws at my back begging me to go faster, to fuck her harder. I feel my balls clench and tighten as I near my own peak. I force myself to hold off, waiting for her to reach her own high.
She’s so close, I can tell. Her eyes lock on to mine, and I see her pupils dilate as her insides tighten and suck at my cock, pulling me further and closer to orgasm as she explodes around me. She screams my name, her head tipped back, baring her throat to me as the water streams down. I come hard, exploding deeply into her warm folds, holding her close, falling into her, disappearing into peace and darkness.
I’m not sure what time it is when I wake up from that incredible dream. The sound of Brenda coming in the door with sleeping George in her arms pulls me from the light, morning snooze. The dream is a memory now, fuzzy and bittersweet with the realization it may not ever happen. Carrie has shut me out and it affects me more than I’d like to admit. The safety I was starting to feel about her presence is now gone; it’s replaced by confusion, regret and anger.
Brenda settles her son into bed and creeps back out to the lounge, tossing me a rug to ward off the chill that’s starting to creep into the air. She takes a seat on the end of the couch, pushing my feet out of her way while she lunges at my plate of peanut butter crackers, scoring a couple before I can stop her.
“How you doing, sis?”
She looks quizzically at me and says, “I’m good, but more importantly, how are you doing?”
She knows something is up from the look on my face. I love her fiercely in that moment.
“We’re doing pretty well, Blake. You and I.”
“Yah, we are…” I say and I mean it too.
“It wasn’t too long ago that these were all we had to eat, remember?” She gestures at the plate of crackers on the table.
“Whatever it is, it’ll work out.”
“It’s really good to hear that. Now, brother of mine, I think it’s time you get your butt into bed and get enough sleep to devise a plan on how you’re going to find your girl.”
I smile. It’s funny, after that dark soul of a night, I think she may have just offered me the closest thing to an answer I can hope for.
“Roger that,” I say and make my way to the comfort of my pillow.