Friday, September 5, 2008

San Francisco Surrender by Will Belegon

I've arrested people for less than this. Arrested them, told the story in court, and made damn sure they were off the streets for years. Removed the threat to society and felt damned good about myself for doing it. So how have I come to be standing on a street a couple thousand miles from home and planning the type of breaking and entering I've worked so hard to prevent?

I look at the letter in my hand again. There can be no doubt the handwriting is hers. The subject is something that frequently comes up in our conversations, both online and off. I know it is genuine. This is the invitation. The chance I've prayed I would have. Combine it with the timing, and there can be no further argument that it is what she wants.

Yet even so, I hesitate as I climb the stairs and reach her door. I have never done anything like this before, and I am still not sure I can pull it off. I know that this may be the only way I will ever have her. It's crazy the way everything fell into place over the last week. I have to take advantage, or else I will always wonder what might have been.

* * * *

It was so hard when we first met. I'd never met someone and instantly felt that connection, that magic portrayed in John Cusack movies. It was as though we could finish each other's sentences. A look and we knew what the other was thinking. A touch, even for an instant, and both our pulses raced. The elusive thing called chemistry was there in quantities I had never even dreamed of experiencing.

The only thing I have ever been able to prove about God was strong evidence in this case. Unfortunately, that thing is the macabre sense of humor the Almighty seems to possess. Satan, I believe in. The existence of evil is not a matter of opinion in police work. But proof of God's benevolence has always been limited to the rare impossibility of a victim's survival and that sense of humor. My relationship with Jen always seemed the perfect example of a divine joke, full of mocking temptation.

Jen was more computer wiz than cop, part of the new generation of law enforcement. With her degree, she would never ride in a squad car, let alone walk a beat. You just don't put a sweet young thing with that kind of potential out among the animals. She knew about the evil of the world through studying it rather than experiencing it. At least, that's what I thought at first.

Like me, Jen was married. She married the college boyfriend rather than the high school prom queen, but there were similarities. Both of us were happy in our relationships; we even liked each other's spouses. Neither of us had any desire to be a home wrecker. Neither of us felt any desire to leave our marriages in the dust. Yet every time I was alone with her, I felt more alive than ever before.

We both knew it was hopeless. When her husband was transferred to San Francisco, I was somewhat relieved. I know Jen was, too. There was never any question about whether she would go with him. Every department in the country needed someone with her skills. She'd even get a raise.

I would miss the sweet torture of her scent and the stolen moments when we hugged in a deserted office. We both knew we could never consummate our passion without destroying our lives. A police department is like a small town, where everyone knows everybody's business. Add the fact that I'd been there twenty years, and there's no hiding a blessed thing. But our need for each other was so desperate, it tempted us constantly. We fought hard to keep things platonic in the eighteen months we worked together, but we were always teetering on the edge of an abyss.

Still, I never kissed her until the last day we worked together. That one moment was almost enough to kill us both. She caught me coming around a corner and pulled me to her. When I felt her lips on mine and her hands around my waist, I couldn't resist. I drank her passion in like any junkie who's been denied a fix. And when we heard footsteps coming, I finally understood the pain of withdrawal. I asked her why now, after all this time, why take the risk? She got a sad, hard look on her face before she answered.

"Because I knew you wouldn't.