"I hate Christmas," I tell Bruce Wayne, driving the cruiser to the casino. "It’s the only time of the year I hate, but I do." I see his questioning look in the rearview mirror. "Why? Oh, I have my reasons. More than one actually, but the obvious one is, it’s prime hunting grounds for thieves." I glance at him and he is listening intently. "That’s why you and I are doing this type patrol. We are peacekeepers and our very presence can deter criminals. On Christmas Eve last minute shoppers are in too big a hurry and will throw caution to the wind. They’ll leave their purses on the counter while they run over and look at just one more thing, then boom, it’s stolen." I enter the parking lot, then pull into a spot designated for security. "So, be on your toes. Got it? They may be able to outrun me, but they can’t outrun you." I laugh and he looks impatient to get started. I turn around, reach over the seat and ruffle his hair. He shakes his head and flaps his ears, making me chuckle.
This is my fifth year on the force with the Las Vegas Police Department and my first with my new partner, Bruce Wayne, aka Batman. He’s a German Shepard with a black face. I found him in the pound, half starved, and with a few scars. No telling what his history is, but he is one smart animal. He graduated from the academy three months ago and is a top cop, but he’s still a rookie and it is my job to train him, show him the ropes, and protect him.
My phone rings and I answer it. "Sup, Sir?" It’s my Captain.
"Do you know they are calling you Sergeant Scrooge around here?"
"Yes, sir," I chuckle and wink at Bruce Wayne.
"Do you know why?"
"I believe I do."
"Then tell me why." I hear his wife in the background bitching to him, and I know she’s put him up to calling me. Otherwise, he wouldn’t say anything. I’m known at the department for being the hard ass. I don’t cater to anyone. I do my own thing. I march to my own beat. Once you understand that, we get along just fine. I am a team player, but I’m not going to give you the shirt off my back. I take care of myself and it is your responsibility to take care of yourself. I’m not your babysitter or your bank. Obviously, he hasn’t explained that to her.
I give him a smart ass answer. "Because my 'Bah Humbug!' is killer good?"
"No. Try again." He sounds stressed out. The holiday is getting to him and I’m sure she has been hounding him and not properly pounding him.
"Because when I signed up to play Dirty Santa, I thought it was a different kind of game?"
"No." He pauses. I hear her talking again, then he says for her benefit. "Really? Good grief." He tries to sound annoyed, but he knows me. He knows I’m not giving in and this is his way of getting her off his back. I’m the bad guy, not him. "Because you’re the only cop on the entire force that didn’t contribute to my wife’s Christmas fund drive."
He scored big points with that, I smirk. "Oh, that’s why? I thought it was because I wouldn’t donate $50." I make it sound like I agree that that is a better reason for not handing over my hard earned money to some useless charity.
He hesitates and I know he’s reading her to see how to play this. "So, she can count on you to give?"
"Umm, hell no," I grin, knowing I just set him up perfectly and knowing he’s smart enough to get what I did.
Now, he’ll be off the hook and she can run my name in the ground, instead of harassing him to "make" me. He’ll be cool when I get back, but for her benefit, he sounds outraged.
"Jesus H. Christ, you’re selfish. Sergeant Scrooge fits you."
I laugh. "Like a glove, sir."
He hangs up and I roll my eyes, shaking my head, then explain myself to Bruce Wayne as if he understands. "It’s not that I don’t have the money, I do. I don’t make a lot of money, but I live a very modest life and I save every dime I make. I learned a long time ago to take care of myself because no one else is going to. I don’t owe anyone anything and I sure as hell don’t owe his wife a donation or an explanation."
His tongue hangs out and he pants not judging me. That’s one of the best parts of having a K9 partner. He believes every word I say and never disagrees with me.
I open the door. "Ok, Batman, it’s time to go." When he hears his superhero name, his training kicks in. Ears alert, eyes roaming, sniffer testing the air, he’s all business.
I hook his leash and we head inside.
* * *