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Shift Change

I opened my eyes, the clock read 11:55. Maybe if I'm real quiet, I can slip out before…

Too late. He rolled over, wrapped an arm around me and lobbied for me to stay. Lobbied real good too. The boy's got skills—it's the only reason I let him touch me after the marathon pain fest that brought Marsha into the world. The doctors call it a 'breach birth' we use a different word: same first letter, same last two letters, different set in the middle.

"Let me up. I gotta get ready for work."

"Oh, come on, you can call in." He smiled. "You've got plenty of sick days, and I hear you're in good with the boss."

"The way Marsha picks up bugs at day care? Two weeks aren't that much. And remember the rule: we don't talk about Daddy when either or both of us are naked. Now let me go, I need to take a shower."

"Want company?"

"What do you think I need to wash off? Isn't it enough that Reneca is going to spot my 'happy walk' first thing? Now why don't you just roll on back over and get some sleep?"

One thing about old soldiers, they're real good about following orders, especially where a bed is involved. He was out by the time I turned on the bathroom light.

What is it about shift changes that turn him on? Not that I mind much. A real deft left hand, and a respectable caliber where it counts. But this girl doesn't adjust that well to third shift.

The shower almost woke me up. I got dressed, put on my gear, and went to Marsha's room. She had tossed off her covers in the crib. I was cold just looking at her. Can't believe she'll be three this year. The guys at work could not get over my biceps now. Just the twenty-eight pound curls I do fifty times a day. Who cares? It gets me lots of kisses. I put my hand on her chest, checked her breathing. Everything right with this part of the world. Now to where it's all screwed up.

I went out to the car. It was 12:30, I was doing real well. Time for breakfast, so I went to the only place really hopping at this time of night.

Smolensk on the Go may not be the fanciest place in town, but it wins where it counts. The food's always good, if not politically correct. The night management is also the best, but I think they still go by Moscow time. I walked in.

"Hey, Dimitri."

"Sasha!" the big guy threw off his stained apron as he came out to hug me. "Glad to see you back on the night shift. Got any new pictures of Marsha?"

I patted my coat pocket. "A whole card."

"Good, we put them on the computer, and I see which I want. Now, how about some food?"

The kielbasa smothered with onion and peppers is always good. I take mine with the potato pancakes. Hey, I can't help it if my blood cholesterol rocks. You need to pack it in before you start. I don't care to have food in my car.

"Damn." It was my pager. I checked the number; the office. "I got to go get this."

I went out to the car. "L816249 here."

"Skip the meeting. Get over to Emerson and 49th, we've got reports of a break-in."

"That's six blocks over, where's the first response?"

"Already there, haven't gone in. Say they hear kids."


"It's what you get for having a degree. Now get over there."

Dimitri had already packed up my breakfast. He handed it to me. I gave him the card.

"Shift's starting early."

Just a little of noir that came to me just the other day. If you think it should go on, let me know. If you think it should stop, that's just as welcome.