Cop on the Edge, Episode 11
He's a Woman. She's a Man.

M. Stanley Bubien

The dozer roared toward the makeshift fire command center, my new friend still clinging to the side, and the flames safely behind us.

"Good job!" he shrieked in my ear. "Your quick thinking saved four or five ranches, you know!"

I nodded.

"Look out!" he screeched, pointing ahead.

I saw the creature just before it disappeared under the tread. "Scorpions. I hate scorpions."

"Hey!" he scolded. "Those things are pretty rare these days!"

I glanced behind me. "Yeah? Well they're a whole lot rarer now."

Whatever reply he was about to give was cut short by the guy I'd talked to earlier flagging us down. He was the fire chief---I could tell by the way he eyed us---every chief I've ever met used that same look---some sort of prerequisite for promotion, I figured. What the hell? I'd learned long ago the best way to deal with that look.

"Hold on," I said and gunned the engine. The dozer lurched forward, and as the chief leapt out of the way, I cranked it left, kicking up a cloud of dust, and skidding to a halt. I jumped out and headed toward his last known position. When the dust settled, I was on one side of the chief, while some woman was on the other.

"Where'd you come from?" I said, pointing at the woman.

She smiled, handed me her helmet, and shook out her long, dark brown hair. "You gave me the ride," she squeaked in a familiar voice.

I was still staring when the chief poked me in the chest, "Hey, bub, that was one helluva dangerous stunt! Fire break? Where'd you get a crazy idea like that?"

Before I could answer, he continued with a nod toward the woman. "Good thing Sommers was around to bail your sorry ass outta there! I watched you go. You make a helluva team! Fire's already safely past the houses." He pointed at the opposite hill, "we'll have it out within the hour."

Grinning like an idiot, he slapped us both on the shoulder, "Damn good work!"

I didn't even notice him walking away.

"Quit staring," the woman---Sommers---said.

"You're supposed to be a man!" I accused.

"Oh? I'm sorry to disappoint you!" She grabbed her helmet out of my hands.

Did I have a way with women, or what? "Look, I didn't mean that. It's just---I thought you were a guy."

She cocked her head to the side and smiled, "That's okay. Happens all the time." She presented her hand, "Name's Sommers, by the way, Michelle Sommers."

"Nice to meet you."

When I offered nothing more, she said, "How about reciprocating here? Maybe, for example, you could starting by telling me who you are and what you're doing here."

"I'm a police officer, and I'm investigating an arson."

"Arson? That's fast work, getting here before the fire's even out!"

"No. The arson fire was two days ago."

"Oh, right. Forgot about that." She scraped some ash out of her ear and scowled, "Now. How about telling me your name?"

Copyright ©1997 M. Stanley Bubien. All Rights Reserved.

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June, 1997
Issue #14