Disclaimer: Um, it has women in it. Women who like other women. Read that only if you want to. (Yea, like that’s a shocker)
Any thoughts, comments and constructive criticism can be sent to me at LazyLaziel@gmail.com
I’d also like to thank the Academy for being invited to offer something for this love filled day. Hopefully it’s to someone’s taste.
By Lazy Laziel
The best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.
-Harry S. Truman
When I was a kid, I wanted to be Spider-man.
Maybe it was his powers that lets him almost fly through the air, or maybe it was the fact that he didn’t just stop super villains like the rest of the heroes, but went after regular crooks as well. Maybe it was the advice he got from his uncle Ben, that ‘with great power comes great responsibility’. I honestly can’t tell you what made me such a big fan, but I can tell you that Spider-man has shaped my entire life and made me into the person that I am today. Spider-man was the reason I broke both my arms and one leg three summers in a row, one limb each year. In hindsight it wasn’t that bright trying to use ropes without hooks as web lines. I probably shouldn’t have started from the top of a tree either. And I don’t know what I was thinking trying to stick to our chimney after jumping at it using the trampoline in our backyard.
It’s also from where my distrust of cantaloupes comes from. As it turns out, no matter what your mother tells you, they will not give you the power to shoot web from your wrists. I didn’t speak to her for a week after she revealed that it was just a lie to get me to eat something healthy. In her defense I don’t think she imagined me trying to eat seven of them at once.
Yea, Spider-man was the root of a lot of childhood incidents for me. But it wasn’t all bad. In the second grade we had a new boy in our class, Keith Wilson. His mother was an army officer that moved around a lot and you could tell he hadn’t mastered the trick on how to easily make new friends. Basically, he was a shy kid, and that made him prime material for Bosco ‘The boat’ Clark, resident bully. The first recess we had, Bosco started to pick on little Keith. The playground supervisor had ducked in for some coffee as she usually did so we were unattended, a fact that Bosco took advantage off.
Now, I don’t know what came over me that day, but the end result was that I stood up to The boat, telling him to stop it. And he did actually stop for a moment, mostly out of confusion. Hey, you probably would too if a gangly girl with a cast on her arm told you to do something. I won’t bore you with what happened next, but I did walk home with a big black eye. Don’t worry though. The boat ended up with two and he walked funny for a week.
I think that’s where my future was decided. Oh, it wasn’t like I had my whole life plan laid out from there, but in the back of my head I knew that I wanted to help people. Preferably as a superhero. Turns out, there is not one school in this country that offers ‘Superhero 101’ on the curriculum. So in the end I ended up doing the next best thing.
Yea, you guessed it. I became a cop. 5-O. Bacon. A girl in blue. That reminds me, I should pick up some eggs tomorrow. Anyway, yes. A cop. It wasn’t not swinging around with a web, but then again, what is?
I might joke about why I became one, but truth be told? I love it. I’ve been a beat cop for nine years now and I don’t plan on moving on anytime soon. Most people put in the required time on the streets and then go for a promotion. Detective, sergeant, whatever. Hell, the ones that aren’t climbers fit better in those rolls anyway, just like I know that even though I could make detective without breaking a sweat, I fit better where I am now.
The job isn’t exactly easy. You get it all, murders, drugs, rapes. You name it and I’ve dealt with it. Yes, even cattle rustling. That was a weird day. But then you have the good times, when you manage to get someone’s property back. When you save someone and you get that look of gratitude that is too deep for words. Yea, so far the good outweighs the bad for me. Never had to kill anyone though. So far that’s a line I haven’t been forced to cross.
Yes, I’m stalling. That’s what you do when you’re about to face something that has the potential to change your life. Where was I? Oh, right. Never had to kill anyone. Had to draw my gun a few times though. I’m hoping that will stay the same. I know that if I have to pull the trigger I’ll do it. I’m just not looking forward to afterwards because I’m big enough to realize that I have no idea how I’ll react. Killing someone is… Big. I suppose that’s one of the reasons I’m sitting in this bar right now.
A few nights ago we were sent out on a robbery call and in a city as big as this one, that’s something that happens every night. So me and my partner Jack did the usual thing. We stopped in front of the store with the smashed window and got out. Nearly ten minutes had passed since the alarm went off, our response time slightly slower than average for once, and we were greeted by a dark store with the alarm still blaring.
We checked around the front and a few yards from the window we spotted an Ipod, the packaging slightly crushed, and we drew the logical conclusion from that. Loot on the ground, outside, means that the robbers are gone from the premise so we can relax. Yea, I know. God, that was stupid. Rule one when you’re the first responder to a crime scene is to always, always check the surroundings for perps. It doesn’t matter if your mother is lying on the ground bleeding out, you check to make sure that you’re alone before going to help. And when there are two of you, you stick together and cover each other’s back.
Yea, we were stupid and I take full responsibility.
Jack gestured towards the corner of the building and I nodded. Gun drawn he disappeared into the alley to check out the back of the building while I walked up to the open door. It was hanging open, the simple lock oddly pristine. Whoever broke in must have had long enough arms to reach the lock through the small broken window in the door, enabling them to unlock the door.
Gently I used the flashlight in my left hand to open the door while I had my sidearm ready in my right. I like the police flashlights. Sure, they drag your belt down like a cinderblock, but when you’re entering a scene the weight feels solid, comforting. The fact that it can crack a jaw helps too. I flicked it on and started to move the light around the dark store, illuminating broken shelves and wares that littered the ground.
“Police!” I announced, or tried to announce, over the blare of the alarm. “Anyone still in here come out with your hands above your head.” I waited for a few moments but there was no reply, and no one came out. Shocking. I relaxed a trifle and moved deeper into the store, flashlight still moving around. My eyes were still registering everything, but in my mind I was already busy compiling the report that I was going to have to type up. And that’s the moment when it happened.
A display had been placed in a way that was undoubtedly great during the day, but here and now it had left a corner in deep shadows. I didn’t notice it as I walked through the store and it was behind me by the time I heard the sound. It was soft, metal on metal for less than a second, but I heard it and whipped around. My flashlight lit up the darkness and I was suddenly face to face with a kid holding a gun at my face.
The first thing I noticed was that gun barrels look really, really big from the other end. I mean really big. I wonder if the guy, boy really, thought the same as he stared into mine. It took all of half a second for me to see it, think, and raise my own gun in response. I carefully lowered my flashlight a fraction so the light hit him in the chest and not the face. No need to make the situation worse than it already was.
“Hey kid,” I said quietly as I looked him in the eyes. They were blinking rapidly and I don’t think it was the aftereffects from the flashlight. The kid was scared out of his mind. “Put the gun down.” I continued. I was standing maybe 10 feet from him, too far to safely rush him so I talked. He in return just stared at me, sweat making his face glisten. I could tell that this situation hadn’t been planned. He was swallowing rapidly; hyperventilating while the gun in his hand shook. I was willing to bet that he had never fired it before.
“Please, don’t make this harder.” My voice was still low and gentle, like the one trainers use with new animals. Normally a commanding voice was the way to go, but this kid was so skittish I was afraid that he’d fire if he thought he was threatened. I continued talking to him. Asking, pleading, telling, but always in that same low tone of voice. In reality it wasn’t that quiet though as the alarm was still blaring. But even then my voice felt quiet and calm, which was the whole point. We stood there for a few minutes and I think it became some sort of mutual hypnosis because the rest of the world fell away. It was just my eyes locked with his and my voice talking. Even the alarm seemed to fade away. I could see a slight drooping of his eyelids, his pupils dilating just a hair. I sensed more then saw tension slowly leaving his body. He seemingly made a decision and his gun started to lower.
“Hey, Grayson! How’s it going in here?” My partner’s voice sounded over the alarm and shattered the illusion. In reaction the kid snapped his face to the left, gun hand following. I didn’t even think. I just took a couple of rapid steps and hurled myself at him. I hit him at waist level and he slammed into the shelves behind him, knocking the air from his lungs as well as making the gun drop from his now weak hands. That’s where my training kicked in and I had him on his stomach with his hands behind his back before he could string two thoughts together.
Jack rushed around the corner and came to a halt when he saw me pulling the kid up from the floor. “Honestly Jack,” I said as I maneuvered past him. “I don’t know if I should slap you or kiss you.”
And that was the highlight of that evening. Then came all the standard stuff. Booking, reports, talking down an agitated store owner. And me and Jack beating ourselves up for what we did. We both kept shut about when it came to writing the reports because we both knew that any punishment the brass doled out would be pale against what we were already feeling.
It wasn’t the first time that I had come face to face with, well, death. But for the first time it had made me think, hard. This was why I was sitting in a corner in this particular bar, trying to work up the courage to talk to someone. I should probably mention something while I’m at it, I'm not particularly brave. Oh, sure. At work I can stare down gang members with the best of them, but in my personal life? Yea, I'm kind of a chicken shit. My mom calls it my Peter Parker dilemma, which is as good as any to describe it I suppose. Superhero cop by day and a timid, dateless blonde by night. So I haven’t really dated since I became a cop. At first I just didn’t have the urge, I was too busy learning how to be a proper cop. A few years down the road I dated some but it always ended in disaster. Turns out, were I held fast to the dream of everlasting love, most of them assumed that the uniform meant I was looking for a quick fuck. So when I didn’t try to sleep with them right away things tended to cool off.
Oh, some were looking for more but things never felt quite right. And yes, sometimes I actually did just go for the sex. Twice actually. Some of my friends called me prudish, all in good fun, and I chuckled along. But it never felt that way for me. Rather it was like… I suppose I should call it ‘been there, done that’. Like I had done the sleeping with everyone thing and I wanted to try something new. Or something.
I stared down at my bottle of cola and fiddled with a loose corner of the label. Yea, I had dated. Up until five years ago when I found my current girlfriend in bed with two other women, one of them a midget.
I frowned. Dwarf? Little person? Alright, a woman that was shorter than average. Apparently Sarah had a different view of our relationship then I did. In her limited defense though, she didn’t do it to hurt me. She actually thought that it was okay, something I came to terms with years later. Back then I just felt deeply betrayed though. But she and Veronica, the shorter woman, celebrated their third anniversary a month ago so it didn’t turn out bad for everyone. I took a sip of cola, still deeply focused on my own thoughts. I don’t know why I stopped dating after that. Could be because of Sarah, or it could be because of Her.
My reminiscence was suddenly interrupted as a gigantic shadow loomed over my small table. And me by extension.
“Hey Grayson,” A rough voice said as I looked up. “You got the… Thing I requested?”
Bosco Clark really hadn’t change much from when we were children. The only real difference was that he was bigger now. Taller, wider and more muscles. And a buzz cut. There was still some fat stubbornly clinging to his waist though, and after several attempts at diets and extra exercise it still refused to budge. I smiled up at him.
“Have you ever known me to fail Bosco? ‘Course I got it.” I picked up my cola and tipped it towards him with a nod. “I’ll bring it to the precinct tomorrow. Flash, 323 right?”
“Yea.” He answered with a relieved grin. “And no, I’ve never known you to fail Dani.” He paused for a moment. “Okay, there was that time with the priest, but that was on all of us really.” I winched slightly as the image of a priest covered in KY jelly came back to me.
We all make mistakes. Let’s move on.
“But thanks for hunting it down for me.”
“Hey, anytime. It was fun.” I replied as he started to move away from the table. He paused to adjust his belt and then suddenly slapped himself on his forehead and turned back towards me.
“I almost forgot. Claire asked me to invite you for dinner. It’s been a while.” He firmly placed his paws, sorry, hands, on the table and leaned forward. “Between you and me, I think she’s trying to set you up again.”
“Oh man.” I moaned as slung an arm over my eyes. “Not again. Please.” I lifted my arm slightly and glared at him through the narrow opening. “I love your wife Bosco, but she has horrible taste in women. The duck breeder? The hair sculptor? And let’s not forget Beatrice who insisted on taking about herself in the third person every other day.” All women I had met ‘accidentally’ when coming over to dinner at Claire and Bosco’s.
“Hey, Beatrice happens to be her cousin thrice removed. But I concede the point.” Gently he pushed of from the table and stood up straight. “You’re preaching to the choir here my friend.” He added as he once again adjusted his belt. The tools we have to carry really do a number on those things. “I’ll try to talk her out of it. But you know my wife. Once she’s got her teeth in she won’t let go.”
“Yea, I know. “I nodded in agreement. “I’ll check my calendar okay?” He just grinned in response, nodded and sauntered back to his squad at the other side of the room.
Yea, The boat became a cop. Turns out, all he needed was someone to stand up to him. After I did my nutcracker impression back then, he became friendlier. Okay, truth be told he became something of a puppy. But we started to bond over comics, among other things, and it bloomed into a lifelong friendship that I think surprised everyone involved. I wouldn’t call us best friends, but we were almost as close. He even joined the Academy at the same time as me, though I’ve never been able to figure out if it was something he wanted to do or if he just followed me. But it worked out well for him so I guess it doesn’t really matter.
But Bosco’s interruption did get me back on track. I glanced over at the bar and swallowed. No need to get lost in memories right now, not when there was something I had to do. Yea, I had the resolve, the will to do this. Just go up to the empty bar and talk. No big.
Thirty minutes later I was still sitting in the corner, nursing my now lukewarm cola. I admit that I was unsure about why this was such a problem for me. It was just talking, something I did daily. Sure, it was talking about a crush I’ve been nursing for five years. Sure, it was talking about it for the first time. With another person.
My thoughts droned on and on, all the while my mouth worked on autopilot as fellow officers stopped by to say hi. Yea, ‘The warm shield’ was a cop bar, one of the best, and the clientele was almost exclusively police. Some paramedics and maybe a handful of firefighters, but mostly cops. Living up to its name, the ‘shield was a warm place that made visitors feel safe somehow. Aged honey colored wood panels, table and booths spread out all over the room, a pool table that oddly enough rarely saw use and a long, dark, polished bar where the owner and sole operator watched over it all with a smile on his face. And no music, which was peculiar seeing as there was a nice jukebox resting against a wall.
Before I knew what was happening I was crossing the room towards the bar, I had gotten lost in my thoughts and as I got back from my musings I found myself sitting on a barstool at the corner closest to the door, draining the last of my cola. Damn traitorous body. You try to procrastinate and what does it do? Something sensible.
It only took moments before the owner spotted me and moved up to greet me with that perpetual smile on his face. I saw him stop just short of me and open up the fridge that I knew was installed behind the bar. He took something out and then took the few final steps that put him to rest in front of me. In a move so smooth I wouldn’t have noticed if I wasn’t looking right at him, he removed the empty bottle from my hand and replaced it with a full, and cold, bottle of the cola.
“Hallo there Lass. What can ah de fer ye this lovely evenin’? Gabriel Shield had a mop of messy dirt blonde hair framing his angled face and forest green eyes that always seemed to see more then you wanted to. And he wasn’t Scottish.
“On an accent bend again are we, Mr. Shield?” I asked as I saluted him with the bottle.
“Da, comrade. Our horizons ve all must expand” And he wasn’t Russian. “Please, but call me Gabriel, госпожа Grayson. Ve are all friends here.”
“Right,” I said as I grinned. “But in return call me Dani. Or at the very least Danielle.” I was fairly sure that there were a lot of cops that didn’t know Gabriel, but that didn’t seem to matter. He knew you. The guy could be downright frightening at times. I may have been a regular here, but in the past I had shared a handful of words with the man, tops. And yet I wouldn’t take a bet that he didn’t know everything about me. Everything professional anyway.
“Now lass, ta return to mah previous question. What can I do fer ye? I don’t think ye came all tha way over here for a fresh drink.” He crossed his arms and leaned on the wide bar counter as he looked me in the eyes. Which made me nervous. My body may have gotten here by itself, but I was sure I was going to have to start talking by choice. Me chewing my bottom lip must have given me away, because the dark eyes staring at me seemed to soften.
“G’wan blue eyes. Tell me ‘bout the trouble that seem to be hangin’ over yer head.” Nor was he from Texas or the deep, deep south.
“Where are you from Gabriel?” I asked suddenly. “Because no one seems to know and almost everyone at the precinct wants to.” I threw in a grin and added, “A nice tip could give you a cut from the pool we got going.”
He barked out a laugh as he brushed a few strands of hair from his forehead. “Where I’m from? Now, now officer Grayson. Forgive me, Dani. A boy should have some secrets correct?” Then he threw looks to the left and right and suddenly leaned in. “Although I did have an extraordinary birth. You see, my father managed to crack his forehead open while hunting a moose. And wouldn’t you know it? From the hole I sprung forth! Fully clothed and ready to serve cold beverages to anybody wearing a golden shield.” Now the accents had disappeared, and I meant completely disappeared. There was nothing in his speech that identified his origin, or anything else for that matter and that was freaky. Everyone has something in their speech that can be recognized, but right now it was clean from any dialects. Which, when I thought about it later, was a dialect of its own in an odd way.
“Right… You and Athena were bosom buddies. Or perhaps mind buddies?”
He mocked sniffed and nodded solemnly. “My long lost twin sister.”
“Psh. Keep your secrets then. I was just curious.” I said as I took another sip of cola.
“Alright. So maybe that wasn’t the truth.” His fingers beat out a quick little staccato on the wood and the perpetual smile turned into a smirk for a few moments. “But later tonight, when you’re trying to get to sleep, you’re going to think back and wonder, ‘Was he actually telling the truth?’” I narrowed my eyes at him, but before I could think up a retort his smirked turned into a very soft smile. “And I know an evasion when I meet it Dani. Tell me, why are you really here tonight? Normally you’d be sitting with your friends but tonight you’ve been all alone.” I tried to respond, but it died on my lips as he continued. “Oh, you’ve had friends stopping by. But no one’s joined you, and for you that’s rare.” His eyes quickly flickered around the room, no doubt targeting my friends.
“I didn’t know you kept such a close eye on me.” I muttered as I took a swallow of cola, trying to avoid those all-seeing eyes.
“I see everything that goes on in my bar. Or, at the very least, I see the important things.” He suddenly sat down on a chair that I hadn’t noticed and we were suddenly eye to eye, only the wooden bar separating us. “No evasions, no hiding. Just spit it out. I guarantee that you’ll feel better afterwards.” I looked down and stared at the counter.
I wanted to. I really did. But it felt like if I did something huge would happen, huge with a capital H, and afterwards there would be no going back. And my mind struggled against it, wanting to stay safe. But the gun earlier had pushed things to a head and while it had pushed things in the right direction I knew that I needed this to take that final step. Yea, didn’t make any sense to me either. But sometimes you just know something. And so, through gritted teeth, I said the thing that I knew would push me towards the future, whatever it would bring.
“I… Need some… Advice.”
I blinked. That was not what I had been expecting. I looked up, half wondering if he was making fun of me, only to see him glancing at the clock hanging above the bar.
“Damn, the one time he’s late.” His smile turned apologetic and he held up a finger. “Hold that thought! One minute and you’ll have my full attention.” He jumped off what I now saw was a barstool and came out from behind the bar to my right. As he walked the few short steps to the bar doors another dog bark that was slightly muffled could be heard. It was coming from outside apparently.
“Yea yea. Hold on.” Gabriel said as he opened the doors to the outside world. I leaned back and looked out but couldn’t see anything until I followed Gabriel’s gaze downwards, revealing a drenched golden retriever sitting there with what I would swear was an annoyed look on its face. It stared up at Gabriel as if daring him to say anything, presumably about how wet it was. Gabriel just stared back while cocking an eyebrow. The dog however, was clearly unimpressed. It was an expressive dog.
“Fine. Be that way. This isn’t on me you know. You’re late” He glared at the dog. “Dinner’s in the kitchen.” Gabriel added as he made a general gesture towards the innards of The warm shield. “And don’t you dare shake yourself off in there Joxer! The bathroom this time!” The dog, apparently named Joxer, slowly got of his butt and walked into the bar, leaving a wet trail behind him. He passed right behind me, his head saying that he was doing this reluctantly and only because it was his choice, all the while his tail virtually screamed that he was secretly thankful. Told you, expressive dog.
Gabriel returned to his chair just as Joxer turned and disappeared around the corner of the bar. Moments later the swing door that lead to the small kitchen opened a bit before it started swinging back and forth.
“You… Have a dog named Joxer?” I asked while I gave him a look. I was fairly certain I hadn’t missed seeing a dog whenever I stopped in for a drink and some winding down with my colleagues.
“Well, no. He’s not mine. He just visits.”
“I see.” I kept eyeing him. I admit that my curiosity was peaked, and that any other day I would have continued my line of questioning, but I was here on a mission. A mission that needed to be finished before I lost my nerve. Again. But I was a cop, so I think I showed remarkable restraint when I limited myself to a single question.
“And the name? How do you know he’s called Joxer?”
“I named him.” Gabriel replied. “You see, one night when I was asleep a loud noise woke me up. I came down into the kitchen back here with a broom to defend myself. As I got further down the stairs I heard even more noise, pots and pans clanging together. When I could I flipped on the lights and burst through the door with a warrior cry.” He seemed lost in thought for a moment as he stared up at the ceiling. I actually had no idea he lived on top of the bar. This evening was turning out to be very interesting.
“Well, I say warrior cry…” he continued, “But the cry of a warrior and the cry of a little school girl can sound very similar let me tell you. Anyway, I went through the door and instead of a burglar I found a half grown dog sitting in the middle of the kitchen, half the rooms cooking implements surrounding him and a stainless steel spaghetti strainer firmly on his head. He froze, I froze, and we just stared at each other for what seemed like minutes. I had just seen an episode of Xena the day before and at that moment he reminded me so much of that clumsy guy it just seemed to fit.”
From the corner of my eye I suddenly saw the doors to the kitchen swing outwards a little and moments later I could hear what sounded like a soft, growly bark from behind the bar. I leaned forward and saw Joxer standing there, now much dryer, staring at an unfazed Gabriel who turned and returned his look.
“Don’t look at me like that. As I said, you’re late, so if the dog food is too soggy for you it’s your own fault.”
The staring contest continued until Joxer seemed to give up. He gave of a snort, turned around and walked back into the kitchen.
“Sorry about that. I love the guy, but he can be damn picky when he wants to.” I couldn’t help but to grin. For an evening I had been dreading, my face muscles where certainly getting a workout.
“Well, I commend you for your taste in television at least.”
“As do I.” Gabriel said with a regular grin of his own before popping open the can of Cola that had somehow materialized in his hand. “But I believe we were in the middle of something before we were interrupted. Please, continue. You said you needed advice?”
I couldn’t help it but I stiffened. Right, the important thing. I opened my mouth to start talking but no sound came out. Genius that I am I hadn’t actually planned out what to tell him. I looked at him and gave him a beseeching look and he seemed to understand that I wasn’t trying to run this time so he just sat there and waited.
I was suddenly very grateful that the bar was nearly empty for once. This was probably going to take some time to tell. After a minute, I finally had my ducks in a row and felt ready to explain.
“Alright,” I started slowly. “A while ago I met this woman.” Then I paused. One sentence and it turns out one of my ducks was a goose. “Okay, that’s not really true. We’ve never ‘met’ as such.” I could feel warmth spreading over my face, most likely turning me red. I decided to explain everything. If you’re gonna jump in you might as well do it with both feet.
Five years ago, alright, five years, four months and twenty nine days but who’s counting? So, back then I was working the perimeter for a crime scene, a double homicide in a park. I was ‘the bouncer’, meaning that I was the one everyone had to sign in with before entering the scene and sign out from when they left. I had just taken over from the first guy five minutes earlier when I heard an argument behind me. I threw a quick glance over my shoulder, a glance that quickly turned into a long stare. In the middle of the scene where two Crime scene techs and one of them was clearly not happy. She was maybe a hand taller than me. Her flaming red hair was in a longer pixie cut and while I couldn’t really see it thanks to the glare from the spotlights brightening the night, she was covered in freckles and beneath her glasses her eyes were the most amazing shade of green. Bright, crystal ones that you could happily drown in. She was standing there in her tech uniform with a baseball cap in her hand verbally tearing what appeared to be her superior a new one.
Later I learned the guy had been sloppy handling evidence and that it was only due to her that a conviction was reached, but right then? All I could think of was how beautiful she looked all fired up like that. That was the start of my crush and it could have been the end of it. We see dozens of people every day that we think look good but we don’t do anything about it. I could have filed her away as ‘beautiful crime scene girl’ and maybe, unintentionally mind you, have her pop out in my fantasies in the future. But I just had to know more. Just a little to satisfy my curiosity. That was the beginning of the end. Loves kids, big family, dog owner. Everything new I learned by very discreetly asking around just made her rise in my eyes. Alright, I once passed through the crime lab and saw her eating cantaloupes for lunch, but hey, no one’s perfect.
And no, I didn’t stalk her. I just went through the crime lab a little more often. She usually worked ballistics but she could be all over the place. And when she’s concentrating she gets this long furrow in her… Well, I digress. The point is, I liked her. She was beautiful, smart, the grapevine said most likely gay and probably way out of my league.
When meeting someone new, there is something called a date window. You meet, assess and then the window opens. It’s that moment after psyching yourself up to ask someone out and before they become too big in your mind. For some, this window is always open. For others it closes after a while. For me? You better believe that window is small. This time I didn’t even feel a draft. It went from ‘she’s beautiful’ to ‘I really, really, really want to ask her out but the vomiting butterflies in my stomach won’t let me so I won’t’. I’m usually the one being pursued and the thought of me making a move on her was scary. Yea, I know. Chicken shit.
And that’s usually how things stay. Unless something special happens.
“… And after I took the kid down I knew that I had to do something.” I finished with an imploring look at Gabriel. He still had that smile on his face, but now it was tempered with a thoughtful look.
“Alright,” He started slowly. “I have to ask though. Why me? Why ask me for advice?” And that was a damn good question. I had family I was close to, as well as friends, both on and off the force. I hadn’t told anyone about my adolescent crush on a girl that I had never talked to, though I was sure that some of them suspected. It would have been easy to speak to one of them about this, but for some reason I hadn’t. Truth be told, they had barely registered.
“Because…” I started but soon faltered. “Just… Because.” Well, he must have seen something in my face because he started to nod slowly.
“Ah. Because. I think I know that one.” Then at least one of us understood why I had done it. “Well, I’m flattered that you think I can help.”
He slowly stood up and stretched to his full height, six inches taller than my 5’4, and placed his hands palms down on either side of me. He leaned forward slightly and looked me in the eyes. I couldn’t help but swallow nervously. He was going to impart something heavy, I just knew it. He opened his mouth to speak. My eyes widened and it seemed as if my ears opened up even more.
“Alright Danielle Grayson. About this… This…” He paused. “I just realized you never mentioned her name.” He said sheepishly And my face reddened once again. I hadn’t.
“Grace,” I said softly as my eyes unfocused, “Grace Mallory.” I didn’t just say it softly. I almost caressed the name as they left my mouth. It was a beautiful name, just like her. Saying her name invoked her image in my mind’s eye and dozens of images flittered through it. Her yelling at her boss. Smiling while having another cup of coffee so that she could get through that last hour in a tough case. Reaching down to pet a dog.
Gabriel cleared his throat and brought me back to the now and my flush deepened.
“As I said, what you need to do about Grace Mallory is this…” I leaned forward, ready to embrace whatever secret he could impart.
“You need to… Go and ask her out.” As secrets go that was kind of anti-climactic. In my shock I rocked backwards and stared at him.
“W-what!?” I managed to sputter out.
“You heard me Dani. Go and ask her out.” For once that smile of his didn’t seem happy or reassuring. It looked different, but at the moment I couldn’t place it. He must have seen my confusion on my face because he sighed and sat down.
“Okay, listen up. As much as you’d like to think so, you’re not here for advice about how to ask women out. One, I think that you have no trouble in that department, if what I’ve heard from you and what my little birds have been whispering in my ears are anywhere close to the truth. Second, there are better people to give advice on that then a straight guy.” Smug. The smile looked smug to me. With perhaps a touch of pity.
“No, you’re here for one simple reason. Permission.” His lips twitched slightly. “Well that and a kick in the ass to get going.” I was only half hearing him at this point. On one hand I was wondering what it would feel like to erase that smugness from his face and on the other I was feeling sad. The first person I had told about all this and he wouldn’t help me out. Well, what had I been expecting really? I was just-
“Hey!” He suddenly called out as he snapped his fingers in front of my face, an act that refocused my straying thoughts. He locked eyes with me and seemed to really look. Have you ever been in deep eye contact with a stranger? It can be really scary, letting someone see you so clearly and this was no exception.
Whatever it was that he had been looking for, it seemed that he found it because he sighed deeply and rubbed his brow.
“I see that I have to talk quickly here. As I said, what you want from me is nothing more than permission. You’re ready to ask her out. God knows you want to. But you’ve got a little voice inside you that keeps saying ‘Don’t! Something bad will happen so it’s better to stay safe.’ You try to fight it but it’ll wear you down in the end. Your friends and family would have tried to tell you to do it but in the end they would most likely cave as you lined up if’s and but’s and maybe’s. And that’s why you’re here. I’m a stranger, sort of, and we don’t have that established friendship border that would make you hesitate to do what I tell you, not when it’s something you want to do in your heart. And that Dani, is your ‘Because’.”
I couldn’t help but to stare at him, slack jawed, as I tried to process what he was saying. It made a twisted sort of sense. Maybe there was a flaw in his logic, not that I would have detected it since psychology had been my weakest subject, but he spoke with a conviction that made me want to believe him.
“So…” I said carefully when my mouth worked again. “You’re saying that I should ask her out?” That’s when he looked at me like I was the dumbest kid in class. Thankfully I didn’t notice or my blush would have caused my face to spontaneously combust.
“Yes!” He threw his arms up in the air. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
I started to nod thoughtfully. He was making all kinds of sense and it was almost as if I could feel my courage building up. The small part of me that wanted, no, craved that I take this chance with Grace had been the beginning, but now it was gathering up every shred of will in my body, enforced with Gabriel’s directive.
“Alright, so that last part was from Mark Twain, but that doesn’t make it any less valid.” He made a throwaway gesture with his hand, like it didn’t matter, and truth be told it didn’t. Not right this minute.
“I’ll do it.” I whispered to myself. My eyes had moved downwards and I was staring at a hair thin scratch on the wooden bar.
“You’ll do it?”
“I’ll do it!” I said again, this time clearer. At first the words had been almost a surprise to me, but by the second time I said them they had some steel behind it, my courage given voice. I suddenly stood up and picked up my cap. I had come here right after work and I was still in my patrol uniform, something I was thankful for. Uniforms have power and few people don’t feel bigger mentally after putting one on. And let’s face it, I may have gotten the resolve to actually do this, but I wasn’t about to turn down any edge I could get.
“Dani, where are you going?” I heard Gabriel say, but it sounded far away.
“I’m gonna go ask her out.” I muttered as I firmly placed the cap on my head.
“Dani, you do realize that it’s getting kinda…”
“Thank you Gabriel.” I nodded to him after which I turned to the door.
“It’s late! Almost 11 o’clock! I don’t think you should show up at her hom-” His half worried voice trailed after me and got cut off as I walked out the door and headed towards my cruiser. There might have been more protests from him, but if so I didn’t hear them. I just hopped into the car, got it going and drove away.
“Now, I think I should point out that I’m not stupid, not even in the, admittedly, slightly frenzied state I was in. I wasn’t going to her home to ask her out. That was just weird. Everyone knew that she worked late tonight. I snorted at Gabriel’s silly thought. Alright, so maybe I was being half stupid, drunk on courage as I was. Everyone has their bad days.
It only took seven minutes to reach the station house. Once I was there, I turned the engine off and just sat there. For once my courage hadn’t failed me though; instead I was busy plotting out a plan of attack.
Trust me on one thing, a courtship should not be thought of as a war. No matter how appropriate the symbolism. It never ends well.
“Right, okay.” I muttered to myself in the dark as I could hear the engine slowly cool outside. “You just go in there, right up to her. You say hello, introduce yourself and ask her out. No frills, nothing extra. Just in and out.”
Without thought I patted the Spider-man sticker hidden under the steering wheel, a ritual for luck, and stepped out of the white and blue car. As I shut the door behind me I first scanned the building upwards and then downwards to finally stop my eyes as they looked down into the ground. Ballistics lab, basement level 2.
I squared my shoulders, trying to ignore the butterflies that had made their return with a vengeance, butterflies who hadn’t had the decency to fix their nausea problem. I started to walk and after a few steps I started to hum to myself. It was nonsensical at first, but I soon detected a pattern that made me snort quietly. “The man from La Mancha” was not inappropriate in this situation, I thought to myself and soon I was not just humming, I was singing softly and loosing myself in the act, letting my feet walk by themselves.
“To be willing to march into Hell for a heavenly cause!” The words were barely above a whisper and as I ended the line, the elevator doors finally dinged open to floor B2.
Instead of regular walls, most of the floor had glass ones instead, giving the whole floor an open feeling. Serving and protecting was a 24/7 job and the labs were no exception. From my vantage point inside the elevator I could see a handful of people and I knew that there were more hiding around, but I was only after one of them.
I stepped out of the elevator, getting ready to go from lab to lab but I came to a halt after two steps. There, in the small lab to my left, stood Grace hunkered over a table.
My eyes drank her in, everything from her red hair and dexterous fingers to her foot tapping out an unheard rhythm and that gorgeous ass, hidden and just hinted at beneath her jeans and white lab coat. And just like that my nervousness changed. It was still there, eating a hole in my stomach, but at the same time I felt a sort of calm that was different then the bravado I had gotten from the bar. This was it, I was going to do it and no matter the outcome I would have done it.
The door to the lab, glass like everything else, opened quietly and I stepped into the room that smelled of water and gunpowder. Grace must have heard me come in because she held up a hand behind her and said “Just a minute!” in that clear voice of hers. Wisely I took the time to once again go over what I was going to say. Finally she gave off a satisfied hum, straightened up and turned around. For a moment she seemed startled so I dove right into why I was there.
“Hello there!” She said before I could breathe out my first letter. “Officer… Grayson isn’t it? I don’t believe we’ve officially met.” With a glimmer in her emerald eyes she reached out her hand. “I’m Grace Mallory.”
This couldn’t be happening! I was supposed to say hello and introduce myself, I screamed to myself inside my head. She stole my idea! Turns out I had forgotten the most important rule when it came to warfare. No plan survives first contact with the enemy. As I desperately tried to come up with an alternative to my ‘hello’ plan I just stood and stared at Grace, leaving her hand hanging in the air. It wasn’t until the edges of her warm smile started to sink that I realized what I was doing.
“Oh, um, sorry!” I sputter out as I reached out and grasped her hand. It was like a bolt of lightning hit our clasped limbs only to disappear half a moment later, leaving me with a tingle that was working its way up my arm. “A’m Grayson.” I managed to mumble.
Her lips pouted out slightly, as if she was trying to keep the soft smile that had returned from turning into a grin. “Yes, I think I said that. It’s good to have confirmation though.”
“Dan-Danielle Grayson.” I managed to add. “Dani.” I’d like to think that I adopted a somewhat roguish grin after that, as a start to plan M, seduction. Unfortunately, a few days later a friend had managed to get a hold of the security tapes and showed it to me. I’m afraid the most flattering description of my smile would have to be goofy. It was just as well. Plan M never ends well for anybody.
“Danielle huh?” She glanced down at her hand that I was still holding gently. “So tell me, what can I do for you?” She glanced at the table behind her. “If it’s about the Dockworker case the I-“
“Oh, n-no.” This is where I failed to enact plan M. A seduction should never start with a stuttered no. Enough of my brainpower had finally returned though, so I was able to let go of her hand, no matter how much I wanted to keep holding it.
“So then, what can I… Help you with?” Her eyes took on a wicked gleam as she swiftly scanned my body. And now I was glad I had worn my bulletproof vest under my shirt. Not only does it save lives, it does things to my figure that I kinda like. I also checked the gay column in my brain as I blushed for the umpteenth time that night. A straight woman wouldn’t look at me like that.
“Go out with me!” After all that buildup, the agonizing over whether I should or shouldn’t do this, it came down to me blurting it out before I could think about it.
Grace seemed to freeze. It wasn’t as if she had been dancing around earlier, but now not even a hair was moving. After a few moments her face started to regain mobility and the frozen smile turned puzzled as she looked down at me. “What?” She asked slowly and suddenly I was glad that she wore sensible shoes to work. If she had been wearing heels I think I would have felt like a child.
“Go out with me.” I repeated slowly. Not to make it clearer, but more in surprise over the fact that I was finally asking. “On a date I mean.”
“You’re asking me out on a date?” A grin colored with the same wickedness her eyes had held previously started to creep up.
“Yes. I want… I want to go on a date with you.” I answered swiftly with a nervous swallow. A thought must have struck her because her eyes widened a fraction and the grin disappeared only to be replaced by another puzzled look.
“You mean a real date don’t you?” And now there seemed to be wonder in her voice, though if it was good or bad I couldn’t tell. “You want to go on a date… With me?”
Okay, so the conversation seemed to be going in circles but she hadn’t said no yet. She cocked her head slowly. “A Date date, that won’t end up with us fucking after a drink.” And now I couldn’t tell if that was a statement or a question.
My eyes flew up as a savage war started in my body. My face was demanding blood for another grade A flush, but the supply was being redirected to just below the equator. It hadn’t been my main focus when asking Grace out, but her saying the word ‘fucking’ with that voice of hers jumpstarted a very visceral response.
“I, j-just, well. About…” I spluttered as she stood there and looked at me. As the moments piled on without a real reply though, my heart started to sink. Maybe it had been a bad wonder in her voice after all. “I-it’s okay if you don’t…” I finished weakly as my eyes started to fall down.
The reply shattered my growing gloom and I looked up again. As we locked eyes I couldn’t tell who was more surprised about the answer though, me or her.
“G-great!” Was what I managed to say, but truth be told my insides were doing the flamenco. She said yes! I asked and she said yes!
“I don’t go on dates much.” She said suddenly, though a second later she looked chagrin. It sounded like she had revealed a deep, dark secret
“Well, now you’ll be able to say that you’ve been on one more.” I said timidly, but with a certain amount of courage infused in the words. She ran her fingers through her hair and I could notice a faint, faint tremble in her hand. If I had looked down I knew I would have spotted the same thing in my own, though if it was from lingering nervousness or the recent injection of adrenaline this evening had produced I couldn’t guess.
“Heh, yea. I guess so.” She murmured. It actually looked like Grace was as nervous as I was, now that I had asked her, a fact that both shocked and pleased me. I wanted to see more, wondering why the simple act of being asked out on a date made her act this way, but the intimate view of her feelings came to an end as she visibly gathered herself and soon she had that little smirk back on her face.
“So tell me Danielle, when is this supposed date going to take place? And were?”
That’s when my brain froze again. Truth be told I hadn’t imagined getting this far. My mind started to race and after a while my gray matter seemed to thaw.
“Does Tuesday evening work for you?” I asked quickly. “I know that it’s at the start of the week, but it’s the first day between now and then I have off. I’d offer to take you on a Friday or Saturday but…” I shrugged. “Schedule you know.”
“Tuesday?” she asked while raising an eyebrow. “This Tuesday?”
I gestured weakly with my hands. “Schedule…” I mumbled and she nodded at that. Few cops work Monday to Friday, same as lab workers, so she knew where I was coming from. But I bet she didn’t know that I knew that she had Tuesday and Wednesday off as well. Sometimes it pays to pay attention to idle talk at lunch.
And no, I wasn’t spying on her. It was just some random guy from her shift talking. Geeze, what do you think of me?
She seemed to mull it over but nodded after a while. “Alright. Normally I’d say to pick another day but what the hell. Could be interesting.”
“Great! Um, do you like Italian?” I asked as my smile widened. I had a date! A date with a date on a date! As I laughed in my head I started to wonder if I hadn’t snapped, just a little bit.
“Sure, who doesn’t?”
“I know this place, Baccanale, which is great. Not super dressy or anything.”
“Mmm, sounds nice.” And that made it a done deal. I briefly wondered what to do now. Do we hug? Shake hands? It all seemed very awkward. Finally I jammed my hands in my pockets and started to balance on my heels just a bit. She seemed to notice what I was feeling because she wiped her hand over her mouth, hiding a cute little chuckle.
“Should we meet there?” She finally managed to say. I in return managed to barely stop a curse from escaping my mouth. Smooth, forgetting about picking her up.
“N-no, I’ll pick you up.” I paused, “That is, if you want me to.”
“I think that would be fine.” She turned towards the desk and started to write something down. Here’s my address. How about you pick me up at around 7?”
“Yea. Okay. I’m looking forward to it.” I took the paper from her after she ripped it off her notepad and looked quietly at it before carefully folding it and putting it in my wallet.
Then the silence returned to the room. But this time it wasn’t awkward. I looked at her and she looked at me for a minute, just taking in the presence of the person we would soon get to know. Yea, this had been a good thing. I think Spider-man would have been proud.
It took some time, but I finally managed to wrangle my thoughts back under control. I cleared my throat and did a sweeping gesture that took in the lab.
“Well, I suppose I should let you get back to work.”
“Work?” For a moment she seemed clueless, but then she blinked rapidly. “Oh, yes. Work. I should probably get on that… These guns won’t test fire themselves you know.” She said with a nervous chuckle.
I nodded as I slowly started to back away, just a bit unwilling to stop looking at her. “So, Tuesday then.” I said as my butt hit the glass door. After a slight increase in pressure it started to open behind me.
“Tuesday.” She confirmed, her eyes tracking me. Finally I was all the way out and the door slid shut in front of me. I looked at her for one more second then I resolutely turned away and walked towards the elevator. It was possible that it had never left the floor, because the doors slid open as soon as I pressed the small call button. I took a step and hit the ground like a felled tree. Somehow I had managed to trip over my own damn feet.
“Please tell me you missed that; please tell me you missed that.” I started to mumble with my eyes forced shut.
“Are you okay?” Damn! I scrambled up on me feet and spun around, seeing Grace leaning out of the lab.
“Fine! I’m fine!” I called back, a fake grin plastered on my face “No need to worry.” My right hand was desperately stabbing at the elevator panel, trying to find the button for the first floor, or any floor for that matter while I was waving at Grace with my left. Finally I must have gotten lucky because the doors started to slide close. I managed to toss out a cheerful “Bye!” before they closed completely and when they finally did, I breathed a sigh of relief. And then I did a little dance with my arms in the air.
“I asked her out! And she said yes!” I couldn’t help it, I made a little squee noise as I moved around. I was… I was delirious, that was the word. Delirious.
I ran out when the doors opened again, passing cops, suspects and visitors on the way. I barely lost momentum as I got into my car and four minutes later I was sliding into one of the few parking spaces near The warm shield. I practically slid down the steps and burst into the bar, making some of the patrons look up from their drinks and conversations.
It didn’t faze Gabriel however, who stood in front of the old tv tucked into a corner. A mere glance showed that he was… Frustrated and not focusing on much else.
“Why are you doing this to me!?” He said in a hissing whisper that carried through the room. Plastic creaked as he seemingly tried to strangle the remote control in his hands and the outburst drew laughs from the customers and a lazy bark from Joxer who was hidden from view behind the bar. Gabriel was a lot of things, but a friend of technology was not one of them. For a moment it looked like he was going to try and stare down the blinking red button on the tv, but it appeared that he thought better of it since he simply tossed the remote on top of it and wandered back behind the bar. Which is when he noticed me.
“Dani!” He called out as he hurried to my end of the bar. “How did it go?”
I think the manic grin on my face was answer enough, because he made a stop at the fridge and emerged with a small and cheap bottle of champagne.
“This calls for something better then cola, don’t you think?” The cork made a small pop and he quickly filled the two beer glasses that he had taken out. He passed one of the glasses to me while he lifted the other.
“Skål!” He said as he tipped his glass slightly towards me. Making a best guess, I in return replied with a happy “Cheers!”
“Now tell me, what happened.” We had drained our glasses and were now sitting down at the same place we had been earlier only… Wow, only 20 minutes ago. It’s amazing how fast life can change isn’t it?
“Well, I went down to the lab she was in.”
“Ooh. Lab. So not at home?”
“No,” I said with a snicker. “I’m not that stupid. So, then I started to introduce myself, but she already knew my name which was great.”
“Well, now it feels great, but back then I froze up.” He didn’t wince audibly, but the nod he gave showed compassion.
“Anyway, that’s about when I just blurted it out. ‘Go out with me.’, I said. And she said yes!”
“See? What’d I tell ya? You were ready for this!” He reached out and gave me a soft slap on the shoulder.
“I know…” I said softly as I lost myself in the memory. “So now we have a date for Tuesday night.”
That must have made him perk up because he gave me a look. “Tuesday?”
“Yea.” I said with sappy grin.
“Well, when you decide to take a leap of faith you certainly find the tallest point to jump from don’t you?” He said with an impressed look on his face.
“What do you mean?” I murmured.
“Well, Tuesday.” He said as if it’d explain everything.
“Yea, it was the first night I had off, and I knew she did as well.”
“And because it’s Valentine’s day. Right?”
“Hmm?” Something tickled at the back of my head; something about what Gabriel had just said was important.
“Valentine’s day. On Tuesday.”
To my credit I didn’t spit out the mouthful of bubbly champagne I had just imbibed, though it was mostly due to the fact that I froze. It took a while, but I finally managed to swallow without choking. I slowly lowered my glass and fixed him with a penetrating stare.
Penetrating, panicking. Potato potato.
“Tuesday’s Valentine’s day?” I whispered.
“Yup.” He confirmed cheerfully. “And you have a date.”
“Tuesday’s Valentine’s day!?” I repeated, just a little louder.
“You know, a person might suspect that you had no idea.”
“I didn’t!” My hands suddenly started to twitch. Not a twitch out of them while on the job but when dealing with my love life I was suddenly the Waco kid. Valentine’s day? And for a first date no less. That was a lot of pressure on a girl. What if the date didn’t go well? Would that be a sign? What if she doesn’t think it’s romantic enough? What if it’s too romantic for a first date? What if? What if? What if?
And suddenly my hands stilled. What if everything goes great? The single thought rang like a bell in my head, dispelling all my current worries. Things could actually work out for the best. I nodded to myself. I really hadn’t planned for our first date to be on the day of love, just as I hadn’t planned on ever asking her out. But sometimes things happen and it’s up to us to use them. I thought back to Grace and I smiled, loosing myself in the memories once again. What’ll happen will happen, I thought as I rested my head on the palm of my hands.
“C'est l'amour” Gabriel said to the floor behind the bar with a happy sigh and got a soft bark in reply from Joxer. And deep inside me I couldn’t help but to agree.
It took nearly an hour, but I finally managed to calm down enough to get myself home where I crashed on my bed and slept like a baby. It was Friday when I asked her out and time had never moved so slowly before. In many ways it was a battle, but it was a battle that I refused to lose. So I didn’t.
I showed up at her door at 7 o’clock that Tuesday. I was wearing a light blue silk shirt with a darker skirt. My hair was clipped back, my makeup was in place and I was nervous as hell. This was it. After five years of looking I was finally going on the date of my dreams. Or maybe it would be more apt to say a date with the woman of my dreams. “Please don’t screw this up…” I murmured to myself as I closed my eyes for one final strength gathering session. Then I rang the bell.
Maybe she had been as nervous as me, because the buzzer had barely started sounding before the door was pulled open. And there she stood, framed by the doorway and backlit by her hallway lights. The shine made it look like the modest dress she wore was made of molten gold and the vision made my breath hitch. No matter what happened later on, it would be worth it for being allowed to see that. We just stood there for a few moments before she gently cleared her throat. “Hi.” She said quietly with a smile and I couldn’t help but to smile back, just as dopey as last week.
“Hi.” I said in return. I would have told her how beautiful I thought she looked, but my tongue was tied and I barely managed a simple, “Are you ready?”
Later on, I swore to myself, I would tell her just how good she looked. But right now I just stretched out my hand towards her when she nodded in affirmation. As our fingers touched I could feel the same delicious spark from our first meeting flow through my limbs, making my eyes flutter slightly in the process. This would be a great date even if it killed me.
I suppose this is where I would tell you about the date, but truth be told I can’t. It’s not like it’s a secret though, I simply can’t remember. And it wasn’t because it was that bad; it’s because it was that good! Which seems like a silly reason for not remembering it. All I can recall are a few hazy images, the candles making her eyes sparkle, her cinnamon scent mixing with the air in the restaurant and later on, the most wondrous lips I had ever kissed. And woven through them all was a sensation of bliss that makes me tingle to this day.
“Nanan!” The teenaged voice cut through the fog of memories and made me focus on the now once again. I looked down at the vidscreen in front of me and the image of a blushing woman with neon blue hair. “I don’t need to know all that!” She cried out as I smiled at her.
“Now dear, you did ask.” I lectured her gently. “Don’t open the box if you don’t want to know what’s inside.”
“But I didn’t!” Now she hid her face behind her hands. “All I did was to ask for some advice, not the story of your life.” She peeked out through her eyes and smiled crookedly at me. “Not that it wasn’t a beautiful story, but I was hoping to be a bit selfish today.”
“So I can’t tell you what happened after our third date? It was a bite of McDonalds after work and…” I barely managed to hide my grin at her groan.
“Let me talk to Nonon.” She said quickly as she looked at the corner of her own vidscreen, as if to look behind me.
“I’m sorry little flower, but Nonon isn’t here right now so I’m afraid you’re stuck with me.” I tried to lord it over her but I caved after a few moments of looking into those green eyes. It’s embarrassing how easy grandchildren wrap you around their fingers. “But okay, no more stories. My advice is going to be very simple and just as it was given to me. If you like the boy then ask him out. You don’t want to stand there 10 years down the road and ask yourself ‘what if? Now do you?”
“I guess…” She tried weakly.
“No guessing about it dear. You march right up to him and ask him out. If he’s got half a brain, he’ll go down on his knees and say yes.” And that wasn’t just family pride speaking either. Kathryn was a bright and beautiful woman studying mechanical engineering. Granted, I thought the blue hair phase she was in retracted something from her looks, but to each her own.
It took a few minutes but I finally managed to wrangle a promise out of her that she’d go talk to the boy tomorrow and call with the result afterwards. We ended the call with a smile and as the vidscreen went dark, I started to softly rub my legs. My bones ached, hinting towards the fact that we would be getting snow any day now. I grumbled at the scars I knew were hidden underneath my pants. Two shots in one leg and a single shot in the other, the last one having shattered the bone. It was decades ago now, but as I grew older the aches started to come out of the woodwork.
But if I was honest with myself, I was used to it. I sighed and closed my eyes as I leaned back. Just a minute, then I would get up I told myself. But only a few seconds passed before I heard someone walk down the hall behind me.
“Sweetheart?” a woman called and I felt a smile tug at my lips.
“Back here.” I replied and moments later I could see Grace standing in the doorway via the reflection in the screen in front of me. She was older now, like me. Close to fifty years had passed since I had asked her out and she was just as beautiful today. She was wrinkled and pudgy, though not as much as me, and her fiery hair had burned down, leaving silver ash behind. Yea, she was gorgeous beyond belief.
“I’m afraid our granddaughter is having boy troubles.” I said as I leaned back and she moved forward.
“And you gave her some advice I take it?”
“Why yes I did. Very fine advice too I might add. Though she wanted her Nonon’s council.” I tilted my head backwards and smirked. She was towering over me, but soon bent down and gave me a soft kiss on the forehead.
“I’ll take your word for it.” She slowly shook her head. “But at any rate, your advice was probably more helpful then mine could be. Now come on, I brought lunch.” She stepped to the side of the chair and held out her hand which I gently grasped and used to aid me in getting out of the chair. But once up I didn’t release her hand, instead entwining my fingers with hers. I looked deep in her eyes and said the same words I spoke during our wedding day and every day since. “I love you.”
“And I love you.” She replied softly. But as we started towards the kitchen I couldn’t help but to murmur just loud enough so that she could hear me. “And I do give good advice.”
Her laughter rang in my ears and I grinned again as I thought back to the past. Yes, I concluded. I give good advice, because once I was smart enough to accept some.
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