Art Pact 106


Our stakeout, now well into the fifth week, was beginning to take its toll. There were twelve of us on the team, three shifts of four, two cars per shift so that for eight hour stretches we sat with other person and tried to ignore the fact that we had exhausted all possible avenues of conversation a month ago. We were supposed to be radio silent, but after the first fortnight it became obvious that the target had absolutely nothing in the way of electronic equipment, hence there was no chance that they would pick up our transmissions. On day thirty-two I was switching shifts, so I had a double - the morning with Sutter, the afternoon with Evans. I took a book (Gross's Psychology, the textbook for the evening classes I'd had to cancel because of the case), and lay the passenger seat as flat as I could so that I could lay down along it and prop up the book on the back seat at the relevant page.

"You see Blue Court last night?" Sutter asked.

"No."

Wrong answer - I should have just said yes, then nodded in agreement with whatever he said. I hadn't watched Blue Court for a year though. It made me want to throw my remote through the TV, and since I'd splashed out and bought a nice new flatscreen only last year: a) it was sure to smash the screen, not like my old tank of a tube, and b) there was no way I could afford to replace it. My credit cards wouldn't even recognise the number zero if I showed it to them, it's been that long.

"Oh man, you missed a great one!"

(I doubted that).

"There was this terrorist planning to blow up the judge's chambers, they catch him because Pearl finds that the judge's daughter had been talking on a chatroom to someone who'd warned her that this other guy was some middle-aged guy, but then the first guy it turns out knows the second guy - or maybe he was the second guy, I had to go out and get a beer, I'm not so clear on that. Anyway, it was all a setup to make her grateful so they could get information out of her about when the judge was going to be working, when he was going to be home."

This is one reason I don't watch it any more - it's all terrorists nowadays. Everyone's obsessed with them, no-one cares about just finding criminals. I get it all the time when I meet my brother-in-law's folks: "when you going to catch those terrorists, John?"

"You should watch the repeat," he told me. "Nine tonight."

"Can't. Date."

"Oh yeah? How come I didn't hear about this-agh!" He winced, having finally bit his tongue instead of the gum he'd been nursing for the last hour, and which had miraculously survived his earlier monologue.

"Because I don't tell you everything," I said. "I'll be honest - I usually try to make a point of not telling you /anything/."

"Whoa, turn down the love a little there Romeo!"

Of course, I knew why he thought he should have already heard - Charlie. She and I had been partners for years, and she claimed to know things about me that I didn't know myself. She'd have got it out of me somehow, if she'd been trying, and I might not even have known it. But what genetics and upbringing had given her in intuition they had taken away from her in discretion. She knew all about me, but she knew nothing about how to keep that knowledge to herself.

"So who is it?" he asked. I considered not answering, but unfortunately there was no way I was going to be able to keep that detail a secret anyway.

"Anna."

"Anna?"

"Anna from records Anna."

He wolf-whistled, and clicked the radio link open.

"Hey Charlie!"

"What?" said Muller's voice.

"Put Charlie on," Sutter told him.

"She can't talk right now."

"Oh? Something I should be telling Denise?"

"Get your mind out of the gutter," Muller said wearily. "We've got a bet on about who can keep quiet longest. I did an hour fifty earlier on. She's up to one-seventeen."

"Never mind that, she can try again later. Listen, Charlie, your boy has a date with Anna."

"Fuck me," Charlie said, her voice squeaking. We heard her coughing, then fumbling the radio handset away from the console. "I mean, what? Anna from records Anna?"

"The very same," Sutter confirmed.

"The one with one tit bigger than the other?"

"She does not have lopsided-" I began, then stopped. What was the point?

"She does," said Sutter.

"He's right," Charlie said. "I'd say one was what, five percent smaller than the other?"

"More," Sutter said. "Like ten percent, the left is ten percent smaller."

"No, not that much. Seriously, the difference looks more because of her bra. If you see them in the flesh it's much more even." Sutter coughed, almost swallowing his gum. "I heard that. Before you ask, we happened to getting changed at the same time at the gym, so yes, I do know what I'm talking about."

"You have all the luck."

"Not my sort, Earl," she told him. "All that aside, I think she'll be good for you hon. She's pretty smart, and she's forthright, you know what I mean? Plus, she's fairly straight out when she likes someone or when she wants something. Did you ask her out, or the other way round?"

"She asked me," I admitted.

"Guys..." said Muller.

"Yeah, well," Charlie opined. "When she wants something she goes for it, so try not to be too surprised if she asks you back to her place. I know how you get, hon, all flustered."

"Sounds like the professor here's going to have his hands full," Sutter said.

"Guys, seriously." said Muller.

"Well, one hand full," Charlie said. "The other about ninety-five percent full." She burst out into her half-chuckle half-cackle laugh, which was cut short suddenly by someone pressing the radio's squelch button.

"Guys!" Muller repeated urgently. "Look at the damn building!"

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