In the dark of her warm bed, his voice never stopped seducing her. Grant Ellison did all the talking when he was making love. Softly. Playfully in command. A tone that made women trust him. Submit to him.
Her ankles were crossed behind him. Grant could feel her hemp ankle bracelet brushing the back of his thigh. He rolled over on his side.
Grant pressed his body into her smooth back. Their legs intertwined. He caressed her. He found the spot that made her purr. Grant would have kept going it weren't for one tiny thought that popped into his head:
I can't remember her name!
A cold tingling swept over his forehead like the first breath of winter frost. He tried hard to think. Grant felt nauseous even though his stomach was empty.
His mind was blank. Total darkness. Grant turned his head and opened his eyes wide. He stared into the dim room in terror. His heart beat rapidly against his chest.
The unfamiliarity scared him. This was the first time he’d been in her apartment. He felt dislocated. His eyes darted around in the dark looking for something familiar to fix his gaze, to anchor him somehow.
There was just a window. Gauzy grey. Dabbled in moisture near the sill from the late afternoon shower. Finally, he was able to make out the faint line of rooftops and trees. His breathing slowed as he recalled that he was on the third floor . . . of her apartment in Fremont.
Sensing his detachment, the woman pulled him close.
From outside there came a long cry. Like a wounded animal. Somewhere between a squeak and a squeal.
Grant jumped. “What the—?”
“It’s all right. That’s just the peacocks across the street. At the zoo. They do that at sunset.”
Grant experienced a measure of relief. She had reminded him that her apartment was across the street from the Woodland Park Zoo. He knew the place now, but what about her name? Her name?
He pulled away. “Damn!”
“What?” she whispered. “What is it?”
“My pager’s going off.”
“I—I don’t hear it.” She was so close now. If he had just kept going. She bit her lip and sighed. Quietly in the dark.
With the finesse of a leopard, Grant jumped out of bed and crouched. He rummaged through their clothes on the hardwood floor. He pulled his COM-12 out of his belt pack. The police communicator was a light, palm sized device that doubled as a cell phone.
Grant showed her a tiny red light flashing on the COM-12. He had turned it before he pulled it out of the pack. He wanted her to think there was an emergency.
“Sorry. I gotta respond to this. I’m still on duty.” He sat on the edge of her bed and put his hand on her hips. Her skin was hot to the touch. He kissed her.
“Grant?” Her voice was drifting into sleep.
“Give me a call.”
Baby, he thought, you don’t understand. I can’t even remember your name!
In a flash, Grant suited up in his bike patrol uniform:
Black shorts, belt pack, thigh holster with a Sig Sauer SP2122 Nitron 9 mm . . .
Long-sleeve skin-tight blue shirt, Seattle Police Department insignia . . .
Kevlar vest with the word POLICE in reflective silver block letters on the back.
He slipped on elbow pads, gloves, helmet, and shoes as if he were in a contest to see how fast he could dress.
On the back of the COM-12 was a magnate that secured it to either shoulder of his vest. He attached the device on his left.
When he stood up he looked out her bedroom window. Amber dots of patrol drones criss-crossed the sky. Beyond it the saucer of the Space Needle was illuminated by flashes of lightening from an approaching storm. A red light pulsed on top. It seemed to hover ominously over Queen Anne hill like an approaching UFO.
The Space Needle was derelict after years of rolling blackouts that stranded passengers in the elevators and killed three lift repairmen in a horrible accident some years ago. The abandoned landmark was now home to an estimated two million bats.
As a streak of lightening arced across the sky, Grant saw a dense black cloud whirl out of the Space Needle’s broken windows. The cloud spiraled downward disappearing behind Queen Anne Hill. The bats were headed to the water. They liked to feed on the insects that hovered over Lake Union and Elliott Bay.
Besides the bats, the only other sign of life on the iconic tower was the red aircraft warning light. It didn’t so much pulse as spastically flicker, as if monitoring a dying patient. Aviation signals were still required on tall building and towers even though there was hardly any need for them. After the Iran War and the resulting energy crisis, air travel became prohibitively expensive. Fuel was rationed. The number of commercial flights were reduced to a tenth of what they once were.
“Later,” Grant whispered with a kiss to her lips.
She pulled a blanket over herself and watched him leave. “Be careful out there.”
Grant closed the door to her bedroom. He checked his watch. It was a little after six. Before leaving her apartment, he got a drink of water at the kitchen sink. He sifted through a stack of bills propped up next to a napkin holder. Her name jumped out at him like a cockroach skittering across the countertop.
I knew that! He slapped the heel of his hand to his forehead. Marissa!
Grant drained the rest of the water. He quietly set the glass in the sink. He made his way to the door.
But Grant didn’t really know her name was Marissa. Hadn’t he met her just last week? Spoken to her on the phone? Once? Twice? He tried to place where they had met and replay their conversations in his mind. But he couldn't be sure.
Grant closed the door to her apartment. With practiced ease, he lifted up his five-pound patrol bike. A street cruiser made of the latest carbon composite. He balanced the frame on his shoulder.
He walked down three flights of stairs and through the front door under the copper clamshell awning of the old three-story brownstone on 50th and Fremont Streets.
Grant ducked past the run-off from the rooftop garden and emerged into the warm drizzle of a Seattle night in mid-April with his confidence utterly shaken.
Two young women shared an umbrella. They walked by and turned to check out Grant. They glanced. Whispers.
Women found Grant more than irresistibly charming. He was also unarguably, stoically handsome. What they noticed first were his legs. The number of miles he logged as a bike patrol officer for the Seattle Police Department sculpted his legs. Grinding up steep hills turned his glutes down to the calves into chiseled granite. The only parts of his physique he had to supplement with extra training were his pecs and abs. He alternated days in the gym toning his upper body and his strengthening his core.
Grant’s face was a sculpture of Greek marble, softened with time. As proportioned as a men's store mannequin, his clear blue eyes were leveled over a nose that flared only slightly. His lips were thin and even. His ears were boyishly small and lay close to his scalp. The lack of a part in his short blonde hair gave him the look of sporty teenager.
The tragedy for Grant was that he knew he was attractive. His lust was only second to his need to see his reflection. From a mirror to an oily puddle. From a shop window to the door on a stainless steel refrigerator. His desire to reassure himself of his beauty was insatiable.
The few women he wanted to see more than casually were quickly turned off. They couldn’t compete with the attention he paid to himself. He misread every cue. Grant lacked the self-awareness to understand why his evenings were spent with strangers and his nights were spent alone.
When Grant left Marissa’s Fremont-Alto apartment, the bitter-yeasty hops snapped at his nose. The Phinney Ridge Brewpub was across the street next to the zoo. He could hear music and laughter from inside the pub. That’s where the south end of the zoo parking lot had been turned into a ramshackle strip mall: A convenience store. Twenty-four-seven Starbucks. Two Asian restaurants, one sushi/ramen, the other Chinese. Overpriced French bakery. Juice shack. Bike repair franchise next to a metro-loaner bicycle corral. And the seedy brewpub.
Grant was thirsty for a wheat grass shot. He knew the place across the street had fresh wheatgrass. He could see it growing out of trays on the shack’s corrugated metal roof.
Under the green glow of the street lamps, Grant waited for a break in the cycling traffic. The algae bulbs were made with energy efficient bio-luminescence. Cell DNA in deep sea fish, like anglers and eels, had been manipulated to reproduce on a mass scale. With just a tiny spark of electricity, these living lamps cast the city in an olive-green aura.
Grant walked his patrol bike across the intersection. He was still kicking himself for not being able to remember the name of the woman he had just slept with.
The open air juice shack was run by an unsmiling Rimmy, local slang for Pacific Rim Islander. He was in his twenties. Just one of the million or so Pacific Rim natives who settled in Seattle, displaced from rising seas. Grant figured him to be Korean.
Grant ordered a wheatgrass shot with an orange juice chaser. In the mirror behind the counter, Grant smoothed out an eyebrow. The server set to work snipping grass from a tray and stuffing it into a hand crank juicer. Grant waved his payment card across a panel on the counter. He instantly paid for his drink. While he waited for the juice, he scrolled through the latest e-media news tablet mounted to the wall.
The headline was another F4 hurricane decimating New York and New Jersey. Over 150 killed at first count.
A pair of bicyclists, men in their sixties, were the only other customers in the juice shack. They were chatting about the East Coast hurricanes. Debating whether the reports that global warming had reached its climax. The men disagreed on whether life would return to how they remembered it.
“How could it go back to the way it was?” said the man who kept his bike helmet on. The straps tapped his stubbly cheeks as he spoke. He sipped his cranberry and beat juice smoothie. “We’ve done too much damage. I mean, Seattle is now designated as a semi-tropical climate, for Pete’s sake! And Florida is just a stump. Everything is gone past Orlando. How can we recover?”
“It’s not about the weather.” His friend had spiky white hair and a trimmed beard. “I think we can adapt to the climate. I’m saying what’s giving us false hope is Big Business. The economic driver is always the Military Industrial Complex that now has synthetic soldiers. They could replace us all.”
“Nah, that’s overhyped.”
“Our Wall Street government will do anything to keep the money flowing to them.”
“Yeah, but Wall Street is six feet under already.”
“You know what I mean. Investors.” He said it with disgust. And he said it so loudly the Rimmy turned to look. “People with too much money. They’ve got to keep up the illusion that we’re almost out of the woods, so we’ll plan for the future. So we’ll buy homes with thirty-year mortgages. Since we can’t have cars, we have to have bicycles that cost ten-thousand dollars. Consume more stuff. Rack up more debt. Keep the rat race going for their portfolios.”
“I hear you,” nodded his friend in the helmet.
“When, in fact,” the white haired man wasn’t finished, tipping back in his cheap plastic chair and crossing his legs, “our future generations will be living like this.” He spread out his arms, referring to the juice shack. “Welcome to the new normal.”
“Yeah, ‘future generations’ . . . if we’re lucky,” snorted the man in the helmet. “Yeah, right. Someday I might own a Chrysler again!”
Both men shared a hearty laugh.
When Grant finished his wheat grass, he scanned his payment card again. He pressed the button for a twenty-percent tip. The payment console made a soft blip of acknowledgement. The Rimmy nodded a thank you as Grant walked his bike to the corner of Fremont and 50th.
A bright red funicular made from a door-less twentieth century Dodge van appeared. It jolted to a stop at the intersection. It had just come from Fremont Basso, the retail shops at the bottom of the mile-long hill. The van rested against a bumper made up of a row of six steel belted radials.
Four Japanese men in their twenties filed out of the funicular. They wore wool sweaters and black utility kilts. They clomped across the street in knee high stockings and work boots. They chatted merrily as they headed for the sushi restaurant next to the Starbucks.
Grant turned a gimlet eye to their kilts. Easy for them to lift up their skirts and piss on a tree. I’ll probably get a call to come back tonight and have to arrest the lot of them for public intox.
He snapped the chin strap to his helmet and flipped on the super-hal light on his handlebars. Grant mounted his patrol bike. He waited for the evening’s commuters to pass before taking off south down Fremont hill. Self-doubt kept churning his guts like a cement mixer.
Was it really Marissa? I thought her name started with a B, like Betty or Brianna. God, is this what old people feel like when they start to lose their marbles?!
The COM-12 on Grant’s shoulder crackled to life. Three long beeps.
The voice of a fellow officer requesting back-up brought Grant to a dead stop: “Shots fired.”
Grant identified himself to dispatch and requested the location of the officer in distress. He had to wait for instructions. That was the rule. He let other cyclists pass him by while he listened to the officer request assistance.
He recognized the voice of Bike Patrol Officer Yoruba, or Spider as she was known in the department. Spider said in between rasping breaths, “Suspect . . . heading west now . . . Bravo-Romeo 7.1 at 56th . . . need back up.”
Grant knew Spider was in terrific shape, so for her to be breathing that hard meant she was in trouble.
He peeled a piece of gum out of a pack and popped it in his mouth as he visualized her coordinates. BR 7.1 meant Spider was calling from what used to be Eighth Avenue Northwest in the Ballard neighborhood before Seattle designated major thoroughfares as the number of cars dwindled and streets became Bike Routes. That part of Ballard had in recent years become an undesirable shift for bike patrol officers. They were often called to reports of narcotics dealing, theft and assaults. Grant realized the intersection she described was at the bottom of the western slope of Fremont Alto. Just two or three minutes from where he now stood. He tapped his foot impatiently.
“All units in the vicinity respond,” came the command from SPD dispatch. “Suspect armed and dangerous.”
Grant’s COM-12 flashed three red lights. That was the signal he was waiting for. He spun around, waving at a pair of cyclists riding tandem to let him cut into their lane. He flipped on white and blue strobe lights on his handlebars and ran a red light at 50th and Fremont. He reached Phinney Ridge, building speed as he zigzagged his way west to Ballard.
After following Market Street down a steep grade, Grant could hear wind whistling through gaps in his helmet. That peculiar sound meant he was traveling in excess of forty miles-per-hour. He loved that sound. To Grant, it was the sound of freedom.
As motions sensors embedded in the mossy edge of the pavement detected the approach of his bike, streetlamps ahead popped on one by one. They progressively illuminated the bike route in pale pea soup. The moment he sailed by, the lights were timed to stay on for a few seconds. And one by one they dimmed behind him, fading to black.
Grant heard a familiar short beep in his helmet. It was a warning from the microchip processor in his bike that he had reached an unsafe cruising speed. Grant already knew that. He had been riding so fast that the motion-detect streetlamps flickered to life after he passed them. Finally, he slowed at the base of the hill as bicycle traffic got thick.
“Adam-Four-Four, what’s your twenty?” Grant said into his COM-12.
A moment later Spider said, “South on 14th Northwest.”
“Requesting cross street, Spider.”
“Oh, it’s you.” Spider’s tone became more familiar. “We’re in the warehouse district. I’m one block behind him . . . he just crossed 52nd.”
Grant was sure the suspect was making his way toward downtown Seattle. That was a good place to disappear. The suspect could even double back, merge with the commuters riding north and easily blend in, and never be seen again.
Pedaling hard, Grant cut through a supermarket parking lot, nearly hitting an old lady shuffling along and pulling a two-wheeled wire basket of groceries behind her. He started south on BR-7.1, just three blocks from the suspect.
Grant called into his mic. “Central.”
“HQ,” came the voice of the dispatcher. “Go ahead, Baker-Zero-Zero-Nine.”
“Request lifting the drawbridge on 15th. If suspect gets across, we’ve lost him.”
“Roger that. Hold please.”
Grant squared his shoulders, dug into his pedals and twisted his hips to churn his gears wit frenzied speed.
The dispatcher came back saying, “Baker-Nine?”
“Negative on the drawbridge. Traffic said too many riders.”
Grant gritted his teeth. “You’re not gonna make it easy.”
Grant set his jaw. He picked up speed, flying down the straightaway toward the bridge. He cut through traffic like a scalpel. Making tiny adjustments from his center of gravity, he leaned his shoulders right and left, weaving past riders headed on BR-7.1 toward downtown.
His pushed his speed to the brink of recklessness. Commuter traffic at this hour going north to the suburbs was heavy, many of the riders towed bicycle trailers behind them making them harder to pass. Big clusters of riders were crossing the long drawbridge. Just one of the oncoming riders could peel away from the group, cross into his lane and he wouldn’t be able to stop. Twice he had to veer across the double yellow line to avoid a collision.
As Grant passed the patina steel struts of the drawbridge, he saw Spider up ahead. And then he spotted the suspect.
He was tall, Caucasian, no helmet, shoulder length dark hair, wearing a black t-shirt and jeans. The suspect looked over his shoulder, saw Spider gaining on him and fired his pistol in her direction. Above them a Narwhal-TX appeared. The Seattle PD traffic drone was the size of a baseball glove. It was nimble, lightweight, with blinking green lights and an antennae in the front angled up like the horn of the extinct whale. The Narwhal locked a spotlight on the perp’s back.
Oncoming cyclists saw the perp’s gun and reacted, causing three riders to slam into one another. They hit the pavement in a jumble of bent wheels and bloody knees. Grant heard Spider radio a request for EMTs.
The suspect was able to swerve back into the southbound lane. He started across the bridge deck. The only thing slowing him down was a backpack over one shoulder. It kept slipping down his arm.
Seeing the weapon steeled Grant’s determination. He went dark, turning off his white and blue strobes and headlight. He and blended into the murky green night. As the bridge leveled out below him, the inky waters of the ship canal spread out on his left and right, flowing silently beneath the shadows of Queen Anne and Magnolia hills.
He passed Spider, her long black legs a blur.
“Spider,” Grant said into his COM-12.
“Grant,” Spider responded.
“Fall back. I got him. He’ll think he lost you.”
Grant glanced in the side-view mirror on his handlebars. He could see Spider’s blue and white strobes make a U-turn.
Grant radioed to HQ and requested the Narwhal drone be called off. In moments, the spotlight went dark and the drone pivoted, reversed and flew north.
Passing over the bridge and flying by the exit to Nickerson, Grant quietly, efficiently shortened the suspect’s three block lead to just ten feet. Grant quickly determined which side a cyclist usually turned to glance behind him. The perp naturally looked over his right shoulder. So Grant hung behind him in his blind spot, just to the suspect’s left. Another advantage was that Grant’s patrol bike had a Ninja Drivetrain. Made with reinforced silicon chain and sprockets, his bicycle gears were almost silent.
Grant—with his head down, shoulders compact—had transformed himself into the perp’s shadow. Considering the effort the suspect made to stay at top speed—wheezing now for air—he didn’t know Grant was right behind him. Grant drafted so close he could smell the man’s sweat. Grant waited for the commuter traffic to thin for a moment to strike. All the while Grant was keenly aware that one wrong move and the perp could draw the gun and fire. He was so close that Grant’s Kevlar vest wouldn’t slow the impact.
“Spider,” Grant whispered. “I’m on him.”
Grant reached in his vest pocket for what they called in bike patrol the Old Hickory Stick. The device was akin to a snap bracelet. But this was a much heavier band of metal, eight inches long, uncoated and coiled like a measuring tape. He gripped one end in his teeth and extended it. He waited for a straight stretch in the road with fewer riders nearby. As Grant caught up with the suspect’s rear tire, he swung his right arm underhanded as if he were pitching a horseshoe. He immediately veered away.
The moment the metal band made contact with the suspect’s tire, the stick snapped into a coil. It caught in the rear brake pads. The back tire froze. Sparks flew. Spokes popped loose. The tire collapsed. And in the next instant, the suspect was hurtling face first toward the road.
Grant slowed and turned around. With the touch of his thumb, he turned on the blue and white strobes on his handlebars. He parked his bike and drew his Sig.
He found the suspect lying on the pavement face down and in pain. His bike was mangled between his legs. The back tire was bent and spokes flayed out from the rim. Grant could see by the angle that the suspect’s left ankle was broken. A splinter of bone poked out of his sock. The perp reached under his jacket.
“Freeze. Seattle PD.” Grant aimed his Sig at the suspect. “You’re not going anywhere. Hands where I can see them.”
With a free hand, the suspect scooted a Luger along the ground a few inches out of his reach. Grant stepped forward and kicked the weapon behind him.
“I’m hurt,” the suspect grunted. “I need help.”
“I was getting to that.” Grant patted him down. While he called HQ on his helmet mic and requested a bus, the police term for an ambulance, he peeled the backpack off the suspect’s arm. The suspect yelped in pain from moving his shoulder.
Grant unzipped the backpack and found it stuffed with two bottles of top-shelf tequila and four stacks of fifty dollar bills. The recovery of stolen items meant very little to Grant. It was the art of the pursuit and winning the chase that gave him a thrill. Grant’s measure of success was capturing a suspect no matter the road conditions or the weather. That was his trophy at the end of a chase. It was the yellow jersey he never got as a professional cyclist.
Spider arrived. She positioning her bike with its lights flashing to warn oncoming cyclists.
She put her hands on her slim hips as she stretched out her long legs. Spider had the dark complexion of a shiny buckeye. When she smiled at night, all you could see was the grin of a disappearing Cheshire cat.
“Hey, Grant.” Spider’s voice still had the remnants of a halting Senegalese accent, a mix of her tribal dialect and French. She stuck a toe in the ribs of the suspect. He reacted with a howl. “Guess he’s not dead yet.”
“Did he hurt you?” Grant asked. He knelt and retrieved the Old Hickory Stick from the rear tire of the suspect’s bike, stowing it in his vest.
“No. But he discharged his weapon in my direction.” Spider nudged her foot in the same place on the suspect’s ribs. “That wasn’t polite. And it happens to be a felony.”
“Ohgod, ohgod,” the suspect whimpered. “My leg!”
Two more bike patrol officers arrived at the scene to set up flares until the bus arrived.
“Spider, you got this handled?” Grant asked.
“Just mention me in the report.” He returned to his bike and turned off the strobes.
“Don’t worry,” she teased. “You’ll get an assist.”
“Assist?!” he said, pretending to be offended.
“Hey, I’m the one who tired him out!” Spider gave Grant a salute as he rode away, north on BR-7.1. She tapped the perp in the ribs again. “Didn’t I?”
Lightning lit up the western sky in white hot bursts. Grant climbed back up the hill to Phinney Ridge. The air crackled around him.
Thunderstorms still felt new to Grant even though the more radical global weather changes increased in severity when he was a small boy. The air had warmed enough to make electrical storms commonplace year round in the Pacific Northwest.
Changes in the weather made the world feel to Grant like it wasn't his anymore. But maybe, he mused as he coasted south along Phinney Ridge, his reaction to the evolving weather patterns was just a part of getting older. Maybe he was naturally more and more out of joint with everything around him. Still, it bothered him that he couldn’t remember what frost felt like.
Grant stopped in front of Marissa’s building, if that was her name. He rested one foot on the curb. Yearning gnawed in his gut. He looked up at her apartment windows. They were dark. He half-thought to ring Marissa and see if he could come up. Maybe he could take the rest of his shift off and spend it with her…
But he still wasn’t certain that her name was Marissa. His mind clouded with self-doubt, Grant decided to take the long way back to the SPD headquarters downtown and file his report on apprehending the perp. He liked long rides just to clear his head.
As darkness fell, fewer bikers ventured on the roads, and it was even rarer to come upon a car any time of the day. The most a cycling commuter would encounter biking from one end of the city to the other were an occasional delivery truck or service van. More often the buzz of a three-wheeled battery operated taxi, or bo-tax, that announced it arrival blocks away, broke the new quiet of the city streets.
Grant continued down the steep, tree-lined corridor of Fremont. His bike's magnetically controlled disc brakes kept him moving at a safe descent. He passed the century-old Buckaroo Tavern and its vintage neon sign. As ever, the stench of cigarette smoke and stale beer rolled out the entrance door like a dirty tumbleweed. Two blond lesbians, locked in an embrace, kissed in the light of crimson neon.
He slowed as he came to the bottom of the steep hill and into the Fremont Basso district. Most of its retail shops were closed at this hour. Restaurants were in the middle of their dinner service, and the pubs just starting to get noisy.
The moment Grant crossed 34th Street, red warning lights flashed ahead. A set of crossing arms descended in front of the bridge. He jumped his bike up to the sidewalk and dismounted. Grant leaned it against the iron railing that spanned the canal. He crouched in the shadows, making sure to give his heels a steady pull down to the pavement. After riding all evening, it felt good to stretch his Achilles tendons.
Fremont Bridge was still the most heavily used drawbridge in the U.S. But instead of the tall masts of pricey sailboats floating past. as Grant remembered as a child, the channel was now used primarily by food companies to cheaply move raw materials by barge, replacing the dwindling long-haul interstate trucking industry that was savaged by the astronomical diesel prices. He tipped his head from side to side to stretch his neck as he watched a three-compartment barge with California markings and Chinese lettering silently slide into Elliott Bay.
In the shadows of the iron struts, the red drawbridge warning lights pulsing on his face, Grant felt the raw stab of loneliness radiate across his abdomen. He hung his head and rested his chin on his hand. His loneliness renewed pangs of desire, which could only be appeased by finding another woman to hook up with. It was vicious circle, and he was helpless to break it.
Moreover, with Grant's compulsion came an ever growing sense that he was losing his grip on reality. If he couldn't even remember a woman's name that he was intimate with, lying on top of, who was breathing on his neck and whispering words of desire in his ear, he concluded that there must be something seriously messed up in his head. And that made him depressed, and it filled him with cold shame.
It was the forgetting that unnerved him so. Recently Grant had consulted medical dictionaries and websites on line to attempt to self-diagnose his condition. But all he found were articles that didn't quite pin down what he had. Or worse, scared the bejesus out of him. Some made him think he might be the victim of a rare brain-eating worm or early-adult onset Alzheimer’s.
Grant often reminded himself in order to lift himself out of his self-loathing that this was, after all, a time when women were equal to men on every level. Headlines last year announced that, for the first time in America’s history, women’s pay at white collar jobs in the U.S. matched that of men. Both sexes were now on an equal playing field in every respect. They were just as independent as men and, Grant figured, could take care of themselves in relationships. The women he hooked up with knew what they were getting into when they met him. He was the pursuer, he convinced himself, but never a predator.
He would never ask for their number when they first met. Instead, he would give him his, written on the back of one of his police business cards, if asked. Then he would wait for a call. It was part of his personal code. On any given day Grant had a queue of two or three messages from women who were waiting for him to phone or text.
Generally, Grant had better luck finding women to date while he was on duty, rather than meet them when he wasn’t patrolling the city. Like on queue at the light rail station. Or at coffee shops. At the gym. Or on their bikes waiting for a green light at an intersection. But being a cop was a definite plus. Wearing the police uniform increased his chances of getting a woman in bed by nearly fifty-percent. He had done the math.
When the arms of the crossing signal lifted, Grant sighed heavily. He wasn’t done diagnosing his neurosis.
He mounted his bike and continued across the bridge. He hung a left on Dexter Avenue North and started the climb up the short incline. He had decided to take 6.6 instead of Westlake because he liked the view. At night the lights of the city sprinkled over the shimmering green-black water of the canal.
Grant had his first glimpse across Lake Union and the office buildings and condos lining the waterfront, all with their unkempt rooftop gardens. Growing your own food was now commonplace, another impact of high fuel prices. In the city, most rooftops had been retrofitted with greenhouses and steep terraces facing south to give the plants as much sun as possible. The buildings stood around the edge of the lake like a high school class photo of motley, shaggy-haired teenagers.
Beyond the lake, suspended in the air by concrete trusses, was Interurban-Bike Route-5, a former interstate highway. Underneath the burnished gleam of a hi-tech recycled plastic cover for the Bike Route, Grant could see the last of the downtown commuters taking their time riding home, protected from the approaching storm.
Grant reached for his personal cell phone from his vest as he rode. This was a violation of the rule of absolutely no texting while on patrol. So he slowed down, at least. With one hand he scrolled through the list of numbers he called earlier in the day. He was hoping Marissa’s name would be on the list.
That’s when his front bike tire suddenly froze. Grant was pitched over his handlebars.
Grant found himself doing a forward flip in the air, his legs arcing toward the black sky in a perfect somersault.
Floating in the air, staring at the sky, he held his breath.