My two best friends, Peggy and Ian, left me alone in Twinbrook to pursue their respective career paths, but I wasn’t as lonely as I thought I would be. After the graduation party where I met my cousin Brenton’s friend, Lincoln Matthews, he and I had been sort of casually dating—casual mostly because he was busy establishing himself at the police station, and I was equally trying to become a journalist.
Linc was a lot of fun. He took me dancing, sky-diving, and even taught me how to ride his motorcycle. Needless to say, Dad wasn’t too happy about that.
“Do you know how dangerous motorcycles are?” he demanded when he found out what I’d been up to.
“Don’t worry, Dad,” I tried to assure him, “Linc taught me all the safety rules and didn’t let me ride alone until I had my motorcycle permit.”
“You have a motorcycle permit!?”
“Of course. It would be illegal to ride without one.”
“What would be illegal?” Daddy asked, walking in on the conversation. I groaned. This was not going to go well.
“That rookie, Matthews, who you are allowing to date our daughter, taught her how to ride a motorcycle!”
“Now, Daddy, he made sure I knew all the rules and how to be safe. It was fun. It’s not like I’m going to go out and buy a bike for myself. I just rode his for a little bit.”
“Absolutely not! I forbid you from riding motorcycles. No daughter of mine is going to become a biker chick!”
“Daddy! You’re being ridiculous. I am not going to be a ‘biker chick’. Linc and I were just having fun.”
“I don’t like this guy, Linc. Have you done a background check on him?” Dad asked Daddy. I sputtered in outrage as the two of them discussed Linc’s merits, or lack there of.
“You two do not get to tell me who I can go out with,” I stomped my foot. “You’re being unreasonable. Daddy, Linc is a cop! You hired him. You know he’s a good guy. Stop acting like an archaic idiot.”
No matter how much the dads protested, I continued to date Linc. We went out with Lydia and her dance partner (who she swore she wasn’t romantically involved with) a few times when they came to Twinbrook while on a school break. We also doubled with Brenton and his girlfriend of the day (Brenton was quite a player). We even got together with Ian and Peggy, who had dated long-distance while she was in Elmira City and he was in Sunset Valley.
I was surprised at how the two of them behaved. I guess I couldn’t blame them for their public displays of affection since they had been away from each other for so long, but I never suspected that my serious cousin and shy friend would be that overt.
“Peggy!” I hissed at her when she and Ian emerged from the photo booth at the arcade. “Fix your shirt! What were you and Ian doing in there?!”
Peggy laughed, tucking in her shirt and smoothing her hair. “What do you think we were doing?”
“Maybe we should go take a few pictures,” Linc whispered in my ear as my cousin slinked off to wrap herself around Ian.
“Linc!” I acted outraged, but when he grabbed my hand and pulled me to the booth, I let him.
While everyone else was having such success at their careers, I wasn’t as lucky. I discovered that I hated being a reporter. I never thought I’d say that, but as a profession, it’s stupid. When I decided I wanted to be an journalist, I thought I’d be able to do real, investigative pieces, cover serious issues. But I didn’t.
And I wasn’t complaining about the job because I had to start at the bottom, either. I expected to have to learn the tricks of the trade. So I had to be a fact checker? That was fine. So I needed to do research for other reporters to put their names on…ok. But as soon as I was able to cover stories of my own, I got stuck doing weather and stupid human interest stories about cats or clowns or the influx of mimes in Twinbrook.
“My job sucks,” I complained to Linc when he came over to hang out one day before his shift. We hadn’t seen each other in a while because Linc was now doing night shift.
“You always say that Sash, but I thought you liked being a journalist. Isn’t that what you always wanted to do?”
“Yeah. But I thought I’d be investigating real news…reporting on real issues. Mrs. Jonas’ 12 kittens is not real journalism!”
Linc laughed. “At least you get home at a decent hour. I swear, I think your dad fixed it so I’d be working swing-shift just so we wouldn’t have time to go out.”
“But at least your job is interesting. You get to fight criminals and actually make a difference.”
“What you do makes a difference, too. I mean, now we know what it takes to pretend we are stuck in a box and can’t get out,” Linc joked about my recent Mime article.
“Ugh! When I wrote the blog for school, that was real journalism! I uncovered issues that needed fixing. I exposed problems and did some good!”
I tried really hard not to monopolize our infrequent dates with complaints about my job, but the longer I stayed at the paper, the more I hated it and the more I whined about it. I couldn’t blame Linc for getting sort of tired of it.
“Sasha!” he complained one night when we were out at the arcade, “this is supposed to be fun! Stop stressing about work! Relax!”
“I know, I know. You’re right,” I said. “I’m sorry. I promise I won’t say anything more.”
“You know, if you really hate it that much, just quit. Do something else.”
“What would I do? It’s not like blogging is that lucrative. I mean, I know you can make money doing it, but you really have to be unique. I don’t think exposé blogging is what’s going to pay the bills.”
“If you want to expose the world’s ills, why don’t you become a cop?”
“Yeah. You always go on and on about how you want to make a difference, stop people who are doing bad things. Sounds like a cop to me…or a politician, but I don’t think you have what it takes for that job!”
“What?!” I was affronted. “Why couldn’t I be a politician?”
“Um, you’d have to smooth talk and schmooze voters. I don’t think you’d do to well at that. You are more a tell-it-like-it-is girl.”
“Oh,” I felt a bit mollified by his answer. “I guess so. Peggy was always better at telling people what they wanted to hear.”
“You could just try writing fiction or something,” Linc offered. “Then you’d be writing.”
The conversation, continued as we left the arcade. I’m afraid I hadn’t been a very good companion for the night. Linc kissed me outside my door, but he didn’t ask to come in like he sometimes did.
“Sorry I wasn’t much fun,” I told him. “I’ll make it up to you. This weekend the dad’s are going out of town to see Lydia in her final performance at school. She got an offer for the Starlight Shores Ballet Company, you know.”
“So you’ll be all alone this weekend?”
“Yep,” I gave him a suggestive look. “All alone in the big house. No male to protect me. Whatever will I do?”
Linc grinned and kissed me again. “I’m sure we’ll think of something,” he said, whispering in my ear.
“No boys in the house,” Dad told me as he and Daddy were leaving for Bridgeport.
“What am I, 16?” I asked.
“No, but you’re still living here, so no boys.”
“Ok,” I agreed. “Linc’s a man, so I guess it’s ok that I asked him to stay with me.”
“What?!” Daddy practically squealed in outrage and shock. “Sergeant Matthews better not stay over here if he values his job!”
“Daddy! That’s not fair. It’s been almost a year. Don’t be so prude! I’m not a virgin anymore, in case you need a memo.”
“La, la, la, not listening to this. My baby girl is a pristine flower,” Daddy sang with his eyes closed and his head shaking back and forth in denial.
“Dad,” I whined, “talk some sense into him.”
Dad just gave me a stern look. “No boys…or men. And you better be using something. I’m too young to be a grandfather!”
“Come on!” I begged. “What if we get robbed again? Huh? Think of that?”
We hadn’t exactly been robbed, but a burglar had tried to rob us just a few months ago. Daddy, of course, stopped him before he could get the car he’d been trying to take. I didn’t think a robbery was likely, but I’d do anything to get the dads to let Linc stay over.
“Fine,” Daddy finally agreed after much cajoling. “But he stays in Lydia’s room.”
“Whatever,” I said, not intending to sleep alone, but willing to let them think I would.
As they left the house I heard Dad say, “You said yourself that Matthews was a good cop. She’ll be fine.”
I smiled as the door shut behind them.
I couldn’t wait for Linc to come over. He had another late shift, but it didn’t matter. I could stay up as late as I wanted because I had finally taken his advice. I’d quit my job.
And I’d taken his other advice, too. I’d applied to the police academy. Even Daddy didn’t know about it because I bribed the girl who signed me up to file my paperwork after Dad and Daddy left. It was going to be pretty funny when we both headed off to the station on Monday morning. Daddy probably wouldn’t like it, but I had a feeling I was going to be a great cop! I’d finally be making a difference in the world.
I wanted the evening to be perfect for Linc, so I made him dinner and lit some candles so it would be romantic. Alright, so the only thing I knew how to make was Autumn Salad, but it was the thought that counts. Besides, I could keep it refrigerated and serve it cold since he was getting off so late. I even changed into something sexy, to surprise him. I wasn’t really the sexy type, but I felt the night called for a bit more than jeans and a t-shirt.
My plan was rewarded when Linc took one look at my outfit and said, “Wow.”
I smiled, in what I hoped was a seductive way, and said, “Hi, honey. I’ve got dinner ready.”
“Who needs dinner,” Linc advanced on me hungrily. “This is quite a dress.”
“You like it?”
“Mmmmm,” he growled, grabbing me for a passionate kiss.
Wow indeed. Dinner was forgotten until much later. I was doubly glad I’d only made the salad. By the time we did eat, the cool, crunchy greens were refreshing.
I didn’t get to tell Linc my news until the next morning when we finally got out of bed. He offered to make breakfast since I had done dinner. I loved it that he was willing to cook my favorite, pancakes.
“Guess what,” I said as he was serving them up.
“I quit my job.”
“You did what?”
“I took your advice. I quit.”
“That’s great, honey. What are you going to do now? Did you figure that out?”
“Yeah. I took your advice on that, too.”
Linc choked on his pancake. “What! You’re going to be a cop?” he asked, clearing his throat.
I nodded. “Yep. I signed up for the Academy. I start Monday. Isn’t that great?”
“Wow,” Linc said, not sounding enthusiastic at all.
“You aren’t excited? It was your idea!”
“Yeah. I wasn’t serious, though. I never thought you’d take me up on it.”
“Why not? Why shouldn’t I? I’m going to be a great cop. I’m going to kick bad-guy butt and solve real crimes,” I enthused.
“Um, Sash, you know that you have to pass the Academy, right?”
“Sure. It will be a cinch. I could have been valedictorian at school if I’d wanted. Peggy was always more driven, though.”
“Ah…but what about the physical parts? And shooting a gun?”
“What about them?”
“Sasha. You told me when we first met that you were terrible with hand-eye coordination and had no athletic ability.”
“How hard could it be? It just takes practice, right? That’s what Dad and Lydia always said when I used to whine about exercising.”
“Yeah. It takes practice,” Linc looked a bit worried for me. I laughed at him.
“I’ll be fine. What’s a few jumping jacks and some running? And shooting? Pffff, I may not be a marksman, but I’m sure they can teach me to hit what I aim at, right?”
I am not really clumsy, but training at the Academy made me feel that way. I really don’t have any athletic ability and it turns out that I really don’t have hand-eye coordination. I was terrible at the Academy.
I went into my training with enthusiasm and drive, convincing both Daddy (who was no happier about my choice than Linc was) and Linc that I would do fine. After the first day, I knew I wouldn’t be, but I was determined to see it through.
With a lot of hard work, I did manage to graduate…barely. But then, when I started my real job, things got even worse.
You see, they pair rookies with veteran partners. Mine was the biggest bitch on the force. Everyone called her Bull…like bulldog…and she was ok with it, took pride in it. And she acted like a bulldog, too. Tenacious, vicious, ruthless. She took one look at my skinny butt in my shiny new uniform and informed me that it was her job to either make a cop of me or get me to quit.
“Guess what I’m betting you’re going to do?” she sneered.
Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so stubborn. I could have backed away from Bull and quit police work as soon as I knew it wasn’t for me, but faced with her constant challenge, daring me to quit, I stuck it out and was miserable.
Yes, I was doing good in the community, but it didn’t feel the same as when I uncovered things that were hidden like I used to do in my blog. Linc kept telling me things would be more like that if I made detective, but I didn’t see how that would ever happen if I sucked so much as a regular beat cop.
Linc and Brenton tried to cheer me up, telling me I was improving all the time, but I believed my partner, Bull, who said I was the worst cop on the whole Force. “Did you even hit the target during the last target practice?” she asked me. I had, but no bulls-eyes.
“Do me a favor, Fields,” she said after my last evaluation, “just don’t pull that gun ever. You can defend yourself better with your smart-mouth and your attitude than that service weapon.”
I wish I had listened to her. We were one of several cops called in on a raid against what was known as the criminal warehouse. We were supposed to only be there as back up, not really as part of the main task-force, but something got screwed up and suddenly we found ourselves facing criminals with weapons.
Bull shouted, “Stop! Police!” like you always hear on the movies, and just like a movie, the criminals opened fire.
Bull got off a few rounds, wounding one of the criminals, but then she had to duck for cover. I had been behind her, so I took a few shots to distract the men so she could get to a less open location. Unfortunately, my shots were wild. I didn’t hit anything…not even close.
What’s worse, I panicked. I kept firing until I emptied my clip, which is exactly what you are not supposed to do. And even worse than that, I had no spare clip on me. I couldn’t believe I had been so stupid.
In the end, Bull paid the price for my idiocy. She took a bullet to the leg as we were forced to retreat. Luckily she wasn’t hurt worse, but the criminals got away. And I knew I was to blame.
I turned in my resignation the next day. I gave it to my father, who was acting chief of police until a replacement was hired. Daddy had never wanted that job and was close to retiring anyway.
“Pumpkin, I’m sorry this happened to you. I wish it had been different,” Daddy told me. He didn’t even bother to say it wasn’t my fault or tell me I shouldn’t quit, that’d I’d only made a rooky mistake.
“I’m just not police material,” I said, head down.
**Special thanks to Orangeplumbob of the Tragedys and A Different Rain for staging the police academy and shoot out scenes for me. I don’t have the gun poses or the CC to do those scenes, and she’s just so much better at it than I am. Also, you might have wondered about that strange female cop. She may have looked suspiciously like a certain special agent before he lost his eye. I asked Kristine to make the sim Bull, and that is who she came up with. I was LOLing when she first told me and continue to do so whenever I see those screenshots!**