The neon sign of the by-the-hour and always discreet hotel across the street made shadowed bars on her face. We’d been there for hours, going over the police reports, looking for anything we hadn’t already learned about the case before something inside her broke and the cracks in her facade were starting to show.
“How do you do it?” she asked me, “how do you deal with your feelings when they start to get in the way. Lately, they’ve been so intrusive… and extrusive.”
I thought about what she was saying. We’ve all been there. Hung up on some no-good dame or some boozed-up lout and everyone in our life knows we’re no good for each other. Knowing that we’re stuck and we can’t get out of it no matter how hard we try; because the heart wants what the heart wants, and like overindulgent parents, we give in to its demands all too often.
I stalled for time by lighting a cigarette, then I spoke.
“I guess, mostly I have years of not trusting initial impulses and remembering that emotions are just that. They are clues to a situation, but not the situation themselves. Sometimes they’re red herrings. Sometimes they’re important clues to a case you’re not working on at the moment. Clues are the stool pigeons of the subconscious. Occasionally useful, always suspect.”
“huh, you really fit the type. the guy who open this agency order you from a catalog or something?”
I smiled wearily at her. “you asked. I never said I wasn’t some two-bit stock character. You’re the one projecting all this depth on me.”
“Thanks,” she said, “I’ll remember what you said.” Then she walked out the door into the night.