When I Think About You
Though it's cold and lonely in the deep dark night
I can see paradise by the dashboard light
Paradise by the Dashboard Light ~ Meatloaf
“You love that damn car more than you love me.”
Hutch’s eyes are bright in the darkness, reflecting the street lights. Then he turns his head and the light disappears.
He doesn’t sound angry. He doesn’t sound resigned or amused, or much of anything really. It’s as if the
heat that left your car gasping and dying on the freeway has also drained the life right out of him.
Or would that be evaporated the life out of him? Roasted it? Toasted it? Dried it right up into a shriveled black little
raisin of an existence?
Whatever it is, the same thing seems to have happened to you.
You shift, trying to get comfortable in the back of his car. There’s too much junk back here, hardly enough room for
you. You’ve stripped down to your t-shirt and gun, but you’re still sweating like... Very funny, you think.
A cop sweating like a pig. Your disgusted snort adds to the mental image, but gets no reaction from Hutch. It occurs to
you afterwards that he probably took it as a response to his statement.
The turkeys have probably already called it a night. They’re sitting at home in front of their air conditioners, laughing
at the two cops dumb enough to be stuck in a tin can staking out an empty warehouse in the middle of a heat wave. You peel
your arm off of the vinyl seat and find a sodden receipt sticking to your skin.
It’s too dark to see what it is, but you reach up and poke Hutch in the back of the head anyway. “Look what I
found in the black hole you call a back seat.”
He takes it, without comment. Holds it up to the window and says, “It’s from The Green Parrot.”
And that sets you to thinking about the funeral yesterday. His wife in black. Half the attendees in police uniform. Whitelaw
didn’t come, but then you didn’t really expect him to. It’d be worse than being the other woman, wouldn’t
it? So, it was all about John. Loving husband, dedicated officer, and not a word about how he died. Or who he loved.
You had planned to speak about what he’d been to you when you were younger. How it was his influence that got you into
the police force. How he’d been one of the good guys. But the conspiracy of silence made everything you wanted to
say sound like a lie. So when they got to you... you shook your head and remained seated.
You doubt anyone noticed anyway. Except maybe Hutch, but he didn’t say anything.
“I don’t understand.” You almost can’t hear yourself. The smothering darkness makes it hard to breathe,
but safer to talk, somehow. “He had a wife. Couldn’t he have just...?”
“Pretended she was a guy?”
Figures Hutch would be right with you. He always knows what you’re thinking. Sometimes even before you know it yourself.
“Yeah,” you say.
You hear a soft chuckle. “Turn it around, Starsk. What if you were married to a guy? Could you go to bed with him
and pretend he was a girl? I think you’d notice the difference.”
“But John loves Maggie!” You stop, disconcerted. “I mean, loved. He loved her. You could tell.”
“It’s not enough, is it? Like I said, you love your car, don’t you? But you wouldn’t sleep with
You decide not to tell him about those dreams you sometimes have. The really weird ones that you tell yourself are perfectly
understandable because, after all, the Torino is a very sexy car, as cars go.
Belatedly you realize you’ve been silent too long. “What?” Oh crap, you think. Now you sound defensive.
“You’ve thought about having sex with your car, haven’t you?” He’s laughing now.
“No!” But you have.
“I knew you loved that car better than me.”
You shift again, uncomfortably. Something’s digging into your back. You twist around and pull it out. A pruning fork?
Who keeps a pruning fork in the back seat of their car?
You would have asked that very question, but something about the quiet presence of Hutch distracts you. You can hear him
breathing. You can smell aftershave and sweat, gasoline and warm vinyl.
The thought is there. You’ve been trying to avoid it for days. Weeks. Pretty much ever since they found John’s
body in that seedy hotel room, and didn’t that make you feel like a crud the first time it crossed your mind.
But it’s still there, and in this heated darkness you can safely let it out and look at it.
The thought of sex with Hutch.
You wonder what it would be like. What made John want to keep having sex with men? What can a man do for another man that
a woman isn’t better equipped for?
Men don’t have tits. They don’t have... other parts, either. The way men and women fit together is natural.
It’s the way it’s meant to be. Part A plugs into Part B. The piston goes into the cylinder, and the connecting
rod connects the piston to the crankshaft, which then turns to make the piston go up and down and up and down and...
You have to adjust yourself now. Discreetly.
The Torino is a very nice car and loving her is as natural as loving a woman. Whereas sex with a man is not natural. It’d
be like buying aftermarket parts for the Torino at a Chevy dealership.
You take another look at the back of Hutch’s head. Sex with him would be different. It wouldn’t be like sleeping
with some random guy you met in the Green Parrot.
Because the truth of the matter is that you do love Hutch. You love the way he gives you those sideways looks, all big eyes,
like he doesn’t know what you’re about to do but he’s dying to find out. You love the way he laughs, even
when you know he’s laughing at you. In fact, you’ll go out of your way to play the fool, just to see him laugh
You love the fact that he likes you.
Hutch sighs, and the seat creaks as he shifts. You can hear the rumble of trucks passing in the distance, making their night
deliveries. Up here among the warehouses however your only company is the cicadas, their monotonous hum rising and falling.
It’s dark in the car. You can hardly see your hand in front of your face. You suck in your gut and reach down the
front of your jeans, trying to shift things around.
Hutch hasn’t said anything for a while. Maybe he thinks you’ve gone to sleep?
Yeah, let him think that. You’re not in the mood to talk anyway. You’re still wondering how sex with Hutch would
It would start with kissing, probably.
Do guys kiss?
Do you even really want to know? You’ve got no interest in sex with guys. But Hutch? Hutch would kiss you. He’d
probably be a good kisser, too. Though you think you could show him a thing or two in that department. He’d taste
like coffee, and his lips...
You’ve never liked the taste of lipstick, except for the flavored kind, but not too many women who are old enough for
you to want to fuck them actually wear lipstick that tastes any good. And Hutch wouldn’t have anything at all on his
lips, which would be nice. All he would taste like would be coffee, toothpaste... and Hutch.
Tongues? Yeah, tongues are good. You lick your lips, imagine him licking yours.
Whoops. Okay, this is getting really uncomfortable. You bear it as long as you can and then you quietly ease your zipper
down. You’re not doing anything wrong. You’re just making some room. Same as you would if you’d eaten
too many chili dogs.
Nothing to see here, officer. Just move along.
A glance towards the front seat shows you that Hutch is leaning on the window, his head propped up on his arm.
Okay, so kissing Hutch wouldn’t be a complete turn-off. It’d be kind of nice, actually.
What would come next?
Hutch is always putting his hand down inside his shirt, when he’s hot, or sometimes just when he’s thinking.
So it stands to reason that he’d like having his chest touched. Your fingers are lightly rubbing your neck as you think
about this, tracing the line of your collarbone and down. He has less hair, almost none there, and what he does have is finer,
but his chest would feel basically the same as yours. So, not so strange, touching someone who doesn’t have tits.
Your breath is quickening now, and you have to make a conscious effort to even it out. Slow down. It wouldn’t do to
get caught, not now.
A quick check reassures you that Hutch is still watching the warehouse.
And it’s not like you’re doing anything wrong, right? Just thinking.
Thinking about sex.
Your hand is on your crotch now. Just innocently resting there. It feels good. Hutch would probably like that, too. Your
thumb slips under the band of your underpants. A little lower and you encounter hair. You twist a small curl around your
thumb, thinking. Hutch’s would be less coarse and not as thick. You try to remember what you’ve seen in the
locker room but, honestly, you’ve never looked that close.
You’ll have to check him out next time.
Somehow your whole hand has found its way into your underpants now. You’re not jerking off. Nothing like that. But
you reach a bit further down and curl your fingers under the warm weight of your balls.
You think about the way Hutch smiles sometimes. Not when he’s laughing at you, but just for no reason at all. Like
when you look up from your typewriter in the squad room and he gives you a quiet smile. The kind of smile that says, “I’m
glad you’re here.”
Your hand moves a little. And then a little more.
Or sometimes when you’re driving, you’ll look over to make a right turn and find him looking back. And he’ll
smile at you. Nothing complicated about it. Just an “everything’s right with the world” kind of smile
and you know it’s the fact that he’s got you in his life that makes it that way.
You’ve got your fist wrapped around yourself now, no denying it. And you’re doing a damn good imitation of a
piston and cylinder. You reach into the darkness under the seat, hoping there’ll be something down there you can use,
because otherwise it’ll be fucking hard to explain the damp spot on the front of your jeans... Fucking hard. Yeah,
that says it all pretty much.
You’ll be fucked. Utterly and completely, don’t know how you can ever explain this...
Oh, thank god!
You hold your breath as you come, the cloth – a rag, a towel, an old shirt, who knows, who cares – pressed over
your groin, your body arching up off the seat. Gotta be quiet, can’t let him know...
Phew. That was close.
Whatever that was – a flannel shirt, you think, since it seems to have buttons – gets rolled up and stuffed down
into the crack between the seat and the door. You can get rid of it later. Then you zip yourself back up, as quietly as
You wait until your breath has evened out before you speak. “You know what?”
You see Hutch jerk slightly, as if startled. For sure, he thought you were asleep. “What?”
“If it came to a choice between you or my car...”
“Yeah?” He sounds like he’s smiling, like he already knows.
But you have to say it anyway. “I’d pick you.”
There’s a long pause.
Finally, Hutch says, “Yeah. Me too.”
And you know he’s not talking about cars.