The judge was inclined to cut her loose.

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A VG Serial: ToxiCity

Episode 41

Georgia pulled the early shift on Monday. When she got to the station, she found a message to see Doyle ASAP. She was surprised. She’d hardly shared more than a brief conversation with him in the three years she’d been on the force. The door to his office was closed. She knocked tentatively.

“Yes.”

She poked her head in. He waved at her. “Georgia. Come in.” His voice was measured and calm, but something about it made her uneasy.

“Good morning, sir.”

“Close the door.” She did. He cleared his throat. He didn’t ask her to sit down. “Officer Davis, we have a situation.” He straightened some papers on his desk, making sure they were aligned in a stack. “It has been brought to my attention that you and another officer have exhibited a blatant disregard for our policies.”

“Excuse me sir? Which policy would that be?” She hoped she didn’t sound smart-ass, but there were so many. Of course, Doyle could probably recite each one.

“Specifically, the code of conduct that forbids fraternizing with officers of the opposite sex.”

The world tilted. Pipe smoke rose in a haze. The gray blinds slanted in daylight.

“Our rules specifically prohibit officers from having relations outside the professional arena. We have reason to think you violated that rule.”

A shiver edged up her spine. She tried not to panic.

“Not only is it bad for morale, but it affects our productivity, and in a very real sense, our ability to serve and protect. If officers are emotionally involved with each other, their commitment to the public and to their partner is in jeopardy. Who knows what could happen?”

Georgia studied her feet. If she moved one toe, she’d have to move all the others in turn. To make it all come out even. Maybe that would make the problem go away.

“I’m aware that it is not always an easy thing to do. Especially when you’re partnered with someone of the opposite sex. Or you think that another cop is the only person who understands what it’s like to risk your life every day.”

Now her breath came in angry bursts. Doyle thought she was making it with her partner, Robby Parker.

“Commander, Officer Parker and I are not involved with each other. “

Doyle leaned back, a smug look lifting the corners of his mouth. “I’m glad to hear that. So that means the information I have is false?”

Georgia fell silent. How could she deny her relationship with Matt? Hell, she was living with him. But that was none of Doyle’s business. Or anyone else’s. Except that someone had made it theirs. The parking lot last Friday. Christ. She knew she shouldn’t have given him a ride.

“Our policy states that any officer suspected of consorting with another officer, beyond casual social interaction, is automatically suspended with half-pay. I assume you’ll want to file a grievance with the association, and you’ll be entitled to a hearing, of course. That will be weighed along with the other evidence when we ultimately resolve the situation.” Doyle hunched forward. “But if you tell me there’s no truth to this rumor, Officer Davis, I’ll believe you.”

He was giving her an out. All she had to do was lie. Tell him that she wasn’t seeing Matt. That she wasn’t living with him. That’s what she should do.

Doyle picked up a pencil, drummed it on his desk.

She opened her mouth to tell him the lie. Nothing came out.

“Officer Davis?”

“What about Matt? What’s going to happen to him?”

“We’ll deal with him.” A smile curled his lips.

That’s when she realized Doyle hadn’t known who the other officer was. Until she blurted it out. She’d been sucker- punched.

Carrie Nelson slammed down the phone. “Now I’ve heard it all.”

Matt looked up. They were in the conference room, ground zero for the Task Force.

“Simon’s bimbo brigade.” She thumped her fist on the table. “That’s another one with the same story.”

“What does that make?” Brewster asked.

Nelson nodded. “Around twelve. This guy had some racket.”

“You want to let me in on it?” Matt said.

Nelson shook her head. “I’ve probably talked to dozens of the names in the black book, and for the most part, I’m getting the same story. It’s amazing. Get this.” She leaned back. “Simon meets most of them at East Bank. They’re working their butts off— all of them aspiring models or actresses, they say. He watches them work out. Then starts a conversation. He’s sympathetic. Understands what it’s like. How much they want to make it in show biz. And he can tell there’s something about them that’s different. Special.”

“The old one-two,” Brewster offered.

“Hold on,” Nelson said. “It gets better. After he’s got their attention, he lays it on. He can help them, he says, give ‘em an edge, being a dentist and all.”

“What? He’s ‘gonna clean their teeth?” Matt said.

“Better. He’s got this new equipment. So new, it’s still experimental. It’ll make their teeth as white and straight as the ivories on a piano. Think of the possibilities, he says. Close-ups, toothpaste, lipstick ads. The only thing is they’ll have to come up to his office in the evening. It’s so experimental, you see, the FDA hasn’t approved it yet.”

“The FDA? What the hell does the Food and Drug Administration have to do with anything?” Matt asked.

“You’re asking me? But these girls don’t know. Most of them buy the whole thing and actually show up. At night. And he does work on them. Bleaches their teeth, does something, who the hell knows? They don’t. But here’s the thing. They do think their teeth look better afterwards.”

“You’re kidding.”

“I’m not. Of course, most of them can’t pay the bill, so naturally, he takes it out in trade.”

“I – I don’t believe it.” Matt sputtered. “And they fall for it?”

“Not only that.” Nelson laughed. “Here’s the kicker. Most of them said they loved what he did for them. Said they’d do it again. Some even said how good he was in the sack. So you tell me who the bimbos are.” She gazed at Matt, then Brewster.

“You think we’re in the wrong racket, Carrie?” Matt said.

“Well, if the shoe fits…” Nelson wiped the grin off her face. “But ‘lemme ask you something. What do we say to his wife?”

“Nothing,” Matt said after a pause. “She already knows what he is. She doesn’t need us to spell it out. Unless you found someone who copped to being with him last Friday.” He looked hopeful.

“Sorry.”

“What about you, Brewski?”

“Nothing here.”

The phone in the office rang. Matt got it. It was Tom Dirksen from the States Attorney’s office.

“Bad news,” Dirksen said. “The Judge won’t go along on Hartman. Either bring him stronger evidence or he’s ‘gonna cut her loose.”

“The letters won’t do it?”

“She’s ready to cop a plea for the burglary. But because it’s a first offense, he’s leaning toward letting her off on probation and community service.”

“She’s going home?”

“Unless you got something you haven’t told me.”

“No. In fact, it’s worse.” Matt told him about Brenda Hartman’s alibi.

Dirksen sighed. “You may as well kiss her good-bye. Chalk it up to a bad collar.”

As he replaced the receiver, the door to the conference room opened, and Doyle crooked his finger at him.

Episodes in the novel will be published on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Please click the following title,ToxiCity, to read more about Libby Fischer Hellman’s books on Amazon.

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