A Most Unusual Christmas Soirée
By Katina Pontikes
I love murder! Not of actual people of course, but the stories of actual people offing one another fascinates the hell out of me. Obsessions such as this call in the powers of the universe. Do you want me to make a believer out of you? How many of you have attended a Homicide Detectives’ Christmas Party, as I did?
The opportunity came almost randomly. I was seated at a birthday party, and the topics of conversation were pretty tame, sporting teams, children, etc. I asked the woman next to me what her line of work was, tired of hearing school tales from those around me. I was surprised when she said she was a prosecutor. I immediately lit up, and queried about various murder cases I was familiar with, and whether she had worked on any of them.
To my delight, she had worked on several of the cases. We shared a common interest, and the evening turned into a trip down murder-memory lane. Time flew, and she seemed surprised at my enthusiasm for her line of work.
Toward the end of the evening, I heard her remark to a companion that she far preferred discussing serial killers to school plays. We agreed to meet up again over a glass of wine later.
It was on that occasion that she casually asked me if I’d have any interest in accompanying her to the Homicide Detective’s Christmas party. She explained that as a prosecutor she was invited, and her husband had no interest in going. I silently screamed “Hallelujah!” I would be able to meander among the heroes I had always read about.
In my life, this ranked as life-affirming. I would not have been happier if I had won a small lotto. I realized that I was the ultimate Outsider. Fate gave me a gift. This was basically an office Christmas party, but it was the office of my dreams and fantasies.
Never again would I have such an opportunity. I agonized about what to wear. Not too dressy. nor disrespectful. I settled on pants, not a dress, no jewelry. I wore a simple blazer. I truly admired the People of the Good Side. Sure, they weren’t saints. Who can use saints to bust evil? But these were the front line against murderers. How much more do you need? My hat was tipped. And I was going to celebrate with them.
The party was huge, much larger than I’d expected. There weren’t any cheesy decorations. I was intrigued by the variety of individuals in attendance. Some had the look of detectives, groomed and conservatively attired. But there were others with shaggy long hair, beards and jeans (undercover types?).
I tried my best to be charming. I complimented the barbecue being served. I asked who the caterer was. The gentleman serving me looked surprised. He called over to his fellow server, “This lady wants to know who our caterer is.” His tone was droll. He looked me in the eye, recognizing I wasn’t one of them. “It’s us, we cooked the food.”
I was blushing at my faux pas, I’m sure. Of course this wasn’t a society event. Cops have city budgets. What was I thinking? I complimented their exceptional grilling skills, saying I’d never had better meats, desperately trying to redeem myself.
By this time, any doubts I had about my blending in the crowd were vanished. I was almost certain background checks had been performed in order for me to attend. I regretted my past speeding tickets. I tried to project a reformed image as I joined circles of mostly male cops with wives or girlfriends accompanying them.
Occasionally I was asked how I’d come to attend, and I explained who I was with. The prosecutor was their ally, and she was my pass. One man tried to shock me. He said he loved hunting. I, asked, “Hunting what?” He responded, “People.” I didn’t react and tried my most jaded expression. He was on to my innocence and I knew it. Then I learned he was from my crazy home state of Louisiana, and I knew his type. I also had a good feeling he knew where I was from and that my dad had been a defense attorney. Cops have good databases and sources too.
This year I will be celebrating Christmas the traditional way. It will be warm and fuzzy. I wonder what the Homicide Detectives will be doing at their party.