Cumulative Probability Pt. 02

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CUMULATIVE PROBABILITY

Part 2

IX.

I looked at Ani as she stood at the apartment’s kitchen island. She seemed to enjoy my gaze. Maybe that’s why she hadn’t buttoned up her shirt. Or put on her pants.

She was wearing only her shirt. The rest of her clothes remained crumpled on the floor.

I opened the refrigerator and handed her a can of LaCroix water.

“Thanks,” she said.

I opened a can for myself. The bite of the carbonation felt good on my throat.

We stared at each other for several moments while we sipped. Silent, but not uncomfortably so.

She broke the silence.

“Listen, I’m just going to call you Erik,” she stated.

“Calling you Dr. Thorlund is too formal,” she continued. “Considering that I just swallowed a generous amount of your semen.”

She had a good delivery: composed, unabashed, and with a hint of humor playing around her mouth and eyes. Confident. I really liked that.

She looked fantastic.

“You look fantastic,” I said.

“Erik is perfect,” I added.

“What do you do with the State Department?” I asked.

She looked surprised, and then not surprised.

“Right, you’re out of the loop,” she said. “I don’t work for the State Department.”

I raised an eyebrow.

“I’m NYPD,” she said. “Detective. I’ve been here seven years, joined right out of college.”

I digested that.

“How do you know those other two then, Max and Ilsa?”

“Through work. The United Nations is physically in Manhattan. So when there is a U.N. thing, different units of NYPD provide support and security. Especially to any U.S. delegations. We’re not allowed in the physical U.N. compound without permission, but there is a lot that goes on outside.”

“The WTO isn’t technically part of the U.N., but they have an agreement where they work closely together and use U.N facilities. NYPD basically treats them as the same.”

“I’ve worked the U.N. support detail before. I’ve worked with Max and Ilsa before. They asked for someone for today. Usually they do that when they have some indication of potential spillover crime. A year ago we busted a guy from the Netherlands diplomatic delegation bringing in 60,000 pills of Ecstasy.”

She looked directly at me. Her face tensed.

“Anyway, you probably don’t care about that U.N. crap. Look, I have to apologize–though I’m pretty sure you liked it–but it was astoundingly unprofessional of me to have sex with you. I’m on duty.”

“Yes, I liked it,” I said. “Completely. Zero apology necessary.”

That was an understatement. For a few minutes so delicious they were almost painful we had been in synch. Yeah, I had fucking liked it.

She looked at me searchingly. Then the tension smoothed from her face.

“Good.”

“I’d like to do more,” I added.

“Maybe,” she replied.

“You do have a nice bedside manner, doctor,” she continued. “I liked how you talked to me.”

Her eyes softened, in a way that made me want to drop down on my knees and lick her pussy.

I moved closer to her.

“If you’re okay with it, I’m going to lick your pussy,” I said. “Not a full thing, I know we don’t have time for that. I just want to taste you.”

She paused a beat, then nodded her head in assent.

“You’re a maniac,” she said. Her tone was amused, but her voice had a ragged edge she did not conceal.

I went down on one knee in front of her. I rested my hands lightly on her thighs, then slid them around to grasp her ass. I looked at her pussy.

I leaned my head forward and slowly licked her, running my tongue between the folds of her lips, from the bottom of her channel to the top, then gently over her clit.

She was delicious. Hot, wet, perfect.

I licked her a second time, slowly and more firmly, placing my whole mouth on her.

“Fuuuuck,” she moaned. Her eyes closed. Her hand came down and grabbed the back of my head. She pressed herself against my mouth. I could feel her wetness increase.

I gave one last savoring lick, then stood up.

“I need to do that more thoroughly when we have time,” I said.

“I’ll see if I can schedule you in,” she gasped.

After a few seconds she composed herself. She grinned again.

“On another note,” she asked, “do you have a washer/dryer in here?”

“Yes, it’s in that closet, next to the bathroom. Do you need it?”

She picked her panties from the floor.

“These are damp. They could use a few minutes in a dryer.”

I took the panties from her. I walked to the dryer, put them in and started it.

“You know, if you were on Tinder you’d get a lot of swipes.” Her voice followed me.

“You’ve got good hair, nice eyes. Being a physician doesn’t hurt.”

“The beard I’m not used to, though,” she continued. “If you’d asked me a day ago, I’d have said I prefer clean-shaved men. But now I may be reevaluating.”

She started dressing. She located her pants and stepped into them, then buttoned her shirt and tucked it in. She picked up her belt with the holstered gun and looped pendik escort it through.

I watched her while she did this. I noted again how fit she was.

“You’re really fit,” I said. “Are you an athlete?”

She looked at me.

“I used to be. I played hockey in college. Center. I started three years for B.U. Now I just play in a recreational league.”

“I don’t know anything about hockey,” I said. “But I know you have to be outstanding to play at that level.”

She smiled.

“You don’t have to flatter me. I already sucked your cock. But thank you.”

She put on her low-cut boots, then shrugged on her jacket. She looked at me.

“You didn’t ask about the gun,” she stated.

I shrugged.

“I’m not a fan of guns. I’m sure you have to carry one.”

She nodded.

“Most guys see a gun and can’t help commenting on it. Then they start explaining to me how guns work.”

“I’ve seen the end results in the ER,” I said. That’s enough for me to understand how they work.”

She nodded again.

“Agreed.”

She went to the kitchen sink and washed her face, drying it with a paper towel from a roll.

She checked the time on her phone.

“It’s 6:30 now. This thing starts at 7 but we don’t have to be there right on time. If we get there around 8 or even 8:30 that’s fine. The place is near 5th Avenue and 87th.”

“Put on your suit,” she instructed. “Then I’ll call an Uber.”

“Or we can take the subway,” I responded. “The 2d Street stop is about ten minutes walk from here. There’s a coffee shop along the way, corner of Clinton Street. We can get a coffee. And I’ll tell you how I know Turkish. Then, if you still want me to go, we can take an uptown train to 86th near the Met.”

“If I still want you to go?” she asked.

I nodded.

“Yeah. There’s a realistic possibility you may not want me to.”

The dryer beeped. Her panties were dry.

X.

Ani stuffed her panties into an inside pocket of her jacket.

I went into my bedroom, leaving the door open, and started dressing.

“Hey,” I said through the open bedroom door. “You know almost nothing about me.”

“That’s true,” her voice floated back from the kitchen.

“So look around. Go through anything you want. I don’t mind. I keep my marijuana stash in the top drawer to the right of the stove.”

A laugh.

“I might have to smoke some. You know recreational weed is now legal in New York, right?”

Ani appeared in the doorway. She had a book from my bookshelf.

“You read Chandler. I’ve read this too.” She was holding a copy of The Big Sleep.

I continued dressing. I like suits. They have a fanciful quality about them. It’s like ID, the suit is a symbol of being dressed up. I am wearing a suit, therefore I am dressed up.

I prefer dark suits, dark blue or black, with or without striping. I chose a dark blue, no stripes. Single-vent back, two-button jacket. Pants cuffed, they hang better. White shirt, straight point or semi spread collar. I used to go for button-down collars but eventually changed. I like button cuffs on a shirt. No cuff links, too ostentatious.

Leather belt. Shoes black oxfords, leather uppers with synthetic soles. Black wool socks.

Silver tie. Four-in-hand knot. I used to do the half-Windsor but came to prefer the slimmer knot.

“Yes,” I replied. “What do you think of The Big Sleep?”

“It’s dated,” she said. “It doesn’t hold up well. But the story’s atmosphere is good. It’s misogynistic, but still entertaining. The plot points are quaint. Like Geiger runs a business renting porn books, under the guise of a rare-book store. I guess that was illegal back then. It seems ridiculous now, when you can get all the porn you want free online. But there’s something about the atmosphere.”

“I agree,” I said. “It’s dated and misogynistic. Except in one place.”

I was dressed. I turned and looked at her.

“What I like about it is one minor scene,” I said.

“Marlow goes to a second rare-book store,” I continued. “This one is legitimate, he’s trying to find someone who can tell him what Geiger looks like.”

“He talks with a woman who works there. She’s reading a law book. He asks her if they have a certain edition of Ben Hur with a mistyped line. She looks it up in a catalogue and tells him no such edition exists. She really knows rare books. She’s smart. She’s the only person he talks to straightforwardly–he even tells her the sheriff’s badge he has is fake. He doesn’t try to flirt with her. She doesn’t have to help him. She sizes him up, and then describes to him exactly what Geiger looks like, including the glass eye.”

“She’s a woman going to law school in the 1930s. The book doesn’t say that, but that’s the implication, at least the implication I get. She’s smart, and Marlow gets that. It has nothing to do with the rest of the story, but that’s the scene I remember. For me, that scene is the whole book.”

Ani looked at me for a long moment.

“I like that scene too. You look nice. Let’s go.”

XI.

We escort pendik left my apartment, walked down the street a few blocks, then turned west up Houston.

The street was pure Manhattan. People walking in a constant flow. Delivery guys shooting through traffic on electric bikes. Cars. Storefronts, some exuding the smell of pizza, bagels, or thick corned beef sandwiches. The energy and noise of a great conglomeration of people just living.

I liked walking alongside Ani. She had a light, easy stride, covering ground smoothly.

As we walked, I turned towards her.

“I’m just going to download it to you. Ask any questions you want.”

She nodded. “Go ahead. Download.”

I began.

“So I speak Turkish. But not only Turkish. As far as I know, I can speak any language. And read and write them too. I’m not exaggerating, I’m not being facetious.”

She took that in.

“So you speak, say, Arabic?”

“Yes, Arabic and all dialects of Arabic. And Finnish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Hindi, Tamil, Urdu, Portuguese, Latin, Croatian, Greek in all versions, Hebrew, Spanish, Armenian… everything I’ve come across.”

She spoke to me. She was speaking in Russian.

“In college, I minored in Russian. The book we were taking about, in the movie who was your favorite actor?”

I answered in Russian.

“Dorothy Malone, of course. But that bookstore scene in the movie is different than in the novel. You’re talking about the Howard Hawks movie, right? There’s a later version with Robert Mitchum that cuts that scene altogether. The Mitchum version is bizarre, it’s set in London instead of Los Angeles.”

“But Mitchum was a good actor. Plus, he had street cred,” I continued. “He was arrested for marijuana possession in Los Angeles and did 60 days in the county jail. This was back in the late ’40s. When he got out he supposedly said, ‘You meet a better class of person in jail than in Hollywood.'”

“Shit,” she said, switching back to English. “You speak Russian like you were born in St. Petersburg.”

A pause. “Okay. You speak a lot of languages. How?” she said.

I had never told anyone this.

It felt like stepping off a cliff.

But I kept talking.

“It happened four years ago, when I was finishing my residency at UCLA,” I said.

“I pulled a girl out of the L.A. River. I’d been mountain biking. It was raining. Then a few weeks later a woman showed up at my house and–“

I could hear myself rambling.

“Woah, stop,” she said. “Slow down. Give me a little more detail. Take your time.”

She reached up and rested her hand on my shoulder, giving a light squeeze. Her touch felt good.

“It’s okay. I’m a good listener.”

We had reached the Clinton Street Café. We went in and sat down at a booth. A woman with a gun under her jacket, and a guy in a suit with a bunch of junk floating through his head.

A waitress came over and we ordered coffee.

I told Ani the story.

XII.

It had happened in my third year of medical residency. I was renting a house in Burbank. When I had days off I liked to mountain bike. I’d mainly go in the Verdugo Hills, maybe up the dirt fire road by DeBell golf course and then down the La Tuna Canyon singletrack. Or over to Brand Park and up the four mile fire road to the top of the Verdugos, a real lung-pounding climb.

Sometimes, when I was done with the dirt, I’d ride down to the L.A. River. There was a bike path on the south bank. You could get on at Victory, and ride the bike path seven flat miles down to where the river channel went under the 110 Freeway, and then seven miles back.

The L.A. River is really a huge storm channel, built on the path of the original natural river. Its banks were entirely concrete, starting in Canoga Park and running fifty miles until it emptied into the ocean at Long Beach. Its bottom was concrete too, until you hit Glendale, and then the bottom was the natural riverbed of dirt and sand, while the banks remained concrete. From that point, for the next five miles as the river curved around Griffith Park, there were full grown trees and sandbars in the river bed, along with bushes and numerous birds. Then, after the channel went under the 110 Freeway, the bottom was concrete again.

The river had a half-trapezoidal shape. Both concrete banks sloped down to the riverbed at a sharp angle. The channel was maybe 300 feet across at the bottom, 500 feet across at the top, and 35 feet deep.

Most of the year, the water was a trickle, only a few inches deep. But when it rained, the river transformed into a monster.

When it rained, water surged into the channel from numerous storm drain entrances and smaller side channels, and the concrete river would fill ten, fifteen, or twenty feet deep, with a current ripping along at 30 miles per hour or more, sweeping along with irresistible force, filled with debris. It was deadly to enter the channel when it rained. Every year several people fell in during storms and drowned, their bodies found many miles downstream, pendik escort bayan or even out at sea where the L.A. River finally emptied. People who were homeless would camp on certain sand islands in the riverbed during the dry season, but would flee at the first hint of rain; or, if they were slower but lucky, would be rescued by the Sheriff’s swiftwater rescue team, clinging to the branches of the full-grown trees swamped by the flood. If they were unlucky, they would not be seen again.

It had been raining for three days, a steady, drenching, February rain. That afternoon there was a break of several hours when it was not forecast to rain, and I took advantage to get in a ride. I pounded, gasping, up the Brand fire road, its dirt ruts newly sharpened from the downpour. After resting at the top I cruised down, enjoying the downhill ride, and then headed to the L.A. River bike path, intending to add some easy flat miles. It started lightly raining again as I entered the bike path at Victory, but I was already drenched in sweat and didn’t mind.

The bike path was deserted, I was the sole person on it. At a small homeless encampment next to the path, about a mile down from Victory, the people were huddled zipped in their tents and tarps, invisible. After passing the encampment there was no one.

The river on my left was in full flood. It looked to be more than 20 feet deep now, churning brown water roaring down the channel, the noise a beating rhythm. The raging water was hypnotic, terrifying and fascinating, and I had difficulty taking my eyes off it as I rode.

Down another mile and the rain increased. The bike path here went under a bridge that spanned the river south of Colarado Boulevard. I pulled under the bridge out of the rain, turning to go back.

Looking upstream, I saw the bike path was not deserted. A hundred yards upstream, a girl was crossing the path heading towards the river. She was wearing a white dress. She looked like she might be nineteen or twenty. She immediately struck me as being out of place. After a few moments I realized she was barefoot. She walked slowly and stared straight ahead. Her movements were trancelike, abnormally deliberate.

She climbed through the railing that separated the path from the downward concrete slope of the river proper. Robot-like, she kept walking straight down the bank, not stopping.

She was going to walk into the river.

With adrenaline clarity I saw and comprehended several things at once.

First, the girl was going to walk into the river; and she would be swept downstream to her death.

Second, where I was standing over my bike, a large sand island near the bank had a cluster of full-grown sycamores. The trees had maybe ten feet of their height submerged by the rising water, and some were in danger of being ripped out by the force of the current. The bushes around the trees’ bases had caught a large amount of brush and debris. In the debris was a red wooden door, lost from some house or construction site far upriver.

I not recall thinking anything coherently. Certainly I did not make any rational calculation that I could do this and live. Rather, I just found myself dropping my bike, climbing through the railing, and running down the slope. It was as if I were viewing myself from the outside.

As the girl stepped one foot into the water, a hundred yards upriver, I waded into the freezing water and grabbed the red door.

The girl took another step forward and tottered for a moment as the current gripped her lower legs. Then the river swept her legs from under her and she was ripped downstream. She made no sound.

The water was deathly cold, like having raw concrete abrading my skin, and stunned me. But the door was solid wood and floated. I threw myself on the door like a surfboard, gripping the sides and kicking and paddling with my arms. The current immediately took the door in its grip, accelerating us wildly outward. The sound of the moving water pounded my ears, and water flailed at my face, blinding me. With great effort, I was able to face the door upstream, though already fifty yards below where I had launched. The force of the water was irresistible, overwhelming.

Lying flat on the vibrating door, I couldn’t see the girl. Then I spotted her arm raised above the water, her white dress partly visible before she went under again.

I tried to position the door, but it was sheer chance that swept her directly towards me. In only a few more seconds her body approached, bobbed above the water; and in an incredible instant I grabbed her under her arm as she swept into the door. As soon as I touched her, she snapped out of her trance and screamed, though I could hardly hear her voice through the pounding sound of the water, which seemed to scream back.

I managed to haul the girl halfway onto the door. I shouted at her to grip on; I don’t know if she heard me, but she did hold on. The sturdy red door bore the additional weight. I was kicking and paddling with all my strength, trying to get back to the river bank. It was only twenty lateral yards to the concrete bank, but it took me endless minutes to cover that twenty yards, all the while being swept downstream. Finally, I ran the door into another cluster of trees and brush next to the concrete bank. Somehow I got the girl out of the water and we climbed a few feet up the sloping concrete above the waterline, and collapsed.

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