Unscrewed(2)

By: Lois Greiman


A few weeks and a police investigation later proved that I had not been involved in the Viagra overdose that contributed to his cardiac arrest. But by then I had already banged heads with a dark police officer named Lieutenant Jack Rivera.

Rivera was LAPD down to his short hairs. He had the instincts of a pit bull and a sense of humor to match. He’d accused me of murder on more than one occasion…and he was going to pick me up for dinner at eight o’clock.

I felt my stomach bunch up like cookie dough gone bad. True, I thought, I’d dated some losers, but usually my beaus didn’t threaten me with ten to life.

I looked at myself in the mirror again and began madly running facts through my head. Fact 1: Life was zipping past me like a streaker on speed. Fact 2: Rivera was hot. Fact 3: I hadn’t had a date in…well…a while. Fact 4: Rivera was really hot. Fact 5: Life is short.

Maybe too short to be a chickenshit. Maybe too short to bow to fear. Maybe too short to spend every night like an aging nun with gonorrhea.

Perhaps I should slip out of the mini and meet the grim lieutenant at the door in nothing but a smile. And a cold sweat. I could feel the perspiration crank up already, creeping out from my underarms like frosty dew.

Better stick with the clothes idea. Even if I hadn’t had sex for eighteen months, one week, and four days, I would probably remember the wheres and hows if the opportunity presented itself. Maybe it was just like riding a bicycle. Then again, Rivera wasn’t like the little three-speed I’d pedaled down the back streets of Schaumburg, Illinois, as a kid. He was more like a Harley. Bad-mannered and snarly but with a tailpipe that made you want to drop-kick your inhibitions and hang on for the ride of your life.

Not that he was my type. My type used words like “sesquipedalian” and had an intelligence quotient somewhere in the range of the national debt. But my type hadn’t come knocking much lately. Instead, my type had picked the lock, walked right in, and threatened my life with a butcher knife, after which point I had struck my type in the cranium with a telephone and screamed bloody murder. But that’s another story entirely.

The point is, maybe it was time to take a chance on another type.

Besides, in a manner of speaking, I’d been dating Rivera for weeks already. Okay, maybe “dating” wasn’t quite the right term. We’d been…sparring. And sparring with Rivera can be pretty much deadly.

But at least he was currently convinced of my innocence. Probably. Then again…maybe secure, intelligent women don’t fantasize about boinking a guy who thinks they’re capable of murdering their most illustrious client. On the other hand, Rivera had an ass like a plum ripe for the picking and—

Damn it! No. I wasn’t some martini-toting cocktail waitress anymore. I was a high-class psychologist, and it didn’t matter what kind of fruit the lieutenant’s derriere resembled. What mattered was his intellect, his education, his sensitivity.

Good God, I had to cancel my date!

The thought hit me like a cartoon anvil. I spun around on my heel and gallumped toward the telephone on my nightstand.

Harlequin huffed and lifted his bicolored head from my coverlet, where he’d probably been drooling. Harlequin’s a dog. The vet said he might be half Great Dane. The other half’s up for grabs. Smart money’s on something in the bovine family. He tracked me droopy-eyed from where he sprawled beside my new (well, new secondhand) ankle-strap Guccis. They had three-inch stiletto heels and sexy silver bows at the ankle.

I lifted the receiver, stared at my newly purchased footwear, and thought hard.

The truth crept insidiously into my consciousness and went something like this: One doesn’t buy shoes with three-inch stiletto heels and silver bows at the ankle to wear while discussing the theory of relativity with balding microbiologists who wear bow ties and tube socks. One buys them for guys with fruity body parts. I chewed on my lower lip. Sometimes it helps me think. This time it only made me hungry. For beefcake in plum sauce.

I settled the receiver carefully back in its cradle. Eighteen months, one week, and four days stretched behind me like a mirage-inducing drought. Eighteen months, one week, and four days is a long time for anything that doesn’t produce acorns.

Harlequin whapped his tail against my bedspread like a Major Leaguer testing his bat and tilted his boxy head at me.

“Very well, then,” I told him, using what has been referred to rather unkindly as my nose voice. I don’t like dogs. They stink and they take up too much room on the bed. Of course, the same can be said of men, and I’ve been known to forgive them on occasion. “Don’t give me that look. I’ll go out with him.” The tail whapped again, picking up tempo. “But I’m not going to sleep with him.” He huffed a sigh. “And a guy like Rivera’s not gonna wait around long. So don’t get your hopes up.” Rivera had brought Harlequin to my door a few months earlier. He’d been just a pup, but had still been the size and color of Aunt Mavis’s prize Holsteins. He’s gained a good twenty pounds and three inches since then. “But I don’t care.” I was shaking my finger at him. The textbooks don’t list this behavior as one of the signs of insanity. But they’ve missed other benchmarks, too, such as dating men who name their body parts things like “Dreammaker.” “He’s not my type anyway. I’m a licensed psychologist. He’s a…” There was a good half inch of pink inner lid visible below each of the dog’s eyes. He made Eeyore look as giddy as Goofy. If I liked dogs, I would have spent half my day trying to put a smile on his lopsided face. “Well, never mind what he is. I know how you feel about him, so I won’t cancel, but I’m going to dress casual…classy, but casual.”

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