A Hot Summer's Day
"Jesus Christ the day they pick for this damn game turns out to be the hottest day of the summer so far!" Detective Lennie Briscoe complained as he opened the trunk of his car.
His partner, Mike Logan, looked at him while trying to conceal a grin. "Lennie...it's only the end of June!"
Briscoe pretended not to hear the comment as he flung a green gym bag into Logan's ribs. His trunk was filled with goodies that he and his partner would need for the day. Baseball gear, water and lots of beer.
As Briscoe pulled out a large cooler of the latter, Logan looked at him thoughtfully. Lennie really was not put out, he had been looking forward to this day. It was the annual precinct charity game, an idea created by the policemen's wives a few years ago to help needy kids get to summer camp. Each year they played a baseball game against some corporate team and got polluted throughout the course of the day. A barbecue and games for the kids carried the day into an evening of singing, dancing and fireworks. Briscoe was always the life of the party, and a favorite of the kids, no matter how hot it was.
Logan had to admit though, this year it was pretty hot. It was only 9am in the morning and eighty degrees...and climbing. After a few beers no one would really give a damn.
The young detective pulled his red baseball cap tightly onto his head so that his sunglasses were barely visible. The precinct's uniforms were barely that, just red baseball caps and red and white baseball shirts. Logan finished off the uniform with a pair of red Adidas shorts with white stripes on the side, while his partner opted for regular grey sweatpants.
The two of them strolled side by side towards the baseball diamond, each one holding a side of the cooler.
"Hey Logan, Briscoe!" called a young street cop at the bleachers. "What kind of beer did you bring this year fellas?"
"Wouldn't you love to know, Robbie?" Briscoe taunted. "You know the tradition every year a different beer. This one is some Germanic little number we picked up."
"Yeah," chimed in Logan as the reached the young man. "And maybe after the game we can pick up some fraulines."
Robbie laughed as he rubbed at his blond, crew cut hair. Robbie Dothman was 24 years old but looked more like he was fifteen. Logan had known his father when he himself had been Robbie's age. That was fourteen years before, Robbie's dad had retired only a few weeks ago.
"So Robbie," Briscoe began as he put down the cooler. "Who are we playing this morning?"
"Does it matter?" Logan retorted. "We'll kick their asses as always!"
Robbie chuckled. "I dunno, Logie, this year is supposed to be a good team. We are playing the Borough Bugle today."
The two detectives looked at the young policeman, waiting for the punchline...none came.
"Journalists," Briscoe replied, "We are playing a bunch of journalists and you are worried? Christ, why not put us against the nuns at St. Francis School for girls?"
"Hey!" Logan began sternly. "They would be tough. You ever had one of them chasing you around the playground with a ruler?"
Briscoe looked at Logan's mirrored eyes. "Why would a nun from that school chase you? It's an all girl's school!"
"That's why they chased me. Sister Mary Catherine caught me behind the gym with Lucy Walker playing *Forgive Me Father For I Have Sinned*...I didn't even get the chance for one Hail Mary."
Briscoe sighed and rolled his eyes. "I might have known...ask a stupid question!"
Dothman interrupted the exchange with widened blue eyes. "Jesus have mercy will you get a look at the angel that is walking this way!"
The two detectives turned around to watch a young lady crossing the field with a gym bag hung over one shoulder. A green baseball cap was strapped around the handle of the bag and the woman was wearing a green and white baseball jersey to match, with cut-off denim shorts. Her shapely tanned legs shined with newly applied suntan lotion as she marched towards the baseball diamond. A long red mane flapped behind her in fiery spirals.
"Wow." Dothman whispered. "I wish she was on our team. She must be one of the players from the Bugle."
Briscoe was even looking over the woman, although she was young enough to be his daughter. He nodded in agreement. "Makes it hard to hate the enemy, doesn't it Mikey?"
That isn't all that her walk could make hard, Logan thought to himself. She couldn't have been any older than twenty-eight, a good eight years younger than he himself. The woman possessed the fresh loveliness of youth, but managed to carry herself with the maturity that comes from adulthood. There was almost an arrogance in her walk.
With a moment of amazement, the three men realized that the woman was headed directly for them. All three stood a little straighter and stretched their shoulders as broad as they could. Even Lennie sucked in his stomach.
"Excuse me gentlemen," The woman spoke. "Is this the charity policemen's ball game?"
"It certainly is," the oldest policeman answered, as he extended his hand. "I am the catcher, Detective Lennie Briscoe. This is our first baseman Robbie Dothman. This is our pitcher, and my partner, Detective Mike Logan."
"How do you do fellas," she had the most beautiful blue eyes Logan had ever seen. "My name is Ryan Malloy. I am a new reporter with the Bugle."
"Malloy..." Briscoe thought aloud. "Can't say I know your writing Miss Malloy."
"I am afraid I am stuck in the social pages for the time being...and call me Ryan, Detective Briscoe."
"Lennie," Briscoe corrected as the young woman smiled. "So what position do you play, Ryan?"
"Pitcher," came the reply.
"Pitcher?" Dothman asked with amazement. "A woman pitcher?"
Ryan Malloy looked coolly at the young police officer. "Yes...when you grow up in a family the youngest of six kids and the rest are boys, you can learn one hell of a curve ball, Dothman. So you had better be on your toes."
Logan grinned to himself. Dothman had blown it, and he wasn't finished.
"Well...I am sorry miss...uh...Malloy," Dothman stammered. "I am just used to pitchers built like walls playing against us."
"And why is that?" the reporter asked.
"Because they need all the help they can get against old Loose Cannon Logie here! He is the best pitcher in these charity games. He has won the MVP Ribbon every year since this whole charity started!"
"Well," Logan acted modest, "I don't like to brag..."
"Good," Malloy cut in, "because there is a first time for everything...and this will be the first year you lose...have a good game gentlemen...Lennie."
The two younger men stared in amazement as Lennie smiled. "Nice meeting you Ryan. Hey maybe you will join us in a beer after the game?"
"I'd like that, Lennie, thanks." With a spin of blazing curls, Malloy turned and headed towards her waiting team members.
"What a little bitch!" Logan exclaimed. "She thinks SHE is going to out throw ME?"
"You'll have to excuse my new reporter Logan, she has a lot to learn about tact."
Logan turned around to see Sam King, editor of the Bugle, standing behind him. Sam was a portly gentleman of sixty with white hair and shining green eyes. It was impossible to hate this man. He had a warm smile and a friendly disposition that even Mike Logan could not ignore.
"Hey Sammy!" Logan slapped the man's shoulder affectionately. "What on earth made you hire someone so arrogant!"
"You only found her arrogant because she said she is going to beat you today," Briscoe admonished. "I found her to be a nice girl."
"Oh she is a nice girl, Len," Sam began, "but she is cocky. You got to be to be a reporter in this neck of the woods! She is sharp though. Sharp as a whip. It took me two years to get her to come to work for me. She was wasting her talents up in Batavia of all places!"
"So you put her into the social pages?" Briscoe asked.
"Everyone has to start somewhere, after all she is only twenty-eight," Sam explained. "Besides if I played favorites with her the rest of the staff would go nuts. Though I must admit, she is going to be my star someday."
"Why was it so hard to make her leave Batavia?" Dothman asked.
Sam sighed. "Didn't want to leave her grandmother. There was no one else to care for the dear woman...she passed away six months ago and I finally convinced Ryan to come here.
"Basically she is a good girl, does her job one hundred and fifty per cent...nothing less. Has the best sources in town and always helps break the big stories. Still, I want her to work her way into the good stuff, you know? She's not afraid of work anyway."
"Real go-getter," Mike said slowly, "no wonder she got on my nerves."
Sam smiled. "Oh Michael, you haven't seen anything yet. She has a talent for it. She's got a good brain, a good heart and is a real good writer...but she is as subtle as a bag of hammers. Sharp mind...sharper tongue. She is right about one thing though."
"What's that?" Logan asked.
"She will kick your ass!" Sam started to laugh heartily as he walked away.
Mike clenched his jaw.
It was the top of the second, and still no score. The heat was suffocating as the hot sun beat down over the baseball diamond. Sweat drip from the pitcher of the policemen's team already.
Logan was pitching with his usual finesse and striking out anyone he could. He had been waiting and biding his time, and now the moment had arrived. The moment Ryan Malloy reached the plate.
He was about to throw his best heat when a though occurred to him.
This was a woman. She was about 5'4" and 120 pounds at most. How could he, as a man easily twice her size, even dream about throwing such a hard pitch?
He sailed a pathetic pitch across the plate.
Ryan Malloy was so stunned by the pitch she did not even swing.
"STRIKE ONE!" yelled the umpire.
"What in the hell do you call that Logan? I thought you were a great pitcher!"
"I am," Logan said.
A moment later a similar pitch crawled across the plate.
Malloy was red faced. "Logan!"
"Come on!" Briscoe barked. "Play the game, Mikey!"
"She's a woman!" Logan exclaimed. "I can't give her any hard pitches!"
"That's it!" The journalist spit into the dirt and looked at Logan with her blue eyes blazing. "For Christ sake throw the ball like a REAL man you arrogant son-of-a-bitch!"
That was enough to snap Logan out of it. With a set face of determination he threw out the best heat he could...and Malloy promptly belted it up and over the fence and out of the park. The game's first homerun.
Logan watched in dismay as the reporter ran the bases and headed home to her cheering team mates. Briscoe walked over to Logan and handed him a new game ball. The two of them looked out to where the ball had landed.
"She really hit the hell out of that huh?" Briscoe said.
"Yeah." Logan muttered.
"Seriously," Briscoe tried to keep from grinning, "anything flying that high and that fast should have a goddamn stewardess on it. Don't you think?"
Logan turned to face his partner. "Are you trying to piss me off?"
"Looks like some one else already did," Briscoe stated matter-of-factly.
They both looked over to Ryan who was still celebrating at home plate. She felt their eyes on her after a moment and faced them. With a devilish smirk, she gave a sarcastic little wave to Logan.
"I hate her," Logan sighed.
It was the bottom of the ninth, the bases loaded and two outs already in the bag for the journalist team. It was now noon so the sun, and its heat, was at the fullest. The score was in favor of the Bugle, 5-2. Malloy was starting to tire, but she was looking forward to striking out the next batter up...the winning run...Detective Mike Logan.
It was not that she hated the guy. She just really enjoyed get his gander up, which she seemed to do with great ease. In reality she had thought him a very attractive man when she had approached he and his partner earlier that day. His muscular legs moved like pistons when he ran, and you could see the muscles on his back move like a panther's when he pitched.
It certainly did not hurt that his ass looked fabulous in those red shorts either.
As Logan approached the plate, he swung the bat in an intimidating gesture. His team was going crazy chanting 'Logie, Logie!'. They certainly had faith in their man. To bad she had to bring him down. As she rolled her shoulders to relax for the pitch she wondered what color his eyes were under his sunglasses.
Logan wished Malloy would not roll her shoulders like that, it distracted him. He was still finding it hard to focus when the first pitch went flying by him without so much as a swing.
Damn it, concentrate.
Jesus! Why are you letting this pain in the ass get to you...just whack it!
That is exactly what Logan did on the next pitch. It stayed in the park but sailed to the end of the fence. Two outfielders raced for it, as the first of the policemen reached home plate. Dothman was rounding third, Briscoe heading for third and Logan just passing first.
Malloy cursed herself for not paying enough attention to her last pitch. It was unavoidable, she had noticed how Logan's thigh muscles constricted as he followed through and it had mesmerized her. Now it would cost her team the game. She had to fix it.
Dothman was home, and Lennie almost there, by the time Logan was headed for third. The outfielder had thrown it to third, but the basemen missed it with his glove and it rolled down the baseline as Logan drew near.
Lennie was home and the score was tied by the time Malloy got a hold of the ball and charged towards to Logan. There was no way she would catch him.
Logan was pumping his legs with all the strength he had. He smiled to himself as he saw Lennie cross home plate and his team jumped up and down urging him to reach home. It had been a close game, but victory would be theirs once again.
Logan's thoughts were shattered as he felt something knocking him the back full force and sending him sprawling to ground, face first, and the wind left his body. All fell silent.
It was then he realized a body was pinning him down. A body that leaned down to his ear and let a single red curl fall into his line of sight.
Malloy. Where in the hell was his gun when he needed it?
He rolled over onto his back and propped himself up on his elbows and watched her smiling down at him.
"Good game Logan."
Lennie came running to his partner and kneeled down beside him. "Are you okay, Mikey?"
Logan could feel the dirty grit in his mouth from tasting the dry sand and chalk of the baseline. It was now about 100 degrees, he was hot and sweaty...just underneath a beautiful woman...and he had never felt worse. He took off his sunglasses and looked at Malloy in annoyance.
"Are you trying to kill me today?" he asked.
"Nope...just maim you," she replied. His eyes were hazel.
"That was quite the flying leap you took, Ryan!" Briscoe said with a grin.
"I told you Lennie," she laughed. "Five big brothers. I didn't just learn about baseball...football and wrestling were pretty big around my house too. Good game.
"By the way, Logan, I hope you didn't reserve any spot on your mantle for that MVP thing...I have got it in the bag."
"I got something else you can have in the bag, Malloy," Logan snorted.
Malloy's eyes turned cold. "Go to hell, Logan."
"I was there when you were on top of me," his stare was equally cold.
"You Irish Catholic men are all alike," Malloy retorted.
She nodded. "Yeah me...a Scottish Protestant woman."
Logan looked at Lennie. "Protestant...figures."
With a sigh of disgust Malloy walked away, shaking her head, as Sam King head towards the two detectives who were still sitting in the dirt.
"You all right there, Michael?" Sam asked.
"Fine, Sammy...good game. Now come and join us losers in some German beer huh?"
"Sure...I just want to tell Ryan the good news."
"If it is to say she is MVP I think she already knows," Briscoe laughed. Logan just glowered at his partner.
Sam shook his head. "Better than that. Tom is being transferred to another branch of the paper. I can put Ryan where she belongs...on police beat."
"Police beat!" Logan exclaimed. "You can't do that! Tom works with our precinct!"
"Yeah, I know," Sam smiled. "I better go tell her!"
Logan and Briscoe watched Sam run up to Ryan and give her the good news. She gave her boss a daughterly hug and the two of them walked towards the picnic tables like father and child.
"Looks like we will be seeing a lot more of Miss Malloy, Mikey," Briscoe stated.
"Great," Logan sighed. "Just what I need above this goddamn suffocating heat...a pain in my ass!"
As she walked further away Logan realized she herself had a great ass. Why couldn't she just be another pretty face with no harsh mouth or sarcastic mind. The women Logan liked to date. This woman was going to drive him crazy.
Logan stood up and brushed the dirt off of himself. He needed a hot dog and a few dozen beers to feel better. Not only was he hot and exhausted, but he was antagonized by a woman who was now a daily occurrence.
It was going to be one hell of a long summer.