MORE THAN LOVE • by James Boone Dryden

Tap, tap. Two knocks was all they got.

Officer Yarrow positioned himself next to the door, pressed against the wall. It smelled in the hallway–like someone was cooking terrible Tex-Mex somewhere on the floor. Yarrow wrinkled his nose in distaste. The quicker they could get this job done, the better off they’d all be: six men in a department, and here were three for such a small job.

Yarrow paused a moment and looked down the hall. One of the other doors was cracked, and the wrinkled face of an elderly woman peeked out at him. A hand stuck out, and she pointed emphatically at the door Yarrow stood next to. He nodded and motioned for her to go back into her apartment. The door closed, but Yarrow didn’t hear the click of the latch.

A slight wave of his hand, and two officers at the end of the hallway moved toward the door. They took positions opposite the door, so they could cover Yarrow. The two officers, Petsky and Wilkes, stood facing the door, their guns drawn to cover every inch of the door once it opened.

“Mr. Taylor,” Yarrow said.   No answer.   “Mr. Taylor, this is the police.   Open the door.”

There was no answer.   Yarrow could hear shuffling and muffled voices through the thin, panel-wood door.   Tap, tap.

“Open the door, Mr. Taylor.”

Yarrow raised three fingers for the other officers to see. They nodded. He counted down and when his fingers made a fist, he brought the butt of his rifle down on the doorknob. It groaned under the blow, and Officer Petsky kicked at the door. Wood splintered, and the three men rushed into the small apartment.

“Clear,” Yarrow yelled as he passed through the front room. It was a dingy place with only a small kitchen that opened directly onto the littered floor of the main room. There was one door on the left, one door on the right. Yarrow turned right, followed by the other two officers.

Two figures huddled in the bed. Yarrow raised his weapon, aiming for the right shoulder of the man. He was middle-aged and sat upright in the bed, a similarly-aged woman seated next to him. The covers were pulled tightly up against her breasts. She looked nervously between the three male officers.

“Turn over on the bed,” Yarrow said.   “Put your hands on the headboard.”

They turned over. Yarrow kept his weapon on the two as the other officers removed the covers and watched as the two turned over onto their stomachs. The woman was nude. It was hard not to notice. Yarrow watched as the muscles in her back moved with her struggles to try and keep her dignity and hide her exposed rear.

The officers restrained the two and then stood to watch over them. Officer Wilkes covered the woman. She turned her head to look at him and whispered a quiet thank you.

“Mr. and Mrs. Taylor, you are both under arrest for the crime of Exclusive Progeny. You are to be detained immediately and transported to Central Detention.”

Yarrow paused a moment as he watched the woman move closer to her husband. The covers slipped a bit, and Wilkes moved to cover her again. Yarrow scowled at him, and Wilkes moved away.

“It is recorded that you have been exclusively married for 12 years without further encounters. You also have recorded three progeny all by the same biological mother with no trace of DNA elsewhere in the system. Do you deny these charges?”

Mr. Taylor did not reply.

“Mr. Taylor, two of your sons are deceased through natural causes; your other son is missing.   You can’t pass on your line if there’s no one else in your life. Look outside: the world is falling apart around us. The law is there to help you and others.”

“It’s not wrong to love only one person,” Mr. Taylor replied.

“It’s not about love, sir; it’s about the future.”

James Boone Dryden is currently the Managing Editor of Sheer Speculation Press and Staffs & Starships magazine.

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