Paul A. Toth
It was so damn hot Deputy Timothy Gentry thought the moon might melt,
craters dripping down the sky. Why had he driven out to the Eisenhower
golf course? The kids still parked behind the clubhouse. Not all the kids,
like in 1982, just the ones whose parents stayed married and had no
unguarded bedrooms or dens. Gentry tried telling himself, "I can't go for
that, no can do," but had already changed his mind. Hell, he hadn't gone
looking since that last girl bit his wrist.
Earlier, when he parked his car at the police station, the Hall & Oates
song triggered memories. It would always be 1982 for Deputy Gentry, with
his still pubescent mustache and Hall & Oates cassette. He would get 1982
right, sooner or later. He had everything but his Member's Only jacket,
which had departed this earth in 1998. Sometimes he even laughed at
himself when he looked in the rearview mirror. Well, he did what he could
with what he had, which wasn't much on either count. He was definitely
Oates, olive-skinned and bushy-haired, not gawky Hall ten feet tall.
His tires shot pebbles across the glass-sparkled dirt road. A big bend
passed over a creek seemingly filled not with water but moonlight. Left
was a picnic area, right the clubhouse. A road circled to the golf carts
in back where the high school kids used to park. Behind and above the club
was the hill where as a little kid he sledded in winter and when a little
older he watched high school kids feel each other up. In those days, there
was nothing better than the heat in his crotch and the Hall & Oates in his
Walkman headphones. He loved to watch those girls with their little pink
bras: Maneaters. He wanted them every bit as much as he hated them.
As he turned the corner of the clubhouse, he saw not some 1979 station
wagon, as he might have witnessed through the binoculars back in 1982, but
a brand new BMW. These kids didn't even have to drive embarrassing cars.
They were special, all right, kids from still-married parents, a rare
occurrence these days. The rest of them were doing it on sheets bought
with alimony checks. They had every advantage in the book and yet here
they were, playing the hormone jackpot machine, hoping for cherries.
Meanwhile, Gentry had spent high school alone in his unguarded attic
bedroom, the rubbers in his wallet rotting not from use but his own
He opened his door and climbed out of the squad car. He walked to the
passenger side window of the BMW and shoved the flashlight against it. It
was her bra that caught his eye, a pink bra pushed up over the breasts.
His flashlight stayed there until both kids noticed. The girl yanked her
shirt down and buttoned her pants, which still contained one male hand.
The hand disappeared.
The show was over. Tim knocked hard on the window. The girl rolled it
down so fast you'd think she was the Bionic Woman. He even heard that
Bionic Woman sound, jarring and abrasive.
"What's going on here?"
The guy leaned across the girl and said, "Is there a problem, officer?"
He had big white teeth, except on one of the front ones there was a little
"What's it look like?"
The grin became a pout. "We weren't doing anything."
"Your parents know you're here?"
"Yes," she said, at the same time he said, "No." Then she continued:
"Well, they don't know -- can't you just let us go? We'll go."
"You should go home to your parents. Be glad you're safe. You don't
know what could happen here. Anything could happen."
"Yes, sir," she said, and rolled up the window.
In two seconds, they were on their way home. Gentry was still thinking
about that bra. He pulled around to the other side of the creek. The trees
were darker, so thick they obscured the moon. He sat there thinking about
that bra. He turned off the engine and the air conditioning. He rolled the
window down and listened to the leaves whisper sweet nothings. The wind
was killing the leaves and the leaves didn't even know it, and he was
thinking of that girl's bra. He loved the sound of Oates' voice. He bet he
could sing like that, if he tried. He did what he had to do and it took
half a minute. He closed his eyes and everything smeared.
Back at the station, poor Sheriff Miller was sitting there with his
clipboard. For some reason, Gentry felt sorry for Sheriff Miller. He knew
the sheriff hated him. He couldn't blame him for it.
"What'd you get, Gentry?" the sheriff said.
"Slow night?" The sheriff turned over a stack of tickets. "Deputy
Miller set a record tonight. Something about that hot air makes 'em speed.
But only if you're looking."
"Must be hotter on the north side."
The sheriff stared at Gentry with one brow so high it seemed it might
stay there forever. "Deputy, you might get more respect if you shaved that
The next night, Gentry drove up to the top of the hill with a brand new
pair of Sears binoculars. When he stepped out of the car, sat on the grass
and raised those binoculars to his eyes, he might as well have been
fifteen years old and still a mystified virgin.
He was still mystified, but no virgin. He had taken care of that with a
woman who got kicked out of the academy. They had quite a thing for a
while but she couldn't pass the exam and ended up leaving town. She was
supposed to write him but he never heard from her again. He wasn't in
love, anyway. He had a feeling she was always laughing at him. She didn't
have to become a cop the way he did. She could rely on the old man's
money. She was what Hall and Oates called a rich girl. She could rely on
the OLD man's money.
At eleven o'clock, the BMW arrived. How he hoped the girl wore the same
bra. He left his headlights off and rolled around the back end of the hill
toward the BMW. This time when he held his flashlight against the window
the girl was wearing a powder blue bra that wasn't even pushed up over her
He was not so much disappointed as angry. She could have known that a
girl should stick to one kind of bra. When he knocked on the window and
she rolled it down, it took everything he had not to say, "Goddamn it,
girl, you wear that pink bra next time."
There was a second surprise. This time the guy who leaned over her,
squinting in the light, was big and burly, definitely a football player.
It dawned on Gentry that this was the girl's BMW.
"What position you play?" Gentry said.
"Position? I play linebacker. Why?"
The kid shrugged. He was not the kind of kid who would shake or
tremble. Gentry remembered his type well. They had done many things to him
in the old days, but the old days were over. No doubt this kid had never
heard anything but rap and metal.
"You Make My Dreams Come True," Gentry said, winking at the girl.
"That's one of my favorites. Step out of the car, son."
"What are you doing?" the girl whined. "It's not against the law to
park a car. I'll get a lawyer."
"Shut up," the guy said.
"Actually," Gentry said, "if you read the sign at the entrance, it says
the park closes at dusk. As you can see, it's well past dusk. Hell, it's
closer to dawn. Now, son," he said, really enjoying calling him "son"
because, minus the gun, the kid probably could have beat him senseless,
"let's just settle down. Is this your girlfriend?"
The girl sighed. Gentry wondered which one she was cheating on, but
then the new fella straightened him out. "Nobody's cheating on nobody," he
said. "It's high school. Nobody's married here."
"That's right," Gentry said. "Because if you were married, you'd take
it home, where it belongs. But if it don't belong at home, it don't belong
in this park. Got it?"
The kid stared at Gentry. "Yeah," he said. "I got it."
"Then get going."
As Gentry saw the girl straighten her top, he wanted to add, "And wear
the pink one next time, sweetie."
He waited for them to leave, and then climbed into his car and drove
over the bridge.
Five minutes later, he was done, and for a moment he was swimming in a
creek of moonmilk, sailing back to 16 years of age.
After a while, he let the air conditioning cool his ardor and drove
toward the park exit. He waited with radar gun in hand. Soon a car sped
toward him just long enough to register a speed limit violation. The car
slowed at the entrance, then picked up speed when Gentry turned on the
The driver pulled over. Gentry took his time getting to the driver
because it was always fun making speeders wait. When he finally
approached, the window was already down. He looked inside and saw one big
white tooth and its brown stain.
"Well, kid," Gentry said, "where's your girlfriend?"
"You don't know?"
The kid was sweating as hard as drinkers dreading the breathalyser.
"What's wrong, kid? She cheating on you?"
"What makes you think I'm --"
"I got you clocked 15 miles over the speed limit. What's the hurry?"
"I'm late getting home."
"I'm sure they'd be disappointed to learn their son was speeding."
"Yes, sir, they would be mad."
Tim knew the kid thought he had the rap beat.
"That's too bad, son. You should have thought of that before."
He left him there to feel the punch of his statement. Ten minutes later
-- because there was twenty minutes left on his shift, ten for the ticket
and ten to get back to the station -- he delivered the ticket to Stain
"I hope that's the last I see of you for a while, Ted Fitzsimons," he
Sheriff Miller was only slightly less aggravated that night. He bent a
pencil between his hands as he said, "Well, I see our angelic population
broke only one law tonight. Listen, Gentry, let me ask straight out: Are
you on something?"
"No, sir. Stone cold sober, sir."
This statement seemed to annoy the sheriff all the more, as the pencil
between his hands snapped in two. "I know you're not trying to be funny,"
"I'm not," Gentry replied with honest emphasis.
"Yeah," Sheriff Miller said, "I figured you weren't."
Weekdays were slow and devoid of clubhouse romance, so Gentry tried to
win Sheriff Miller's trust, writing speeding tickets double time. Tuesday
night, he dropped a stack of tickets half an inch thick on the desk.
"Jesus Christ," the sheriff said, eyebrow fish-hooked to the sky.
It was a long week. Each night, Gentry stopped by the golf course, but
only those empty golf carts awaited. He left his binoculars underneath the
seat because there was nothing to see but owls.
By the time Friday night came around, he remembered well those high
school days when he had a crush and could barely stand the time between
one class and the next. Watching through the binoculars, he imagined that
BMW arrive a hundred times. It was a mirage, he figured. It was hot enough
Did he care who would be inside, Captain Stain Tooth or Lughead the
Linebacker? Not really. All that mattered was the pink bra, which by now,
he hoped and prayed, would appear again like the April sun. But he was
starting to think her parents had gotten divorced, leaving their daughter
a private bedroom. Out of touch, out of mind.
It must have been midnight when he looked through the glasses, ready to
give up the wait before it was too late to write even one ticket. That's
when he saw what at first he imagined to be himself at sixteen years of
age, peering back at himself through another pair of binoculars on the
other side of the bridge. Only it wasn't him; it was Ted Fitzsimons,
sitting in a tree right above the spot where Gentry had "made it" with his
And then, on cue, the BMW came rolling between Fitzsimons and Tim. It
was as if two enemy armies staring at each other suddenly saw a third and
mutual enemy march into the divide.
The car made its way toward the golf carts. Gentry looked to see if
Fitzsimons was staying put. The kid shifted positions in the tree. He
wasn't going anywhere.
Gentry bet the bra meant even more to Fitzsimons. He wanted to show him
something, what separated men from boys, or Gentry from himself when he
was Fitzsimons' age. The kid had a lot to learn.
Once again, he drove with his lights off, only this time when he pulled
toward their car, he flashed his brights, then turned on the low beams. He
wanted the kid to see everything.
He walked up and saw, of course, Lughead the Linebacker. The girl had
not yet undressed. Good. He was saving that for later. He knocked three
times on Lughead's window and would have cracked it on the fourth if the
window had not come down.
"Out," Gentry said, certain no one but the kid's coach had ever taken
that tone with him.
"What the hell?"
Lughead climbed out, hemming and hawing. The girl crossed her legs.
"I ain't interested in that,"Gentry said. "Let me just see that pretty
She started to reach for the door handle, but Gentry punched the lock
mechanism. He started pulling her shirt up and said, "I know you had the
sense to wear the pink --"
But just as Gentry was about so see, Lughead jerked him out of he car
like a piece of luggage and dropped him face down on the pavement.
"So the rumor's true?" Lughead said, looking not like a dumb kid but
somebody's dad. "We can forget this now and nobody knows. Second choice,
you file a charge against me, in which case I'll break your legs or wreck
your career, maybe both. You're a pervert, not a cop. I'm always gonna
Gentry looked down at his gun. He sure could have. God, it would have
been funny to see that kid's face when the gun came up and without
hesitation sent a bullet like an end zone pass spiraling straight into
Lughead's heart. He hoped Fitzsimons was watching. There was a lot the kid
could learn from the incident.
"Ha ha," the girl said as Lughead climbed in the car and shut the door.
"My boyfriend kicked your ass, you stupid pig."
As soon as they left, covering him in dust and gravel, he knew what to
do. That damn Fitzsimons kid.
Gentry drove across the bridge. Fitzsimons was sitting in the tree,
crying. Gentry grabbed his shoe and yanked him down like an apple.
"You remind me of me,"Gentry said, and started punching him. When he
was done, the kid's face matched the stain on his tooth.
"Why?" Fitzsimons said, wiping blood from his mouth.
Gentry pointed at his own face. "These two private eyes see everything.
Take those binoculars home and get yourself a new girlfriend. You wanna
end up a goddamn pervert?"
Paul A. Toth lives in Michigan. His short fiction has been nominated
for a Pushcart prize and Best American Mystery Stories. His novel
Fizz will be published in late 2003. He recently completed his
second novel. For more information and complete credits, please see