Friday, January 29, 2010

A Twist Of Noir 339 - Mark Joseph Kiewlak


Originally published at Plots With Guns #3 in Summer 2008

“Do you love me?” Bobby screamed.

Ellen hesitated. Which was bad.

“As a friend,” she said. Which was worse.

“Wrong answer,” Bobby said.

Then Bobby pulled the trigger.


“What should I have done?”

Captain Oswald was taken aback. “You should have lied, Jones.”

“I don’t lie to my partners,” Ellen said.

“Yes, well, traditionally,” Oswald said, “you don’t let your partners kill themselves either.”

Ellen’s eyes widened in shock. “Ozzie...” she began.

Oswald made a dismissive gesture with her hand. “Get the fuck out of here, Jones.”


“I’ve been a cop for thirteen years, Jones, and I never heard of one like this. I’ve known guys who ate their guns, but never because they were in love with their partners.”

Ellen was barely listening to the Sergeant.

“What the hell happened, Jones?”

She couldn’t answer.

She went home.


Ellen sat sideways in the big chair with her legs tossed over one of the arms. The chair was near the window. Outside it was drizzling. Rainwater was seeping into the ground beneath which Bobby lay.

As partners went, he had been a bad one. A bad cop period, Ellen concluded. Not a wrong cop, just a bad one. He should’ve been a waiter or a priest or a househusband. A gun belonged in his hand about as much...

Ellen caught herself rationalizing. She tried to take a sip of coffee and burned her lip on the edge of the mug.

Run it down again, she thought. Nothing else to do anyway.


“I’m not in love with you,” Bobby said, by way of introduction. He still had hold of Ellen’s hand. His handshake was a firm one.

“You’re the youngest partner I’ve ever had,” Ellen said. “And the only one with a psychology degree.”

“A better breed of cop,” Bobby said.

Behind him, for Ellen’s benefit, Oswald rolled her eyes.


“He’s a cute boy,” Louisa said.

Bobby jerked his chin away from the woman’s fingertips.

“Get in the car, Mrs. Cabreezi,” Ellen said.

When all three of them were inside, Ellen turned toward the back, leaning her forearm on top of the seat.

“I don’t care how many husbands you’ve got to testify against,” she said, “you touch him again and I’ll kill you.”

“Ellen, what the hell --”

“Shut up, Bobby.”


Coming out of the courtroom, Bobby found Ellen bent over at the water fountain.

“What was that scene in the car?” he demanded.

“Relax,” Ellen said. “I just wanted that black widow to feel good about herself. Loosen her tongue up for the D.A., you know?”

“I thought I had the shrink degree.”

“Not in this classroom.”


“I think about you a lot,” Bobby said.

“When we’re kicking in the door of a crackhouse,” Ellen said, “I hope so. I don’t want to catch one in the back because you’re mulling over the plot developments in some soap opera.”

“I think about you when I’m masturbating,” Bobby said.


“I don’t want to put him on report,” Ellen said. “He’s a kid and a cop – that’s twice as many headaches as any of us should have.”

“He came on to you again, though,” Max said. “How long you think it’ll be before this little affair gets someone hurt – and I don’t mean emotionally.”

“I think he really cares about me,” Ellen said.


“Come in here,” Bobby said. “I want to show you something.”

Bobby took hold of her forearm. Ellen almost spilled her coffee. “We’ve got to get back to the unit,” she said.

“In a minute.”

She let herself be pulled into the alley. Bobby let go of her arm.


Ellen scanned the alleyway.

“Down here,” Bobby said.

Ellen saw the bulge in his slacks.

“For you,” Bobby said.


“...felt like a fuckin’ rape victim,” Ellen finished.

DeVries nodded. “I’m glad you came to see me, Ellen.”

“I know I shouldn’t ask this, Doc, but, is Bobby whacked out? I mean, have you ever heard of a case like this?”

“Where a man comes on to his female partner?”

“But he’s not just hitting on me,” Ellen said. “He’s, well, he’s really weird about it.”


“I’m putting in for a new partner,” Bobby said.

Ellen was speechless.

“You just don’t love me like you used to.”

She jammed on the brakes in the middle of the avenue.

“Bobby, what the fuck is WRONG with you? All shift you act normal, then, out of nowhere, you... you...”

“It’s just how I feel, Ellen.”


“But he’s been a good partner?” Oswald said.

“No. Yes! I... I can’t trust him, Ozzie.”

“And you’re sure he’s not just playing with you?”

“Ozzie, you and I both know we can tell the difference.”

“Are you going to drop him?”


“Don’t let go of me, Ellen! I don’t want to die!”

Ellen watched their perp, three roofs over, climb down a fire escape and vanish. Her side hurt like hell.

“Hold onto me, Ellen!”

She looked down into Bobby’s eyes. So sincere. So normal.

She grunted with the strain.

“Why the hell,” she said, “did you try to leap across” – she pitched slightly over the edge and yanked herself back – “when I could’ve cut him off at the bottom?”

“I love you, Ellen.”


“I almost let him fall,” Ellen said.

Sergeant Maxwell ran his hand through his three or four strands of hair. “Maybe you should get yourself a new partner.”

“That’s what I thought,” Ellen said.


“But now I’m really worried about him, Max. I think he wanted to fall off that ledge. Almost fall, I mean. I think he was trying to prove to himself that I really care about him – that I wouldn’t let him die.”

“Get yourself a new partner, Jones.”


“Pull over somewhere along this next block, Ellen.”

“No! No. No more, Bobby. No more of this shit. I... I want you to go talk to DeVries. You’ve got a problem, Bobby.”

“Yeah,” Bobby said, “you’re giving me a speech and I have to go take a leak.”


“Why’d you become a cop, Bobby?”

“To meet girls?”

Ellen shook her head.

“Why did you become a cop, Ellen?”

“My father,” Ellen said.

“He encouraged you?”

“No,” Ellen said. “He beat the hell out of me because I wasn’t his son.”


Behind the wheel, Ellen was dozing off.

Lester still hadn’t come out.

“I talked to DeVries,” Bobby said.

Ellen lifted her head up off the doorframe. She waited.

“We both agreed how attractive you are. Then we talked shop.”

“He didn’t tell you, did he?”

“Tell me what, Ellen?”

“That I’m a lesbian,” Ellen said.

When Lester came out, Bobby shot him.


“I haven’t spoken to Bobby,” DeVries said.


“Lester was a drug dealer,” Ellen said. “He pulled a piece.”

The investigator leaned in close across the table.

“That’s not what I asked you, Detective Jones. Did your partner have any other options than to shoot Lester Simmons?”


Ellen had never seen her partner when they were off-duty before.

“So... no sweat, right? I’m cleared,” Bobby said.

“I lied for you,” Ellen said.

“And I love you for it.”

“That was the last, Bobby.”

“What – the last throw-away piece you had? Don’t worry. You can get more.”

“The last time!” Ellen said.

The bar’s patrons began to take notice of the argument.

“Ellen, I’m sorry I got so upset the other night. That was just really bad news you gave me.”

“Tomorrow,” Ellen said, “we both get new partners.”


“How could you love other women?” Bobby said.

All the noise in the squad room made it easier for Ellen to pretend she didn’t hear him.

“It’s not natural,” Bobby said.

“Bobby, you’re a decent cop,” Ellen lied. “Forget about me. Do your job. I’m nobody, okay? We had some times. Now let go.”

She had already turned away when she heard the gasps from all around. She turned back.

Bobby had his gun out.

Pointed at his own head.

“I killed a man the other night,” Bobby said.

“I know,” Ellen said.

“What do you know about me?” Bobby said.

Ellen took a step closer to him. “Not enough,” she said. “I need to know a lot more. And only you can tell me.”

“Bullshit, Ellen. Who’s the shrink here, anyway? You know. You know, Ellen.”

“Know what?”

“All you need to know about me,” Bobby said. “All there is to know about me – that I love you.”

“Bobby... where’s this coming from? The only time you act as if you have any feelings for me at all is when you start up about how much you love me.”

“Do you love me, Ellen?”

“Where’s the middle ground, Bobby? I don’t even know who you are when you start talking this way.”

Who am I?” Bobby said.

He kept the gun to his head the entire time they were talking.

Who am I? I’m the guy who loves you! What else do you need?”

Ellen had no answer.

“Do you love me?” Bobby screamed.

Ellen hesitated. Which was bad.

“As a friend,” she said. Which was worse.

“Wrong answer,” Bobby said.

Then Bobby pulled the trigger.


Bobby was dead.

Ellen stood directly under the showerhead for a long time.


Bobby’s parents were at the funeral. Ellen was introduced.

“I didn’t know Bobby had a partner,” his mother said.


“No one knew who I was,” Ellen said. “Bobby treated me like some sort of secret lover.”

DeVries nodded and scribbled some notes.


“I need some time off,” Ellen said. “Maybe forever.”

“To do what?” Oswald said.

“I don’t know exactly. Climb a mountain. Paint a picture. Get out of the city, at least.”


Maxwell eyed her, askance. “All you know is cop. That’s all you know how to be.”

“I think that’s the problem,” Ellen said.


Bobby was gone, wasn’t coming back. This was as true on the top of a mountain as anywhere else. But the view was better.

Ellen waited until sunset and prepared to let him go.


He’d sent her a package the day he died.

Ellen opened it atop the mountain.

It was a diary.

In it Bobby described Ellen to a T. Her hair color. Her gait. The way she looked the morning after.

The shaking, nervous, sex-charged scribblings of an adolescent.

Long before they’d even met.

Ellen saw the drops falling upon the pages and knew it wasn’t rain.

“Goddamn,” she said.

BIO: Mark Joseph Kiewlak has been a published author for nearly twenty years. In the past eighteen months his work has appeared in Hardboiled, Plots With Guns, Pulp Pusher, Thug Lit, Powder Burn Flash, Muzzle Flash, Mysterical-E, Disenthralled, Clean Sheets, and The Bitter Oleander, among others. He has also written for DC Comics.

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