by Southy

©January 2006



“These fries aren’t fully cooked.”

Jim glanced over at Blair. “Raw, boiled, broiled, or baked, potatoes are potatoes.” He’d already finished his Wonderburger late night snack, so now he and Blair were sitting in the truck a couple of blocks from a construction trailer, hoping their suspect would put in an appearance.

Blair shoved a few fries into his mouth. “I hate fries when they aren’t crispy.”

Jim studied him a prolonged moment. “Apparently, hating soft fries doesn’t stop you from eating them.”

Blair grunted. “Nothing else to do. Stakeouts have to be the worst part of police work.”

“Next to the paperwork.”

“That’s a matter of opinion.”

“At least if he doesn’t show tonight and we have to come back tomorrow, you won’t have to sit through it.”

Blair wadded up his trash. “What do you mean?”

“I thought you’d mentioned having a date tomorrow night.”

“Nah, it got cancelled. Melanie has ‘female problems.’” His fingers indicated quote marks.

”Oh.” Good. Then Blair would still be accompanying him tomorrow.

Blair gazed out the window as he mused in a deep voice, “Female problems.” Then, “It kind of leaves one’s imagination open to all sorts of speculation.”

“I think that term usually refers uterine/ovary stuff,” Jim said. “Unless it’s, like, a yeast infection.” Then he considered, “Of course, it could just be menstrual cramps or irregularities.”

“That’s exactly my point,” Blair said, looking over at him as he pushed his trash aside. “It could be a dozen different things. Not that I blame her for not wanting to discuss something personal like that, it’s just… you know, leaves your mind open to guessing. Like, is it something that would effect sexual relations, or wouldn’t it? And if it wouldn’t, couldn’t we still go on a date, anyway?”

Jim grinned. “It’s so heartening to know that your concern is for the potential sexual relations, and not for any discomfort she might be feeling.”

Blair held up his hands. “Hey, I have nothing but respect for the ‘discomforts’ that women have to put up with. From the pain of having a baby, all the way down. I mean,” he snorted in disbelief, “just the idea of them being willing to go to the doctor for female stuff.” He squeezed his legs together. “That they’re willing to subject themselves to cold metal being inserted inside their body for an exam….”

“I think they warm those things up.”


“The speculums. For exams. They warm them up so they don’t feel cold.”

Blair looked intrigued. “How do you know?”

“I’m not sure. Carolyn must have mentioned something about it once.”

Blair grinned. “Ah, Jim, what a sweetheart of a husband. Be willing to talk to your wife about the details of her exam.”

Jim considered whether he should allow Blair to continue thinking such positive thoughts about him – however erroneous – or set the record straight. He shrugged. “Women seem a lot more comfortable talking about things like that.” Whether he had wanted to or not.

“Yeah, I guess so. Maybe Melanie figured that since I was a guy, I wouldn’t want to know the details.”

“You wouldn’t believe the stuff I overhear at the station sometimes. Women talk to each other about their personal health problems like nothing.”



“Man, that’s weird. If I ever had a prostate exam, I couldn’t imagine telling anybody else about it.”

Jim looked sharply at Blair. “You’ve never had a prostate exam?”

Blair bristled. “I’m twenty-eight. And healthy. I’m hardly a prime candidate for prostate cancer.”

“They don’t just check for cancer with DREs.”


“Digital rectal exam.”

Jim could hear Blair’s heart beat faster as he said, “Where the doctor inserts his whole hand into your ass?”

Jim grinned. “Digital. It’s just one finger. One well-lubricated finger.”

“Does it hurt?”

“It’s more an uncomfortable pressure than pain. But it's mild. And it doesn’t take very long.”

“What age did you first have one?”

“Eighteen. When I enlisted.”

Blair’s eyes widened. “Really?"


“Did you feel like you wanted to slug the doctor when he did that?”

Whoa. “Of course not. It happened to all of us. It’s embarrassing, but….”

“Do they make you crouch on the table with your butt in the air?”

“Sometimes. Anymore, they’ll let you stay standing up. It doesn’t feel as humiliating that way. Sometimes they want you to lie on your side and bring your knees to your chest.”

“Maybe that wouldn’t be so bad,” Blair said thoughtfully.

“Really, Chief, if you’ve never had a DRE, you should.”

“At my age?” Blair asked in alarm. “Why?”

Jim couldn’t help but tease, “For one thing, so you’d get over your fear of it. It’s not that bad. One of those things that your mind makes out to be ten times worse than it really is.”

Blair was silent.

“For another, they check for other problems besides cancer.”

“You mean butt hole problems?”

Jim chuckled softly.

“Jim, I can assure you, if my butt hole had any problems, I’d already know about it.” He shook his head bashfully. “Geez.”

“In any case, it doesn’t hurt to get checked for cancer. It can happen earlier than is the norm. And prostate cancer is one of those that can be completely cured if found early enough.” He looked at Blair pointedly. “I’d like to be sure you’re going to be around a long time, buddy.”

Blair was silent as he stared out the windshield, but he’d dropped his defensive posture.

Feeling daring, Jim gently pressed, “So, the next time you go in for a check-up, tell the good doctor you want a DRE.”

After a long moment, Blair said, “I’ve never had an exam for the sake of an exam. Any time I’ve gotten a ‘check up’, it’s because I was seeing the doctor for a specific reason.”

“Then maybe it’s time you started thinking in terms of prevention, rather than waiting for something to happen. Health is one of those things that we take for granted – until we lose it.”

Blair looked contemplative but didn’t reply.

Jim reached over and nudged him. “Hey. I’m due for another physical next month. When I call to schedule it, I’ll schedule one for you too.”

No response.

Jim didn’t want to give Blair a chance to come up with a no. “You go through it – including the dreaded DRE – and I’ll cheerfully let you put me through a half day of tests.”

Blair perked up. “Really?”

“Yep. Deal?”


Jim noticed a man walking toward the construction trailer. “Hey, there’s our suspect.”

“Great,” Blair said. “All this sitting around was worth it, after all.”

Jim smiled to himself. In more ways than one.



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