Written by Nandini Sethi
I fix my belt and smoothen out my slightly crimped pants, looking around, left, and right, patrolling the area, keeping an eye out for any speeding drivers or illicit activities. I forgot to iron my uniform this morning, so subconsciously I tried to get rid of any creases that weren’t wanted.
The first requisite of being a cop is discipline. It’s true that I was lacking in that area – especially being a woman cop, there was added pressure to be extra vigilant in the way we dressed and looked. But my uncombed hair and unpressed clothes gave away my shortcomings.
The station tolerated me for one reason and one reason only – I was good at my job. Great, even. I have helped track down and catch innumerable petty thefts, local kidnappings, gunmen gone astray, and anything that involved unlocking a door with a bobby pin.
Things had been slow for the past week. That’s why when my pager went off today, I expected it to be another reminder from my boss about my incomplete paperwork, but it was something else, something more interesting: a robbery at the jewelry store.
The scene at the store was more dramatic than I had imagined: there was a loud wail, a girlish scream coming from the far end of the narrow store, whom I assumed to be the owner, except it wasn’t a woman – it was a man. A well-built, fully-grown, rugged shoulder and groomed beard, man.
Sighing, I walked towards him, already regretting taking up this case. “Hello, sir, are you alright to record a statement?”
When he looked up, I couldn’t deny he was beautiful – he had brilliant features and warm eyes, that were now swollen from all the tears, but still mesmerizing, nonetheless. After calming him down, taking his statement, then calming him down again, I did something no professional should ever do: I bought him some hot coffee. In my defense, he looked so pitiful and in need of company, that I couldn’t help but feel slightly protective of him.
The incident was soon forgotten, as all small cases are at the station. The thief was caught, fined, and the owner installed some cameras in his store. When no one was paying attention, I slipped him my number, and told him to call me personally if he was ever in trouble or needed anything.
So when one week later I was back to patrolling the same safe streets, I was surprised to see an unknown number ringing me in the middle of the day. Until I remembered who it could be.
“Hi, I’m sorry to bother you in the middle of the day, but I kind of need your help?” I didn’t even wait for him to finish his sentence before I was scrambling – into the car and breaking a few laws to get to the jewelry store.
On reaching there he explained to me, “there was a shady man outside, but I think he’s gone now.” Still panting from the adrenaline rush, I couldn’t believe I clambered all the way in a hurry for this. But for his sake, I didn’t show it, “Oh! Well, I guess I should stick around for a bit then,” he looked at me with wide eyes, “you know, just to make sure…”
He nodded eagerly.
A few days later, I had forgotten, once again, all about this little incident. But when on a Thursday afternoon I saw his contact shine on my screen again, I answered in a hurry.
“Hey you may want to get down here quick.”
And so I did. Today too, I broke a number of traffic laws, ones that I enforced on others, vowing to keep my duty, but under the circumstances, I excused myself.
Stumbling into his store, I gasped for breath, but asked in a hurry all the same, “what’s wrong?! What happened?
“There was some money missing this morning,” my eyes widened, already making way towards the cash counter, “but I realized that it was in my pocket all along.”
Internally, I cursed. But before I could berate him for wasting a cop’s time, I looked at his warm face and hazel eyes, and thought about how shaken he must be. Maybe I did have a soft spot for him, but I let it go.
One week later he called me again. Then again. The reasons he gave for calling me over got more unoriginal and haphazard with time. I realized what was happening. I didn’t know how to feel about it: concerned or flattered? I decided to play along for a little bit. Only for a little bit…