The Big Hush
(A Dragnet Fan Fiction Story)
By: Kristi N. Zanker
Disclaimer: All publicly recognized characters, settings, etc. are the property of Mark VII Limited and Universal. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. I, in no way am associated with the owners, creators, or producers of Dragnet. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warning: This story contains strong language, adult themes, sexual situations, and a disturbing subject matter.
Author's Note: The Round Robin restaurant featured in this chapter existed at 13562 Ventura Boulevard, Sherman Oaks, California. In the '50s and '60s, Jack Webb frequented there, along with other television and movie stars of the day.
As Joe and Bill left the entrance of Parker Center, both ended up getting caught in another downpour. The rain had stopped sometime during the interrogation that morning, only to continue as Joe sprinted to his car to avoid being soaked to the skin. He couldn’t fish his keys out of his pocket fast enough to ignore the drench. It was raining so hard that in haste, he put the wrong key in the car door. Cursing to himself, he fumbled through the other keys on the chain—the entrance into the apartment building, a separate key to open his door, a smaller key for the mailbox, a key for the office, and the key to the car. Finally, his slippery fingers grasped the correct one and the door obeyed when he yanked it open. He promptly climbed in the driver’s seat and closed the door with a bang.
Joe sighed as he turned the key in the ignition, hoping and praying that his distributor worked properly. When the car purred in response, he eased out of the parking space. While glancing at his watch he saw that it was ten minutes after five. He hoped Gracie hadn’t been waiting long for him. But he was unsure of how long it would take to get to her in this rain, with the morons who thought they knew how to drive on the freeway, and nervous teenager in the car next to him braking impulsively trying to avoid an accident. He hoped the young man driving the red Mustang wouldn’t decide to cut in from of him. In an instant, Joe slammed on his brakes, hoping the car behind wouldn’t ram into him.
He didn’t feel a jolt, but to himself, told those damned teenagers to go back to Driver’s Ed. On this evening home, especially in this downpour, he had to be steadily alert and couldn’t stop to think about what had transpired during the day, if the interrogation with Carrie and Donna had gone well enough, or whether they would finally get a hold of Shelly’s parents at that damned hotel. He couldn’t even pause to light up a Chesterfield.
When he careened into the parking lot of where Gracie worked, he stopped near the entrance of the building, but kept the engine idling. Within a matter of seconds, he saw Gracie run to his car, her yellow flowered cream-colored blouse and brown skirt getting soaked through, with her hair disheveled, and sticking to her face.
“I see you got caught in this too,” Gracie said after she shut the door. “But it looks like it’s clearing up.” She pointed in the direction of where the cloudy sky was about to disappear. While Joe backed out, she fumbled in her purse for a comb and began to fix her hair to make it look somewhat decent. Once it was combed through, and a clump gathered in her hands, she snapped the clasp of the brown clip and glanced in the visor mirror in front of her.
“I guess this’ll have to do in the rain,” she replied, looking herself over one more time before folding the visor, and dropping the comb into her purse. “Luckily, I chose not to wear mascara today!”
She slid over to Joe and gave him a hug and kissed him on the cheek, thanking him for picking her up. He let his hand fall from the steering wheel to her hand and gave it a squeeze of approval.
“It’s worse than it was this morning,” he murmured, drifting into another lane, while Gracie enveloped her arms around his waist.
“Not now, Honey, this kind of weather is what causes accidents that could’ve been prevented.” He didn’t mean to sound so callous just then, for he was responding in another way to her touch that was beyond his control. Trying his best to ignore the ignited feelings inside, he stared straight ahead, as the traffic slowed bumper to bumper.
When the Chevy in front of Joe completely stopped, he did the same. He ran his hand down his face in frustration and sighed. Just then, the car in front of him began to crawl ahead. Why can’t people learn how to drive in the rain? His mind could not provide an answer to that question. As if a giant force was navigating the cars, they stopped and crawled, stopped and crawled down the freeway for what seemed like hours.
“If they don’t get moving soon, I’m going to run out of gas,” Joe said. “Dammit, I knew I should’ve had the car filled up this morning!”
“You’ll be okay, I’m sure there’s plenty left,” said Gracie.
Gracie—always the peacekeeper and positive thinker, he thought and felt a surge of love for her just then that if they were in a remote area, he would... He couldn’t bring himself to finish that thought. Instead he took her hand once again into his gave her fingers a kiss.
“I hope you’re right,” he said, looking straight ahead, bringing her hand to his chest and pressing it there, while leisurely continuing to caress her fingers.
They were stuck in traffic for the next half hour. During that time, the discussion of dinner was brought up. They both agreed on eating out since it was going to be a late night getting home. While they waited, Joe turned the knob on the radio, just in time to hear an orchestra begin the song ‘Oh, Johnny! Oh Johnny! Oh!’
After two songs and The Mills Brothers’ ‘Til Then’ played, traffic began to pick up. Margaret Whiting was next after a commercial break and sang about faraway places with strange sounding names as Joe turned into a filling station. He saw an attendant approach him, and he rolled down his window. The rain had decided to quit at that moment.
“What’ll you’ll have, sir?” asked the teenager in a mechanic’s uniform.
“A full tank,” said Joe,
as the boy went right to work.
Joe sat back and relaxed as he heard the ding-ding-ding chime at every gallon the pump unleashed into the car. While the tank filled, the boy took a rag from his back pants pocket, opened the hood and checked the oil. After stuffing the rag back into his back pocket, he proceeded to clean the windshield.
The dings on the gas pump had stopped while the boy finished the windshield. He then ambled over to the pump to remove the hose and turned to tell Joe the total owed. Gas was 10 cents higher in downtown Los Angeles at .39 cents a gallon compared to .29-.35 cents a gallon in the suburbs. Joe handed the attendant the exact amount and thanked him.
Afterward, they roamed the streets looking for someplace to eat. It seemed as though everyone in the city had the same idea, for when a restaurant had been found, the parking lot would be overflowing with lingering cars and people standing outside as they waited for a table to open up. Finally, they found a nice restaurant called the Round Robin on Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks. This place hadn’t been attacked yet by the rush-hour bug, but cars were swarming around in the parking lot.
As Joe and Gracie walked arm-in-arm to the entrance, they noticed that several other couples and a family with two children were right behind them. Not wanting to wait awhile for a table to open up, Joe only held the door for Gracie and then let it go for the next person to grab. Selfish, yes, but dammit I’m hungry! He thought to himself.
A hostess sat them down in a corner table that sported two windows. Each way someone looked, people on the sidewalk went about their own business, entering or exiting shops that lined the street. Both sat wordlessly, as the hustle and bustle continued outside, while they peered at their menus. A large red robin loomed in the middle of the menu, surrounded by a medium-green circle that bared the name of the restaurant. An address with a phone number for reservations sat near the bottom of the cover in smaller print.
It was common to see famous stars from movies and television shows here, for Joe had lunch and dinner several times already at the Round Robin. But at that moment, when looking up from their menus and ordering drinks, glancing around, they didn’t see anyone famous. Joe felt like a Crown Royal but knew better because he was driving home and besides, there was plenty at his apartment waiting. Gracie ordered lemonade with a shot of vodka, while he had a Coke with ice.
After they ordered two sirloin steak dinners, the discussion of favorite radio programs came up. Since no large or small screen notables were present, perhaps they might see someone who was in radio not so long ago. But after looking around the restaurant quickly, they could not spot anyone.
“What shows did you listen to growing up?” asked Gracie, after she took sip of her lemonade.
“Oh, let me think now… I just loved listening to Fibber McGee and Molly. I’d rush to get my homework and chores done on Tuesday nights for that one. The next evening, after dinner, of course, I religiously listened to The Great Gildersleeve and on Thursdays it was The Aldrich Family. Remember Henry Aldrich and his comical friend Homer Brown?”
“Yes, I sure do. I’ll never forget the ‘Henryyyyyy, Henry Aldrich!’ cry of his mother, and then his crackling response, ‘Coming Morther!’” replied Gracie, taking another sip. “I listened to the others you mentioned too.”
“My Aunt Mary always listened to Ma Perkins every day around lunchtime. She wouldn’t miss that show for anything! She’d get lunch finished and rush into the living room and turn on the radio, just in time for the announcer to pitch Oxydol. I know this because if there was a school holiday or I was home sick, I’d sit with her and listen.”
“How sweet,” Gracie chuckled. “I use to listen to The Shadow. That one scared me. I would run into my sister’s room and hold onto her, staying close for comfort.”
“Lights Out scared the hell out of me as a kid. I remember when I was very young, I used to listen to the console radio in the living room and then run down the hall to my room and throw the covers over my head. I’d be shaking with fear, but my aunt or mother would come in then and tell me that it was just a story on the radio. They had been listening too from the kitchen.”
“I was too afraid to listen to shows like that.”
“I remember I listened to the scary shows as a kid into my teens before I left for the war. After I came home, I didn’t feel like listening to shows like that anymore, even though I knew they weren’t real. So, I stuck to comedies like the ones mentioned and others like Jack Benny and Bob Hope.”
“Did you listen to crime dramas?”
“Oh sure…sure, they were a laugh riot of course, with the great detective, the ditzy blonde, and dumb cops. On a really bad day or night, we’d wish real life was like that. Most of the time, the case was always solved in a half hour.”
“Did you work nights then when you got back from the war?” Gracie took another drink.
“Yep, I did. I even do now, when I’m scheduled to. Lately, I’ve been on daywatch, as you know, but that could change in a split second.”
“I would never see you if you worked nights.”
“I’d miss you terribly, but let’s be glad that for now I’m working days.”
By then, their food had arrived and both devoured the meal in silence. Joe didn’t want to bring up old haunts of the nights where, at two in the morning, you had to wake up the parents because their teenage son was killed by a hit-and-run driver. Or yank their heads out of the sand when word got around that their “precious little boy” was peddling dope in school. And there was the boyfriend getting the girlfriend to “fit in” with the crowd and do heroin…only to die of an overdose. When someone was murdered and next of kin were located…it was the worst, especially when those involved children and teenagers. The parents would scream, shout, curse, punch a wall, and there wasn’t anything you could do to make them feel better. Even though they were taking their emotions out on you, you had to remain calm and collective. Never let your temper get in the way of the job.
Joe wished at that moment he could order a Crown Royal. He didn’t like the memories that had been stirred up and it all came about because their favorite radio shows had been brought up. He knew he’d be thinking the current cases once again. It was funny how a single memory could weave a tapestry of emotions and unpleasant recollections. Neither of them spoke as they continued eating.
Joe set down his fork and retrieved the book of matches and a cigarette from his jacket pocket. He paused briefly to light it and after exhaling, he asked Gracie how her day had been.
“Oh, the usual. All I did was answer phones and file a lot of paperwork. I set up a few appointments this afternoon for next week…nothing too exciting.”
“I have days like that. Not too many though, but they appear from time to time. The day goes very slow when you’re on a stakeout. Those could go on for hours—all day or all night and into the next day. The good thing about today is I got paid.”
“We’ll have to celebrate,” said Gracie, grinning, as Joe nodded in agreement.
“The bank will be closed by the time we finish here, so I’ll have to wait until Monday to deposit the check.”
“Do you have enough for this?” she said, pointing to her almost empty plate.
“Oh sure, always do. I don’t want to see you paying for anything when I’m around!” He chuckled.
As an old-fashioned rule, Joe felt it was customary for him to pay. It was how he was taught and he wasn’t going to change now. Another reason he adored Gracie was that she never took advantage of him when it came to money. In the past, ages ago, he’d dated girls that would bleed him dry before the night was over. When he’d return home with empty pockets and wallet, he knew never to call them again.
Joe knew that Gracie had no desire to tag along with the women’s liberation movement these days. Although she was independent, she remained old-fashioned at heart. And there was nothing wrong with that. Not everyone had to be liberated. He felt she was forward enough in bed and that was liberating enough for him. A smile crept across his face at his recent thoughts.
“What are you smiling at?” Gracie asked, finishing her drink.
“Oh…I…I was just thinking of some of those radio programs I used to listen to…”
He was a gentleman and did not divulge on his inner thoughts, especially in public. There were a few more minutes of silence as Joe cleared his plate and drank the rest of his Coke.
“Would you like some dessert or are you too full?” asked Joe.
“I’ll pass on the dessert tonight. I feel so content right now, I don’t want to spoil it by overeating.”
“I’ll do the same,” he replied as the waiter came by and handed them their bill.
On the way home, the radio was turned low with Margaret Whiting serenading Joe and Gracie this time with ‘It Might As Well Be Spring.’ Gracie, who snuggled up close as he drove, murmured that she loved that song and remembered at fifteen, begging her mother to get her the record for her next birthday. With her arms around his waist, she gave him a light squeeze and hummed along with the radio. Her hands began to meander underneath his jacket, running her hand over the handcuffs attached to the belt and then finding the pistol.
“Don’t touch that,” he said in a stern tone, pushing her hand away.
“Is that a pistol in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?” she purred the Mae West line.
Before waiting for any kind of reply, her meandering fingers tenderly massage him.
“Ahhh, you’re happy to see me! Is it okay to touch this?” she said, smiling from ear to ear, giggling.
“Don’t do that!” he laughed, although loving every bit of it. “We’ll get into an accident.”
He took her hand away from his zipper and intertwined his fingers with hers.
“That’s the last time I’ll let you have vodka,” he said, not meaning one word. Gracie was so cute when she became amorous. “We’re almost there, Honey,” he leaned over and murmured into her ear, and kissed her. He let go of her fingers and turned onto a street. This only caused her hands to be right back where they weren’t supposed to, this time her index finger traced the invisible, yet obvious bulge.
“Can you imagine the headlines?” Joe said deeply inhaling at the movement below.
“What headlines?” she whispered as she kissed his cheek.
“What am I going to…tell them when…oh… stop that, Honey, I mean it.”
“You’re enjoying this too much,” she whispered, while running her hand up and down.
Luckily, he had turned into the apartment parking lot just then. Any longer on the road and the results could’ve been disastrous. He stared straight ahead and felt enormous joy when an empty parking space neared. With Gracie’s playfulness, he hadn’t been paying attention as to how close he was to the parking block. In seconds, they both knew.
“Now look what you made me do!” His insides suddenly felt disheartened. He hoped no one had seen what just happened for the sky was slowly getting darker.
Thankfully, there was no damage done to the car, for he checked before retrieving Gracie from the passenger side. When Joe opened the door for her, he grabbed her hand and pulled her to her feet. After locking the door, he shut it. Before Gracie could pull anymore stunts, he already had his entrance key out and slid it into the lock. Holding the door open for her, Joe followed her inside, and up the staircase. She stepped aside for him to open his door. Once it was closed behind them, he went to the one drawer and put away the handcuffs, and pistol, while shoving the keys into his pocket. The drawer slammed and he sauntered over to her.
Before she could say anything, he took her head into his hands and bent to kiss her with his tongue ferociously pushing its way into her mouth. She returned the favor, while his fingers ran through her hair. He pushed all of himself to her and continued to kiss her extra hard, circling and swirling trying to feel every inch. The only sounds heard were their moaning at the intensity of it all.
He had to admit, he was a little frightened at his sudden move. But his instincts were crying out, it was the only way to relieve anything that had almost erupted on the way home. His hands automatically tugged at her blouse, his fingers quickly and masterfully unbuttoning the buttons, as his mouth moved from her lips to her neck. He didn’t stop when the open blouse revealed perky breasts, with the nipples hardened beneath her bra. He pulled away for only a moment and slid her skirt down. A frown crossed his face at another obstacle of fabric, a satin slip with a lacy hem. As he removed her slip, Gracie unhooked her bra in haste. She now stood in only her garter belt, nylon stockings and underwear.
He dropped to his knees, went to remove her underwear, only to mutter, “How the hell do you get this goddamned thing off!” He had been referring to the garter belt. He watched, with his eyes not leave her mid-section, as she began to slowly unhook the belt.
Joe stood up and waited impatiently, as one stocking fell, then the other with her stepping out of them. He then reached for the elastic of her matching satin underwear and wrenched them loose. As she pushed her clothing aside, he began to take off his jacket, dropping it on the floor next to him. The keys in the pocket made a dull thud as they hit the carpeted floor. While he unbuttoned his shirt, he took a few steps back and glared at Gracie to follow his every move. He’d stop for a second to remove his shirt. When he’d done that, Joe felt her finger’s unbuckling his belt, and undoing his pants. Now in his boxers, she took a hold of the swelling that immediately sprung to life, playing with it and teasing some more. Joe took her hands into his and led her into the bedroom.
What he did next even surprised him. His insides were so ready and willing that he pushed Gracie on the bed. While she scrambled toward the middle of the quilt, she gazed at Joe as he removed his boxers and climbed on top of her. With one heaving thrust he entered as she cried out at the abrupt tightness and shock that ran through her. Her gasps grew more intense as he impelled her consistently. His breathing quickened at each continuing plunge when at last he cried out as the rising climax enfolded him. It was as if at that particular moment, he’d been shot in the back, Joe collapsed on her, still breathing heavily.
“Don’t ever do that to me again,” he said in a husky voice. “Get me all worked up like that and then stop….”
All Gracie could do was laugh and give a playful punch in his arm. She ran a hand through his hair. They both lay sideways on the bed, exhausted. Joe was the first to fall asleep.
Copyright © 2011 by Kristi N. Zanker
Continue to Chapter Five
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