she cared. She wanted the best for me but I never came through. I knew I'd never amount to shit, but she never got it. Never gave up. Why, do you suppose?' He looked truly mystified.

'It's never too late, Tru. Why don't you honor her life by writing a better ending to yours?'

He looked at me, and tears welled in his eyes. 'Yeah,' he said. 'That's probably the plan.'

Chapter 59

We sat in the backyard under the eaves of our roof and watched the light rain dapple the Venice Canal water. It dripped loudly from the roof, splashing on the pavement near our feet.

'We hardly ever get pure victories,' Alexa told me. 'You shouldn't expect them.'

'Is this the new you? First we had confused and angry Alexa, then wild Alexa. Now Alexa the pessimist? Where's that woman I married?'

She smiled over at me. 'Tired of my endless permutations? What if I took you inside and practiced some voodoo sex on you?'

'Oh my God, a voodoo priestess, too?' I teased.

'I'm a lot of things,' she said proudly. 'One of them is the reinstated chief of the LAPD Detective Bureau. Tony called while you were at the market. He's going to give me another shot.'

'Way to go!' I grabbed her hand, pulled her over, and kissed her. I could smell her perfume, feel the heat of her. Tonight would be special. The promise was in her kiss.

Just then the phone rang. I got up and went inside to get it.

'Hello?' I said.

'Is this Detective Shane Scully?' a man's voice asked.

'Yeah. Who's this?'

'Sergeant Cooley at the Men's Central Jail. Hold on for a minute, got a guy here wants to talk to you.'

Then Tru Hickman came on the line. 'You won't believe this, man! This is so fucked! I got popped again.'


'Fuck no. Come on. I'm clean, you know that. It's just paraphernalia. But with my yellow sheet, these cops are all up in it, you know?'

'I gotta go, Tru.'

'Hey, look man. That wasn't my works. I met some people at this get-down club in Hollywood. The place got raided and this asshole I was with must've put his needle in my jacket pocket. You know what I'm saying? You know me, man. I'm on a new life, like we said. Like I promised my mom. This isn't my artillery. You gotta believe that and come down here and talk to these people.'

'Already gave at the office.'

'What's that supposed to mean?'

'You're not gonna be some lifelong project for me, Tru. From now on, you're on your own.'

'Hey, hey! Hold it… Come on, just this once…'

But I was already hanging up. I dropped the phone in the cradle and rejoined Alexa on the back porch. The wind had shifted and now the rain was blowing in on our chairs. Alexa was gathering up her things, getting ready to come inside.

'Who was that?'

'Tru. He got popped for drug paraphernalia. He's in MCJ.'

'Didn't take him long, did it?'

'Nope.' I was bummed out. Something about him ending up in city jail the same night we got him out of Corcoran sort of ruined everything. Alexa reached out and took my hand.

'It is what it is,' she told me. 'Tru has to live his own life.'

'Yeah, that's what I told him.' But I couldn't help it. I felt really bad.

'You're such a romantic,' she finally said.

'Come on, where'd that come from?'

'You act all tough and hard-boiled, but underneath you want them all to live happily ever after. You want it neat and perfect. Sometimes that just can't happen.'

'It doesn't get you that, after all this, that little putz is already back in stir?'

'Honey, this was never about Tru Hickman.'

'Then what was it about?'

'This was only about us. About who we are and how we behave. It was about our values and our principles, fixing our mistakes at great cost when nobody said we had to. It was about doing the right thing no matter the consequences.'

Great wisdom from the woman I married.

Our two boats, side by side at last.

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