Rated PG-13 for adult content and adult language. Male/female sexual situations implied. This is pure nonsensethe plot is completely improbable. But didn't you ever wonder what Insp. Thatcher does with those leather chaps she sent Fraser to the dry-cleaners for in "Witness"? This story gives us a glimpse of the wilder side of Margaret Thatcher only hinted at in "The Mask".
Constable Benton Fraser entered the room and crossed to stand in front of Inspector Thatcher's desk. "Sir, I have your. . .er. . . um . . .chaps from the cleaners".
"Thank you Fraser" Thatcher continued to stare myopically at the computer screen. Without looking up, she waved vaguely in the direction of a wing chair. "Put them there." Her voice was dismissive.
"Yes, Sir," Fraser carefully draped the filmy plastic bag containing the leather chaps across the back of the chair. "If you don't mind my asking, what"
"I do mind, Fraser. Put them down." She continued to focus on the screen.
"I just wondered where you would wear"
"Fraser," her tone was sharp, irritated. "You may go."
Only after she heard the soft click of the closing door did she look up from the computer. She reached for the phone and punched a speed dial number.
"Stock yards, Tex Wagner here. Can I help you?" The voice was deep, the drawl pure southwest.
"Tex, it's Maggie."
"Maggie, honey, if this ain't a surprise. I sure didn't expect to hear from you again."
"Yes, well, um . . .do you suppose . . .are you free tonight?"
"Maggie, sweetie, I'm never too busy for you. But . . . well I guess I thought you were mad at me or somethin'."
"No, I'm not angry anymore." Thatcher closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "You did burn those photos, didn't you?" she added anxiously.
"Honey, sweety, I said I did." How could she doubt the sincerity in that voice?
"Yes, well, can you come to my place around ten?"
"Maggie, wild buffalo couldn't keep me away." The drawl had become a rumbling purr.
"Good, ten o'clock. I've got a surprise for you. We'll do a little ...rodeoing." Inspector Thatcher actually giggled, her voice a little breathless. She hung up abruptly, put her elbows on the desk, and covered her crimson face with her hands. She remained that way for several minutes until a loud thud and a muffled oath from Turnbull brought her back to the present. * * *
Margaret Thatcher paced around her bedroom again. The fringe of her chaps made rustling sounds as it dragged across the carpet. Other than the leather chaps, she wore nothing.
Her pacing stopped beside the bed. She looked down at the prone body. The man on the floor wore even less than she, western boots, spurs tangled hopelessly in the carpet pile, a western hat crushed beneath his head.
"Think," she whispered, but she couldn't think, not clearly, not rationally. Her thoughts spun out of control, darting in and out of places she didn't want to go. How could she have gotten herself trapped in a situation like this? A mirthless laugh escaped as she remembered exactly how she had placed herself in this impossible position. Memories of her first meeting with Tex replayed through her mind. She had met him at a country music bar. They shared a few drinks, danced, laughed. Something about the self-styled cowboy appealed to her. That evening had ended at her apartment, and that's where this mess had really begun. Tex had a camera and Maggie had too many beers. The next morning Maggie had a hangover and some images of the previous night that both excited and repelled her. Tex had a satisfied grin and some very interesting photographic mementos.
"Stupid," she hissed. "How could I have been so stupid?" She was immersed in self loathing. If only she hadn't called him again. She didn't understand her infatuation with him. Why hadn't she let it end after severaland in her estimation somewhat disappointingencounters? Yesterday, she'd felt the urge to see him again, find out if that spark would rekindle. She'd given in to the urgeand look what a desperate muddle she'd made of the whole thing.
She moved around the cramped bedroom, stubbing her toe on an overturned wine bottle. This evening had started out well enough she remembered. A little winewell quite a lot of wine. They'd laughed, listened to some music, Tex had even sung to her, very romantic she thought in her less than sober condition. Things had progressed to her bed where they had gotten down to some serious, and somewhat kinky, cowboy style romping.
Her mind automatically shied away from the erotic images she had conjured.
And afterwards everything had started to fall apart very quickly. She'd made some half-serious remark about cowboys and eight-second rides. He'd taken her sarcasm badly, very badly. He became angry, all out of proportion to her criticism, she thought. He'd yelled, called her names, blamed his less that spectacular performance on her. She had retaliated by childishly pointing out his physical shortcomings. Things had gone from bad to worsemuch worse. Her temper had flared, and with a few well chosen words, she had managed to escalate the fight into all out warfare. Enraged, his Texas-sized ego bruised, he had been determined to teach her a lesson. That's when he'd told her he still had the photos. He not only had them, he intended to use them to embarrass her. Her reaction had been all he had needed to spur him toward a really satisfying revenge. He'd laughed. And that's when she'd kicked him. Kicked him in the stomach with a lot more force than she'd intended, propelling him backwards off the bed. The thunk of his head hitting the night-stand was both gratifying and frightening. He probably wasn't going to feel any great fondness for her when he woke up. Oh, what a mess.
The loud moan made her jump. He was regaining consciousness. Briefly, she considered killing him. She gave an unlady-like snort of disgust. She couldn't simply kill a man because he had some compromising photos of her. Instead, she opened her closet, took out a robe, and pulled the belt free. She knelt beside Tex and began tying his hands, very tightly, to the leg of the bed. He wouldn't be going anywhere for a while, she thought with satisfaction. Meanwhile, this would buy her some time to clear the panic and alcohol haze from her mind and think of a plan. There had to be some way to save herself the embarrassment of having those pictures exposed. Briefly, she considered killing herself but rejected that plan as being more fraught with potential disgrace than the dilemma she was trying to extricate herself from. An idea was beginning to form. Not a good idea, and one that would be *almost* as embarrassing as having the photos made public. She picked up the phone "Mr Mustaffi, this is an emergency. Would you ask Constable Fraser to come to the phone."
* * *
When Inspector Thatcher answered the door, she was dressed conservatively in a navy blue blazer and skirt. Grabbing Fraser's arm, she jerked him inside.
"You have some sort of emergency?" He looked at her closely, then scanned the room.
"Fraser, swear to me what you are about to see you will never repeat to another living soul." She sounded almost frantic, so unlike the cool, in control inspector he worked with every day.
"Tell me what's wrong."
"Swear it, Fraser!"
"You know you can trust me."
She nodded, her shoulders sagged. She looked almost as though she would cry. "Come in here." She led the way to her bedroom.
Two steps into the bedroom, Fraser froze. A man lay on the floor, hands tied together over his head to the leg of the bed. He was nude except for western boots andyes, those were spurs. The bed was a jumble of twisted sheets, a can of whipped cream topping lay on it's side on the pillow. Fraser looked at Inspector Thatcher, opened his mouth to speak, shut it again. He turned and left the room without saying a word.
Thatcher was right behind him. "You have to help me, Fraser."
Still he didn't speak. He just stood in her living room and stared at her, his expression unreadable.
"I know how this must look to you . . ." This sounded foolish even in her own ears.
"What did you do to him? Is he dead?"
"No! No, I . . .we were . . . wrestling. He fell out of bed and hit his head. Fraser, he is going to blackmail me."
"Blackmail?" His voice sounded flat. "So you knocked him out, took off his clothes, and tied him to the bed?"
"It didn't happen *exactly* like that." She was talking fast now. She had to convince him to help her. She couldn't do this alone. "He has pictures. . . he said he would make them public."
"Pictures of what?" As soon as he said it, he knew he didn't want to hear the answer. Abruptly, he turned and walked back into the bedroom. He stood in the doorway, shaking his head.
She wasn't winning his sympathy, she could read it in his voice, in his rigid posture. "Fraser, if you went to his placegot the photos and the negativeshe couldn't carry through with his threat. Without those pictures, he can't hurt me."
His silence seemed to go on and on, grating on her frayed nerves. When he finally spoke, she gave a little hiccup of surprise.
"You want me to break into this man's house, search it and steal some photos . . .and then what? What do you plan to do with . . .that?" he indicated the cowboy with a jerk of his head. The shock and disbelief
that had gripped him were being replaced by disgust.
He crossed the bedroom, stepped over the booted feet, and picked up the whipped cream can. Depressing the top, he watched the white foam hiss from the can and plop onto bare knees. "What in the hell were you doing with this?" He dropped the can which bounced off a bare stomach and rolled under the bed.
The contempt in his voice, in his eyes, mortified her. She sniffled and a large tear rolled down her cheek, leaving a trail of dark mascara. "Help me, Fraser. This is all a. . .a misunderstanding. . .an accident. My career is everything to me. I can't let him expose me to this kind of disgrace on a whim. This was a game to him. . .a joke. . ." Her voice trailed off, she couldn't think of anything to say that would make this man view her in a better light.
"Why did you call me? Why didn't you just go and get the photos yourself?"
"I didn't want to call you, believe me. The thought of involving you in this sordid little . . ." She raised her shoulders in gesture of futility. "Fraser, I couldn't leave him alone like this. What if he managed to attract someone's attention? What I've done tonight is not only stupidit's illegal." She broke off abruptly, realizing every word she uttered was probably making him less likely to help her.
It was useless, she began to resign herself to the inevitable. Nothing she could say would make him understand her role in this bizarre fiasco. They were poles apart in their reasoning. He could never comprehend going to such lengths to escape the consequences of one's own rash actions. For that matter, he probably couldn't comprehend committing a rash action. Moral, honorable, truthfulthat was Benton Fraser. And what did that make her ? She raised her chin and stood up a little straighter. She'd worked hard to make herself a success in male dominated career. Now, through her own incredibly foolish behavior, she stood to lose a great deal of the ground she'd gained.
He watched her square her shoulders and pull together the shreds of her dignity. He knew she was about to dismiss him, excuse him from any part in this potentially disastrous situation. He threw logic aside, along with whatever common sense he possessed. When he spoke there was no emotion in his voice, just resignation "Where does he live?".
The cowboy moaned and wiggled. ****
The photos and negatives were not hard to find. Tex had not expected to be detained while his apartment was searched. Fraser did a thorough job, in case there was a second set.
Two hours later, Thatcher opened her door with a revolver in her hand. Tex sat on the sofa, fully dressed in jeans and a western shirt embroidered with satin roses. He held an ice bag against the back of his head. "This is kidnaping," he said. "You're both gonna go down for this."
"Shut up," Thatcher snapped.
Fraser took an envelope form his coat and threw it in Thatcher's general direction. She scrambled to scoop up the photos spilling out.
"Give me your car keys," Fraser ordered, and taking Tex's arm dragged him to his feet. The cowboy might have resisted, but the fingers biting into his shoulder were agony. He fumbled in his pocket and produced the keys.
"Where are you taking him?"
"Home." Propelling the cowboy to the door, Fraser stopped and faced Thatcher. "He can't do any harm now, not without the photos. He won't go to the police and admit to attempted blackmail. Everything else is just his word against ours."
"Ours," she repeated that telling word. Fraser was going to stand behind her in thisstand by her all the way. "Thank you, Fraser." She paused and then added. "About what you saw, I was just, um"
"It's really none of my business." But he waited for her to say something else, something that would make this ugly farce seem a little less depraved.
"I don't know why I asked him here." She faltered. What could she say to regain Fraser's respect? " It was a mistake. I'm sorry."
Fraser shook his head. "Just one thing," he spoke slowly. "Don't look for me at the consulate for a few days. I need a little time off." He didn't wait for a response.
If you enjoyed this story, the sequel "Another Vacation" will be posted soon. Comments appreciated.