Thanks: Many thanks to pearl_o and mergatrude for beta
Notes: For the Lie/Lay challenge on ds_flashfiction
My conscience is troubling me, and I feel compelled to write to you, even though I have no means by which to convey this letter. Perhaps that is just as well: I don't wish to cause you distress, and I'm afraid you'd be startled—at the very least—by what I have to say. Nonetheless, it behooves me to confess.
Since I returned to Chicago a year and a half ago to discover your sudden change in appearance, our relationship has altered rather dramatically. I was initially shocked by your transformation, as you can imagine; my suspicions ran along a number of lines that I now admit to be completely implausible, with alien abduction being the least unlikely scenario.
However, as we became reacquainted, I found our friendship was as strong as ever.
We have always been friends, you and I, but after your sudden deterioration in eyesight, our friendship changed in tone, growing increasingly intimate. This surprised no one more than myself. To be honest, I had never thought of you in a romantic light before.
We had our differences of course (you repeatedly called me a "freak", to which I chose not to take exception, for the most part; I frequently embarrassed you by licking evidence; and there was, upon one infamous occasion, an exchange of blows), but despite these various hurdles—or possibly because of them—I found myself progressively more distracted by your eyelashes.
I was confused about the implications of this distraction for several weeks, but finally Diefenbaker explained certain things to me and I, in turn, explained certain things to you.
Happily, after several false starts and misunderstandings, we eventually discovered that our regard was mutual. You first kissed me behind a thirty-foot modernist sculpture of a Saguaro cactus, and in short, we have been cohabiting for several months. At the risk of raising your eyebrows, I must assure you that by and large we are extremely happy.
I'm sorry. I should have told you sooner. But that is not why I'm writing.
Subsequent to the instigation of our relationship, your sister noticed a change in our treatment of each other, and began to suspect something was afoot. This was unfortunate, as we'd intended to keep the connection private, primarily in deference to your ignorance of the affair. However, the truth will out.
Francesca questioned me, and I couldn't deny it, Ray. And so our secret was revealed.
You should know that since you started wearing jeans on a regular basis, your temperament is far more volatile. You display all the typical characteristics of a caffeine "junkie". I confess I find these traits utterly charming, but they are perhaps incompatible with tranquil acceptance of the fact that information intended to be kept secret is now in the public domain, so to speak. When you heard that your sister had "copped" to us, you reacted with strong dismay, and it was this response (taking place, as it did, at your desk at the precinct) that drew the attention of Lieutenant Welsh.
He was kind enough to invite us into his office, where we were able to discuss the situation in relative privacy.
So, yes, the Lieutenant was now apprised of our circumstances, and over the subsequent week, the news leaked out to the rest of the precinct. You were pleasantly surprised to find that on the whole, people's reactions were positive and encouraging. And I'm convinced that Detective Dewey's initial rejoinder was meant humorously, and that his subsequent apology, though given under duress, was sincere.
Belatedly, it occurs to me that we should have been more careful of your reputation. At the time, though, it seemed that the matter concerned only you—now an aficionado of Latin American dancing—and myself. I failed to anticipate where events would lead.
The RCMP dress uniform, as you know, always draws attention, and its bright color makes it extraordinarily photogenic. This is the only explanation I can conceive for the Chicago Police Department's decision to run a "human interest" story about me in the internal newsletter. Lieutenant Welsh requested that I cooperate (I believe he hoped it would alleviate some rumblings of concern from the "top brass" about my unofficial and admittedly poorly timed involvement in a certain drug bust), and I had a pleasant enough interview with a young woman called Winifred.
Alas, she had heard rumors about our romance, and included a sly reference to you at the end of the article. The piece was accompanied by a photo of the two of us, in which you looked notably un-Italian. As is usual with such newsletters, few read the piece and there was only a very mild renewal of interest in our private life. I expected the matter would sink without trace, and thought no more of it.
And here we arrive at the crux of the matter: I was terribly wrong.
For reasons that quite honestly elude me, the Chicago Tribune picked up the story for their Features section yesterday. If they had used the photo from the newsletter (in which you are blond), this would of course have been disastrous, but what in fact happened was not without its ramifications.
They illustrated the article with a file photo of the two of us, dating back to the Bolt brothers' case. This caused a flurry of confusion, particularly since I was then seen squired around town by someone who clearly was not involved in stopping a runaway train that had been taken over by terrorists and was heading for nuclear catastrophe. This, in turn, led to bewildering reports that I was being unfaithful to you by indulging in an unethical affair with you without your knowledge.
As you can imagine, Lieutenant Welsh is extremely displeased. We all hope and pray that this unfortunate publicity has in no way jeopardized you or your mission. The FBI is currently discussing the appropriate course of action to take.
But I wanted to write to you privately, as a friend, and assure you that I never intended to put you in this awkward position. The chain of events took me completely by surprise and our current "minor celebrity" status, as Turnbull phrased it, was most unlooked for. Tonight you said, "Frase, I never wanted to be a poster boy for the gay community" (and much more besides). I'm sure you'll repeat that with even more vehemence when you revert to being heterosexual.
Diefenbaker sends his warm regards.
Your good friend,