Jason was an old friend from my younger, wilder days. I’d lost touch with him while I was married and Brent was dragging me all over the country, but when I moved back home after his death Jason and I had gotten close again. When we met for the second time he was working as a police sketch artist. I used him as a contact when I started freelancing for papers in the city—when I needed to interview someone downtown or a nice piece of gossip.

The incident with Bobby was widely publicized. Hot-shot homicide detective accused of brutality in the arrest of a seventeen year old kid who’d killed his pregnant girlfriend. He’d been in the news before, of course, was known for his brilliance and near perfect case record. While most of the city was delighted to have him taken down a rung, I was unconvinced. When I approached The Chronicle with my idea for a story, a PR piece to contradict the other papers, I had to threaten and cajole to get the green light. Then I called Jason; Detective Robert Bowen was not prone to granting interviews, did not like the press very much. Apparently Jason’s insistence that I didn’t like the press much, either, was what won Bobby over.

I went to the 10th precinct one afternoon in jeans and a tank top, hair in pigtails and tattoo on my shoulder displayed prominently; I wanted to look as little like a professional journalist as I could. I left my laptop and tape recorder in the car, went in with just a pen and notepad in my back pocket and sat outside his door for an hour. Through the glass I watched him poring over a case file, staring at crime scene photos and talking animatedly to Greg. When I thought I’d had enough surveillance I knocked and he let me in.

“When you’re on a stake out, Alice, you know the idea is not to be seen,” he said as he pulled out a chair for me at the table where he was working.

I was impressed that he knew who I was, more impressed with him in general, the way he towered over me and spoke with the gentle, deep voice of a stage actor. The innate flirtatiousness that had driven my late husband so crazy flared up and I retorted, blushing, that I’d only been admiring, not working.

On the fourth day of my interview, when I was going to follow Bobby around all day and try not to be obtrusive, I arrived a few minutes early to say hello to Jason. Bobby was standing at his desk, his back to me, blocking Jason’s view of anything else. I had walked in on a conversation about me—I could tell from the tone of Jason’s voice as well as his words.

“Me?” he was saying. “No; I’m not smart enough for her—or old enough—or tall enough.” He laughed shortly, “Hell, Detective, she’s probably in love with you by now.”

I turned on my heel and went back to homicide; more to plan one of my own than to work on my story.


I’d intended to spend five days working with Bobby. It ended up being six, since he showed up at my door at eleven o’clock one Saturday morning, holding a yellow rose and demanding to see what I’d written. Standing in the doorway in my pajamas, looking at this perfectly attired man I’d been dying to touch for days, all I could do was laugh and wonder what I’d gotten myself into. Although handing over an unfinished manuscript was something I couldn’t have been persuaded under any circumstances to do, I let him in. I took my rose from him and went into the kitchen to rummage for a vase. He sat on the couch, pet the cat on his head and looked around.

“You’re not done yet. You’ve got a deadline coming up, though, don’t you?”

I sat on the arm of the chair beside the couch and asked him how he was so smart.

He pointed to my laptop, which was on the floor, adrift in a sea of crumpled notebook paper, highlighters, coffee cups and various reference materials. “You’ve been revising—all night, obviously. And you haven’t hooked up the printer yet; you’re a creative writer, not a reporter, you’ll want a hard copy for your final revisions.

“You are clever, aren’t you?” I smiled at him. “But you can’t read it yet.”

He sighed. “You don’t think so? Go get dressed—I want to take you out.”

We drove into the oldest part of the city, into an area that had seen its better days many years prior to our visit. He showed me the house he’d grown up in, the schools he had attended, the cemetery where his mother was buried. He talked as he drove, about the father he hadn’t seen since he was a teenager, about his manic-depressive mother and the years he spent in the Marine Corps. We drove around for almost two hours, then he took me downtown to a hole in the wall bar full of off-duty cops where he bought me a beer. As he sat down beside me at a table in the quietest corner I asked him why he wanted to tell me so much about himself.

He shrugged. “It’s my contribution to modern literature.”

“You know I’m not going to use any of that,” I stated plainly as I reached for my Bud Light.

“Why not? It would make your point stronger—my difficult childhood and my good intentions.” His tone was almost one of self-mockery, as if he considered himself cliché. “You’re trying to contradict the brutality charge, this would make it easier for you to do that.”

I partially resented the way he was testing me, but I was also intrigued by him, and flattered at the interest he had apparently taken. So I answered him truthfully. “I can do that without exposing every intimate detail of your personal life. I’m not interested in exploiting your whole life to make my editor money. And you didn’t tell me any of that for my story, anyway—using it would be a betrayal.”

There weren’t many people in my life whose eyes I couldn’t meet, it was something I prided myself on. But as he stared at me for those few seconds I felt my own gaze slipping down to the table against my will. He was quiet. Had I been sitting beside any other man in the world I would have braced myself for the imminent physical contact, but Bobby wasn’t the average anything and I didn’t expect an overt display of affection. Had he touched me then I probably would have fallen out of my chair from the shock.

“What if I say,” he paused, exhaled from his nose in the way that meant he’d given serious consideration to his next words, “that I just wanted you to know?”

I looked up at him again and nodded.


The following Monday morning I found myself in the homicide department presenting him with a cup of the best coffee in the state and a manila envelope. I set my offerings down on the table beside the file he was studying and said, “Read it before five, or you can’t say you saw it first.”

He smiled, thanked me and took a sip of coffee. I nosily looked over the photo’s spread out at the opposite end of the table. I tapped one of them, asked him what it was.

“Crime scene photos—that’s a piece of a page from a book. We haven’t id’d it yet.”

Immensely pleased with myself, I said, “Prozac Nation. It came out in the late nineties—written by Elizabeth Wurtzel.”

“After my job, Alice?”

“That’s nothing you couldn’t have gotten off Google—you’re just lazy.” Realizing I had to make a run for it before I threw myself at him in the most inappropriate fashion, I smiled and said I had work to do. It was a lie, and of course he knew it. He grinned at me.

“I’ll pick you up tonight at seven. We’ll go to dinner.”

part 3