Joe Cammareri's day had not been a good one. Fact of the matter was, he'd been awake since before dawn (damn neighbor's screaming baby), but he'd still managed to be late for work at the 110th precinct. He'd had paperwork, paperwork, paperwork all day long, and he was tired of manning his desk. He was a cop, wasn't he? Wasn't it about time they let him out on the streets for more than a coffee and doughnut run? On his way home from the precinct, he had resolved to speak with his captain about increasing his duties. He knew he was young, but damn it, he couldn't take this anymore.
He had just climbed into bed with his sleeping wife, hoping he could roust her and get at least a little bit lucky before morning. And of course, just after he began to sink into his mattress, moving to caress Rita's neck, the phone rang. He let out an expletive and decided to ignore it.
"Would you pick up the phone, Joey?" Rita ground out after the fourth ring, shrugging his hand off her.
Joe groaned again and raised himself up on his elbow, reaching blindly for the phone on his bedside table.
"Yeah?" he answered gruffly, rubbing Rita's shoulder soothingly.
"Cammareri, we've had another report of kids causing trouble at the Home Depot on 25th Avenue. They're banging up the aluminum sheds, and the night watchman asked for someone to come out and give him some backup."
Another expletive. "You have got to be kidding me, O'Malley. I just got to bed and my shift starts early tomorrow."
"Well, the boss lady said if you take this, you can have tomorrow off. And it's street work, not desk work," O'Malley wheedled. "They're making such a racket that the night watchman is concerned about property damage. And it's so close to your place; it won't take you long."
Joe rolled his eyes, knowing full well it would take the rest of the night by the time he hauled the kids in to the precinct, called their parents, and filled out the paperwork. But still, the prospect of tomorrow off—which just happened to correspond with Rita's day off, too—and the opportunity to impress his boss proved to be motivating factors, and he said to O'Malley, "I'm on my way."
As Joe pulled up in front of Home Depot in his cruiser, all appeared to be quiet. He noticed two cars in the parking lot—a small Mazda, which he assumed belonged to the night watchman, and at the other end, a stretch limousine, which left him scratching his head. As he drove by the limo, he saw that the windshield had a large crack in it, and he wondered if the vandals had started with the limo before moving to the sheds. Shrugging his shoulders, he parked near the Mazda and grabbed the pair of handcuffs out of the glove box, pocketing them quickly. He stood up and stuck his service weapon in his waistband at the small of his back. Glancing into the well lighted store, he saw a man near the door, clearly waiting for him. The night watchman, he figured.
The man hurried out and pointed in the direction of the aluminum sheds, at the other end of the property. "Thanks for coming, officer. When I first called in the report, all I'd heard was some banging. I suspected vandals—we've had a lot of that lately. But now there's been some screaming, too, and the banging has only gotten louder. I'm afraid someone is getting hurt in there."
Joe raised an eyebrow. "I'll check it out. You stay back; better safe than sorry."
Joe took his gun from his waistband and slid the safety off, striding purposefully towards the aluminum sheds. He slowed down as he got closer and the banging became more noticeable. He heard a man moaning, and when he was about 10 feet from the sheds, he stopped to listen, gun drawn, zeroing in on the unit that seemed to be occupied. The voices were muffled, but mostly comprehensible.
"Yes, right… oh, yes, there. And there. Do that again. I've missed you, you wicked woman."
"So you finally got the DNA results?" Moan.
"Oh yes. And I have physical evidence too, you know."
"Mmm hmm. Oh, yeah, butler boy. Show me that evidence again."
Joe's concern quickly converted to amusement mixed with annoyance. Not vandals, then, or hardened criminals of any sort. But also not kids, if the voices were any indication of age. He'd been dragged out in the middle of the damn night for a couple of middle-aged thrill seekers. He put away his gun and shoved his hands into his pockets, jostling his handcuffs, which plopped out onto the asphalt with a clatter.
Silence from the shed. Joe stooped to gather the cuffs, and then moved closer, trying to hear.
"Shit, did you hear that?" The woman asked.
"Hear what? All I hear are the dulcet tones of your satisfaction."
"My multiple satisfaction, if I recall correctly. Have I mentioned that I missed you?"
"Once or twice."
"Wait, don't… I did hear something."
At that moment, the night watchman called out, "Is everything okay, officer?"
Inside the shed, the woman whispered, "Oh, god, Niles, we have to stop. Someone is out there! Hand me my blouse!"
"How am I supposed to find your blouse? It's black as pitch in here," the man groused.
"Find it, you imbecile! Here, take your pants, I just tripped over them, they're so huge. Where's my other shoe? I love these shoes."
"You shouldn't have much trouble finding the shoe," the man taunted, "it's nearly as big as this aluminium shed."
"Aluminium, Niles? And have we been to London to see the queen?" The woman responded in an exaggerated English accent.
Sighing, Joe knocked on the door of the shed, preventing the man from completing his thought. "Open up, NYPD."
Total silence, then scrambling and some more banging. Joe knocked again, louder this time. "Come on out, get a move on."
The woman inside the shed hissed, "You are in so much trouble, old man."
"I am? This was your idea!" he said, aggrieved.
The door swung outward, and a man in his mid-fifties emerged, his dark blond hair standing up in all directions. By the glow of the parking lot security light, Joe saw that his hastily buttoned white shirt was covered in dust. His tie, undone of course, was draped loosely around his collar, and he had managed to don the aforementioned pants quickly, even if he hadn't managed to zip them. The man blinked as he exited the shed, smiled grimly at Joe, and then held the door open for his companion.
"Aha! There it is," she said, and as she stepped out of the shed, she slipped into a second three-inch silver heel. The tall blonde, ten, maybe twelve years younger than the man, also blinked as the light flooded her eyes, and moved her hands to try to smooth down the man's hair in a gesture more tender than the situation might strictly warrant. Her lips quirked into a quick smile as the man moved to adjust her skirt, then took her hand in his. She leaned to whisper in his ear.
If you overlooked what they had just been doing, these two were on the classy side, considering what Joe had expected to find on this call. He guessed that explained the limo parked a few feet away. The woman's hair was perfect—how had she managed that? Her silk blouse, which apparently they had managed to find, gaped open in the front, drawing Joe's eyes to her generous cleavage.
The man beside her cleared his throat and said, pleasantly enough in spite of the expression of mild annoyance on his face, "How may we help you, officer?"
Joe dragged his eyes up to look at the English man. "Well, sir, I was hoping you could tell me what the hell is going on here. This establishment is obviously closed, and you are trespassing. I'm going to need to see some identification."
The blonde stepped forward angrily. "Look here, NYPD blue, we—"
The guy grabbed her by the waist and pulled her back to stand beside him, muttering at her to calm down. He answered Joe, "We stopped in to do some research. We're looking into purchasing a shed."
"Uh huh. Why didn't you come during business hours? And where's your ID?"
The blonde, with her temper under better control, responded in a perfectly modulated tone, "My friend here has been out of the country. We stopped by on our way from LaGuardia."
And that explained what this pair might be doing out here in Jackson Heights. Still—"ID, please. Now."
The blonde flashed a panicked look at the man, who still had his arm draped around her waist. He squeezed her hip reassuringly, then fished his wallet out of his slacks and said, "Here, take mine. My friend here seems to have lost her bag; I'm so sorry."
Joe rolled his eyes and took the ID. "Niles? Is that your first or last name? And what's your lady friend's name, please?"
"Excuse me, I'm standing right here. I can speak for myself," the blonde interrupted with a disgruntled expression on her face. The man with her—Niles—turned to look at her admiringly, his eyes drifting down to her blouse.
Exasperated, Joe addressed her. "All right, lady, what's your name?"
The woman responded, "I—I seem to have forgotten. That's it! I think I have amnesia."
Niles muttered under his breath, "I knew I was good, but this may be the first time I've made a woman forget her name." He smirked at the blonde.
She narrowed her eyes, then shrugged her shoulders and winked at him. Before she could respond, Joe intervened.
"Hold it right there. I've had enough of this. It's one in the morning; you two were having relations in this aluminum shed, after hours and trespassing on Home Depot's property. I'm gonna take you in to the station, see if that jogs your memory any."
"You most certainly are not! Do you know who I am?" The blonde asked, raising herself to her full height, giving her several inches over both men.
Joe gestured broadly and looked skyward, heaving a sigh. "No, and according to you, neither do you! Don't make me get out my handcuffs."
The affronted expression on her face quickly turned to surprise, then pleasure when her companion reached behind her. Joe couldn't tell what he'd done, but he appreciated the change in the woman's mood. The man said, "Of course, officer, that won't be necessary. We'll come willingly."
"Well thank you, Niles," Joe said, sarcasm tingeing his voice.
"Damn it, Hazel, do you have any idea what will happen if this gets out?" The woman growled at Niles.
Hazel? Joe closed his eyes, too tired to even ask, and began reciting from memory. "You have the right to remain silent…"
Niles snorted, and Joe opened his eyes in time to see Niles receive a well placed elbow in the ribs.
Joe motioned for the pair to follow him to his cruiser. He opened the door and said, "Watch your head, ma'am, sir." The blonde, visibly furious at Niles, got in first and scooted all the way over to the opposite door. Niles followed. Once they'd buckled their belts, Niles leaned forward, his head in his hands.
"Hangover?" The blonde whispered viciously.
"Isn't that my line, Bab—s? And no, it's just the jet lag setting in." He cringed.
Joe made a mental note as he settled into the driver's seat of the cruiser. Babs. Perhaps her name was Barbra?
"Poor baby." Joe glanced into his rearview mirror and saw her reach gingerly to stroke Niles's temple.
"Hands to yourselves, people. Don't make me come back there," Joe barked. He pulled onto 25th, heading for the station. He hazarded a glance at his passengers and saw that they had ignored his instructions. Babs had released her belt and slid all the way over to Niles and currently rested her head on his shoulder and her hand on his—
"Christ! What do you think you're doing!" Joe slammed on his brakes, jerking the car to the shoulder. Fishing his handcuffs out of his pocket, he opened the door on the woman's side, and quickly slid one cuff onto her right hand and the other onto the grip above her window. "And you'd better stay there!"
She scowled at him, and appeared to be in danger of losing what small control she had of her temper. Niles, who had removed his own seat belt, scooted over to her and whispered in her ear. Her outrage turned to calm, a smirk crossing her features, and Joe got back in the car and gunned it.
"Niles, you'd better keep to your side back there." Joe glanced into the rearview mirror, and indeed, the man was sitting some distance from the woman. But he was turned at an odd angle, and his leg was up on the seat—in fact, his foot had disappeared under Babs's skirt.
Joe grimaced and tilted the mirror to the roof. He was out of handcuffs; what the hell was he supposed to do about these two? He accelerated well beyond a safe traveling speed. Would this night ever end?
He radioed ahead, letting O'Malley know he was bringing in a couple on trespassing charges.
Gratefully, Joe pulled into a parking space near the 110th. Heaving a sigh of relief, he opened the door and unlocked the handcuffs. "Out," he said, short of patience.
If "elegant" is a word you could use to describe a woman caught in flagrante at Home Depot, Joe thought, that might be how he would characterize her exit from his cruiser. Head held high, she slid her long legs out of the vehicle and stood, reaching a hand out to help Niles.
Lucy O'Malley expected to see Cammareri lead a couple of teenagers into the station. She raised an eyebrow at the sight of the two middle-aged perps, clad in extremely nice if a bit disheveled silk and wool and designer shoes. O'Malley squinted at the woman as if she might recognize her, but then turned to Joe.
"These your trespassers, Cammareri?" She asked, fingers hovering over her keyboard to enter the initial report.
"Yep, we have Niles," he said, gesturing at the man, "and his lady friend, who claims not to remember her name," he finished, rolling his eyes.
"Is that right?" O'Malley asked, eyeing Niles for confirmation.
"Oh, yes, the moon seems to have lost her memory," Niles said dryly, side-eyeing his companion.
The woman growled at him and released his hand, crossing her arms over her chest. "What do I have to do to live down passing on that damned musical?"
O'Malley drew in a breath. "Memory… Of course! Theater people! I knew I recognized you. You're CC Boobcock, aren't you? I loved your last show!" She gushed.
"NOT Boobcock! Babcock. I hate you, Niles," she said plaintively.
"There, there, Babcock. Aren't you pleased to meet the only person who saw the show? And I hate you more," he said, his voice dropping an octave on those last words, his gentle tone belying the harsh words.
CC's eyes widened, and her expression softened. Joe had a sneaking suspicion that he was witnessing foreplay—time to move this along. "All right, O'Malley, so we've got Niles here, and CC Babcock. Can you mark that down on the record?"
"Sure thing. Now, what were they doing when you caught 'em?"
"Well, they were in one of the sheds at Home Depot, banging and moaning, and they came out half-dressed. Of course, I couldn't actually see what they were doing, but they were on private property after hours."
Joe glanced over at Niles and CC. They had the decency to look flustered, and CC reached for Niles's hand again. He took hers, caressing her fingers in a comforting movement.
"So no public indecency, then?" O'Malley asked, looking over the top of her glasses at the blushing pair.
"No, but it was a near thing," Joe answered.
"Was the shed damaged?"
"Well—no. Not that I could tell. But.." Joe trailed off, thinking of the cracked windshield on the limo. On second thought, better not to dwell on how that might have happened.
"Here's what I suggest—let's go put in a phone call to the captain and see if we want to go to the trouble of bringing them up on charges," O'Malley said.
Joe agreed, and said to Niles and CC, "You two can wait over there," pointing to some chairs near the desk.
As Joe followed O'Malley back toward the offices, he glanced back and saw Niles put his arm around CC's shoulders as they sank into the chairs. In spite of his lowered voice, Joe could just hear him say, "It's going to be okay, dumpling."
Joe heaved a sigh. In spite of the extreme awkwardness of the ride over to the station, he was beginning to wonder if maybe he should just let them go. He touched O'Malley's elbow, motioning to an empty office. She preceded him into the room, and he closed the door behind them.
Joe said, "I don't see any reason to bother the captain with this, do you?"
"That's just what I was thinking. I mean, you have their names now, and they appear to be fairly docile. How about a stern warning? It could be damaging to her career if this got out, you know, a public figure like that," O'Malley cautioned.
"Yeah, I can see the newspapers now, complete with a quote from me on how I busted them," he shuddered. "All right, that's what we'll do, then. Save myself some paperwork, too," he added with a tired grin, opening the door and gesturing for O'Malley to step out.
Together, they walked back over to the waiting pair. CC sat with her head on Niles's shoulder, their hands clasped between them. Niles had leaned his head against CC's, and his eyes had drifted shut.
At their approach, CC said quietly, "What's the verdict, officers?" Niles opened his eyes and sat up straight.
Joe replied, "Well, ma'am, this is a serious offense. We can't just allow people to trespass on private property, and we have some concerns that you were engaged in indecent behavior in a public place."
CC and Niles exchanged a worried glance. CC spoke first, "It won't happen again, officer."
Joe looked at Niles. "What about you, sir? Can I get that same promise from you?"
"Well, young man, if she won't do it, I certainly won't. What would be the fun in that?"
Joe shook his head. "I'm going to let you off with a warning this time. If we ever meet again, I won't be so lenient," Joe told them.
CC looked up hopefully. "So we can leave?"
"Yes, you're free to go." They rose from the chairs, Niles with a groan as his knees cracked.
CC turned to Niles. "How are we supposed to get back to the limo?"
Joe answered quickly, "I'll call you cab." He'd be damned if he ever got in a car with those two again.
CC leaned forward, kissing Joe's cheek impulsively. She stumbled a bit and fumbled at his hip to catch herself. "You're a dear. We'll just wait outside."
Niles extended his right hand, and Joe shook it. "Thank you, officer. I'll do my best to keep her in line."
CC, already near the door, turned back. "I heard that, old man! Count yourself lucky if you can even keep up with me, much less keep me in line."
Niles let out a long suffering sigh, his lips quirking into a knowing smile. He saluted and followed her out the door without a backwards glance.
As the door slammed shut behind the couple, Joe turned to O'Malley. "Thank god that's over. What a night."
O'Malley looked at the door speculatively. "We should be so lucky to be like them."
Joe looked at her incredulously. "What, a couple of rich folks getting it on in a shed at Home Depot?"
O'Malley scoffed at him. "No, in love enough with our partners to be as comfortable as they are together. Sex in an aluminum shed at Home Depot! Can you imagine?"
"I don't need to imagine. I was there, remember? I'm going home. And I won't be in tomorrow," Joe told her.
"Sure, sure. Enjoy yourself with Rita."
"Oh, I will. But not at Home Depot!"
Four days later, Joe reached into his glove box for his handcuffs before setting off in pursuit of a suspect. He came up empty. "What the hell? I always keep them there," he said out loud. Then he remembered Niles and CC Babcock, and closed his eyes in defeat, resting his forehead on the steering wheel. He'd never hear the end of it if O'Malley found out.