It is the hottest night of the year. Rumor is that violence goes up when the temperature spikes. As a cop, I'd say that it is more than a rumor. Sweat rolls down the back of my tiny neck. Stickiness clings to my fingertips as I check the safety on my gun. I can't believe I'm forgetting everything tonight. Glen sits beside me tapping on the steering wheel anxious.
"You ok?" I ask him and he just nods yes.
The strip is a whirl of energy. I catch a couple college kids out the corner of my eye. They're drunk but not disorderly so we just continue to drive.
"Marsha said she'd make steaks this weekend if you and Anne want to come by."
"That might work," Glen says in response. I can't get anything more out of him so I change the subject to the mugginess of the weather.
An hour later we are further down the strip in the darkest part of town. I've only been on the job a year and most of our busts have been down in the depths of the strip. Glen's eyes dart to a pitiful sight moving up the sidewalk.
"Not tonight," I try but he already has his sights set on the bare pair of legs stomping up the strip.
"She is probably on the job right now," he says pulling over next to her. She spots the car and starts to walk quicker. Glen continues to follow. Sweat pours down my cheeks now. The air conditioning in the car is chilling the dank fumes.
"You, Stop!" He yells in her direction and the tiny girl stops and then stares in our direction. I half hoped she would have kept running. Maybe with the heat beating down in such rapid motions, he would have given up the chase.
Her heels are stiletto and apparently give her trouble walking. Deep brown skin stretches over her petite frame. A red mini skirt clings to curvy hips and a white top practically falls off perk breasts. Her hair is a mix of waves and curls as it falls strategically over her thin shoulders. Blue eyes blaze into me as she stares deeper into the car past me and straight at him.
"Was I doing something wrong officers?" She asks.
"You know what you're doing wrong!" He yells over me. I can barely breathe from the heaviness of his angry voice choking me.
"I'm just walking," she says continuing to do just that. The car creeps slowly behind her.
"No!" She yells back and I'm stuck in the middle. He parks the car and jumps out.
I don't stop him as he quickly wrestles the girl into the back seat. When he continues to drive I decide to speak.
"You didn't have to do that," I say in a whisper. He ignores me driving toward the highway exit. Off the highway there is a stretch of roads that is mostly trees. I hold my breath as he speeds in that direction.
"I thought the station was downtown," the girl says smacking her gum.
"We aren't going to the station," Glenn mutters, and all I can do is look at him. He outweighs me by a hundred pounds and always has his gun ready.
He stops the car abruptly and is out of his seat before I realize what is going on.
"No," I say struggling with my seat belt. He has the girl on the ground in front of the car and he is beating her mercilessly under the blazing white lights.
When I finally get to them, he doesn't notice me. I pull my gun from the holster and place it to the back of his flooded neck.
He gives a deep laugh, "you are my partner. I know your strengths and your weaknesses."
I'm on the ground before I realized he moved. He has his gun pointed at my face. Even with the steel facing me, my attention is on the body unmoving on the ground. He turns his back to me unzipping his pants fly.
"Just let me do my business, and then we can go."
He has been violent with women before, but never this far. I hold my breath with my gun still placed firmly in my hands. I just can't kill my partner. I tremble, sweat falls across the trigger, but I can't convince myself to do anything.
"Don't do this," I plead but I can see from the thrusting I'm a little late. Her eyes flutter behind their lids as he moves his bulky body in and out.
My gut is telling me to do something as I see my daughter's face replace the ravaged girl. My finger moves on its own as the bullet ricochets in the moonlight. I miss.
"Hart, did you just shoot at me?" Glenn stands up and faces me. He rushes toward me with his hand outstretched for the gun. Our massive liquid bodies thump against each other. The only thing keeping me moving is the helpless look on the girls porcelain face. I can barely tell if she is still alive.
POP. The gun goes off and something wet seeps against my shirt. Then the pain comes. A hole is beginning to form near my ribs. I can't breathe.
"You chose the whore?" Glenn's angry words resonate through me. I can't see the girl as a whore. This girl is someone's daughter. Glenn leans off of me as he wipes where my blood still remains. His face squirms with thoughts of what to do. He runs. Blinding light is left where his bulky frame once was.
The girl comes to my side, in a mix of choking thoughts and silent screams. I stare as she is able to lift her broken body from the ground.
"You saved my life," she starts but all I can think about is the siren wailing in the distance.
"They're going to come and save you," she says with a beautiful smile that reminds me of my daughter Emily.
"There is nothing left to save," I respond. I smell a steak on a barbeque pit from my past. I see my wife wrapped in a silk dress preparing a table. Glenn laughs a haunting laugh as he tears into the steak.
"Get out of here before he comes back," I prompt her.
"I can't," she says.
I know Glenn will want to clean this all up. She has to leave. Finally I convince her. Staring back over her shoulder, I believe she had a father just like me once.
"I love my girls," I say to myself, "I love my girls to death."
My world goes black.