Gloria Lopes, Hero of “Go Down Hard” by Craig Faustus Buck

Who are you?

My name is Gloria Lopes. That rhymes with hopes. My grandfather was Argentine but for some reason the Spanish pronunciation didn’t stick. Don’t ask me why. Even my Dad doesn’t know, and he still speaks with a Spanish accent. I was with the LAPD for 18 years, rose to Lieutenant, homicide, before the shit hit the fan. Don’t ask. I guess you could call me a private security consultant now. I’m single though my boyfriend, the baptist dentist, keeps asking me to marry him. Drives me nuts. Not that I don’t love the guy, but I’m philosophically allergic to monogamy. Moral constraints give me the heebie-jeebies. I can’t imagine depriving myself of variety in sexual partners, just as I would never give up variety in foods, books, or music. I can be faithful emotionally, but that’s as far as I go.

Where do you live?

I live in a Spanish Colonial fourplex, built sometime in the 1930s in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles. My apartment has hand-crafted archways, thick stucco walls, a Mexican-tiled fireplace, built-in cupboards and shelf-nooks whose edges have been softened over the years by layers upon layers of paint. Not fancy but blooming with character. After all these years I still love coming home. I’ve furnished the place with treasures from the Goodwill. A few downtrodden antiques, a little modern, some rustic, some shabby chic. No two chairs match or even hail from the same decade, but I think it feels homey.

Do you embrace conflict?

I wouldn’t say I embrace it, I just seem to attract it. Maybe it’s because I tend to speak my mind and pack a mean left hook. I also pack a Glock.

How do your friends see you?

I don’t have too many friends since I left the force. Most of my cop friends see me as a professional liability. I guess my best friend is Nob Brown, the guy who wrote that book about Lana Strain, the rock star who got murdered in the early ’90s. He’s an ex-cop, too. And we sleep together when he’s not in a relationship, which is usually. When he has a girlfriend, I leave him alone. I’m into free love, but I’m no homewrecker. I’ve never slept with a married man unless his wife was participating.

How do your enemies see you?

I don’t know. I try not to speak to my enemies if I can help it, and when I don’t have a choice, we’re usually talking about something more pressing than their feelings about me.

How does your author see you?

What author?

Do you have a hero?

No. Every hero I’ve ever had disappointed me sooner or later to I’ve stopped trying. I’m not big on organized religion, though I sometimes go to a Black Baptist church for the music, but I think they’re onto something with that false idol thing.

Do you have a goal?

World peace. Zero crime. An end to poverty. And multiple orgasms.

Do you talk about your achievements?

No. And I have little patience for people who do.

Do you have any skills?

I read people well. I’ve been called an astute judge of character. I guess it’s from my years as a homicide dick. It’s a professional requirement. As I may have mentioned, I throw a mean left hook. I think my sexual skills are pretty polished, judging from the state I generally leave ‘em in. I’m pretty deft with a cocktail though I can’t cook to save my life–I could probably drop an elephant with my coffee. I’m a great shot with a side arm. And I’m a cheap drunk, which many men consider an attractive skill.

Do you have money troubles?

I didn’t until I lost my job. My needs are minimal and my lifestyle is cheap. But if don’t find some work pretty soon, I’m headed for skid row. I don’t exactly have a safety net seeing as how I’m about as close to my parents as Earth is to Pluto. And like that distant rock, I was demoted from their solar system one Thanksgiving when my sister decided to regale the family with highlights from my broad spectrum of sexual activities. I’d never even heard my father say “hell” before, much less “you dirty slut.” Said sister lives on the East Coast, which is still too close for comfort. That leaves my brother who, last time I checked, had a job in a rehab Ashram in the Punjab strapping cold-turkey patients to their beds. Welcome to my family. In a pinch, I could borrow some money from Nob, but only for a month or so.

What do you regret?

I regret getting sucker-punched out of a career. I gave a bad performance review to a dirty cop so he trumped up a sexual harassment claim against me. It was total bullshit, but certain rumors, which were more or less true, about my private life seemed to substantiate the charges. The thing is, I would never ever shit where I eat. LAPD personnel were absolutely off limits for any kind of sexual activity, including inuendo. My squad was my responsibility and I made sure the work environment was nonhostile. But I should have anticipated some sort of cheap shot from that cop. Instead, I painted a bullseye on my back to give him an easy target.

What, if anything, haunts you?

I gave a child up for adoption the year I graduated from the academy. He must be seventeen now. It’s not so much that I gave him up that haunts me, but that I never told his father about the pregnancy. It was a weird accident. A fellow cadet and I were having pretty amazing sex at a motel one afternoon when we heard a scream from the room next door. Not a scream of passion but the kind you might hear from a woman being waved around by a giant ape on the Empire State Building. The kind that grabs your attention like a bullet in the gut. Talk about coitus interruptus. By the second scream I was sliding off him and into my pants. The upshot was that I nailed a serial killer, but in the process neither the other cadet nor I realized his condom had come off inside me. That’s how I got pregnant. It seemed prudent not to tell the father at the time, but now he’s my best friend and that secret eats at my insides like a starving rat. I don’t even want to think about what might happen if Nob were to find out.

Do you keep your promises?

Without fail.

Are you healthy?

For a woman with a bullet wound between her breasts, I’m doing pretty well.

Was there ever a defining moment of your life?

I guess having a bullet go through me and into Nob was pretty defining. Especially since if I hadn’t been there to slow it down, he probably would have died. The bullet was headed straight for his heart. It missed mine by a half an inch. That sort of thing doesn’t exactly define as much as illuminate. It creates the sort of bond very few people have.

Do you have any hobbies?

Reading crime novels. Scuba diving. Collecting antique sexual devices. And using them.

What is your favorite beverage? Why?

I’m a gin drinker. Straight, on the rocks. Specifically Bombay, but I’m happy with Gordon’s or Hendricks or even Gilbeys. I love the juniper berry flavor. That’s why I can’t stomach Tanqueray. You just can’t taste the juniper.

What are the last three books you read?

Heart Sick — Chelsea Cain
Die a Little — Megan Abbot
Go Down Hard — Craig Faustus Buck (in manuscript, he’s still shopping it)

If you were stranded on a desert island, who would you rather be stranded with, a man or a woman?

I’d go for a hermaphrodite. The best of both worlds.

How do you envision your future?

I don’t. I live for today. Tomorrow’s too iffy.

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