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Jack Collier: Private Eye (Chapter Eleven)

Jack Collier: Private Eye

A Jack Collier Story

By Brett N. Lashuay

 

 

Chapter Ten can be found here.

 

Chapter Eleven: The Big Talk

 

            I will not bore you with the details, and a book can’t have an eighties style training montage. The point is that I spent the next six month rebuilding what had been broken. The machine, the treadmill, I even got myself some free weights to work with. That was where I started the Trappist Monk act. I worked out, I watched movies, I didn’t see anyone besides Debbie and Karen and I rebuilt myself in everyway possible.  The exception was that Alice came over a few times and spent a week with me during her holiday break. That was a nice week, but it was quiet and not up to what I would like to call my standard.

 

            It was on New Year’s Day that I weighed myself and found that while I wasn’t at the weight I was at when I’d been shot, I was in better shape than I’d been in when it happened. I sort of came to the conclusion that it was time for Debbie and I to have that conversation. I planned it out in my head and waited for her to come over.

 

            Debbie came over, carrying a pair of bags from a sandwich shop, which was to be our dinner. When she set them down, I didn’t come to the kitchen to inspect my food, which put her off immediately. We’d sort of worked up a pattern where her arrival with food was the most interesting thing that happened to me that day, so I would come and see the new stuff like a cat smelling the promise of table scraps. That day I didn’t, I stayed on the couch after sticking a playing card in my book and setting it down.

 

            “You okay?” she asked, coming out of the kitchen and walking towards me. “Your dinner is here.”

 

            “Yeah,” I nodded, and patted the cushion next to me. “Sit down Debs.”

 

            “What’s up?” she asked as she slid down on to the couch. Near me, but not next to me.

 

            “It’s time we have that talk,” I said. “I think we’re as even as we’re ever going to be now and if we don’t have this talk soon the moment is going to be gone.”

 

            “Okay,” she said and looked at me solemnly.

 

            I looked at her for a long time and she just looked back at me. We did that for a while, just looking at each other, trying to think of how to start. What do we say? How do you begin to express that you’d like everything to change now, please. Actually it was worse than that by a damn sight. Can everything go back to the way it was fifteen years ago? Only slightly different because we both know some new tricks now and besides we’re adults and get do all sorts of things we couldn’t manage last time.

 

            “So,” she said, and then paused for about two hours before asking, “What do we say?”

 

            “We’ve got to decide some things,” I said, because if you can’t think of anything you can always state the obvious. If you do it right, people will just think it’s your preamble. “Which is going to have to start with us admitting some things.”

 

            “Okay,” she nodded, and besides that word I’d get more output from a wooden puppet.

 

            “I never stopped loving you,” I said.

 

            “Okay,” she nodded again, but something was different in her face.

 

            “Every day in the office was spent with me regretting that argument after your birthday,” I added.

 

            “Okay,” She said and the first tear showed up.

 

            “I’ve felt sort of like a chump all this time.”

 

            “Okay.”

 

            “And I’ve wanted to tell you how much I loved you and...”

 

            “Okay,” she barely managed.

 

            “Are you going to say anything besides okay?” I asked.

 

            “If I try, I’ll lose it,” she said, and I noticed for the first time how tightly she was holding the side of the couch.

 

            Jack Collier, top flight detective, can’t see when a woman is on the verge of a collapse. Not just can’t see it, but can’t see it in a woman he’s known for half his life and has loved since the day he met her. I couldn’t tell what Debbie’s state had been before that moment, despite all those years I’ve spent observing her every little move. Good thing we employ people now, or I would fear for my financial security.

 

            “Why don’t you just let go?” I asked, shifting closer to her.

 

            “I’m supposed to be the strong one,” she said, and both eyes were streaming now. “I can’t break down.”

 

            “You can for today,” I said, taking hold of her. “I’ll be strong for both of us right now.”

 

            She did lose it then, for a good half hour she just cried. I’m a tough guy, so I just sat there and didn’t get choked up at all. Stupid air conditioner was still following me around, but that’s not the same thing at all. When she was done crying, and when she’d blown her nose and had a drink of water we were able to talk a little better. It was her that started the conversation up again after all that.

 

            “What are we going to do Jack?” she asked, grabbing hold of my sleeve as she leaned her weight into me, her body resting against my chest while her legs stretched out to the edge of the couch. “Or are you just going to say that you don’t know either?”

 

            Now that stung. I’m not that repetitive, am I? Am I repetitive? Please say I’m not repetitive. I desperately tried to think of things to say to her. It was important not to fall down on the job now, gotta keep it going. Come up with something you idiot!

 

            “No,” I said, and decided to just wing it. “The way I see it, we’ve got two choices.”

 

            “Okay,” she said, starting that shit again.

 

            “One, we go back to the office, we act like the last two years never happened. There was a bump in the track, none of it occurred. We ignore everything from the day before I got shot. We just leave that out in the cold.”

 

            “No,” she said and her voice made a squeaking whine. Oh, how that sound was like a dagger in my heart. Not that she didn’t want to go back, but that my speaking that idea had roughly the same effect that punching her out of the blue might have had.

 

            “That would leave the second choice,” I said. “We admit it. We admit that we were stupid and we decide what to do after that.”

 

            “Can’t I just…” she stopped and she sobbed again for a few seconds before starting again. “I can call Karen and ask her to come over. While we wait the two hours for her to come over, we go into the bedroom after we have this talk, and I fuck you until walking becomes a dodgy prospect. When Karen gets here, the two of us proceed to fuck her into the next time zone. After that, we admit that we love each other and want to be together.”

 

            “How together is together?” I asked. “Do you move in?”

 

            “I like my place,” she said curling tighter into me. “It’s a one-person place.”

 

            “We don’t have to move in together,” I said.

 

            “I love you Jack.” She said. “I love you like Lancelot loved Arthur.”

 

            “You mean you’ve been fucking the girl I love behind my back?” I asked.

 

            It was just the right thing to say, because she almost said no before realizing that’s actually exactly what she had been doing. She broke then and started to laugh and rolled over to kiss me. I could feel heat coming off her, like a woman shaped hot water bottle.

 

            “You know where the words assurance and affianced come from?” she asked.

 

            “Where?” I asked, because she wanted to tell me.

 

            “They’re both based on the same Latin word affidar.” She said. “It means to entrust to someone or to trust oneself to them when you’re talking about yourself. That’s how I love you. That’s my love that’s more than love. My love for you is an affidar situation. I trust you, I am in your trust. I love you more deeply than I love Karen, don’t tell her I said that, but it’s true. I love her, but it’s stronger for you. It’s so strong that talking about it feels like I’m sullying it. Kissing you is lowering the power.”

 

            “You mean it’s like courtly love?” I asked.

 

            “Is that the one where you just read poetry and exchange flowers?”

 

            “Well, that’s supposed to be all you exchange,” I said.

 

            “That’s it then,” she said.

 

            “But the courtly lovers would be doing it under the surface,” I told her. “They also admit they’re in love instead of looking at the door after the object of their affection has already left the room.”

 

            “I know,” she said. “But we said—I thought your feelings had changed.”

 

            “My feelings for you would never change” I said. “It’s just a question of who do we share this with? Do we have a hold over each other?”

 

            “No,” she shook her head. “We’re both free, but we owe each other things. You know?”

 

            “Okay,” I said. “So we can both date pretty girls and you can date pretty boys too.”

 

            “Right,” she nodded. “But I’ll still love you more.”

 

            “Okay,” I said and decided to try to roll something she’d said earlier over and test it out. “Now when I call Karen, you’re not going to leave are you?”

 

            “No Jack,” she said, and then got a gleam in her eye when she added, “I won’t chicken out.”

 

            “So you’ll stay?”

 

            “Yes,” she nodded. “I’ll stay.”

 

            “Okay,” I said, picking up the phone.

 

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