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It would be easier if it were Martha’s fault
By Kristina K
She felt the thump of the bass deep in her chest, as if her heart was possessed with the music's beat and it pumped the blood through her body as the song played. And it was quite appropriate, Cindy noticed bitterly, because at that particular moment, as she fisted her fifth pineapple Breezer that night, JP Young - with a little help of Milk & Sugar - was singing about love being in the air. The usually chipper young reporter, an up and coming star of San Francisco Register's crime desk, was now morose and feeling very much like Grinch would right around the time of Christmas.
A club full of gay folk and not just happy, either delightedly sang along with the chorus, joyously throwing their arms up in the air and Cindy flinched as the thump of the bass moved from her chest into her temples. She knew it's not a good idea, but she took a nice long swig of that fifth Breezer and then contemplated on ordering another one. If they dare play I Will Survive after this, I will go up there and strangle the DJ, Cindy mentally shook her fist at the choice of music, the same music she wouldn't normally object to, but rather request herself, right after she would bounce around to YMCA and then snatch her friend Chris' feather boa to go and dance with whomever was in a mood for a perky redhead.
But on this particular occasion, Chris kept his boa and was grinding up some Nordic god's backside while Cindy pouted away in the booth she was sitting in. The waiter came up and placed another Breezer in front of her, and when she gave him a confused look, he nodded off the side, towards the bar. A twenty-something, Lori-Petty-straight-out-of-the-Point-Break surfer girl smiled at her and maybe even hoped for Cindy to invite her over to her table after accepting the drink. But Cindy did neither, prompting the waiter to return the girl her money while sticking a wad of bills into his hand. However, she kept the now-way-over-her-limit Breezer, because the only gorgeous, raven-haired, washed out jeans and leather jacket clad woman she was interested in was, right at this moment, cuddled up with the luckiest girl on the planet, in the warmth of their bed, somewhere on Portero Hill.
Martha, Cindy snorted as she grabbed the bottle by the neck and clumsily wiggled out of the booth, that lucky bitch.
It took her a while until she managed to squeeze her way out from the crowd and when she did, the chilly early morning air filled her nostrils and she shivered. Tilting the bottle sideways, she drank from it while fishing her cell phone from the purse that hung over her shoulder.
She scrolled down the names until Lindsay's came along and then, while taking another swig of her drink, she pressed dial.
It never occurred to her how what she was just about to do could turn out to be a cardinal mistake, and she propped her shoulder against the side wall, pressed her phone to her ear and waited as the distant sound of the ringing tone echoed in her ear.
"Box-" the first attempt at speaking didn't quite succeed, so Lindsay cleared her throat and tried again: "Boxer." Nevertheless, her voice was still ragged and thick with sleep.
"Just so you'd know," Cindy slurred into the phone, "I spoke to some people and they are assuring me how your way of treating me doesn't constitute very sincere friendship."
"Who is this?"
"I mean " she sighed dramatically, "I just give and give and give, and I'm constantly at your beck and call, regardless of my own job and deadlines and chronic lack of social life, not to mention the romantic one-"
"-and so what happens when this gorgeous, athletic, flavor of the week and, I'm betting, pretty damn genius in bed person addresses me, offers me a drink, a companionship, a wild night to remember-"
"Have you been drinking?"
"What happens then? I refuse. That's what happens. Which is downright idiotic of me, seeing how in addition to giving and giving and giving, I keep trying to get some kind of reaction from you that isn't a pat on the head and-or a pinch of cheeks-"
A bark came, gravelly and stern. "Cindy!"
"Yes." Cindy breathed out with an effort.
Lindsay's voice rolled through the line like and avalanche down a snow mountain, "Whatinagoddamnedhellareyoutalkingabout?"
Even though Lindsay couldn't see her, Cindy put her right hand up in a defensive gesture, the same kind of gesture she knew Lindsay always rolled her eyes at, "All I'm saying is, you should stop the act, step up and be a well, an adult."
"Where are you?"
"So I can come over and kick your ass for waking me up at Jesus Christ, three in the freaking morning?!"
"3:17, actually." Cindy corrected. "I'm in Castro. Lollipop Club. The one with the-"
"The one with the big tootsie pop neon sign up front. Yeah I know."
"You know? How do you-"
"Just shut up and stay put." Lindsay snapped and then the line went dead.
"Uh oh." Cindy warned herself and then drained the last of her Breezer.
The crowd in front of the club cleared out a bit by 4 A.M. Cindy was sitting on the curb, silently singing along to Prince's Kiss coming from a tiny speaker on her cell phone when Lindsay pulled over into a parking space next to her. The tall inspector strutted over with her hands on her hips and her jacket looking very much like some superhero's cape.
"Hellooo." Cindy whistled at her friend and then snapped the cell phone shut, cutting Prince off in the middle of his famous kissy sounds.
Lindsay regarded the younger woman, her glassy eyes, shit-eating grin, more-flaming-red-than-ever hair, tight pants and a cleavage that was ready to pop right out of that ridiculously tight shirt with one button too many standing undone.
"You're looking very Shane today." Cindy cooed, her smile spreading from one ear to the other.
"Oh my God, you're plastered." Lindsay realized.
"I have more than a justified reason to be piss drunk today."
"See," Cindy wagged a finger at Lindsay, "That right there, the fact that you're not aware of the occasion, puts you right in the not a very sincere friend, if a friend at all category." Lindsay frowned at her, clearly running out of patience at such late hour. "It's my birthday, thankyouverymuch," Cindy informed her, dangerously tilting to the left side. Luckily, a wall was there and it stopped her right in time from falling over.
Lindsay's eyebrow shot up, "You turned twenty-one?"
"More like just se-ven, from the state of you." Lindsay scoffed and then allowed her features to soften. "Happy birthday."
"Yaye." Cindy breathed out dryly, waving her fists in mock cheer.
"C'mon," Lindsay offered her hand to Cindy and then pulled her up on her unsteady feet. "I'll drive you home."
As she climbed into the passenger seat, Cindy grabbed Lindsay's lapel. "August 10th, your birthday," she said to the caught-off-guard inspector. "See, I know, because I'm a good friend and I care."
"Right now you're on your way to becoming a major pain in the ass who could be easily charged with public disturbance."
Only when they were on the road did Cindy notice another presence in the back seat. She looked warily over her left shoulder and noticed Martha observing her with her big, brown, curious eyes, not unlike hers were most of the time. Martha, her archenemy.
"Whatcha looking at?" Cindy slurred and the dog recoiled a bit.
"Leave my dog alone." Lindsay pinched Cindy's shoulder and the reporter squealed. "Sit straight and be quiet."
"Can we at least turn the radio on?" Cindy reached for the dashboard and her hand got slapped away.
"How 'bout the police beacon?! You got that here in your car? It'll be just like the movies. Wee-ooo, wee-ooo!"
"Cindy, I swear to God "
"Fine. Fine." The younger woman gave up. "Buzz kill," she muttered under her breath.
The car stopped and Cindy realized she had dozed off. A slam of the back door jerked her to attention and she noticed: "This is not my house." She fumbled with the passenger door until she found the handle to open it, stepped out and swayed a bit. "This is not my house," she repeated to Lindsay, a bit louder this time.
"Yeah, it's my house. Got a problem with it?"
"Casa Boxer," Cindy grinned. "I've never been here after hours. Alone. Without Claire or Jill."
"Consider it your birthday present." Lindsay deadpanned and linked their arms together as they reached the front stoop. Martha was already at the door, waiting.
"Wait," Cindy tugged her back with a groan and before Lindsay could ask, the young reporter was hanging over the handrail, spewing her guts out with a sound of a cat coughing out a giant hairball.
"Oh, that's sexy." Lindsay made a face as she held Cindy so she wouldn't fall face first into the bushes she was currently fertilizing.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry." Cindy apologized; wiping her mouth with a handkerchief Lindsay already had at the ready. "Better here than in your living room."
"Damn right it is."
The bright light hurt her eyes and Cindy squinted painfully when they entered the apartment. She inhaled deeply to hold back another possible wave of nausea and when she did, the scent of the place filled every single fiber of her. She could feel Lindsay, everywhere.
"I don't have a guest bedroom, so the sofa is as hospitable as I can get. I'll get you something to wear."
Cindy slumped loudly onto the sofa cushion. Did she make this birthday wish? Maybe she wasn't clear enough. Sleeping over at Lindsay's, yes. On her sofa, not really. Either way, her head was swimming and Martha was still keeping an eye on her. It was becoming creepy.
"Here," Lindsay was back, with a pillow and a blanket and an SFPD polo shirt.
"When I called you earlier, I'm not really sure what was the plan, but somehow this entire deal seems a little off, you know?" Cindy squinted at her host.
"Well I certainly didn't plan on driving across town at half past three in the morning to get your ass out of possible trouble, but I guess that's what friends do." Lindsay grinned. She patted the pillow. "There. All set."
"You won't stay here with me?" Cindy blinked sweetly.
"Nope, I've got my own bed to sleep in."
"Buzz kill." Cindy mumbled as Lindsay slowly retreated to the bedroom with Martha in tow. Lucky, lucky bitch. Before she left Cindy all by herself, she turned the lights off.
Suddenly alone and wide awake, Cindy spread out on Lindsay's sofa in Lindsay's shirt, with Lindsay's pillow under her head and her blanket covering her. This was not the birthday wish she made. But seeing how she managed to find her way into Lindsay's fortress, maybe there was still a chance.
Her eyes roamed over the darkened room, noticing things settled on shelves: books, knickknacks, CDs, DVDs tiny pieces of Lindsay Boxer's life. Maybe if she's patient enough, her birthday wish could come true by next year? Her eyes fell on the coffee table and a framed photo of Lindsay and Jill in black and white; they were smiling at each other. Or not, Cindy sighed, closing her eyes.
A beginning of a vicious headache slowly thumped in her temples and she groaned.
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