HEAT OF PASSION - KATHLEEN A. RYAN
As a rookie cop and a newlywed, Doug swore he’d never face the “bimbo-basement” dilemma.
Fifteen years later, however, while driving home on a sweltering night after a weekend tryst, he recalled the warning uttered by his salty field training officer: “Every married cop who chases tail or fools around with a relief point bimbo eventually faces the same fate. The old lady finds out, gets the house, the kids, and eventually collects half his pension. The cop ends up living in a dingy basement apartment — it’s all he can afford!”
To illustrate his point, the old-timer had held out his palms to imitate a balancing scale. “You must weigh your options,” he advised, raising his hands like a seesaw and repeating, “Bimbo. Basement. Bimbo. Basement.”
Doug listened to Porter Wagoner sing, “The Cold Hard Facts of Life,” and chuckled — as he, too, was heading home a day earlier than his wife expected — although he wasn’t stopping for any champagne first.
The ominous-looking clouds darkened the moonlit sky. The humidity reminded Doug why he vacations every August (besides, of course, spending time with his kids): when the mercury rises, so does crime. People get heat aggravation, and tempers flare.
Doug spotted an unfamiliar pickup in his driveway and assumed it belonged to one of his wife’s friends. He parked on the street near the honeysuckle bushes, which filled the stagnant air with its sweet scent. The steady churning of window air conditioners in the distance couldn’t muffle the repetitive chirping of crickets.
Approaching the shiny red Ford, he realized the engine was running. The passenger door flew open. His wife, half-naked, tumbled out and screamed, “Rape!”
The driver pulled into reverse.
Emotions raw, the veteran cop fired his Glock towards the fleeing felon, who crashed into the split-rail fence. Doug jumped into the truck, reached over the slumped body, and threw the vehicle into park.
He glanced at the perp’s face — and gasped.
“Jesse? What the — ?” Doug frantically searched for a pulse on the lifeless body of his former partner.
Sobbing, Tammy scrambled into her clothes. Her flushed complexion quickly paled.
Doug struggled to find the words to confront the pair, although only one could reply. “This wasn’t rape — how could you?”
“I panicked!” she cried. “I didn’t think you’d shoot him...”
“You didn’t think, period! You know I always carry — it’s as if you pulled the trigger yourself!”
Tammy admitted her grave mistake to the responding officers, claiming rape to cover up the illicit affair. Her lie cost a cop — a family friend for more than a decade — his life.
Her soft brown curls clung to her tear-streaked face, when the cops placed the cuffs on her. “Your reckless actions caused Jesse’s death,” snapped the arresting officer.
Homicide Detective Tom Walker, an Academy classmate of Doug’s, arrived at the scene. “I’m sorry about what transpired here tonight, buddy.”
“My head is spinning,” Doug said. We’ve lost one of our own — and it’s my fault.”
“The grand jury may not see it that way; however, Tammy is probably looking at time for involuntary manslaughter. I need to get a statement from you. Who’s with the kids?”
“My neighbor’s inside, but my sister’s on the way.”
“Crime Scene will take photos and bag your clothes. When I’m done here, I’ll notify Jesse’s wife. Have a uniform drive you to Headquarters — I’ll meet you there.”
Drenched in sweat and blood, Doug went into the house to gather clothes.
“They’re still asleep,” his elderly neighbor said.
“Thanks for coming over to watch the kids, I appreciate it.”
“Your kids are like grandkids to me. Call anytime,” she said before leaving.
Doug called his girlfriend, using the prepaid cell phones he had bought for them.
“I have good news and great news,” Doug whispered.
“What’s the good news?” she asked.
“My wife won’t be contesting the divorce.”
“Terrific! Now, what could possibly trump that?” she asked.
“You can call off the hit man.”
BIO: Kathleen A. Ryan is a retired 21 year veteran of the Suffolk County Police Department on Long Island. She blogs at Women Of Mystery and is working on a true crime memoir. Her story, ‘Playing with Matches’ was published in W.W. Norton’s Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories 25 Words or Fewer, Edited by Robert Swartwood, November 2010.