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Tea and Bitching

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"Must be nice to ponce in where people are trying to work, say a few nasty things and get treated like a bloody rock star." Sgt Donovan glowered into her English Breakfast. "Like to see him try that one if he had an Indian surname, and see how far he gets."

"My favourite part is where he forgets that life really is different if you don't have his colour or his shape," Martha sipped her Vordarian blend – it had an odd lingering scent, but less nasty than the one Earl Grey had; she'd developed a taste for it during her travels. "You're walking through a swarm of people just waiting to do you a mischief and all he says is 'what problem? They're not threatening me so it's safe for you too.' "

"Oh TELL me about it," Sally snapped. "And God help you if you've got a sex life and you commit the crime of being a woman. If you're a man you're not The Office Slut, you're James bloody Bond."

"Mine's dense that way, too," Joan said, walking in briskly and offloading her bag. "Real fun to fend off sly hints about lesbian displays, isn't it? Sorry I'm late. Murder. You know the drill."

Sally rolled her eyes. Martha nodded, exhaling.

"We're drinking tea?" Joan's lips curved upward. "Let me introduce you to a special blend from my side of the pond. Bartender!"

***

"…and, and then," Sally gurgled, "the idiots run off handcuffed together!"

Joan doubled over, howling. "Oh, THAT won't attract attention!"

"Try chasing a blowfish driving a sports-c-car and g-get back to me on attracting attention…" Martha giggled, set down her clinking glass and held out her palms for the other two to high-five her simultaneously. All three women had agreed that Martha had the best rejoinders.

"You don't have stop-and-frisk in London, do you?" Joan checked herself. "As if it would matter. They're white - no one would stop them."

"Yeh," Sally said. "I've got a brother on the Met. He's been stopped by other coppers for questioning when he's chased a suspect in plainclothes. Really helps you do your job, doesn't it?"

"That's true," Joan said, quieting. "They just have no clue – and it's ironic because they're smart in so many ways, and they see so many things other people can't. But yet there's still that huge blind spot they can't seem to shake."

"They never had to be twice as good as everyone else, and still get hit on by patients and fellow interns who think you're easy 'cos you're a black woman," Martha said.

Sally nodded vigorously, her Long Island Iced Tea sloshing.

"It would scare you, how many white guys seem to have a fetish for Asian women," Joan said. "I got hit on by other doctors and patients too."

"Outdo your colleagues, and you still get upstaged by a white bloke in a fancy coat," Sgt Donovan muttered.

"I heard that," Martha groaned.

The bartender walked toward them, smiling. "Can I get you ladies a refill?"

"Yes!" "Oh yes!"

"Yes, thank you." Joan looked the young woman up and down, from the stray whisps of pale hair to her shoes. "You're in your second year of law school, you're supporting your mother and you like historical romances."

The bartender gaped. "How did you know - !"

"Jesus, you sound like HIM," Sally groaned.

"Observ – servation," Joan enunciated, carefully setting her empty glass in the middle of the bartender's tray. "Picked it up from a patient."

"Well, yeah, you're right," the girl said, picking up the other glasses and teacups. "You must have seen my books behind the counter. I know they're silly but I just love to dream about going away to some of those times in history, when women didn't have to work, and they wore those gorgeous clothes and men were so dashing and treated you like a queen." She retreated to fetch more full glasses.

Martha side-eyed her. "Oh, how I'd love to tell her exactly what those good old days were really like."

"Wouldn't help," Sally said gloomily.

"She's right," Joan added.

All three of them chorused, "Blonde."