Stens always said I didn't know how to have a good time. "Go get drunk, kid," he'd say.
"Find a broad. Try to have some fun."
When I first came up from the uniforms, I figured whoever got me for a partner wouldn't be too happy,
but Stens didn't seem to mind. Except right from the beginning he said I was too serious.
And he didn't like my name.
"Wendell," he used to say. "Wendell! What the hell kind of a name for a cop is Wendell?…Wendell…."
He'd shake his head. "The bad guys'll laugh at us, kid."
So I was "kid" for about a year.
"Finding a broad" was easier said than done. The waitress at the Keystone, where I ate lunch, was
married. The clerk at the grocer's was only about 4 feet tall (I thought about asking her out,
anyway, at one point),and the girls that hung out at the Formosa were too expensive. I didn't
know any other women.
Stensland never had any trouble finding women; always one around when he wanted one. I never could
figure it, in all the time we were partners. I asked him once how he did it; he just laughed
and said, "Can't teach ya that, kid."
He taught me just about everything else.
And he's the one who introduced me to Rhonda. Actually he was seeing a little blonde, I think
her name was Louise. Rhonda was her stepsister, just moved to town. Louise wanted Stens to fix
Rhonda up with somebody. Like a double date.
"Come on, kid, you gotta do something once in a while besides cuffing bad guys."
"Gimme a break, Stens."
"You got anything better to do?"
I just looked at him.
"You're gonna forget how to do it, kid."
"How to cuff bad guys?"
He laughed and slapped me on the back. "Help me out, I ain't gonna get laid if Louise has
So I ended up going along. Stens drove, we went across town to eat. We could've had supper
at the café down the street from Stens' apartment, but Louise wanted to go across town.
Me and Rhonda were in the back seat. She wasn't a looker, she was kind of plain, but OK.
Rhonda said she just moved down from Napa. I asked how she liked it here. I told her I was a cop,
she told me she was going to go to secretarial school, I said that was good. There wasn't much
to say after that. I could see Stens glancing at us in the rearview.
After a minute or so, she leaned forward and said, "He doesn't talk much, does he?" Stens just
chuckled. "You don't talk much, do you?" she said to me.
"I guess not."
I didn't know what she wanted me to say. When she put her hand on my thigh, and began to rub real
lightly back and forth, I figured she didn't need conversation after all. I thought of a few
things I could've said after she decided to find out what I had in my pants, but none
of them were anything I wanted Stens to hear. All the time she's looking straight ahead,like she's
not doing anything.
She felt, and rubbed, and felt some more, but when I went to put my arm around her, she backed off
to her side of the seat. When I sat still, she started in again; anytime I so much as moved,
she was back on her side.
Even at the café, after the waitress took our order, she started rubbing me again under the table.
I've been teased before but this was something else. I guess I could've told her to stop,
but I didn't really want her to. You know?
"OK----" I grabbed her hand, slid out of the booth, and pulled her after me. "We need to talk."
"Hey!" she said. "What do you think you're doing?" I ignored that. We walked through the
Stens was watching us. He knew something was up, he just didn't know what it was.
I knew if she kept going like this, it was gonna get real embarrassing real soon.
kitchen and out the back door, into the alley. She was pulling against me, but not that hard,
not like she really didn't want to go.
I pushed her up against the brick wall, then stood back, and put my hands in my pants pockets.
"Listen-the way you've been feeling me up, I know you know what I've got.What I can't figure
is whether you want it….or not."
She blushed and looked down at her shoes, white with pointed toes and bows on the front.
I can't remember the dress she was wearing, but for some reason I remember those shoes.
She didn't say anything.
"If you don't want it, maybe you should leave it alone."
She still didn't say anything.
"If you don't leave it alone, the next time we talk about it, I won't bother to bring you out in the
alley. We'll just talk at the table."
Nothing. She looked down at her shoes, fidgeted with the handle of her purse.
"Fine. Let's go back in. I'm hungry."
She didn't move. "What if I do want it?" she said, real soft. I almost didn't hear her.
I sure as hell wasn't expecting that.
She looked up at me, and I swear her face got softer and sweeter looking, her eyes got
bigger and darker. She was pretty. She was always prettier when she was thinking about sex.
"You can have it," I said. "You want it, I'll give it to you. Just not when Stens is watching
us from the other side of the table."
She put her hands on my shoulders, stood on her toes, in those pointed shoes with the bows,
and kissed me, real sweet. Then she kissed me again, not quite so sweet.
I took my hands out of my pockets.
A while later, she panted in my ear, "Now, how about now?"
Now was OK.
Now was damn good.
We got along pretty well, me and Rhonda. We weren't in love or anything. She was always up front
with me, or so I thought. She told me she was going to date other men besides me, and she did.
Once when I called her, I was pretty sure she was in bed with somebody else, but I never asked her.
None of my business.
Sex with Rhonda was good; and I liked her. I thought she felt the same way about me. Not in love,
maybe, but I guess I thought we were friends at least.
It was Stens who found out she was married. He happened to see the missing person report her
husband had filed on her.
Her name wasn't Rhonda, he told me what it was, but I can't seem to remember it.
"If you want to see her before they pick her up, you better get going, kid." I don't know, maybe
He didn't turn her in; he didn't have to. Some of the other guys at the station had seen me with
her. A couple of them started to rib me about it, but Stens bounced them off the wall a time or two,
and they quit.
he thought there was some big romance between us. I went, anyway.
She had on her bathrobe when she opened the door. Her hair was wet. She looked good.
"It would've been nice if you'd told me you were married," I said, leaning against the doorframe.
"I came to say good-bye. I don't suppose your husband'll be in favor of us sleeping together
after he comes to get you. They should be giving him your address just about now."
I walked in, undid the tie on the robe, and pulled her close. I kissed her hard, the way she liked.
I must not have shut the door all the way, 'cause not much later I heard it squeak
as it opened again.
I could tell from the look on his face that the bum in the doorway must be the husband.
Average looking guy, nothing special, except of course that he was really, really pissed.
I pulled Rhonda's robe shut, and turned to face him. "I'm leaving, OK?" I moved away, trying
to go around him to the door. "I'll see you around, baby. You call me if you need anything."
I looked straight back at her. "You know what I got."
I shouldn't have said that, I suppose,but I was still irritated with her for leaving me in the dark.
I didn't pay any attention to the scared look on her face. And I guess I just couldn't resist a
little dig at the bum whose wife preferred me in her bed to him.
And then I turned my back on him when I got to the door. Yeah, I know, nobody ever accused me
of being a genius.
I sat up. There was blood running down the back of my neck, but not too much, so I figured I was
I don't know what he hit me with. I was out cold for a while; I think it was the sirens on the
squad cars that woke me up. Or it mighta been the screaming. Or it mighta been his boot hitting
my face as he ran out the door…no, I was already awake when that happened.
gonna live. My head hurt like a motherfucker.
The screaming and crying was coming from the bedroom. I staggered to the doorway…and I had to stop
there for a minute.
There were smears of blood everywhere, all over the walls, all over the bed.
Rhonda was laying on her back on the floor with her hands to her face, wailing.
I couldn't hold her, couldn't put my arms around her; he'd cut her all over, arms, legs…her pretty
little breasts were mutilated. Not deep, not bad enough to kill her, just enough to make a mess
and hurt like a bitch if you touched her. And she wouldn't take her hands away from her face.
I don't know if she knew I was there.
Stens came through the door just about the same time as the ambulance drivers. He'd heard the call
on the radio and recognized the address. He was panting pretty bad; stairs are tough when you're
as big as Stensland.
"Christ, buddy, I thought it was you they were coming to get." He stared at Rhonda as she was
lifted onto the gurney. He grabbed my jacket and pulled me away. "Hey, come on, come on back here,
let them take care of her. You can see her after they get her stitched up. You don't look too good
"I gotta get him…."
I started for the door; Stens caught me before I fell on my face.
"OK, partner, we'll find him, but you gotta wait 'til you're feeling a little better.
You wanna be able to beat the shit out of him when you find him, don'cha?"
Yeah. Yeah, that's what I wanted to do.