Good Cop, Bad Cop

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I was half-way through a day shift on a Wednesday morning, as I sat at a computer in the muster room, typing out a report on a minor arrest I had made the day before. I heard footsteps on the carpet behind me, and I looked up to see the shift supervisor, Sergeant Morrow, standing there with a clipboard in his hand.

Morrow was one of those big, rugged, old-style cops that you just don’t see any more, and he said, “I’ve got a little job for you, Mark.”

“What’s that?” I said, sitting back from the keyboard, to show him he had my full attention.

“Your shifts have been changed this week,” he started, looking up from his clipboard, “Sorry about the short notice, but I think you’ll like this.” He smiled, like he had something interesting to show me.

He sat in a chair next to me, and said, “I know you were supposed to have the weekend off this week, but the Ocean City Expo is on this Saturday, and the Commander wants me to send a uniformed officer over there to fly the flag, and just represent the local police command.”

“I see,” I answered. I had no plans for my days off, so having my shifts changed wasn’t a problem, as far as I was concerned.

“The boss told me he wants me to give the job to a keen, conscientious young officer, who presents himself well to the public,” and as a little surge of pride went through me, the sergeant added, “but, I thought I’d send you, anyway.”

“Gee, thanks, Sarge,” I said with a smile, “I feel as though I’m being groomed for something big.”

“You’re okay,” he answered, smiling back, “I’ve got a station full of some of the laziest bunch of coppers I’ve ever seen, here. At least you like to get out and do some police work now and again, so if an easy job like this comes up, I don’t mind looking after you.”

He got up out of his chair, and added, “I guarantee you’ll have an easy day. They’re providing their own security, so all you’ve gotta do is walk around checking things out.” He grinned, and continued, “You might have some lost kids and found property to look after, but that’ll be about it. Fran’ll be down shortly with some instructions from the boss, so I’ll leave you to it.”

The sergeant walked to the door, and turned, with his big, rugged smile, and said, “By the way, Mark. You owe me a beer for this,” as he turned to walk back to his office.

Fran was the Commander’s personal assistant, aged about twenty-five, with a covergirl face, and a body that would have a Trappist monk ringing home to tell his mother all about her. One of my workmates had told me he met up with her at a club one night when he was off duty, and he’d had a one-night stand with her. He told me if Fran had fucked him any harder, he’d have been in traction, and I could never look at her the same way at work after that.

About twenty minutes later, Fran walked into the office, wearing a short skirt, and a blouse that was showing some of her delightful cleavage. Her tits, and her apparent willingness to show let her work colleagues ogle them, were a talking point among most of the male cops at the station, and objects of scorn and jealousy from a few of the female cops, as well. She sat next to me in the same chair that Sergeant Morrow had used, and I couldn’t help looking at her killer legs, as she swung around to face me. She waited patiently, until I had stopped getting an eyeful, and said, “So, you drew the short straw, did you, Mark?”

“Looks like it,” I answered back.

Fran handed me a manila folder, with a typewritten memo from the Commander in it, setting out my duties for the day, and a promotional leaflet from the expo organisers. “You should read that, too,” she said, indicating the leaflet, “It tells you all about the expo, and who’s gonna be there. South West Pacific TV is running the entertainment, like they always do, so you might get to rub shoulders with a few TV stars if you’re lucky.”

“You never know your luck,” I said, opening the leaflet, and skimming over the bold type. Fran made some small talk, and then left, allowing me to watch her swinging, sexy walk from behind, as she headed back to the boss’s office. I could chew on that all night, and not leave teethmarks in the same place twice, I thought to myself.

In the leaflet, I found a list of TV personalities from South West Pacific TV, who would be performing at the expo, including, among others, Maurie Acton, the “veteran comedian, and star of his own variety show,” Barry Kimball, who had hosted some of their current affairs programs since the 1980’s, and then there was Trish Collett, “one of the stars of SWPTV’s long running drama series, ‘Andersen’s Beat.”

Trish Collett’s name got my attention straight away. Her show, “Andersen’s Beat,” was a top-rating series about a veteran police commander, and his team of dedicated law enforcement professionals, that had been running on the network for over ten years, but she had only been in it for three seasons. She played a female cop called Amy Templeton in the show, and she had started off in a minor role, but over time she had fixbet become so popular with viewers, they had made her a main character, and now there were whole episodes about her adventures. I read a review of the show one day, that described her as, “Lois Lane in a blue uniform,” and only last week, I’d read about her in a TV magazine I found in the station meal room, where it said that in just three years, she had become one of Australian TV’s hottest young stars.

“Andersen’s Beat” was not one of my favourite TV shows, and I only watched about every third episode or so, but Trish Collett was a pretty good reason to watch it. She was slim but curvy, with wavy, dark hair, big brown eyes, olive skin, and a perky, pretty face, that had a kind of “sexy-girl-next-door” thing going. She sometimes reminded me of a young Annette Funicello, in those sixties beach movies, and I had recently read that she had just turned twenty-five. Her character in the TV series often did things no real cop would do, but that of course got her into dramatic situations all the time, where she had to use her wits and wiles to save herself, and she always got the bad guy. I wonder what she looks like in real life, I thought to myself. I flicked through the leaflet and read the boss’s instructions, and I thought, Sounds like an easy day.

I had joined the state police force when I was twenty, and had been a cop for nearly eight years. I loved my job, and three years earlier, they had transferred me from Sydney to a medium sized coastal city, but my girlfriend, Isabel, had stayed in Sydney because of her job. After two years, she had broken it off, saying she just couldn’t handle a long-distance relationship any more, but next thing I knew, I heard on the grapevine she was getting around town with some young lawyer, and my source suggested she had been seeing him before she broke it off with me. My workmates were all telling me that now I was unattached again, I should get out there and fuck everything that moved, but I had seen myself having a life with Isabel, and I just didn’t feel like getting back in the arena just yet. Consequently, my love life had been zero for quite a while now. A few months earlier, I would have been unimpressed to have my weekend off cancelled, but with no woman in my life, one day was like any other, and the boss had told me I’d now have Sunday and Monday off, so it was all good as far as I was concerned.

Saturday came around, and I went to work as normal, and they gave me a marked car to drive to the huge Crestwood Hotel complex, down by the northern waterfront, to spend my day “walking around checking things out,” as Sergeant Morrow had said. There was already a fair crowd in the reception centre, when I got there, and on the stage I saw an old guy in a suit, announcing some of the “celebrities” who were going to perform, and take turns as M.C. during the day.

I heard him say Trish Collett’s name, and I looked over at the stage, to see her step forward to the mike. She looked much the same as she did on TV, but I was surprised to see she was a little more petite than she looked onscreen. She looked like she was only about five feet five inches tall, and was wearing a red, sleeveless dress that went to just below her knees, hugging her shape on the way down, and flaring a little at the bottom. Her hair was up, and she had a black necklace with a cameo on it, setting off her olive skin against the red of her dress. She looked stylish, elegant, hot, and sexy, in an understated way, but there was still that girl-next-door thing going on as well, and she started to work the crowd, as I stood at the back of the hall and watched her, thinking of the easy day I would have ahead of me.

After a while, I left the hall and had a walk around for an hour or so, looking at some of the exhibits, speaking to a few of the guys from the organising committee, some security guys, and one or two TV people, who were strutting around, trying to look important, and I decided to have a coffee break.

I walked back to a coffee lounge, attached to the reception centre, and sat with my coffee, idly watching the crowd, and I heard a female voice saying, “Excuse me.” I looked up to see Trish Collett herself, standing at the table, with a large cappuccino in her hand. “Do you mind if join you?” she said, with a pretty, girlish smile.

I looked around and saw there were plenty of empty tables, and I said, “Have a seat,” speaking casually, like it was no big deal, and she sat opposite me, still smiling.

“Hello,” Trish said, pausing to look at my name badge, and reading my name out loud, “Senior Constable Mark Stockton.” She looked up from my name badge, and added, “I’m Trish.”

“Hi,” I answered, meeting her smile with my own, “I had a feeling you were going to say your name was Trish.”

“I see,” Trish said, still smiling gaily, “Was that one of those cop things, where you get a gut feeling and go with it”

“Pretty much,” I answered, “I just had a hunch. Like that guy in Dragnet used to get.”

“So, fixbet giriş Mark Stockton,” Trish said, sitting back in her chair, sipping her cappuccino, as she kept eye contact, “What brings you here today?”

“Just soaking up the atmosphere,” I replied, “you know, the ambience.” Then, I added, “What about you?”

“Same thing,” Trish said, keeping that girlish, genuine smile, “What a coincidence? I saw the light on, thought I’d drop in.”

We sat there, making small talk for a few minutes, and I asked Trish a few things about herself, probably stuff she gets asked all the time by her fans, but then she surprised me by asking me a few things about myself. As a cop, I had worked on security details a few times with celebrities, sports stars, the occasional politician, and I had found that public figures of any description tend to look upon the cops and security people who guard them as just part of the furniture, and they rarely talk to them, apart from the most trivial of small talk, but here was Trish Collett, someone I saw on TV all the time, asking me how long I had been a cop, if I liked my job, where I grew up, and stuff like that.

I told her I grew up in Armidale, and she said, “Oh, so you’re from New England too? I grew up in Tamworth. That makes us almost neighbours.”

“Yeah, guess it does,” I said, and we continued on, as she asked me what high school I went to, and asked why I joined the police force, and I asked her how she got into acting, and she told me about her time at the National Institute of Dramatic Art. I was surprised she was even interested in my story, but I was enjoying talking to this pretty young woman, as we sat there and sipped our coffee, so I was kind of deflated when a weedy little guy with a radio earpiece and a clipboard came over, and said, “Excuse me, Miss Collett, you’re back on in five.”

“Be right there,” she said to the earpiece guy, and he turned and walked back to a gaggle of weedy earpiece people on the other side of the centre, and they started to compare clipboards with each other.

Trish picked up her coffee cup, and leaned towards me, and said, “Mark, do you, umm,” pausing, swallowing, and looking at me, “Do you get a lunch break?”

I was surprised at the question, and I said, “Yeah, it’s quite civilised in my job. They let you eat and do all kinds of stuff.”

Trish smiled again, that pretty, 100-watt smile of hers, letting me know my flippant remark wasn’t totally wasted, and gave her head one shake, and she simply said, “What time?”

“Any time,” I answered, more seriously, “I’m kind of my own boss today,” and she came back with, “I’ve gotta go now. Gotta pay the rent, but how about I meet you in the bistro over there, at one? We can have lunch together.” Then, she added, kind of hesitantly, “If you want to.”

“One o’clock,” I said, confirming the time, and I added, “See ya there,” and she got up and walked back towards the stairway to the stage.

I sat back in my chair, put my coffee on the table, and thought, Did Trish Collett just make a lunch date with me?

For the next couple of hours I walked around the complex, talking to people, doing what I was getting paid to do, looking at exhibits, taking lost kids back to their parents, and occasionally going back to join the audience watching the acts on stage, and listening to the announcements. I saw Trish a few times, announcing some of the performers, looking so poised and confident, in front of a crowd, holding her mike, in her stylish red dress, and I thought of the pretty, smiling country girl in that same stylish red dress, who had sat with me over coffee, asking me to have lunch with her, hesitating like she thought I might not be interested. The same person, but somehow different. I realised I was looking forward to lunch a little more than usual.

One o’clock came around, and I headed over to the Broad Waters Bistro, where I looked around but I couldn’t see Trish. My heart sank a little, thinking maybe she lost interest, or got a better offer, but I heard voices behind me, and I looked around to see her signing autographs for two teenage girls. She looked up and smiled at me, as she handed the paper back to the young girls, and shook their hands. One of them hugged her, and they both walked away, talking excitedly, and she came over to me. “Must be fun being famous,” I said.

“It’s a bit overwhelming some times,” Trish said, as we went over to order our meals.

I didn’t answer, not really having anything to offer to that, and Trish said, “I get all this, umm,” and she paused, looking a little embarrassed, “I know it sounds big-headed, but I get, you know, fan mail, and young girls tell me I’m this big role model, and they ask me how to join the police force, and stuff like that.” She looked down and shook her head, then looked back up and me and said, “But, I’m only a pretend cop, I wouldn’t even know where you go to join up.”

We got our lunches, and I pulled out my wallet, and Trish said, “Don’t worry, South West Pacific can pay for it. They’ve taken over the whole place this weekend.”

I looked around, standing there in my uniform, and I said, “I can’t take free food when I’m on duty.”

“Why not, it’s a big company. They can afford it,” Trish said, looking at me like I was acting strangely, “Just say it was my treat.”

“Okay,” I said, giving in, and I added, “At the academy, they told us ‘Corruption starts with the first free cup of coffee.”

Trish smiled, and said, “That’s a good line. I’ll have to talk to the script writers, and get them to work it into an episode.”

“You’re not saying Amy Templeton would do anything corrupt, are you?” I asked, grinning at Trish.

“Well, Amy might not, but maybe I could be tempted if the right offer comes along,” Trish answered, leaving me to wonder what she meant by that.

Trish and I found a table, and we ate lunch together, talking, laughing, just two people, a guy and a pretty girl, and I was struck by how down to earth she seemed. She was a star, maybe not a big star like, Madonna , or Angelina Jolie, but three times as we ate, people came over and asked for autographs, and a couple of guys from the network came over to gush and fawn over her, as we sat there. I noticed they didn’t even look in my direction, although I saw one looking over his shoulder at me as they walked away, and whispering in the other guy’s ear. Even so, through all this, Trish didn’t seem big-headed, and she apologised for the interruptions, each time someone came over.

“It’s really nice to talk to a normal person for a while,” she said, as we sat there after we finished our lunch.

“How do you mean?” I asked.

“Don’t think I’m complaining about my job or anything,” Trish said, suddenly a little more serious, “But all day, I pretend to be someone, at work, and when I go home, I just want to be me again.” She made eye contact, and said, “You know, just do normal stuff, go for a walk, go for a drive in my car. Normal things.” She took a breath, and said, “But, most of the people I work with never stop pretending. Not just the actors, but everybody else. Most of the other people as well. They’re always trying to impress each other.” She gave me that pretty, sweet, smile again, and said, “That’s why it’s good to just talk to a normal guy again, like you. Just talk about normal stuff.”

“Don’t you meet any normal guys, in your line of work?” I asked.

“Not many,” Trish started, “Most of the guys I meet are so far up themselves, it’s not funny. That’s if they even like girls in the first place.” She smiled, mischievously, and then sat back, becoming serious again, and said, “The last three years have been really crazy for me. My boyfriend couldn’t take it, and he dumped me after a year.” She got a far-away look for a moment, and I wondered if she was giving me an opening, but I dismissed it as wishful thinking.

“It never occurred to me that someone like you’d get dumped,” I said, stupidly, without realising I was basically thinking out loud.

“Shit happens,” Trish answered, a little more seriously than most people when they say that.

Trish looked at her watch, and said, “I better get back to work,” then she looked up at me, as though she was thinking for a moment, and said, “Mark,” and then paused once more, tilting her head, like she was still weighing things up. I leaned forward, waiting to hear what she had to say, and she finally continued with, “They’re having drinks tonight in the upstairs lounge. You know, the network people, and the expo organisers, and a few of the performers.” She paused, again, and seemed to be waiting for me to say something. I thought, Surely she’s not asking me to come.

“Why don’t you come and meet me there?” Trish asked.

“Why do you want me to come to that?” I asked, pleasantly surprised at the invitation.

“Because it’ll be really boring,” she answered, smiling again.

“You’re not really selling it,” I said.

“That’s the thing,” she said, “It’ll be really boring, but if you come, I’ll have someone interesting to talk to and it’ll be fun.” She made it sound like it was so obvious.

“Okay,” I said, unable to keep the smile off my face, “It’s not every day a girl like you asks me to have drink with her after work.”

“You’ll need this,” Trish said, handing me her entry pass, “Just show it to the security guys and they’ll let you in.”

“Won’t you need it?” I asked.

Trish leaned over, and whispered, with a mock-serious face, “They all know who I am.” She giggled, sat back, and said, “Seven o’clock. Dress casual. See ya there.” She got up and headed back to work. I thought to myself, I can’t believe Trish Collett just asked me to have a drink with her after work.

During the afternoon, as I walked around the centre, I would go in to watch the performers on stage from time to time, and at one point, Trish and two other performers were singing, and getting the audience to join in the chorus. She was looking out into the crowd, pointing at groups and saying, “Come on you guys, over there, sing up! Let me hear ya!” and she looked over at me, and flashed me that bright, girlish smile, and went back to working the crowd. Come on, seven o’clock, I thought to myself.

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