Transit officer Kara Tracy had just turned over the fourth collar of her shift, and it wasn’t even rush hour. At 23, and assigned to the groper squad, she was already something of a legend, featured on local television—face pixilated of course—as she racked up a phenomenal record of arrests of freaks who couldn’t keep their hands off women on the subway.

Her secret? Not her mile-long legs, or the super-short mini-skirt. It was her tights, or more precisely, the hole in her tights, high on her thigh. It drew pervs like a flame draws moths.

She tapped her earpiece as a voice crackled. “Trace, looks like we got a gump on the bench at Park Street station. He’s got a brown-bag cocktail poking out of his pocket. You can bust him just for that.”

Gump—a man who starts up an unsolicited conversation with a stranger, usually a woman. Not illegal unless he talks dirty; they usually do. At the very least, you moved them along.

He was old, but it was hard to place an age on some of these guys. A steady diet of cheap liquor added a lot of years to a body.

She sat on the bench to his right, a spot just vacated by a woman who nearly twisted her ankle trying to hurry away in heels.

Kara sat quietly and waited. She crossed her legs and displayed the flash of flesh on her thigh.

“All the girls had holes in their tights during the war,” he began, his voice steady but gravelly. “Mae did. I only knew her from riding the trolleys. Then one day I just touched her, right where her skin showed through the hole in her tights. I guess she could’ve slapped me, but she didn’t. She even let me slip my finger underneath. She just smiled. I fell in love with her on the spot. Course … they called me up, so I had to go to war. I promised I’d marry her when I got back.”

He sighed. “I survived that damn war. Why didn’t she?”

Then his whole body sagged.

Kara held her cuffs in a relaxed grip inside her purse, but she let them go. She reached over to the old man, and placed her hand on his. He did not look at her, only at her hand. She lifted his hand and brought it to her thigh, resting it over the hole in her tights. She shrugged off the tickle when his finger slid beneath the fabric. The old man looked into her eyes; he smiled.

“Where do you live, sir?”

He shrugged. “Veterans home, but they won’t let me back in with this.” He took the pint clad in a brown bag from his coat pocket.

“Join me?” he asked.

“No thanks, you go ahead.”

He finished his last swig. Kara took the empty bottle from his hand and tossed it into a waste basket.

“How about I walk you home, soldier?”

“Aw, that’d be swell, sweetie.”

Her earpiece crackled. “Tracy, what the hell are you doing?”

She didn’t answer, but took the old man’s arm and let him lead her toward the exit.

“Pretty little girl like you ought’a be careful riding the subway alone,” the old man said. “Lot’s of perverts around here.”

“Thanks. I feel safe with you, soldier.”

“Yes, ma’am.” He straightened his back and spread his shoulders as he led her onto the escalator.

© 2009 Robert Buckley. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written permission from the author.

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