The next to the last day of February 2009 found me playing trusty sidekick to the boss lady on a jaunt to Portland, Oregon, city of the perennial cloud cover, and this day was no exception: chilly and cloudy, like a gin and tonic with too much lemon juice. We were there conducting a day-long series of workshops and seminars designed to help searchers be better searchers when the at-risk are missing and in grave danger. Tough duty to pull, and just as tough to teach, but the boss lady is a pro like few others, and she knows her stuff cold. Me, I carry her bag and drive.
So an early morning start leads to a long day, and then finally at 5, a two-hour dinner break before the closing talks and the obligatory question-and-answer sessions, followed hopefully by sales of the pamphlets, books and DVDs. We walk out of the hotel lobby into the moist chill and head to the rental.
"So, Kay, where you wanna go to grab a bite," I say.
"Eh, I don't know, Ari. Let me see what my crackberry can lead us to." We get in the car, and I start it as Kay begins surfing the web for someplace. Even though we have only been working together for a short time, we fill in each others blanks, and we work well together. She never misses a detail, and I never stop reminding her that it is always all about the details. And though we are both single, and have known of each other for a year or so, circumstance conspired to keep us involved with other pursuits, and other people until one day I needed work, and she needed a hand with a growing operation, someone who knew the law enforcement community, who knew their way around the English language, and who could be, well, counted on. She picked me, and we clicked from day one.
"So does that thing tell you anything besides the latest bad news from Wall Street," I ask, knowing that she is one of the most addicted crackberry fiends on the planet.
"Yes, as a matter of fact, it does, Mr. Smartypants. Why don't you do something useful too, and just turn right here, and drive west," she tells me with that characteristic twinkle in her eyes. An old trail guide, Lupe, down in Ramona, calls her "La Chica de los ojos," and a more fitting moniker is probably not possible: when she hits you with those eyes, she either makes you follow or sends you away. No in-between with Kay.
I drive, and for some reason, for the first time I think, I notice her perfume, and I think to myself, damn that smells nice, why have I never noticed her perfume before? She is absorbed in that infernal little box, that overgrown calculator, and does not notice my stare. She is a looker, and this is not new information to me, but today is the first time I can recall noticing that she is.
"Okay, we are looking for Voodoo Doughnuts. Should be a big sign out front. And the motto: 'The Magic Is in the Hole.'," she laughs, unexpectedly, and looks over at me to see if I am laughing too. I am, and she seems relieved.
"Um, Kay, seriously? We are looking for Voodoo Doughnuts? What do they come with little pins in them or something?" I say, looking for the sign somewhere ahead. "And why, may I ask, are we spending precious time of our dinner break looking for a donut shop? I was kinda thinkin' New York strip, baked potato, ya know?"
"Because, Ari," she said, "I have been told that Voodoo Donuts are the best in all metro Portland, and that we can't leave without trying them. Besides, we may be retired, but what are two cops without some donuts?" She laughs again, and this time, I notice that she has a wonderful laugh, musical, not very tough-girl at all. It is a side of her that I either have not seen before, or not noticed, and it is disarming to me. She is a real girl, deep down, not just an ex-cop trying to make a buck and raise two kids on her own.
"And it says here that not only do they create gourmet and custom doughnuts, but they have their own wedding chapel, where they have been uniting couples in marriage since 2003. We have to find this place, Ari. Keep looking," Kay says to me, and I must have quite a look on my face, because she giggles when she looks over at me. "Come on, Ari, let's have some fun. We've been workin' hard all day," she says, crossing her legs and showing those sexy new boots she brought on the trip. Eh, I'm a foot guy; shoot me.
Then, a few minutes later, she spies the sign and the ominous logo with the dude with spooky eyes. "There it is, there it is, Ari. Over there," she points as if I am not looking out the window just like she is. "This is great," she says, and pulls out that ever-present camera. Even though she shoots photos all the time, for some reason the camera goes off prematurely, and she takes a photo of her boot. "Oh, no big deal, I have a friend that I have been meaning to send a photo of these boots to. Just send it to the crackberry, and click, click, and it's on its way," she says, as I pull into the parking lot.
We get out of the rental, and go in. The place smells like heaven inside, and there are doughnuts, doughnut t-shirts, and doughnut everything everywhere. And these are expensive doughnuts too. We take a seat and start looking at the offerings. Suddenly, I feel Kay's hand on mine, and I am a little startled.
"Ari, you know, you are really a very attractive guy," Kay says to me, and I feel like I have just been hit by a stun-gun. Something. Very. Heavy. On. My. Chest. Am I having a heart attack? "And I was thinking, after we wrap up tonight, maybe you take me out for that New York strip steak and all the trimmings, and we have a drink or two, and a few laughs. We can skip the Wedding Chapel, ha ha, for now. Whaddya say?"
And I pause for a pregnant moment, look her in those eyes, and say, "Of course, Kay baby. The magic is in the hole."
February 27, 2009, for Kimberly, on demand, which I hardly ever do.
Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.