In Another's Shoes, Part 2
Jim opened his eyes when he felt a coughing fit come on. When it was over it felt like his head was going to explode. He felt a gentle hand on his shoulder as he lay back in the chair.
"Why don't you go back to bed, Jim?" Emma couldn't hide her concern. She had managed to get little Jimmy to take a short nap, but big Jim was proving to be a tougher nut to crack.
Shaking his head stubbornly, Jim refused to be swayed. "This chair is more comfortable. Why don't we watch TV?"
"Alright, have it your way." Emma got up and turned on the television. There wasn't much of interest on but they managed to find a soap opera that Emma liked. "I'm afraid you're not going to get much better than this."
Jim just nodded his head. "Actually this will do just fine. Did they ever solve that murder yet?"
Emma laughed as she realized that Jim had watched this show before. "Oh the intrepid cop can't resist any unsolved mystery."
Jim tried to laugh but ended up coughing instead. He glanced up at the clock and realized it was almost four-thirty. "It's one of Jean's favorites. She's always talking about it. Speaking of which, how long ago did she leave?"
Settling back on the couch, Emma looked at her own watch. "She left at two o'clock. I'm sure she'll be home soon. Roger will have to deal with a late dinner but it won't kill him."
The room fell silent as the two relaxed and watched the television. The quiet only lasted for a little while, however, for fifteen minutes later a five-year-old came bursting into the room. "I'm done with my nap!" Seeing the television on, he got excited. "Is it time for cartoons?"
Jimmy tried to climb up into Jim's lap. Emma retrieved him before he could crawl all over his ill father. "Dear, let your father relax. Let's check the channels and see if we can find one."
After a few more channels they found Bugs Bunny playing. The three were laughing at the cartoons when the picture suddenly changed. A news anchor came on. "We interrupt this regularly scheduled programming to bring you an important news story. A branch of the Central Bank is currently being robbed."
Despite his pounding head, Jim sat up straighter in his chair. What a day to be gone from work. He watched as they cut to a live news reporter.
"Thanks John, I'm correspondent Kyle Daily, here live at the Central bank, where the police currently have the bank surrounded. There is a robbery in progress. At this time we don't know how many robbers are involved, but we do know that they have hostages inside and have already threatened to kill them."
"Oh dear," Emma saw the disturbing news and moved to change the channel, not wanting little Jimmy to see it, but the next channel also had the same story on. She was about to turn the television off.
"Emma, wait!" Jim sounded insistent. "Don't turn it off!"
She backed away and watched as the news anchor described the chaotic scene surrounding the bank. Finally the news camera showed a good look at the front of the bank, with police cars and policeman lined up with loaded weapons pointing at the bank. "Why do you want to watch this dreadful stuff?"
Jim choked on the words as he looked at the clock again and realized that it was now almost five-thirty and Jean was still not home. "Emma, that's our bank!"
Emma took a shocked step back and covered her mouth. She now remembered that going to the bank was one of Jean's chores. "Dear God!"
Mac came up beside Pete and Woods, who knelt by the police cars watching the mute windows of the bank. "Hey, you and Woods were here first right?"
Pete nodded as he turned around and leaned his back against the car. "Yeah, but Mac, we just waited for backup. We didn't try to go in. I used the bullhorn to make it sound like we had the bank surrounded and then waited for the rest of you to show up."
Mac nodded, realizing that Pete's motive had been to try and prevent the bank robbers from escaping before help could arrive. "So you have no idea how many there are in there?"
"None, Mac," Pete sighed. After the first blast from the shotgun they had heard nothing from in the bank. He hoped that was a good sign. "Any luck with calling them on the phone?"
With a sigh, Mac shook his head. "No, he didn't want to talk and now they can't get them back on the phone again. I think they destroyed the phones. Listen, Malloy; we need more information before we can get the SWAT teams down here. We need someone to go in that bank and try to negotiate face to face." MacDonald then gave Pete a pointed look.
It didn't take Pete long to figure out what his boss wanted. "And you want someone just crazy enough to go in there and do it, right?"
"You and Woods got here first, so I figured I give you the first chance to volunteer. Pete, I trust you." Mac was serious; he knew who his best officer was and wanted Malloy in there.
Glancing over the police cruiser at the bank again, Pete contemplated the option. No doubt Judy would not be happy with him for taking such a risk, but he felt confident he could do it. Shoot, everyone kept telling him he could talk the Devil out anything if he had a mind. "All right, Mac. What do you need?"
Getting down to business, Mac explained what information they needed from Pete. "Essentially I need you to do two things at once. First I need to know how many robbers, what kind of weapons they have, how many hostages, their conditions and the layout of the bank. Essentially any information we will need to execute an assault on the building. We don't want to go in blind. Second, I need you to try and get the hostages released or at least buy some time for us to get SWAT down here. Do you think you can do that?"
Pete didn't hesitate. "Yeah, I can do that."
"Alright, take your gun off and get ready. I'm going to try and get the okay from them via the bullhorn to send you in. Whatever you do, don't make it obvious why you're going in there. Focus on negotiating with them. Hopefully we won't even need SWAT." Mac hurried over to another cruiser and retrieved the bullhorn from one of the officers.
"You in the bank, we want to talk." Mac waited for a response.
The door cracked open again but they still couldn't tell any information about the person yelling from the door. "I thought I made myself clear, pig! Where's our truck?"
Mac took a deep breath and hoped that this would work. "We need more information before we can get the truck. We'd like to send an unarmed officer in to negotiate the details. He'll get all the information and then bring it out back to us."
The man laughed from the door. "You want to send a pig in here to talk to me?"
Still using the bullhorn, "I don't think yelling across the street is very effective communication. Please, no tricks, just one officer who will talk to you on the level."
"Hang on, man." The figure disappeared in the door of the bank. Mac could only guess at what he was doing, probably conferring with his buddies.
Finally the figure popped back out. "Fine, send in your stooge but if you try any tricks you get him back full of holes, you got that?"
"We understand. Does this mean if we cooperate you'll allow him to leave unharmed?" Mac wanted to make sure that he was going to get Malloy back in one piece. He had no intention of adding to the hostages or body count.
"Yeah, sure, pig. No bacon yet." The figure laughed at his joke and disappeared into the bank.
Mac looked over at Pete and nodded.
Pete took a deep breath and prayed that Judy wouldn't kill him once she found out he volunteered for this. Then he slowly stood up. He walked in front of his police cruiser and stopped. Now he was in full view of the bank. With his left hand, and the right still in the air, he took off his gun belt and left it lying on top of the police car. Then he rolled up his shirt sleeves to show that he had nothing there. The chill of the early evening air added to the other goose bumps growing on his skin.
Once he hoped that he had sufficiently proved that he was unarmed, he started walking toward the bank with slow, deliberate steps. He was aware that at any minute they could open fire, and there was nowhere for him to go. As he got closer to the bank he could see a pair of eyes watching him from a window, and he could also see the barrel of a shotgun pointed in his general direction. This short walk was taking a tremendous amount of courage. Pete had to work hard not to let the fear work into his head; he had to be confident, or he would not be successful in dealing with the robbers.
Finally he reached the door. He heard a muffled voice tell him to go ahead and walk in the door. With one last gathering of his courage, Pete reached out and yanked the door open and walked the last few steps into the bank.
As he stepped in, he slowly raised his hands above his head and surveyed his surroundings. His eyes glanced quickly around the room and he spotted the dark haired man with a ponytail and a shotgun standing closest to him by the window. He spotted the man with sideburns glaring at him with an eerie cockiness; in the back lurked another robber with a shotgun, and next to the hostages there was a black man with a rifle and another man with a pistol.
With another glance Pete got a quick count of the hostages, which seemed to number about fifteen. Then he noticed the security guard lying on the floor in a pool of blood, with two individuals kneeling with him. Pete was almost done examining the hostages when suddenly he realized that one of them looked very familiar. His eyes drifted back to the wounded security guard and it took all his self-control when he realized that he did recognize the woman kneeling next to him. It was Jean Reed, his partner's wife.
For a second longer Pete made eye contact with her in disbelief. She just looked at him with a steady gaze but did absolutely nothing to indicate that she knew who he was. Pete forced himself to look away and turned his attention to the sideburned outlaw who appeared to be in charge.
Ruddy walked up to him with a cocky jaunt. "You got a lot of guts, pig, walking in here like that. Maybe I should fill you full of lead."
Pete was now in cop mode and kept a steady edge to his voice. "That wouldn't help your cause. I'm here to help get you out of here with your money and us with the hostages alive. No tricks."
"Right," Spence spat on the ground in Pete's direction. "Since when has the fuzz ever been honest?"
Ignoring the insult, Pete focused on Ruddy. He could tell that he was in charge and knew that responding to any one else in the room would get him nowhere. "Listen, we will deal with you on the level if you return the favor. You asked for a truck? What kind of truck, how big? We need to know before we can get it for you."
Ruddy stopped and contemplated the question. This was not part of his original plan. Their car was parked outside in the parking lot but he wanted something more feasible. "How about you get us a nice van, man. We're going to need some room."
Pete nodded. "We'll get you a van but you have to give us something in return. We need you to release the hostages first."
Ruddy's face turned red and he pointed his pistol at Pete. "Do you think I'm stupid, pig! If I give you all of the hostages then I have no cards to play with. No way."
"How about all of the women?" Pete asked, wanting to get Jean out of there as fast as possible. Besides, all of the women would cut the number of hostages in half.
"You're not playing with some fool, piggy. You can have one hostage and that's it. One van, one hostage. I'm in charge here and I'll dictate the price." Ruddy was not about to budge.
"Two hostages." Pete tried to bargain a little farther.
Suddenly Ruddy fired a bullet into the ceiling and then pointed his gun at Pete. "You get ONE hostage, now I suggest you get the hell out of here before I put the next one in you, piggy."
Pete realized that he had pushed the issue too far. "Deal, we'll exchange the van for one hostage. We'll have it here in one hour."
"Fifteen minutes." Insisted Ruddy.
"That's impossible. We have to call headquarters and get approval and then get the vehicle here. This is LA, it's going to take at least an hour." Pete carefully watched Ruddy's shifting eyes. He was prepared to dive for cover at any moment.
From outside of the bank Mac was back on the bullhorn. "What happened in there? What was that shot?"
"You have thirty minutes. Now you'd better get out there. Daddy's calling." Ruddy turned his back on Pete and walked back to the counter where he had been leaning earlier.
The conversation was over and Pete knew it. Slowly he backed up until his back hit the door. He took one last look at Jean, who still did nothing but look at him with a strong steady gaze. Then after checking Spence's position he shoved his back against the door and exited the bank.
Once outside he saw all the cops at a state of high alert. "It's okay, it was an accidental discharge." Pete then made the equally long walk back to the safety of the police cars. It was hard to fight the impulse to run but he wanted to show the crooks no fear. It wasn't until he was almost at the cars that Pete allowed himself to run around to safety.
He plopped himself down next to Woods and started taking deep breaths and begging his beating heart to stop assaulting his rib cage.
Woods knelt next to him, "Pete, are you all right?"
Pete just nodded. Soon Mac and the lieutenant came over and looked at him expectantly. "Mac, there are five robbers, two shotguns, a rifle, and two pistols. I don't know how much ammo but probably just what they carried on them. There are about fifteen hostages, with the security guard seriously wounded. The bank is pretty much one big open room with the robbers spread about the room. All of the hostages are on the floor in the middle of the lobby. As for negotiations all I could get was one hostage traded for a van. They want the van in thirty minutes."
The lieutenant leaned over and patted Pete on the shoulder. "Good work, Malloy. I know that was hard but be prepared to go in again. We want to keep the same negotiator. I'll get to work on that van right away."
Mac could see Pete regaining control of himself. "What about the mood of the robbers? What are we up against?"
"Mac," Pete looked his boss straight in the eye. "I don't think we can trust that kid. There is one who is definitely in charge and he is borderline crazy. We need to be careful about busting in there because I think they have that trigger itch."
"But they haven't killed anyone yet?"
Pete shook his head. "No, as far as I can tell they just shot the security guard, and he's still alive. But if you want my honest opinion, Mac, there is at least one man in there who I think won't hesitate to open fire."
"Roger. We'll plan carefully. Good job, Malloy." Mac prepared ready to leave.
Reaching out, Pete grabbed his arm. The look in his eyes was now one of deeper concern then before. "Mac, Jean Reed is one of the hostages!"
"Oh no!" Mac rubbed his forehead.
"What are we going to do?" Pete asked.
Mac just shook his head. "Nothing Pete. We are going to treat her just like all the other hostages. This doesn't change anything."
"No, I don't mean about that. What about Jim?"
Mac looked questioningly at Pete. "What do you mean?"
"We should tell him."
Mac thought about it for a moment. "Was she doing okay?"
Pete nodded his head yes. "She seems to be holding it together. She had the presence of mind not to give away that she knows me."
Mac nodded. "Good girl, it could get worse for her if they realized her husband's a cop." Thinking a few moments, Mac made his decision. "Let's hold back for now. In his condition I don't want to worry Jim more than we have to. The last thing we need is him trying to report here for duty. Let's wait and hope that we don't have to tell him."
Pete nodded and watched Mac disappear. Woods put his hand on Pete's shoulder in a consoling manner.
The picture of her kneeling there kept running through Pete's head. He retrieved his gun and took up his position again at the police cruiser. He would be ready to go back in if they needed him. This was personal now, and Pete knew that he had no choice but to succeed or tell his own partner that his wife was dead. That was something Pete was not about to let happen. He wasn't about to let his partner down, especially after he had saved his life.
Emma quickly recovered from her initial shock. "Jim, I'm sure she's just held up in traffic." She nodded at little Jimmy still sitting on the couch pouting because his cartoons were gone. "She'll be back soon."
Jim at first didn't quite understand what Emma meant, until he looked as his son sitting on the couch. It hit him like a rock that even if Jean was at the bank they had to keep it from the little boy who wouldn't understand.
Jimmy came down off of the couch. "No more Bugs Bunny?"
Thinking quickly, Emma knelt before Jimmy, "Well, it looks like the police are on TV now trying to capture some bad men. Is that what your Daddy does?"
"Yeah, my daddy's a policeman!" Jimmy's chest swelled with pride. "But Daddy's here today."
"Yes, Daddy's here. Jimmy, I just had a great idea!" Emma wanted to distract the little boy. "You know what I bet would make Daddy feel better? Cookies! Do you want to help me make cookies?"
"Yeah!" Jimmy got all excited. He ran up to Jim. "Daddy, you want cookies?"
Jim found himself glad that Emma was there, for he would have no idea how to distract Jimmy. "You bet, Tiger!" He patted his son on his head.
With a wink Emma led Jimmy to the kitchen to find out what kind of supplies Jean had on hand.
After watching them disappear in the kitchen, Jim returned his full attention to the television. He couldn't take his eyes off the footage. Then he saw what he didn't want to see; in the parking lot of the bank, he could see a station wagon just like the one she drove. Quickly he reached over and grabbed the phone and dialed the police station.
"Stacey, this is Jim Reed, …yes I'm getting better, listen…yes, thank you…this is important, Stacey, about the bank being robbed, do you know who the hostages are? Yes, I'll hold." Jim waited with his eyes still watching the scene before him. Horrifying visions of his wife in that building kept running through his head.
The minutes seemed to tick by like an eternity. Jim's head seem to be pounding even more and worse yet, his stomach was now doing flips. Finally she returned to the phone, "Yes, I'm still here…Are you sure they don't know…Stacey, please. I'm not just some civilian calling…No, I think Jean might be in there…No, I don't know for sure, it's just that she was supposed to be going to the bank and she should have been home by now! Are you sure they don't know who the hostages are?…Okay, thanks for looking. Stacey, promise me you'll call when you find out?…Thanks, I owe you…Yes, I'll be fine. Thanks."
Frustrated he slammed the phone down. He leaned back and looked at the television again. God, she could be in there. Jim, calm down it's just your imagination playing with you. She could walk through that door any minute. Jean, please don't leave me, I need you.
He was shaken out of his revelry by the face of a little boy with flour on his cheeks. "We're making chocolate chip cookies, Daddy!"
Jim tried to put on a brave face for his son. "My favorite."
Happy that his father was pleased, Jimmy ran back into the kitchen. A few minutes later Emma was shooing Jimmy to the bathroom to go wash up. "They should be done in about fifteen minutes." After Jimmy was gone she turned back to Jim. "Are you okay?"
Jim's voice was dazed. "Our car's in the parking lot . . . . I saw it."
"Jim," Emma knelt next to him and put her hand on his arm. "There must be hundreds of station wagons like that in Los Angeles. I swear I pass someone driving a car like mine everyday. You're getting upset over nothing."
"I just have a bad feeling, Emma. The police don't know yet who's in there." The room seemed to be spinning out of control for Jim. He closed his eyes, trying to get his world to settle down.
Emma could see his distress. She reached out and felt his forehead to check his temperature. She could tell by the heat that it wasn't getting any better. "Jim, please go back to bed. This is more stress than you need."
"No," Jim gently pushed her aside and decided he was going to do something. He reached down for the armrests and forced himself to a standing position. He had to get to work, but once on his feet it was obvious that his body had a different idea. His world began to spin, and it felt like his head was going to explode; worse yet, the sudden movement upset his already delicate stomach. Instead of the front door, he headed towards the bathroom.
Emma recognized the look on this face and grabbed Jim's arm to steady him as they hurried down the hallway.
Jimmy had just exited the bathroom and watched in shock as Emma helped his father to the toilet.
Jim emptied his stomach, including the chicken soup he had eaten for lunch and all the water he had managed to get down. Finally, when he couldn't throw up any more, Jim leaned back on the wall of the bathroom, sitting on the floor, trying to stop shaking.
Emma dutifully cleaned up the mess, wiped Jim's face, and then handed him a glass of water.
Then Jim became aware of another sound. He looked and, standing in the doorway of the bathroom crying, was Jimmy.
"Daddy, are you dying?"
"No, Jimmy," Jim held out his arms and his son didn't hesitate to come to him. Forgetting trying to keep him away, what Jim needed right now was to have Jimmy close to him. He held the little boy in a hug, trying to calm his fears. "Daddy's just sick that's all. Don't worry."
"Promise, Daddy!" Jimmy looked deep into his Dad's eyes.
"Promise what, Tiger?" Jim put on a brave smile.
"Promise you're not going to die?"
"Yes, I promise." Jim pulled Jimmy onto his lap and enjoyed the little arms around his neck, but he couldn't help but look up at Emma.
Emma allowed the moment a little while longer and then took Jimmy from his arms. "Jimmy, we need to get your father back to bed. Why don't you go check on the cookies?"
Reluctantly Jimmy left. "Otay."
Emma helped Jim up and tried to lead him to his bedroom, but Jim stopped her. "Emma, please I need to know. Please take me back to the living room. If I can't be there, at least I can see what's happening."
Emma looked at the pleading in his eyes. "Jim, this is only making you sicker."
"Emma, this is my wife. I have to know!"
"Okay," Emma relented, and the two slowly made their way back to the living room.
Jean watched as Pete disappeared through the door, glad that he was getting out safely. For some reason, knowing that he was out there made her feel a little safer, but at the same time she didn't want any of her husband's friends to risk themselves for her. She sighed and adjusted her seat as the waiting game continued.
Looking over at the other hostages, she could see the distress on their faces. "Is everyone doing okay?" she whispered.
One of the ladies, whose face was rather pale, shook her head. "I could use a trip to the restroom." There was a nod of agreement from many of the other people. They had all been trapped for several hours on that floor, and nature was beginning to call.
Jean realized that they were all looking to her to do something about it. Somehow her courage had made her their spokesperson. With a sigh she steeled herself and then slowly stood up.
Ruddy looked at her with his wild-eyed stare. "What do you want now?"
"Sir, we have been in this position for several hours. Since it looks like we may be here for a little while longer, is there any way we could utilize the facilities?" Jean tried to meet his glare.
Ruddy seemed to make it across the room in three steps and the next thing Jean knew he was standing right next to her. She could smell his bad breath and could see the craziness in his eyes. "Do you people not understand what is going on here? Piss in your pants!"
"Please, give us some dignity. We can go one at a time."
Walking around her in circles Ruddy looked her up and down. "You've got some nerve lady."
Swallowing with nervousness, Jean turned around so that she was still facing Ruddy. "It's the kind thing to do."
Suddenly Ruddy practically lunged at her, but stopped short and raised his pistol and placed it against her head. "Lady, do I look like a nice guy?"
Jean felt like she was about to faint, but she forced herself to remain calm.
Lenny came over. "Hey, Ruddy, why don't we let'em go? There's no point in being mean. They ain't going any where."
Ruddy kept his gun pressed to Jean's head and looked into her eyes. He was testing her will, she knew. "Are you married?"
Jean nodded her head, not wanting to reveal her fear by speaking.
"Kids?" Ruddy asked again.
"Yes," Jean whispered. "I have a five-year-old son."
"What does your husband do for a living?" Ruddy did not break his menacing gaze.
Jean paused. Considering their opinion of police, she did not want to reveal Jim's true job. "He's a garbage collector," she finally responded.
Ruddy snorted. "He's one lucky trash man." Finally he removed the pistol from Jean's head. "You each have two minutes; one at a time; the door stays open. If even one of you tries to escape I'll shoot five of you."
He whirled around to face the rest of the hostages. "You got that? If even one of you screws up, five dead bodies and the rest can go where you are. Of course by the smell, I suspect some of you already have." Laughing at his joke, Ruddy walked away.
Lenny sighed and signaled to the first hostage to follow him. Slowly, one by one the hostages each took their turn and returned to the group. Thankfully, everyone obeyed Ruddy's orders.
After Jean returned from her trip she sat down next to the doctor again. Gerald scooted closer so that he could whisper to her. "Are you crazy? Don't you try that again!"
Jean tried to control her tears as the true impact of what had just happened hit her. She had risked her life for a group of strangers she had just met. "Someone had to," she whispered back.
Gerald kept his voice down so that the crooks wouldn't hear. "Jean, it doesn't have to be you. You have a husband and son, for goodness sake. Think of them!"
"I have for every second I've been sitting here," Jean defended herself. "Look, someone has to stand up to him or we could all be killed."
"That's what the cops are for! Let them risk their lives." Gerald was insistent.
Jean hissed back, "Is that all a cop is to you? You expect them to sacrifice themselves for us?"
Gerald put his hand on Jean's shoulder. "Jean, that is what they are trained to do. They know the risks that come with their job."
Jean shoved Gerald's arm off of her shoulder. "Well, maybe if a few people stood up for themselves then the police wouldn't have to jeopardize their lives needlessly. They have families too you know!"
With a shocked look on his face, it was obvious that Gerald was a little uncertain of what to make of Jean's hushed tirade. He looked around to make sure the crooks were still essentially ignoring their conversation. "Listen, Jean, I don't want anyone to die, especially you. All I'm saying is let the police handle this situation. There is no need for you to risk your life."
Jean leaned her forehead on her knees, "Oh my God, this is so ironic."
"What?" Gerald looked at her questioningly.
"My husband is home sick from work today, safe and sound, and now I'm the one in danger risking my life and getting the same lecture I usually give him." Jean brushed the hair out of her face. "You know I can't stop thinking about him and little Jimmy but when I stood up to Ruddy I knew I just had to do it. Oh my gosh, I've been such a fool." Tears began to stream down her face.
Gerald looked closer at Jean, reading the sorrow in her eyes. He wasn't quite sure he understood what she was saying, "Jean, you're not a fool. Just don't take any more chances with Ruddy."
Jean shook her head, "No, that's not what I meant. I didn't understand before, but I think now I do."
"Understand what?" Gerald tried to look deeper into her eyes.
Taking a corner of her shirt, Jean wiped away the tears. "I've been so unsupportive of him. I accused him of not caring about us, but now I understand why he does what he does."
Suddenly Gerald remembered the way the cop who had entered the building had made eye contact with Jean not once but twice. It had seemed odd then but put together with her statements, it suddenly occurred to him why. He leaned closer to her; "Your husband's not a garbage collector, is he?"
Jean looked up at him and slowly shook her head no.
"He's a police officer, isn't he? That cop knows who you are!"
After looking over her shoulder to again insure that the bank robbers would not hear, she leaned forward and grabbed Gerald's arm. "That was my husband's partner, Pete Malloy. Please don't let them know. I'm scared what they might do!"
Gerald reached out and put a comforting arm around Jean. "Dear, they won't find out from me. So tell me more about this garbage man you're married to."
Pete leaned on the sandwich truck, next to Woods, drinking his coffee during their brief break from the front lines. Shadows were growing longer as the late winter sun began to set. Glancing at his watch, Pete knew the van should be arriving soon; the thirty-minute deadline was almost up. That meant that at any moment his number would be called to go back in the bank.
It didn't take long, for Sergeant MacDonald walked up just as Pete finished his coffee. He sighed and put his hands in his pockets. "Malloy, Jim called the station. Apparently he saw the news about this bank robbery. He already suspects that Jean might be in there."
Pete sighed, for he could imagine how worried his partner must be. "Has he been told yet for sure?"
Mac shook his head no. "At the time he called we didn't know yet. Stacey called to let us know that he wanted to know. Oh and Pete, that van should be here any minute. Get ready to go back in."
"Mac," Pete threw his cup away and faced his boss. "Do I have time to give Jim a call? I want to be the one to tell him."
"Make it quick." Mac walked back over towards the lieutenant, who was busy on his radio.
Pete walked over to the police phone that was being used for communicating with headquarters. The officer allowed him to use it when Pete explained why. He took a deep breath before he dialed the number. For some reason this seemed harder than walking into the bank. The phone was snatched up after the first ring. "Jim Reed," came his partner's strained voice.
"Jim, this is Pete."
"Pete, I saw the bank robbery on the news. That's our bank, but no one will tell me anything. Pete, Jean was supposed to be home hours ago. Are you there?"
Pete tried to break in on his partner. "Jim…Jim… listen. I know; I just found out that you had called the station. Yes, I'm here." Pete paused and took a deep breath, "and yes she is one of the hostages." Pete was greeted by silence on the other end.
Then a quiet voice, "Are you sure?"
"Yes, Jim just listen, I can't talk much longer. I was sent in to negotiate with these guys and I saw Jean in there. She is fine and doing well. Trust me, we have this situation under control. We are doing everything we can to get her and the other hostages out safe, okay? You just get some rest and stop worrying."
"God, Pete…" Jim sounded close to tears. "I don't know what to do…"
"Jim," Pete knew he had to let his partner go. "I've got to go. Jean is fine. Trust your partner on this one. You just take care of yourself and my godson, okay? I've got to go, I'll try to call you later."
"Okay. Thanks, Pete." Jim hung up the phone.
With a steeled resolve, Pete walked away from the phone and up to Mac and the lieutenant. "All right, let's do this."
Mac nodded. "The van's here, but Pete, we need to get more of those hostages released. Make them give you the one hostage before we give up the keys. Whatever you do, do not let them leave with any hostages! If they try to take any hostages with them, we will not let them go. We have SWAT here and ready if needed, but let's try to do this without them."
"Right," Pete nodded his head.
Mac then got on the bullhorn and warned the robbers that Pete was again coming in.
Stepping out from the cover of the vehicles Pete again performed his ritual proving that he was unarmed. As darkness of night began to overtake the daylight, the streetlights around the bank came on and provided adequate light to see what was happening. In the bank however, the criminals were keeping most of the lights off and had closed all of the blinds.
Once again Pete stepped toward the unknown. He walked past the van that was parked in front of the bank and reached the door. Upon receiving the go-ahead from Spence, he opened the door and walked into the bank again. His eyes looked for Jean just to make sure and this time he gave her a quick wink. She smiled back weakly and then looked away.
"So, we meet again." Ruddy walked up to Pete with his arrogant grin.
"Yes, we have your van, now give us our hostage, like you agreed." Pete wanted to get this part dealt with first.
"Sure." Ruddy then walked over to the huddled group on the floor. "So which one of you sorry souls wants to go first?"
No one spoke up; they were too scared of Ruddy.
Ruddy jokingly looked at Pete. "You see that, they don't want to leave. They love it here." The robber walked over to where Jean was kneeling. "Trash lady, you seem to be the only one who'll speak so you get to choose. Who do we release first?"
Jean didn't hesitate. "The security guard. He needs to get to a hospital."
Pete knew that she had made the right decision. The man looked close to death if he didn't get out now. The only problem was that he was not going to be able to walk out on his own power. "Okay, I'll take him."
Ruddy once again returned his attention to Pete. "Okay, pig, now for your next trick, you need to make those coppers out front disappear."
Pete proceeded carefully, for he knew this man was unpredictable. "Listen, you know we can't do that until we have the safety of the hostages guaranteed. You and your gang will be allowed to leave in the van, but you leave all of the hostages behind. That is the deal. Just you and your accomplices can drive away."
With a look of disbelief Ruddy walked closer to Pete. "I don't believe what I'm hearing! Listen, pig, I'm the one in control here, not you! If I want to take hostages you can't stop me! Do you hear that, I'm in control!" Ruddy was yelling now.
"So this is all about you." Pete said, knowing he had to try a different angle. "There are five of you, what about your partners? I'm here to tell you the truth. There is no way you are going to be allowed to leave here with hostages. This is your only chance to walk away from this alive. You are all risking your lives right here. Right now, all you've done is rob a bank. That's what, a few years in jail? But if any of these hostages die you'll be put away for life or maybe even the death penalty. Is this really worth it?"
Ted nervously approached Pete. "But if we leave the hostages you'll just let us leave, right?"
Pete nodded his head.
Ruddy exploded. He turned towards his companion. "Ted, you're a moron. Get back over there and guard the hostages. The police ain't going to let us just drive out of here. They'll be on us within a couple of blocks. Without hostages they'll be all over us."
Ted glared at Ruddy but returned to his post.
Spence looked out the window and then back at Pete. "Ruddy, I wouldn't believe this pig. I think the police are planning something. I just saw a SWAT officer out there. I don't like this one bit."
Pete sensed he was losing. "This is your last chance to surrender and end this the easy way. Look, you tried to rob a bank and failed. Cut your losses and be glad to get out of here with your life. This building is surrounded and you're not in control. These hostage situations never work. Think about it." Looking around at a few of the robbers he could see that his argument was having some effect. The robbers were cornered and they knew it. The hostage game would not work for much longer.
However the argument was not working on Ruddy. His rage was beginning to overwhelm him. "I am the one who planned this job. I'LL SAY WHEN WE QUIT!"
For once Pete found himself unsure what to do. Ruddy was so mentally unstable that there was no possible way to negotiate with him and this situation was quickly falling apart. "Listen, let me go talk to my boss. Perhaps we can have a partial pull-back of the police if you release a few more hostages."
"NO." Ruddy's face was red with rage. "YOU Nazi swine are going to learn who is in charge here." Suddenly Ruddy aimed his pistol at Pete.
Knowing that he was going to pull the trigger, Pete bolted for the door only a few steps away. He shoved open the door and dived for the side of the building. Behind him the glass shattered as Ruddy emptied his pistol in the door. Pete felt the painful burn of a bullet as it carved a narrow furrow down his back. He reached the safety of the stone facade of the building and covered his face as the glass continued to fly out of the window.
When Ruddy had emptied his pistol he threw it to the ground. "Those damn cops pushed me too far." He strode over to where Jean and Gerald were kneeling next to the security guard. The criminal reached down and grabbed the arm of the security guard and started to drag him away.
"What are you doing?" Jean started to protest but Gerald grabbed her arm and pulled her back down. He shook his head no at her. In shock she could only watch as the maddened bank robber took the body and threw it out the door.
Pete was still crouched next to the door when he saw Ruddy open the door and toss the body of the security guard out onto the sidewalk. The guard rolled a few feet and then lay silent and motionless.
"Spence, shoot him," Ruddy ordered.
"Sure, boss." Spence took the shotgun butt and busted the window he was standing next to and a second later he fired one of the barrels of his shotgun.
The breaking of a window to his left forced Pete to cover himself up again. He heard Ruddy's order but knew that there was nothing he could do. A shotgun barrel popped out and filled the security guard full of lead. The body shuddered and then laid still.
Ruddy noticed Pete sitting next to the door. "There's your hostage, cop. The next one will be dead in fifteen minutes if the cops don't start backing off."
Ruddy disappeared back into the bank. Pete sat for a moment, unsure what to do. He waited until Spence pulled his shotgun back from the window and then bolted for the safety of the police vehicles. Half expecting to be shot in the back, he ran as fast as he could until he slid over the back of a police car and landed safely on the ground.
Mac came running up. "Pete, what happened in there?"
Pete just shook his head. "Mac, that man is crazy. You can't reason with him; for him it's a power trip."
"Okay, I'll let SWAT know to be ready." Mac patted Pete on the shoulder and then walked away.
Back in the bank Jean buried her head in Gerald's shoulder to cry. The doctor gently held her and whispered in her ear. "He was already dead, Jean. He was already dead."
Jean cried anyway. She had seen the wedding ring on the security guard's hand.
Emma came back into the living room from the kitchen, where she had been washing the dinner dishes. When she saw the bowl of soup sitting next to Jim untouched, she put her hands on her hips. "Jim, you need to eat something to get your strength back up."
Jim kept staring at the television. Nothing seemed to be happening at the moment, but that was almost worse than having something happening. The not knowing was the worst part. "I'm not hungry," Jim mumbled.
Picking up the tray, Emma shook her head. "You can sit there and feel sorry for yourself all you want, it's not going to change anything." She was about to walk away when the phone rang.
Jim grabbed it up after only one ring. After a brief conversation, Emma watched his hands shaking as he hung up the phone.
"Oh God," Jim ran his hands through his hair and leaned back trying to fight the tears.
"Was that your partner?" Emma knew that the news he had gotten was not good.
"She's in there." Jim closed his eyes and slowly a few more tears came out.
"I'm sorry, Jim." Emma then finished taking the tray to the kitchen. She watched as Jimmy sat in his booster chair at the table, half-heartedly coloring a picture. Setting the tray on the counter, she approached the boy. "What are you drawing now?"
"Miss Wavey, is my Momma coming back?" Jimmy was beginning to realize that his mother was running late. He put his crayons aside.
"Sweetie, she is out running some errands. She'll be back soon. So who is this in your picture?"
Jimmy looked at the picture. "It's Terrance, my turtle. He lives in the yard." Jumping off of his booster seat, Jimmy grabbed his picture. "I'm goin' ta show Daddy."
Emma nervously followed Jimmy into the living room. She watched as the little boy climbed into his father's arms and showed him the picture.
"Jimmy, that's great." Jim was trying to put up a brave front but it wasn't working any more.
"Daddy, what's wrong?" Jimmy realized his Dad was crying and now the little boy knew something was wrong.
"Nothing's wrong, Jimmy." Jim quickly wiped the few tears that were giving his true feelings away. "Just something in my eye. I really like the picture."
Emma reached out to pick up Jimmy. "I think it's time for your bath."
Jimmy began to struggle. "No, I don't wanna bath!" The five-year-old was now entering tantrum mode. "Where's my Mommy?"
Gently Emma kneeled down to look at the little boy. "Sweetheart, she's not here right now. Don't you want to help me get your bath ready?"
"NO!" Jimmy ran back to Jim. "Daddy, I don't wanna bath." Tears ran down the little boy's face.
"Jimmy," Jim reached down and hugged his little boy. "Be good for Mrs. Waverly. Do as she says. Go take a bath."
Unfortunately for Jim the little boy felt his Daddy was not the final authority. "No, I want Mommy!" Stubbornly Jimmy crossed his arms and stared defiantly at the two.
Jim was torn between watching what was happening on the team and trying to solve this problem with his son. He could see on the television a police officer walking towards the bank, with the television commentator describing what was happening.
Emma wasn't about to give up. "Jimmy, your Mommy will be back later. She's helping your Daddy. She went to go get medicine to make him all better. You want your Dad to get better don't you?"
Jimmy looked at his Daddy and nodded his head. "Can't Mommy make Daddy better here?"
"Yes," Emma stayed calm and gentle, "but she has to get the medicine first. Jimmy, is your Daddy usually here when you go to bed?"
The little boy had stopped crying but he still had that pouting look on his face. "No. Daddy works."
Emma knew she had the right angle. "But he's always here when you wake up, right?"
Jimmy nodded his head yes.
"So, now your Mommy is working to help Daddy, but just like your father, when you wake up in the morning she'll be here. So why don't we go take your bath and then you go to bed and then your Mommy will be home." Emma held out her hand for the little boy.
For a moment Jimmy still looked like he was going to protest. "Mommy be home if I go ta bed?"
"Yes," Emma reached out for his hand and led Jimmy towards the bathroom. "Now why don't we go pick what you're going to wear to bed tonight?" She led the little boy away.
Jim sat back relieved and then returned his attention to the television. Not much seemed to be happening at the moment and the anchorman was going on about the process of police negotiations. With the darkness the news cameras had been pushed farther back from the scene, but they were keeping the bank in the distance. Suddenly Jim could see someone burst out of the bank and the sound of gunfire.
He sat up in his chair and watched intently, when suddenly the cameras were turned off. "Ladies and gentlemen," the commentator spoke in excited tones, "we've lost our camera coverage but I can still describe what is happening. Oh no, it appears that one of the hostages is being tossed out the door." The sound of a shotgun was heard in the background. "Folks, it appears that this situation has gotten far more serious. They have just killed one of the hostages. The police officer has now made it back to the vehicles safely. Folks, we are working on getting our camera up and running and we will get an update on this situation as soon as we can. Back to you, Bill."
The television then switched to the studio and the news anchor continued to reassure people that they would get coverage back as soon as they could. Then he went on to some other news.
Jim sat numb with shock, now he knew that Jean was in there with a bunch of crazy gunmen. He himself had been held hostage by bank robbers and knew how quickly these situations could get out of hand. To think that his own wife was having to experience this nightmare was almost too much. He lost track of time and sat watching the television, living off of the tidbits of information they passed on.
He was distracted when Jimmy, with wet hair and dressed in his favorite pajamas, came to give him a good night kiss before Emma shooed him to bed.
Finally after a few minutes Emma came back into the room alone. "He's in bed, hopefully he'll fall asleep soon." Exhausted, Emma sat down on the couch for a little while. She could see the state Jim was in. After a brief rest she walked over and checked his temperature again. It was still too warm for her liking. "I suppose going to bed is out of the question?"
"Emma, please." Jim sounded exhausted.
"Okay, I won't ask again. So what's happening?" She really didn't want to know but figured she'd better find out.
"Negotiations have broken down and they shot one of the hostages."
"What will the police do now?" Emma asked concerned.
"I don't know, either try to restart negotiations or let the SWAT team in." Jim sighed and rubbed his aching head.
A moment of silence passed before Emma sighed and moved to retrieve her sweater from the chair in the entryway. "Jim, I'm going to go check on Roger. I promise I won't be gone long."
"Emma," Jim looked at his neighbor. "Thanks so much for handling Jimmy. I...I wouldn't have known what to do."
"Jimmy's a good boy, it's my pleasure. I'll be right back." Emma hesitated a moment and then disappeared out the front door.
The silence of the house seemed to be almost smothering but Jim was afraid to turn the television up and wake his son. He watched as they went from more news to commercials. The waiting game was wearing on his nerves. Being at the scene was better than just sitting here. He was itching to get up and get in his car and drive over there. Even if he were just aiming a shotgun at the bank at least he'd feel like he was helping.
Finally after what seemed like an eternity, the news went back to the bank. The anchorman detailed what had happened all day, ending with the shooting of the hostage, who had been pronounced dead on arrival at the local hospital. "Right now the police are still planning their next move. The robbers gave them fifteen minutes before threatening to kill another hostage. By our account that gives the police five more minutes to meet the robbers demands. We have seen several police cars leaving the area, which was supposedly a key demand, but as you can see there is still a substantial police presence." The anchorman was still carrying on his diatribe when more shots rang out from inside the bank. "Folks, more shots have just been fired from in the bank. It appears that the criminals may be living up to their threat to kill more hostages, but at this point we don't know truly what has happened."
Bolting up in his chair Jim ignored the pounding in his head. That was the last straw; he wasn't going to just sit here while his wife was in danger. He forced himself to a standing position. The room started to spin but Jim forced himself to focus and soon he was standing okay. Slowly he started to make his way across the room toward his car keys on the side table.
Just when he thought he was going to make it, he felt a cough come. After the brief coughing fit the room began to sway again and black dots began to show up in his vision. Jim suddenly realized that he was not going to make it.
Emma walked through the door and saw Jim trying to make it across the room. "Jim Reed!" She ran forward and grabbed him and led him toward the couch. She finally managed to get him seated, relieved that he had not passed out, but for her that was it. "What do you think you are doing?" She did not keep the anger out of her voice.
Jim lay back on the couch for a few moments so that his head would stop spinning. "I can't sit here anymore. More shots were fired."
Emma stood in front of him. She was not the kind of woman to hold back and she was going to let him have it. "Jim Reed, that is exactly what you are going to do. You are going to sit here and deal with it. You are in no condition to be going anywhere, let alone a crime scene."
Sensing her anger, Jim felt his own rising. "This is my wife! She's in danger and I should be there."
"No you shouldn't!" Emma was not going to hold any punches. "You are going to sit here just like your wife does every night while you're at work. It won't hurt you for once to experience how she feels. How does it feel now that the shoe is on the other foot? I've spent many nights raising my own children, convincing them to go to bed and telling them that their daddy will be home in the morning and then going to bed myself and praying I hadn't just lied to my own children." All the anger of her own experience came to the front.
Jim sat there staring at her in shock as her words sunk in.
"I sat there for years while Roger ran into burning buildings waiting on him to come home, just like Jean sits here every night while you wave your gun around. Did you ever once think about what she goes through? She has to do the same thing every night that we just did here. She has to tuck little Jimmy into to bed and promise him that his daddy will be home in the morning and hope it's the truth. The only difference is we don't get to see it played out on TV."
"Oh God," Jim leaned forward and held his head in his hands. "I had no idea."
Emma's voice softened. "You have to trust your co-workers, Jean, and God now. Jim, there is nothing you can do." She went up and gently placed a hand on his shoulder.
The realization hit Jim like a brick. Emma's words were true; this was what Jean went through every night. Sure, he had known that being married to him couldn't be easy but he never before truly understood the emotional toll just one night could have. And Jean had been doing this night after night for six years. All that time Jim had accused her of being too emotional and irrational. Now he knew how easily the worry and waiting could overwhelm. He had focused on his job, believing she was just overreacting but now he realized that he had been trivializing her feelings. "I've been such a jerk."
Emma sat down next to him on the couch and put her arm around him. "I spoke to Jean the night after your fight. I know you love your job, but it is not easy being married to a cop or a fireman. Don't get me wrong, I'm proud of what Roger did for a living, but I've been through what Jean is going through and I know how hard it is. Jim, she just needs to know that you care about her and Jimmy. Showing her that you understand helps."
His exhaustion suddenly overtook Jim. "I'm scared, Emma. I can't live without her."
Gently Emma continued to comfort him. "I know; I'm scared too. Please, get some rest." She helped him lie down on the couch and then got the pillow and blanket for him. Jim sighed and seemed to finally allow her to win this battle, but he did turn so he could still see the television.
Emma settled in his armchair and they watched the television, waiting for more news on the bank robbery.
Minutes seemed to tick by too slowly for the occupants of the bank. Ruddy kept pacing and mumbling to himself. The hostages huddled closer in fear, each one praying they would not be next to experience his wrath. The other robbers all seemed to be keeping their distance from Ruddy as well.
Silence filled the room. The loud speaker came again. "You in the bank, we are pulling back our forces, but we need more time."
Ruddy went to the busted window. "Bull shit, I want all of you out of here or I'm going to start shooting. You'd better start moving."
Spence was keeping an eye on the cops as a few cars and officers pulled away. "Don't believe them, Ruddy man. They're planning something, I know it."
"Ruddy," Ted finally stepped away from his position guarding the hostages. "This is not right. We need to just get out of here. Why don't we take their offer of the van?"
"Ted," Ruddy turned and glared at him, "you're an idiot. That is what they want us to do so they can get us away from the bank. The only thing keeping us alive is those hostages."
Ted nervously fiddled with his gun. "I think that cop's right. There ain't no way this is going to work."
Now Lenny decided to join in the argument. "Ted's right, Ruddy. This has gone too far. I didn't come with you to kill anyone."
Ruddy started pacing angrily, "What they hell are you two complaining about? I'm the one who did all the planning for this job, so I'll say what happens next!"
"Ruddy this is not what we signed up for," Lenny asserted. "You're going to get us all killed."
"I am still in control!" Ruddy slammed his fist on the counter.
Lenny shook his head no. "I don't think so. Ted's right. We should just give up the hostages and walk out of here. So we'll do some jail time but that's better than dying."
Ted approached Ruddy, insistent. "Man, I'm not cool with this. I've got a girl, a reason to get out of here. I'm not going to die because you want to get in a rumble with the pigs. Let's just go now."
"No one is going anywhere!" Ruddy screamed as loud as he could. His face was a bright red. "Spence, what are those pigs doing?"
Spence cautiously looked at the window. "Man, it's too dark to see what they're up to. Ruddy, what is your plan? How are going to get out of this mess with our money?"
For a few moments, Ruddy paused to think, "We'll stick with the same plan. Kill a hostage until they do what we want. We got the van that way. We'll just get more cops to clear out and then we'll load up the van with some of the hostages. Once we're safely across the border, we'll let'em out. If they try to stop us we start popping." Ruddy waved his gun at the hostages.
Ted became more assertive. "That's not going to work. The cops have already made it clear they're not letting us leave with hostages. If you want to go out in a blaze of glory, that's fine, but I've had enough." Ted tossed his gun aside and started to walk towards the front door.
In shock the other occupants of the bank watched him walk away.
Ruddy erupted with fury. "You can't walk out on me! Spence, shoot him."
Spence hesitated; he hadn't anticipated having to kill one of his fellow crooks. "Ted, turn around. This is crazy."
Ted stopped. "No, you all are crazy. I can't believe I got in this stupid mess with you. I'm out of here."
Seeing that no one else was going to do it for him, Ruddy hurried over to the discarded pistol. "Ted, if you keep going I'm going to put a bullet in your head."
For a moment, Ted hesitated as if trying to determine if he'd really do it. After the slight pause Ted again headed for the door.
True to his word Ruddy pulled the trigger and put a bullet plus several more through Ted's head as he released his rage on the traitor.
The women of the group screamed as Ted's lifeless body fell to the ground. Ruddy then swung around to Lenny, pointing the pistol in his face. "Are you going to walk out on me too? Go on, man, walk!"
The fear in Lenny's eyes gave him away. There was no way he was going to question Ruddy again.
"That's what I thought. Now get back there with the other hostages." Ruddy looked at the other two. "Neon, Spence, are you still with me?"
They both slowly nodded. Clearly they were not about to make the same mistake Ted had just made. Ruddy looked at the hostages as well. "What, no comment from the peanut gallery?"
There was no doubt in the minds of the hostages that Ruddy would not hesitate to take their lives. He boldly strolled up to the busted window. "Hey, cops you best get moving faster before another one gets capped!"
Sergeant MacDonald was back on the bullhorn, "We need more time."
"He's stalling again." Spence commented, now getting nervous. He clutched his shotgun a little harder. "They're coming in. I can sense it."
Ruddy kept up his pacing, beginning to get nervous as well. The darkness in the bank cast everything in an eerie gloom. He slammed his fist again on the counter. "This was supposed to be an easy haul. Are they still leaving?"
"Man, they are taking their sweet time." Spence's eyes kept watching the slowly retreating mob of police.
The next fifteen minutes seemed to tick by like an eternity, with no sound from the police. Ruddy kept pacing back and forth like a tiger trapped in a cage way too small. With each passing minute he was losing more and more of his patience. "That's it. I'm going to light a fire under those pigs."
Ruddy walked over towards the hostages with a purpose. He leaned over and grabbed the bank manager and yanked him to his feet. "Those pigs need a reminder who's in charge."
"Oh God! Please no!" The banker dragged his feet as he realized what Ruddy was going to do.
Jean couldn't sit there any longer. She tried telling herself that she needed to keep quiet for Jim and Jimmy, but she knew she couldn't. "Ruddy, stop!"
Hearing her voice, Ruddy stopped struggling with the bank manager. "You again. What the hell do you want?"
"You're not helping yourself by killing the hostages! That is only making the police more determined to come after you. If you want the police to trust you, release a hostage. They will respond more quickly." Jean knew she was grasping at straws. If she failed they were all as good as dead. Ruddy was a killer, of that there was no doubt, but she was hoping that there was still some way to get through to him.
Suddenly the doctor stood up next to Jean. "She's right. You've been going about this the wrong way."
"What is this?" Ruddy strode toward the pair in disbelief. "I'm getting advice from my hostages on how to rob a bank?" Even in the darkness the wildness in Ruddy's eyes was evident. "Boy, do you two have a lot of nerve. I should've killed you both right off and avoided a lot of problems. Maybe I should kill you both right now!" Ruddy raised his gun and pointed it straight at Jean.
Jean swallowed hard, knowing that now she truly was flirting with death. "Don't do this, Ruddy. You're only digging yourself in deeper."
Ruddy stood as if trying to contemplate his next move. He lowered the gun for a moment and silence filled the room.
Spence was still at the window when suddenly he sat up straighter and looked out intently at something. He cocked his shotgun and stood at the ready. "Ruddy..." was all he managed to get out before the bank seemed to explode.
The back doors of the bank were blown off of their hinges and dark-dressed forms started pouring through. Smoke from the explosion billowed into the bank and gave it an eerie glow as the yells of the police echoed through the room. "Throw your guns down!"
Jean dove to the floor with the rest of the hostages and covered her head in fear. She did not want to be rescued only to wind up dead from a stray bullet. The sounds of a gun battle erupted around her. The deep booming of Neon and Spence's shotguns filled the air, but they were silenced quickly from a hail of lead unleashed by police weapons.
From her position on the floor Jean heard Spence's war cry cut short, and she could guess what his fate was. Before the last bullet had sounded she also heard Lenny's pleading voice. "Don't shoot!" He sounded like he was crying. The clatter of his weapon hitting the floor echoed through the bank when the shooting stopped. "Please don't shoot!"
"Kneel on the ground, hands on your head!" came the forceful instructions from the police. "Cross your heels and don't move."
The invasion had only taken seconds but had seemed like a lifetime. An eerie silence filled the room as the police held their ground, searching for more robbers. Jean hoped that the danger was over and cautiously uncovered her head to look around the bank lobby. She could see the pall of smoke from the explosives floating through the air and the dark forms of the SWAT police still pointing their weapons toward the center of the room where the hostages still laid on the floor.
When she dared to look straight in front of her she realized that she was looking right at Ruddy. In fear she froze and their eyes locked.
The criminal had hit the floor just like the hostages when the police had barged into the room. For the first time Jean saw genuine fear in Ruddy's eyes. The cocky confidence was gone. When his eyes made contact with hers his resolve hardened. The pistol in his hand swung around and was again pointing straight at Jean. "Stand up!" he ordered her.
At this point Jean didn't feel like disobeying, so as Ruddy stood up she matched him as they both rose out of the smoke. Keeping her eyes focused on Ruddy, Jean could see in her peripheral vision the ring of police officers and weapons still pointed in their direction.
Ruddy had his pistol pointed straight at her head. "One wrong move and she gets it, pigs! You, too, Doc!" Obediently the doctor backed away to a safe distance.
Another police officer came over and quickly evacuated all of the other hostages while the other officers kept a close eye on Ruddy. The head of the SWAT team took a step closer. "Drop the gun. We don't want to kill you."
"Stupid pig, you don't get it. I'll get her before you get me. You're going to let her and me walk out of here." Ruddy's eyes kept switching from Jean to the police. "Drop your weapons. Now!"
The officers looked at each other, not really knowing what to do. Pete Malloy stepped forward. "Do it. Drop your weapons."
"Hey, piggy, we meet again," Ruddy mocked.
Once the police had dropped their weapons, Ruddy looked satisfied and his attention returned to Jean, "Start walking!" He waved towards the door with his weapon.
"No!" Jean just stood there looking straight at Ruddy. "If you're going to kill me, do it here."
"What!" Ruddy looked at her with disbelief. He took a few steps closer so that the weapon was only inches from her. His eyes bored into hers with anger, fear and desperation.
Jean mustered every ounce of strength she had. Jim, please forgive me. "I'm not leaving with you. Drop your weapon, Ruddy. It's over."
Ruddy looked at her with disbelief. "You have been a thorn in my side since the very beginning, trash lady."
"She's right, Ruddy." Pete stepped forward again. "Put the gun down and walk away."
"Shut up, pig!" Ruddy was so angry that his hand was beginning to shake.
"Pete! It's okay." Jean never took her eyes off of the bank robber holding the gun to her head.
"Jean?" Pete wasn't sure he should back off.
"You two know each other?" Ruddy asked in shock.
Jean realized that she may have just made a mistake. She tried to return to the most important issue. "Ruddy, just drop the weapon."
Realization suddenly crossed Ruddy's face. "That cop knows who you are! Your husband's not a garbage man, is he?"
Now that it was out, Jean was not about to hide it. With a new burst of courage she stared at Ruddy. "He collects garbage like you and gets it off the streets!"
"What? Is he your husband?" Ruddy's hands shook even more.
Jean softened her voice to try and calm the nervous criminal. "No, he's not. My husband is at home today. He is too sick to come into work, but he would have been here if he could."
"Well, Miss Piggy, that sure explains a lot." Ruddy shook his head at her. "I couldn't figure you out. You're the only one who truly had the guts to face me. You're the only one in this room who isn't afraid of me."
"That's not true, Ruddy." The stress of the situation was wearing on Jean. "I'm terrified of you!"
"Then why?" The criminal's voice had a confused tone.
Ruddy stood like a statue, but his face revealed the emotional battle going on inside. "You've got a kid, so much to live for. Why are you standing up to me like this?"
"For the same reason every cop in this room is standing here." Jean turned and looked at Pete, who met her gaze. "You know, before all of this I wanted my husband to quit being a police officer. I felt that he was putting strangers before Jimmy and me. I couldn't understand why. Now I do." Jean returned her gaze to Ruddy. "I couldn't sit there and let you kill that man, especially if I had the chance to stop you. I love my family but I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I didn't try. You can kill me, but I still won because I saved his life. My husband will understand that."
She reached out her hand. "Just give me the gun, Ruddy."
For a long moment Ruddy stood as if frozen. Finally he whispered so quietly that Jean almost didn't hear him. "Get out of here."
Jean saw tears forming in the corners of Ruddy's eyes. She hesitated for a moment, not sure if she should leave.
Ruddy noticed her hesitation. "I said, get the hell out of here!"
Quickly Pete moved up taking Jean in his arms and turned her around, forcing her toward the door. "Pete?" she whispered questioningly, concerned about what would happen next.
"Keep walking and don't look back, Jean." Pete sternly led her out of the bank, for he suspected what was coming next. After they had walked several steps out of the bank a single gunshot sounded out from a pistol.
Jean's knees grew weak, as she knew it was finally over. Finally she allowed her emotions to overwhelm her and she melted in tears into Pete's arms.
Pete found a place for Jean to sit and then sat next to her and held her as she freed the feelings she had kept in check while in the bank.
Sergeant MacDonald came up and knelt before them, waiting patiently for her tears to subside. He held out a handkerchief for her, which she gladly accepted. "Jean, are you okay?"
Jean silently nodded as she wiped her nose and eyes.
Mac placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. "That took a lot of guts, Jean. I just spoke with some of the hostages and they all said you were the hero in there. I'm impressed."
Jean just shook her head. "I did nothing special. I just did what I felt I had to, that's all."
"No, Jean, you did what you didn't have to do, and that is special." Mac stood up. "Pete why don't you take her back to the station, get her statement and then take her home." As he turned to walk away he called back over his shoulder, "and then go to the hospital to get that back looked at!"
Jean stopped drying her tears and moved to see the scratch made by the bullet on his back. "Oh, Pete."
With an embarrassed shrug Pete tried to pretend it was nothing. "Just a scratch." He gently placed his arm around Jean. "Are you ready to go?"
Jean nodded and stood up. Pete led the way to his police cruiser and went over to the front passenger side and opened the door for her. "Here, take Jim's seat!"
Blushing, Jean climbed into the car, excited to be sitting in the same seat her husband spent so much time in. Pete took his seat and headed toward the police station.
"Jean," Pete spoke as they drove, "Jim knows you were in there, so I'd give him a call if I were you."
"Oh gosh, he must be so worried." Jean clutched the damp handkerchief in her hands. "I'll give him a call first thing."
Pete looked at her from the corner of his eye. Though he had witnessed some of what had happened at the bank, he knew that there was far more that he didn't know about. He could only imagine what his partner's wife had just been through.
For a while the two rode in silence as Pete tried to give her the space she needed to recover from her ordeal. He noticed the tears that were still slowly coming out of her eyes. "Jean, are you sure you're okay?"
Jean smiled. "Yes, Pete. I learned a lot today. I guess having a gun pointed at you forces you to change your perspective real quick."
Pete nodded, knowing what she was talking about. His first experience at the wrong end of a loaded weapon had really shaken him up. "You have a lot of strength, Jean. You really handled yourself well."
"Thanks, Pete. I just wish that were true more often. I haven't been handling myself to well lately." She stared out the window.
Pete wasn't quite sure what she meant. "How is that?"
Jean turned in her seat to look at Pete. "I'm sure you know Jim and I have been arguing a lot lately."
Pete just nodded his head. "Yes, Jim has mentioned that to me."
Looking at her hands. "I was trying to get him to quit being a police officer. I didn't think I could take all the worrying and waiting anymore, and I couldn't understand why he would take chances like he does. I guess now I owe him an apology."
Pete was a little uncomfortable with the current topic but he knew that he should say something. "Jean, I know being married to a guy like Jim is not easy on a woman. But what I saw in there today, if anyone has the strength to be married to a cop, it's you. Jim loves you a lot, Jean; that I can tell. It was tearing him apart not knowing what to do about this."
"Well, I meant what I said in the bank. I understand now why he's a police officer. I think I can accept that now." With a sigh she leaned back in the seat.
Pete decided to lighten the atmosphere. "Well, I'm glad to hear that. It will certainly make my life easier."
Sensing the teasing note in his voice, Jean looked at him curiously. "Ohh, how is that?"
"Well," Pete flashed his most charming smile, "he hasn't been easy to live with these past few shifts. If you two make up that will make being his partner that much easier."
With exaggerated sincerity, Jean looked at Pete. "Oh Pete, I never once thought about your feelings. How insensitive of me."
With a laugh the two pulled into the station. Pete walked her to the phone and listened as she called home.
"Emma, yes, this is Jean....I know...no, I'm fine, really. Thanks so much for watching Jim and Jimmy for me...How's Jim?...No, don't bother waking him up. I'm going to be at the station for a while. I'll talk to him when I get home...Yes, I'm sure... Thanks, Emma. I'll see you later." Jean hung up the phone with a sigh. "So Officer Malloy, what do I need to do now?"
"Well, welcome to the joy of police work, now comes the reports." Pete led her to the report room. "We just need a statement while the events are fresh in your mind. Later the detectives will probably want to question you, but they can do that tomorrow."
With a small smile, Jean sat down at the table. "Well, I guess we best get started."
Pete paused before sitting down. "Will you be all right for a few minutes?"
"Sure, where are you going?" Jean queried.
Pete gave an embarrassed smile. "I'm going to give Judy a call. I'm sure she's worried."
Jean smiled. "You know, Pete, if you'd like I could give her a few pointers on being a police officer's wife."
Pete held out his hands as if he were being martyred. "If it's not one Reed, it's the other." With a smile he disappeared out the door.
The sight of her home was beautiful to Jean as she thanked Pete for the ride. She hurried to the front door and opened it. Emma met her at the door with a comforting hug. "Jean, you have no idea how relieved I am to see you."
Jean smiled and accepted the warm hug. "Emma, I'm so sorry that all this happened." She stepped back from the embrace. "Thanks so much for helping the boys."
Emma looked into Jean's eyes. "Dear, it was my pleasure. Are you sure you're okay?"
With a brave smile Jean nodded at her neighbor. "Yes, I'm fine for now. I guess it all really hasn't sunk in."
Gathering her sweater Emma took one last look at Jean. "If you need anything, just call. Please don't hesitate."
"I won't. Thanks again, Emma. I owe you." Jean escorted her neighbor to the door.
"No dear, you don't owe me a thing. I'll stop by tomorrow to see if you need anything." With that Emma began the short walk next door.
Jean waited until she saw Roger greet Emma before gently closing the front door. Then she turned and walked into the living room. The television was still on, but the sound had been turned down. Jim was sound asleep on the couch with a blanket neatly tucked around him.
Jean turned off the television and then quietly approached her sleeping husband. Tears welled up in her eyes at the joy of seeing him. Gently she reached out to touch him and whispered his name. "Jim."
Hearing her voice, his eyes flashed open. Realizing that his wife was safely kneeling in front of him Jim reached out quickly and embraced her, as if trying to insure she was not an illusion. "Jean!"
For a moment they just sat and hugged as the tears streamed down their faces. Jim recovered first and pulled back to examine her. "Jean, I was so scared when I found out you were in there. I've had a lot of time to think. I don't want you to ever leave me again!"
"Jim, I'm not leaving you. I'm fine." Jean wiped her tears from her eyes as she saw the frantic look on his face.
"No, listen to me." Jim pulled Jean up to the couch so he could look her in the eyes. "I realized how terrible I've been to you lately. I never truly understood how hard it is for you to sit here and wait on me night after night. Tonight about killed me, and you've been doing it for six years. If Emma hadn't been here, I don't know what I would have done. You have been a terrific wife, and a wonderful mother, and all I could think of was myself. My job is not more important than our marriage. I promise that I'll never put you through this again. I'll call Mac tomorrow and tell him I'm quitting! I don't know what I'll do but I'll find something. I love you too much, Jean."
"Jim, hush." Jean placed her hand on Jim's lips to silence him and she shook her head. "I learned a lot today too. I didn't marry an insurance salesman or a mechanic or a banker. I married a police officer. I discovered today that people like you are needed in this world, and I'm proud of the fact that you are brave enough to do what you feel is right. I know now that just because you help others doesn't mean you love Jimmy and me any less. You don't have to change your job because of me. I'll support you no matter what you do. I'm willing to take a chance being married to a police officer. I love you so much Jim, but it doesn't matter if we're together for one more day or fifty years, I'll be here when you get home."
Jim looked deep into her eyes. "I meant it, Jean…"
Again, Jean hushed her husband. "Honey, we're both just upset and you're not feeling well. Let's go to bed. Besides, Pete's waiting on his partner to come back."
Jim leaned forward and hugged his wife again. "Jean, I love you."
After enjoying the hug, Jean gently helped Jim to his feet and led him to the bedroom. She helped him under the covers and kissed him on the lips as his eyes began to close. She was about turn out the light when he softly spoke.
"You know we seem to have bad luck with banks. Perhaps we should get a new one."
"We already tried that, remember?" Jean smiled at her husband.
"Perhaps a big mattress or a shoe box?" Jim peaked at his wife through one eye.
With a smile Jean turned out the light. "Go to sleep, James Reed."