November 23-24: All libraries will be closed for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Bianca’s heartbeat reverberates in her ears. She slowly leans forward on her foot, preparing to spring into action if need be. The bustle of the city melts away, and the sights of the innocent civilians disappear as her eyes narrow on one thing and one thing only. Him.
Campbell shuffles nonchalantly down the street a few feet ahead of Bianca, hands in his pockets and headphones on his neck. A sloppy beanie cap lazes on his bald head, and his baggy clothes hang loose on his body. They hide all his insecurities and his intentions. He could have been just some uncaring and distracted old guy. But Bianca knows better.
Years ago, Campbell was clean. He was well-dressed with a crisp polo shirt tucked into neatly-ironed pants and Oxford shoes so shiny you could see your reflection in them. He used to always look you in the eyes and greet you with a smile. He always used to turn around calmly if you called his name, and wait patiently for you if you fell behind. He kept his hair longer then, and often pulled it back into a little ponytail to keep it out of his face.
Back then, he was infinitely more charming than he is now. He was more charismatic, more electric. But no less dangerous.
Campbell suddenly stops walking, and Bianca nearly grabs her gun at the sight. She feels far too jumpy, and releases a hesitant breath. She breathes in again with more conviction, then breathes out her nerves, and breathes in clarity. She relaxes her stance, but narrows her eyes. He glances at a billboard nearby and tilts his head slightly while reading it. Bianca can’t help but smirk; she forgot he liked to read sideways.
They met at a charity party, a high-end affair on the east side of the city. Bianca had been hired as a security guard and manned the front entrance. Campbell quite literally ran into her, and the two crashed into a nearby bush. Papers that he had cradled in his arms flew into the air around them. He profusely apologized, and when their eyes met, they shared an utterly clichéd moment where their hearts caught in their throats. He asked her to join him for dinner, she asked him to join her for lunch the next day. Weeks passed and Bianca began to notice the tiny details about Campbell: the way he always tilted his head to the side to look at her, the way he left his silverware askew when he ate, his lopsided smile. They were younger back then, and more naïve. Bianca was naïve.
Campbell begins shuffling down the road again, though now Bianca notices a limp in his left leg. Had he been walking that way the whole time? He seems to be protecting his right side pocket, as if he holds something precious. Bianca had been a police officer for too long to pretend she didn’t know what was in his pocket—a gun. She trots after him.
He had begun to get pushy after three months. But Bianca didn’t want to believe it. She ignored his hands that started at her knees and then crawled their way up her thighs like a spider. She overlooked his adventurous lips that crept down her neck and collarbone, and treated her shirt like wrapping paper on a Christmas present. She didn’t want to believe he would go too far. He was a gentleman, he always had been. Those were the words she whispered to herself when he finally ripped off the wrapping paper and feasted on his gift, the words that got falser and falser with every passing moment.
Bianca shudders. She shakes her head to dispel the memory. The one she never reported because she always felt like she asked for it. She had every means of stopping it at her disposal: her taser gun, her trained fists, and even her words. But she never told Campbell to stop; she never said “no”. As she watches him wandering aimlessly along the streets of the city, she wonders if she even has the right to be hounding him so closely. Sure, he’s carrying a gun, but so is she, as well as roughly 10% of the city’s population.
Just as she decides to let him go, Campbell whips around and stares crookedly into her soul. Her heart catches in her throat, and before she can think, he dashes towards her. Her eyes widen, the fear of the past, the regret, the anger, the resentment, the panic, they all flash in her eyes and she can’t see anything except him, coming closer, closer, too close, too close, stop stop stop, he was a gentleman, he always had been, he was a gentleman, he always had bee—
Bianca snaps back to reality, and sees her ex-boyfriend lying on the ground with blood pooling in his shoulder and onto his chest. As he writhes on the concrete, Bianca stares unbelieving at her shaking hands that cling to her 9mm for dear life.
She abruptly rejects the weapon, dropping it like a hot potato, and sinks to the ground on her knees. They lock eyes, and in the moment she sees something in him that she never thought he had.
And she’s certain he can see it in her eyes too.
A passerby calls 911 and an ambulance arrives, as well as some members of the NYPD shortly after. People begin to crowd around the scene, forming a curious but cautious ring around Bianca and her assaulted ex. The paramedics quickly lift him onto a stretcher and load him into the ambulance, and police members from a different branch begin to survey the civilians in search of witnesses. They eventually come around to questioning her, though her answers blur in her mind.
She knows exactly the case she could make. He was a rapist, and in the heat of the moment she shot at him in self-defense. It could make headlines. But she also knew he had once been world-renowned in his field, and that very few rapes were ever reported. Would the press say it had been another case of police brutality, of her prejudice and subconscious racial profiling? Or maybe they would use her gender against her, saying that she was profiling against men. Or they could twist it to say that no women are safe, not even fully-armed and defendable police officers.
But no matter what, no newspaper in the world would print the truth. Campbell and Bianca had been running from their past, and when they collided again they had fought too much to recover their lost love. The absolute trust that she once had for him had broken, and his absolute faith that she would never hurt him had shattered.
It’s funny, really, Bianca thinks to herself, how desperately this story could have been a revenge tale. And yet how much it felt like a mistake.