“I don’t know how you do it,” Sal DeLuca said.
“Me?” With a casual hike of her eyebrow Brenda Larwick pretended she had no idea what her partner was talking about. She knew him better than to give him the canned “Police officers work as a team,” liturgy, yet by the same token, she wasn’t about to provide him with the truth. Or rather, she would willingly offer up the truth, if she had any idea what that was.
She wasn’t a big fan of lying and her relationship with the man riding in the passenger seat had always been based on mutual respect and trust. Since she didn’t understand what was happening, she didn’t want to tell him what she suspected and thereby come across as some raving lunatic. Instead she said “We’re in this together.”
“Yes, darlin’ that’s true.” DeLuca had Southern Alabama roots, although he’d been cruising the streets of New York’s capital city for decades. He was hard, tough and coarse, and the drawl was selective. It only appeared when he knew it would rile her most. She looked over at him, her eyes hard for the moment, a biting retort sizzling on her tongue, but his eyes twinkled back at her, and instead of taking offense, she flipped back her head and laughed.
“You are so annoying. I don’t know why I put up with you.” At even intervals they passed under street lights, the illumination brightening the interior of the patrol car before shifting them back into shadow. “Are you sure you’re not ready to retire?”
There had been no sexual connotations to his ‘darlin’, but she loved him desperately, this grizzly old man over thirty years her senior. He was wise, street-educated and his reflexes were honed. He was everything she wanted in a partner.
He chewed a fresh piece of gum a bit, then met her gaze. “If I retire, who will watch your back?”
“Who indeed,” she whispered, and suppressed the shiver that crept down her back. With her gaze alert, Brenda scanned the dark alleys, the hidden recesses, the parked cars looking for anything suspicious, anything warranting further investigation. Although the area was quiet, she had learned her lessons the hard way: danger could erupt from anywhere.
They were on routine patrol, no destination, just driving, keeping the streets safe by showing off the black and white squad car. He looked out the window toward the street well on its way to becoming part of a neighborhood. “You’ve got the touch.”
Brenda wasn’t certain all police officers were as superstitious as Sal DeLuca, but “the touch” to him was the highest of compliments. It was a second sense, a knowing of when danger lurked.
Brenda would have argued, but how many major busts had her name on them as arresting officer? She was beyond lucky, she was phenomenal, and lately it looked like criminals from as far away as New Jersey were driving up to Albany, just so they could be arrested by one tawny haired cop and her disbelieving partner.