Hard Feelings Short Story Valentine Mystery by Barbara D’Amato

“And they think you, Bennis, added that diagnosis later, after you realized that your story cast doubt on whether he was dead.”

“That’s not true. I said he was dead when I wrote it up this morning.”

“Not strongly. You ‘thought he was dead.’ They figure that you said it more strongly later because the two of you have gotten together to save her ass.”

“No. NO, sir. That’s just not true. Sir, Figueroa is the best officer I’ve ever worked with. She’d never abandon a living person.”

“Are you reconsidering your testimony, Bennis?”

Bennis looked from Suze Figueroa to the commander and back. His face was anguished. “I can’t. I’m sorry, Figueroa. I can’t lie. Maybe I was temporarily disoriented by the fire. But I have to say what I know. I can’t lie.”

“You’re lying now, Bennis,” she said. “I wish I knew why.”

Figueroa was seething. Bennis stared away from her at the dead plant in the corner. The commander sighed again, and then sat silent.

The door opened. A man in uniform came one step into the room. “The board is ready for you,” he said.

“It was one of those nights that a lot of people call ‘real Chicago weather,’ ” Suze Figueroa said to the board. “It had started to snow at about three in the afternoon, just as Officer Bennis and I came on duty. We knew immediately that the rush hour was going to be hell-uh, was going to be very difficult. People had started coming into town, too, for Valentine’s Day dinners. By four o’clock it was snowing so hard you couldn’t see across the street. By five there were already cars backed up spinning their wheels on the steeper access ramps to Lake Shore Drive and the Kennedy Expressway. Some of them had run out of gas, blocking the streets, and would be there until Streets and San made it through to tow them.”

She was trying to hold in her fear, trying to put out of her mind the thought that she might be fired. Being a cop was what she had always wanted.

“It was constant from the moment we hit the street. We picked people out of stalled cars who were too scared to get out. We found several street people and ran them to shelters. We-“

The ADS, Wardron, chopped her description short. “Officer Figueroa,” he said, “get to the incident.”

“Yes, sir. But the weather played a very large part-“

“We know what the weather was last night. Move forward.”

“Yes, sir.” This guy Wardron was going to be trouble, she thought. He looked dike Mike Ditka and used his voice like the blade of a guillotine. She had vibes, sometimes, when she felt sure that another cop didn’t like women on the department. She didn’t want to think that this guy was out to get her, personally and specifically, but she’d bet if he could prove that some woman cop had run scared, he’d enjoy doing it.

“At 2140 hours we got a call . . .”

One thirty-three,” the radio had said. They were car thirty- three in the First District. Since Figueroa was driving, Bennis picked up and said, “Thirty-three.”

Woman screaming for help at eight-one-seven west on Chestnut.

“You got a floor on that, squad?”

On the two.

“Caller give a name?”

Oh, yeah. Citizen. Concerned citizen.

“I know the guy well.”



Because of the snow, all the usual city sounds around them were muffled. In fact, there were virtually no automobile noises, and they heard the dispatcher more clearly than usual. No need to repeat. Bennis said, “Ten-four.”

The snow had filled the streets and was still coming down. Figueroa said, “Jeez, Bennis. It’s not the traction that’s a problem. It’s all the abandoned cars.”

“You can get around ’em here if you drive on the sidewalk.”


“Don’t clip the fire hydrant.”

“Bennis, please! You know what an excellent driver I am.”

“Figueroa, my man, I’d trust you with my life. In fact, I do it on a daily basis.”

“And you’re still alive, too.”

“Watch out for the dumpster!”

“Missed it by a mile.”

“A good quarter of an inch anyhow.”

The radio said: “One thirty-three.


We got a second call on that woman screaming for help. Where are you?


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