Bikinis and Biopsies

Well folks, looks like I made it into the next round at NYCMidnights’s Flash Fiction Challenge. I got 8 out of 15 points this last time, but that secured me a spot in the next round. The competition started out with around 1400 writers and is now down to 240 writers. That alone is an honor, but also a little stressful. This round only advances the top five out of each heat of thirty, so fingers crossed. As I said before, they assign the Genre, Location, and an Object to use within the story and I have 48 hours to churn out a story in 1000 words. I didn’t think too hard about what I would get this time around because there was no point. You really can’t prepare for anything as far as what you will write.  As I say to my kids, you get what you get, so don’t throw a fit.

What you can prepare for is setting aside the time to do it. Unfortunately, because I work shift work, I was working all weekend. Just like I did the last two heats. Never fear. I looked at the prompt at midnight on Friday before going to bed, had weird dreams about the location and object, and when I woke up the next morning, I watched my son compete in a wrestling clinic tournament at 9am, (he lost, but persevered through it, so couldn’t be more proud of the little guy) and then went to work from 11am-11pm. Around noon, I had the first sentence cemented in my head, and I was off.

Thanks goodness for smartphone note apps, am I right? I had the first draft done by 12:50am that night, sent it to my beta readers, all women of course, as is my usual, and then worked out the kinks until 8:30pm on Sunday. Turned it in with 3 1/2 hours to spare. Anyway, here is the prompt: Drama, Dermatologist office, and Beer Bottle.

When I was writing, the idea in my mind was to work against stereotypes, writing women as more than objects, and professionals as human beings, subject to feelings and thoughts counterintuitive to the work environment. I know it’s not War and Peace, and only a thousand words, but I think it matters. Anyway, I hope you like it.

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Bikinis and Biopsies

Two worlds collide in the glare of halogen lights.

 

By the time Shelby recognized him, Dinesh was already inches from her naked breasts, examining the dark spot next to her left nipple.

“You’re the guy who lives in 127, aren’t you?” she said, staring at the top of his head. His thick hair protruded in the crisscross design of his halogen headlamp.

Dinesh raised an eyebrow, and pushed the question aside. Gingerly, he pressed at the edges of the node. He would need to take a biopsy.

“You can button up,” he said, lifting his head and giving her the practiced, professional smile he reserved for patients in various stages of undress. He rolled backwards on his stool, pulled off the lamp, and brushed a hand through his hair.

“It is you,” she said, doing up her blouse. “I thought I’d seen you before.”

“Yes,” he said.

“You should step off your patio sometime,” she said, matter of factly. “You’re paying for that pool. You might as well put it to good use.”

Dinesh smiled. He’d recognized her the moment he stepped into the room. She was hard to miss, her lithe body lying poolside every Saturday, soaking up the sun, handing every manner of beer bottle, foreign or domestic, to the bevy of muscle-bound men she seemed to attract. The fact that her breasts had been exposed at the moment of her neighborly revelation just confirmed the unabashed persona he’d expected from someone who looked like she did. He’d never been to a strip club, but he imagined they were full of Shelby’s.

It’s why he’d never stepped off his patio to join them, ultraviolet rays notwithstanding. Tanning was for narcissists. He had no patience for self-obsession. But listening to her speak, here in his office, so self-possessed, he was somewhat caught off guard. Of course, he would have to refuse her invitation. Thanks, but no. But what a revelation she was.

“So,” she said, “what do you think?”

Dinesh was lost in thought, caught between the doctor and the man. He stared at her with confusion. She smiled again, her lips parted, and he saw the whiteness of her teeth.

“I can’t swim,” he blurted out.

Shelby turned her head; her lips thinning over her closed mouth, and laughed out loud. “No, Doc,” she said, cupping her breasts. “What’s the prognosis?”

“Right,” Dinesh said. “They look…well…I think we ought to take a biopsy to be sure. You said there’s no tenderness or itching?”

“Nope,” she said. “But, better safe than sorry.” She reached for her buttons again.

Dinesh held up his hands. “You can stay dressed for the moment. We have some things to set up first. Nurses, local anesthetic, all that.” Flustered as he was, he couldn’t help but smile at her determined acceptance. “I must say, you are handling this rather well.”

“It’s the cop in me, Doc. Nice on the outside, but with a plan to kill everyone I meet. Cancer’s no exception.”

Dinesh blanched, and she laughed.

“Don’t worry, Doc. I won’t kill the messenger.”

“I just never pictured you as a police officer,” Dinesh said.

“Said the profiling dermatologist,” she responded.

“Excuse me?”

She smiled and pointed two imaginary guns at him. “Cop? Profiling?”

“Oh, right,” he said, smiling awkwardly.

“Most people guess stripper,” she added.

“No,” he stuttered. “I didn’t-”

“It’s okay, Doc. I’m used to it.” She put her hands on her waist and mimed a condescending drawl. “What’s a pretty little thang like you doing carrying a gun?”

“Of course,” he said, not knowing how else to respond. He wiped at a newly formed bead of sweat on his forehead.

“As for the pool, we can probably get you some lessons. You know, just to be safe.”

 

When he got home that evening, Dinesh realized he’d never told her no to the pool. Did it even matter? He shook his head and tried to put the thought of her out of his mind. He kept it clear the following day, as well, but on Thursday, it came screaming back to him when a stream of police cars raced past him on his drive in to work. Their frenzied sirens and speeding in and out of traffic bombarded his mind with conflicting images. Shelby in uniform. Shelby relaxing in the sun. Shelby half naked in his office. He couldn’t reconcile the police persona from the bikinied bombshell, or the small node just to the left of her nipple.

While working on the head of a sebaceous cyst on Friday, the television he had in the office for patients played a preview of some detective show, cops and robbers in high definition. He pictured Shelby kidding him with her trigger fingers. That night, his dreams converged poolside; gunbelt slung low on bikinied hips, unbuttoned uniforms, nipples and nodes. Her siren song kept calling to him, jolting him awake, his body covered in sweat.

Saturday was overcast, with weathermen threatening rain. But still, Dinesh watched the pool in the hopes of catching a glimpse.

 

When the biopsy results arrived on Monday, he instinctively reached for his phone and dialed her number. He got her voicemail instead.

“Officer Parker, this is Dinesh, I mean Dr. Daswani.” He paused, regained his composure, and hung up after asking her to call him back.

On Tuesday, he left another message.

On Thursday, he stopped by her apartment, but she never came to the door.

On Friday, he Googled her name. What he found in the newsfeed hit him like a gut punch. Police Officer Killed During Traffic Stop.

 

Sitting in the shade of his patio that Saturday, Dinesh watched his neighbors sunning themselves. Children played in the shallow end, and the men he thought were her boyfriends showed up with their kids. He wanted to reach out to them. Tell them how Shelby would have kicked Cancer’s ass. Instead, he walked off his patio and over to the deep end of the pool. It was time he learned how to swim.

 

Manipulation Mayhem

In the past several days, I have noticed a few people commenting on the nightmare that Kaitlyn Hunt is currently going through. Who is Kaitlyn Hunt, you ask? Well, honestly, she’s nobody special. Okay, that’s not fair. I’m sure she is special to her family and friends, but she isn’t anyone famous whom you might read about in the celebrity magazines. In truth, you shouldn’t know who Kaitlyn Hunt is, because her story is nothing out of the ordinary. Okay, well from my perspective (Sex Crimes Detective) her story is surely nothing new, but boy howdy, the internet is all abuzz with what she’s going through. Here are the highlights.

Kaitlyn Hunt is a spunky, eighteen-year-old cheerleader who lives in Florida and was recently arrested for lewd battery. What is lewd battery, you ask? In laymen terms, it’s what most people refer to as Statutory Rape. Basically, eighteen-year-old Kaitlyn was having a “consensual” sexual relationship with an unnamed fourteen-year-old girl at her school. In the interest of avoiding carpal tunnel syndrome, the unnamed fourteen year old will hence forth be referred to as Jane.

The only real problem with this situation is that an eighteen year old having sex with a fourteen year old is indeed against the law. However, according to the internet buzz, this is not why Kaitlyn was arrested. What is really going on is this: Kaitlyn is a seemingly normal high school teenager who also happens to be openly gay. Translation: her arrest is part of a conspiracy to make an example of a consensual gay relationships in school.  According to Kaitlyn’s mother in an article at XO Jane, the “other student’s parents feel like my daughter “made” their daughter gay.” Her father went on to say in an interview with the Associated Press, “It’s horrible. For my daughter’s sexual preferences, she’s getting two felony charges. It could possibly ruin her future.”

While I would agree that this turn of events is very likely to ruin his daughter’s future, I’m pretty sure it isn’t illegal to be gay in this country. So here is where the manipulation mayhem starts.

Any one of the following statement may be true:

1. Jane is 100% gay. She’s known it since she was seven when she got that tingly feeling in her nether regions while watching Taylor Swift sing live in concert. She understands what it means to be gay, however inexperienced as she is with the concept, she is on board to learn from the seemingly knowledgeable Kaitlyn. The two girls find each other and first love ensued, i.e. heavy petting, kissing, fondling, etc. Ecstatic over her new found love, Jane writes about everything in the private journal she got for her Bat Mitzvah. I don’t know that she’s Jewish, but you get the point.

2. Jane is not gay, but merely bi-curious, and shy. A deadly combination. It’s 2013 and the idea of experimenting sounds cool, so who better to experiment with than fun-loving, upbeat Kaitlyn. An innocent game of softball ensued; first base, second base, etc. You get the metaphor. Jane writes about everything in the private journal she got for confirmation. There, equal opportunity blanket statements.

3. Jane is straight, and also really loves hanging out with Kaitlyn. Then one night, at band camp, one thing leads to another, and things get sexual. I don’t know how this happens, but if it is anything like it was in the 80’s, perhaps one of the girls, it doesn’t matter which, snuck out some booze from the family booze locker, got tipsy, and truth or dare ensued. Jane is still straight, but she loves hanging out with Kaitlyn. While she kissed a girl and she liked it, she feels weird about it, so yep, you get the pattern, she writes it all down in her private journal that she got when she cast her first Wicca incantation on Esbat.

Now, add in the following plot point:

While cleaning her daughter’s filthy room, (I’m sorry, I have a sixteen year old daughter, so I am just applying experience and logic here) Mom finds Jane’s journal buried under the crumpled-up pair of American Eagle boot-cut jeans that she just had to have last Summer. Translation: Mom read Parenting 101 and is applying lesson #15; the only way to know what your daughter is truly thinking is to betray her trust and read her private journal. After all, who do you think bought the jeans and the journal in the first place?

And now the inevitable:

Mom. Freaks. Out. Her head spins. She feels faint. She waits for Jane to come home and blast her with her new found knowledge. How could Jane betray her mother like this? Anyone else see the irony here? I know, right? I totally know.

Jane of course is fourteen-years-old and her mother’s love is the most important thing in her life. Wait. Sorry. She’s fourteen. What her mother thinks has nothing to do with it. Who cares what her mother thinks? For crying out loud, it’s 2013. Get with the program mom and dad. No? No program? Oh yeah, being gay is not cool with mom and dad, and mom and dad have the power to ruin Jane’s life. The police are called, recorded phone calls are made with Kaitlyn and Jane talking about forbidden love, and Kaitlyn gets arrested.

Now, I bet when I said “forbidden love” you thought I was talking about the gay thing, right? Because that is the vibe I’m getting online. So let me clarify once more. In Florida, it is illegal for anyone–male or female, gay, straight, or bi-curious–to have sex with someone under the age of sixteen.  Period.

So when I say forbidden, I mean illegal.

In the articles I’ve been reading, they make it sound like Jane wanted no part in the arrest, but here is the problem: Jane is too young to really be making those decisions. Here comes more manipulation. Jane’s parents have somehow convinced her to turn against her girlfriend. You wouldn’t think that was possible, right? Who would do that? This is love we are talking about, right? Jane is old enough to know that what she is doing will ruin Kaitlyn’s life, right? You see where I am going here?

If Jane is not on board with the arrest, how did the recorded phone call happen? Pressure from the parents, perhaps?

If Jane is straight, how did the sex happen? Pressure from the eighteen year old mentor, perhaps?

What if Jane is gay, but still not ready for sex? How hard is it to convince her otherwise?

If Jane is gay and on board for sex, not much pressure is needed, but that brings me back to her parents and the phone call.

Are you seeing a theme here? Fourteen-year-old children cannot be counted on to hold up under pressure. They pretty much do whatever the powers that be tell them to do. Frankly, if you threaten to take away their I-phone and the internet, you pretty much can get them to do anything. Unlawful sex, check. Recorded phone call, check. Kaitlyn’s life down the toilet, chiggety check. The sad truth here is that children are easily manipulated. So, how do we stop that from happening? We make seemingly strict laws to protect them from those prone to manipulating situations. The state of Florida happens to call manipulators by another name; predators.

I guess what bothers me the most is this: if Kaitlyn was Kevin, and Jane stayed Jane, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. I have put plenty of Kevins behind bars and never heard a peep in opposition from the internet. But with Kaitlyn, the ACLU is crying for justice. Kaitlyn’s family are printing rainbow t-shirts to get the GLBT vote because their daughter is being prosecuted for her sexuality. Apparently, the fact that these girls are gay is supposed to make this alright. Like a fourteen year old lesbian is more capable of understanding the big picture because she is in tune with her sexuality? Because she is gay, she cannot be manipulated into doing something she isn’t comfortable with? How did that work out with the recorded phone call?

Being gay doesn’t mean you understand this any more than the next person. We make these laws to protect children, and in the state of Florida, and pretty much everywhere else, at fourteen, sex shouldn’t be an option. It isn’t an option. It’s illegal. Let’s not forget that.

I have seen my fair share of these cases. The players change, and the ages range from twelve-years-old into the mid-twenties. These “consensual encounters” usually enrage the average citizen. They say things like, “How could he do that with such a young girl?” or “Sick bastard. If that was my daughter, I’d have his balls!”

I have talked parents down off ledges, brokered deals between suspects and victims, and on more occasions than I would like to count, I have put seemingly good kids, with bright futures ahead of them, in jail. I used to think this made me some kind of monster. Like the people Kaitlyn’s mother talks about in her article. She trusted the police, and they put her daughter in jail.

Is this a sad situation? Yes. Could it have been avoided with some intolerant parenting on Kaitlyn’s side? Yes. Great. You embrace your daughter’s sexuality, but let’s not forget about strict adherence to laws regarding underage sex. Let’s teach that too, shall we.

I wish I could fix the problem. I’d get parents involved with their kids. I’d tell them it’s okay to be parents and not friends. Contrary to the ad campaign, friends let friends drive drunk, parents don’t. I tell both victims and suspects to avoid the situation. I preach curfews and abstinence. It’s the only way I know to avoid getting caught up in a sex crimes allegation. But, like I said, this is 2013. I should be more enlightened. Kids have sex. But guess what? Kids also have their own jail. And with the way these things are going, I don’t see a time where sex crimes detectives won’t be putting them there. The kids (and parents) just make it so easy.

Sorry Kaitlyn, but in Florida, it’s against the law for you to have sex with Jane. If you were a man, Jane’s dad would have beat you within an inch of your life for having sex with his daughter, and then he still would have called the police. Could have been worse, all things considered. You should have waited until she turned sixteen. But maybe that would have been too late. After all, that’s when her options open up.

It’s getting real in Rialto, folks.

I know that there are many readers out there, okay, all two of you, that may be wondering about the exciting life of a police officer. And I’d be willing to bet that some of you may have caught an episode of COPS every now and again. I, myself, just watched the latest episode, and in case some of you missed it, let me fill you in on the latest Neilsen rating juggernaut story.

Rialto police respond to domestic disturbance call where young love has gone awry. Upon arrival, officers meet with crying girlfriend trying to move out of ex-boyfriend’s house. Boyfriend is upset over a “dent” in the wall caused by his ex-girlfriend’s furniture and belongings as she made her escape from the house.

A dent. In the wall. He called 911 for this. The officer, to his credit, listened patiently to the idiot and his dent, and the call was closed with the girlfriend offering to pay for the damages. A dent, no bigger than a dime, and she resolved to pay him to fix it. Remember the cameras were rolling. And I guess that makes all the difference in Rialto.

Now don’t get me wrong. The police officer was patient and professional, but I have to imagine that how he acted for the camera did not necessarily reflect what he was thinking inside his head. For example, perhaps he was thinking something along these lines:

Are you serious, dude? A dent? Do you see that camera right now? Yeah? You’re on COPS, you know that? You ever seen that show? Bad boys, bad boys, what you gonna do? You called the police over a dent. Does that sound like prime time television programming to you? I thought you guys were fighting. I mean, I heard this call, domestic disturbance, the most dangerous calls we get and and I’m thinking, alright! Let’s show the world how crazy it gets in Rialto. I was looking forward to chasing someone or calling out the K9. Dog bites. Who knows, maybe even get in a shooting. Now that’s entertainment!

Let me ask you something. When the 911 operator answered the phone and said, “911, what’s your emergency?” did you tell her about the dent? Come on fella. What part of dent screams emergency 911? Is there a new legal bulletin I missed? Because the last time I checked, accidentally denting your wall on the way out is not a crime. Your girlfriend dumped you because you cheated on her. Man up and move on.

And to finish it off with television flare, maybe he could have pointed to the cameraman and said, “Get a good look, ladies. This man is back on the market.” Honestly, who calls the police over a dent?

Of course, I don’t know why I am surprised. I remember hearing a code-3 three call go out (Code 3 – respond with lights and sirens activated) about an Aggravated Assault…….with a pillow. That’s right folks. A pillow.

Bad boys, bad boys. What you gonna do?

Honestly. 😐