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Jan Karlo Lopez

Heartbreak Heist

Cityscape by Olivier Catté

I’m not blessed with the peace of waking up to bad news. I’m fully awake when the shit hits the fan; some heartbroken schmuck decided to stick up Cupid’s Bank. The team handling him has reservations at a restaurant; giving me fifteen minutes. With no company to kick out nor plans to cancel, the Chief calls me this Valentine’s Day to pass the turds trickling down disguised with a smell good fragrance and promotes me to detective and hostage negotiator.

“Due to the lack of agents, you are promoted,” the Chief tells me in between conversations with a woman I think is his wife, “Why on earth would I be with my wife?” He asks. I hear the woman, who’s not his wife, giggle. “And don’t make me regret this,” he says and hangs up.

Still dressed from today’s shift I grab my gray trench coat and matching trapper hat and brace myself for the winter waiting outside. My studio apartment, located in a fourplex, is far enough to drive but close enough to not be issued a department vehicle.

The light pollution from the Dallas skyline creates a pitch-black contrast to the sky above preventing stars from shining through. At this hour, the only ones awake are looking for a hit of love. A couple dressed in summer attire makes their way towards me from the other end, in between them they carry a flatscreen tv with the power cable dragging. We meet in the middle.

“Need a tv, bro?” he asks, but I don’t reply and keep my pace,  “Give me twenty and it’s yours,” he slows down then turns to follow me with his girlfriend. I don’t pay them any mind because I know they’re more concerned about selling that flatscreen tv than trying to rob me.

“I’ll take ten,” he pleads, then his girlfriend nudges him, “I’ll take a hit, even if it ain’t full, s’long as I can split it with her,” he says standing in the middle of this blistering winter without flinching as the wind slaps his bare face. His girlfriend does the same but looks down at the ground and hides her face behind the flatscreen tv.

Turning away, I tighten my trapper hat because I do  flinch at the harsh winter winds. I grip my jacket at the collar, closing the gap where wind creeps into the crevices. The standard of living degrades on the next block where an inamorato impersonator scavenges the streets for syringes of artificial intimacy, manufactured adoration – synthetic love. I pass him up and land in the Red Love District where I’m immediately approached by working girls offering deals.

“Looking for some company baby? It’s half off tonight and all yours,” says one girl dressed in a trench coat.

“No deals over here but I’m worth every cent,” interjects another also wearing a long jacket, “and if you need help getting it up, we got free hugs,” she adds and pulls out a baggie filled with red powder.

A third jumps in, “How about you two work smarter, not harder, and let him decide?” she says, then opens her jacket exposing her nude body to anyone looking in our direction. The other two follow her lead and from what I can see, they’re cold.

I flash my badge on my hip, they’re not close enough to read it, but they get the point. The first two girls shut their jackets tightly and scurry away as the bottom of their heels scrape across the concrete.

The third girl stands still staring straight at me not saying a word, smirking, “You think that badge makes you better?” she asks with her breasts still out.  “You wouldn’t be the first badge down here, but you would be the first to leave empty-handed or unsatisfied,” she closes her jacket then tightens it at her waist with a knot.

Another figure approaches from behind out of the darkness, but this figure isn’t as lovely as the first three, this one grows rounder and bigger the closer it gets until it towers over her.

“Ay, my guy,” he says from the shadows. “You already got a free show, but there’s no free hugs here,” he pulls out syringes designed like an arrow with heart-shaped butts containing synthetic love.

Free hugs? I think to myself, with the entire English language at their disposal, this is what these degenerate dealers concoct. I don’t acknowledge his presence; I open my jacket again to show my badge. His demeanor changes, but he doesn’t backtrack on his statement.

“So, what you wanna do officer?” He says slowly, returning his items to his jacket.

“Detective,” I say to correct him.

“That’s my fault, detective,” he responds, then steps back into the darkness and disappears.

“They ain’t scared of you,” says the girl.

“I don’t want them scared. I want them to be respectful,” I reply, glancing over her shoulder.

She laughs and grabs a cigarette from her purse, “respect” she says and puts it to her lips, then reaches back in for a lighter, “If you’re looking for respect, you’re in the wrong business.”

I reach into my pocket and pull out a lighter to offer my flame. She rolls her eyes then retrieves hers and lights her own cigarette. She inhales then exhales, “No thanks babe, but If you want respect for that badge, go to the nicer part of town. They can afford real love. Cupid likes to play favorites and the favorites always pay to play.” She says turning to walk away.

“I didn’t take the love away,” Is all I can say before she cuts me off.

“I know. Cupid did, and he hired people like you, to keep it locked away from people like me, like us; to keep us hooked on this synthetic love. If you ask me, they feel the same, but Cupid only profits off one.” she walks away fading into the absence of light.


About the Author:
Jan Karlo Lopez is an emerging writer with no formal training after community college. He has received experience from avid reading and traveling. He has  self-published his own anthologies. Lopez is working on getting published in literary magazines.

Image: Cityscape by Olivier Catté (1957- ). Ink and pigment on cardboard. 120 x 120 cm. 2012. By free license.


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