Getting the Upper Hand

"Aren't you going to answer that?"

"Shut up!"

Disher leaned back in his chair in what he hoped, but seriously doubted, was a relaxed manner. Outside of insulting him, he was never quite sure what Sharona was going to do. In the back of his mind, he was a little worried that one of these days she was going to….

"What, I'm gonna hit you or something?" Sharona said in reaction to his backwards movement. She rolled her eyes and shook her head in exasperation. "Honestly—how you got to be a cop, I'll never know."

"By not acting on my homicidal impulses?" Disher muttered under his breath.

Sharona shot him a withering glare. "Wow, Lieutenant, that was almost funny. Keep it up—someday you may actually have a personality."

He grimaced in return. He couldn't stand this woman.

Sharona looked away and the irritation instantly vanished from her face. She began making placating gestures. "It's fine," she said. "Adrian, it's fine. Keep talking to the captain."

Disher watched Monk hesitantly turn his attention back to Captain Stottlemeyer. Sharona wheeled on him.

"Are you trying to ruin my life?" she hissed.

"That would be a nice side bonus," he said. He was pleased by himself. That was pretty good, as far as cutting remarks went. "If you tell me what it was I did," he added, emboldened by his perceived success, "I can remember it and use it again in the future."

"Don't you wish," she said.

He smiled. He was beginning to feel he had the upper hand in this conversation. He didn't remember ever having that feeling.

"Although if I don't tell you, you'll probably be even more likely to do it again, since you're probably too stupid to figure it out on your own."

Disher sighed. That feeling had been nice while it lasted.

"When my phone rings, I don't..." She hesitated and seemed to decide he wasn't worth an explanation. "Just…mind your own business," she finished.

Disher felt his left eye beginning to twitch. The Sharona twitch. He'd named the nervous tic in his right eye after her boss, Monk. Monk was one thing. The man was a good detective, in his own bizarre way, and Captain Stottlemeyer made use of him from time to time. His nurse, though, was—a pill, Disher thought forcefully. A real pill. Always correcting him in public, and hassling him about payment as if he were an accountant instead of a police officer, and making fun of him behind his back. Okay, so he didn't have any evidence on the last one, but he was as sure as he could be without evidence.

Sharona's cell phone rang for the second time.

Monk turned, looking a little nervous.

And rang.

"It's fine, Adrian," Sharona said.

And rang.

She fumbled with the buttons.

And rang.

"Why don't you…" began Monk, but Sharona came back quickly with, "It's fine. It went to voicemail. I'll check it later."

Monk excused himself from his conversation with the captain. "You're not going to check it now?" he inquired.

"No," said Sharona.

"It…it might be important."

"I said no!"

Monk reached for the phone, almost as if he didn't notice he was doing it. "If you could just…."

"All right, all right!" she said. "I'll check it now. Just go on back and finish your conversation."

As Monk headed back, Sharona put the phone in her purse. Monk turned to look at her and she quickly brought it back out again, smiling and waving his attention away. He kept staring at her until she punched in the code for her voicemail and held the phone to her ear, shaking her head.

Disher looked on in amazement as her whole expression changed. Her eyes cast down, she smiled and suppressed a giggle. She even—and Disher could hardly believe this—brought a hand up to her hair before seeming to realize where she was. He grinned broadly and didn't bother to change expressions when she threw a quick glance in his direction. Precisely because it was so obvious that she didn't want him to have noticed anything, he wanted her to know that he saw every bit of it.

She glared at him as she flipped her phone shut.

"Personal calls on the job?" he said with a "tsking" sound.

"I am always on the job," she said. "If I waited until I were off the job to take personal calls, I might be waiting for decades."

"Who was it?" Monk called.

"Benjy," she said. "He's fine."

Monk nodded and turned away again.

"Well, I never thought I'd say this to you," said Disher, "but I'm impressed."

Sharona eyed him suspiciously.

Disher leaned over his desk in a conspiratorial way. "You," he continued, "just lied to Adrian Monk and got away with it."

Sharona sat down abruptly in the chair opposite him and leaned forward. "I am beginning to think very seriously about hitting you after all," she said. "Shut. Up."

"It wasn't Benjy at all," said Disher, trying to stare her down. "It was a boy."

"What are you, twelve?" she said.

Disher broke eye contact. Drat.

"For your information, it was a man," she said. "For your information, he was calling to ask me out. For your information, it wasn't the first time. For your…why am I telling you this?"

He shook his head briskly to indicate he had no idea.

"Anyway, you are not to tell Adrian, because he can't handle it."

"Phone calls?"

"No, Einstein, me dating."

"Why?"

"I don't know. It makes him tense. He thinks I pick losers or something."

"Do you?"

Sharona looked at him sharply, and Disher just barely managed to keep himself from cringing. "Do you?" Where had that come from? What kind of a question was that? This woman was not a friend, he had no right to ask that question, and he didn't much care about the answer—which would be "yes," of course. He'd heard her make a few off-hand comments about her ex-husband. He knew the guy wasn't interested in being part of his son's life. And it wasn't like she had remarried, and he had never heard her mention any relationship close to that in her life, not that they ever talked about these things. And…well…. With a sudden clarity, he realized that he would just peg her as the type to pick losers.

"Sorry," he said, and he was.

Sharona sat back in the chair. "Yeah," she said, the sarcasm in her voice sounding forced and tired. "I'm sure you are."

An awkward moment or two passed, during which Disher looked steadily at his blotter as though he were thinking of something very unrelated to anything he shouldn't be thinking about, and then Monk appeared by the desk. "Ready to go?" he asked Sharona.

Disher risked a glance up and saw the quick swipe at her face. It was obviously supposed to appear nonchalant, but he doubted that Monk would be tricked—her nose was a little red.

"Yeah," said Sharona. "Yeah, let's get out of here." She didn't even look back to glare as she left.

Sharona Fleming, who-could-even-keep-track-anymore; Randy Disher, one.

It didn't feel as invigorating as he had always imagined it would.