The Not Exactly Complete Works of Peter Schulman

Circumstantial Evidence

©2010 Peter Schulman
 

 

  Chapter 1  

  Chapter 2  

  Chapter 3  

  Chapter 4  

  Chapter 5  

  Chapter 6  

  Chapter 7  

  Chapter 8  

  Chapter 9  

  Chapter 10  

  Chapter 11  

  Chapter 12  

Chapter 19

I picked Rachel up at her place in Center City near Fitler Square, not far from where Janet Reedy was found.

Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods. Their names often reflect the history of the area, like Germantown, Fishtown, and Society Hill. Somehow this area had failed to acquire its own identifying name. There must be other unnamed sections, but I couldn’t think of one at the moment, probably because they didn’t have names.

“Don’t you know you’re not supposed to keep a girl waiting? We’re supposed to keep you waiting,” said Rachel.

“I just, it seemed like I’d be here on time. I don’t know how it happened.”

“You aren’t one of those guys who plays games, are you?”

“No games. Well, baseball. But no games with women.”

Rachel had eschewed her business attire for a clingy, blue, short-sleeved dress cut low enough to expose considerable cleavage of which she was justifiably proud and ended six to eight inches above the knee - I thought it inappropriate to pull out a ruler for an exact measurement on a first date - and showed off her muscular, but well-formed legs.

Her arms were well-defined. Her overall look and demeanor said this body is a temple and she was satisfied with the results of the work she put into it. Many women opted for the waif look that movies, television, and magazines told them men desired. I appreciate a toned woman.

We went to The Rose Tattoo on Callowhill Street in the Fairmount section. The food was always good and the atmosphere was romantic.

I knew objectively that it was romantic rather than felt it. I don’t embrace traditional notions of romance.

The prices were not unreasonable. I tend to be parsimonious, though some people characterized it with a more judgmental word. All things being equal, I would rather eat exceptional food in a delightful atmosphere at a moderately-priced restaurant than an exorbitantly-priced one.

Rachel approved. I didn’t know if she was swayed by romantic atmosphere or the sensible pricing.

We were seated on the second floor. It reminded me of New Orleans. It was like a balcony in the Vieux Carré with wrought iron railings and plants hanging every which way.

She ordered glazed salmon with asparagus. I had bleu-cheese-topped filet mignon, medium rare, without bleu cheese. I like the natural taste too much to pollute it with such a strong sauce.

We started with Caesar Salad. It arrived before we had a chance to exchange more than a smidgen of small talk. It was quite good. Excellent croutons are essential to a good Caesar. My first wife, Barbara, made exceptional homemade croutons. I didn’t mention that to Rachel.

“I’m guessing you know a lot more about me than I do about you. Can we correct that?” I asked.

“I just know the outline: well-respected detective, tough but fair; went to law school at night to become a well-respected ADA, tough but fair.”

“Well-respected dancer,” I added. “Tough but fair.”

“Now that is something I didn’t know and very important. I love to dance.”

“Actually, most of my dancing is ballroom.”

“Ooooooooo,” she said.

“I know that sound and that look. When I first took lessons at Harriton High School in the Main Line School Night program, there were always women at the windows of the lunchroom watching us dance. They had that look. It said, 'I would do anything to have a guy who did this.' Do you dance ballroom?”

“No. I never dated a guy who would do it.”

“Not many do. If guys knew how much women value it, there would be an explosion of dance schools.”

“I’m a sucker for a man who can dance,” said Rachel.

“I can tell you where to find classes if you’re interested.”

“I don’t have a partner.”

“You don’t need one. If there are extra women, they dance with each other.”

“Not my idea of a good time,” she said, frowning and shaking her head.

“It’s actually helpful. When you dance the man’s part you get an understanding of what he has to do to lead you successfully and it helps you recognize what he’s asking for when you’re the woman.”

“I admire your enthusiasm, but I’m always the woman.”

“When you’re dancing the woman’s part,” I corrected. “I've danced the woman’s part, especially in tango. It really helped me understand what I have to do to get across my intentions.”

“Well, there are clubs where I could be the man or the woman, but I’m not sure you’d fit in.”

“I’m sure you’d be perfect in either role.”

“I prefer to be the woman.”

“It suits you. So, how did you come to be a police detective?”

“Genetics. My grandfather, father and uncle were on the job. You?”

“My Dad’s a court reporter. That’s how I got my exposure to the legal system. “I’m second generation. Chemistry, Biology major in college. I started with the crime lab, but my personality was more suited to the street. I made detective pretty quickly and, after a few years, started Temple Law School at night.”

“Nice bio. Saint Joseph’s, Criminal Justice. Straight to the Police Academy. On the street, then corporal, then detective.”

“And you like to dance,” I said.

“I love to dance. I’m also into sports. I play fast-pitch softball.”

“That’s a fast sport. I play baseball. And watch baseball. And I’m still kind of a science nut. I read everything I can get my hands on.”

“You sound so passionate,” she said.

“I am. I saw this show on PBS about frog slime. I was so excited I taped it for my family. You see, frogs have slime covering their bodies. You would think it would be a perfect medium for diseases - bacteria, parasites, viruses. But there are active biological compounds in the slime that protect against them. And scientists are looking at them to help us fight disease. It was absolutely fascinating.”

Rachel smiled. “Did your family enjoy it?”

“They wouldn’t watch it. They thought it was strange.”

She shook her head. “Hard to believe.”

“I know.”

She giggled. “You sound so earnest. I like to do stuff. I work out.”

“I noticed.”

“I played soccer in school.”

“Do you have soccer thighs under that dress?”

“You know about that?”

“I played too. Everybody who practiced enough had those thighs.”

“It’s been a while. I lost them, but they’re still solid. Did I mention I work out?”

“It shows,” I said.

“And I run.”

“Me too. You know, this is like speed dating. We got everything out there so quickly.”

Dinner arrived. I ate slowly, taking small bites. I've heard it’s the healthy way to eat. I did it so I could savor it that much longer.

Rachel didn’t complain. She took the opportunity to tell me about how much she enjoys spending time with her nieces and nephews and avoiding her parents so she won’t have to answer questions about when she’s getting married.

“You don’t strike me as a typical cop,” she said.

“What’s a typical cop?”

“Good point. You’re not aggressive. You’re not macho. You have no swagger. You have no attitude. You’re a smartass, but you have no attitude. I’m not saying cops have to have all of that but they usually have some of it. You’re into ballroom dancing, but you like women. You want to know about frog slime. It’s just not what I’m used to.”

“I have a passion for justice. That’s what made it easy for me to switch from the lab to the street. I hate to see the wrong result and I love being part of the process that gets it right.

“As for aggression, macho, swagger and attitude, I don’t want to sound immodest, but I’m strong and I can handle myself. I don’t need to act strong. I’m not saying that’s why everybody acts that way, but you’re not the first to notice, so I've given it some thought.

“Out on the street I had quiet confidence. I didn’t argue over who had the bigger set of balls. They just had to look at my attitude and my eyes and they knew not to fuck with me.”

“I wasn’t complaining, just curious,” she said.

“I’m not being defensive, just explaining.”

“I don’t want you getting a big head, but part of the reason I’m being so cooperative is I've heard from people that you were the best detective they ever saw; that you could figure out things about cases nobody else even thought of. So, even if you come up with stuff that makes me skeptical, it’s probably to my advantage to consider it.

“They also said you could be a really annoying little prick when you did that. They knew when it happened. They would just look at you and they knew.”

“Who said that?” I asked, completely mystified.

“Yeah. They also said you could be oblivious. Word is you’re quite a contradiction.”

“I can’t contradict that.” Until I understood what she was talking about.

We passed on dessert and our waitress brought the check.

“I’ll take that,” said Rachel.

“Whoa. That’s the guy’s job.”

“I asked you out. Besides, I think I may get lucky later.”

“I like your chances.”

She didn’t blush.

There is usually an element of truth when people joke about things. It might only be two percent. It might be ninety-eight percent. When she didn’t blush at my comment, it was a lot closer to ninety-eight than two.

Had I known she was going to pay for dinner, we could have gone to Le Bec Fin, but I doubt we would have enjoyed it any more.

“Let’s go dancing,” she said.

“That would mean a bar or a club. I don’t drink and smoking really bothers me. Do you know a non-smoking club?”

“Yeah. It’s over by where they have the virgin births.”

“Couldn’t you get drummed out of your religion for saying that?”

“Are you going to tell?” she asked.

“My lips are sealed.”

“I won’t tell either. You have a stereo at your place?”

“I do.”

“Let’s go, Mr. Macho,” she said.

I headed up Spring Garden toward the Art Museum and took the leaky tunnel under Eakins Oval to get to the Spring Garden Street Bridge. I took the on-ramp from the bridge and followed my usual route home.

Bob announced our arrival before we got out of car. Every once in a while Marble would join in.

“The little guy spinning around is Bob, that’s Marble on the right, and Pocahontas on the left.” They just sat and watched.

“Hi guys,” she said as she waved to them.

“This way to the ballroom.”

Rachel’s eyes widened. “It is a ballroom.”

I used it as a den with a carpeted area on the left where the couch and the easy chair faced the entertainment center and the projection TV.

The rest of the floor was wood in case I decided to hold a ball, but mostly because you don’t cover up that beautiful hardwood floor without a compelling reason.

“When you went through your bio, I think you forgot the part about coming from money,” said Rachel as she looked around.

“No. When I left the force I put together a company with a searchable crime database. We signed up enough clients to pay for this place. When it became obvious that NCIC and other computerized crime information systems would eliminate our clientele, the other shareholders took the money and ran. I kept the corporation which owns the house.

“It still brings in some security work to pay the taxes, but that’s about it.”

I turned on the radio and tried a few stations before I found Old Time Rock And Roll. When I turned, she was already moving to the music. She moved like she was born to it. I joined her. It was exhilarating. It was suggestive.

We danced to a couple more songs when she asked me to show her some of the “ballroom stuff.”

“Are you good follower?” I asked.

“I think so.”

“Let me put something on and we'll try Fox Trot.” I fished out a big band CD and put it in the player.

I skipped a couple of tracks to Take The A Train and then held her closer than I normally would to make it easier for me to lead and her to follow.

I moved my upper body forward just before I moved my left foot, an approach I learned from tango. It forced her to move out of the way before I kicked her. She moved back on her right. I walked forward on my right foot while she moved back on her left. After two slows the convention is quick, quick to the side, first with my left then the right to close the feet together. It’s called a side chase.

I was holding her so close that when I moved to the side she had to come with me. I also lifted the arm around her back slightly and lowered it when I stepped onto my right to help her feel me shift weight.

That was our first basic Fox Trot step. Three beats in four-four time; four of them in three measures of music.

After a few more basic steps I tried a rock step. I moved forward on my left foot, holding my hand firmly against her back to keep her from taking a second step back as I returned my right foot to its original position. When my body moved back she was so closely connected to me she had no choice but to move forward. I finished with a side chase.

I could feel her smile against my cheek at the success of this maneuver. We did a few more basic steps and then another rock.

As we neared a corner I turned forty-five degrees away from her while putting pressure on her back to turn away from me so we were at a right angle. We took two slow steps forward. I lifted her right arm, released my right arm from around her back and turned her with two quick steps. She was in front of me. I drew her close and ended this combination with a rock.

“Promenade,” I said. Again I could feel the smile. She snuggled even closer, which was very close.

I mixed the three steps as we danced to the end of the track.

“That was nice,” she said. “It really feels like dancing.”

“It really is dancing,” elicited another smile.

I started to release her but she moved her right hand to my back to maintain the closeness. She leaned in for a sweet, gentle kiss.

We released it for a moment and then moved back for a kiss with much more energy and passion. By the time we finished I had lost track of the music. My attention had drifted.

“Why don’t you show me where your bedroom is?” Rachel asked.

At that point I was certain she was going to get lucky.

When I pulled my shirt over my head I heard her say a wondering, “Damn. You do work out. Tonight was the first time I've seen you without a suit, but your shirt wasn’t tight enough for me to tell.” She ran a hand over my chest. “Very pretty muscles.”

I felt my face heat up. I turned to walk to a chair to sit down and take off my shoes.

“Holy shit! Look at your back.”

“What’s wrong with my back?” I asked, concerned.

“It’s huge. How much do you work out?”

“Not that much.”

“I love your body.”

“Isn’t the guy supposed to say that?”

“I can’t help it. I’m just a girl who loves muscles.” She stepped out of her shoes and started to undress as well. I was quickly out of my pants and boxers and headed for the bed. “Oh my God, look at that ass. It’s so tight.”

I was starting to feel embarrassed at all this discussion about my body. Is that how women feel when we talk that way about them?

As the last of the clothes went flying randomly around the room, she said, “You know this isn’t love, it’s just fun.”

“Just when I was about to say, 'I do.'“

“You say that too often.”

Was there anybody who didn’t want to rehash my two divorces?

We spent a wonderful hour doing things I won’t talk about in any detail. A gentleman doesn’t kiss and tell. Neither do I.

Nobody said anything about her going home, so she didn’t. I woke up around three o'clock and found she had awakened as well. We did more of those things I won’t talk about.

I woke up around seven thirty to the feeling of my face being licked. I thought it was some strange kind of foreplay, but it turned out to be Bob. Rachel was rubbing his head and clearly found it amusing. “Does he think you’re a stud too?”

I liked the too. “I’d say let’s go for a run but you didn’t come dressed for it.”

“Next time I’ll bring a change.”

Next time. That had a nice sound.

“The Surgeon General considers this part of a balanced program of exercise and fitness,” she informed me.

“I wouldn’t want to impair your health and fitness in any way.”

“And they say chivalry is dead.”

“I need to take a shower. This is not how I want to smell at the bar mitzvah.”

“Relative?”

“Former relative.”

“That’s why this is just friendly,” she said. “All the women say not to get emotionally involved with you.”

“All the women?” I asked.

“The ones who talk about you.”

I guess they weren’t gentlemen.

“Are you taking somebody to the bar mitzvah?” she asked.

“Yes.”

“So you’re dropping me off from a night in your bed, after a first date, and then picking her up?”

“It’s not really like that,” I said.

Her eyebrows rose. Her head tilted right and the left corner of her mouth went up. “You’re a cute guy. You’re funny, intelligent, warm. You've got a body to die for and you dance. It was the dancing that sealed the deal. A girl could get in a lot of trouble if she let herself get too serious about you.”

All right, maybe it was like that.

“I take it from the bar mitzvah you’re Jewish?” she asked.

“Couldn’t you tell from the circumcision?”

She ignored my remark. “I never heard of a Jewish Smith.”

“My grandfather came over from Lithuania. At Ellis Island he told them the family name was Schimich, hard ending 'ch' like in Bach, and the first 'i' is practically silent. From that the guy heard ’smith.'“

Rachel joined me in the shower but we had to stop midway through. I don’t keep condoms in the shower. On the second try we managed to finish our ablutions.

I tossed on a bathrobe, went down to the kitchen, put on a couple of sirloin steaks and made some runny scrambled eggs. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

I fed the dogs while the steaks finished.

Rachel came into the kitchen looking every bit as good as she had when I picked her up. “That’s quite a breakfast,” she said.

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” It would be wrong not to share my nutritional knowledge with her.

She offered to clean up while I dressed.

I chose a blue suit, blue shirt, and a blue tie with a baseball motif. I was absolutely certain I’d been told that blue went with blue, I think.

I headed downtown to Rachel’s place. If the neighbors saw her getting out, they had a pretty good inkling of what she had been doing on her date.

“We have to do this again,” she said. “Just not too often. You have too many good qualities. Sorry.”

“That’s okay. I get that all the time.”

I didn’t really get it all the time, but it was a concern.

I watched her let herself safely into the house. My mother always insisted I do that. It was broad daylight and she was perfectly capable of taking care of herself, but the training is hard to overcome. I left to pick up Jamie.

 

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  Chapter 13  

  Chapter 14  

  Chapter 15  

  Chapter 16  

  Chapter 17  

  Chapter 18  

  Chapter 19  

  Chapter 20  

  Chapter 21  

  Chapter 22  

  Chapter 23