Authors: C.L. Quinn
Blak Kat Publishing
All rights reserved
The road is long, with many a winding turn, that leads us to who knows where,
Who knows where
By Bobby Scott and Bob Russell
Those damned alarms!
Sleep was precious, and came with a price. Mal rolled over and violently assaulted the clock shrieking in her ear. It dropped to the floor and continued to wail.
It was her fault. She’d pulled an all-nighter and should have turned the thing off before she let her body fall onto the mattress and go comatose almost immediately. She hadn’t even removed her clothes or boots.
Sleep! Precious, precious sleep!
When her cell phone began to chime along with the still-buzzing alarm clock,
Mal knew this was a lost cause.
With the longest groan ever,
Mal hung off the edge of her bed, fished the alarm clock out from under it, and gingerly turned it off as she set it carefully back on the nightstand, then reached for the phone.
accepted the call, she barked, “Better be freaking important.”
“Yeah, it is.
Your perp. He walked.”
She shot up. “What? How the hell did that happen? I had
that asshole dead-to-rights! His sheet is ten pages long!”
“Looks like somebody
sliced through them. He’s out, period. I’m sure he’s on his way to a fine breakfast.”
“Fuck! Sorry, Geraldo. But you know how long and hard I worked to get that piece of slime behind bars. Why do
work so hard to let them
? All right. Um, thanks for the heads-up. I’m going to try for a few more hours sleep and I’ll come back in.”
let the phone drop onto the tangled bedding and punched her pillow. The damn thing should be flat as the sheet as often as she punched it!
Taking a moment to yank off her boots and socks, she fell back against the mattress.
Everyone always told her what an impatient bitch she could be. Well, if she could get a good eight hours sleep
every once in a while, it might make a difference.
Mal punched the pillow again and buried her face in the softness.
Please, just a few minutes of shut-eye so she could close down her mind.
It didn’t come. The restful unconsciousness she sought and needed so desperately didn’t come. After repositioning her exhausted body several times, she lifted up and sat still for moments before she dropped her feet back onto the warm natural wood floors that lined her entire apartment. This would be the fifth day in a row with little to no sleep. She got up, her long, slim legs resisting, as she walked slowly to the kitchen to put on the kettle for instant coffee.
caffeinated instant coffee.
It was the only way she was going to get through this day.
That and her usual drive to finish a job. And although she’d worked her ass off for two weeks to get Jinx back in custody, now she had to do it all over again.
this job pissed her off!
Although she loved what she did for a living, it still pissed her off almost as often as it didn’t.
Three cups of coffee later, a quick shower,
long wet hair tied quickly with no concern for style, Mal grabbed her badge and gun, popped the badge on her belt and the gun in its holster, then scooped up her keys.
Another day at the office
and another chance to rid the world of vermin. She grinned as she started her car. Sometimes she
the vermin she captured were just rats and snakes. Then she grinned wider. Actually, they pretty much
. Jinx was a bigger rat than any gray rodent that roamed in sewers or alleys.
What the hell had they been thinking, letting him go? Some fucking lawyer hired to muddy-up the truth.
“I shoulda just shot him,” she muttered as she merged onto the already packed highway.
With another long day ahead, Mal stopped and grabbed her usual breakfast, an egg and sausage burrito
crammed with jalapenos, and a chocolate-covered crème-filled donut. She’d be the first one to shoot a “if looks could kill” glance at anyone who snickered about the connection between cops and donuts. Nothing would make her give up the only true moment of pleasure she got in her 9 to whenever day.
Huerta was already at his desk when she arrived.
He groaned when he saw her.
“Ah, hell! Did Geraldo call you? I told him to leave you alone.”
After she pitched a white paper bag onto
Luka’s desk, Mal dropped in front of an identical desk that faced his.
“He knows I’d be pissed if he hadn’t. You know he’s more afraid of me than you.”
Luka grinned. “Yeah. So am I.” He reached for the bag and pulled out the long donut with a sigh.
makin’ me fat, Mal,” he said as he bit off nearly half in one bite.
It’s your lazy-ass ‘it’s your turn to chase him partner’ attitude that’s makin’ you fat.”
eah, yeah. Like you get up out of that chair any more often than I do.”
The ribbing was common for them. The truth was
, neither of them stayed in the chairs much. Most of the time, they worked nights on the bad side of town, and lived on coffee, cocoa, and caffeine any way they could get it.
had been Mal’s partner since shortly after she’d joined L.A.P.D. and they were as tight as siblings ever were. She’d die for him, and she knew he would for her. Everyone in the precinct knew this too. But their caustic arguments were legendary.
“So, where’s the report?” she asked as she watched him wipe a huge glob of icing from his lips with his tongue.
He pitched a manila folder over to her and leaned back to kill half a cup of coffee. “Berenstein.”
“Fuckin’ knew that.
Jinx’s attorney. God, Huerta, we’re going to get that slug someday.”
nodded as he mopped his lips with a coarse napkin, then looked at it afterward to wonder where it came from. Shrugging, he smiled. “Yeah. Hey, let’s make that our Christmas gift to each other.”
“I like it. All right, deal. By Christmas, we clean up this city.”
“Deal. But for now, we gotta get Jinx back off the streets. I ain’t watchin’ that asswipe kill one more kid.”
“You know I’m there with you. I think, first, we have to do something about Berenstein.”
“What the hell can we do about him? He’s untouchable.”
Mal grinned. “No one is untouchable.”
“You know somethin’ I don’t know?”
“I don’t. But I’m going to. Guess where we’re spending the day?”
Nodding, Mal yawned. “
This old girl still has a few cards up her sleeve. I was planning this for tomorrow, but Jinx’s release just pushed it to today. I made a call after I left my apartment. Just, first, get me another cup of joe.”
nodded. Nobody understood caffeinated coffee better than a cop. Long hours, dangerous arrests, frustrating turnouts, fucked up personal relationships, all normal for most of them. Coffee and sugar were the healthier go-to ways to deal with it. Alcohol and drugs were the less-than-healthy way that some cops did.
Mal never crossed the line. She was pretty sure
Luka did, just sometimes, never egregiously so. And never when he was on the job. Yeah, she trusted this man with her life, literally, most nights.
“Tamp it down, Bert!”
The loud admonition came from the front of the room, as a pretty blonde came storming into the station, and stopped in front of Luka’s desk. Her hazel eyes shot to Mal, where she tried to offer a smile, but failed, and then back to Luka, flashing with anger.
“You missed our date
last night. Again.”
had the decency to look ashamed. “Steph, aw, man, I’m sorry. We had a late arrest, paperwork, and I just headed back home to get some Z’s. I forgot. Fuck, Steph, I apologize, okay?”
Again, she looked at Mal. “He
always been like this?”
Mal shrugged. “How would I know? I don’t date him.”
Stephanie, Lukas’s latest girlfriend, always put the entire station on alert when she came in. With long blonde curls, huge eyes, and always dressed to kill in short skirts and high heels, most of the guys couldn’t keep their eyes off of her when she passed by. None of them could understand why Luka kept screwing up with her.
She turned back to
Luka. “You get one more chance, Luk. One. Next time is the last time.”
winced as she swung around and stomped back out of the room.
Mal threw a pen at him. “Cut her loose, buddy. She’s too high maintenance for a cop.
Especially for you.”
“I know. I keep intending to. But the things she can do with her tongue…”
Mal put her hands over her ears. “Stop that!
The barking in the room proved Mal was wrong.
“Ah, shit! There’s too much testosterone here. Meet me in my car in ten.”
Mal grabbed her bag and
made her way past the dog pound and back into the morning air, which was heating up quickly.
Sighing, she walked over to the side of the building where a sliver of green space held a single concrete bench. She let her body drop onto it, and closed her eyes.
This was her life. A fight every moment to find balance and peace. She was a cop because her father had been a cop. But lately, it just felt like she was spinning wheels that were bald with no brakes. Lately, it felt like things weren’t right anymore.
, she thought.
I’m gonna be like my old man was at the end, bitter and used up, an empty life behind me and nothing left in front.
Laying her head back, she opened her eyes and looked at the deep blue, cloudless sky. It was the exhaustion talking, she was sure of it. Mal knew she was making a difference here and she was
good at her job. So was Luka, as well as half of the other assholes on the force.
“Yeah,” she said, out loud.
“Just tired. I’ll be all right.”
“You need a vacation.”