. . . And the Beat Goes On
By Christine 'Tina' Spassione
c. May 2001
A single boat drifted gently on the ocean. All aboard were enjoying an afternoon of fishing and relaxation on what seemed an absolutely perfect day. It was bright and sunny, uncharacteristically warm for the particular time of year.
Pete reclined in a seat on the stern of his boat, rod in hand. He stared out at clear horizon, his graying hair dancing in the light breeze. The water was so clear and calm, he could spot schools of fish innocently swimming by. He truly appreciated times like this - away from the city's often-smoggy atmosphere, sometimes-rude citizens and the crime that permeated the city. He appeared to be miles away, not paying the least bit of attention to his mates, who were intent on actually catching something.
. . .This is much better than being out on patrol or instructing at the academy all day. Soon I'll be doing this full time. Where have all the years gone?
Pete, engrossed in his memories, barely acknowledged his friends' leisurely banter.
"Wanna hand me the knife? My line's all tangled," Mac called, frustration clouding his bright blue eyes. Mac tossed his pole down and began cutting at the line.
Pete briefly glanced in Mac's direction. Mac's wide smile betrayed his frustrated tone.
"Haven't I taught you anything about patience, Lieutenant?" Val asked. "How are you going to catch anything when you keep casting your line out and reeling it back in too fast? You're not giving the fish a chance to even see the bait, much less bite at it!"
"Well, what do you expect? Almost five hours out here and no bites on the line? I think I've been patient enough! Fish don't take five or ten minutes to see bait, you know. I was able to reel in more criminals in my career than I have today!" Mac groaned as the hook from his line got caught in his now salt-and-pepper black hair.
Pete couldn't help but hear Mac's last comment, nor could he resist the urge to play. "I wouldn't say you reeled in the criminals all on your own, Mac. Jim and I did most of the leg work for ya!" laughed Pete. His eyes flashed a vivid green, a glint of mockery shining in them as he teased his former superior and close friend.
"Geez. I've only been in retirement for a few months, and you're still giving me flack!"
"What are friends for? Besides, it's my boat - I can flack whenever and to whomever I want!" exclaimed Pete, ducking just in time as some bait sailed past his head from Mac's direction.
"You two . . . you both still sound like probationers to me," Val grinned at them.
Val had a soft spot for Pete, as did many people associated with the LAPD. Val was Pete's Training Officer and first partner, and he personally helped Pete work through the death of his partner only seven years into his career. Val trusted Pete's abilities completely - he knew from the very beginning Pete would quickly move through the ranks and mold many competent officers along the way. Val was always interested in what was happening with the recruits Pete was working with. "Speaking of 'probationers', Pete. How do the recruits look this time around? Eager and green as usual, ready to hit the street in a few short weeks? I hope you're not working them too hard or scaring them away."
Pete pretended to be hurt by Val's comment, as he noticed Val becoming serious about the question he was asking. "Hey, I resent that! I never scared anyone off."
"Really?" Val inquired.
"All right, maybe one or two, but they just weren't cut out for the job. Their leaving wasn't my doing! Anyway, most of them look good. One or two won't make it to graduation. They're too cocky, think they know to much."
"But most rookies think they know it all. Even you did, Pete," Val gave him a gentle reminder.
"True, true - but not nearly to this extent. There are a few who are just disrespectful. I don't remember ever calling you 'incompetent' or 'out of the loop', which I had the honor of being called last week."
"Uh-huh . . . "
"But, one recruit in particular has caught my eye. Maybe I'm being partial, but he seems to be just like his father in so many ways," Pete looked down, a twinkle in his eye as a picture of the young man he spoke of entered his mind. Pete adeptly secured a shiner onto his hook.
"I know a few of the officers have sons or daughters - I think even a grandchild is in there somewhere - following in their footsteps this class. Which one are you talking about?"
"Well, you certainly won't be surprised by this -"
Before Pete could finish his thought, he was cut off by a distant, familiar voice.
"1-Adam-16, 1-Adam-16, see the guard. 211-silent in progress at America's Bank, 1211 Lincoln Avenue. 1-Adam-16, Handle Code 3," wailed a LAPD Motorola Radio unit mounted discreetly under the dash of the boat.
The boat fell silent for a brief moment while all stopped to listen. Val and Mac promptly returned to their tasks, but Pete continued to sit quietly and listen.
"1-Adam-16, supplemental on your call: PR says suspects are heavily armed. Proceed with caution."
"1-Adam-16, roger. Did the PR report any descriptions of the suspects or vehicle involved?"
"Pete, where's the knife Mac just had?"
"Negative on the car, Adam-16. PR reports 2 male suspects, 1 white and 1 black. No further description given."
"Pete? The knife?"
"Pete!" Val's shout finally shocked Pete to attention. "You really shouldn't be listening to the radio like this. You should be relaxing - it's your day off. I hope you're not planning to listen in once you retire," Val said, knowing full well that Pete's sometimes stubborn nature would make him listen long after he was out of the department. Val continued on, pensively, "Besides, there isn't anything you can do from way out here."
"I know. But as long as I'm still on the force, I have this need to be close to what's happening. Blame it on the protective nature I developed from keeping tabs on Reed for so long."
Pete noticed, out of the corner of his eye, Val was giving him 'the look' . . . the look he knew too well, the look that Val had given him for over twenty-five years every time Pete was being stubborn.
"Okay, I'll turn it off. Sorry," Pete conceded, feeling like he did the few times that Val had to verbally reprimand him. He leaned over to the radio unit - not to turn it off, but to turn the volume down.
"Good. Now hand me some more bait. The fish are just too smart for us today. They keep eating the bait without getting themselves stuck on the hook!" exclaimed Val.
Pete popped the lid on the bait can and reached in for a few shiners, which he gave to Val. I sure hope he doesn't notice the radio's still on . . .
"Hey, Pete. I - " Val began.
The radio hissed, "1-Adam-16, show us Code 6, 1211 Lincoln."
"Any luck yet, Val?" asked Pete, trying to develop a conversation in an attempt to distract Val from hearing the radio.
"No, Pete. As you can see, I haven't even cast out yet," Val responded suspiciously.
"Me either. Do you think we should move to a different spot?" Mac suggested. "Maybe they're biting over there?"
"In a little while, Mac. Let's give it another half hour to see if they're just hiding from us," returned Pete, trying to stall until the 211 call was over. I need to know he's safe. These calls can go so wrong so quickly.
"Okay, and only for a half hour. Then we're moving." Mac declared as he recast his line out a few yards from the boat.
"1-Adam-16 - Suspects are running out the front. Request a backup unit to this location."
"I don't believe it. I think I have something!" Mac shouted.
"Wooo-hooo! I got one! I finally got one! Where's the net, Pete?" called Mac. "I need the net!"
"Well, its about time we got something for our troubles," Val added.
"Thanks," Mac said as Pete handed him the net.
Val glanced over and noticed Pete still had the radio turned on. In the hope that Pete would heed his warning, he decided not to bring it up - right now, anyway. "Need help reeling it in, old timer?" he teased Mac.
"No. I got it!"
"1-Adam-16 - Officers need help! Shots fired! Shots fired at this location!"
The frantic radio transmission halted all action and conversation on the boat. An eerie silence fell upon its occupants while the commotion intensified on the other end of the radio.
"Officer down! Where's our backup? Send an ambulance to this location!" came over the radio as echoes of people screaming, trying to run for cover, filled the air in the background. The usual cool, professional tone of the officer speaking on the opposite end of the radio faded to excitement and fright as the sound of automatic weapon fire rang through the small speaker beneath the dash.
Val again glanced over at Pete. An expression of horror flashed over Pete's still youthful face.
"Adam-32, will back up Adam-16. ETA, 2 minutes."
"Roger, 1-Adam-32. Attention all available units: Officers need help. 1-Adam-16 reports shots fired and officer down at America's Bank, 1211 Lincoln Avenue. Ambulance and 1-Adam-32 are in route - ETA 2 minutes. Any available units to assist, please identify."
"1-Adam-22, will back up Adam-16. ETA 4 minutes."
"Roger, 1-Adam-22. 1-Adam-16, 1-Adam-16. 1-Adam-32 and 1-Adam-22 will back up. ETA 2 to 4 minutes. Ambulance has been dispatched."
"1-Adam-16, roger." The Motorola squealed as gunfire and shattering glass continued to be heard outside Unit A-16. It was one of the most chilling, desperate sounds any of the three officers listening had ever heard.
"Pete . . . " Val whispered.
Mac and Val stood motionless for what seemed like an eternity, but Pete Malloy's instincts launched him toward the controls. As a roar came out of the Evinrude twin out-board motor, Mac and Val were caught off-balance and sailed in his direction to the stern of the boat.
"Pete! What the hell are you doing? You trying to kill us out here?" cried Mac, trying to regain his footing on the wet floor of the boat and retain the hold on his pole with the fish still attached.
"Pete!" Val called, trying to get Pete's attention.
"I'm sorry. I have to get back there," whispered Pete, as a cold chill descended down his spine and frightful images entered his thoughts.
. . . Oh God! Don't let it happen to him. Don't make him go through this . . .
"David? Son . . ."
A look of concern and relief came over Pete's face as he first saw his son sitting in a chair in the dimly lit Emergency Room waiting area at Rampart General Hospital. He was alone, but apparently unharmed. Pete noticed the blood and dirt smeared all over David's uniform, badge, hands. The sleeve on the left arm of his uniform shirt was torn - the hash mark representing his five-years on the force was torn away. A smear of blood replaced the hash mark.
"Dad . . . what're you doing here? You're supposed to be out fishing," whispered Officer David Malloy as he sat slumped in the chair, his head in his hands.
Pete noticed his son's usual carefree attitude toward life had disappeared as he took in the detached,
gray stare in David's eyes. He still sometimes found it hard to believe this tall, professional officer was
the little eleven-year-old who once begged him for days to buy him a motorcycle.
"I heard the 211 call. I thought you might have been-" Pete's words dropped off, afraid he might lose his control over his feelings. "I wanted to make sure you were okay, David. I needed to know you were okay."
"Thanks, Dad. I'm fine. But Shawn . . ."
"What did the doctors say?"
"They just told me. There was nothing they could do. He lost too much blood. The shot was too good - it did too much internal damage. What do I do now, Dad? My partner's gone . . . " David whispered again, shaking his head back and forth.
"I'm sorry," Pete said as he tried to comfort David. This never gets any easier, no matter how many times you go through it. Now my son . . . Why?
David suddenly looked up at Pete, terror filling his blood-shot eyes. He looked so unsure of what to do. "Oh God! His wife! Who tells Kate? Someone's got tell her before it hits the news!"
"I don't know," Pete said calmly, trying to soothe him. "We'll have to wait until the Lieutenant gets here. I wouldn't worry about her finding out on the news. Remember, the reporters shouldn't be able to get the information until we notify her first. She shouldn't know until someone from the department arrives at the house."
"Yeah, right. Do you think I'll have to do it?"
"Maybe. Since you and Shawn were so close, the Lieutenant might want you to make the notification . . . if you think you can handle it." Pete rested his hand on his son's shoulder. David eased his head on his father's welcoming hand, a wisp of auburn-colored hair falling on his forehead.
I know what you are going through, David. Honestly, I do, Pete thought, as he searched for the words to comfort his son. I just hope you don't decide to throw your career away like I planned to do a long time ago. You wouldn't be happy. You need to help others. You're like me. Too much like me . . .
"Officer Malloy, Commander," an authoritative, yet comforting voice spoke from the entrance of the waiting room. "David, are you alright? How's Shawn? Is he going to be okay?"
"Lieutenant, I-I'm fine. Thank you." David's words trailed off as he sat straight up in the chair. He was afraid to look into the Lieutenant's - his uncle's - eyes. Staring at the floor, he shared the news, "Shawn just died, Lieutenant. There was nothing the doctors could do to save him . . . "
Jim Reed approached David. Jim's face visibly aged ten years within seconds of the news. He tried to speak, but no words would form on his now trembling lips. He turned away as he ran a hand through his graying hair. His blue eyes scanned the room to see who else was there. Jim's eyes met Pete's - a reflection of sadness and comfort faced him.
Jim turned back to David and finally spoke softly, "Take it easy, David." He took a long breath and continued, "I'll talk to the doctor in a minute and find out what went wrong."
Jim continued as his sense of duty overrode the sadness that he felt. "Shawn's wife hasn't been notified yet. Many of the wives are calling the station now because the press is all over the story. I want her informed very soon. Since you and Shawn were close, do you want to be the one? Understand that I'm not forcing you-"
"It would be best coming from me. But, what do I say? I've only had to make a notification like this once, and it was to someone I didn't know. That was tough enough - how do I tell her without breaking apart?"
"David, I can't tell you what to say. But, she'll know what happened once you arrive. The right words will come to you," Jim spoke with a gentle, comforting smile on his face.
"Sure. Sure . . . "
"Do you want me to drive you over to the house?"
"No, just take me back to the station. I'll get a car and go over myself. I have to do this by myself."
"Okay, David. I'll drive you over in a few minutes." Jim touched David's shoulder, "I hope you know that you're not in this alone. You can always talk to me. Please, just ask."
"Thanks," whispered David again.
"By the way, David."
"Yeah?" David slowly looked up at Jim.
"If it helps, we caught the suspects about ten blocks away in a stolen car. Shawn managed to hit one of them in the thigh and it slowed their getaway down," Jim Reed said as gently he could.
David shrugged off Jim's hand and walked to the far, dark corner of waiting room. He sat down again in a chair, facing away from the two men who cared for him so much. "I wish it did."
"Pete? Can I talk to you?" Jim asked, turning to his former partner and friend.
"Sure, Jim." Pete moved away from the window and walked over to David's new location. "David, I'll be right back. Please, come get me if you need me. I'll be right outside."
"Thanks." whispered David, looking up at his father with a tear falling from his eye.
Outside the Emergency entrance, the temperature felt much colder than it did a few hours before. The former partners watched the traffic pass by, the occupants of the cars unaffected by the events of the past few hours.
"I don't know what to say to him," confided Jim. "It would be one thing if he were just another officer on my watch."
"Jim?" Pete asked, cocking his head to the side in question.
"Okay, that's not true. But, he's David. He's more to me than just another officer. How do I guide him? Console him? I don't even know how to console the whole watch!"
Jim turned and watched as innocent people entered and exited the hospital's main entrance. He looked as though he was awaiting some divine intervention.
"You'll find a way, Jim. It will come to you. You just have to trust yourself."
"How can I trust myself with this when this has never happened before?" Jim asked, suddenly looking as green as he did on his first day on watch.
"Yes, it did. Remember? That was me - about twenty-five years ago - right when you came along." Pete smiled, somewhat painfully, as he recalled his first day back on the job after a three-week forced leave. Even with the passage of time, he still found the memories very painful.
Jim turned back to face Pete.
Pete continued, "You somehow found a way to help me, even though I didn't want you to. You can't make it better for David - only he can right now. You should know that first hand."
"I'm sure I know what he is thinking right now, if he's anything like you."
"He is exactly like me, although he doesn't always want to admit it."
"I don't want to lose him, Pete. He's my best officer," Jim said with sadness in his voice. "I remember how hard it was for you. I thought you were going to explode at any moment - at me or at anyone who stood in your way of leaving. And, that was three weeks after your partner was killed!"
"Yeah, I treated you pretty harsh, didn't I?"
"I don't think 'harsh' covers it."
"Well . . . " Pete said, with a slight gleam in his eye, "Maybe you should treat him the same way Moore treated me. Give him some time off. Let him collect himself for a while. Then, pair him up with a new partner."
"You'll have a few rookies starting patrol soon, fresh from my hands. Why not assign David as one of the Training Officers? It might distract him enough for him to be able to move on. Heck knows you distracted me!"
"Oh, are you still going to hang that over my head?" asked Jim.
"Absolutely. And I'll continue to remind you until we're both racing along in wheelchairs!"
The pair shared a momentary laugh thinking about all they had been through in the years that they rode together, until Pete finally decided to take the sergeant's exam.
"Really, Jim. Look how far you've come with my guidance - the guidance I fought Val on until you wormed your way into my life. Being a TO might be good for him - it was good for me."
"It sure was . . . "
"Don't decide on it now. Wait and think it over until he returns to work. You know him better as a police officer than I do - you were his Sergeant and now his Lieutenant. You know first hand what he can and can't handle."
"I'll think it over, Pete. Thanks. You're probably right, again. I just can't seem to stop learning new things from you, even now. I wonder if I'm really cut out for this position - I just don't feel like I know anything," lamented Jim.
Pete placed his hand on Jim's shoulder in reassurance. "Your responsibilities are new, so don't expect to be the perfect Lieutenant only after three months. You know much more than you realize. Give it time."
Two and a half weeks after Officer Shawn Mays was gunned down, Officer David Malloy returned to watch. As he walked down the hallway, which seemed much longer than he remembered it, he heard a familiar voice call to him.
"Malloy? Stop in my office after you get into uniform."
David stopped outside the locker room, with the uniform that he had not looked at during his weeks off in his hands. The Review Board interviewed him a few days before and found him fit to return to work. He dreaded returning. He just wasn't sure if he was ready to return, or if he even wanted to.
"Yes, sir," David coldly answered, scaring himself as he listened to the voice coming out of his mouth. "I'll be there in a few minutes," he added carefully.
After briefly greeting one of his fellow officers, he entered the locker room and disappeared behind the door.
"Have you spoken to Sergeant Stewart yet?" Jim asked as he rounded the desk and sat down. He motioned for David to sit on one of the extra chairs in front of him, but he didn't move.
"No, I just got here. Why?" David asked as his eyes panned around Lieutenant Reed's office. The office was much like Uncle Jim's home: pictures of various events in his life were hung on the walls. Pictures of family, friends, co-workers, the day he received his Medal of Valor. His office was a welcoming place for the men and women on his watch. David felt warmth and safety there.
"Well, he was going to tell you that you're going to be introduced to your new partner today. But, I wanted to talk to you for a few minutes first. Okay?"
"Sure." David's reply was terse.
"Are you sure you're ready to return to work?" Jim asked, trying to look into David's eyes and see what, if any, emotion was there. "I don't want you going back out on the street until you're ready."
"The Review Board cleared me for duty, right?"
Jim studied David for a moment. His stance reminded Jim so much of Pete - confident, daring, strong, despite the recent events he was dealing with. Somehow, David managed to assimilate Pete's movements over the years in such a way that it looked like David had originated them. His hand gestures, like how he held his right hand at the ready, vigilant and poised over his gun, were all Pete Malloy. The resemblance was striking . . . and comforting.
"Yes, they did. But they don't see you in action every day - I do. I want to make sure you're ready."
"I'm not sure . . . "
"I know what you're capable of , and I'm not going to expect less than what you can give. I want to make sure the rookie assigned to you is - "
"Rookie? Look, Lieutenant, I have to be honest with you. I wasn't planning on being assigned a new partner, much less a rookie."
"Can I ask what you were planning on?"
"Maybe the desk, or an L-car-"
"David, that's not the best way for you to get back on the job."
"I don't want to work with another partner."
"You need to have someone with you-"
"I can't do it."
"Because . . . " David began to unconsciously pace in front of Jim's desk. "Because I can't handle seeing another partner shot down."
"That's not going to happen."
David stopped and stared at Jim. "How do you know?"
Jim paused, unsure of what to say.
"I know what you're trying to do, Lieutenant."
"Oh, come on!" David exclaimed in disbelief. "You know what I mean! I'm not my father. I can't move on that fast! I can't get past it that fast . . . ."
"David - "
David interrupted, "I suppose you should know, Lieutenant. I'm considering leaving the force tonight."
The words were a shock to Jim, although he knew in his head to expect it. After the experience of losing a partner, most police officers begin to question their motives and reasons for being on the job. They question if risking their lives is worth arresting only a few criminals and possibly saving only a couple of lives. Most consider quitting - whether they actually do is another story.
David seemed to have picked up Pete's stubbornness, along with his occasional self-questioning. This isn't going to help me to convince him to stay, Jim thought as the news sunk in. Jim stood up behind the desk, thinking his strong stature might aid him in convincing David to change his mind.
"David. Give this some thought - leaving a job you've done for so long and so well is a drastic step."
"I don't know if I can handle the job now." David lowered his green eyes, but before he did, Jim saw the sorrow reflect in them. His young face looked like it had aged well beyond his twenty-nine years.
"Listen. I know you're not your father and no one expects you to react the same way. But you're the best officer I have on watch, and we need you here. You could use more time to work it through. I'll contact the Review Board and suggest you have more time off. Take it - you have it coming. Don't make this decision too fast. It's a decision you'll regret."
"I won't regret it."
Ignoring David's cold reply, "Give it a week or so. If you still have the same answer then, I'll speak to the Captain and make the arrangements - if it's what you really want."
"I don't know, I - I'm sorry. I just keep seeing Shawn's face, his chest and hands covered in blood . . . and me, in no position to help him. You know Katie hates me now - she won't even speak to me. She blames me for not being there to help him."
"Have you tried explaining what happened?"
"Yeah - I've tried telling her that the situation wasn't that simple, but she won't listen to me. She can't listen. You know, she never wanted him to be a cop . . ." David's words trailed off again. He suddenly grew angry thinking about the whole situation. "I'm not my dad! I can't move forward like him. I don't know if I'm strong enough. Don't force me to take on a rookie. "
"I'm not forcing you, David. I'm suggesting you try," Jim said, moving toward the window to look at the patrol cars shining in the sun. "Try the pairing and finish out the week. If you're still having problems, we'll figure out another solution. Give it at least that much. You won't really know how you feel until you get back out there."
A slight forced smile, the one his father sometimes gave to Jim when he was cornered on an issue, came over David's face. "Dad has certainly taught you the art of stalling."
Jim seconded the smile, in the hope it would comfort David.
"Okay, just this week. Don't push me any more than that - I don't think I can take much more."
"I won't," replied Jim.
David left without looking at the Lieutenant, still unsure of what to do.
"Okay everyone! Let's fall in!" Sergeant Joseph Stewart exclaimed, his booming voice catching everyone's immediate attention. He set his papers down quickly and readied for Roll as Lieutenant Reed stood looking on in the background.
The noise from all the officers talking stopped as everyone settled in for the day.
Knowing he was late, Officer Malloy silently took a chair in the back corner; he tried not to distract the others. After he readied himself, he looked up from his notebook, quickly aware that his late entrance didn't go unnoticed by his superiors, especially the Lieutenant.
David observed the Lieutenant as the Lieutenant surveyed the Watch. Lieutenant Reed's eyes stopped briefly on David. A look of concern flashed through his blue eyes - as quickly as it appeared it was gone.
"Welcome back to another day of fighting crime, everyone," Stewart said, his round face flashing a hue of red as he chuckled at his own unintended joke.
David listened to the mumbled replies the Watch gave back to the Sergeant. At least some things never change . . .
"I would like everyone to welcome Officer Malloy back to watch today," the Sergeant announced.
David sat uneasily as his fellow officers welcomed him back and acknowledged their encouragement politely. He noticed the Sergeant's deep brown eyes shift his way. The only expression he could muster in return was one of quiet uncertainty and fear.
"All right. Settle down, folks. We have a couple 'new starts' today. I'd like to introduce two rookies to the watch - sorry, I mean 'Officers'," Stewart corrected himself. "Officers Alex J. Walker and James A. Reed, Jr., please stand up."
David shifted to see the two new officers standing at the front row. One stood out from the other: Officer James A. Reed, Jr., who was the son of the Lieutenant. No one was surprised that Jim, Jr. chose to follow his father into the department, just as David had done six years prior.
Jim Jr., regarded as 'Jimmy' from birth, looked impressive in his uniform. I suppose that's what Uncle Jim looked like his first day . . . green and eager, David speculated while watching him.
David studied Jimmy intently. He looks so young, yet so confident.
He suddenly realized that Jimmy wasn't supposed to be standing there. He was assigned to Van Nuys. Why is he here? Oh, the Lieutenant wouldn't dare . . . His fist began to clench at the thought.
"I would like everyone to welcome them to the Watch - and no funny stuff! Their first day is going to be tough enough. They don't need the added stress of some of your childish pranks - and that goes especially for you, Smyth!" the Sergeant chided.
The whole group began to laugh at the recollection of Officer Warren Smyth's pranks over the years. His most notable prank was when Smyth had his rookie believing for weeks that he was responsible for taking all notes at Roll Call and writing all reports on the calls they responded to. Smyth's pranks stood second in memory only to those of Officer Ed Wells, who since left the force to become an independent law enforcement consultant.
Jimmy's a fool, David thought as he eyed Jimmy's tall form, not paying attention to the laughter in the room and the Sergeant continuing roll. He should have thought this through. He has no idea what he is getting into.
Roll continued on, consisting of the usual notes on problem districts, new criminals and more stolen vehicles. Everything seemed like the same old routine . . .
"Now, onto the assignments," the Sergeant proceeded. " . . . Jones and Watson, Adam-8. And lastly, Malloy and Officer Reed, Adam-16," called the Sergeant, promptly closing his book and ending Roll Call.
"Okay, let's hit the streets!" The Lieutenant's words were quick and felt like ice through David's veins, his cheeks burned with anger.
How could he do this! This is not happening. It shouldn't happen . . . It can't happen! I won't let it happen! David convinced himself as he stormed over to the Lieutenant, brushing right past his newly assigned partner and the Sergeant who stood up at the front of the room.
David noticed Jimmy's proud smile fade as he rushed past him in silence. David left him standing alone.
"Lieutenant Reed, I must speak with you. Now." David's words were hostile, slow, deliberate. He exited the room, not waiting for an answer.
Back in the Lieutenant's office, David didn't feel as safe as he did in their earlier meeting. He now felt betrayed by the person who was supposed to know him very well, both on and off the job.
"How can you do this? I agreed to try a pairing with a rookie - but not Jimmy! Jimmy wasn't even supposed to be in this division!"
Jim tried to explain as calmly as he could. "Because of an administrative problem, Van Nuys had too many rookies assigned to their division. Jimmy had to be reassigned and it was decided to move him here. Since you know each other, the Captain suggested that you be his TO. I agreed."
"Do you honestly think I believe that? Just because my partner was killed doesn't make me a fool!"
"No, it doesn't. And I think you are also well aware that you should be talking to Stewart about this right now, not me. He is your immediate supervisor now."
In his anger, David ignored Jim's indirect reprimand. "You could've made a different assignment!"
"David, it might be good for you to be paired with someone you're comfortable with. That's why I agreed with the Captain." Jim tried to be as calm and understanding as he could, but his patience with David's unexpected attitude was wearing thin - he had a job to do, after all. He had to make decisions that were best for his officers, the department and the city they were sworn to protect.
Pacing again, David said, "I will not be Jimmy's TO. End of discussion. Give me an L-car so I can finish the week, then I'm gone." Jim was shocked at the sheer coldness in David's words.
"You can't change your assignment." Jim said leaning on the edge of the desk, now losing his composure. He decided the discussion had to end here. "If you can't handle it once the week's over, then we'll discuss it. David, you're the best officer I have - I know he'll be safe with you."
"If you didn't think he'd be safe, maybe he shouldn't have become a cop!" David had fire in his eyes and didn't seem to care to whom he was speaking.
David's words stabbed at Jim as he tried to think of what to say. Jim proceeded sternly and forcefully, realizing he'd let David's opinions go too far. "I'm assigning you as Jimmy's TO. There's nothing left to discuss. Now find your partner and get to work." Jim stood tall in front of David.
David looked at Jim with an emotionless stare. He reached up for his badge, adeptly unhooked the pin and removed it from his uniform shirt. David inspected the badge he wore for the past seven years for a brief moment, then apathetically tossed it on the Jim's desk. David turned and left the office, slamming the door on his way out.
Jim sat down at his desk and thumbed David's discarded badge. I've lost him. . .
Five minutes later in the locker room . . .
"David? Can I talk to you for a minute?"
"Go away, Jimmy" David responded. "Go find out who they're re-assigning you to."
"I wasn't expecting this assignment either. I was told last night to report here."
"How convenient," David replied coldly.
Jimmy sat down next to David on one of the benches. He noticed a piece of David's uniform was missing. "Where's your badge?"
"It doesn't matter now," David said quietly.
Knowing he wasn't about the get an answer to his question, Jimmy proceeded, "I understand you don't want to be my TO - I'm not offended in any way. Really. You've been through a lot the past few weeks. I wouldn't expect you to want to watch out for some rookie, especially me," Jimmy explained in a soft manner, much like his father's. "The brass is expecting too much of you right now."
"Thanks for understanding, Jimmy. It's not that I don't really want you as my partner . . . but you see, I feel like I'm poison right now. I don't want to get you killed."
"Is that the reason why you don't want to be my TO? I'm not going to get killed and you didn't get Shawn killed. Dad told me what happened - there was no way you could've prevented Shawn from being the line of fire. He bailed out of the car before you could stop him. He did it to himself. He didn't follow the procedures you taught him."
"And I get to live with it - every day!" David yelled back to Jimmy, a visible rage growing in his eyes.
Unexpectedly, David got up from where he sat on the bench, paced a few feet and with all his strength, slammed his fist into his locker door. David winced as his hand made contact with the cold metal door. He shook his hand, pain radiating from his hand up through his wrist. His knuckles instantly turned a scarlet red from the impact.
"You okay?" Jimmy asked with concern in his voice.
"Yeah, fine." David turned to face away from his friend.
"David - "
"Don't you see? I failed him, Jimmy. I failed him and his family. I didn't train him enough, and now his family's suffering for it."
"You trained him very well! He was just too impulsive and thought he could do better. You can't train that out of someone."
"Look at me! I'm a grown man - a police officer in one of the finest departments in the country! And I'm tearing myself apart . . . I couldn't stand to live if something happened to you out there. I don't want to fail you too."
"David, I don't think you should've returned to the job yet. You're not ready. I think the Review Board should've given you more time. You need more time to get past this. Maybe you need another week off - I'm sure my dad -"
"Don't even say it. I was going to give it a week, but then your dad pulled this on me. I've changed my mind, Jimmy. I'm done with this job, here and now. And I really don't care what happens to my reputation."
David swung open his locker, generating a loud crash as the door hit the adjoining locker. He started throwing everything he had into a plain blue duffel bag.
"I wish you'd think this over. I'd hate to see you angry at yourself later on."
"I'm already angry," David replied, stopping briefly to rub his throbbing hand.
Jimmy got up and leaned against one of the rows of lockers, thinking about how to proceed . . . how to get David to stay. He smiled as the words came to him. "I look up to you, David. I hope you know that. I always have and always will. You've always been like a big brother to me."
"Jimmy, please - "
"I'm sorry I can't change your mind. It would've been an honor and a privilege to have you as my TO. But, I won't get that chance," Jimmy said softly to David. "I know you'll excel in whatever you choose to do. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you."
"I'm sorry," David said, looking up briefly from the bag he was carelessly packing.
"I know. Well, I better get going. I have to find out who my TO is now. And I don't want to be late for my first call - I still have five months and thirty days of probation to go through."
David watched Jimmy calmly walk out the door. He sure does wear the uniform well, doesn't he? No. No. I can't have this happen - I won't let it.
He looked over to the new dent in his locker. But what if something happens and I'm not there?
David stared at the locker room door for a few moments. He felt for his badge, but realized it wasn't there. He let out a sigh and slowly stood up. He placed his half-packed bag back into his locker and closed the door gently.
"Damn. How does Jimmy do it?" David said aloud. He exited the locker room, in search of the Lieutenant's office once again.
"Clear us." David said to Jimmy, with an annoyance in his voice. He reached over and grabbed the mic out of its cradle. "1-Adam-16, Day Watch Clear."
"1-Adam-16, Day Watch clear."
"1-Adam-16, roger," David spoke again, then he roughly placed the mic back. "Didn't they teach you any radio procedures in the academy? Or did the budget cuts go that far?"
Jimmy couldn't tell if David's statement was meant to be serious or if he was joking. He knew that David hadn't joked around with anyone in weeks. He thought he'd better proceed carefully. "Well, hey listen, I'm sorry. I'm just a little nervous. I wasn't expecting you to stay or be my TO. I'll work on it. I promise."
Was I that bad on my first day? Much to his surprise, an inkling of a smile washed over David's face, remembering his first encounter with the radio. The smile left as quickly as it appeared.
"Okay, I'll quiz you on it later," David joked. "Sorry to snap at you."
"That's okay. Hey, I didn't know that TO's gave their rookies quizzes."
"There's a lot you don't know yet."
"1-Adam-16, 1-Adam-16, see the woman, unknown trouble. 425 South Street. Handle Code 2."
"Well, looks like you're about to get an introduction to police work, Jimmy. Radio back that we received the call."
Jimmy grabbed the mic. "1-Adam-16 - " Jimmy began confidently, but then released the transmit button and turned to David. "Umm . . . What do I say?"
"How about roger?"
"Oh, yeah." Pressing the mic again, "1-Adam-16, roger."
"See. Not so bad."
"I think I can get the hang of it . . . "
Adam-16 roared down the street as they made their way to their first call together as partners.
"A cat stuck up a tree? We don't really get calls for that, do we?" Jimmy asked in disbelief.
"Yep. People forget that the fire department exists."
"Isn't that a waste of our time?"
"Yes, it is. But unless the P.R. tells the dispatcher what the problem really is, we get sent anyway. Then we have to call dispatch for the appropriate services to respond."
"I didn't realize we handled such mundane things."
"Be grateful for the mundane. It's much better than having to roll on a DB or anything dangerous."
"I suppose you're right."
The new partners grew quiet, grateful that the call wasn't serious. After a few moments of riding along in silence . . .
"David, can I ask you a question?"
"That depends on the question."
"I don't want to pry. But I just wanted to know if you're really okay." Jimmy looked to see if there was any reaction on David's face before he proceeded. David gave no response. "We've been friends so long. I don't want you thinking that you need to be my partner out of some obligation - "
"I'm okay, Jimmy. And I'm not doing this out of some obligation," David said, trying to be sincere but instead sounded very detached from everything around him.
"Then why'd you stay?"
"Because I was persuaded to give it a chance - one week. No pressure. So I agreed - one week."
"But, you don't really sound like you're ready for - "
"Please drop it, Jimmy." David was beginning to grow agitated. I know he means well, but I wish he'd stop asking me so many questions. Wasn't my answer enough?
"You're really going to leave, aren't you?"
"I've given it some more thought since this morning. Yeah, I'm still considering it. Now, I'm asking you to drop it." David's mood grew darker with each question Jimmy asked.
"You have so much experience and skill behind you. Why doubt yourself now?"
"That's simple: I can't watch those I care about getting blown up right in front of me."
"There was nothing you could've - "
"Yes there was, Jimmy!" David shouted, slamming the car to a complete stop in the middle of the road. The vehicle following behind them was forced to swing to the left, out of the way of the patrol car. David watched as the driver corrected the car's path and innocently continued down the road.
David turned to his partner of only a few hours. "I told you before - I didn't move fast enough! Shawn would've been alive had I moved fast enough! Now, drop it! I don't want to talk anymore - not here, not now!"
After quickly looking to make sure the road was clear, David threw the car back in gear and Adam-16 started moving again. David's face looked cold and contorted as he watched the road in front of him.
An uneasy silence filled the inside of the unit as they continued to travel down Los Alameda Boulevard . . . a silence that never existed between the two young men before. As David adeptly steered the car through the streets, Jimmy sat in the passenger's seat watching the storefronts pass by, hundreds of thoughts running through his head. His earlier confidence was beginning to escape him.
I can't believe he's shutting me out! He's going to lose it out here if he doesn't talk about what happened. Maybe Dad and the Board were too quick to put him back on the road. David's probably right - Dad was too quick to partner me with him . . .
After five minutes in silence, David spoke, this time much calmer. "Listen. I - I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that to you. I didn't mean it. It's just that I'm not ready to talk about it or to face it. Please understand. I just want it to go away for a while until I can handle it."
"You still have time to take off, don't you?"
"Yeah. But in a way, I'm afraid to take it. Now, please. No more . . . " With that, David turned onto Main, mentally tuning out the conversation and his friend.
Two days later, Adam-16 was on PM Watch.
"David, look over there. Might be a deuce," Jimmy said as he observed a green Chevy swerving in and out of its lane.
"I see. Call it in," David said dryly as he put on the lights and gave the siren a blast.
So far, the past two days on watch had not gone well between the partners. David remained detached from his work and his fellow officers, and his hostility to all who approached the subject of Shawn Mays swelled. Jimmy continued to try to show his T.O. what he knew and could do, but proceed to get knocked down every time.
"1-Adam-16, show us Code 6 at 706 Atlantic. Requesting wants, warrants and D.M.V. on Victor-Charles-Ocean 386."
"Roger, 1-Adam-16, Victor-Charles-Ocean 386. Stand by."
As the car came to a stop, "Wait for the response from dispatch. I'll go talk to our inebriated pal." Before Jimmy had a chance to protest, David was out of the unit and on his way over to the driver.
"1-Adam-16, no wants or warrants on Victor-Charles-Ocean 386. Car is a 1994 four-door green Chevrolet Cavalier. Registered to Peterson, Michael J., 2254 Lake View Drive, L.A." Jimmy listened as he watched David lead the tall, blonde man out of his car. The man was well dressed, not a stitch of clothing out of place. He seemed very alert, certainly not what Jimmy was expecting to see from a deuce.
Jimmy listened to the beginning of the conversation between David and Mr. Peterson as he walked over to the Chevy.
"Mr. Peterson, do you know why I stopped you?"
"No, officer. I wasn't speeding, was I?"
"No, sir. However, Officer Reed noticed your car weaving in and out of the lane, almost hitting a parked car four blocks back."
Jimmy walked up behind David and whispered, "He's clean. Car's registered to Michael J. Peterson, 2254 Lake View Drive, LA."
"That checks. Thanks."
Jimmy was taken aback by David's sudden gratitude. I wish I could figure him out . . .
"Oh, officers. I hope you don't think I'm a drunk or high on something. I just lost my cigarette - I dropped it in my lap. See? It made a hole in the seat. My wife's gonna kill me! I was just trying not to burn my leg or ruin my new slacks, officers. Sorry, I should've pulled over and got out of the car."
Jimmy walked over to the car and looked inside the driver's side window. He thumbed at the large cigarette mark. Turning to David, "It looks like it was just burned in today."
"Thanks, Reed. Well, I still need to make sure you haven't been drinking, Mr. Peterson. I'm going to give you a Field Sobriety Test. Do you know what that is?"
"Yeah, but I don't drink, Officer -"
David cut him off before he could finish. "It's routine. Please stand over on the curb, sir."
When Mr. Peterson reached the curb and was out of listening distance, Jimmy decided to speak up.
"Do you really think this is necessary? He explained his erratic driving. He doesn't show any signs of inebriation - his eyes aren't red, speech isn't slurred. He's even walking straight and totally coherent."
"Aren't you the one who said to pull him over?" David's words were like ice.
"I said maybe we should check him out. We did and he's fine - "
"Don't question me, Reed. If you have any questions, save 'em for later." David turned his back to Jimmy and walked toward the curb, "Okay, Mr. Peterson. Let me explain what you need to do . . . "
Why am I even bothering? This is another day of him being short, rude, aggravated at me, Jimmy thought as he leaned against the cruiser, watching David perform the test he knew Mr. Peterson would pass. We did manage to learn something in the academy. Why won't he just let me show him what I know? This isn't what is supposed to happen with a partner, is it? No. He just needs more time . . .
Day 4 - Day Watch.
It was warm and very clear - there weren't many days like this in L.A. due to the smog and pollution. Everyone learned to enjoy them when they came. Unfortunately for the occupants of Adam-16, the calls that were coming in all were bleak. The partners appeared to be responding only to the stomach-wrenching cases: a child abused and taken away from her mother, a drunk founded dead in an ally, a well-off but attention-seeking teenage caught shoplifting.
"David? Wanna go to the diner near Griffith Park for 7?" Jimmy asked. "I heard they have very good burgers and the waitresses are friendly."
"We're going back to the station."
"Oh, come on. We haven't eaten out yet this week - "
"I said we're going back to the station."
Jimmy turned to face David. He was no longer confused - he was now growing very angry and tired of David's treatment. He decided it was time for a little adjustment.
"Why?" When he received no answer, Jimmy proceeded. "Why do you refuse to eat with me? Refuse to even talk with me? We've been friends for a long time, David. I think you know how to talk to me, don't you?" Jimmy stopped. His words suddenly sounded too sarcastic and rude.
"I don't talk to you because I don't feel like it - end of discussion."
"No, it's not. You keep shutting me out. How am I supposed to learn out here . . . get my feet wet? What are you so angry with me about?"
"I'm not angry with you. I wish you'd just stop intruding!"
David was growing noticeably agitated again. But it wasn't going to stop Jimmy this time. "I know you're still having a rough time. And I don't expect you to be in perfect working order. But, I would appreciate you communicating with me, somehow."
"I don't wanna talk - "
"David - "
"No! Now leave me alone!"
David screeched the tires on the patrol car as he turned the corner and entered the station parking lot. He pulled the car into the first free space he could find and got out of the car, slamming the door as he went.
"Meet me back here in forty-five!" David shouted as he walked away. He continued past the station, never entering the building.
That's it! I have been patient enough! I can't continue to watch and learn nothing, not to mention being totally excluded from his life. This has got to end - today! Jimmy slammed the door on his side of the car. He walked toward the station. His direction: the Lieutenant's office.
Jim looked up from the report he was reviewing at his desk, shaking his head at the numerous mistakes on it.
"Hey Jimmy, come in. And, please, call me Dad when we're in here, unless I say otherwise. Okay?"
"Sure." Jimmy's glance shifted to the floor. "Do you have a minute to talk privately?"
"You on 7?"
"All right. Close the door."
Jimmy closed the door as his father continued on, "Have a seat. You look like you have something on your mind. Is there anything wrong?"
"I don't know for sure - " Jimmy said quietly.
Jim missed his son's comment. "I'm sorry that we haven't had the time to really talk over the past few days. Is everything going okay?" He set the report he was reviewing down on his desk, finally giving Jimmy his total attention.
"Dad. I didn't want to mention this to you, or to the Sergeant for that matter. I mean, I don't want you two fighting my battles for me. But I really don't know how to handle this."
"Why don't you ask your partner? That's what he's there for - "
"What partner?" Jimmy said sarcastically, shocking his father. "And, don't say friend either. He hasn't been much of one lately."
"Jimmy? What's going on?"
"Nothing - absolutely nothing! I'm not learning and doing anything. I'm ordered to just sit in the car and watch, like I'm not capable of doing my job. David hardly talks to me. If he does, it's only to bite my head off. He doesn't even go on seven with me, or with anyone else. Just now, he left me in the parking lot and told me to meet him back at the car in forty-five minutes. No 'Lets have lunch' or 'Lets discuss how you're doing'. I'm not expecting to be pals on the job - he's my superior after all. But how are we supposed to work together if he doesn't even communicate with me?"
Leaning back in his chair, Jim asked, "Has this been going on all week, Jimmy?"
"Yeah, almost seconds after we first got in the car. I messed up on the radio and he asked me if they still taught radio procedure in the Academy!"
"Hey, I had the same radio problems as you." Glancing at his son, "Okay, maybe not as bad as that."
"He apologized for being short. But then he went on the same way the rest of the day. You were lucky. You had someone to teach you the correct way, or give you the opportunity to work a call your way and give you suggestions on how to do it better. Instead, he just grabbed the mic out of my hand and that was it!"
"Forming a partnership takes time. You need to give him some time - "
"I'd be willing to do that, Dad. But, I don't know if he'll give me the chance to make a decision, or if he'll back me up if something happens. He's extremely erratic. I don't know what he's thinking out there."
Jim nervously rubbed his face and let out a long sigh. "Jimmy, are you asking for a new T.O.?"
"Maybe. Or maybe just giving the one I have now a solid wake-up call."
"That's the problem, Jimmy. He had that wake-up call three weeks ago." He leaned forward in the chair towards his son. "Give it a few more days and let me see if I can talk to him. Maybe we can work it out."
"Sure. Thanks for listening. I really appreciate it." Jimmy stood up and turned to leave.
When did he get so tall and grown up? And so sure of himself? It's like I haven't seen him in years, Jim thought as he watched his son walk toward the door.
Jimmy turned back, "I'm hungry. Want anything from the break room?"
"No. But, thanks," Jim said while picking up the report he set down a few moments before. "Jimmy, I appreciate you letting me know about the problem. Stewart and I really need to know these things, not just from you but from everyone on watch. Let either of us know if anything else happens. Okay?"
"Sure, Dad. Thanks."
Jim watched his son exit the office. What am I going to do? They're both good kids . . . Kids - who am I joking? It shouldn't be this way between them - I have to stop this before it goes any further. I don't want to see either of them hurt or angry.
"Thanks for coming in."
"Any time, Jim. You should know that by now," Pete said as he smiled, very proud of how far his rookie had gone in his career. In the corner of his eye he saw another figure, dressed in civilian clothes, sitting in one of the chairs in front of the Lieutenant's desk.
Noticing Pete's quizzical glance, Jim said, "Oh, sorry Pete. I've been so busy and distracted lately, I forgot to mention our meeting included another person. Let me introduce you to Mark Jansen, Dr. Mark Jansen."
"Doctor, nice to meet you," Pete said, shaking Dr. Jansen's strong hand.
Turning slightly to Jim, Pete whispered questioningly, "Doctor?"
"Nice to me you, Commander Malloy. This meeting should be informal. Please, call me Mark."
"Sure. Please, Pete."
"Thanks. Have a seat." He motioned to Pete to sit as he continued, "I'm part of the LAPD's Medical Team and the Review Board."
"Yeah. I've had my encounters with the Review Board."
"I'm one of the team's psychologists. I was on the Board who cleared your son to return to work."
"This is about David? Excuse me for being too forward, but can I ask why you're meeting with us? This doesn't sound like it's going to be good news," Pete asked.
"Pete, I really didn't want to get you involved in this, but I think we have to now," Jim stated, pacing behind his desk. "We need to talk about David's current performance and attitude."
"There's a problem?"
"I would say more than just a problem, Pete. You see, David's blown up at me on several occasions, which I can handle." Jim paused a moment to see what kind of reaction Pete would have to the news.
"Go on." Pete offered, looking intensely at Jim.
"But, he's also been lashing out at the other officers on watch. And, as I found out yesterday, he's been giving Jimmy the same treatment in the car. Jimmy asked to speak with me privately about it, which he felt very bad doing. He just wasn't sure what to do because you're supposed to be able to go to your T.O. with problems and questions."
"Didn't he try talking to David?"
"That's just it - he tried, but he said that David is shutting him out, personally and professionally."
"Shutting him out?"
"You see, David isn't telling Jimmy what he's doing on any of the calls. David's just running through the day like he's on autopilot. He's not letting Jimmy do anything. He isn't even talking to Jimmy as a friend. When they come in for 7, David just leaves him. Says to meet him back at the car and walks off without any explanation. David seems to be just trying to end the week so he can leave . . . permanently."
"Leave? You mean leave the department? I haven't heard about this."
"I'm sorry I have to be the one to tell you, Pete. I thought it best that you knew what's happening. You need to know."
"Thanks, Jim. I appreciate it. I really thought David was handling this okay."
"He's not, Pete. I feel terrible telling you all of this," Jim offered.
"Actually, he almost quit a few days ago when I told him who his new partner was," Jim continued.
"Yeah. He was angry with me when I gave him the assignment - tried very hard to get me to change it. But I had to pull rank on him. He threw his badge on my desk after I told him I wasn't changing the pairing and he stormed out of the office. Something Jimmy said to David in the locker room afterwards made him stay. He finally agreed to one week."
"Oh," Pete replied, trying to overcome the shock he felt at what he was hearing.
"Pete, I don't think making David a T.O. for Jimmy was a good idea - he doesn't want anything to do with it."
"This just doesn't sound like my son . . . "
"I agree, Pete. He's just too angry with everything and everyone right now. Just like - "
"Just like I was, right?" Pete looked up from the floor he was intensely studying.
"That's why when Jim called me yesterday to tell me what has happening, I suggested that you be informed of the situation," Mark interjected. "You know first hand how it feels to lose a partner in the line of duty. Jim doesn't, so he doesn't know how to guide David. Plus, he's your son. You might have some insight into why he's reacting this way."
"Pete, you're the only person - " Jim paused to collect his thoughts. "You've been through this and came out with a new sense of purpose and dedication. David's not handling Shawn's death well at all and his performance is showing it."
"He seemed fine in his interview, Pete," Mark said while reviewing his notes. "The Board voted unanimously to have him return to duty. We're not sure why he's having this delayed reaction - maybe the reality of coming back to watch was too much for him and he didn't know what to do. Or, maybe the thought of being responsible for a rookie is too much for him to handle. We're not sure. What we do know is that it's got to be resolved, soon."
"Pete, I think he's actually going to follow through with his threats of quitting. He doesn't want to be here anymore," Jim said, regretting ever word
"As I've told you before, Jim. He's too much like me." Pete turned away from both men in the room and stared out the window. He watched the other officers coming and going from the station, afraid to show the concern growing in his eyes. "The only reason I stayed on the force was because Val threw back at me what I was like as a rookie."
Jim nodded, knowing what had transpired between Val and Pete. He unintentionally overheard the conversation between them while he was waiting for Pete by the tree their first night on patrol.
"You know, Jim, I wasn't much better than you were when I was a rookie. My radio skills were awful and my reports were lacking. I had no idea what it was really going to be like out there," Pete admitted, laughing to himself. "Val promised me that if I stayed and worked through my anger, I had the chance to shape your experiences and skills, much like he did for me. I could teach you everything I knew - keep you safe - turn you into a top-notch officer. It really took Val's patience to get me to see what I was doing to myself and what I could do with the opportunity in front of me. He showed me how I was destroying myself over something I couldn't control."
Pete finally turned to face Jim, eye to eye. "David needs you to be his 'Val'. You need to show him that he was just as green as Jimmy once and that this is his opportunity to be the teacher. More importantly, you need to show him that he can move on and learn from this terrible experience."
"I wish it was that easy, Pete. But there's a difference I see between you and David. You didn't really want to leave the force - you must have subconsciously wanted someone to give you a reason to stay. If you really wanted to leave and separate yourself from the job and everyone associated with it, you wouldn't have talked to me in the restaurant that first night. Although the discussion was brief, you didn't tell me to shut up and leave you alone. You tried but you never followed through with it. You talked to me."
"How does that differ from David?"
"We think David really wants to leave, Pete," Mark added. "He won't talk at all, not with Jim, Jimmy or anyone else. He probably hasn't even talked to you about it, has he?"
Trying to hide his worry, Pete turned away from both again.
"No. No, he hasn't." Pete tried to choke back his sadness, but Jim could tell how he really felt. He always could. "I've tried talking to him, but the conversations are brief. I've noticed he hasn't been calling us much recently. When I am able to catch him, he says he's fine . . . that his mother and I shouldn't worry. If I say he sounds awful, he just keeps telling me that he's fine." He doesn't realize I understand.
"He's shutting you out, too?" Mark tried to ask as gently as he could. He knew most of the family's background from what information Jim had provided and what was in David's package. This wasn't normal - they had been close from the beginning.
"Yes. I just don't understand it. He's never kept me out before."
"Pete, I think the problem for David is that he and Jimmy were friends, more than friends, prior to be partnered. Maybe we were lucky - we didn't know each other. It was a clean slate for you - no attachments. God forbid something had happened - if something happened to me - we weren't close enough for you to get really upset about it. There was no threat of losing another person that close to you."
"Yeah, but you really scared me anyway, that first night." Pete replied.
"I know." Jim smiled at Pete, recalling how furious and terrified Pete was when Jim disobeyed his orders. Pete didn't have to say a word - his expression said it all.
"I suppose it also must be more difficult for David because this is not the first person close to him who has left him," Mark suggested, not wanting to interrupt but having to bring the conversation back to David. He wanted to see if David's current reactions might be a delayed reaction to past events.
"I didn't think of that, Pete. Do you think that might be part of his reaction now?" Jim asked.
"I don't know. David really didn't have the opportunity to know his father. He was too young to understand what happened. All he wanted to do was to take care of Judy because she was so upset and heartbroken - but he didn't understand why. I really don't think he is equating Shawn's death with his father." Pete rubbed his eyes, trying to hide his growing concern.
"Pete - " Jim began, but decided not to say anything.
"I think it could be an issue, Pete. Now that he has literally seen someone die in front of him, it might be bringing up feelings he never knew were there," Mark began. "I think we may all have to sit down and talk with him. It's time to make him face the problem. We need to talk with him to find out what's happening."
"You mean a confrontation, don't you?" Pete asked.
"I know you mean well - and I'm sure you know what you're doing - but, please, let me try to talk to him first on my own - father and son. I haven't forced him to talk to me yet. Maybe I can get through to him if I force the issue. If it doesn't work, I'll call you. Then you can set up your meeting. But let me try first."
"Sure, Pete." Mark reached into his pocket and took out a business card. He wrote down a phone number on the back before handing it to Pete. "Here's my card. I wrote my home number and pager number on the back. Call me right after you talk to David and let me know what happens - no matter what time it is. I'm very concerned for him. I wouldn't like for this to go as far as a confrontation."
"Why?" Jim asked, reading Pete's mind, which was asking the same question.
"Because sometimes the person gets even more angry and shuts everyone out - permanently," Mark said
Looking down at the handsome picture placed prominently on Jim's desk of both the Reed and Malloy families during what had been much happier times, Pete remarked quietly, "That's what I'm afraid of . . . "
"1-Adam-16, 1-Adam-2, see the woman. 445 Quincy Street. Possible 261 in progress. Handle Code 2."
"When we get on scene, I'll handle it."
"Sure," Jimmy replied as he sat quietly in the passenger side of the unit. Is he ever going to trust me to make a judgment? I went through the academy - had the same training he did. I'm smart enough to handle something besides the radio. Jimmy decided to take some initiative, "You're clear right, David."
"Thanks, but I can see that for myself." David's response was terse.
"I thought I could help you out - "
"Did I ask for your help?"
"No - "
"Then don't offer it."
David's words and tone were so foreign to Jimmy now. "Fine. I won't." This is not the same person I've known for so many years. I don't know how much more abuse I can take - and it hasn't even been a week! How am I supposed to trust my partner if he won't even acknowledge my existence?
"Call in that we're Code 6," David called back as he flew out of the car.
"Yeah," he called back to David. "1-Adam-16, show us Code 6, 445 Quincy Street."
Jimmy climbed out of the car, looking to see where his partner went. About 50 feet away, he could see David grabbing a dirty looking man and forcefully hauling him off the young girl he appeared to be assaulting in broad daylight. As Jimmy ran to help David, he saw the unthinkable - something he was ordered never to do by his superiors or his colleagues.
"David! Don't!" Jimmy yelled, running as fast as his legs could carry him.
"You filthy son of a - " David's words were biting and cold as he slammed the suspect face first into the concrete wall. The sound of the impact with the wall was surreal. The suspect yelled out in pain, he nose scraped and bleeding. "You're scum - " David continued as he readied to slam the suspect into the wall again.
"David! Stop!" Jimmy shouted, "Get off him!" Jimmy quickly approached David, one arm grabbing David by the collar of his uniform shirt, the other trapping David's right arm. "Stop this now! You're making a mistake!"
Jimmy briefly glanced toward the entrance as another unit pulled up to the scene. Adam-42! Thank God! I don't know how to handle this! Jimmy noticed a supervisor's unit pull up right after Adam-42. Damn! Who called the Sergeant?
As Jimmy secured David's wrists, he watched Officer Kohls lift the suspect to his feet. Officer Smyth checked on the girl, wrapping her in a blanket he took from the patrol car.
"I've got the guy, Reed! Make sure Malloy doesn't get away from you," Kohls yelled to Jimmy as he led the handcuffed suspect to Adam-42.
Jimmy acknowledged Kohls and turned back to David. "David. You're losing your head! What're you doing?"
"Jimmy, leave me alone! Let me go!" David demanded.
"No. Not until you calm yourself down!"
"Let me go!"
Jimmy felt David attempt to free himself from his grasp. David dropped down without warning to the ground with all his weight. Jimmy's tight hold unwillingly loosened. Once unrestrained, David scrambled to his feet and reeled around to face Jimmy.
"Who the hell do you think you are? You have no right to interfere! I'm the lead officer in this unit - you follow my orders! You were supposed to stay in the damn car!"
"I had to stop you - you were hurting him!"
"So what? Did he have the right to hurt that girl?"
"No. But, you went too far. You went too heavy! We're not allowed to do that - we're supposed to have some control! You crossed the line-"
Jimmy stopped as he watched David pull his fist back, ready to land a punch right at his face.
"All right, David! That's enough!" Stewart announced, his muscular arm grabbing David by the collar and thwarting any advance at Jimmy. "Get in the car, right now!"
"Yes, sir," David responded quietly.
Jimmy watched as David turned away and slowly walked to the Sergeant's car in silence, his gaze cast down to the ground.
"Jimmy? You okay?" Stewart asked.
"Yeah," Jimmy replied, realizing how close he'd come to getting his nose broken.
"Listen, you and Malloy need to be separated for a while. I'll finish up here and drive him back to the station. You take Adam-16 and report to the Lieutenant. Okay?"
"Sure, Sergeant," Jimmy replied. "I just wish I could understand him."
"I wish we all could. I'll see you back at the barn."
"Oh . . . and make sure you call to dispatch and let them know where you're heading."
"Sure. Thanks again."
"Uh-huh," Stewart acknowledged, while reaching for his mic. "One-L-30, requesting the Lieutenant meet me on Tac 2."
"Roger, One-L-20. One-L-90, One-L-90. Meet One-L-20 on Tac 2."