The Adaptive Intimate

An Ultrafemme Story

By Brantley Thompson Elkins

Her only home was a cardboard box. Her only bed was the concrete of the alley.

Nobody looked at her or, if they did, they quickly averted their eyes. She was dirty and diseased. She looked older than her 15 years. Her face was expressionless, neither happy nor sad – just blank. As blank as her existence.

If nobody paid any attention to her, she paid little attention to the world around her. She ventured forth only to beg, and in that she usually succeeded – if only because she smelled so bad that people would give her cash to be rid of her.

There’d just been a fight in the alley. Patti hadn’t paid it any notice. Must have been about drugs, though – one of them had dropped a couple of pills. She knew about drugs. Used to be she’d given blow jobs to pay for a fix – heroin, cocaine, whatever. Only nobody wanted head from her any more. She was that far gone.

There came the sound of sirens. The cops. Late as usual. She quickly hid the pills in a pocket of her ratty coat.

One of the cops ventured into the alley. She knew him from before. Young black guy. Burt. Or maybe Bart -- it was hard to remember when she was spaced out so much.

He'd always had a kind word for her, given her food sometimes -- never cash, because he knew she'd spend it on drugs. She'd even sold second-hand clothes he'd given her to get a fix. He'd tried once to get her back in the shelter, and she'd told him off about that. He'd looked hurt, but what did he know about pain?

“You see what went down here?” he asked now.

“Didn’ see nothin’.”

The truth. He accepted it.

“Hey Burt,” the other cop yelled.

So it was Burt.

“Yeah, Larry,” Burt said. “Coming. Girl here doesn’t know squat.”

A curt dismissal. And yet he looked at her now. He had a bag in his hand, she noticed, and was holding it out to her.

“Laid in a burger and fries, but I don’t have time now – gotta canvass the area. You want?”

She took the bag, murmured a thanks, but he was already gone. She wolfed down the fast food. There was a soda too.

She took out the pills. Not smack. Not crack. Some kind of prescription drug, maybe. There were people who got high on those, she knew. She also knew there’d been some bad shit going around. You heard about stuff like that on the street, but it didn’t make you wary. Not when you were desperate.

But just in case this was really good shit, she decided to save one for later. She took the first pill, washed it down with what was left of the soda. Then she waited.

Nothing happened. Not at first.

***

Officer Burt Robbins had seen dead hookers before. But a dead pimp was something else.

Ice Pick, aka Jerome Berry, had a string working the block around the bus terminal, serving out-of-towners out for a quick fuck and not minding that they got it on a squeaky bed in a seedy hotel.

Nobody bothered his girls as long as they didn’t strut their stuff inside the terminal. And nobody bothered Ice Pick at all. Probably had somebody on the pad at the Vice Squad. Burt wouldn’t know, and neither would Larry. They were just beat cops.

Ice Pick’s charmed life had run out for sure. He looked as if he’d been hit by a truck – arms and legs askew, apparently broken; bleeding out through zebra-striped jacket and baggy purple pants. Fancy pimp duds, but even the Salvation Army wouldn’t want them now.

Burt hadn’t heard anything about a turf war; nobody had been trying to move in on Ice Pick’s block as far as he knew. Chances were Vice would have moved in on them – they did that kind of favor for pimps who favored them. But somebody must have had it in for him. Big time.

He wondered what would become of Ice Pick's girls. Somebody would move in on them, he figured. No doubt the same someone who'd done in Ice Pick. Or had him done in. The girls would be all right. Or not. Depending on how mean the new man was. Maybe the new man would have them come on to him, try to turn him dirty.

They'd tried that once before, when he'd first been assigned to the precinct, put on the happy hooker act, as if they were just dying for his cock. He'd turned them all down and, eventually, they gave up trying. Maybe they thought he was gay. They couldn't believe he was just an honest cop, who wanted to stay that way.

For some reason, he thought of the girl in the alley. She might have been pretty once, he thought. Might have been a high school cheerleader wherever she came from. One of the burbs, or a small town out in the sticks -- that was where the runaways came from. Never from the city. Hardly ever, anyway.

Would she have been better off hooking up with Ice Pick? Too late now, and there was nothing he could do for her, besides food once in a while -- he hated to think what she must eat most of the time. Even social workers rarely had any success with the homeless, and he wasn't a social worker.

If her life had been a Charles Dickens story, she'd have a mysterious benefactor out there somewhere, a rich man with a heart of gold who'd get her off the streets and turn her into a lady. But this wasn't a Charles Dickens story. No happy ending, no way.

***

It had been like getting high, at the beginning.

Better than H. Better than coke. She felt this all-over glow, this incredible sense of well-being. Then came a sense of power, as if she could take on the world. And a sense of….

It was the most intense pleasure she had ever experienced. She knew it had to do with sex only because it was concentrated between her legs.

Patti had never enjoyed sex, having been introduced to it by her father at age ten. That was why she'd run away from home, made it to the city, ended up on the streets. She didn't know anybody who enjoyed sex, although the hookers knew how to fake it.

She touched herself down there now, something she'd hardly ever done before, felt an explosion of pleasure. She gasped and moaned like the hookers, only it was for real. That pill -- it was serious shit. Seriously good shit.

When she came down a bit, she realized that whoever had dropped those pills might be seriously pissed, bound to come looking for them.. She glanced up and down the alley. Nobody. But maybe she'd better make herself scarce, before they came back.

Patti moved to stand up now, and found herself shooting up. In her condition, just getting to her feet had been an effort, but now… It was so startling that she lost her balance, fell against a garbage dumpster.

She dented the entire side of the dumpster, as if it had been made of cardboard, like her shelter.

This is some high, she thought, assuming it was a hallucination. But it looked real, it didn’t shimmer or go out of focus or anything like that. And the alley was still the alley – nothing else had changed.

She reached out to touch the dumpster, to feel the dent. It felt real. She pushed against the metal and a smaller and deeper dent appeared beneath her hand, accompanied by a screeching sound. Wonderingly, she punched it – and her fist went right through, as a loud report sounded.

“Hey,” came a voice from the end of the alley. Mona, one of the hookers who worked the block. She was one of the few people who talked to her, tried to help her out.

Mona had gotten her some food a few times, but she had to be careful about that -- her pimp had slapped her around once for going off duty. He was mean to all his girls, she'd told her once. 

Patti quickly withdrew her hand. It should have hurt like hell, she knew, but it didn’t. And the skin wasn’t even broken from the jagged steel of the hole.

“You okay in there, Patti?” came Mona’s voice.

“Yeah, I’m okay,” she answered.

“Sounded like a truck hit something.”

“No trucks in here. Maybe something inside the building.”

The building was an old warehouse, used to store spare parts for the bus companies.

“Could be,” agreed Mona, who quickly lost interest.

Patti’s mind was racing, clickety, clickety, click. She’d never been stupid, merely very ignorant and very unlucky. From her experience, she knew two things:

  1. If she could punch holes in steel, it must have something to do with the pill.
  2. Pills don’t last forever. In fact, they usually wear off pretty fast,

If she was going to take advantage of this, therefore, she’d better do it fast. It was already near dusk, and she sensed the time was ripe. She knew what she wanted: money. She knew what an ATM was, even if she’d never used one.

There was a bank branch down the block. It was closed for the night, but there was an ATM in the entry alcove. You needed a bank card to get in. She didn’t have a card, but she didn’t need one.

Still, she needed cunning.  Cunning was something she’d needed to survive, and it served her well here. Remembering the noise she’d made from hitting the dumpster, she tried to be stealthy. Shuffled along the street as if she had no particular goal. Glanced around stealthily, waiting for the right moment, when nobody was close enough to look. Tested the door stealthily, pulling gradually harder until the force was just great enough to open it without waking up the whole neighborhood.

She’d been eyeing the machine. There was a slot where the money came out; the cash supply was presumably behind that. There might already be an alarm on account of the door, so she didn’t waste any time – she punched right through, found the cash, grabbed as much as she could with two hands, and ran for it. She didn’t bother to count it. That could come later.

The one thing she forgot was the security camera.

***

It was only when she went looking for clothing that she learned how high she could leap, and how fast she could run.

She knew where the nearest department store was. Teppers was closed by now, and there was a burglar alarm warning on the door. But it was only the door that was wired, she figured.

She looked up. It was a ten-story building; if she could just reach the second story….

She tensed her legs and leaped -- and found herself soaring several stories, crashing into the side and knocking loose a shower of bricks before she fell back to the sidewalk, her body cracking the concrete.

Bound to attract attention, even this late at night, she realized. So she ran.

And found herself a block away in seconds. She slowed down then, fearful of hitting something -- or someone. Even so, she was doing better than an Olympic sprinter.

The second store she cased wasn't as upscale. But she was better prepared this time. She had a better sense of her own strength. Better yet, the building was only five stories. She aimed for the roof, and made it. Forced open the roof outlet. No alarm. Good. She descended.

Patti found herself in what must be the office level -- a whole bunch of cubicles, with desks and computers and filing cabinets. There was one big office; that must be for the head honcho. Lavishly furnished with a huge oak desk, paintings on the wall and, through another door, even an executive bathroom -- with a shower.

She hadn't had a shower since the last night she'd spent in a public shelter. A bunch of the men there had gang-raped her and stolen her drugs. The guards hadn't done anything to help her. Maybe they were on the take, maybe they just didn't care.

She’d never gone back.

Nobody was going to rape her here. In fact, it occurred to her, nobody could now.

She stripped off her filthy clothes, stepped into the shower, turned up the water as hot as it would go. It was only now, as the accumulated grime washed away, that she saw how beautiful she had become.

Her skin was flawless, no longer sallow, without a hint of a wart or mole. Her arms and legs were muscled like an athlete's, and her breasts were so incredibly firm. As she soaped them, she felt a tingling that quickly spread downwards. She fingered herself, discovering a love button that was larger than she remembered -- and so incredibly responsive.

Oh God, Oh God. She was coming already, coming as she'd never come before, even that first time in the alley. She moaned, she wanted to scream -- and was stayed only by the fear she might be overheard, that someone might come looking. She unhooked the shower head, aimed the scalding water -- which wasn't scalding to her -- between her legs. Her moans turned to whimpers. It was so good, so good

Afterwards, Patti looked at herself in the full-length mirror.

She didn’t look 15 any more. She was a woman. More than a woman -- a goddess, Like Wonder Woman in the comics. Only what Wonder Woman must be like naked -- they never showed that in the comics. She stood proudly before the mirror, shaking her raven tresses, thrusting her magnificent breasts, doing bumps and grinds.

Men would fall down and worship her, she thought.

She hadn't fantasized about men before, but she did now. She imagined them on their knees, begging -- begging to feel her breasts, begging her to go down on them, begging her to let them put their things in her. It was such a rush. She played with herself again, wishing that there were other hands than hers, wishing….

And coming….

Patti didn't have any trouble finding things her size after she came down, after she came downstairs to the shop. But she didn't have any fashion sense, beyond what she'd picked up from the streets, and she came out looking like a hooker -- leather bra, leather shorts, fishnet stockings. Plus outlandish stiletto shoes and the most vulgar earrings and bangles.

She shouldn't have returned to her old haunts looking like that. But she wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

***

Ice Pick wasn’t one to put up with strange bitches. When you had a territory, you had to look out for that territory.

There was a strange bitch out there tonight, dressed to kill – kill his business, that is. When he’d gotten the 411 from Ushi, he hadn’t believed it. Surely everybody knew his, knew they had to give him his props. Yet there she was. First class ass, too. But she wasn’t his ass.

Maybe she was fresh off the bus or train from out of town. He couldn’t think of any other reason for her being so brazen. But dressed the way she was, she must know the rules, even if she didn’t know him. Must know how the ho business operated.

She must think she was a real dimepiece, too; couple of guys had approached while he was watching and it looked like she’d blown them off. What was she waiting for? Donald Fucking Trump?

Ice Pick reached for his blade. Uppity ho was going to get hers. Right here, right now. He was going to give her a buck-fifty, mark her up good.

“You ain’t workin’ my block, bitch!” he shouted at her. “Matter of fact, you ain’t workin’ any block. You think you breezy? I’m gonna make you a buttaface.”

He slashed at her face – nobody would take a second look at her by the time he got done. Only he must have missed somehow – she wasn’t bleeding. Not only that, she was smiling.

“You must be that pimp runs Mona. You treat all your girls that way?”

Ice Pick was furious.

“You ain’t my girl. You’re up for a 187.”

He slashed at her throat, only to hear her burst out laughing. He looked at his knife, looked at her, uncomprehending. Then he started in on her with his fists – only it was like hitting a brick wall. It hurt, and she wasn’t going down.

Ice Pick was too amazed to feel terror, yet.

“So that’s how you treat girls!” she taunted him, as she began to beat him to a bloody pulp. “Nobody oughta be treated that way.”

He was too busy dying to get the message.

By the time the cops and the meat wagon arrived, Patti was long gone.

Somebody must be sending a message, Officer Robbins figured. But damned if he knew who. When he watched the surveillance tapes the next day, he couldn’t believe his eyes. But he didn’t recognize Patti. Not then.

***

It hadn't mattered that he was black and she was white, Ice Pick had reminded her of her father. That was what had really set her off. Maybe she should look for her father -- kill him. But she didn't know where he was -- her parents had split up -- and whatever was in the pill would probably wear off pretty soon.

Patti had never known any decent men. People used to tell her there were decent men, but she didn't believe it, any more than she believed in happy hookers or the tooth fairy or Jesus -- her father had been big on Jesus, even prayed to Jesus to forgive her for tempting him.

She didn't trust ordinary people. They only wanted you to get out of their faces, thought you'd give them AIDS or something if they touched you. Thought you were just lazy and could get a job easy if you cleaned up your act. She didn't trust the other street people -- if you got hold of something, they'd want to grab it off you. If they got hold of anything, their idea of a helping hand was getting you to shoot up with dirty needles.

Patti didn't trust the do-gooders. Something called the Alliance for the Homeless had been in town once, organizing street people to protest at a political convention. It was all the President's fault they were on the street, the organizers had explained. She'd signed on for the free food, and barely missed being beaten by the cops in a street brawl after the organizers had egged on the demonstrators to storm the convention hall -- but as soon as the convention was over, the Alliance had disappeared. Along with the free food.

Burt had told her she should stay away from stuff like that, but he'd also said later he hadn't liked what had gone down -- that some of the cops had gotten out of hand. She'd thought that was strange. Cops didn't bad mouth other cops. Burt had never tried to come on to her, either, even when she'd been in better shape. Probably knew she was underage, but that didn't stop most men -- not even priests, though they usually went after boys.

He'd want her now. Desperately. For some reason, that made her feel sad.

One thing for sure. She wanted to get off the street. She had more than enough money now -- a couple of grand in twenties -- to get a room at the hotel. The hooker hotel. And she could get more money where that came from. As long as the pill lasted.

Fearful about that, she hopped a subway, went uptown, and knocked over another ATM. Dawn was breaking by the time she returned to her room. She hadn't needed any sleep the whole night after taking the pill -- maybe that was part of the high. But she needed it now. 

***

Jerome Berry had been a silent partner in a rap label called Da Shiznit, so when he turned up dead, his crew put the blame on MAME -- Murder and Mayhem Executed, a rival studio that had already had more than words with Da Shiznit.

MAME didn’t know about the surveillance video, so while Burt and Larry and other cops were working the streets, showing a blurry still – the best they could do – Berry’s homeboys were firebombing MAME’s headquarters across the river. The rap vendetta made the front pages for several days, and inspired an angry column by The Grouch, a black writer who loved jazz and classic black culture, but had no use for rap and gangsta culture.

"What's Swahili for 'omerta?'" he taunted the rappers in one column, after they'd all refused to talk to police about the gangsta violence.

Patti might never have been part of it if Ushi Diamond hadn’t recognized the blurry. Only she just shook her head when Burt asked about the woman in the picture. Ushi knew how to get in touch with Da Shiznit – in fact, a couple of them had already come around, saying they were taking over the territory. That was fine with her; working girls needed protection.

So of course, she knew who to snitch to. That bird was going to get clapped.

She would have, too, if the pill had worn off. When Da Shiznit’s nizzles tried the hotel that evening, they showed their burners to the clerk, who hadn’t been any more cooperative with the cops than Ushi. The clerk’s memory suddenly improved.

Ice Pick’s avengers busted into Patti’s room to cap her – she was still asleep, but the noise and the slugs woke her up.

That was all they did.

When the girl started thrashing around, they thought it was just from the impacts. Only then she sat up in bed and looked at them wonderingly.

“Wow, this is some dream!” she exclaimed.

The gunmen hesitated for a moment, but only for a moment.

“This ain’t no dream, bitch,” said their leader, Shit Bull, as they opened up again.

They could see that their bullets were tearing into her scanty clothes, they could see the gray smudges multiplying on her bare skin, but they couldn’t really take it all in. Until they ran out of bullets.

“Oh wow,” she said. “It’s still working. I must be invulnerable, like Wonder Woman. Only I don’t need bracelets.”

She touched her breasts, their nipples engorged. She touched her pussy, and her hand came up wet – but not with blood.

“You got any more bullets?” she pleaded. “They feel so good hitting me! Oh shoot my breasts, shoot my pussy! Make me come!”

The men were stupefied. When they failed to comply, she got cross.

“Don’t leave me like this,” she complained. “I’m so hot.”

One of the shooters, who hadn’t had any lately, reached out to touch her, to feel her silky smooth flesh. It was like nothing he’d ever felt before – unmarked but for the bullet smudges. He rubbed one of them, and it came right off, revealing only another patch of creamy skin. He squeezed one of her breasts – it wouldn’t compress more than a quarter of an inch, and yet it felt so soft….

“Fool!”

His reverie was interrupted by Shit Bull, who started pistol whipping him. But Shit Bull himself was interrupted by the girl, who threw him against the wall. He slumped down there – maybe unconscious, maybe dead. The others didn’t wait to find out, and they were afraid to tell the truth when they got back. It was a MAME crew that hit them, they said, and the vendetta went on.

***

Patti O’Dorn stole some more clothes – more conservative this time: plain underwear, shirt, jeans and sneakers. She found new lodgings uptown where nobody knew her, and where offering cash drew suspicion – she had to pay a premium on a month’s rent.

She’d thought she’d be spending a lot of cash on drugs, but discovered that she no longer craved them – even after the super pill wore off. She still looked super, too, even if she could no longer leap tall buildings with a single bound and all that. She didn't have any job skills, but she was able to find work at a local bodega.

The bodega was run by an immigrant family, the Mendozas. They didn't make a big deal about her not having documentation, because they'd been through that themselves. They'd worked hard, finally taken advantage of one of the periodic amnesties, and were now hard working, law-abiding taxpaying citizens who voted Republican.

Felix Mendoza gave her a break, because she was beautiful and spoke English. Both of those qualities brought in more business -- and business was the name of the game. Felix's wife Maria was suspicious at first, but Raven -- that was what Patti was calling herself now -- never got out of line. She had to get the hang of Hispanic products, from malta to cactus shoots, but she was a quick study.

Raven began as a stocker, but she soon learned enough to work the register. People would come into the store just to look at her; she was spectacular. She always had a smile for the customers, and that was as far as it went. Yet they'd always buy something, and sometimes they'd have suggestions for new products, which usually worked out when the Mendozas adopted them.

She never tried to make a play for Felix, or for any of his friends. The Mendozas were Catholics, and she didn't want to offend them. They had helped her a lot. But alone, in her apartment, she would pleasure herself -- imagining some Prince Charming was with her. She could believe in a Prince Charming now.

Sometimes she imagined making love with one of the neighborhood studs, although she had no idea whether any of them lived up to his rep. And sometimes she fantasized about that cop, Burt -- he'd been good to her on the street; she thought he'd be good to her in bed. And for some reason, she wanted to be good to him. She always came hard when she envisioned that.

Three years later, Raven was a fixture in the neighborhood.  She was now 18, although she never told anyone what her real birthday was. She said it was Cinco de Mayo, which the Mendozas and most of their customers found charming. One of the customers was Dwight Tomlin, who ran a strip joint called Best Breasts a few blocks away. 

He'd had his eye on her for a while, because he was pretty sure she had the best rack in the neighborhood. He didn't want to get in any trouble with the law, but when he heard about her birthday, he invited her for an audition. When she showed what she had, he was eager to hire her. 

She could make a lot more money than the Mendozas were paying. That was one consideration. But he could also get her an I.D. under her new name – he knew somebody who knew somebody – so she could open a bank account and stuff like that.

Dwight wanted to get in her pants, and she let him – but he wasn’t rough with her. And the other guys, who might have been rough – he kept them off her. He seemed to be mesmerized by her beauty, which was understandable. He also seemed to think she was an innocent waif, who’d never enjoyed the company of a man before.

He was half right. She’d never enjoyed the company of a man before. Before long, Raven gave up her apartment and moved in with him. He was kind to her, never seemed to be jealous of her fans at the strip joint -- indeed, it was a huge turn-on for him to know how much they wanted her, how they sometimes came in their pants at just the sight of her -- and that this love goddess shared his bed every night. 

She loved the work, showing off her body, reveling in the power she had to excite lust. Lap dances were part of the routine, and what most of the customers who stuffed bills in her garter got was just that – routine. But if one of them looked really cool, or seemed to have a nice personality, she’d treat him special – look him right in the eye as she stroked his cock through his pants, and even kiss him on the lips when she felt him come.

She'd tell Dwight about it later, watch his cock grow hard, and then they'd make wild love. He couldn't get enough of her and she couldn't get enough of him.

So it went for a couple of years. With her new I.D., she began studying part time. She did well, earned her GED. She was even thinking of college, but didn’t have any definite idea what she’d do there.

In the meantime, Dwight encouraged her to try out for modeling jobs. He acted as her agent, for a percentage, and landed her shoots in men’s magazines. Some photographer posed her against industrial backgrounds, and called her Stalina -- girl of steel.

But Dwight thought she was more than a girl of steel, so he recommended her to a guy he knew in the fashion business, and she began to appear in ads for Teppers. Nobody had any idea she had once tried to rob Teppers.

Another year passed. All the while, Patti held onto the second pill. Just in case.

 

***

“Just in case” turned out to be as in “Cold Case.”

It was only a coincidence, a fortunate one for her and for Burt Robbins -- but only for a moment.

He'd made detective by then, and inherited the file on the Jerome Berry case, but nobody had been able to add anything to it in years. Then he saw the Teppers ad in the Sunday paper, and did a double-take.

And a triple take. It looked like the woman in that video. But without the blurriness, it also looked a bit like – that girl in the alley, Patti. She’d disappeared about the same time, but he hadn’t made anything of it then – homeless people disappeared all the time.

It didn't take long for Burt to get a lead on the model from Teppers' ad agency. Her name was Raven Morningstar -- yeah, sure, he thought -- and she lived way uptown. Further checking revealed that she'd been in a couple of men's magazines. That she worked at a club called Best Breasts, run by a guy named Tomlin.

A slim lead, and it might turn out to be no lead at all. There had always been things about the case that didn't add up. Beginning and ending with the fact that a woman -- it sure looked like a woman -- had somehow managed to work over Ice Pick as if she'd been a heavyweight boxer at the very least.

Whoever the killer was must have been high on something. Really high. Some drug that produced hysterical strength. Only Burt had never heard of a drug like that, and neither had anybody else on the force. There'd been stories about stuff like that in the tabloids, but who could believe the tabloids?

Maybe the "woman" was a transsexual, some of the cops who'd seen the tape had theorized. She was better muscled than the average woman, although hardly a freak. That plus a mystery drug might explain what they'd seen on the tape. But they'd checked records of transsexuals in the city and hadn't come up with a match.

Patti, the girl in the alley, couldn't have been a transsexual. It took big money for the hormone treatments and the surgery. Her body sure hadn't looked like the killer's. And yet there was something in her face, haggard and unwashed as he had seen it….

Burt should have told his partner where he was going when he headed uptown at the end of his shift. He should have told the lieutenant. But he was afraid. Afraid that he might be wasting time on a wild goose chase -- but more afraid that he wasn't, that Raven might be the killer, that she somehow might be that poor girl in the alley…

The resemblance was probably a coincidence. Had to be. But he had to check it out. He was a cop. And as a black man, he wanted to be an especially good cop. He'd never cut corners, he'd never taken bribes, not even to fix a minor summons. He'd never done anything to tarnish the badge.

***

There were other cops who didn't see things that way, who abused the badge -- robbed drug dealers, beat up prisoners, snitched on witnesses to the mob. And then there were those who just fucked up. Like the team that had been dispatched to raid an uptown apartment reportedly being used as a drug lab.

The warrant was valid. But the address was wrong. Some court clerk had screwed up. Even so, the drug cops should have had enough sense to know from one look that Dwight Tomlin's apartment wasn't a drug lab. They should have had enough sense to identify themselves, especially since they broke in wearing ski masks and no badges.

When Dwight heard the door being bashed in, he’d grabbed his gun, and told Patti to hide in the bathroom. When the burly men in ski masks entered the living room, he had every reason to believe they were robbers. After all, he made good money from the Best Breasts, had a Bose radio, a fancy home theater system, lots of expensive stuff. So he began shooting. One of the cops went down; the other three filled him full of lead.

Patti, sitting on the john in the bathroom, was terrified at the sound of gunfire. But she was still self-possessed enough to remember the pill. She'd kept it on her, always, in a tiny box. She took it out now, nervously but quietly. She took a cup from beside the basin, turned the tap only a little, so as not to make any noise, washed down the pill.

"Police, freeze!" one of the undercover cops yelled as he burst open the bathroom door. And then, "Where's the drugs, bitch?"

***

There was a sudden sound of gunfire as Burt Robbins arrived at Tomlin's building. He called it in on his cell phone, then drew his weapon and snuck up the stairs. The door to Tomlin's apartment had been forced open, he saw. Robbery, or…

He wasn't taking any chances. He took the stance he'd learned so long ago at the Academy but rarely used, gun at the ready.

"Police, freeze!" he shouted at the men he saw inside, who were in the process of smashing up an expensive home theater system. There was were two bodies on the floor, still bleeding out. One must be Tomlin. The other...

The remaining men turned at the sound of his voice.

"On the floor, now!" Burt commanded.

The men hesitated.

"We're on the job!" one of them yelled back. "Drop your weapon!"

"Show some I.D.," Burt countered.

"You show some I.D.," the man shot back.

It was a stand-off, but only for seconds, as another man emerged from the bathroom, holding a gun to the head of a young woman.

She was wearing only leather pants. She was incredibly beautiful. Achingly beautiful. Jet black hair, the face of an angel, perfect breasts, legs that wouldn’t quit.

And he knew her. She was the woman in the video. And she was Patti. Somehow the homeless waif had been transformed into a goddess.

Only….

She was a killer. She’d murdered that pimp. God knew what else she might have done, He’d have to bring her in. No choice. Burt’s mind had been racing. Only a second had passed when the man holding her delivered his own ultimatum.

“Drop your gun, or the girl gets it.”

Only then did Patti look at him. Burt could tell that she recognized him. There was fear in her eyes. Fear of the gunman – and fear of himself. She knew he was a cop. She must guess why he was here. Even after six years.

Their eyes locked.

Time came to a stop.

And then started again.

Patti made a sudden move. The man’s gun discharged against her head. Point blank. And yet she was still standing; it was the man who had gone down – she’d thrown him down. Burt saw it, heard the loud thud. He was down for the count, maybe dead.

Burt wasn’t paying attention to the other men. Big mistake. They didn’t know what was going on, but they knew they were in a jam, and figured that only their guns would get them out if it. They’d cook up a story later, after eliminating any witnesses.

Burt was hit on the chest; lucky he had a vest. Hit on his gun arm; no luck there; his weapon fell to the floor. It was all over, he knew.

Then Patti stepped in front of him, they were shooting at her, too, but she ignored them; somehow the bullets weren’t hurting her at all. She waited until they were out of ammo.

She looked at them, looked at Tomlin's body on the floor, looked back at them.

"You killed him!" she cried, between anguish and anger.

The drug cops were petrified with astonishment. But it was too late for them to do anything, even if they'd tried. Patti killed them with her bare hands -- smashing their ribs, breaking their legs.

As sirens signaled the approach of police cars, Patti turned to Burt. Her perfect chest was covered with smudges left by the cops' bullets.

"I couldn't let them live," she said. "After what they did to Dwight. He was good to me. I think he loved me. And I couldn't let them kill you. You were good to me way back, when nobody else was. But I've got to disappear now. The effects wear off, and if they catch me when I'm normal…."

Then she turned towards the window, leaped through it. It was five stories down, but that wouldn't be a problem for her, Burt realized. Any more than the jagged glass.

***

The story made the front pages, of course. It was treated as a fuckup -- cops shooting at cops.

The story also made the tabloids, which put on a more fantastic spin on it. Tabloid readers believed it, as tabloid readers will.

Internal Affairs didn't believe it. They put Robbins on medical leave, sent him to a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist didn't believe it, either. Even the PBA didn't believe it -- they were convinced that he'd killed the other cops, never mind how. They didn't go to bat for him with the Commission. Quite the contrary.

At only 35, Burt was out of a job. He'd been a cop since 21, but he was never going to be a cop again. He'd be lucky to land a job as a bank guard or a night watchman in this city. Nothing for it but to make himself scarce. Like Raven or Patti or whatever her real name was. She'd disappeared as promised, having managed to clean out her bank account before the detectives got onto it.

Burt moved to another city, in another state. Got a job as a taxi driver. It sucked, but it earned him a living. The best thing about it was that none of his fares knew him, or was likely to. He had a decent, if simple place to live. He had his classic jazz CDs -- none of that rap shit.

Occasionally he'd hit the singles bars, looking for company. Sometimes he'd find it, for a night or two. Nothing that lasted. When he'd been a cop, he'd wanted to have a family, but most of the sisters he'd met looked down on him -- for the job itself and, especially the pay. They wanted brothers with flash; it didn't seem to matter if there was anything behind the flash.

Well, he hadn't had any flash then, and he sure as hell didn't have any now. And if he ever had a family, it would be tough. He'd want his kids to have the best -- go to college, make something of themselves. Not likely a cabbie could offer that.

The most he could say was that he was keeping his head together -- he wasn't going to flake out like Travis Bickle in that old movie. But there came a day when he thought he was flaking out.

***

Most of Burt’s passengers weren’t very talkative, but this one talked a blue streak. She was some sort of research scientist who’d been working on recombinant DNA and claimed to know how to use it to restore youth and vitality, correct all bodily imperfections, cure chronic as well as infectious diseases.

Some kind of a nut, Burt thought. Well, when I get her where she’s going, I won’t have to listen to this shit any more.

If she were a real scientist, she’d be headed for some research lab, maybe at the university, maybe at some pharmaceutical company. But instead, she’d given him an address in the factory district – what used to be the factory district, before the country started outsourcing everything. Half the buildings there were vacant. Maybe they’d be turned into condos one day.

“But the problem was the unexpected effects, the unsought effects,” she was saying now. “Extreme strength. Invulnerability. Thank God, I’d only used the serum on myself. I can trust myself. But I wanted to see what would happen if I tested a modified version – one in which the DNA was programmed to reverse itself after a few days.”

What?

“I’m afraid to say that the early experiments didn’t go very well. The test subjects, unfortunately, tended to be quite irresponsible in their behavior. Even my own nieces. They managed to lose a couple of the pills when they got into a Queen of the Hill fight.  I didn’t find out until later, and by then the trail had gone cold. You can’t imagine how long it took me to find Patti….”

Oh God, oh God!

“….and she wouldn’t give me any peace until I found you.”

Burt slammed on the brakes, stopped the car, took a close look at his passenger for the first time. She was heavily dressed – there was a chill in the air -- and wore dark glasses. But he could see that her face was beautiful – and far too young to be that of a veteran research scientist.

“I don’t think I introduced myself before. I’m Dr. Julia Brooks.”

The name meant nothing to him, but her words meant everything. Unless this was some sort of cruel joke.  But who could know? Who could possibly….?”

“We still have a few blocks to go,” Julia said. “I could carry you there, or I could carry your taxi. But wouldn’t that be overly conspicuous?”

Burt decided to take her word for it, started the taxi again. The address proved to be an abandoned warehouse. Julia got out, motioned him to a door. It was a heavy metal door, and looked rusted shut.

“Try it,” she said.

Burt couldn’t budge it.

Julia looked up and down the block, making sure nobody was watching, and slid the door open easily.

“No sense tearing it off,” she explained. “And that would be too conspicuous.”

She waved him inside, and slid the door closed behind him.

Julia took the stairs inside several at a time; there was no way he could keep up. But he had guessed why she must have brought him here, so he mounted the steps as fast as could, breathing heavily by the time he reached the top.

And there she was, bare to the waist, despite the fall weather. She was holding a railing, looking as if she could rip it from its stanchions. She was turned toward him, the hint of a smile on her face.

“What took you so long?” she teased. “We’ve got a lot of catching up to do.”

“She’s enhanced again at the moment,” Julia commented. “I might make it permanent. She made a lot of mistakes the first time. And the second. But she had a lot more excuse than my nieces, and those others who got hold of the pills early on. And the worst things she did were out of love -- for that Tomlin guy, for you. She's learned a lot since then, and she’s one of my best operatives now. You might want to join our organization. But we can talk about that later. As Patti says, you have some catching up to do.”

***

Half an hour later, they were at a downtown hotel, naked and making frantic love. He’d been a bit concerned at first. After all, if she were super strong and invulnerable now….

“I’m also very skilled,” she’d said. “I’ve had a lot of practice in self-control.”

Burt had done a double take,

“And now I get to use it all on you,” she’d added.

She’d demonstrated by impaling herself on him, smiling at him as she slid up and down on his cock, firmly but gently, riding him to a fast climax. And then another, and another. He played with her breasts, which did not feel like steel, even though he knew bullets would bounce off them. He pulled her in for a deep kiss, knowing that he couldn’t possibly force her – that she was inviting him to have his way with her. And her lips didn’t feel like steel, either.

Oh God, to come inside her, to feel her spasms as she came!

“I love you!” he shouted, as if he’d known it all along but never had a chance to give voice to it.

“I love you!” she shouted, as if she’d known it all along but never had a chance to give voice to it.

Perhaps he had. Perhaps she had. They could talk about it tomorrow. And all the tomorrows to come.