Dear God… what was I doing? What was I thinking? My eyes slid over briefly to glance at the girl—no not girl, I corrected myself… the child—seated next to me before quickly focusing back on the road. The rain had started to come down hard, making it difficult to see more than just a few feet beyond the truck's front end and on top of everything else I was tired…dead tired. But as tired as I was I knew there would be no sleep for me tonight. There never was. Only the constant droning of the TV to break up the monotony. I rolled the window down a bit hoping the cool air would clear my head then fumbling in my pocket, retrieved my Marlboros. I punched in the truck's lighter when suddenly the girl's hand snaked along the inside of my thigh and squeezed tightly. "Do you have one for me?" her voice purred into my ear. I was on the verge of saying she was too young to smoke until I remembered where I had picked her up. Smoking was certainly the least of her worries. Besides who was I to say otherwise? I had started the habit at the age of thirteen. "Sure." I shook another one out of the pack; glad when her hand left my leg to take it. I let her light her cigarette first before taking the lighter back for my own.

God it felt good to get out of the rain. I couldn't believe how my night was turning out… it had been so shitty… standing at the corner for so long without one customer and now this. I could feel the hundred dollar bill that was nestled between my breasts. A hundred dollars! Yeah, sure he just wanted to watch the Three Stooges. Nobody paid a hundred bucks to watch TV. I would probably hafta do it with his dog or something. Taking a look at him, I noticed that he had removed a pack of smokes. I quickly reached over, my hand running along the inside of his muscled leg. "Do you have one for me?" I asked as seductively as I could. He looked over, and the expression on his face startled me. Not the usual look of desire and lust that I saw but an overwhelming sadness. I took the cigarette he offered and decided to sit back on my side of the cab, not sure what to make of this particular john.

At the next stop light, I turned left, pulling into the parking lot of a grimy looking liquor store. "Stay here. I'll be right back." The girl just nodded as I slid out of the truck. The rain was still pouring and my thin jacket was soaked within seconds but I didn't bother speeding up as I walked across the lot. Stepping inside, I glanced over at the proprietor, whose eyes narrowed at the sight of me. This wasn't my usual side of town and he didn't know me like the owner of the liquor store near my home where I was a regular. I know I don't read as a cop with my shabby clothes and long hair, but I told myself that was how I needed to be. After all, despite this shit assignment I was currently on with the Homicide department, my permanent detail was in Dope, working undercover. And there, reading as a cop would get me killed. The fact that my layers of neglect actually came from not giving a fuck about anything anymore was a fact that I steadfastly ignored. Nodding my head in his direction, I quickly made my way towards the back of the store. I certainly wasn't a picky alcoholic, but if given the chance, bourbon was my poison of choice. The old man did nothing more than give a monosyllabic grunt as I paid for the two bottles of JD and left.

The rain had turned into a mist by the time I pulled up in front of the trailer. Sam wiggled out from underneath, fur still soaking and caked with damp sand as he came around to my side of the truck in greeting. I glanced over at the girl with a shrug. "It's not much but hey… we'll stay dry." Spilling out from the sliding glass door, the faint glow of the TV was just enough to illuminate the concrete block that I used as a stair. Reaching down I gave Sam a quick pat on the head as the girl stepped up onto the block and into the trailer. "Sorry, mutt, but you're gonna hafta stay outside tonight." I shrugged out of my wet jacket, throwing it across the small kitchenette table as I motioned for the girl to sit. She curled up on one end of the couch, using the motion to hike her skirt up to the top of her thighs. I glanced over as I pulled a couple of glasses out of the cupboard. She was attractive for a hooker, still young and new enough to be somewhat fresh faced but that wouldn't last long. I used to work in Vice. I knew how it would most likely end up for her and it wouldn't be a pretty picture. Cracking open one of the bottles, I poured the booze up to the top of the glass. "You want some of this? I've got some beer too."

"I'll take a beer," the girl answered. "You mind if I smoke a joint?"

I was beginning to get worried that the ride would never end when we finally stopped in front of a small trailer at the beach—more of a camper than anything. He looked over at me. "It's not much but hey… we'll stay dry." I nodded my head and stepped inside as he followed behind me. I had to move a stack of old newspapers and what looked to be several weeks' worth of mail that were on the couch before I could sit. He obviously was a slob but hell it was still better than how my evenings usually went… giving blow jobs in the back of some car or quick fucks at some filthy roach motel. He was pouring himself a drink of bourbon - a REALLY big drink and as he turned towards me, I pulled my skirt up even higher. "You want some of this?" he asked. "I've got some beer too." I nodded my head, flipping my hair over one shoulder. "I'll take a beer. You mind if I smoke a joint?"

I shook my head as I reached into the fridge for a bottle. "Fine by me," I replied and as I handed her the beer, she pulled the joint out of her purse and lit up. How funny, I thought to myself. Here I was… not only a cop, but a damn Narcotics agent giving alcohol to an under aged hooker while she smoked an illegal substance on my couch. Not that I gave a shit about it. But then again as my lieutenant had told me the other day, that was part of my problem—not giving a shit about much of anything. Deep down, I knew he was right, knew that probably everyone was tired of me running on auto-pilot for the past two and a half years but damn it, I still got the job done. What else did they want from me? I took a big swallow of the liquor, trying to calm myself back down. When it didn't work, I emptied the glass with another gulp and grabbed the bottle for a refill. I wasn't a stupid man; in fact I was quite intuitive; I knew the upper brass was trying in earnest to get rid of me yet again. Dr. Woods had been hanging out in my division and I had caught her several times talking with both my lieutenant and Captain Murphy. She'd stop me in the hall, asking if I wanted to 'talk' to her about anything, staring at me with those pitying eyes and it was all I could do not to punch her. And now suddenly I'm pulled from Dope—pulled from the middle of the case I was working on, to be temporarily teamed up with a Homicide detective for a special interdepartmental load of bullshit. Yeah right… As paranoid as it sounded, at first I had had my doubts that Roger Murtaugh was even a detective at all—that maybe he was a plant, another goddamn shrink trying to get inside my head. After all, he seemed like such a…well, such a fucking pussy with his suit and tie, immaculate dress shoes and stiff attitude….. And then charging across the squad room at me like some sort of demented bull… I almost smiled at the memory of the look on his face after I had hip tossed him and planted my foot at his throat, my gun aimed at him. Partnered together or not, he needed to learn quickly that, one: I was never in a mood to be fucked with and two: never ever try to take my gun from me.

Rousing myself back to the present, I decided to try and give the pretense of being at least a little civilized. I took the ashtray from the kitchen counter, holding it out for the girl to take. Smiling, she reached up for it and sat it down on the small coffee table, the lit joint now resting there. Before I could turn away though, she reached back up to snag my arm and using my weight, pulled herself up. "I think", she murmured, "that it's time we get to know each other a little better." She leaned in close against me, one arm wrapping around my waist as her other hand reached down, rubbing hard between my legs. I quickly disengaged myself from her embrace, my own hand pushing hers away. It had been a hell of a long time—not since Vicky had died, that I had been with anyone and yet I felt nothing. I didn't think that I ever would and I didn't even care. I tried to smile, failed miserably and quickly gave up. "Nothing against you," I said with a shake of my head, "but…no." Placing my hands on her shoulders, I firmly sat her back down on the couch, her own expression confused. Probably not the behavior she was used to from her johns. "Channel 36." I pointed to the remote resting on the coffee table and getting my drink, I sat next to her. She flipped the channel and the raucous sounds of the Three Stooges filled the air. Her eyes widened in surprise. "You mean, we… we are really gonna watch this?" This time my smile came easily. "Yep."

A frown creased her forehead. "And nothing else? We ain't gonna do nothing else?" Leaning over, I pulled off my boots and stretched out my legs onto the rickety table in front of us, wiggling my freed toes. "Nope. Just this."

I took a long drag on the joint, watching quietly as the guy in front of me drank the glass of bourbon in one swallow and went for a refill. He sure looked like a man with a lot on his mind, but I could tell he didn't want to talk. So what did he want? All this time and he had made no move on me. What the hell was going on? He couldn't be that shy—after all he did pick up a prostitute but it was as if he had no interest in me. I wasn't used to having to seduce my johns but maybe that was the way he liked it. Maybe that was what he was waiting for… So when he gave me the ashtray, I took the opportunity to express my desire only to have him quickly shove my hand away from where I had started stroking him. Surprised by his reaction, I couldn't even come up with anything else to say as he sat me back down onto the couch and asked me to turn the channel. The closest he came to undressing was taking off his boots as he sat next to me. I was really gonna get paid a hundred bucks to watch TV? This was probably the weirdest night I'd ever had – and I've had some weird ones. Since it was obvious that nothing was going to happen between us, I tucked my legs up under me and settled back against the cushions, sipping on my beer. He started laughing his ass off at the show, but not ever having been much of a fan, my eyes drifted around the small trailer coming to rest eventually on the framed wedding picture that sat on top of the television. I had, of course, noticed the ring on his finger but didn't give it a second thought. After all, most of my johns were married… but they didn't ever bring me home.

I noticed her staring at the wedding picture and silently berated myself for not having moved it. Moved it someplace not so fucking obvious as the top of the TV. What had I been thinking? Oh yeah… I wasn't thinking at all this evening. That was proven by the fact that I had just picked up a whore and had paid her money to come home and watch television with me. It was crazy behavior and I knew it but if the truth was told, I had been scared to come home to this empty trailer. So scared of what I would do. I thought every day about killing myself, of finally ending my misery yet somehow every morning I still dragged myself out of bed and went on with the day as best as I could. But yet, after almost three years it was getting harder to go on, not easier. The other evening was the closest I had come to pulling the trigger and then this afternoon I HAD pulled it. Would have blown my fucking head off right then and there if Roger hadn't jammed his thumb in front of the gun's hammer in time. My hands still shook at the memory. And then there was dinner at Roger's house… It had been nice of him to invite me, especially considering our initial animosity but being in the middle of a happy boisterous family only brought to focus just how wretched and gloomy my own life was. I knew that I couldn't face this place tonight on my own because if I did, it would be the last time. The girl stared at me with a questioning look to her eyes but thankfully said nothing. Getting up, I got another beer for her, filled my glass with more bourbon and then proceeded to make us both a sandwich. She took it with a big smile and afterwards curled up next to me, her head resting on my shoulder. We sat up watching TV late into the night, comfortable with our silence and at some point I must have actually fallen asleep.

This was definitely the first time one of my transactions included getting fed. God, it seemed like the best sandwich I'd ever eaten and afterwards, I snuggled up next to him. I knew nothing was gonna happen but his lean, muscled form felt good against my skin. And despite his disinterest in sex, it musta felt good to him too because he seemed to relax a little, the tension that filled his blue eyes calming down to the point that he fell asleep. I stretched out my legs to get comfortable, moving gently so not to disturb him. He shifted but didn't wake, mumbling something under his breath as he curled up tightly next to me, his head resting in my lap. Luckily he had just gotten me another beer before drifting off and the remote was within reach so I was happy. I stared at him for a long time, one of my fingers tracing along his jaw line, his thick wavy hair spilling out across my legs. Still smiling, I leaned back and went to sleep.

I awoke with a start. It was early morning and I was on the couch, TV murmuring in the background, a common occurrence for me, but something was different and after a brief second, I realized that the pillow under my head was a lap. I jerked up, pushing myself away and jumping to my feet, my action causing the girl on the sofa to wake up herself. "Uh… sorry about that," I muttered, one hand running through my unruly hair. She smiled up at me. "It's okay. You were just sleeping." Her words caused me to pause for a long moment, their implication reaching further than she would understand. But the girl had been right. I HAD been sleeping. Actually sleeping. Not the usual pattern of drifting off from total exhaustion for an hour or so before waking back up to stare at the ceiling or watch more television before total exhaustion took over again and I drifted off for another hour only to then be awaken by a nightmare. I had actually slept solid for almost four hours and that was a record for me these days. It felt good. I smiled back at her. "Guess I better get you back and my ass to work. I'd offer you some coffee or something, but well, I don't have anything." Reaching down, I grabbed her hand and pulled her to her feet. "I'll just change my shirt and if we hurry we'll have time to go to a drive-through." We were out the door ten minutes later.

The girl had wolfed the sausage biscuit down like a starved creature and was still sipping on the cup of coffee when I pulled up to the corner on Sunset Boulevard where I had picked her up the night before. She reached for the door handle, but before she could pull it open, I leaned over, my fingers clamping shut around her elbow. "Wait," I said quietly, "this is for you." Letting go of her, I reached into my shirt pocket and pulled out some tightly folded bills, shoving them into her hand. She uncurled her fingers, staring at the money with wide eyes for a long moment before finally looking back up at me. "It's two hundred and twenty dollars," she whispered softly. I nodded my head. "Yeah, I know. I'd give ya more, but it's all the cash I have." I shrugged my shoulders. "I kept you out all night. You could'a made more money." She continued to stare at the bills, her head ducked low, before finally dropping them into her purse. "Thank you," she said and then leaning over, she kissed me on the cheek before slipping out of the vehicle. I sat there for a long time, hands clenched tightly around the steering wheel, working to get my own spinning thoughts under control. Exhaling loudly, I finally threw the truck into drive and headed for my new partner's house.