Third Avenue a window cleaner, leaning slightly too far out
in order to tackle a particularly tough smear, accidentally
knocked over the bucket containing a large amount of warm,
soapy water, tipping it four stories onto the sidewalk
resulting deluge showered at least four people, one of whom
was a local office worker on her lunch break, taking the
opportunity to give her small collie dog some air. As she
was splashed, she let go of the leash in shock, and the dog
– Pepper – took advantage of this and leapt off down the
followed a trail two blocks south to a hotdog vendor it had
passed a few minutes earlier, and proceeded to leap
enthusiastically all over the man and his customer, causing
a wild squirt of mustard to arc spectacularly and smatter
the windshield of a taxicab parked at a red light a few feet
taxi driver drove off, gesturing angrily, and started up his
wipers, furiously smearing mustard and windshield fluid over
the glass and completely obscuring his vision. He made it
four blocks before he tried to pull up, but unfortunately he
misjudged the distance and ran into the back of a number 17
board the bus a little girl, on her school break and touring
the city with her parents, lost her admittedly tenuous grip
on her soda, spilling it, straw and all, down the back of
one Stanley Raymond Kowalski, detective first grade, CPD.
had been one of those days.
couldn’t count the number of times completely random acts
of fate had caused his life to change in bizarre and
fact that Stella’s grandfather had chosen that particular
bank to start Stella’s savings account, and that Ray’s
mom had just that week been hired by Stella’s father to
clean house once every two weeks and then that Stella had
asked him to go with her to deposit the five bucks she had
found on the sidewalk by the local movie theatre. That was a
was the time that Ray went to visit Stella in her fancy
college two hours from where he was staying, only his bus
got in an hour early, so he turned up at her dorm early
enough to see some big random jock guy kissing her goodbye.
Then and there he’d known he had to drop out of his
college and move closer – no question.
was also the random chance that he’d been happily working
over in narcotics when the coffee machine had broken, so
he’d gone out quickly to get a new one, and seen a local
kid name of Danny
get himself shot. Ray’d been called in by the Lieu to give
eyewitness testimony and while he was sitting there the Lieu
had gotten this call about a last minute job over at the 2-7
and was Ray looking for a change?
yeah, call it what you will – coincidence, luck,
happenstance, accident, chance, fluke, a twist of fate,
whatever – Ray believed in it.
when that ice cold coke spilled down his back and slowly
soaked through his thin t-shirt and onto his skin, he
didn’t think it was fate. Mostly, what he thought was fuck!shit!cold!
called it an “Indian summer”. Apparently what that meant
was that it was still really hot, late into September. So
hot that you couldn’t sleep at night, so hot that you were
carrying around those irritating little battery-powered fans
and wanting a cold shower in the middle of the day, so hot
that you couldn’t even look at Fraser in that damn
red serge without wanting an ice cold Coke.
swiped the sweat off his forehead and unlocked the door to
his apartment, kicking a pile of Sunday papers out of the
way with his foot as he walked through.
a drink?” he asked, opening the fridge more for the cold
iced tea would be lovely, Ray,” Fraser said, fidgeting
with the collar of his tunic.
God’s sake, take that thing off, will you Frase?” Ray
tossed Fraser a bottle of his favourite brand and fished a
beer out for himself, holding it against his cheek before
popping the cap and taking a long deep pull.
was perfect, fizzing and chilly and tickling all the way
down into his belly, spreading coolness.
wandered into his bedroom, trying not to feel the sticky
t-shirt against his back, and shouted through. “I’m
going to take a quick shower. Make yourself at home, game
starts in ten.”
words drifted back to Fraser half-muffled as Ray pulled the
t-shirt over his head. Fraser coughed slightly, turning away
from the open door.
wandered over to the window, pulling on the sash and letting
what little breeze there was stir Ray’s dusty curtains.
Fraser set his ice tea on the coffee table before neatly
dismantling his uniform, setting it in an orderly pile by
we going to watch it at the sports bar you like?” Fraser
shouted as he undressed, but there was no response. Then he
heard the shower start, and instead sat himself on the
had to admit, he thought, rolling up the sleeves of his
Henley, it was a relief not to have that itchy jacket on,
especially in this heat. He had been feeling it quite
are you doing?” asked Ray, suddenly wandering into the
room, jeans low on his hips, fresh t-shirt in hand. He
pointed to the open window with a tilt of his head, before
pulling it closed. Fraser was about to utter an undignified
protest when Ray stepped over to the air conditioning unit
that Fraser had missed and flicked it on.
came to life with a rattle and a cough, and Ray said,
“It’s old, but it does the job,” patting it gently. He
threw himself down next to Fraser and picked up the remote,
taking another pull from his cold beer. Fraser watched the
condensation slip gently from the glass onto Ray’s lips.
scratched his eyebrow lightly. “Didn’t you want to watch
this at Joel’s Sports Bar?” he repeated.
shook his head. “No time now, game’s about to start.”
He flipped channels rapidly on the remote, finally resting
on ESPN. He pulled on the t-shirt before propping his feet
up on the coffee table. Fraser pursed his lips in an effort
not to comment.
still remembered the delicate brush of Stella’s eyelashes
against his cheekbone. Sometimes, on hot nights like these
that were made for slow, sweaty sex, he thought about it,
and about her small fingers and smooth, pale crescent nails.
About the feel of lying along the length of her, blowing
cooling breath on the arch of her neck.
he made himself think of other things – her mother’s
perpetual what-is-that-smell? expression; her
attitude towards Fraser; the new shade she had dyed her hair
– and that feeling of breathless want faded away.
real trouble was, it was replaced with nothing. Literal,
big-gaping-hole, nothing. He tried to fill it with beer, and
ballgames, and sometimes dirty movies, but none of these
only thing that approached it was having a friend like
Fraser to hang out with, but hey, there were only certain
things that Fraser was good for. Ray figured Fraser might
take it the wrong way if Ray were to tilt Fraser’s head to
the side and blow gently on the strong column of his neck. A
guy could earn himself a rep for that kind of behaviour.
turned over in bed, pulling the sweaty sheets with him, and
closed his eyes. Probably best not to be thinking stuff like
that about the guy who was currently asleep on his couch.
couldn’t hope to express how he felt, actually waking up cold.
It was a revelation, something unmatched in his experience,
the contrast between his hot nights at the consulate and
waking up here. A lumpy couch, a threadbare blanket, cookie
crumbs digging into his back, and an air-conditioner
chugging noisily away in the corner. If you’d asked him
how that sounded two weeks ago, your answer would have been
‘very close to hell’, but now it was the finest thing
Fraser had experienced in a very long time.
turned on his side and craned his neck, looking backwards
and upside down towards Ray’s doorway. He expected to find
it closed, and so was surprised to see a crack of light
shining through. He could see Ray lying in bed, eyes closed,
limbs sprawled. The white sheets were wrapped around him –
that couldn’t be comfortable – and as Fraser watched Ray
twitched and scratched at an invisible itch on his cheek.
suddenly looked away, guiltily aware that he had crossed the
fine line from Is Ray awake yet? to Goodness, he
has long eyelashes. It was a fine line, but one he was
learning to navigate. That is not buddies, he thought
to himself firmly.
miss it?” Ray asked sleepily the next night. Fraser was
staying there again, as it wasn’t a weeknight and he could
therefore afford to be away from the consulate two nights in
a row, taking advantage of Ray’s air conditioning once
what, Ray?” Fraser shifted slightly onto his side.
great white,” Ray glanced over at him, tapping his beer
bottle against Fraser’s thigh lightly. “Glaciers and
fjords and snow shoes—whatever. Home, I guess. Do you miss
didn’t answer for a while, and then said quietly, “Well
of course, Ray. It is, as you say, my home.”
Ray trailed off. In the background a rival monkey moved into
the head monkey’s territory and stole his girl. Ray knew
how he felt. He tried again. “So, why’d you come back?
Why not stay?”
sat up and leant over to the coffee table, setting his drink
gently onto the surface before replying. “I felt I had…
unfinished business, I suppose, in Chicago.”
watched Fraser’s profile. “Unfinished business, huh? I
get that, I guess. So when this business is finished
you’re gonna go back, right?”
yes, I hope to,” Fraser watched as the new head monkey
lorded it over the other monkeys. “Of course, it all
depends on viable postings and whatnot.”
fell, and they watched the monkeys eating fruit from shrines
and dancing along the flat, white rooftops.
Ray said, “I
who had lost track of the conversation, raised an eyebrow.
it,” Ray elucidated. “Especially in this heat wave.”
Fraser looked ruefully towards the window, where a pot plant
was wilting listlessly. “It was peaceful. Well, when it
wasn’t all howling wind and snow, anyway. I’d like to go
back someday maybe.”
smiled slightly and turned back to the television. “Shall
I put on Saturday Night Live?” he asked in a moment of
God yes,” Ray laughed.
lay on his cot and thought about home. He thought about
towering grey mountains, a vast ocean of fir trees, the fine
snapping of foliage under one’s feet, the rolling thunder
of a nearby waterfall.
wanted it so much he ached. He’d close his eyes and
imagine breathing in that clean air, imagine hearing nothing
except the rustle of animals and birds.
then he thought about Ray.
Kowalski seemed to epitomise everything that Fraser hated
about Chicago. He was rude, he was aggressive. He spoke
without thought – and often acted in the same way – had
an appalling diet, bad manners and a very lax sense of
despaired of Ray sometimes, he truly did. Even if sometimes
Ray also felt like home.
he said firmly, “We’re good, we’re ready, we can
handle anything.” He faced himself in the mirror and did a
quick one-two punch. “We’re tough, we don’t have a
care in the world,” he punched again, bouncing on the
balls of his feet, whirling and “Fuck!” hitting his face
on a conveniently placed shelf.
he moaned, clutching his face.
dear, Ray,” Fraser said, coming in at precisely the wrong
moment. “Don’t worry, it’ll be fine I’m sure. I
mean—” he floundered for a second before coming up with,
“We don’t even have to go if you don’t want—”
growled. “I’m not crying, Fraser, I’m injured,” he
lowered his hand and Fraser saw the bruise.
he said, though he still looked concerned. “Let me see
that.” Gently, he cupped Ray’s face and turned it to the
light. “It seems not to have broken skin. Luckily I happen
to have just the thing here for—”
me tell you something, Frase,” grumbled Ray, pulling away,
“There is no way I’m going to my ex-wife’s wedding
smelling of moose placenta or whatever, so you can give up
on that right now,” he glared.
smiled slightly. “Understood,” he said, “But really,
you should at least consider a cold compress…”
time,” Ray glanced at his wristwatch, then realised it had
broken two weeks ago when Fraser had – allegedly
accidentally – pushed him into Lake Michigan. What is
that, three for three? Instead he picked up Fraser’s wrist
and checked the time. “We gotta be there five minutes
let’s go then,” Fraser said sunnily, and Ray growled.
“Once more unto the breach and all that, Ray my friend!”
the reception, Ray lost himself inside a bottle of white
wine. Really crappy white wine.
next to Fraser, he thought fuzzily that it was like a
physics thing or something; the drunker Ray got, the quieter
Fraser got, until neither of them were speaking, but Ray was
still managing to carry on a decent conversation with the
yeah, it was a ration or something— a ratio thing. The
more pissed Ray was, the more pissed Fraser was, but in the
totally opposite, not-fun way. But, hey, Fraser could at
least be pleased that Ray was behaving himself. He hadn’t
started shouting obscenities during the speeches, or calling
the groom “that bald, big-nosed fashion victim” like
he’d wanted to, or even thrown up – his stomach heaved
– well, not yet anyway.
Fraser said quietly, applauding the happy couple taking
their first turn of the floor. “Ray, I really think you
should stop drinking now.”
perfectly fine, Fraser,” Ray slurred, laying his head on
the cool tablecloth. Didn’t this place have
Ray, you seem rather the worse for— it just doesn’t seem
appropriate. Would you like some air?”
muttered Ray, “Air is good, air… air is life.
Oxygen…” he faded off and Fraser took him by the elbow
and pulled him around the back of the room, out onto the
fire escape. Ray slid down the brick wall and landed heavily
at Fraser’s feet. He clumsily tried to undo his tie.
don’t feel so good, Frase,” he muttered,
not surprised,” Fraser said quietly, crouching in front of
him and laying a cool hand on Ray’s forehead. “You’d
consumed at least one bottle before we were shown to our
should be—” he paused, until his stomach settled. “She
should be with me.”
frowned slightly. “Then—” he stopped himself, but then
the words tumbled out anyway, like he couldn’t stop them.
“Then why isn’t she?”
looked at him uncomprehendingly. “Huh?”
isn’t she with you?”
because of kids and work and—”
Fraser almost exclaimed, before catching himself and
glancing around to make sure no one saw them. “No, not
because of kids and work and. Because—because she
doesn’t love you any more.”
head came up so sharply that it hit the brick wall and he
winced. Fraser frowned again and cupped the back of Ray’s
head, but Ray didn’t notice. “That was way harsh,
Fraser,” he said, almost soberly.
sorry,” Fraser said, glancing down at the grate they were
resting on. Beneath them Ray could see a huge dumper full of
garbage bags and the leg of a mannequin sticking up at an
odd angle. “I’m sorry,” Fraser exhaled sharply. “I
just hate to see you do this to yourself. Especially—”
was a pause. “Especially what?” Ray asked, slurring only
tongue briefly stroked his lower lip, and Ray felt drunkenly
hypnotised by the movement. “Especially when… when it
seems so completely inconsistent. You never talk about her,
or seem in any way like you still want to be with her, and
then moments like this come along and it’s almost as
though you simply decide ‘well, today I’ll be upset
about that.’” Fraser was flushed slightly now. He
paused, and then lowered his tone slightly. “I just
forget it, Fraser, I know what you mean.” Ray tried to
scramble to his feet but didn’t quite make it, hanging
onto the lapels of Fraser’s suit instead. “You mean
‘you’re a big faker, Ray’.” Fraser angrily shook his
head in denial. “You mean ‘drama queen’ or whatever.
Well, let me tell you,” he released one lapel to poke
Fraser in the chest, body swinging crazily for a second
before Fraser steadied him. “Let me tell you this, I think
about her plenty. I think about kissing her and holding her
and at night, in bed, and I think about things that make her
not you—” Ray frowned muzzily – that wasn’t quite
right. “I mean, she’s not you, she’s a girl, and
that’s what I think about.” He looked up; Fraser had
gone very still. “I think about her.”
leant in and kissed him.
left the party soon after that, making vague excuses, Fraser
crossly trying to ignore the pitying looks Stella cast at
Ray. They shared a cab back to Ray’s place, and Fraser
paid the driver while Ray drunkenly tried to find his key.
Fraser rejoined him he was muzzily going over and over,
“Locker room, mailbox, trunk of the car—” and Fraser
pulled out his spare key and let them into the cool, shady
Ray was on him, going for buttons first, starting at his
waist while Fraser tried to stop him. “Ray, Ray, Ray,
kissed him, and pushed him back against the door, pulling
Fraser’s shirt free of his trousers – and losing a
button on the way – while at the same time getting his own
jacket off. Jerkily, Fraser pushed forward, turning them and
pushing Ray against the door, holding him steady.
had one sleeve of his jacket off, and was panting, swollen
lips wet and parted. “Really, Ray,” Fraser said,
desperately trying to regain control. “This is highly
unwise. You’re upset, and under the influence—”
Fraser’s voice stuttered and faded as Ray looked at him
deliberately from under his lashes before reaching out and
laying a hand over the bulge in Fraser’s trousers.
thought I was a big faker,” Ray said, rubbing
breathing became shallow, and he swallowed with difficulty.
“No, of course not, Ray, I—” gathering himself
together sharply, Fraser pulled back, moving into the centre
of the living room. “Really, Ray, I think you should get
some sleep. We can discuss this in the morning.”
did not discuss it in the morning. They didn’t discuss it
that entire day, in fact. The events that followed Ray
passing out in bed, holding onto Fraser’s hand with a
tight grip, could not be called ‘discussion’ in any
loose sense of the word.
happened was that Fraser woke to find Ray looking at him
quietly – if one can look quietly, and, apparently, Ray
was able to – and he then leaned over and gave Fraser a
light kiss, more of a peck, really. Ray had morning breath,
and when a warm tongue slipped into his mouth Fraser closed
his eyes and inhaled that deep dark taste of Ray, something
concentrated and rich.
Ray’s hands trailed down to the waistband of his Henley
and tickled him there lightly, lifting it, and Fraser
didn’t think at all. Simply rolled onto his belly and lay
himself along the length of Ray, feeling Ray inhale deeply,
the shift his chest to Fraser’s, the rise of his ribcage,
and, lower down, the nudge of his erection.
morning,” Ray said into Fraser’s hair.
grunted and slid down through the sheets, inadvertently
dragging Ray’s boxers low onto his hips. He kissed the
rise of hipbone, nibbled it lightly and made Ray twitch, and
then muttered into it something inaudible – more than
simply ‘good morning’ – lips forming the words against
that,” Ray gasped as Fraser’s fingers trailed up his
inner thigh and under the hem of his boxers, “If that was
the beginning of some Inuit story, Fraser, do us all a
favour and save it.”
didn’t say much more for the rest of the day.
around seven pm that night, when Fraser was sleepily
insisting that he should be leaving for the consulate, and
Ray was growling that there was no need for Fraser to live
there, for Christ’s sake— the telephone rang.
Ray said abruptly into the receiver, glowering as Fraser
took the opportunity to slip out of bed and start getting
dressed. He was firmly distracted, however, when Stella’s
voice, tinny and distant, echoed down the line.
she said. It sounded like she was shouting. “This is a
terrible line!” Ray rolled his eyes.
Stella,” Fraser’s head jerked up at this and Ray quirked
could just make out the faint murmur of Stella’s voice,
but not the words, and Ray – unhelpful as ever – seemed
to have gone into monosyllables. “Yeah,” he was saying,
an “Uh huh,” and then, “No… no, don’t—”
Ray shifted, glaring at the covers and saying, “No, Stell,
seriously, Fraser came back with me, I wasn’t— Look,
I’m sorry, alright. We left early, didn’t we? Then what
are you calling for?!”
didn’t stay to hear the rest of the conversation, simply
threaded his shoes on smartly, and walked out into the
extension called to him but he ignored it firmly, not having
given up on that many of his principles, thank you very
much. Instead he slipped on his jacket and patted his
pockets for his keys before spotting them on the side table
by the door.
Ray said from the bedroom doorway, clutching the sheet
around him like a toga. He gestured vaguely back towards the
bedroom. “Sorry about that, she was angry and worried, I
to worry, Ray,” Fraser could hear the same tone in his
voice that Dief got when Fraser forgot to buy him the good
meat, but couldn’t seem to erase it. “As I said, I
should be going anyway.”
I guess,” Ray said quietly, scratching the back of his
neck. He tentatively came over to where Fraser was standing.
“See you tomorrow?” he asked, laying a hand on the front
of Fraser’s jacket.
course,” Fraser gently went to move away, and then paused.
With a small sigh he closed the distance between them,
kissing Ray’s mouth and then the slightly-smiling corner,
trying to drag himself away bit-by-bit. “Goodnight,
Ray,” he said, and left.
that, things settled again. Fraser took advantage of Ray’s
air conditioning more often, and Ray took advantage of
Fraser more often, sleepovers becoming a regular thing.
Ray was happy, Ray was good. He and Fraser felt more like a
one-two punch than ever, working well together, their
partnership stronger than ever. And if Fraser wanted a
casual fuck on occasion – or even regularly – then who
was Ray to complain? Like a guy was gonna turn it down; What?
An easy orgasm you say? Oh, no thanks, I just had one last
when Fraser ambushed him coming out of the shower, freshly
towel dry, and made him all sticky again, or when he pushed
him back against the kitchen counter and let the water
boil-over, or when he nuzzled the hair at the nape of
Ray’s neck and Ray closed his eyes in ecstasy and missed
the winning basket, hell, Ray wasn’t going to protest.
couldn’t tell what Fraser was feeling, though. Fraser
seemed to be holding more and more of himself back, and even
when they were fucking, Fraser wasn’t… open, Ray guessed
– though, woah, bad, seriously bad choice of word right
there because Fraser was more than open. It was just that he
closed his eyes and his mouth, he didn’t really make much
sound, and after he never talked or anything – he was
closed-off like he disapproved of it or something. Yeah, he
had that look that Ray’d seen on Dief’s face when Fraser
forgot to buy him the good meat – that was it.
Ray often thought, maybe he’s just here for the couch
tonight, maybe he doesn’t want to fool around – and hey,
that was fine with him, he was feeling pretty well-laid over
here already – and then Fraser would do something like the
casual drape of an arm along the back of the sofa, and ten
minutes later Ray would feel Fraser’s fingertips dancing
along the shell of his ear, and he’d turn his head and
there would be Fraser, right up close, but not meeting his
eyes, just looking at his lips, and they’d kiss, and…
ended up in bed pretty much every time Fraser stayed over,
and he stayed over pretty much every night, now that Ray
came to think of it. And the only time Fraser did make any
sound was during the times when everything was hottest, and
Fraser seemed that little bit more out of control, and then
he would whisper into Ray’s skin, hands desperately
pushing Ray on towards orgasm, his mouth gasping out: “I
want you,” or “Oh, God, Ray,” and sometimes more,
sometimes snatches of “you taste like…” or “I want
you so much I…” but he always cut himself off on those
times, like it was too much.
when Ray thought about it, he’d wonder if he was becoming
addicted. He really couldn’t imagine what their
partnership had been like before, although he vaguely
remembered a time when Fraser hadn’t touched him, ever. He
thought it might have been just after they got back from the
adventure, that Fraser had seemed more withdrawn somehow,
but that everything had changed… when? Was it the heat
wave? Fraser had started to melt a little around then, Ray
guessed. He’d started sleeping over – and Ray couldn’t
even remember how that had come about – and then a few
weeks after it had been Stella’s wedding, and the whole
thing had exploded.
yeah, Ray kind of felt guilty about that too, about making
such a fool of himself, when maybe Fraser had been right.
Maybe Ray didn’t miss Stella but missed something else,
something he now had with Fraser. Not just sex, but…
Fraser would go back to the Yukon or wherever some day, and
Ray knew that he’d be fine. It was like Fraser had helped
him get over Stella, or needing someone, and that when
Fraser left he’d feel released. Yeah, he’d be fine.
thousand miles away in a small settlement near Yellowknife,
Jack Dempsey walked out of the local store carrying a small
but sharp knife – his latest purchase. He stepped down the
steps and onto the street, admiring the crafting on the
blade, and didn’t notice a large puddle of mud just in
front of him.
heavily over the dirt track he suddenly felt the splash, and
an ominous cold wet seeping into his shoes, looking down for
a moment and rolling his eyes at the state of his left boot.
He lifted his foot out and shook it slightly.
because his attention was occupied, he didn’t notice the
truck until it was almost on top of him, and was forced to
leap out of it’s path spectacularly, landing heavily on
top of Trapper Joe, who’d been loading his bike up with
tallow for the coming winter.
Joe landed heavily, accidentally knocking his bike over and
into the headlight of the local RCMP truck, which smashed,
albeit rather neatly. Inspecting the damage, the two men
didn’t see the local Constable come outside at the
commotion, bib still on, sandwich in hand.
happened?” he asked, and Jack and Joe desperately – and
rather pointlessly – tried to hide the evidence.
at that moment another large truck came barreling around the
corner – this time it was delivering the marquee to be
used for Mary Tarrant’s wedding this coming Saturday. It
enthusiastically shot down Main, not even slowing down to
navigate the puddle which, unfortunately, splashed Constable
Turner rather spectacularly.
wet, the rather round constable glared down at his ruined
he said, pulling off the bib and leaving a perfect half-moon
shape of clean serge, “is the outside of enough.”
moon rose gracefully over the city, the sky blushing and
eventually fading to violet, then blue, then black. Ray was
preoccupied during that part, but now that the stars were
out he was lying in bed, staring out through his window,
through the grate of fire escape, looking at the night sky.
Frase?” he said quietly.
still cradled by Ray’s body, head buried in his neck,
we see the same stars here as we did up north?”
shifted and sighed, his hot breath brushing over the skin of
Ray’s collarbone, making him stir slightly.
he muttered sleepily. “Same hemisphere.”
if I looked I could see all the stars you showed me that
Fraser’s hand came up and lazily pushed back his hair,
“in theory Ray. But it’s not really the right time of
Ray said, disappointed. Fraser’s hand rested on Ray’s
chest, and then moved up, touching the beginnings of Ray’s
stubble, then pressed into the hair above Ray’s ear.
Fraser inhaled deeply against Ray’s neck, and Ray twisted
slightly, raising his knee and pressing it into the side of
Fraser’s hip. “But we could go back up for a vacation,
stilled and then suddenly sat up, moving his hand out of
Ray’s hair to support himself. “Well, I suppose so,
although— well, how much leave do you have accrued? I
probably couldn’t take more than a week, and it takes so
long to get there that—”
scowled slightly and looked away, “Yeah, you’re probably
right,” he muttered. He moved, pulling away from Fraser
until he could lie on his side. “I’ve seen it all
Fraser scratched his eyebrow slightly, “You haven’t yet
seen it in the summer months, Ray. The scenery is just as
facing away, closed his eyes and turned his head into the
pillow. “Yeah, well, maybe when you go back, I’ll come
frowned slightly. He moved over to what had become his side
of the bed and lay down on his back stiffly. “Yes,
maybe,” he said.
I’m not quite sure what your plans are,” said Inspector
Giddings, frowning over his half-moon glasses.
shifted his stance. “Well, I have none,” he said slowly.
see,” Inspector Giddings frowned deeper, if that was
possible – he was a big frowner – and shuffled the
papers on his desk. “You see—” he coughed slightly.
“Much as I would miss having an officer of your experience
around, and I would, of course, I find it difficult to—I
mean, you must miss—well, you seem more suited to—” he
paused again and fished inside his jacket pocket for a
handkerchief, which he brushed over his brow. “Damn heat
wave,” he muttered. “What I’m trying to say,
Constable,” he stood up and met Fraser’s eyes, “Is
that a position has become available in the Northwest
Territories, and someone higher up, name of—” he glanced
at the papers on front of him, “Thatcher, has recommended
you for the position.”
felt his eyebrows rise slightly, the only outer indication
– he hoped – of the turmoil within. “I see.”
Giddings looked frustrated at the response. “So, are you
interested?” he asked, now furiously cleaning his glasses.
Fraser was at a loss.
picked up the papers once more and held his glasses in front
of his eyes to read. “Says here that the post has been
resigned by a Constable… Turner. Because of— ah, well it
says here ‘because of irreconcilable culinary
difficulties.’ I’m not quite sure what that means,” he
did look rather at a loss, and dropped the papers back to
the desk before continuing to clean his glasses vigorously.
“Well, I will give you the weekend to make your decision,
Constable,” he said firmly. “We will have another
meeting about this first thing Monday morning, and I will
expect your written decision by then.”
nodded once, slowly, and turned to go. Behind him, he
distinctly heard the lens of the glasses pop free from their
was in a foul mood. He’d been put on desk duty because of
a rather violent altercation with a petty thief, and
Lieutenant Welsh was making him pay and pay and pay.
noted that the signs of fighting were still evident, the
slight swelling of his upper lip, a bruise his right eye,
the way he walked, very careful of the ribs on the left side
of his body.
scowled when Fraser came in. “There you are,” he
growled. “About time,” he stood up and snatched some
papers out of Frannie’s hand before she could even speak,
and motioned to Fraser to follow him. “I’m stuck here
babysitting rapists and murderers and you’re out playing
with Dief in the park.”
it, Fraser, we gotta go to interview one and
interrogate—” he looked at the papers Frannie had handed
him, “John Doe – of course – witness to a jewellery
Doe was a diminutive homeless man with a smart mouth –
something guaranteed not to endear him to Ray – who was
sitting on the interview table when they walked in.
stopped short and glared, before pulling out the guy’s
chair with a thump. “Sit there,” he growled, pointing
smiled slightly before moving, at his leisure, to the chair.
Ray glared at the sheet of papers before handing them to
Fraser. “First off, John Doe. That your real name?”
said John, smiling cockily.
muttered Ray, “Sure it is, ok fine, we’ll come back to
that. What’d you see?”
attempted to interrupt. “Ray, if I could have a
guy looked around the room, “I saw many, many things
Ray rolled his eyes, and Fraser wished he could take Mr. Doe
to one side and hint that today was probably not the best
day for him to be taking Ray on.
wise guy,” Ray leant across the table, glaring, “I got
all day in here with you if I want, and you see this?” he
held out his battered knuckles, “I did this on another
punk, name of John Doe too – coincidence, huh? And he’s
now sleeping it off with a fat biker called Nellie
downstairs, so if I were you I’d quit the wise stuff and
just tell me what you goddamn saw!”
His voice rose steadily, ending with him slamming his
fist onto the table.
Fraser said tentatively, “there really is something that
now, Frase. So, Doe, what’d ya see?”
Doe shifted uncertainly in his seat, and scratched his ear.
“I’m not sure.”
flung himself away from the table in disgust. “You’re
not sure. He’s not sure!”
then what are you doing wasting my time?”
I’m sorry, it was dark, ok?”
was one thirty in the afternoon!”
fine,” John Doe said, scratching his ear again. “I just
gotta think. I don’t remember too well!”
been offered a posting near Yellowknife.”
paused and then swung around to stare at Fraser.
remember now! It was lunchtime and a lot of guys from the
offices were sitting around eating lunch, so I’m wandering
around trying to get some spare change when—”
change,” John repeated. “So I heard this alarm go off,
Ray asked, stunned.
adjusted the collar of his serge, “Yes, Ray, a permanent
post in a small settlement…” his voice trailed off.
I look over and see three guys, one was about your height
with red hair—”
turned to glare, “Hey, Doe, save it, ok? I’m trying to
have a talk with my partner here,” he turned back to
Fraser. “You gonna take it?”
lack of expression was driving Ray up the wall, but he just
stood there looking vaguely uncomfortable, as though he had
to pee. But Fraser never had to pee.
sorry, Ray, I think… I think I have to.”
frowned slightly and then forced out a laugh, “Hey,
don’t apologise, Fraser. It’s no skin off my…
whatever. It’s fine, I mean sorry to see you go and
everything but, hey, had to happen sooner or later.”
was Fraser’s turn to frown. “Well, I suppose so, Ray. I
cut him off. “Look, it’s fine, send me a postcard, ok?
Now, if you don’t mind,” he gestured vaguely to John
Doe, “I gotta get Whiffy McStinkerson here to cough up the
goodies. I’ll see you around.” He raised his eyebrows
and tilted his head towards the door.
had little choice. He straightened his spine and walked out,
saying a curt “Very well, Ray.”
went home that night and flicked on a boxing match.
sat on the couch and drank a beer, enjoying the hops and
blood and violence, enjoying having his own space once more.
No one to fiddle with the air conditioning, or make
disapproving noises if he had another beer, or irritate him
with that sizzling thing the pan did when Fraser made those
out-of-this-world noodles, or touch him inappropriately,
the few days following the transfer being accepted, Fraser
hardly saw Ray. Things were too quiet, and Fraser was
unsettled. The heat was still stifling in his little office,
and he missed the artificial air of Ray’s air conditioner,
cooling him down. He firmly did not think of the hot grasp
of Ray’s hands and body.
then, two weeks after their confrontation, he had walked out
of the consulate to find something for lunch, and Ray was
standing there, leaning against the GTO holding a brown
sub?” he had asked, and Fraser had smiled slightly, and
Dief had jumped up at Ray and everything had… diffused a
day Ray helped Fraser divert the Ice Queen so that Fraser
could sneak out to the precinct, Fraser helped Ray nail a
corrupt judge accepting bribes from rich mobsters, and Dief
had eaten the best part of two meatball subs and made
friends with a cute little cocker spaniel on East 75th
they’d bought Chinese from the place near Ray’s, eaten
it in front of a programme about Judy Garland on Biography,
and finally, when the sun had set, fucked in the dark, hot
and sweet and hard, first on the couch, and eventually on
the worn patch of carpet in front of the coffee table.
had fallen asleep there until Ray had nudged him awake near
midnight, and they’d staggered into the bedroom together,
falling onto the bed, Ray kissing Fraser lightly,
tentatively, until they were kissing desperately, until it
became angry and passionate and different from any time
before. And then Fraser had held Ray down and fucked him,
headboard banging against the wall.
Ray said, hands in his pockets, “what’s essential, then?
To exist up north, what do you got to buy?”
were in an outdoor pursuits store that Fraser favoured, and
he was stocking up on… cold weather stuff, or something.
There were twenty-six days now until adios Mountie.
most of the things I’ll need I already have at my
father’s cabin, Ray,” Fraser explained, inspecting the
label of a hideous green fleece jacket. “I just need to
wait for them to be shipped to Yellowknife – I can pick
them up from there. It is simply a matter of buying the
necessaries to tide me over.”
led them over to a large array of stands that all exclaimed
“Polartec” in large writing, and began rifling through
sets of long johns.
thought you had tons of those, Frase.”
no, Ray, those are my summer-weight long-johns. These are
much more suited to the weather conditions in Fort
Providence at this time of year,” he pulled out a pair of
red – apparently his favourite colour, and added them to
where you’re headed? Fort Providence?” Ray carefully
examined his boots.
stood quite still. “Yes,” he said quietly, then reached
out and dropped some sunscreen into his basket.
flew out Air Canada on November 5th. The night
before he had slept at Ray’s, as Ray was giving him a lift
to the airport early the next morning. They hadn’t slept
me what it’s going to be like, Frase,” Ray said at
almost three. “For you, up there.”
I really couldn’t say, Ray.”
imagine, then,” Ray had shifted against him, feeling where
they were still joined. “I want to picture you…
harpooning whales, or whatever.”
smiled, “Well, I imagine I shall wake up every day at
around six o’ clock,” Ray groaned in horror and Fraser
felt it reverberate through him, “and feed Dief and the
dogs. Then I shall shower and prepare my breakfast. After
that I shall head into the detachment and catch up on the
previous day’s paperwork, and then I shall—” he was
interrupted by a slight snore. At first he thought Ray was
joking, but then felt him relax deeper into sleep, and
smiled slightly. “Exactly,” he said.
he arrived at Yellowknife, he rescued his pack from the
tumbling baggage carousel, and walked out into the main
airport, greeted by an officer bearing the sign “Constable
traveled into the Yellowknife detachment and spent the first
night there, Fraser recouping his strength after his two
flights. He pondered that “detachment” was an excellent
name for it as, even in his earliest and most naively
annoying days as a cadet, he’d never felt quite so removed
from a group of people as he did there.
shook himself firmly and told himself to buck up, wishing
that his father were there to tell him to put his head on
straight. He told himself in the mirror instead, and
received strange looks from the cadet that came to collect
him to take him down to dinner.
next day they set out bright and early to Fort Providence,
and Fraser read up on the settlement on the way. It had a
small population, was accessible by road most of the year,
and that a large portion of its income came from the sale of
moosehair tuftings to tourists. He smiled, imagining Ray’s
reaction to that, before stopping himself and firmly looking
out at the scenery.
took them most of the day, but as the sun was setting they
arrived at the small detachment, greeted by a homemade
banner saying “Welcome Constable!” pinned over the door.
Fraser smiled at the sentiment, and hefted his pack out of
the trunk, following the Cadet into the building.
met with his superior officer – Staff Sergeant Lang –
and they had a civilized cup of tea and got to know each
other, something Fraser felt far too tired for, but that
Staff Sergeant Lang believed to be imperative.
then, and only then, was he allowed to go home. Or what he
was sure he would come to think of as home. Sergeant Lang
handed him a key and gave him directions to a group of
state-funded apartments a few minutes’ walk away, and
Fraser used the brisk walk to somewhat familiarize himself
with his surroundings.
seemed to be a nice, quiet town, and Staff Sergeant Lang
seemed quite a jolly fellow – he had had a twinkle in his
eye all the way through their meeting. Fraser was sure he
wouldn’t come to regret this decision. It really was the
only course left open to him.
spotted the apartment block and consulted the piece of paper
with the address scrawled on it, before wandering up the
steps and dropping his pack in the doorway.
he thought, this can’t be right. He consulted the paper
again. 3b. He looked at the door. 3b. There was a faint
thrum of music from behind the closed door.
unlocked the door, and stepped in.
the lights were on in the house, and music was indeed
playing. It was also inhumanly hot, and Fraser briefly
flashed back to the Chicago weather of late. The door
slammed shut behind him.
he called out.
was a slight crash out of sight and then, loping round the
corner came Ray, wearing a pair of bright red long johns.
Buddy!” he said, hugging him tightly. “You have a good
time down there with Sergeant Lang? What a peach, huh?”
reeled. For only the second time in his life.