Short Story: The One That Got Away

SN850448On a Thursday evening in June, inspired by the picturesque weather, Jenny Gleeson checked on her beehives. She had three now. She reluctantly started only six months ago when her hippie sister gave her a Beehive Starter Kit as a present. Just what a cop needs, she thought.

But that was six months ago, and now Jenny Gleeson was a full time Beekeeper. At least in her mind. She was still a cop above all else (an I Bleed Blue bumper sticker on her Toyota hatchback) but she enjoyed the bees. She liked their devotion to work and their aggressiveness. She also enjoyed having something to look after. She had Reginald, but cats are independent and don’t need much looking after. Her caretaking of Reggi consisted of putting out food in the morning and evening, if she was around. No litter box as he did his business somewhere in the lush backyard of her childhood home. She felt lucky to live in the house she grew up in and the back yard gave her  ample space for her hives.

The hives were buzzing, and that was good news. In June you had to watch out for swarms – not as much as in May – but you never know. She’d given them ample room to spread out so she wasn’t particularly worried. She found a few dozen bees hovering outside the hive which was normal when the weather was this hot and humid. She went back to the house, poured herself a tall glass of iced tea and sat back in the wooden deck chair near the hives. She enjoyed watching the bees form a beard on the front of the hive, and felt that it was the bee’s way of chilling out on a hot summer night.

Jenny hung the laundry on the line, finally, it had been waiting in a moist pile for a few hours. Jenny found it difficult to care about around the house tasks, but nevertheless they needed to be done. Her phone chirped from the table. Sgt. Cobb.

Yeah? It’s my day off you know.

Well hello to you too! What if I was just calling to see if you wanna get a drink?

Are you?

silence. No.

I didn’t think so. What’s up? And it better be important. I’m busy.

I bet you are. Speaking of which, Francis would love another jar of that honey if you could manage. You know I like to keep the wife happy.

I could if I had some time to myself.

Alright, alright. Listen. The jewel thief. We know where he’s gonna hit tonight and I thought you’d want in. He’s your collar if you want em. PAUSE But if you’d rather watch your bees…

***

Three months had gone by and Jenny was still in the wheelchair. Catching that Jewel thief had been more than she’d bargained for- it left her with two broken legs. A fall from three stories will do that. At least the scum is behind bars, thought Jenny. Her legs itched, but she’d learned to live with it. She learned to live with a lot. She learned to live with daytime television and meals being brought by squad cars. She learned to live with the fact that her ass will be flat forever. She was learning to live with the time on her hands. She was even learning to speak french. Because… why not?

What Jenny couldn’t stand was being away from her bees.The irony of having three months off – paid – and not be able to go outside was too much to bear. It was mid September now and the bees would be busy gathering nectar and helping the queen with the eggs. Cobb had been checking in periodically, but Jenny didn’t trust him. Not with the bees. He was only trustworthy if it was something which affected him personally, and the bees certainly didn’t qualify. But with two broken legs, three steps down, and a walk to the hives, she didn’t have a choice. She had to trust the old man.

He was supposed to swing by at 3:30, and it was nearly four when Jenny heard a loud crash coming from the back yard. She managed to get herself out of the Lazy Boy recliner after quite a struggle, and sat herself down in the chair. Reggi was growling at the screen door in the kitchen.

“What is is Reg?” Jenny wheeled herself to the screen door and Reggi jumped out of the way. “Who’s out there?” She called. “Cobb is that you? Cobb?”

Silence. The lights should have come on. Why didn’t the motion sensors come on? “Hey! Who the fucks out there? You’ve got ten seconds to get off my property and then nothin’! I don’t have to call anybody! I’M A COP!”

The screen door slammed and scared the cat. Jenny was panting, upset. She opened the screen door again and wheeled out as far as she could and looked at the stairs. “Fuck!” She wheeled herself back inside and heard the front door opening.

“Jenny? Hey It’s Cobb. Here to check on your demented replacement for kids. Jenny?”

“In the kitchen!” She yelled.

“Hey there… what’s going on? You are white as a sheet.”

“Someone’s out there. I heard a crash.”

Cobb placed a hand on his weapon at the word crash. “I’m on it,” he said.

“That wasn’t you back there, was it? Just now?” She looked up at his face. She wanted to see if he was telling the truth. That’s what the city paid her for.

“Ha ha ha, what? No. Nope. I just got here. Hell you heard me come in the door, Jenny.”

“I know I did. It’s just that the timing is funny.”

“Right. I get that. But… why would I sneak around in the dark in your backyard?” Cobb was watching Jenny now. He was worried. “You’re getting a little paranoid. Don’t go all Rear Window on me now.” He smiled.

Maybe he was right. Maybe, thought Jenny, but maybe not.

Cobb was twitching. Moving his shoulders around and wincing. “I’ll just go take a look to be on the safe side.” He reached for the door. Something made a noise. Reggi growled at Cobb, something he never does.

“Hold it right there,” said Jenny. She drew her weapon. “Stay right where you are Cobb.”

“Jenny! What? What are you-”

As the words were falling from Sgt. Cobb’s mouth, a bee emerged from his collar and landed on the hammer of Jenny’s gun.

 

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