Written / The Hapless Romantic


Those of you who are under 18 and/or can’t be exposed to adult-themed materials - dainty flowers that you are - surf elsewhere. There be sapphics in this here prose.

Everyone else, thanks for stopping in. And thanks for sending me such terrific e-mail. Y'all are super cool.

Thanks again to Ume, beta chick extraordinaire!

Brulee: cremebrulee at myrealbox dot com

The Hapless Romantic

by Creme Brulee

I’ve been in love from the moment I first set eyes on her. Since the beginning of time. Or since the beginning of the rinse cycle if you want to get picky about trivial, irrelevant details like facts. That was ten minutes ago. But I don’t do things by halves. Some have gone so far as to call me an extremist. I don’t know about that, but I know a looker when I see one.

She keeps checking her watch like she’s got somewhere to be. She’s not doing her laundry. She’s not dressed for laundry either. Unless all of her clothes are dirty and all she’s got left is a $500.00 suit. I’m not complaining about her choice in clothes, but I’m sure I’d love her in rags just as much. And that’s another pipe dream because a woman who looks as sweet as that isn’t going to want anything to do with me. Hell, I don’t want anything to do with me a lot of the time.

So what’s she doing in the laundry at six thirty in the morning looking beautiful and nervous? Waiting for someone? Carpool? Probably.

I’m a neighborly kind of person who notices things. I’ve been told that I notice too much for my own good. It comes in handy in my line of work. Maybe she’s got some big meeting today and is sweating the result. Maybe she’s lost. I’ve never seen her around the neighborhood before. Dressed like that, there’s not much chance she’s the girl next door.

I’m giving into my overblown sense of responsibility and maybe the need to hear her voice. If you’re going to love someone to your dying day, you should know what their voice sounds like, right? So I walk over and sit beside her and say, “Hi.” I ask her if she’s lost or needs anything. She gives me a cursory glance, maybe pauses a hair as she looks me over. Interested? I doubt it. She smiles the sweetest smile I’ve ever seen and shakes her head. “No, thanks, I’m fine. Just waiting for someone.”

That was all I needed to die happy. I lie. I’ll be miserable for the rest of my life because damn it, her voice completes the picture. She’s an angel. An angel who’s as interested in me as a busted harp. She checks her watch and clears her throat. I take the hint and go back to my machines. I’ll never be the same.

My laundry has finally made it into the spin cycle and I wish it would hurry on through the rest so that I can get out of here. Being around this woman is making me giddy. Something has come unhinged in my mind and I think my heart’s been hijacked. Even through the delectable haze of such an immediate and unrequited love I acknowledge that this probably isn’t normal behavior, not even for me.

A car pulls up outside and she glances at it. She stands, looking more nervous, and smooths the wrinkles from her jacket and skirt. Then she bends over and removes a briefcase from beneath her seat. A prickling sensation makes itself known at the base of my neck. I hadn’t seen the briefcase. I try not to look obvious as I glance at the car that she’s headed toward as she opens the door. There’s a single occupant, caucasian male by the looks of it.

She gets in and they sit there talking for a minute. Then there’s shouting. I can’t hear any of it, I can only see it from where I’m standing. It’s when he grabs her by the hair that I’m jolted into action. I can’t figure out how I got from where I was standing to his window, but that’s where I am. I’m looking at him, holding her by the hair, shaking her head as he shouts at her. Even standing right next to the car all I can hear is muffled noises. My blood is rushing in my veins, I’m acting on pure instinct. I tap on the window. Not too loud, but enough so that he’ll hear me.

He spins in his seat, like a startled animal. He looks back at the woman and then at me. I make the sign for rolling down the window. For some reason, he complies with my request.

I’m glad, it saves me the trouble of smashing it in. He doesn’t leave me a lot of room to manoeuvre, but just enough to shoot a fist through the opening and knock him cold. I lean down to look through the window. “Are you alright?” I ask the stunned and disheveled vision staring at me, mouth agape.

“Who are you?” She asks, her voice still rough from the shouting and what must be shock from witnessing such an awesome physical display. I do deliver a spectacular jab.

I pull my wallet from my pocket and show my badge, “Officer Susan Little, ma’am. People call me Little. Are you okay?”

She shakes her head as if trying to regain her senses. I’ve overwhelmed her with my rescue no doubt. “Mac?” She asks. But she doesn’t seem to be talking to me or the guy slumped in his seat. Her voice has a no nonsense tone to it, kinda edgy. “Are you getting any of this?”

Then she looks at me with anything but thanks or gratitude in her eyes. She keeps shaking her head. “Well Little, I’m Sandy Kline. People call me Agent Sandy Kline and you’ve just fucked up my drop. Mac!” She yells. “What are we going to do with Supercop here? How do we fix this? Boris is out cold. He looks dead.”

She pauses as if she were listening to something and places two fingers at Boris’ neck. “No, he’s not, just unconscious. I need some help here, any ideas?”

A van comes screeching around the corner and stops next to the car. The large door at the side opens and two big guys drag me from where I stand backward into the van. It’s a tidy manoeuvre. They throw me in a seat and the van takes off again.

There’s yelling and a lot of shushing as they talk with the agent in the car. Sandy, her name is Sandy. I dunno, I would have thought Alexandra, or Penelope, something more fanfare-like, maybe Gabrielle. Sandy’s a fine name, but kind of dull when you’re thinking trumpets, you know?

I’ve been told to zip it and not move a muscle unless I want to be audited through the next millennium. I can’t help my nerves from jangling, thinking about her out there all alone with Boris. He was a big guy. But I shouldn’t doubt her, she’s obviously a woman of substance. And we’re not all that far away... This is a small consolation when my beloved is in danger.

We’ve moved to another parking lot. Down a couple of blocks, behind the grocery store. Sandy has had to do some fast talking, but seems to have convinced Boris that she was able to fend off the attacker sent by a mutual enemy and get him to safety. How could anyone doubt a word that comes out of that mouth? Apparently, Boris does, but is somehow mollified by the contents of the briefcase he’s given. The drop goes down and out.

Several minutes later, the door to the van is flung open. A voice I recognize harkens to me, perhaps louder than necessary in the intimate confines of the van. “Where is she?!”

Everyone in the van turns and looks in my direction. They look as though they feel sorry for me. They have no idea how lucky I really am. I stand, in as much as that’s possible, and walk to the door. “You’re okay!” I say as I step down and take her into a hug. She’s a petite thing, barely comes up to my shoulder. She gets miffed and pushes me away.

“What’s wrong with you? You nearly got me killed, you ape! What kind of dumbass goes around smacking people in the head she doesn’t even know? Do you have a history of brutality on the job Officer Little? You showed absolute disregard for any procedure I’ve ever come across in any manual of law enforcement. Mac, run her badge.” She puts out a hand indicating that I should give it to her. I do, with a smile.

I’ve been known to act before asking questions on the job, but I’ve never acted out physically like I did this morning. Something in me had called strongly for the direct approach. “Did he hurt you?” I ask.

“Are you sane Officer Little? I’m curious to know this because since our acquaintance you haven’t exhibited the kind of behavior that gives me confidence in your ability to carry a loaded weapon.”

Mac returns. “Seems like Little here...” He eyes me the way a lot of people do when they hear my nickname. It’s not exactly an accurate description. I’m just over six feet. “Is a supercop. Highly decorated.”

Sandy starts shaking her short, mussed tresses and she grumbles. “Small town incompetence.”

“Actually boss. Little’s from the city.”

Sandy squints at me. “What precinct?”


She gives up, recognizing that she’s obviously mistaken my abilities. It also looks like the adrenaline surge she’s been riding is leveling out. I can see her pulse has slowed and her eyes look more normal. I smile a dazzling smile at her, “Sorry I got in the way.”

“Oh forget it. We managed.” She huffs and turns to go.

I smile again. “Least I can do is buy you all breakfast. There’s a great place a few blocks from here.”

She turns back and gives me that exasperated look again. “Do you work? Some people are on a job here.” She gestures at the rest of her team. When she spares a glance at them she sees as clearly as I do that the idea of actual food, not crap out of containers, isn’t something they think should be passed up.

“Come on Sandy, let’s do it.” Mac says. “Besides, the way you eat, you could even the score by making her broke.”

I decide, without hesitation, that Mac and I are true friends.

“Oh alright. But you people are not putting this on your time cards, that much I can tell you.”

Breakfast at Murphy’s is always good, but this morning it’s divine. I’m sure the company is helping to improve the food. Sandy hasn’t said another word to me, she’s busy talking to the redheaded guy who looks about twelve but obviously has a handle on all of the toys in the van. Their team is out here in the burbs helping the local law enforcement with a drug cartel who’s decided that white flight isn’t just for the middle class.

Mac seems interested in me and has asked a lot of questions. Guys generally do, until I make it clear that I’m batting for the other team. I don’t think anyone at this table could mistake who I’m batting for now. I can’t stop looking at her. Not that I’ve ever been accused of being a cool customer with the ladies. I have a string of girlfriends longer than my arm who’ll claim just that.

As a matter of fact, I lose a lot of them because they sign on expecting the cool attitude and are disappointed when I don’t dress up in leather and boss them around. One girlfriend said she couldn’t understand how it was that a woman who had to carry a gun and wear those boots for a living had all of the sophisticated cool of a boiled egg. And the ones that sign on for the big loveable lug find that I’m lacking in that department as well. They also find it difficult to deal with the stress of having a girlfriend who might not come home at night. They’re not worried about infidelity, but a hole in my head.

All of my musing gets me no closer to Sandy Kline. She and her crew of high tech spies are from the city too. My heart soars at that news. When I’m back in town after visiting with my cousin Fred and hanging out with my brother, I may have to look into this outfit. In the meantime, we’ve finished our fine repast and I have to return to my now empty and lacking life. Oh, and I have to get my laundry.

We all stand to go. Everyone says goodbye and it was real and stuff like that. They’re a pretty fun group. Sandy looks irritated that they seem to like me. She walks over and looks up at me. “I hope you’re through playing knight in shining armor Susan.”

“Call me Little, everybody does.”

“It doesn’t really matter what I call you, because we’re leaving. I doubt we’ll have an opportunity to make use of nicknames. Stay out of trouble and try not to barge in on anyone’s ops in the meantime. Okay?”

I smile, but my heart has broken. Who knew all of this could happen to a person so fast? “Sure.”

Sandy turns and walks out the door. Mac lags behind and approaches me. What if he’s fallen in love with me the way I’ve fallen in love with Sandy? Fate can be so cruel.

“Hey! Little!” He’s waving his hand in front of my eyes. It’s making it hard to see Sandy as she walks out of sight. When she’s passed the window, I turn to look at him. He hands me a business card. “I don’t have much time, but this is Sandy’s card. Why don’t you call her?”

I must look confused, because he hastens to explain. “She likes you. I can tell. She also hasn’t been on a date in years and you can probably guess why. She’s not always so abrasive. She’s had a tough time of it. But she’s a special lady, and I think you might have a chance.”

He smiles and dashes off. My heart soars yet again.

It takes me two days to get up the guts to call my beloved at work. She pretends not to remember me, then she says she wishes she didn’t, but I can tell that she doesn’t mean it that way. She also tells me that she’s booked solid until the end of the year and I should look elsewhere. I feel that she might be exaggerating, it’s seven months to the new year, but I get the point. I apologize for taking up her time and hang up the phone, once again a broken woman.


I am so tired of fast food, take out food and any other food I find myself eating while standing or walking. I’m too tired and or busy to do anything about it so here I am again walking out of Jimmie’s Sub and Sandwich Shop stuffing my face. I’m also trying to tell June what we need for this afternoon’s meeting. She’s trying to follow me, take notes and not spill the latte thing she got next door.

We get to the corner and I stop, only because the traffic is going, and turn to look at June as I tell her not to forget something. I don’t know what, because that’s when I see her. My stomach drops briefly at the sight of her in her patrol car staring at the light waiting for it to change. I hop backward, putting June between us.

“Don’t move.” I tell her.

“What, Sandy? Why?” June looks at me with interest and scans the area. But she’s moving while she does it.

“Stop moving!” I move to stay behind her until she finally gets a clue and stops.

“Who is it?” She asks.

“No one.” I tell her and hope, hope the ever observant public servant Little has not seen me.

The light changes, the traffic moves forward, no one has jumped from a car and belted anyone, so I must be safe. For reasons I do not wish to contemplate, I’m slightly disappointed. Someone ought to tell Little that if she wants to be in the white knight business, she ought to be more on the ball. Right now for instance, I’d give anything not to have to be eating this sandwich. She could do her hero thing and swoop down with a poached trout and a nice bottle of wine. I’d settle for a simple salad. Why do our offices have to be in the middle of her precinct?

We’re a block from work. I dread going back in. I know I won’t see the light of day again. That’s why I’m out here now. June and I cut across the street while the traffic is light and make our way past our favorite stationery shop. There's always a great window display. I can’t calculate the amount of money I’ve blown in this place. June is gesturing at the window when we hear it. Someone is making a “tsk, tsk” noise behind us. I turn to see her standing there with a pad of tickets. She smiles a perfunctory smile and says, “Ladies.” as she writes something on the pad.

June looks at me. I look at Officer Little. All of her, from her polished boots to her immaculate cap. I’m distressed to see that she’s wearing mirrored aviator glasses. I hate those things. Though I admit, they probably come in handy in her line of work. Now for instance, I can barely get a read off of her. By way of greeting I say, “Officer.”

“You do know, don’t you, that it’s illegal to jay walk in the downtown area?”

June looks as though she’s going to laugh. I jab her in the side. I don’t want to give Little ammunition. She could be a jilted psycho for all I know. “Yes, we did. We’re very sorry and we won’t do it again.”

June looks at me in shock. It wasn’t the reply she was expecting.

Little continues to write in her pad, though at this point she’s got to have the damn thing written out. Not a whole lot to a walking violation. Poor thing has a great body, but I fear she’s not all there in the brain department.

“Well okay then.” She says, but keeps writing in the pad.

“Aren’t you going to give us a ticket?” I ask. My finite patience showing it’s edges.

She looks up from her pad. “If you want, sure. But for now I’m trying to figure out a seven letter word for ‘also anthropomorphic’. Any ideas?”

“Hominid.” June answers in a heartbeat. She can do those things in her sleep. Acrostics too.

I reach over and pull the pad down where I can see it and there’s a neatly folded crossword puzzle tucked in there. “So that’s what my hard earned tax dollars are paying for?”

She shrugs, “No more than mine are going to pay for that.” I may not be able to see her eyes, but I have no problem seeing her sneer as she points at the remains of my sandwich with her pen.

“You’re on lunch?” I ask.

She nods, then, looking as if she’s just remembered something, she takes off her glasses and smiles. She has a lovely smile. I’m guessing she knows that.

“Hi Sandy.” She says, once again reminding me of the guiless puppy who jumped from a van and squeezed the air out of my lungs three weeks ago.

“Hi Little.” I say and introduce her to June. June’s all fascination at this point. I can hear the wheels in her head turning from where I stand.

“I thought I’d come over and tell you, you didn’t have to hide on the rare occasion you see me here in your neighborhood. This is my beat.”

I’m thoroughly embarrassed and not sure what to say. I smile what I hope is an apologetic, smile and say, “Okay.”

She smiles again and says it was nice to meet June, goodbye and she’d see us around. June turns to me as she goes and raises her eyebrows in question. I’m feeling like a complete ass. Against my better judgement I tell June to go on to the office and I go after Little.

It takes me a minute to catch up. The woman has long legs. “Susan, I’m sorry.”

She looks surprised when she turns around.

“Look,” I begin to explain. “I’m, well, I’m sorry that I was rude. It’s not that I didn’t want... I didn’t mean... Oh, hell, I was being a jerk.”

She smiles again. “Don’t sweat it. But thanks.”

I can tell from her voice that I’d hurt her feelings, and I hope that she finds the apology sincere. “Can I buy you a coffee or something to make it up to you?”

The wattage in her smile increases exponentially. “No, I’m back on shift in a minute. But I appreciate the offer.”

I don’t know what’s come over me, but I press on. “How about after shift?”

She blinks at me thoroughly unprepared for this turn of events. “I get off at 9:00, that’s kind of late. I don’t want to put you out.”

“I probably won’t be done here until 8:30 or 9:00. Sometimes I catch a late dinner at The Bughatti over on 65th. We could meet there.”



It hadn’t occurred to me that after hours attire for cops wasn’t the same as for the agents, lawyers and the other professionals that infest The Bughatti on a weekday night. Little has shown up looking under dressed for the occasion. Even if the occasion is only coffee or a late meal.

I, for one, am not complaining. The woman fills out jeans and a t-shirt to great effect. She looks a hell of lot better than I do in my tired suit.

She spots me at my table and makes her way through the noisy and crowded room. A lot of heads turn as she walks past. I don’t think her lack of professional attire is worrying anyone much.

I’m assailed by a feeling of stupidity as I realize that I more or less forced her to meet me here. She’s probably busy dating half of the metro region by now and thinks I’m trying to get another chance with her. For the record, I tell myself, I’m not. I’m trying to make amends for being such an ass.


My palms are sweating. I can see her sitting there at the table and I can barely believe that I’m going to get to sit with her. I keep trying to tell myself that she’s just feeling sorry for me and is meeting me to assuage her guilt. I know that’s the case, but when you’re in love like this it’s hard to keep yourself in check.

I’m smiling at her like an idiot before I even reach the table. So much for trying to play it cool. I know there’s no way I’ll pull that off anyway, so I may as well give it up.

She says “Hi” and I sit. I order some food though I’m not hungry. She apologizes for having started her dinner then explains she hasn’t had anything since that sandwich this afternoon that she didn’t get to finish anyway. I tell her it’s not a problem, then I spot something moving toward us that is.

“Well, well, if it isn’t two of my favorite people.” Brett smiles at me, but leans on the table and looks at Sandy. That look speaks volumes. I remember the first time Brett looked at me like that. Back when I thought she was a nice person. Though why I would have thought that a prosecutor for the most corrupt DA on the planet was a nice person I can’t remember. I think my brain may have been preoccupied by the assets Brett is busy displaying in Sandy’s direction. I admit, that if Sandy’s interested in Brett, I haven’t got a snowball’s chance in hell. Brett’s all the smooth, cool, sophistication I’ll never be. She’s also not very nice.

“You two know each other?” Sandy inquires.

“Susan and I have made an acquaintance, yes. She testified in a case a while back.” Brett smiles.

I nod. That’s part of the story.

“Of course.” Sandy smiles a polite smile. “I’m sorry we didn’t get back to you Brett, but I can’t seem to find that file anywhere. Call June tomorrow, I’m sure we’ve got it.”

“Thanks, are we on for Friday?”

I’m beginning to itch at Brett’s intimate tone. And she’s doing her damnedest to cut me out of the conversation. I hate pissing contests, so I don’t bother getting into them. I sit back and let them finish.

“Sure, I’ll double check with June tomorrow.”

Brett slithers off the table, makes her goodbyes to Sandy and gives me a half-hearted smile. I guess she finds it hard to work up real enthusiasm for someone she can’t impress with her Mercedes or buy off with thick envelopes.

Sandy squirms in her seat a little, pushes her dish away, then looks over at me. “Is she someone you know well?”

I shrug. That’s not an easy question to answer. Does having sex with someone qualify as knowing them well? Does refusing a bribe from someone give you insight into their character? “We’ve had dealings.”

Sandy nods and purses her lips. I’m not sure what she’s made of the tone of my voice. I can’t see my angelic Sandy being taken in by the likes of Brett. I can see she’s not the sort. I add, by way of clarification. “We’re not the best of friends, so I’m not sure why she referred to me as one of her favorite people.”

“Ah.” Is all Sandy says. But I can see that we’ve communicated something else. Moved a fraction of an inch closer in the way two people can when a third neither likes shows up. I’m relieved that Sandy doesn’t like Brett. Brett’s assets may look appealing, but they’re not all real and she hasn’t got a clue what to do with them. Sandy deserves better. Besides all of that, Brett’s as crooked as sin.

“Tell me Little, why are you a cop?”

After talking law enforcement for a while, we decide to call it a night. It’s gotten late faster than I had imagined it could. I don’t want to bother her and make her uncomfortable by hanging around, so I say good night and that I’ll see her at the traffic lights and if I catch her jaywalking again there’ll be no second warning, but a ticket.

That’s when she asks me if I’m ever serious. I smile and say that there are occasions that I am and I could pencil her in for one if she wanted.

She looks like she’s thinking it over. “If I were to tell you that my schedule may have opened for a night, would you be interested in taking me up on it?”

I’m trying not to hug her. I know that if I concentrate really hard I can keep myself from reaching out and doing it. She doesn’t look like she’s asking for a hug. She’s asking if I want to go on a date. Now I’m trying not to faint.

“Little? Are you okay?”

“Oh, sure, must have stood up too quickly.” I try to cover, but it’s lame, so very lame. “I’d be thrilled.” I tell her. And it’s the truth.


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