“For me, it was that little girl we found in the woods, up in the arboretum. You know, the one who disappeared, and everyone thought it was some disfigured rapist who took her, and when we found her, her head was smashed in and both her arms and legs were broken — but no signs of rape. And it was her father who did it. Twisted bastard, as I recall.”
“Yeah, that one was bad. And that hooker who got thrown out the window over on Burnside — above that strip joint. God — she hit pavement with her forehead. Never seen anyone with that many track marks on her skin. She had ’em between her fingers, in the, what do you call it, webbing. Everywhere. It was three in the morning when we got the call. I had been up for twenty hours. Didn’t go to sleep for another thirty. Brutal.”
“This is what I mean. When I was a rookie, stuff like this didn’t happen. Not with such frightening frequency, at least. You had your junkies, your prostitutes, your murderers, but it was an event when there was a spectacular crime like you guys are talking about. Now, it barely makes the papers, much less the front page. Unless it’s a celebrity, like your famous collar, Charmin’.”
“Yeah. Hennessy. Still, he was just a killer. Listen to me — ‘just a killer.’ Like that makes him any better than the wackos we deal with. It’s a horrible world, men.”
The other two cops nodded. Harmon “The Charmin’ ” Hulce folded his fingers together and sighed. His partner, Julius Francona, grinned devilishly and sucked on one of his cheap cigarettes. The older man, Ted Breasket, had been a Portland policeman for over 25 years, and liked to regale them with tales of when he was younger.
“Listen,” he said, “I mean, I was a cop in this town when we still had something to fight for. You guys know what it was like in the Seventies ’round here. You know, creating something, something good — the city was a model for the whole country. And being on the force then — it was different than now. Cops in Portland were respected — even by the hippies. Now, it’s all gone straight to hell.”
“You’re cheery tonight,” said Francona.
“I’m old. Don’t you guys have work to do?”
It was a typical January night in Portland. It was raining. Hulce wearily shook his head.
“Crappy out tonight, Ted,” he said. “Rather listen to you bitch.”
“Yeah, well, I know you guys have work to do, and it ain’t listening to me.”
Francona put his cigarette out between his fingers and threw it in the ashtray on his desk. “We got stuff on our plate,” he muttered. “Better get to it.”
Hulce said good-bye to Breasket, who vanished into the darkness of the station. Hulce cleared off his desk and sat down. It would be a long night.
Harmon Hulce loved his city. He even loved the rain. What he loved most about Portland, however, was the summer, but not just because it stopped raining. When he was younger, he used to go down the hill on the north side of the Willamette, underneath the St. Johns Bridge in Cathedral Park, to sit and watch the great tankers go by from the industrial areas just south of him. He would look up at the ancient bridge, older than God it seemed to him, and feel cold in its shadow and hear the rumbling of the cars racing back and forth across it. He knew that the area was supposed to be haunted, and he often sat quietly, listening for the ghost of the girl who had been murdered back before the hills were cleared of thickets. There were plenty of businesses down at the river’s edge, but Hulce ignored them. They were part of the outside world, the world of commerce and capitalism, the world, in his mind, exemplified by California and New York. In the inky, razor-sharp shadow of the bridge he could slip into Portland, feel every blade of healthy grass against his forearms, feel the stiff breeze coming off the river, feel the hum of Oregon around him, the hum of the encroaching woodland on the other side of the river, stretching up through Forest Part toward Skyline Boulevard. Hulce had studied his city, in maps and pictures, the better to sink into it. Years later, after he had worked his way through the ranks of the police, his uncanny ability to find his way through any area of the metropolis enabled him to cut corners, make some collars more quickly than other peers, and made him a better cop. He became a detective at thirty, and three years later, he was one of the most respected members of the force.
His past was on his mind as Hulce sat at his desk, listening to Francona shuffle papers, trying to find something. Francona looked messy, but he was extremely organized, and usually did the paperwork for the team. Hulce allowed his mind to go, and his desk inevitably followed. Anyone looking at the two desks would say Hulce was neater, because there wasn’t any paper on it. It was an illusion, however — Hulce rarely did paperwork, preferring instead to record his thoughts on tape and play them back later. He worked on instinct, what his gut told him, what his nostrils and fingers and eyes told him, and was a perfect partner for Francona, who was methodical and plodding. They balanced each other.
Which is why Hulce was thinking about his childhood, while his partner was sifting through detritus. They were working a case that disturbed even them. A woman had been raped a few nights before in the middle of Pioneer Courthouse Square at three in the morning. Portland wasn’t a city like New York, where there are people everywhere at every time, but it was still a bustling city, with plenty of night life, and the woman had been attacked, cut across the mouth when she tried to scream — leaving a ghastly grin up toward her left ear — and raped right outside of Powell’s Travel Book Store. She was lying there in a pool of blood when the first people out that day — a Tri-Met driver and a street sweeper had discovered her almost simultaneously — showed up. Hulce and Francona were about to finish their shift when the 911 call came in. It wasn’t something they would normally handle, but something about the description of the woman made them both shrug and nod. Less than ten minutes later they had arrived at the scene.
Hulce was trying to keep his mind off the case, drifting through memory. His sister had been raped in high school by the quarterback of the football team, a blond demigod who was, it appeared, destined for greatness in college and the NFL. Hulce and his brother Harrison drew the story out of their sister, who was ashamed and scared that worse would happen if she told anyone about it. They didn’t tell their parents or the police, instead waiting until Friday night before the homecoming game. They tracked the quarterback after he left the pep rally at the school and a party at his girlfriend’s, then grabbed him around two o’clock, blindfolded him, threw him in the back seat of their father’s Impala, and drove out onto the peninsula, past the giant factories and industrial parks on Columbia Boulevard, all the way out to Kelley Point Park, where the Willamette meets the Columbia in a crash of opposing and contrasting rivers. The brothers took the terrified quarterback straight to the point, dragged him from the car, and took off his blindfold. When he saw who his abductors were, he was even more frightened. The Hulce brothers were known around school as being fierce and intense protectors of family and friends, especially their sister. The quarterback threatened them with exposure, to which they replied that if he ratted on them they would not only rat on him, but do much worse than what they were about to do. Harmon and his brother each took a hand and broke every one of the quarterback’s fingers. They then tossed him into the mud and left him there. He never played football again, and he never told what happened to him, instead making up some story about being drunk and getting his bones broken accidentally. It was the last illegal act Hulce ever committed. Fifteen years later he was a decorated police detective and investigating an act that made him shake with anger.
Francona had an ulterior motive, too. Hulce didn’t know much about his partner’s personal life, because he came from a tight-lipped Italian family who believed the less said the better. But in his three years of working with Francona, Hulce had gotten out of him that his father had regularly beaten his mother, and he wasn’t about to let that happen to any woman if he could help it. They both knew they would pursue the case.
Their boss had other ideas. They were working on a complicated case involving drug trafficking through Los Angeles to Seattle, with Portland providing a convenient stopover. Hulce and Francona had been coordinating with undercover cops for almost a year getting inside the organization, and their boss didn’t want anything distracting them from it. Especially not for a case which, in his words, “no one’s gonna solve anyway. Women get raped in this town. The bad guy usually gets away with it.”
Hulce tried to ignore his boss’s words. “That Amy’s stuff?” he asked Francona.
“Yeah.” Nothing more needed to be said.
Amy Orlick was the victim’s name. Twenty-six, two years are Concordia, dropped out when she became addicted to heroin. Kicked that, but then started drinking. Admitted to occasional prostitution, but swore she wasn’t hooking when she was raped. She tried not to move her mouth too much when Hulce visited her in the hospital, as if conscious of the effect her new “grin” had on people.
Hulce had met many people from the underbelly of society in his job, and Amy had all the signs of slipping away. Fading track marks on her arm from her days as a junkie, delirium tremens while he sat interviewing her, a paranoid look around the hospital room occasionally that he found disconcerting. There was no doubt that she was sinking, yet still above water. She had black dyed hair, a nose ring, and eyes so green they were almost black. Her hands were small and in constant motion, brushing her long bangs out of her face, scratching the underside of her left breast unconsciously, tapping the sickeningly beige sheets in which she was wrapped. Amy did not like police officers.
“All authority is fascism, however benign,” were the first words she said to him, right after he identified himself. He said that he just wanted to ask her some questions about the attack. She said nothing, but seemed to acquiesce. Did she know the man? Had she been somewhere where men were present? Was she going home at the time of the attack? She cut him off.
“I have slept with — fucked — men for money,” she said, her mouth a thin hard line. “I wasn’t that night, and haven’t for some time. You want to blame me, don’t you? You’re angry at me.”
“I’ll come back.”
“Don’t bother, you fucking pig.”
Francona had no luck either. Amy Orlick, for whatever reason, wasn’t talking.
“You do know most rape cases go unsolved,” Breasket said when they told him about her. “It’s rare even to get an arrest, much less a conviction. It’s a hopeless case.”
Hulce thought about his sister. Connie was now an elementary school teacher in Spokane, a nervous, aloof woman, far from the verbose and vivacious girl she had been growing up. It wasn’t the rape, however — that much Hulce knew. She had gotten pregnant by a boyfriend when she was in college. She had an abortion, and became the focus of a fanatical anti-abortion religious group, who picked her out on the gray rainy morning she went to the clinic and begged her to give the child to them to be raised. Connie, fiery as ever, screamed curses at them, which two young men in the group took personally. They began stalking her after the operation, eventually nailing a bloody cross draped with the intestine of a cat to her front door. Hulce was already in the academy, and when he graduated, he arrested the two men but watched them beat the rap with the help of their organization’s lawyers. Connie spiraled into alcohol for a few years, but beat it by moving to Eastern Washington and marrying an invalid so she could take care of him. Hulce hadn’t seen her in six years, but still thought often about her.
The day after he interviewed Amy Orlick, he called Connie. It had been a few months since they spoke, and after the usual family gossip and catching up, Hulce found himself wordless. Connie stopped talking as well, and they breathed at each other across the phone lines.
“This is about you and me, isn’t it, Charm?” Connie was amused by Hulce’s nickname, and insisted on calling him by it.
“Only peripherally. I got a new case. A woman was raped in Courthouse Square. Brutally. I don’t want to open scars …”
“Please. I got over that years ago. You and Harry, however …” She paused. “You’ve had rape cases before. Why this one?”
“It’s different. The nature of it. The brutality, I guess. I … think about blood too often, Connie. Blood and sex. This woman … she’s scarred. It seems too random. I don’t know. She wants nothing to do with the police, by the way.”
“I’m not surprised. If you’ll pardon me, too often police are fuckers. No one takes rape victims seriously, even when it’s obvious how awful the truth is. Remember? No one believed me.”
“Cops are fuckers.”
She laughed. “Don’t take it personally.”
“Should I investigate? Will it help?”
“Not her. You, maybe. You have deeper wounds than I do.”
The second time Hulce saw Amy Orlick she was sitting up in bed smiling. Her smile was horrible, he was honest enough to admit, but also blazing. She did not appear to smile often, and he was glad to have witnessed it.
She was talking to a man in his middle twenties, and the smile was for him. He wore flannel and raggedy jeans, had greasy straight black hair down to his shoulder, and a goatee. In defiance of hospital rules, he was smoking. Amy was smiling as she talked to him, but he appeared sullen. The rain spattered against the window.
Her smile thinned when she saw her next visitor. “Look, Randolph,” she said, raising her voice so Hulce could hear her, “the pig.”
Without a word, Randolph stood and stalked out. Hulce concentrated on the patient to blot the sight of her visitor out of his mind.
He and Francona had made no headway in the case. From the semen collected at the hospital when Amy first arrived, they could tell that the rapist had O positive blood, and the examining physician took a blond hair from Amy’s vaginal area, which she believed was the perpetrator’s. That was all they had, except for what Amy knew, and she wasn’t telling.
“Who knows who it was?” she responded when Hulce asked her again, his first question of the visit. “A man, I can tell you that much. Not unlike most men. Scum.”
“What about your pal Randolph there?”
“You’re not my friend, pig. We don’t chat.”
“I’m not your enemy.”
“Don’t you have some black people to beat up?”
“Are we wasting our time?” Hulce asked his partner later that afternoon. “We have a big case to close, we have other stuff to worry about. Breasket’s right. We’re never going to find out who did it. She doesn’t even care.”
“We do this for ourselves,” said Francona. “Who cares what Amy wants?”
Amy left the hospital that night. Hulce knew where she lived, but stayed away. It wouldn’t look good, going to her apartment when there really was no reason. He filed the scant evidence of Amy Orlick’s rape in his annoyance cabinet, where he kept all the cases he had abandoned for lack of evidence. He and Francona worked their drug case. Hulce slept poorly.
He dreamed a lot, however, between his fits of wakefulness. He had always been a vivid dreamer, and his career as a policeman did nothing to tame his nocturnal visions. Every case wove itself seamlessly into his dreamscapes, usually dropping out when the next one entered. He wasn’t surprised when Amy showed up in his dream the night after he filed the case away, but he woke up sweaty and frightened, his skin clammy and cold. He grabbed his pad and pen that he kept by his bed and scribbled down some notes, and then got out of bed and prowled around his small apartment. It was two-thirty. He had to be at work in less than three hours. He sat down by the window and watched the black rain fizzle down like sparks. Rain in Portland took on its own personality, like the sun in equatorial lands. The nighttime winter rain was the most malevolent, slicking the roads, turning icy on contact with asphalt, streaking out pf the hellish darkness in an incessant death rattle. Hulce did something he rarely did, even with his love of the dry months in Oregon: He prayed desperately for summer. Summer in Portland hid the wreck his city had become, until he believed, however weakly, that this city could be immune to the diseases and destruction of other cities. When the clouds rolled in off the Pacific in October and November, when the storms funneled in from Astoria and Idaho, converging on the fertile valley at the feet of the Cascades and the Coast Range, when the water hung from black and bruised trees and rotting wooden roofs, then Hulce knew what he was living in. Amy’s hideous grin confirmed it. He watched the rain come down on his city for an hour, and then got up and shuffled back into the bedroom. He flicked on the light next to his bed and picked up his notebook. He read, increasingly horrified, of his dream, which he thought was about watching Amy get raped and being helpless to stop it. It was, he read, but it was also more. He had written, in a half-asleep daze, “Saw a rape. Connie no Amy no both? Felt a knife in my hand felt a blade cut my palm felt blood as blood streaked her cheek. Was erect.”
Hulce couldn’t remember it at all. But he believed it. He staggered into the bathroom and vomited in the sink.
Five days after Amy left the hospital and, he believed, his life, Hulce saw her on his day off at Powell’s Books downtown. She was in a corner, as if she had been shoved there, reading a thick novel. As he walked closer he saw it was a ratty copy of God Emperor of Dune. His curiosity about her reading material brought him into her orbit, and she felt his presence. Before he could duck behind a bookcase, she looked up and grimaced. Then she waved him over.
“You didn’t really do anything, pig, but thanks anyway,” she said softly. “It does mean something.”
He was surprised by her change of attitude, and against his better judgment, he asked if she would like to go across the street for some pizza. He thought she would laugh in his face, but instead she checked her watch, said she had to be at work in an hour, but until then, why not. She tossed the book aside and lifted herself off the bench. Hulce was uncommonly tall, almost six-seven, and Amy looked like a child next to him. He felt a bit afraid. Contact with her, however innocent, was a bad idea. So why was he doing it?
It was an atypical Portland winter day — the sun was out, blazing down through skies unprotected by dank clouds. The temperature had plummeted correspondingly when the clouds fled, and Portland, for a few days, felt like winter, rather than an ugly mess of balmy grayness and angry precipitation. Hulce knew it was a temporary reprieve — the weatherman on the news promised “a break from the frigid temperature,” which meant more rain. Until then, Hulce allowed himself to dare dream of summer. He thought wistfully of leaving the city for the south — Arizona, maybe — then shook his head in amusement.
Amy asked what he was thinking about. He told her and she said that she had been born in Quito, Ecuador, to Peace Corps parents. She moved to Kenya when she was three and Congo when she was five, and then to Medford in southern Oregon.
“I remember days … torturous heat, days drawn out like corpses, stretching toward a languid night full of mosquitoes and bats,” she said, her voice dreamy. “The heat … does things to people. Conrad was right.”
He didn’t get the reference, and wondered how much she actually remembered, but she spoke so quietly and confidently that he believed her. She went on, “My parents moved from Medford — small-town Americana wasn’t really for them. They came here to be closer to people who needed help. Always looking for a cause. I don’t see them very much.”
As they ordered pizza, Hulce was still marveling at how much she had changed since he first met her. He wasn’t sure if he should ask her about it. They sat at the window facing Burnside, watching cars stream through the city along its east-west axis. They ate in silence, both instinctively uncomfortable with the situation. Hulce watched the blurs pass before him, reminded again of summer days and street hockey, pulling goal nets out of the way to let cars go by. He glanced over at Amy, who had her head down. Her bites of her pizza were small and timid. Her left hand was hidden in her lap.
“Listen — ” he started, but she held up her right hand to quiet him.
“You’re looking for repentance, cop. I don’t know why, but you are. Don’t explain.”
Those were the only words they said to each other throughout the short meal. When Amy was done, she again checked her watch, smiled, and reached in her coat pocket. Withdrawing a pen and a scrap of paper, she scribbled a number. “Call me,” she said, almost whispering. “Not tonight. Next time you have some time.” Then she was gone, leaving him even more troubled. What had just happened between them? Nothing, as far as he could tell. She appeared to be completely over her experience, and maybe she was. Hulce knew it was possible, even normal, to put an ordeal like that behind you as soon as possible. He thought of Connie, staying in the house for exactly three days after she was raped before venturing out again into her high school world of illicit parties and illegal alcohol consumption. Hulce didn’t understand it then, and he still didn’t. Connie dove in deeper than she had been, but always, it seemed, with protection. Subtly, she attached herself to large groups of girls, rarely went anywhere alone with a guy unless she had gone out with him dozens of times, and was careful to tell her parents where she was going, even if alcohol and drugs would be there. Connie became more fearless in her fear. How she managed it Hulce didn’t know.
He looked at the paper in his hand. He knew he should throw it away, forget about Amy, ignore the mystery of why she was being nice to him. He visualized throwing it into the trashcan, losing it among the restaurant refuse. Then he put it in his pocket, feeling despair as he did.
Hulce lived in north Portland, just north of the University of Portland, a few miles from where he grew up. He liked to walk along Willamette Boulevard at dawn if he was home, looking down on Swan Island as the industrial park slowly came to life. He thought of a time in Portland when the people on the cliff had had an unabated view of the swamps on the shores of the river, and beyond that the heart of the city. The houses were all old along the cliff, built earlier than the great urban renewal of the 1970s that turned Portland into the model city of the country. This was Hulce’s Portland, a town of small buildings and quiet people, almost cozy, simple people living on the edge of the wilderness, uncomfortable with the teeming influx of newcomers from a cosmopolitan east coast. Hulce had watched the town grow, and now, from his vantage point high above the watery snake that wove through its heart, he could see the drastic changes in Portland since his childhood. At dawn he would stand still, leaning on the guardrail, and feel the drizzle on his face, and watch the city slowly begin to glow in the grayness of morning. Portland woke from night reluctantly, angrily, unable to decide if it wanted to face another day. It was unlike other cities in that regard. It was more like a small town, happy in its bed, more knowledgeable about life than it let on, peering behind the veil and seeing emptiness. Portland was stoic, flexible but strong, ruled by hidden passions. As Hulce stood on the edge of the cliff before going to work the day after Amy gave him her number, he felt more and more like the city. It did not comfort him.
“You’re nuts,” was all Francona said when Hulce told him about his meeting with Amy and the aftermath. He knew Hulce wouldn’t listen to his advice.
“I’m not going to sleep with her,” Hulce said angrily. “She was just raped, for Christ’s sake.”
Francona looked at him as if we were a leper. “Whatever, Charmin’. Just … whatever.”
The cold front had moved on and the rain had begun again by the time Hulce got some time off, four days later. He called the number, hands shaking, a cold spot in his gut. She didn’t sound surprised to hear from him. She told him to come right over.
Amy lived in an old apartment building in the Northwest, on the west side of the 405 freeway. During the summer, Hulce imagined it was shadowed by the imposing Ukrainian church just down the street, a thought that, inexplicably, saddened him. He went inside and walked down dark hallways, streaked with puce paint and semi-illuminated by dim bulbs with no shades. He paused walking up the stairs to her apartment on the fifth floor, gazing somberly out the glazed window at the blurry world outside. The rain was particularly intense, almost burning as it struck the ground. Hulce had felt every drop as he walked toward Amy’s building, and still felt them as he watched out the window. The chill in his gut had moved into his blood and bones. He looked at his right hand. The skin stretched over the knuckles looked reptilian from neglect and cold. A scar ran across the back of the hand, a trophy from a knife fight with a drug-crazed loser when he was a patrolman. He felt water dripping off his ear and nose, dribbling down into the folds of his collar. There was no reason, he suddenly thought, to be there, in the apartment building of a woman he hardly knew, with whom he had shared only a few words. No reason except that she invited him, and because he needed to be there. Why, he didn’t know yet. He continued his climb.
Her door was open and she was sitting directly opposite from it, on the sill by an open window. She was obviously waiting for him, but didn’t see him when he first appeared. He stood quietly, watching as she gazed out the window as he had been doing minutes before. The rain was streaming into her apartment, puddling on the floor, streaking through her dyed hair. Her old brown sweater was drenched, and she was shivering. In her right hand she held a bottle of Jim Beam. Hulce blinked twice, then knocked on the open door.
Without fuss, she turned away from the window slowly and stood, leaving the bottle on the sill. The chill in his blood stiffened him, immobilizing him in the doorway. She didn’t smile, didn’t give any indication that she had seen him, other than taking two steps forward. Hulce suddenly felt a strange sexual excitement he couldn’t ever recall feeling. She wasn’t his type, but the way she stood, dripping from Portland’s signature weather, strands of hair bisecting both eyes as it hung wetly toward her chin — he felt every nerve in his body suddenly blaze with heat. Finally she walked toward him, the wound on her cheek bright with alcohol-fueled blood, her lips curling upward to make the image even more horrific. It didn’t matter to Hulce, who wanted her more than he had ever wanted a woman. She stopped less than a foot from him. Her dark eyes bored up at him, glinting evilly.
“No,” she whispered, her voice like a bone saw. “No. It’s not me. Come on.”
Somehow, without touching him, she slipped past him and was out in the hall. He followed, stunned by the spell he was under. Things like this didn’t happen to him. He was a good cop, not one who took advantage of his position to score sex, drugs, or bribes. He didn’t do this.
Amy walked to the end of the hall and opened a door marked “Keep Out.” She disappeared into a shadowy wound in the wall, and he was right behind her. They climbed dark stairs to another door, which she also opened. He heard the sounds of traffic and felt the sting of precipitation, and then he was on the roof. Amy sashayed to the edge and looked over. Hulce, who had begun to dry off inside, was immediately soaked again. He looked up and to the southeast. Downtown Portland was barely visible through the gray sheets of rain pummeling the valley. He refocused on Amy. She had her arms spread like Jesus, her head back, letting the rain pelt her face. The feeling in his groin had not subsided, and moved toward her, to do — what? Hulce’s brain was no longer rational. He felt nothing but desire.
Amy turned, her smile even bigger. Hulce felt a moment of revulsion pass through him when he gazed at her wound, but it was gone as soon as he recognized it for what it was. He stopped a few feet away from her, his hands hanging loosely at his side.
She tilted her head and looked at him like a dog would. He noticed that eye shadow was streaking her face with dark blue rivulets, bloody almost. He couldn’t tell if she was crying through her smile.
“You’re forgiven,” she said, the fizz of rain mixing her words into a drone. “You don’t need me anymore.”
He was breathing heavily, almost post-orgasmically. What had happened? He asked her that question.
She reached out and took his right hand, looking at it like a palm reader. She lingered over the scar on the back, and then dropped it. “Who was it? Your sister? Your girlfriend? Not your mother?”
“I thought so. I saw it in you. Why else would you have pursued me? It’s not unusual, you know. Randolph knows the guy who did this to me. He confessed what he felt that day in the hospital when you saw him. The same … desires, I guess. The thoughts are there, in all of us. Even me, as sick as it is. The power … But it’s the action that matters. It always is.”
Hulce was still confused. “You know who –”
“Of course I do. I dated the bastard a few times.”
“But why …?”
“Justice doesn’t matter. You of all people should know that. Life matters. You and I matter, not scum like him. You saw me, saw everything I am. Just now. And you felt everything that anyone is going to feel about someone. And I forgive you. And you should forgive yourself. What’s your sister’s name?”
“Call Connie. Tell her. How you felt. How you feel now. How you got past it. Give me a kiss.”
He leaned in and felt her wet lips against his. It was a kiss of friendship, not of passion. It was a kiss of blessing.
“I’m going to stay up here for a while. You know the way out. Sorry you didn’t get laid, Harmon.”
Hulce tried to smile. She walked back to the edge of the roof, dancing lightly in her woolen slippers, now hopelessly drenched. He backed away, unwilling even now to leave, in case the whole experience hadn’t been real. She turned again to look at him, smiled and waved, then spun with abandon, water sluicing off her in a flowery pattern. Hulce felt his city around him. She was part of it all now. He reached the door, pulled it to behind him, and went to find a phone.
[Our first returning character, with Harmon Hulce showing up after investigating the murders in “Super Sunday.” I’m still not sure about cop jobs, so I doubt if Hulce would investigate a murder, be involved in a drug trafficking case, and still have time to investigate a rape, but you’ll just have to roll with it. I like Amy, and she’ll show up again, so I hope you like her too. This feels a bit dated, because prosecution of rape cases has gotten marginally better, I suppose, and Amy’s response might seem a bit less likely these days, when people take rape a bit more seriously. I tried very hard not to “fridge” her – the story is obviously from Hulce’s point of view, so Amy remains opaque to some degree, but I hope I still did a decent job showing why she acts the way she does. It’s more about how a man reacts to this kind of thing, because women, sadly, have no lack of experience in dealing with shit like this, and many men still don’t. Did I succeed in my endeavor? That’s for you to decide!]