The Trouble with Parents

By Christy Kulp

©February 2005

"You should have seen him, Pete. Jimmy's really growing." Jim Reed sat on his side of the patrol car, glowing as he talked about his infant son. "I can't wait until he starts walking."

"Yeah," Pete Malloy replied, a little grumpy. He loved his godson, but he did get a little tired of hearing about the kid every day. "Then he'll learn to run and nothing in that house will be safe again."

With a goofy smile, Jim looked at his partner. "I can't wait. Being a father is the best thing I could ever ask for. Just wait until you have kids, Malloy."

"That's exactly what I'm going to do, partner."


Pete gave his partner a pointed look. "Wait."

Jim gave Pete a sad look. "You don't know what you're missing."

Then radio called their number, "1-Adam-12, see the woman, 415-disturbing the peace, 1800 Gardner Street."

Reed leaned over and retrieved the mic. "1-Adam-12, roger."

Saved by the bell. Pete was relieved, that for a few minutes, he was going to escape his partner's 'kids are great' speech.

Pete noticed a woman flagging them down as he pulled over to the curb. He turned the vehicle off and followed his partner out of the car.

Jim was already speaking to the woman. "Ma'am, you reported a disturbance?"

"Yes, I did. I can't take it anymore! Make them stop." She shoved her hands in the pockets of her apron.

"Make who stop, ma'am?" Pete asked.

"Them!" The woman pointed to the garage of her next-door neighbor.

Pete and Jim looked at each other. They could hear the loud playing of a not-so-good band practicing in the garage.

"I've talked to that mother of his, but she refuses to do anything. They'll play like that for hours and keep my Norman awake. He works nights and he's been losing a lot of sleep lately. They won't stop playing that evil rock and roll music!"

"Okay," Pete reassured the lady. "We'll go talk to them."

Pete and Jim walked across the lawn, to the neighbor's house, and knocked on the door. Pete found himself having to knock really hard. The sound of the band was loud enough that it was hard to hear himself think.

Finally a tiny woman answered the door, surprised to find two police officers standing there. "Is there a problem, officers?"

Pete stepped forward, yelling to be heard. "I'm afraid so, ma'am. Your neighbor called and complained about the noise." Pete waved his hand towards the garage.

A look of indignation came to the small woman's face. "Oh, that Mrs. Pettington. She's always into someone else's business. My son wants to start a band and who am I to deny him his dream. Just because she doesn't agree with the kind of music he's playing doesn't mean she should call the police."

"There's more to it than that, ma'am." Reed spoke up. "Mr. Pettington works nights and your son's practicing is disturbing his sleep."

"Oh, really?" The woman looked concerned now. "I didn't realize that. No wonder we rarely see him around."

"Ma'am," Pete could see that the woman was beginning to change her mind. "Could you please ask your son to come out here and we'll see if we can work this out."

"Sure." The woman disappeared into the house. A moment later the playing in the garage stopped. Finally, she reappeared with a young man with shoulder length brown hair, red tinged sunglasses, plenty of colored beads hanging around his neck, and a set of drumsticks in his hands.

"Yeah man, what do you want?" The kid didn't look happy about having his playing stopped.

Jim smiled at the young man. "Son, you're going to have to find someplace else to practice. Your neighbor is complaining about the noise."

"Let 'em complain. You adults are all alike, stuck in your old fashion ways."

Pete spoke up. "Listen, son, what's your name?"

"Paul, Paul Cotter. Man, I have the right to practice my music. There's no law against that!"

"Paul, you do have the right to practice, but not to disturb the neighborhood," Pete replied patiently. "Mrs. Pettington's husband works at night and sleeps during the day, so your practicing is keeping him awake. Perhaps if you figure out a better place to practice, then you won't be disturbing your neighbors."

"We don't have any where else to go. All my buddies live in apartments. My Dad allowed us to convert the garage into our practice room." Paul declared.

Jim turned towards Mrs. Pettington, who had followed them. "What about if you just arrange a time with Mrs. Pettington so that you can practice while her husband is not sleeping? Will that help?"

The older woman hesitated. "Well, I suppose at least it would help my Norman."

Paul looked at his feet and beat out a rhythm with his drumsticks on his thigh. "I suppose we could work around his schedule. But we have this gig to get ready for."

Pete liked Jim's idea. "Mrs. Pettington, what time does your husband get up for work?"

"About five o'clock," she replied.

"There you go, you boys can practice after five." Pete hoped that the problem was solved.

"Okay." Paul disappeared inside to break the news to his buddies.

Mrs. Pettington was not completely happy with the solution, but admitted that she could live with it.

Mrs. Cotter was very happy. "Thank you, officers. I feel a parent should encourage their children's interests. I don't have the heart to make him stop playing. He loves it so much, but I will make sure they stick to the agreement."

Pete tipped his hat at the lady. "We appreciate the assistance, Mrs. Cotter. Have a good day."

Walking back to the car, Pete waited for Jim to finish talking to Mrs. Pettington and get the report signed. He looked at his partner after Jim sat in his seat and cleared them from the call. "I'll tell you one thing that would help that situation."


"Music lessons." Pete started the cruiser and drove up the street.

Jim smiled. "Yeah, but I don't think you'll be able to change Mrs. Pettington's taste in music."

Pete turned on another street in the neighborhood, then realized that Jim was looking at him. "What?"

"Something's bothering you." Jim had that annoying, insistent stare he gets when something is on his mind.

"There is nothing bothering me." Pete tried to avoid his partner's look, hoping that he would leave it at that. He should have known better.

"Come on, Malloy, you can tell me," Jim insisted.

"There is nothing wrong!" Pete raised his voice a little too loudly.

Jim turned back, to look at the warehouse they were passing. "So if nothing's wrong, then how come you just yelled at me?"

With an exasperated sigh, Pete knew he had just lost the battle. "Sorry, I guess I have been a little edgy." Pete stopped, hoping the apology might satisfy his partner.

"So?" Jim was staring at him again.

"All right. Uncle." Pete knew that the only way to stop his partner's pestering was to tell him. "My mother called last night. My parents are coming to visit me."

A happy look came to Jim's face. "Pete, that's great news! Why are you upset about that?"

Pete looked at Jim out of the corner of his eye. "Easy for you to say, you didn't spend eighteen years living with them."

Shaking his head in disbelief, Jim checked a car on the hot sheet. "Come on, you expect me to believe that your parents were that bad?"

"Let's just say there's a reason I was happy when my parents decided to give up the farm and move back to Detroit. I get along with my parents much better from a distance."

"I don't see how you can say that about your parents."

Pete shook his head. "My parents weren't that bad. Its just that my mother treats my like I'm five years old and my father treats me like I can't think for myself. Between my father grounding me all the time and my mother smothering me, I had to get out of the house. They still treat me like that, even though I'm old enough to have my own kids."

"That's just their way of showing they care. You're an only child and they want the best for you."

Pete couldn't believe that Jim was lecturing him on how he should feel about his parents. "Reed, the last time they visited was a complete disaster. I dropped my mom off at the airport crying and didn't speak to my dad for months after. I'm just not looking forward to them coming. It always ends with the same argument that caused me to move out in the first place."

With his arms crossed, Jim stared out the front windshield. "I think you should be grateful that you still have parents who care about you."

It hit Pete, like a punch to the stomach. Way to go, Malloy. Remember Reed lost his parents when he was in college. "Sorry Jim, I forgot."

"Forgot what?"

"I forgot about your parents. I should've known better than to bring this subject up." Pete watched his partner's reaction out of the corner of his eye.

Jim's face fell a little at the reminder. "That was a long time ago. You've got nothing to be sorry for. That's just the way life is. Besides, I'm the one who asked, anyway."

Pete knew it was too late. It was evident on Jim's face that their loss still hurt. He knew that he should think of something to cheer up his partner before Jim fell into a hole that he'd mope in for the rest of the shift. Before he could think of something, the dispatcher spoke.

"1-Adam-12, see the man, 406 Brandon Way, possible DB."

"1-Adam-12, roger," Jim sighed, replacing the mic.

Pete pulled up to an apartment complex and stopped near an elderly man, standing on the front steps.

"I'm sorry, officers, but I just didn't know what else to do." The gentleman was wringing his hands.

"It's okay, sir. That's what we're here for," Pete gently replied. "Can you give us your name, please, and why you called?"

"Edgar Robinson. I live next door to her, Cora Beth Lielson. She's why I called." The old man led the way into the apartments, then up a flight of steps to apartment eight. "She lives here, but I haven't been able to get her to open the door for days."

"Where do you live, Mr. Robinson?" Jim asked, recording everything in his notebook.

"Just down there in apartment six. She's been ill lately and I'm afraid that she may be incapacitated…" The man's voice faded to a whisper."Or worse."

Pete knocked on the door. "Mrs. Lielson!" He banged on the door several times, but there was no answer.

"Mr. Robinson, is the manager around?" Jim asked.

Edgar shook his head no. "He lives across town. We only see him on the weekends, and then only after we've complained about something long enough."

"Do you at least have a number?" Jim asked.

"Uh, yeah, 555-3651." Edgar recited.

"What about Mrs. Lielson?" Pete inquired. "Does she have any family nearby that might have a key to her apartment?"

"She has a daughter, who lives in town, but I hardly ever see her. I have no idea how to get a hold of her. Please, is there something you can do?" Edgar was clearly concerned for his friend's welfare.

"Stand back." Pete turned toward the door and aimed his foot at the doorknob. The door flew open with one quick kick. Cautiously, Pete started inside.

"Stay here, Mr. Robinson." Jim followed Pete in the door.

They had only taken a few steps when a sharp, putrid odor met their noses. It was all Pete could do to keep from gagging. He looked at his partner and noticed the pale look to his face. Slowly, Pete kept moving forward, even though he knew he was not going to like what he found. Rounding the corner, he saw the door to the bedroom halfway open. Reaching up, he gently pushed the door open further.

"Oh, man." Jim spun turn around hurriedly, to avoid throwing up.

Pete sighed, as he looked at the woman's body on the bed. The smell of decomposing human flesh was overwhelming now and there was no need to go any closer to ensure that the woman was dead. "You'd better call the coroner and get someone to locate her daughter."

"Yes, sir." Jim quickly exited the apartment, relieved to get away from the nauseating smell.

Pete closed the door to the bedroom, giving the dead woman a small piece of dignity, and exited the apartment. He faced Mr. Robinson, with a sad sigh. "I'm sorry, she's dead."

Tears began to appear in the corner of Edgar's eyes. "I was afraid of that. I've been calling on her every night. Normally she doesn't lock the door, but I guess for some reason she did. This is so sad." Leaning back, the man trembled. "No one should ever have to die alone like that."

Pete watched as the man grieved. "Mr. Robinson, is there someone we can call to be with you?"

The look on the man's face became even sadder. "No." Tears were now streaming down his face. "I survived my wife and all three of my children. I'm the only one. Cora Beth was my one companion left. I'm doomed to end up like her." The old man slowly started down the hallway towards his apartment.

Pete didn't know what to say and let him leave. He stood there until Jim returned to the apartment.

"They're on the way. They called the manager and I've got an address for her daughter. It's about a mile from here. I told them we'd go tell her." Jim sighed, not relishing the task.

Pete and Jim hung around the apartment until the coroner's wagon showed up. They relayed the information they had on the woman and Mr. Robinson, and gladly passed off the call.

They got in the cruiser and drove to 1021 Beisher Street. Without saying a word to each other, they exited the car, placed their hats and night sticks, and walked up the sidewalk to the small house. From inside, they could hear the sound of a baby crying and several other kids yelling at each other.

Jim reached up and rang the doorbell. The excited yell of several kids greeted the ring and soon three bright-eyed and dirty children stood staring at them. "Mommy, it's the polwice!" yelled the oldest, who looked about six years old.

An exhausted woman, with a baby on her hip, came to the door. "What can I do for you, gentlemen? I hope my husband didn't get himself arrested again?"

"No, ma'am. This is not about your husband. Are you Cora Beth Lielson's daughter?" Jim asked.

To their surprise, the woman rolled her eyes. "Yes, what has that old bat done now?"

"Ma'am, she's dead," Pete informed her.

"Well, it's about time. She has been nothing but a headache to me. Thank you for letting me know." The woman started to close the door.

"Wait," Pete put out his hand to keep the door open. "I'm afraid we need a little more from you."

"Like what?" Demanded the woman.

"We need you to go to the coroners and identify the body." Pete informed her.

"Now?" Asked the woman incredulously. "Officer, if you haven't noticed, I've got four children to take care of, a husband due home any minute, and dinner on the stove. Can't it wait?"

Pete shook his head. "You don't have to do it right away, but you will need to soon, so they can complete the death certificate. Ma'am, is there perhaps someone else in your family that could do it?"

"No, everyone else had the sense to move away from her. Don't look at me like that, officers. She was a tyrant! That woman is going to get from me what I got from her--absolutely nothing! This is just her last chance to harass me. All right, just give me the address, and I'll go tomorrow."

Jim wrote it down on a piece of paper and handed it over. "Uhh, if you need anything else, there is a family services number to call."

"Yeah, thanks." With that, the lady disappeared into the house.

The oldest child waved to Pete and Jim. "Bye, polwice!"

Jim gave a halfhearted wave as they headed down the sidewalk. As they got into the car, they could hear the woman yelling at her children to close the door.

Pete shook his head as he pulled the car out of the neighborhood.

"1-Adam-12 clear." Jim sighed and leaned back in his seat. "Can you believe that lady? She wasn't even the least bit upset that her own mother was dead?"

"I've seen worse," replied Pete.

"I bet she pretty much just abandoned her mother to die!" Jim declared.


"There should be a law against that!"

"Yeah, there should be, but her mother was living on her own. If she had been living in the house, then we could probably have gotten her for an abuse charge, but there is nothing we can do, Reed. Just let it go." Pete advised his partner.

"I still can't believe it."

"Believe it partner. Unfortunately on this job we rarely get the chance to see the good side of people. You'd better get used to it." Pete drove on, but he couldn't help but feel a pang of guilt. His own parents were still healthy and perfectly capable of taking care of themselves, but what would he do once they reached the age where they needed care? He could barely stand his parents now. He hated to think it, but he wondered if he would become bitter like Mrs. Lielson's daughter. Boy, I wish they wouldn't come to visit.


Finally the end of shift came. Their day had not improved and Pete was more than ready to go home as they walked into locker room.

Ed Wells walked up to Pete with a smile on his face. "Hey, Malloy, Woods told me that your parents are coming to town again. I can't wait."

Pete rolled his eyes. He kept forgetting, that whatever was told to Woods would eventually get to his partner, Wells. "If you're so eager, why don't you spend the week with them?"

Seeing the opportunity to tease Pete was too much for Wells. "Hey, Reed, what do you think? Have you ever met Malloy's parents?"

Jim was changing, but found himself forced into the conversation by Wells' comment. "No," he answered.

"Ahh, you've been missing out. Right, Peter?" Wells grinned.

Pete was a little annoyed that his partner was being dragged into the conversation. "Lay off, Wells. He'll get to meet them soon enough."

Jerry Woods now joined in. "Really, Pete, I think your parents are swell. I hope you bring them to the station again."

Not if I can help it. "We'll see, Jerry, but I'm going to try and keep their visit short and sweet so I can maintain my sanity." Pete finished buttoning his shirt and bent over to tie his shoes.

"Look on the bright side, Malloy," Wells came over pulling on a sweatshirt. "At least you only have to deal with your parents once a year. My old man is driving me crazy. Just the other day, he was out playing football with my boys like he was twenty again. I don't know how I'm going to keep him alive if he keeps trying to relive his youth at sixty-five years of age. He doesn't know when to quit."

"Gee, like father like son." Pete commented as he grabbed his jacket and turned talk to Jim. To his dismay, Wells kept talking.

"No really, Malloy. He's been talking about wanting to take up skydiving. Why, I have no idea."

Woods laughed. "Why don't you just let the man have his fun? It's his retirement."

Wells rolled his eyes. "Woods, it's my butt if something happens to him. My sister would never forgive me. Do you have any idea what it's like to be responsible for a parent like him at his age?"

Woods shook his head. "No, my father's perfectly happy living next to a golf course and spoiling his grandkids for the rest of his life."

By this time, Jim had finished dressing, but he essentially ignored the conversation that centered around his locker. Without a word, he brushed by Woods and walked out of the locker room.

Pete watched him go, kicking himself for letting this conversation go on in front of his already upset partner.

Woods watched with concern and turned back to look at Pete. "What's wrong with Reed?"

Pete shoved his hand in his pocket, to retrieve his keys. "I don't know, I guess all this talk about parents has him upset."

"Why is that?" inquired Woods.

Pete started for the door. "He lost both of his parents in a car accident when he was in college."

"Oh sorry, Malloy." Woods then turned to his partner, who was still complaining to another officer. "Way to go, Wells." He cuffed Wells on the head.

"What?" Wells threw his partner a confused look. "What did I do?"


"1-Adam-12, business dispute, Circle Park, 16th and Verndane."

"1-Adam-12, roger." Jim was confused. "Business dispute at the park?"

Pete shrugged his shoulders. He had given up trying to figure out most of the calls and just prepared himself for anything. After turning the corner, and entering the park, he noticed one of the park employees waving at them. He pulled the vehicle over and exited.

The heavyset black man, in blue overalls, hurried up to Jim. "Officers, arrest that man!"

Another man, in a cheap pin stripe business suit, was rather indignant. "Arrest me? For defending myself! That's absurd!"

"Officers, this man damaged city property and is refusing to pay the damages!" The park worker was very upset.

"Sir, could you please calm down, give me your name, and explain the situation." Pete spoke to the irate park worker, as Jim stepped in front of the businessman.

With an apparent effort to be professional, the park worker regained his composure. "My name's Gus Furston and I work for the city. I help maintain this park and its property, including the animals and flower garden. This man killed one of our geese." Gus turned and pointed to a dead bird lying in the grass. "I saw him do it. He was trying to leave, so I stopped him. He's refusing to pay for the damages."

The businessman rolled his eyes. "This is ludicrous. You're going to arrest me for killing a wild animal?"

Reed held up his hand. "Sir, may I see some ID? Why did you kill the bird?"

Frustrated, the man reached for his wallet. "My name is Wally Steinbrook. I work just down the street at Solutions Accounting." He handed his driver's license to Reed. "I come here a lot to relax and eat my lunch. Only this time, I didn't get a chance to relax. Officer, I was just sitting there, eating my lunch, when that bird attacked me."

"Louie wouldn't go after you for no reason!" Gus yelled. "You must have provoked him!"

Jim glanced at the park worker. "Mr. Furston, could you please be quiet and let Mr. Steinbrook tell his side."

Wally flashed a 'so there' look at Gus. "That creature even bit me." Wally held up his hand and pointed to a red welt on his skin. "I tried to run away, but the goose just followed me. Officers, I didn't know what else to do, so I swung my briefcase at it. I didn't mean to kill it. Next thing I know, this crazy man is all over me, calling me a murderer, and demanding I pay him money. This is ridiculous. It's a wild animal."

"It is not wild!" declared Gus. "Most of the geese in this park had their wings clipped. He's city property and you owe damages! We can't allow people in here killing the parks animals!"

Jim glanced at Pete with a questioning look. Pete waved Jim away from the two. "What do you think?"

"What code does killing a park animal fall under?" Jim asked.

Pete shrugged his shoulders. "I must admit I'm going to have to look this one up. Why don't we just get the report filled out and we'll turn it over to the division."

"Okay." Reed stepped back over to Mr. Steinbrook. "Sir, I need some more information from you."

"You're kidding? You're going to arrest me?" The accountant was dumbfounded.

"We're not going to arrest you, Mr. Steinbrook." Pete reassured him. "We're going to take this report and turn it in to our supervisor. We'll get a hold of you if we need anything further."

"If you need a witness in court, I'll be there." Gus declared, with a huff.

"We'll be in touch with you too, Mr. Furston." Pete sighed.

After all the information was collected, the two officers walked towards the police cruiser.

Mr. Steinbrook gathered his hat and briefcase and stormed off down the street while the distraught Gus gently collected the dead animal. Pete shook his head, all this time on the job and there were still calls that caused him to wonder about the sanity of the world.

As they were pulling out of the park, Jim began to giggle. Pete looked at him a little surprised. "What's so amusing?"

Jim tried to hide the smile. "Sorry, I was just trying to imagine Mr. Steinbrook fighting for his life, with a briefcase, against a five pound goose."

Pete tried to fight the smile, but couldn't. "He didn't seem too amused by it."

Another snicker burst from Reed.

"Laugh if you want, but remember the real victim in this story," Pete remarked.


"Louie," Pete deadpanned.

"Oh yeah." Jim pretended to observe a moment of silence, before the giggles took him again. After laughing for another minute, he finally held up his hand. "Okay, I'm done."

"Good. I was becoming concerned." Pete declared.

The smile didn't leave Jim's face, however, as they passed by a number of stores. Finally Jim turned to Pete. "So when are they coming?"

"What?" Pete was caught off guard by the question. "Who?"

"Your parents! When are they coming to visit?"

Pete was surprised that his partner would actually bring up this topic, especially considering his reaction the other day. "Oh, uhh, in a couple of weeks. My mother said she'd let me know when they get the plane reservations. Why are you so interested?"

"I'm going to get to meet them right?"

"I suppose." Pete was hesitant. "Are you sure you want to?"

"Come on Pete, I'd love to meet your parents. Besides, from all the stories I've been hearing at the station, I think it might be kind of interesting."

Pete groaned as he realized that his fellow officers had been telling his young partner stories. "Okay. If you're sure you want to."

Jim noticed Pete's look. "Please, Pete. Just because my parents died several years ago, doesn't mean I'm going to burst into tears at the mere mention of parents. I got a little upset the other day because I haven't thought about it in a while, but that's all. You act like they just died last week."

"You're right, partner. Sorry. I think you're going to be disappointed. They're really not all that interesting."

"Oh please."

"1-Adam-12, 211 in progress at 165 Eastside Drive, handle code three."

Pete flipped on the lights and sirens and hurried toward the address.

"Fullman's Liquor Store." Jim declared, recognizing the address.

Nodding his head, Pete continued looking for the familiar store. He knew that the elderly couple who owned it had been robbery victims before. Hopefully they would get the chance to catch this one.

As they reached the address, Jim jumped out, and Mrs. Fullman hurried up to them. "Officer's, I think it's too late. They ran down the alley and got into a car, but I couldn't see it."

Jim headed down the alley anyway, hoping to catch a glimpse of the vehicle or perhaps find a witness. To his dismay, the alley and street on the other end were completely deserted. He walked back to the scene.

Pete was on the radio requesting an ambulance for Mr. Fullman. He noticed the down look on his partner's face. No chance this time. "Mrs. Fullman, did you get a good look at the men?"

The old woman shook her head. "No, by the time I reached the front of the store, they were running out the door. I think one of them had on a blue jacket. The other had on something gray."

Jim kneeled in front of the storekeeper, who was sitting on the front step of the store holding a handkerchief to the bump on his head. "What about you, Mr. Fullman?"

The man nodded. "You bet. The first one was about six feet tall, with dark toned skin, black hair and eyes. His friend was shorter and stockier. He had on a gray jacket and black pants. The taller one had on the blue jacket that had some inscription on it. I really couldn't read it. They both had Mexican accents."

The storekeeper kept rattling out information, that Reed wrote down. Pete was listening, but then he noticed a car pulling up behind their cruiser. A very concerned, late-middle aged woman exited and hurried up to the couple.

"Mom, Dad, what happened?" She turned to Pete. "Were they robbed again?"

"I'm afraid so, ma'am," Pete replied.

The woman bent down next to her father. "Dad, oh look at you."

"Ma'am, an ambulance is on the way," Reed informed her.

The storekeeper tried to reassure his daughter. "Lydia, I'm fine."

"You don't look fine to me." She stood up and glared at her parents. "This is the last straw. You two are going to sell this store. This is the third robbery this year. You are too old to be doing this!"

Mr. Fullman stood up on shaky feet, upset at his daughter's lecture. "Young lady, I will decide when to sell this store. I was running this store when I was bouncing you on my knee. I'll not have you tell me what to do."

Exasperated, the daughter looked at her father. "May I remind you that now you are bouncing my grandchildren on your knee. You are too old for this and this neighborhood has gotten worse." She turned to Pete and Jim for assistance. "Tell them, officers. This place is getting too dangerous for them."

Pete didn't want to get involved in the family dispute, but could see that Lydia was clearly expecting them to back her.

Jim cleared his throat and backed towards the cruiser. "I'd better get this description on the air."

Pete watched as his partner abandoned him to deal with the daughter. Luckily the ambulance pulled up and saved him. "Ma'am, I think we'd better let them take care of your father. This discussion can wait until later, please."

Indignantly the father stared at his daughter, as the ambulance attendants lowered him on the gurney. "You're right we'll discuss this later. I can't believe my own daughter would talk to me like that."

"Father, I love you and just want what's best for you. I worry about you and Mother at this store." Lydia followed her father to the ambulance.

Relieved, Pete finished getting the needed information from Mrs. Fullman. When the daughter returned, she placed a comforting arm around her mother. "Come, Mom. Let's lock the store and go to the hospital."

"Okay. Thank you, Officer Malloy." The great grandmother allowed her daughter to lead her away.

"Take care, Mrs. Fullman." Pete returned to the police car and watched the two disappear into the store. Then he looked at Jim. "Thanks for the backup, partner."

Jim feigned innocence. "Just doing my job. Besides, I figured you had it under control."

Pete glanced at his watch. Luckily it was almost the end of their shift.

"Though it is nice to meet a child who cares about her parents," Jim commented.

"Reed, don't start," Pete warned.

"Start what?" Jim asked. "All I was saying is that she does have good reason to be concerned. They probably shouldn't be running that store at their age."

"I think the Fullman's can make up their own minds about that matter. I don't believe in telling people how to run their family." Pete decided that he might as well head back to the station.

"Okay, no need to be so defensive about it," Jim countered.

"Who's being defensive?" Pete stated. Thankfully the station was only a few minutes away. He pulled into the parking lot and retrieved his equipment out of the trunk before Jim could carry the conversation any further.

Pete was trying to hurry down the hall, to put a little distance between him and his partner, when Sergeant MacDonald stepped in front of him. "Malloy!"

"Yes, Mac?" Pete stopped and Reed caught up, in case it was about something that happened earlier.

"We found out about that goose killing. Mr. Steinbrook is going to have to pay the city thirty dollars, but that's it. He's already agreed to pay." A smile was playing at the edge of Mac's mouth.

"Great. Is that all?" Pete was eager to get home and relax.

"Yes, there is. Malloy, I heard that your parents are due in town soon. I wanted to ask that you not bring them back to the station, or at least warn me, so I can take the day off."

Pete rolled his eyes. "I told you before, they came on their own. I didn't ask them to, they just decided to come. I can't watch them every minute they're here."

Mac tried to keep a serious supervisor's look to his face, but his eyes sparkled mischievously. "Malloy, the last thing I need at this station is your mother getting hysterical because you show up with a scratch; and I could deal without your father's theory on how more discipline would solve the teen drug problem."

"Right, Mac. I'll see what I can do, but no promises." Pete couldn't believe everyone was harassing him about this. "Is that all?"

"Yeah, get out of here."

Relieved, Pete started to head for the locker room, but he couldn't but help notice the amused look on his partner's face. Pete put his finger in front of Jim's nose. "I don't want to hear one word." He turned back around to head for the locker room.

Jim tried to stifle a giggle. "I wasn't going to say anything, Peter Joseph."

Twenty minutes later, Pete happily entered his nice and quiet apartment. He left his keys on the counter, pulled a beer out of the fridge, kicked his shoes off, propped his feet on his coffee table, and sighed. Alone at last. He turned on the television and watched the local news, before he bothered to get up and cook a TV dinner.

He was just getting ready to eat his salisbury steak and read a book when his phone rang. Reaching over from where he was sitting, he stuffed the first bite into his mouth. "Hello?"

"Peter, it's your mother."

Pete almost choked on the food. "Oh yeah, hi, Mom."

"I tried calling earlier, but you weren't there, dear."

"Mom, I was at work. My schedule varies, you know that."

"I can't help but worry with you living in that huge city all by yourself." Her concerned tone came over the line.

"I've been living in this city for a while now, I think I've got it pretty much figured out." Pete hoped that his mother couldn't see him rolling his eyes from Detroit.

"We're your parents, it's our job to worry. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that it looks like we'll be coming down the 20th. I hope that's good for you."

Pete glanced at his calendar. Next year would be better. "I don't know my schedule yet for that week. Mom, are you sure that you and Dad should travel all that far. I mean, wouldn't August be a better time?"

"Your father and I decided we didn't want to come when all those tourists are there. Besides, this will be a good time for us to see you before the busy summer. I know you and your friends have lots to do."

Pete sighed. "Yeah, summer's a busy time for us."

"Peter, do you not want us to come visit?" She was beginning to sense some of his hesitation.

Pete knew that if he weren't careful, he'd have his mother in tears. "No, Mom, I want you to come, really. I want it to be a good time for you. I just can't guarantee I'll be able to get any vacation time when you get here."

"Oh don't worry, dear. Your father and I can amuse ourselves while you're at work. We just want to see you. I really miss you. You know, your father is right, you could do police work in Detroit."

"I like Los Angeles. Mom, please let's not talk about that."

"Okay, okay, it was just your father's suggestion."

For another twenty minutes, Pete's mother kept him on the phone talking about her bridge club, his father's job, and the usual lectures about work, family, and not calling enough. Finally, Pete said goodbye to his mother. With a sigh, he took his cold TV dinner back to the oven and reheated it. It's just for a week; you can handle it for a week. You've faced cold-blooded murderers with loaded weapons--surely you can face your mother and father. Despite his reassurances to himself, Pete couldn't help but lightly bang his head on the wall and sigh.



"Officers, I'm so sorry. I'll try to not let it happen again. It's just that sometimes he's a handful." The gentleman standing by the police cruiser apologized. "These episodes are so hard to predict, but they've been more frequent, lately. He just thinks he's back in the war and takes off to fight the Battle of the Somme all over again. Thanks for bringing him home."

"Mr. Moreau, he didn't hurt anyone, but we are going to have to keep the rifle since its not properly registered." Pete finished writing out the paperwork and handed it to the gentleman.

"I understand. It's a relief to see the end of that damned relic anyway." The man took the report book and signed it.

Meanwhile, Jim was helping an elderly man, in a vintage World War I uniform, out of the patrol car. "Mr. Moreau, watch your head." The man banged it on the car door, but luckily he was still wearing the flat steel helmet.

"Thank you, lieutenant, you're dismissed." The elderly man addressed Jim, as he stepped onto the sidewalk, but then he just stood there as if expecting something.

Reed wasn't sure what the gentleman wanted. Malloy leaned over in his ear and whispered. "He's waiting for you to salute him, Jim."

"What? Oh, okay." Feeling a little awkward, Jim raised his hand to the rim of his hat.

The elderly man then briskly returned the salute and started walking towards the house.

The son stopped his father. "Just one minute, Major."

The war veteran stopped and looked at his son. "What do you want?"

"Where did you think you were going? This is Los Angeles, not France, and who authorized you to go on this mission anyway?"

Major Moreau stood up proudly to his full height. "I'll have you know that I was on an important mission for the General. If you had read the dispatch, you'd know that. Who are you to talk to me like that any how?"

"I'm a civilian, your rank means nothing." Mr. Moreau handed Pete his report book back. "Thanks again, officers."

Jim smiled back. "Any time."

Then Mr. Moreau turned around and escorted Major Moreau back into the house. "Dad, I swear, the next time you pull a stunt like this, it's the VA home."

Back in the patrol car, Jim commented. "What a nice man. It's a shame to see him lose his mind like that."

Pete nodded absentmindedly. He really wasn't in a good mood today. Ever since he had talked to his mother on the phone, he could do nothing else but dread the coming of the 20th.

"Hey, Pete look at that!" Jim leaned forward in his seat and pointed out the front window.

"What?" Pete looked around, realizing that he hadn't been paying attention to his partner.

"Nothing," Jim commented. "I just wanted to see if you're off fighting the Battle of the Somme, too."

"Very funny." Pete knew his partner had been right. "I just can't stop thinking about it."

"What, your parents coming?"

"Yeah, Mom called me again last night. They're coming on the 20th." Pete sighed. It was only three weeks away.

"Great!" Jim smiled. "I'll tell Jean. She wants to ask them over for dinner."

"Oh that will help." Pete moaned. "They've already been lecturing me about why I'm not married and popping out grandchildren for them. Once they meet you, Jean, and Jimmy, I'll never hear the end of it."

Jim couldn't keep the amused smile off of his face. "I could ask Jean. Perhaps you could borrow her and Jimmy for the week. I'll be the swinging bachelor. Maybe that would satisfy your parents."

"Jim!" Pete couldn't believe his partner. "That's not going to help."

A laugh burst out from Jim. "Sorry, Pete, that look on your face was funny."

"This isn't funny, Jim." Pete tried to explain. "I've been hearing the same lecture for years. My father thinks I'm too wild and that he didn't discipline me enough when I was a kid. The last time we talked he told me that I'd never be able to get married if I didn't settle down."

"Maybe he has a point." Jim joked.

Pete wasn't finding this conversation amusing. "Discipline was my father's solution for everything. Every time I screwed up, he'd add a new rule or ground me. The more rules he piled on, the more I wanted to break them. Did your father ever do that?"

Trying to be serious, Jim shook his head. "No, my parents trusted Janet and me. We always came home at a reasonable time, so they never set rules or restrictions. Of course, I never stole my father's car either."

Pete rolled his eyes. Apparently Jim's parents had been as squeaky clean as he was. "Details. I was sixteen and just wanted some freedom. I felt trapped in that house."

"Pete, you know it sounds like to me, that maybe you're just a little upset about how they treated you in high school, but that was a long time ago. Why does it still bother you?"

"Because it didn't end after high school." Pete waved his hand at Jim. "I made the mistake of briefly moving back home after I got out of the military and my parents tried to put the same rules on me, like I was seventeen. The only way I could be free from them was to move out. Even then, as long as they lived nearby, they were always keeping tabs on me. It wasn't until they moved back to Detroit, that I felt like I wasn't being watched."

"I think you're overreacting a little," Jim stated.

"1-Adam-12, vandalism, 518 Archer Boulevard, handle code two."

With a turn of the wheel, Pete sent the cruiser toward the address. As they approached the area, they spotted two teenagers spray-painting obscenities on the wall of a brick fence, near a church. Before Pete could bring the car to a stop, Jim bailed out and yelled at the kids.

The two bolted in different directions. Jim took off after the one that headed across the church lawn. Pete followed the kid who was running up the sidewalk, with the spray can still in his hand. The young boy realized that the police car was easily keeping up with him, so he turned down an alley crowded with trashcans. After reporting the situation on the radio, Pete left the car and continued the chase on foot.

He could see the kid looking back at him, but Pete was having no trouble keeping up. The boy left the alley, ran across the street, and hopped over a wooden fence. Pete followed him over, but unfortunately he wasn't as graceful, and slipped off of some crates stacked on the other end. With a grunt, he hit the ground, but easily rolled back to his feet and continued the chase.

When they reached a residential street, he put on a burst of speed and launched himself at the vandal. Grabbing the kid's feet, the suspect tumbled to the ground.

Angry, the kid rolled over and tried to kick his captor, but Pete managed to wrap his arms around the kid's legs and stop him. "Give it up, son."

"Bug off, fuzz." The boy raised the can of paint and aimed it at Pete's face.

At the last minute, Pete turned his head and avoided getting the paint in his eyes. With one hand, he kept a hold on the kid's legs, and with the other, he groped at the paint can. Finally he grabbed the can, twisted it and the boy's wrist. With a cry of pain, the boy allowed Pete to take the spray can away from him. Free from the threat, Pete tossed the can aside and finally flipped the boy on his stomach to hand cuff him.

With his prisoner secured, Pete sighed as he pulled out a handkerchief and tried to wipe some of the bright orange paint off his face and hands. After that futile effort, Pete angrily yanked the young man to his feet. He didn't look more than fourteen years old. "What's your name, son?"

"None of your business, pig!" the boy spat back at him.

Pete patted him down and found a wallet. He opened it up and found a library card inside. "Okay, Tony R. Vitollio, you are under arrest." With a shove, Pete started his suspect walking back towards the police car.

"You realize you're in trouble, Tony?" Pete warned the kid.

"Whatever. So they'll send me to juvey?" Tony was still try to jerk himself out of Pete's grasp.

"We'll have to call your parents from the station. It sounds like you've been through this before."

"Go ahead, call my parents. A lot of good it'll do you. My dad's probably still passed out from last night's binge and my mom, she's probably flying higher then he is." The boy rolled his eyes. "They don't give a shit what I do."

"Well, I do, Tony." Pete was relieved to see Reed pulling the cruiser up. He had the other graffiti artist sitting in the front next to him.

Jim exited the driver's side and opened the back door for Pete. He reached out and took the paint can from Pete. "Swamp Holly Orange, nice color. You look like a construction barrel."

"Laugh all you want, partner. I just hope this stuff comes out." Pete placed his charge in the back seat. "You might as well drive us to the station."

"You're just trying to be nice to me so I won't tease you." Jim laughed, as he got behind the wheel.

Pete finally got a chance to see the orange streak down the side of his face and uniform in the rearview mirror. He wasn't looking forward to the remarks he was going to get when he hit the station.

Jim pulled the cruiser into the parking lot and Pete kept praying that the station would be empty for a change. When they first walked into the hallway, it was, but unfortunately not for long. Woods exited the restroom laughing, but stopped when he saw Pete. His jaw dropped.

Pete groaned; where there was Woods, Wells couldn't be too far off. Sure enough, a laugh came from behind Woods, and his smaller partner walked around him. "Malloy, what are you booking that poor kid for, defacing a police officer?"

Woods joined in on the teasing. "Hey Wells, lay off, Pete's just trying to connect with the younger generation. All the kids are painting their hair these days."

Sergeant MacDonald walked around the corner, reading a file, when he noticed the group standing there. "Malloy, you need to speak with your decorator. I'd have picked a better color than orange."

Jim stood there trying not to laugh at the abuse Pete was taking. Reaching out, he took Tony from Pete, and pushed the two boys towards the holding room. "I'll book them, partner. Go clean up."

"Thanks." Pete headed for the locker room as fast as he could, without actually running. It was going to take a while to live this one down.

Half an hour later, he was in a clean uniform, but there was still an orange tint to his hair. Reed caught him looking at it in the mirror, as he re-entered the vehicle. "Don't worry, the reports are all done. If we get put on traffic duty because of your hair, I'll never forgive you."

"Ha, ha." Pete started the car and backed out of the police lot. "I guess I'll just have to get my hair cut before tomorrow night."

"Got a hot date?" Jim asked.

"Yeah," Pete finally smiled. "I met this really nice girl at the library the other day. Her name is Stephanie and she's really pretty."

"The library?" Jim asked, not sure he heard right.

Pete looked at Jim, a little defensive. "Hey, I can read. They have a great mystery section. She helped me find a book I've been looking for. I asked her out and she said yes."

"I've got a hot date, too." Jim joked. "Jean and I are going to leave Jimmy at the neighbors and finally have a night just for us. It's been so long."

"Good, you two could use a nice relaxing evening." Pete was truly looking forward to his days off. As they were driving, a car made an illegal turn in front of them. Flipping on the lights, he pulled the cruiser up behind the suspect vehicle.

"This one's yours." Jim handed him the ticket book.

"Okay." Pete exited the car and waited as Jim moved over to the other side of the vehicle. As he walked up to the man driving the car, he noticed three giggling girls in the back seat.

"Daddy's going to get a ticket." One of them laughed.

Pete tried to keep a serious look on his face. "Sir, may I see your driver's license and registration."

"Okay, officer." The man retrieved the documents. "I didn't realize I did anything wrong."

"Mr. Johnson, you made an illegal turn back there." Pete accepted the papers. As he prepared to write the ticket, he tried to ignore the continued giggling from the girls in the back.

"Mary, look at his hair. It's half orange." Giggled one.

"Cool. I think I'll do that to my hair too."

Pete could feel the red creeping up in his face. He decided to spare the man and handed Mr. Johnson back his papers. "I'm going to let you off with a warning. Just drive more carefully, Mr. Johnson."

"Right, officer." With a sigh of relief, the father started his car forward.

Glad that the mirthful trio was gone, Pete looked up at Jim. He could tell that his partner had heard the girls, because he was biting his lip to keep from laughing. This is going to be a long shift.


The next evening:

"He actually did it!" Wells proclaimed, as he and Woods cleared from their code seven on the evening shift.

"Who did what?" asked Woods.

"That phone call I got from my wife, my pop went sky diving this afternoon. He found some cheap guy at the airport, who gave him quick lessons, and then took him for a spin. Can you believe the crazy old coot?" Wells shook his head in disbelief.

Woods smiled. "I think its great, a man at his age able to do things like that."

Wells gave his trademark smirk. "Oh wait, it gets better. Apparently, the guy didn't get into teaching landings very well. The old man broke his leg when he hit the ground. Betty was just calling to tell me that he's going to be in the hospital for a while, and better yet, wheelchair bound after that. It's going to kill him."

"Oh, I'm sorry, Wells." Woods sympathized. "Are you sure you don't need to go to the hospital and see him?"

"Nah," Wells kept his eye on the road ahead. "Betty said he's doing fine and already flirting with the nurses. He'll never quit until he's dead, I tell ya."

Woods gave a small laugh. "We should all be as lucky as your father."

"Right," Wells sadly shook his head. "This means that Betty is going to have a lot more on her hands then just the kids. That's the last thing she needs, an invalid in the house."

"Why don't you put your father in a retirement home? They would be able to take care of him and Betty wouldn't have to," Woods suggested.

"What!" Wells stared at him indignantly. "I will not abandon my father in some pit to die. That's cruel, besides, I know he'd never go."

"It was just a suggestion." Woods replied patiently.

Then the radio squawked. "1-Adam-36, report of 502, drunk driver, blue Ford, plates Ocean Ida Boy 193, spotted heading south on Ventura, near Blake Blvd."

Woods leaned over and keyed the mic. "1-Adam-36, roger."

Wells turned the car onto Ventura and headed for the named intersection, hoping to spot the vehicle. "Damn drunk drivers. This is about the right time of night, too."

"Yep," Woods kept up a watch for the blue Ford. He noticed a figure running towards them, waving his hands to get their attention.

Wells pulled the car over to the curb and the man ran up to Woods' window. "Officers, there's just been a car accident, not two blocks away. This blue Ford ran the stop sign and hit another car. Please, hurry."

"Hop in and show us where," Woods instructed.

Quickly, the man obliged, and pointed the way straight-ahead. True to his word, several blocks further, over a hill, there was a car accident in the intersection. A blue Ford, with plates OIB 193, was rammed into the passenger side of a station wagon.

Woods grabbed the radio to report the accident, as Wells jumped out to check on the condition of the occupants in the station wagon. As he ran around the back, he could see the blond hair of the unconscious woman in the passenger side. At the other door, a man, with dark brown hair, was slumped over the steering wheel groaning.

"Hey mister, take it easy." Wells reached through the open window, to gently help the man. The injured driver held a hand up to his head and leaned back in his seat. In shock, Wells took a step back when he realized that he was staring at Jim Reed's face. "Oh God."

"Wha…wha…" Jim mumbled, still stunned from the impact of the other vehicle.

Wells reached down to open the door to Jim's side of the car. "Reed, take it easy."

Woods came running around the back of the car. "The driver of the Ford is dead. An ambulance and the fire department are on the way. How are these people?"

With real concern, Wells looked at his partner. "It's Jim and Jean Reed. You'd better get a second ambulance and let Mac know."

Woods stood and stared in disbelief for a second. "Oh no." He hurried back to the patrol car and grabbed the radio mic. "This is 1-Adam-36, requesting additional ambulance at TA at Ventura and Terrace, and for 1-L-20 to meet us on TAC two."

"Roger 1-Adam-36, additional ambulance requested at TA at Ventura and Terrace; 1-L-20 meet 1-Adam-36 on TAC two," repeated the radio's voice.

Woods turned to the channel and waited nervously for his supervisor's voice.

"1-L-20 to 1-Adam-36, go."

"Mac, we've got an ID on the victims for our TA," Woods took a deep breathe. "It's Jim Reed and his wife."

"Roger 1-Adam-36, I'll notify next of kin. Woods, how are they?"

"Mac, I just got a quick look. Jim seems okay, but Jean's trapped in the vehicle."

"Roger, I'm on my way. Keep me updated. 1-L-20 out."

Woods replaced the radio mic and sighed, as he looked at the bashed in station wagon. Reluctantly, he pulled flares out of the back of his patrol car and went about his job.

Meanwhile, Wells stayed with Jim. "Hey kid, just relax. You're going to be fine."

Jim's glassy eyes seemed to clear a bit, as he looked at Wells. "What are you doing here? What happened?"

"You've had a TA, don't worry, help's on the way." Wells wanted to keep Jim's attention on him. Unfortunately, it didn't work when Jean suddenly groaned.

Jim remembered his wife; he turned in his car and stared at her. The blood flowing down her face alarmed him. "Jean!" He reached over to touch her.

"Reed," Wells leaned over to pull Jim back into his seat. "Don't move her. Let the rescue guys handle that." He found himself struggling with the younger man, despite his weakened condition.

"Oh my God, Jean." Jim's eyes showed his fear. "Don't let her die."

Wells practically climbed into the car to get Jim to turn his face away from her. "Reed, look at me! Look at me!"

The panicked young husband finally turned away from his wife. It killed Wells to see his co-worker in this position. "Where's Jimmy?" He had noticed the empty child seat in the back.

"What?" Jim's eyes were still glassy, indicating that he probably had some sort of head injury. He was having trouble focusing on Wells.

"Where's your son, Jimmy? Where's the baby?" Wells wanted to make sure their son hadn't been thrown from the car during the accident.

"Uhh," Jim placed his hands against his head, as if thinking were painful. "At the neighbors. Please, don't let Jean die."

"Jim, listen! Do you hear the sirens? Help's on the way. We're not going to let her die." Wells tried to keep Jim's mind off of his wife's condition.

Soon the fire department engine, rescue truck, and an ambulance arrived on the scene. The ambulance attendants pulled up a gurney to the driver's side of the vehicle. Wells watched as several firemen surveyed the scene, discussing how to get Jean out of the car.

The attendants leaned in towards Wells. "Let's get him out first," the nearest one spoke.

"Right." Wells released Jim's seat belt and backed out of the car. Then he reached down and started to help Jim out of the vehicle.

A little indignant, Jim pushed Wells away. "I'm fine." Jim tried to shove himself up from the car seat, but a dizzy spell sent him falling towards the pavement.

Wells managed to keep Reed from falling too far. "Whoa there, kid, just let us do the work." With the help of one of the attendants, they maneuvered Jim over to the gurney and started to lay him back on it.

At that moment, the firemen began prying open Jean's door. Unfortunately she was semi-conscious and responded with a scream of pain, as the moving metal exposed one of her injuries.

Jim shot up from the gurney. "Jean! They're hurting her."

Wells reached out and forced Jim back. "Reed, they're trying to help her, now relax."

The young husband was not going to hear any of it. Again Jim tried to rise up off of the gurney. His wife's screams were tearing at his heart. "No, I need to be with her."

"Reed, lay down or so help me I'll deck you one!" Wells put all of his strength into holding Jim on the gurney so the attendants could strap him down.

The attendants wheeled him toward the waiting ambulance. "Officer Wells, maybe you'd better come with us to help control him."

"You bet." Wells didn't want Jim to be alone anyway. He waved at Woods, to get his attention, and then pointed at the ambulance. Woods nodded, indicating he understood, and then returned to assisting the firemen extracting Jean from the ruined station wagon. Wells jumped into the back of the ambulance and nodded. "Let's go."

Jim still pleaded his case. "Wells, let me go. I need to be with her!"

"Woods is with her; she'll be fine. You need to relax. Let these men take care of you." Wells watched the young man with concern.

The attendant looked at Wells. "You know this man?"

"Yes, his name is Jim Reed. He's a fellow police officer. The woman is his wife, Jean." Wells kept his arms on Jim's shoulders trying to keep the young man from jostling himself anymore.

Halfway to the hospital, Jim grew tired and his eyes began to droop. "Wells, I can't lose her."

"You're not going to, kid." Wells tried to reassure him, as Jim finally fell silent and closed his eyes.

Wells was very relieved when they reached the hospital and pulled the gurney towards an examination room; but to his dismay a nurse stopped him from entering.

The door closed in his face. With a sigh, he turned away from the door and headed for the nurses' station. "I might as well visit my crazy old man while I'm here," he mumbled.


The lights were turned down low and soft jazz music was playing on the stereo. Pete handed a glass of red wine to the beautiful redhead sitting on his couch. He smiled and sat down next to her. She cuddled up to him as they slowly sipped the wine. Pete loved how she smelled and having her warmth next to him. This night was going very well.

"That meal was terrific." Stephanie whispered. "But what's for dessert?"

Pete smiled as he placed his arm around her. "That's a surprise."

"Ohh, I love surprises." Their eyes met and slowly the distance between them began to close.

Pete could just about taste her gorgeous lips when suddenly the phone rang. The moment was gone and Pete sighed as he moved to set his glass on the side table.

Stephanie reached up with her arms to hold him back. "Don't get that."

"Stephanie, I have to." Pete was reluctant to get up, but the phone kept ringing. Gently he moved away from her. Please, don't be my mother.

He hurried across the living room, to the small kitchen, where the phone was hanging on the wall. "Hello?"

"Pete, this is Mac. I'm sorry to call at this hour, but it's important."

Somehow Pete knew that his wonderful evening with the beautiful girl from the library was over. "What's up Mac?"

"Jim and Jean were involved in a traffic accident tonight."

"What!" Pete forgot about his date as he stood straight up. "Are they okay? What happened?"

"I don't know much of the details. I don't think Jim is hurt bad, but Jean may be. I thought you might want to know. I'm about to head down to Central Receiving to find out."

"I'm on my way too. Mac, did you get a hold of their families?" Pete was already grabbing his car keys off of the counter.

"I managed to get a hold of Jim's sister, but there is no answer at Jean's parents number. If you know of anyone else to call, feel free. I'll meet you at the hospital."

"Right, thanks for calling, Mac." Pete hung up the phone and noticed his date sitting on the couch, with a pouting look on her pretty face. "Stephanie, I'm sorry. My partner and his wife were just in an auto accident. I have to go to the hospital. I'll make it up to you."

With a sigh, Stephanie got up from the couch and retrieved her sweater. "I'm sorry, Pete. I hope they're okay."

"I'll take you home. I'll give you a call, I promise." Quickly he led her to his car and dropped her off at her mother's house. Then he sped to the hospital as fast as he dared.

Upon entering the lobby, Pete noticed Mac talking to Wells and Woods over by the chairs. He walked up to them. "How are they?" Pete wasn't going to mince words, he had imagined the worse on the drive over.

Wells spoke first. "Jim's fine, Pete. It's Jean we're worried about."

Woods sighed, remembering the horrible task of getting her out of the vehicle. "She's in surgery now. We're waiting for the doctor."

Pete didn't feel too reassured by the look on Woods' face. "How did it happen?"

Mac spoke up. "Preliminary report indicates that a drunk driver ran a stop sign and hit the right rear of their station wagon. All of the witnesses at the scene agree that it was not Jim's fault. There is no way he could have seen that car coming with that hill in the way. The blue Ford flew over the top and they didn't have a chance."

Wells sadly shook his head. "We were only a couple blocks behind that creep. If only we'd gotten that call a little sooner, maybe we could have stopped him."

"Yeah, and maybe not." Mac said. "Don't go on about what ifs. You did your job."

"What about the driver of the Ford?" Pete asked.

Mac sighed, glancing at a shocked older couple sitting in a corner of the lobby. "The kid never had a chance. He went through the windshield. He was only nineteen, but there were empty whiskey bottles in the vehicle."

A man in a white coat approached the group. He looked at Wells. "Are you the officer that brought in Jim Reed?"

"Yes." Wells pointed at Mac. "This is my supervisor."

Mac stepped towards the doctor. "Jim Reed works for the police department, I'm here as his supervisor as well. His family is on the way."

The doctor nodded. "He is doing fine. He has a mild concussion and a few cuts and bruises, but no serious injuries. We're going to keep him overnight for observation."

Pete stepped forward. "Can we see him? I'm his partner."

The doctor nodded. "He may not be too coherent. We gave him a mild sedative to calm him down. He was rather upset when he first arrived." The doctor pointed down the hall. "We just moved him upstairs. I'll have a nurse take you to his room in a minute."

"Thanks." Before the doctor could leave, Pete stopped him. "Any word on his wife, Jean Reed?"

The doctor shook his head no. "I'll check for you, though." With that, he walked down the hall. A few minutes later, a nurse appeared and indicated that they could visit Jim one at a time. Pete was the first to follow her up to the second floor, room 220.

Quietly he pushed open the door. Jim lay in the bed, with a nurse still fussing over him. Pete gave a gentle smile as he approached his partner. He noticed the pale look on Jim's face, as well as, a few stitched cuts and bruises. "Hey partner, how are you doing?"

Jim looked up at Pete, but couldn't hide the tired look on his face. "Hey, Pete. I'm okay." His words were a little slurred, probably from the medication.

Finally the nurse finished with Jim and left the room. Pete watched as his partner tried to fight his heavy eyelids.

"Pete…" Jim worked on focusing on his friend. "Jean. Have you heard about Jean?"

Pete shook his head. "She's still being tended to, but don't worry. I'm sure she's getting good care."

Jim's hands moved nervously as he tried to move them to his head. "They won't tell me. She's going to die, I just know it."

"Hey, Jim," Pete gently placed his hand on Jim's arm to prevent him from yanking out his IV. "She's alive, that's what's important. No one's going to die." He was concerned by the look on his friend's face. Jim was taking this hard.

"No, you don't understand." Jim tried to sit up in his bed. "I saw all the blood, she was screaming…" Jim was getting himself worked up again.

Pete reached forward to gently force Jim back. "You're not helping any. Just imagine how worried Jean will be about you."

"Dammit, Pete. I'm not hurt!" Jim banged his fist on his bed. "They won't let me be with her."

"The doctors are doing what they feel is best. There is nothing you can do right now. Please, relax or I'll go get that nurse to tie you down."

The threat seemed to work for Jim slumped back in his bed. "I just want to see her."

Before Pete could say anything more, the door slowly opened and a young woman peered into the room. Her long brown hair, blue eyes, and pretty features gave away her relation to Jim.

"Jim?" Her quiet voice did not hide her concern for her little brother. "Are you okay?"

Her presence seemed to calm Jim even further. "Yes, Janet, I'm fine."

"Hello, Pete." She nodded a greeting, as she approached the bed, and gently grasped one of Jim's hands.

Pete backed out of the way to give her some room. "Jim, I tell you what. I'll go find out about Jean. I'll be back as soon as I know anything."

"Pete, you don't have to leave." Janet reassured him.

Pete didn't want to interfere with family time. "I'll be right back."

Janet gave him a brave smile and returned her attention to her brother. She gently wiped a strand of Jim's hair back from his forehead. She spoke to him so quietly that Pete couldn't hear what she said.

Pete walked over to the door, but hesitated and took one look back. His partner was trying to present a stoic front for his sister as she examined him. Janet seemed to see through it and pulled Jim into a comforting hug. Pete exited, feeling guilty for witnessing the private moment, and hurried downstairs.

He found Mac and a few other officers talking in the lobby. Wells and Woods must have gone back on patrol. As Pete walked up, the two officers nodded a greeting, retrieved their notebook from Mac, and left the hospital.

"Did you see Janet?" Mac asked.

"Yeah," Pete rubbed the back of neck. "I left her with Jim. Any word on Jean yet?"

Mac shook his head no.

A man with black hair and a mustache, wearing a tan suit walked up to them. Pete sighed realizing that it was Jim's brother-in-law. Though Pete had only met the man once, it had been long enough to learn that Stephen didn't like police officers much, or at least he didn't approve of Jim being one.

"Officer Malloy, Sergeant MacDonald." He nodded a greeting, but had a serious look on his face. "So what's the news?"

"Jim's fine. Janet's with him now. As far as we know Jean's still in surgery." Pete replied.

Stephen shoved his hands in pockets. "So what happened?"

Mac sighed, as he had to relay the same story again. "A drunk driver ran a stop sign. He probably topped the hill doing about seventy miles an hour. There was no way Jim could have seen him coming."

Anger flashed on Stephen's face. "A drunk driver! Why can't you stop those people!"

Mac could sense Stephen's hostility. "Mr. Garrett, we do the best we can, but we can't stop every car in Los Angeles on a Friday night and smell their breath."

With a quick move, Stephen ran his hand through his jet-black hair, brushing his bangs further back on his forehead. "A lot of good it does Jim to be a cop, not even he's safe. This is the last thing they needed."

The sound of a man clearing his throat turned the group's attention to the elderly man in scrubs. "Are you folks waiting for information on Jean Reed?"

Stephen stepped forward. "Yes, she's my brother-in-law's wife."

The doctor nodded. "I'm Dr. Chang. I operated on Mrs. Reed. Her condition is critical, but I'm optimistic. She's being moved to ICU right now."

"How bad is she injured?" Stephen was taking charge of the situation.

"Her right leg was broken, three cracked ribs, a concussion, plus some blood loss. However, she's got a strong pulse and has already shown some signs of regaining consciousness. I'm rather optimistic. She'll be here for a while, but she'll pull through." The doctor smiled.

The look on Stephen's face was one of obvious relief. "Thanks, Doc."

Pete could tell, regardless of his opinion of Jim's job, Stephen was genuinely concerned about the Reeds.

After that good news, Stephen turned and looked at Pete and Mac. "Hey guys, I'm sorry for that little outburst. I guess I was just a little angry that this whole situation is happening."

Mac patted Stephen on the shoulder. "I understand, Mr. Garrett. I need to get back to work."

"Thanks, really." Stephen held out his hand and gave the sergeant a firm handshake.

Pete felt a little awkward standing there alone with Stephen, but Janet appeared and gently took her husband's arm. Stephen turned to put his arm around her and gave her the news about Jean.

"Ohh, that's such a relief. Jim's asleep, but he's so worried about her." Janet clung to her husband. "Stephen, I was so scared when I heard. I'm still worried about him." Tears began to well up in her eyes and streak down her face.

Stephen gently pulled his wife to arm's length and looked her in the eyes. "Janet, everything is going to be okay. Jim needs you to be strong right now." He reached up and wiped a tear from her cheek.

Janet regained control of her emotions and nodded her head. "I know. It's just that for a second it felt like Mom and Dad all over again." She took a deep breath and swept her hair behind her ears. "Stephen, I need you to do me a favor."

"What ever you need, sweetheart."

"Jim told me that Jean's parents are on vacation. The number you can reach them at is on the fridge." Janet reached into her purse and pulled out a key, to hand to her husband. "That key should let you in. Also, Jimmy is at the neighbor's. I don't want to leave him there, so go ahead and pick him up. While you're at the house, you might as well collect the baby's things and some of Jim's too. They'll be staying with us for a few days."

Stephen accepted the key, but gave his wife a questioning look. "Janet, are you sure Jim should stay with us? He's a grown man now."

Janet gave her husband a stern look. "I know the doctor said he's not hurt, but I'm not going to have him staying alone. I'm not going to take any chances, Stephen. Just don't lecture him and things should be fine."

"Okay, he's your brother. I'll take Jimmy to my sister's for tonight. When are they releasing Jim?"

"Tomorrow morning. I'm going to stay here tonight, at least until Jean's parents can get here. Just come get us in the morning."

Stephen nodded his head. "Okay." He paused before walking away. "Be strong, Janet. I love you."

"I love you too. Thanks, honey." Janet reached up and gave her husband a kiss. She watched him walk out the door and then turned to face Pete. "I don't suppose you could stay with Jim for a little while longer? I'd like to sit with Jean, so that she's not alone."

Pete placed a comforting arm around Janet shoulders. "That's why I'm here. I spend so much time next to him I can hardly sleep without him anyway."

Janet gave a small laugh. "It's nice to know I'm not the only one who's had to suffer his bad jokes."

Pete laughed as well. "I don't know how you managed growing up with him." He watched Jim's sister walk over to the nurses station and knew she had a strong spirit. His partner was in good hands with such a caring sibling.

Walking up to Jim's room, he quietly opened the door and noticed that Jim was still asleep. Pulling up a chair, he made himself comfortable and kept watch over his partner.

It wasn't until the nurse came in to roust Jim for a medical check-up, that Pete had the chance to tell him that Jean was going to be okay. Pete hoped that this would make Jim happy, but the look on his friend's face indicated that he didn't really believe it.

"Pete," Jim was falling asleep again after the nurse left. "Why won't they let me see her?" He mumbled.

"Don't worry partner. You'll see her in the morning." Pete gave him a reassuring pat on the shoulder. However, Jim's eyes were already closed and Pete couldn't be sure that his partner had heard him. He sighed and again made himself comfortable in the chair.

Part II