Warming the Bench
by Kitteridge

Oh, it's you again.
Look, if I told you once, I toldja a thousand times, he ain't here right now. Out with Briscoe, as per usual. Me, I'm stuck here. As per usual. But you know that. You've been seeing me stuck in here for the past eight years. And do you once come in here and go "hey! Where's Tony?" Nooooo. Do you once step in troo that green door and go "Yo! Show me Profaci!" Noooo, times double. It's like I don't even --
Really? Yer pullin' my leg. Yah, yah, tell me another one. Have a seat over here. He don't care if you sit in his desk. Not like he's got anything to hide. Here, I'll show you. Pipe down, I'm tawkin' here. Take a seat. Oop, don't cross them legs or I'm gonna have to ask you out again. That's quite a nice skirt ya got on there...aww, now don't get all shy on me. We all know what it means when you show up lookin' for him.
Look, I ain't no sap. I'm donut boy. I'm bagel man. I fetch and carry. They call me Radar when they think I ain't lookin'. I know, I know it all. Been here longer than all of 'em put together. Don't even try to make me feel better. I'm a cop. I work in homicide. You think I ain't got a thick skin by now? So anyways, where were we. Yeah, so this is the desk. See, the blotter's got a million phone numbers on it -- what? No, I'm sure they're not all for women. And he's got one of the '80s number cruncher name plates. Useta be they made 'em nice, in wood, all engraved and shit. Then the city bottomed out and they just made 'em in plastic. I'm still waitin' for mine, can ya believe that? So let's see...move over the empty Coke can, here, see? This is backlog. This is the file which can wait. He got about seven cases right here, waitin' to be tackled. They always got backlog, they always got more shit than they can handle.
Sorry. Pardon my French.
But do they give it to me? Noooooo, sister, not hardly. I gotta go make some coffee, instead. Hey, want a cup? Oh, it's not far -- sure, I'll show you the "coffee nook." If ya wanna get technical. No, it ain't like in Baltimore. We don't have no little kitchenette. When was you down in Charm City anyhow? Oh, yeah, you took a Amtrak during that last case, with the model. Yeah, they got a nice clean office in Bal-ti-more. Here. How you take it? Cream? Let me take a whiff of the milk. Pheww! Hey, Sullivan! Whose turn was it to get the -- ah, shit.
Sorry, did it again. You don't mind? You've heard worse? Well, call me old-fashioned. I don't swear much in front of the ladies. Did I tell you what a nice skirt that was? Now, there you go again, blushin' on me. You're a crazy chick. I'd call you a flirt.
Well, there's my fault again. Donut boy forgot to get fresh milk, so you'll have to use sour or just sugar -- you like it black? Well, great. Gal after my own heart. Make little blowy on it, so it ain't too hot.
Me too. This stuff is always crap.
My desk? Well, since you ask -- it's right over here. Sure. Have a seat. Right next to Van Buren's office. Not like she'd notice me or nothin'. Look sharp: it ain't all that fancy. I ain't got a regular partner, so they face me up against the wall. Yeah, the blotter's pretty clean. And the bin's kind of empty. Waitin' for Logan to toss me a bone, or one of the others on regular rotation. Lucky sonsabitches. Get to choose their cases.
Oh, don't worry. He'll be back any time now. I'm sure.
What, me? How come I always get stuck here? Aw, you don't care about that. You're just makin' small talk.
For real? Well...it's not so much of a big deal. Hey, you ever get to a Yanks game? Me too. Met's're fer losers. Well, where'd'you sit? Me too, back in the bleachers. Behind Strawberry if I can. Way, way back. Real people sit back there. Well, I useta play left field when I was a kid. Yeah, yeah, pretty good. After school the guys got together and then one day we had a team, and the next time we had some team to play from across town and then the adults got into it and suddenly there was this league.
You sure you're interested in this?
Okay, then. Anyhow, so we had this league. But once we got the cool uniforms and the new gloves and got sponsored by Ed's Hardware and Dry Goods -- whadahell is a dry good, anyway? Oh, I know, I'm just joshin'. Anyhow, once we got into a real team, sudden-like everybody wanted to play. And you had to try out. And I wasn't so good suddenly. I remember him. Joey Scavullo. Joey "The Hand" Scavullo. Yeah, I know. Sounds a little kinky, hey? But he was amazing. Caught everything came his way, caught far fly balls like there was no tomorrrow. And I was good, but I wasn't that good. Just couldn't catch up. They benched me. I got to run in and play every once in a while. Mostly I ended up watching from the sidelines, ya know?
So, the way I figure it is, I got used to that.
Aw, come on, it's not a weepy story. Here. Kleenex from Manley's desk. He's always got a cold. Here, don't smear that there mascara. Logan comes in, he's gonna think we got a raccoon waiting for him.
What?
Oh, nah. Look, the way I figure it is -- ya gotta use your best players. Ya gotta put your Strawberrys out there. Ya keep a good stock in case, ya know, for backup. Hey, it's not like I'm desked. And I'm in homicide. So I figure, I gotta be the best relief player they're gonna find. Wouldn't keep me around if that wasn't the case. Naive? Probably. But I got used to it. Took a while. I got, you know, accustomed.
Hey, there he is, there's your boy. Over here, Logan!
There. Now, go hang out in his neighborhood, little girl. You can tell him how much I liked the skirt. And, acourse, what came in it. Don't worry, I'll toss your coffee.
What? Oh, me? Thanks, kid, thanks. Nah. You're sweet to ask. But I got me a girlfiend. Nena. See? There, in the picture on the desk. We been together just about seven months now.
Oh, you mean I'm the terrible flirt? Yeah, right. So why'd I make a move on you?
Just keeping, you know, warmed up.
In case there's some relief needed.
Ya never know.


end


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