“We all have two lives. The second begins when you realize you only have one.”
“What in God’s name are you talking about?” he asked. “Wattaya mean you just bought this boat? Are you serious?”
Detective Gerry Sharpe looked deep into her partner’s eyes.
“As a heart attack,” she clipped. As if for emphasis, several strands of dark wavy hair escaped from her high ponytail and drifted across her long neck.
“How is that possible?” Pete asked. He was obviously taken aback, and Detective Peter Jansen– Eagle Scout, R.O.T.C., former Marine, and cop with fifteen years of service under his substantial belt– was not often so.
“Technology will save us,” she answered waving her phone. After wrangling her hair back together, and securing it under a red band, she continued, “Or more specifically, me.”
“I’m sick of it Pete. Sick to death of it. All of it. My whole goddam life. Just look at me. What do I got? I’m an old lady with a crappie job with shit for pay. What do I have to look forward to? A promotion? Hah! Chief Merryweather is ten years younger than me. She’s not going anywhere. I hate cats, so cat lady is out,” she chuckled softly. A bit of a joke, yes, but she had that resolute look in her dark eyes. Pete knew she was indeed serious as a heart attack.
“Gerry, you’re not that old,” Pete said. He softened his voice and spread his arms. “And this will make you happy?” He was trying to understand. She answered with a question of her own.
“Do you even know how old I am?”
Pete was silent. He knew the right answer, but sometimes it’s better to be kind than right. Gerry continued, “What is the single most precious commodity in the universe?” she asked. Again, Pete was silent. He did not know the answer.
“Time,” she said flatly. “Everyone is out there fighting their own battles. You, me, everybody. What does it get us? More time?”
“You sound like someone who has more questions than answers,” Pete offered. Sensing more from Gerry, he waited. It came.
“I made the call Pete. I quit the police force. I’m cashing in my pension, buying this boat, and taking back my life.” She took a deep breath, stood tall, and faced him like a woman who’s soul had been cleansed. “It’s a done deal Pete. And ya know what? I feel good about it. Damn good.”
They avoided looking at each other for a long moment while Gerry’s statement hung there like a low wet Buzzards Bay fog.
“Jeez Gerry,” Pete said, finally breaking the silence. “Was it something I said?”
There was laughter and the mood lightened.
“Why don’t you stay?” Gerry asked. “There’s plenty of room. And wine.”
“Thanks Gerry. It’s tempting, but I think I’d rather drive home alone in the dark than face the morning traffic.”
“Let me at least make you some coffee.”
“I really should get going. Some of us have to work ya know,” he said with a smile. Grabbing his jacket, he headed for the door.
“Don’t I even get a hug?” She asked. Pete put down his jacket and held her tightly. She felt warm, and small. Because of who she was, he didn’t allow himself the luxury of what would normally be considered perfectly natural feelings, but he was reminded of how long it’d been since he held a woman, been with a woman.
“You’re a good man, Peter Jansen,” she said into his chest. “And a good partner. I’m gonna miss you.”
“Oh I’ll be around. You better call me. Okay?”
“Betcha ass,” she said.
Pete picked up his jacket, opened the door, turned to face his former partner, and said the three little words she never expected to hear from him.
“I envy you.”
Slack tide on the Hudson River, that magical time when the flow is neither north or south and all is still. In as little as an hour ago, this old waterway was rushing headlong into New York Harbor at nearly five mph. Soon it will reverse direction and head north towards the St. Lawrence River before the turbulent cycle repeats itself. But for now, it seemed the whole world had slowed to a leisurely pace.
The Sun had taken its last gasp an hour ago, but a yellowish hue still clung to dear life and reflected pleasingly off the surface of anything that cared to accept it. A streetlamp tucked into a lonely corner flickered on, then another, and another. Radiating from the busy restaurant overlooking the docks, the clinking of glasses and tableware merged with the sounds of soft music and many indistinguishable conversations. Neatly dressed patrons, mostly couples, came and went. No one was in a hurry. It was a beautiful Summer evening in Yonkers.
“Oh dear,” the man said, his fingers clutching the chain-link fence. “Looks like they’re staying. I was hoping we’d have more time.”
“Huh, do you really think so?”
“I don’t know. It seems very risky. There’s two of them and one of ’em is very big.” The pair continued watching.
“Layla, look. The big one is leaving.”