Chapter 33: Jumping through the Hoops
Home again. If I ever put together a bucket list, I can scratch off “sex in a hospital bed.” I think the idea that someone might have walked in on us at any moment definitely added to the thrill. I know it did for me. Of course, I had to consciously remind myself not to scream. Believe me, that was no easy feat. Harper definitely brings out the screamer in me. And it was fun to watch those machines go bonkers when he and I…well, you get the idea.
“Zephyr! I’m home! Come see your mom!”
Where is he? The little shit! Look at that! He bombed the carpet again!
“Zephyr! You bombed the carpet again! Bad kitty! See what you did! I do not like these little presents! Where are…oh, there you are! You are so in trouble!”
I don’t know why I bother with that litterbox. He almost never seems to use it. Sometimes I think he does it on purpose. It’s like he’s sending me a message: you don’t spend enough time with me anymore.
“Are you hungry? Of course you are. You’re always hungry. Wait a minute…mom’s got a phone call. Who the hell is calling me now? Hello?”
“Hey, Dani! It’s Franco! Franco Ruiz!”
Ruiz? I didn’t even know he had my number. Why is he calling me?
“Hey, Ruiz. How come you’re calling?”
“Just checking to see how you’re doing. We’re Midwatch! We take care of our own.”
I guess they really do! Nobody ever called me after a disaster in the other divisions I worked. Central never ceases to surprise me.
“I’m doing pretty good. I saw Harper at the hospital. He’s doing a lot better.”
“See? I told you he’d be all right.”
“Yeah, you did. You were right. Thanks.”
“You tell him everyone’s asking about him. We’re all pulling for him. And for you.”
“Thanks. I appreciate it. Harper will, too.”
“Hey, you should see it out here tonight! It’s all they’re talking about: you guys blasting Ricky!”
“Ruiz, are you on duty right now?”
“Hell, yes! With you guys out of commission, we’re short-handed. When are you coming back?”
“Assuming the department shrink doesn’t think I’m crazy, I’ll be back the day after tomorrow.”
“The after-shooting shrink interview’s nothing, girl. I’ve had two. The longest one lasted five minutes. You got nothing to worry about.”
“Yeah, I’ve been through it before. I’m not worried.”
“Good to hear. Listen, I’m guessing you know about that fucked-up newspaper article. Well, don’t worry. I was watching the news and reading the papers today, and most of the ones talking about it are on your side. Hell, that guy on FOX News said his only complaint was you guys didn’t empty your guns into that fucking asshole!”
“We didn’t have to. Fourteen shots was enough.”
“Well, I want you to know you’ve got a lot of people on your side.”
“I appreciate that. I mean it.”
“Did you talk to the shooting team?”
“Yeah, this morning. Typical rigmarole. Nothing special.”
“That’s how it goes. Listen, you hang in there. Don’t feel like you need to hurry back. We’ll manage. You and Harper just take care of yourselves.”
“We will. Hey, Ruiz? I didn’t get to thank you for what you did at the scene last night. The way you and Rosen took charge. It made a big difference. I owe you both big time.”
“You don’t owe us nothing, girl! We’re Midwatch! We take care of our own!”
“Listen, I’ve got to go. You take care of yourself. And if you need anything, you just call. Any time, day or night. We’ll all be there for you.”
“Will do. Thanks. You guys stay safe, OK? After what happened…”
“Are you kidding? Girl, after last night, every dealer on skid row’s hiding out in a spider hole, somewhere! They’re scared shitless! And the fucking junkies love you guys!”
“Word travels fast on skid row.”
“They know we don’t fuck around! You take care, Dani. I’ll talk to you later. You hang in there!”
“Roger that. Bye.”
OK, that was unexpected! None of those guys has ever called me before. Except for Harper, that is. Ruiz is a really good guy. He was a big help out there last night. He definitely made me feel like I had everyone on my side. Rosen did, too. The truth is, a lot of people did. I need to make sure that I thank them all. That’s the sort of thing you don’t forget. It’s one of the things I really love about being a cop.
“Well, Zephyr, it’s just you and me tonight. By the way, Harper says hello. He misses you.”
Can you believe this? I say Harper’s name and he looks up right away! He’s known Harper for a couple of nights, and he’s already acting like he’s his daddy! How about a little love for mom? I’m the one who feeds you, you little shit!
“Well, at least you get your spot on the bed back. That should make you happy. But don’t get too used to it. As soon as he gets out of the hospital, he’s going to be spending a lot of time here. I’ll handcuff him to the bedpost if I have to. Hell, he might even enjoy that. Now that I think about it, I’d probably enjoy that, too.”
Why is he looking at me like that?
“That’s right: mom’s a very naughty girl. But at least I don’t go around crapping on the rug!”
He doesn’t care. What a smug little shit!
“You stink, you know that? But that’s OK. I still love you. And I’m really glad you’re here with me.”
I really am glad he’s here. If I were here by myself, I think I’d go completely bonkers.
The city shrink’s office. OK, time for theater of the absurd. This is the most ridiculous part of going through the officer-involved shooting process: the shrink visit. Ruiz was right: they’re almost laughable. The first time I had one, I put an hour’s worth of time in the parking meter. When I got back to the car, there was still forty-eight minutes left on it. The second interview was a lot shorter. I’m not saying they should be these in-depth ridiculous things, but there should probably be more to them than that. Sometimes I wonder if they give them five minutes’ thought ahead of time?
Jesus, would you look at this guy? He might as well tattoo the word “Shrink” on his forehead! At least he’s got his notes ready. All one page of them!
“Hello. I’m here for my appointment.”
“Come right in, Officer. I’m Gene Sheldon. I’m the department psychologist. So, you are…let me see, here. Officer Ryan Harper?”
See what I mean?
“Uh, no. I’m Officer Lynott. Dani Lynott. Harper’s my partner. He’s a guy. I’m not.”
“Oh, I’m sorry. My fault. Here you are. Yes, Officer Lynott. Sit down. How are you feeling?”
“Good. Now, do you know what this is about?”
“I’ve been through it already.”
“You’ve been in a shooting before?”
“Two of them in eleven years.”
“I see. So, you were in a shooting two nights ago?”
“That’s right. My partner and I shot it out with a dope dealer.”
“I see. And did you hit the suspect?”
“How’s he doing?”
I’m beginning to think those notes are actually his grocery list.
“Really? Does that bother you at all?”
“No. He was trying to kill us. We did what we had to do.”
“That’s a very healthy way to look at it. Was anyone else hurt?”
“Yes. My partner was wounded.”
“I see. And is he dead?”
Oh, I’ve got a real quiz kid here! Remember what I said about preparation?
“No. I said he was wounded, not killed. He’s all right.”
“I’m glad to hear that. Now, are you experiencing any problems after the shooting? Any nightmares? Trouble sleeping?”
“Are you having any trouble with drugs and alcohol because of it?”
“Any unusual behavior?”
Is he fucking kidding me? Well, gee, that depends, doctor. Does banging your partner in his hospital bed count? No, I don’t think I’ll mention that. People do that all the time, right?
“No. Nothing unusual.”
“Good. Hey, how did you get those stitches on your head?”
“I got kicked down the stairs.”
“By your husband?”
OK, where the fuck did that come from? He did look at my personnel jacket, right?
“No. I’m not married.”
“By your boyfriend?”
“No, by an arrestee at headquarters.”
“I see. Why did he do that?”
Uh, three guesses and the first two don’t count?
“Because he was a criminal and we arrested him, and he was mad that he was going to jail.”
“I see. And did he go to jail?”
Christ almighty! No, you blockhead! We went to all the trouble of arresting him and after he assaulted me and busted my fucking head open, we decided to let him go free! Are you for real?
“Yes, he went to jail. He’s still there.”
“Good. Now, about this shooting…did you fire your weapon?”
“Yes. We both did.”
“I see. And did you hit the suspect?”
“We both did. Several times.”
“And he’s dead?”
“Yes, he’s dead. We covered that already.”
“Oh, yes. You’re right. We did. All right. So do you think you could do it again if you had to?”
“Yes. It’s part of the job. I don’t look forward to it, but if the suspect forces us to shoot, then we have to shoot. It’s nothing personal.”
“Good. That’s a healthy attitude. Do you think you’re fit for duty?”
“That’s good. You’re at Central Division?”
“All right, then. I’ll call your captain and let him know that you’re fit for duty. Thanks for coming by today.”
And that, boys and girls, is an officer-involved shooting psychiatric interview. I’m not kidding. That’s how they usually go. Maybe other departments are different, but that’s pretty much typical of ours. And that’s pretty much it for me, as far as the investigation goes. A few months from now, they’ll present the whole thing to the Use of Force Review Board. They’ll decide if the shooting was justified or not, in-policy or not, and they’ll pass judgment on our tactics before, during, and after the shooting. They love to nit-pick the shit out of your tactics, but it rarely amounts to anything. I don’t see how they could make a big deal out of what we did. Ricky had his gun well-hidden and ready to go in a flash. That’s pretty much it. Unless they want to say that we should never have responded to the call in the first place, they can’t really find a lot of fault with our tactics. But you can’t underestimate the politics involved. Sometimes the politics overrule everything else. Given my history, that’s a distinct possibility.
Central Station. I want to check in with the captain. Mainly, I want to make sure that the shrink called over and told him that I’m fit for duty. I don’t want that hanging over my head. Part of me wants to get back to work, and the other part doesn’t want to go back without Harper. But he’s going to be laid up for a couple of weeks, at least. And since there aren’t any other officers on Midwatch, I wonder what they’re going to do with me? I just hope they don’t stick me on the desk. I don’t think the Sarge would do that to me. Besides, Lieutenant Hagan is a Yankees fan. As much as I like the guy, two nights with me working five feet from his desk during the baseball season and there will probably be some shots fired. There are some things in life that you just can’t change.
“Captain Mayones, do you have a minute?”
“Sure. How are you doing, Lynott?”
“Fine, sir. I just wanted to stop by and say hello.”
“And make sure I got the word that you’re fit for duty?”
He’s good, this one. I guess that’s why he’s a captain.
“That too, sir.”
“Yeah, I got the word. You’re cleared. Are you ready to come back?”
“I can come in tomorrow night, sir.”
“You don’t have to if you don’t want to.”
“Are you saying that because you’re worried about me, or because the bureau’s on your ass about my excessive overtime?”
“Was it that obvious?”
“You’re a captain, sir. It wasn’t a stretch.”
“Well, if you need the time off, you’ve got it. You don’t even have to burn your overtime. You went through hell the other night. You deserve it.”
“Harper’s the one who went through hell, sir.”
“That, he did. I understand he’s doing pretty well. Have you been to see him?”
“I’m sure that raised his spirits.”
Oh, I raised more than his spirits! But there’s no way in this or any other universe known to man or God that I’m going to tell him about that!
“Yes, sir. He’s doing as well as can be expected.”
“Lynott, I think you know there’s going to be some blowback from this thing.”
“Yes, sir. And yes, I saw that article in the paper.”
“This hasn’t turned into a media circus, and I’m hoping it won’t. But we have to be prepared for the possibility. Have you contacted your PBA rep?”
“I called him yesterday, sir. And he’s going to call the lawyers. Just in case.”
“Good. You need to cover your ass. You know I’ll go to bat for you on this. Everyone here will. And it’s not just here. I got a call from Captain Matevosyan over at Narcotics. Some of his guys are ready to storm the chief’s office if they try to give you any shit over this.”
“I appreciate their support.”
“Now, off the record: we both know who’s making noise about this.”
“Yes, sir. We do.”
“And we both know that this person sits on the Use of Force Review Board.”
“I know that, sir.”
And he’s been overruled more times than anyone in the department’s history when it comes to officer-involved shootings. Hillel thinks all shootings should be declared out-of-policy. What a fucking dick!
“While it’s not exactly unprecedented, it’s rare to file a motion to have a Board member removed. I want you to know that if necessary, I’ll file that motion on your behalf.”
I didn’t see that coming. Filing a motion to bump somebody off the Board is no little thing. The captain’s talking about taking on a commander, and the only reason he could possibly give for having Commander Hillel removed from the Board is personal bias. An accusation of personal bias is a major fucking deal, especially if the press is watching. He could start an administrative war with this.
“You don’t have to do that, sir. I can file the motion myself.”
“I know. But it’ll carry a lot more weight coming from a divisional captain than from a PIII. And my name on the motion will let ‘you-know-who’ know that we’re serious.”
“You’re picking a very dangerous fight, sir. You’re up for commander yourself. If this thing goes south on you…”
“Then I’ll stay right here where I belong. Look, Lynott, you got the shaft once, already. I’m not going to let that happen again. Not if I can prevent it. You work for me, now.”
“I appreciate that, sir. I really do.”
“Then it’s settled. If they fuck with you, then we come out fighting.”
“I do have one question, sir. It might seem a little strange, coming from a patrol officer, but I’d like to ask anyway.”
“I can’t assign you a parking space. They’re all taken.”
I wasn’t going to ask about that, but I think Harper’s right: if I want a space, I’m going to have to show up for work wearing that see-through baby-doll nightie I wore for him. Hey, I don’t want it that much!
“No, sir. Not that. Though I would like one.”
“You and sixty-eight other people. What do you want to ask?”
“Sir, is it possible for me to put Harper in for the Medal of Valor for what he did?”
“It’s a bit unusual, but sure, anyone can nominate an officer for any departmental decoration.”
“Good. How do I do that?”
“Well, in this case, you take a number. I’ve already received paperwork from three people on that. Two from this division, and one from Narcotics division. And I haven’t even filed my own recommendation yet.”
I guess John and Angelo must have nominated him. Wow! We really do have friends out there!
“So mine would be redundant?”
“I’m afraid so. Don’t worry. I’ve endorsed the recommendations. I’m pretty sure he’ll get it. Taking seven hits for a brother officer – excuse me, a sister officer – and still taking out the bad guy is about as close to a slam-dunk as you can get.”
“I think so too, sir.”
“Don’t worry. Harper will be back sooner than you think.”
Seriously? Does he know something I don’t?
“What makes you say that, sir?”
“He called me this afternoon. He said he should be back next week.”
“He did what?”
“My thoughts exactly.”
“Is he insane?”
“Funny, I asked him the same thing. But he’s young, and he’s chomping at the bit. I think he’s afraid this will extend his probation. It won’t. He’s got, what? A week and a half left? This won’t affect his anniversary date. He’s still getting off probation on schedule. He just won’t get wheeled out until he’s cleared for duty.”
“Did he say anything else, sir?”
“Yes. He wants someone to bring him his game machine. He says he’s bored.”
“Yeah, Harper’s quite the gamer. I’ll bring him one, sir.”
“Well, in that case, maybe you can take care of something else for me. The Watch Commander got a call from the hospital. It seems Harper is disregarding his doctor’s orders. Maybe you should talk to him about that?”
“I don’t understand, sir. How is he disregarding orders?”
“He doesn’t seem to realize that he needs time to heal. They’ve caught him a few times trying to walk through the halls. They said that if he doesn’t stop exerting himself like that, he might jeopardize his recovery. He’s got a chest full of stitches. They’re afraid he’s going to tear them out doing stupid things like that.”
“I’m his training officer, sir. I’ll straighten him out. Thanks for letting me know.”
“Any time, Lynott. That was a hell of a job you two did out there. That situation was as bad as it gets. There’s nothing worse than a shooting like that. You guys showed incredible courage out there. You made us all damned proud.”
“Thank you, sir. And thanks for standing up for me.”
“That’s what captains are supposed to do. It’s part of the job.”
Yeah, I wish you were all like that. I guess I finally got a good one. I won’t forget it. And I’m going to fucking kill Harper! Two days? He saves my life, gets shot to shit, and two fucking days later he’s trying to walk and telling the captain he’s ready to come back to work? Is he out of his goddamned mind? He is so fucking dead! Absolutely, totally, instantly fucking dead! Just wait until I get my hands on him!
Back at the hospital. I swear: when Harper gets out of here, I am never coming back here again! It’s like I can still see them wheeling him into the emergency room. I can almost hear all the voices I heard that night. Once Harper’s out, I never want to come anywhere near this place again!
“Dani! How are you doing?”
“A lot better, now that I’m here. You’re looking good. Hey, I brought you a present. The captain said you asked for this. It’s my X-Box.”
I don’t know if they’ll let him plug this thing into the hospital’s TV, but we can try. It should work. It had better work. I’ll bet you ten bucks Harper doesn’t own a laptop.
“You’re a lifesaver! I was going out of my mind with nothing to do! Did you bring me any games?
“I didn’t know which ones you wanted, so I brought you some Halo games. Those should keep you busy.”
“Great! See, this is why I adore you: you’re always looking out for me.”
“Speaking of that, sweetheart…give me your hand, please.”
“Yeah, your right hand. Not the left one. You got shot in that arm.”
“OK. What’s this about?”
Funny you should ask, Harper! Say hello to my handcuffs!
“It’s about this!”
“Got you, you little shit!”
“Are you crazy? What is this? What are you doing?”
“This is me handcuffing you to the fucking bed, Harper! And you’re not getting the key!”
“Dani, what are you doing?”
“I talked to the captain! You’re trying to walk up and down the halls with a bullet hole clear through your leg? You think you’re going back to work in a few days? Are you out of your fucking mind? Have you gone completely insane?”
“Hey, I don’t want to just sit here! It’s driving me nuts! I could…I don’t know, maybe work the desk? Something like that?”
Does he think I’m kidding? Does he not see how angry I am right now?
“Did you get shot in the head and not tell anyone? Did they accidentally give you a lobotomy? Because you’ve obviously lost your fucking mind, mister! You are not going anywhere! Do you read me? Not a chance in this or any other universe known to man or God! Your wounds haven’t even begun to heal yet! And you’re risking tearing out your stitches already? Two fucking days? Are you trying to kill yourself? Because that shit shall cease immediately!”
“Dani, don’t get upset! It’s all right!”
“All right? Did you actually say ‘it’s all right’ to me? It is not all right! It is nowhere near all right! God damn it, Harper, I almost lost you out there! Do you understand that? I held you in my arms and watched you dump half your blood onto a goddamned parking lot! I sat there totally fucking helpless, screaming and crying and thinking you were going to die right there! I am not going to let you kill yourself because you think you’re fucking mister invincible!”
“Dani, I was just trying to…”
“Silence, boot! Don’t you dare give me that ‘I was just trying to’ bullshit! I know you, Ryan Harper! If you had half a chance, you’d sneak out of here, show up at the station, and say you were clear to go back to work tonight! You will not pull that shit on me! You will stay right where you are until you are completely healed! Now, do you see this?”
“Whoa! Were the hell did you get that?”
I knew this would get his attention! Good!
“Never mind! Do you know what this is?”
“Yeah! It’s a blackjack!”
“That’s right! It’s a blackjack! It’s a dumb, leaded club that does nothing but make people bleed! And it works!”
“Hey, those things are unauthorized!”
“Unauthorized? These things are illegal! Do you know why? Because you can kill a pigheaded, semi-suicidal asshole boot with one good whack! They serve only one purpose: to crack stupid-assed people over the head and make them scream!”
“Where did you get that thing?”
“Never mind that! I brought it here to let you know what’s going to happen to you if you so much as think about getting out of that bed before the doctor says you’re ready! As God is my witness, I will use this thing to beat you black and blue! I’ll hold a phone book against the top of your head and pound you with this thing until you pass out and shit yourself! That way, I won’t leave any marks! I’m a training officer! I know about things like that!”
“Where did you learn that?”
“Never mind where I learned it! Now you listen good, mister! Watching you get shot was the single, most horrible thing that ever happened in my life! Seeing you lying there bleeding out in that parking lot damn near killed me! Why do you think I was crying my eyes out? I was fucking dying, seeing you like that! And now I hear you’re risking your recovery so that you can hurry back to work? Not a chance, mister! I am not going to lose you! That will not, under any circumstances, happen! So you will stay in that bed until you are cleared to leave! Do you read me, boot?”
“Good! Do you have any idea what would happen to me if something else happened to you? Do you have any idea what it would do to me? We’re not just partners anymore, mister! It was bad enough to see my fucking partner get shot! If anything happened to you now, I would fucking die! Do you hear me? Do you hear what I’m saying? I would absolutely, totally, instantly fucking die! Now, that is not acceptable, right?”
“No, ma’am. No way.”
“Just as anything else happening to you is not acceptable, right?”
“No, ma’am. We can’t have that, either.”
“No, we can’t! So you will stay right here until you are cleared! I know it’s hard and it’s frustrating, and you’re going crazy just lying here in pain when you want to be up and about! And I will do whatever I can to help you through this! I will be here every minute of every day that they’ll allow me! I will sit with you, talk to you, hold your hand, and if necessary, I will stick my head under the sheets and blow you until your fucking balls fall off! But I will not lose you! I will never go through that shit again as long as I live! Do you understand me, boot?”
“Good! Now that we have that cleared up, scoot over! First, I’m going to plug this thing in. Then I’m going to kick your ass in Halo!”
“How am I supposed to play with one hand cuffed to the bed?
I guess I just gave new meaning to the term “training officer from hell.” But he’s a complete idiot, and he had it coming! My God! He just had a bullet taken out of his chest! Hell, he needed that! I needed it, too. And now that I did all that screaming, I feel a whole lot better.
It really sucks waking up in the morning without Harper being next to me. We’ve only been together a couple of days, but I’ve already gotten used to having him there. God, I can’t wait until he gets out of the hospital! Half of me wants to sneak him out right now, but the other half knows he’s got to stay there at least a few more days so they can make sure nothing suddenly goes wrong – like that pigheaded little shit tearing open his wounds by walking through the hallway! Hey, if I hadn’t set him straight, he’d probably be trying it right now! I think he’s going to heal up pretty fast, though. He’s strong as hell; I’ll give him that. He’s actually hobbling about without a walker. He can’t go very far without it, but that’s pretty incredible. That leg hit may have missed the bone, but it looked horrible. It was a small entrance wound, but it was a mess where it came out. The arm wound wasn’t so bad, or at least, that’s how it looked to me. But that chest wound was beyond horrible. There was so much blood everywhere. I’ve seen so many people lose an ocean of blood and I never thought twice about it, but when it’s someone you care about, good God! I wouldn’t wish that feeling on anybody. Well, anybody except Ricky. I hope he’s in hell right now, feeling just like that for all eternity. Serves him right.
Today is going to be the sixty-four thousand dollar question: am I going back to work tonight? I think the answer is yes. I hate the idea of being there without Harper, but I need to get back in the game. I need to focus on something besides what happened. I’ve been sitting around feeling sorry for myself long enough. And let’s face it: eventually, Harper’s going to get wheeled out and that’s the end of our partnership. It’s not the end of us, thank God. But we’ll be in different divisions and working with different people. It’s going to suck, but I might as well start getting used to it.
“Zephyr! Mom’s made a decision: she’s going back to work tonight. I know that doesn’t sit well with you, but that’s how it has to be.”
As usual, he just looks at me like I’m crazy. I swear, if you’re a masochist, you need to get yourself a cat. He’ll never let you down in that department.
“OK, you little shit. I’m going to jump in the shower. That’s the one place I know you won’t pester me. I’ll be right back. The whole bed is yours. Enjoy it.”
Jesus! I’ve definitely been through the wringer these last few days! I’m supposed to get these stitches out in a day or two. Good. Lately, I’ve forgotten about them. But then I run a hairbrush through my hair and I’m not careful and oh, boy! I remember them then! That shit hurts! I really want to get them out. God, Harper’s got how many stitches in him? Inside his chest and outside everywhere else. They told me, but I didn’t listen. I didn’t want to listen. It’s no fun to hear about shit like that. It’s funny, I guess I only just now thought about what my getting kicked down those stairs was like for him. I was making like it was no big deal, but it was pretty obvious that I was in a shitload of pain. God, it must have been hell for him! If what he felt was anything like what I went through, I owe him an apology big time. Fortunately, I know some really good ways to make it up to him.
Shit! Fuck! Ouch! If having stitches in your head has taught me anything, it’s that washing your hair can be a painful experience! I’m lucky my hair only comes down to my shoulders! I don’t know how women like Bridget handle that long hair. Hers comes down almost to her belt!
Oh, hell! There’s the phone! Who would be calling me this early? The station? I doubt it. They know I work Midwatch. I’m supposed to be asleep right now, and you don’t want to wake up a cop in what qualifies as the middle of the night for her. You learn that about a month after you get out of the academy.
“Yes, hello. Is this Officer Danielle Lynott?”
OK, red alert! Nobody who knows me ever calls me Danielle. Not even my mom.
“Who is this?”
“This is Lisa Killeen from Channel Four News. I’d like to talk to you about a police shooting a few nights ago, in which you were involved. Are you the same Officer Lynott who was involved in the Reid shooting in Metro-South Woodlawn division a little over a year ago?”
Oh, you’ve got to be shitting me! How the fuck did she find my cellphone number?
“Sorry, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Goodbye.”
“Officer Lynott, if I could just…”
“Goodbye! Don’t call back!”
Great! Just fucking great! They’ve got my cell phone number again! Are these assholes going to be calling me all the time now? Is it going to be just like the last time?
“Well, Zephyr, it’s starting again! I was hoping to avoid it, but it looks like that’s not going to happen.”
OK, first things first: block this fucking number! Good. That’s done. Now I’m going to get the hell out of here before another one of those parasites manages to find my number and calls me. Time to use my burner cell to call Harper. If they found me, then their next target will probably be him. I know he’s still got his burner phone. I saw it on the table next to his hospital bed. I just hope I’m not waking him up. The guy definitely needs his rest.
“Hey, Harper? It’s me. Sorry to call you so early.”
“Don’t be. I was expecting it. I know exactly why you’re calling.”
Yeah, that’s what I was afraid of. They found his number, too! Fuck!
“They called you?”
“Just now, in fact. Are you OK?”
“Yeah. I was hoping to avoid this for a little while longer.”
“Don’t worry. I told them to fuck off.”
“Did you tell them ‘no comment,’ or did you really tell them to fuck off?”
“I told them to fuck off. Then I hung up.”
“You really know how to turn me on, Harper. You know that?”
“I sure do. Listen, I’m not exactly alone here. My parents are here with me.”
“Great! I’m glad they finally got to see you.”
“You should come by. They want to meet you.”
Yeah, but do I want to meet them? That’s the big question. The thought of meeting them under these circumstances makes me very nervous.
“I’ll be by a little later. I have to get a new pair of boots. They took mine after the shooting. You know, because of the bloodstains.”
“At least they didn’t cut off your uniform. Do I get reimbursed for that?”
“Yeah, but just wait until you see how much the department thinks it’s worth.”
“Uh-huh. I kind of figured that. Listen, you come by here as soon as you can. I want to see you.”
“Harper, are you worried about me?”
“Always. Just get over here.”
“Will do. Hey, if anyone calls you back…”
“I’ll tell them to go fuck themselves, too.”
“I absolutely adore you, Harper.”
“Ditto. Just take care of yourself. And get over here.”
“Roger that, partner. Bye.”
So it begins. But this time, it’s going to be different. I am not going to roll over for anyone! Not this time. No fucking way. Harper and I did the entire human race a favor by getting rid of Ricky. And I’m not going to let anyone say otherwise. But I can’t think about that now. I have to put my defenses in motion. Fortunately, I know exactly what to do.
Back at the hospital, and trying to steel myself for the big meeting with Harper’s parents. As for setting up my defenses for the media onslaught, I’m all done. And it didn’t take very long. Good. So it’s begun: the redcoats have fired the first shot, Paul Revere has sounded the alarm, and the continental army of Dani Lynott is ready for war. Hey, what did you expect? When you grow up in Massachusetts, you wind up using a lot of Revolutionary War metaphors. I’ve already notified the people who said to call them if I needed anything, and I definitely need them right now. I called John and Angelo over at Narcotics, I called the captain and Sergeant Gellar, I called Sergeant Hendrickson, and I even called Lieutenant Hagan. I let them know what’s up and that the assholes from the media will probably try to contact them. Their responses ranged from Harper’s “they can go fuck themselves,” to Lieutenant Hagan’s “no problem, leave it to me,” to Angelo’s setting a world record for saying “this is bullshit!” more times in one minute than I thought was humanly possible. It feels good to know I’ve got people on my side. Believe me, knowing that I didn’t do anything wrong doesn’t go very far by itself. I learned that one the hard way.
I wonder how they got my cell phone number so fast? For that matter, how did they get Harper’s? I don’t underestimate the ability of a reporter to dig up someone’s cell phone number, but I wonder if someone leaked it? And by someone, I mean Commander Hillel – or someone who works for him. I’d like to think that even he couldn’t be that big of a weasel, but I can’t rule it out. He really hates me. He’s got a major axe to grind with me, and he’s ground it pretty sharp. He was all over the media after the Reid shooting, railing against the “Blue Wall of Silence” and vowing to destroy it and burn anyone who tried to cover up the truth, and I already explained how I ended up at the top of his hit list. The problem for him was that except for Whaley and Cisneros, there was no wall of silence; blue or otherwise. By the time the investigations were over, he had nothing to show for it. There was no cover-up. We didn’t lie. It was an aberration; a bad shoot from start to finish just like the chief said it was. But it sure as hell wasn’t evidence of some department-wide problem, and anyone who bothered to look at the evidence saw right away that it was the truth. Anyone but Hillel, that is. He ended up looking like a major fucking idiot, and the rank and file came to hate his guts almost as much as I do. Even the chief came to hate him for what he saw as an obvious back-stabbing attempt to steal his job. There were a lot of calls for Hillel’s resignation, and Rich Bassett actually sued him. You can do that when you wife’s a lawyer. Hillel really shot himself in the foot with his bullshit, and he seems to blame me for it. I guess that’s just how his mind works.
Now it’s time for the big moment: here I am at the hospital again, and this time Harper’s parents are in there with him. Like I said, I’m pretty nervous about meeting them. Their son is lying in a hospital bed because he got shot up trying to protect me, and here I am without a scratch. Not to mention the fact that I’m his training officer, and yet he’s the one who took all of the hits. I’m supposed to protect him, not the other way around. Then there’s that little thing about the fact that I’m crazy about him and we’re sleeping together. That’s a lot for parents to swallow in one sitting. God, I haven’t met the parents of a guy I was going out with since I was in high school! At least it’s not like I’m ten years older than him. They can’t accuse me of being a cradle-snatcher. That would really make things awkward.
“Dani! Come on in! These are my parents. Mon, dad, this is my partner, Dani Lynott.”
“Nice to finally meet you, Mr. and Mrs. Harper. I wish the circumstances were better.”
Good God! His dad really is huge! He’s got to be the tallest guy I’ve ever met! I feel like I’m standing at the bottom of a well! At least his mom is my size. I’d leave here with a stiff neck if I had to talk to just his dad. I see his mom’s making the first gesture. She’s probably trying to size me up.
“Nice to meet you, Dani. Ryan’s told us a lot about you.”
Not everything, I hope.
“Good to meet you, Mrs. Harper. Your son saved my life. Did he tell you that?”
“I did not! She could’ve taken that asshole all by herself!”
“Don’t listen to him, Mrs. Harper. He really did save my life.”
“Really? He said you saved his.”
“He’s being kind. I just pressed my hands over his wounds.”
“Officer Lynott, we want to thank you for everything you’ve done. Ryan’s very impressed with you. He says you’re a fine police officer.”
“So is he, ma’am. He’s way ahead of where he should be. I barely had to teach him anything.”
I see Harper’s not buying that. He’s making that face he makes sometimes.
“Don’t listen to her, mom. She taught me everything.”
Well, his dad’s nodding. I hope that’s a good thing. This guy could break me in half with one hand!
“He’s not making that up, Dani. Ryan hasn’t shut up about you since the two of you started working together. He never talked about anyone in the Marine Corps like that. I halfway expected you to walk on water when you came in here.”
OK, he’s not going to kill me. Good! I see Harper’s really been talking me up to his parents I didn’t expect that! Most training officers are lucky if their boot tells his family ’Eh, she’s OK.”
“Thank you, sir. He’s the best partner I’ve ever had.”
“You don’t have to call me ‘sir,’ Dani. You can call me Rob. After what you two went through together, you’re practically family.”
You don’t know the half of it, pal. At the rate things are going with me and Harper, I might be calling you ‘dad’ before too long. But I won’t mention that now.
“Well, I should warn you: I wasn’t a Marine, and I’m a Red Sox fan.”
“I think being a police officer is service enough. And at least you’re not a goddamned Yankees fan.”
Now that’s music to my ears!
“Harper, I like your dad.”
“Yeah, I thought you would. You two can talk about how much you hate the Yankees.”
“Dani, you were there when Ryan got shot. Just tell me one thing: you got the son of a bitch that did it, right? They weren’t making that up just to make it easy for us?”
“Oh, we got him, all right. He’s dead. And he’s not coming back.”
“I want to thank you for that.”
“Don’t thank me. We both took him out. Harper – I mean Ryan – taught me to shoot Expert. Oh, and I’ve got some bad news for you, Harper: Detective Cardozo said the witnesses are saying it was me that nailed Ricky in the head. I thought it was you, but they’re all sure they say me do it.”
“I was pretty sure it was your shot, too. I wasn’t firing when his head exploded.”
“You shot that son of a bitch in the head, Dani?”
“Yes, sir. And five times in the chest, too. He was just too drunk and high to go down right away.”
“I like this one, Ryan. Hang onto her.”
“Roger that, dad. Hey, Dani? Are you going back to work tonight?”
“That’s the plan. They’ll probably stick me on the desk, but maybe they’ll put me out in a report car.”
“Well, either way, you watch your back. Ricky might have a few friends left.”
“Yeah, I thought about that. Speaking of which, I brought you something. I’ve got your badge and gun. The captain gave them to me when I went to see him. So if any of Ricky’s friends try to visit you…”
“Two to the body, one to the head.”
“Or thirteen to the body, five to the head.”
“It worked on Ricky.”
“It sure did. You know, it’s going to suck not having you out there with me.”
“Bring me a radio so I can listen in on the watch.”
“Are you crazy? You’re supposed to be resting!”
“Any more rest and I’m going to go out of my mind! Just bring me the radio.”
He’s doing it again! I may have to kill him in front of his parents!
“I still have that blackjack, you know?”
“I haven’t forgotten.”
“Mrs. Harper? Don’t let him sneak out of here. Believe me, he’ll do it if you give him a chance!”
“Don’t worry, Dani. He’s not going anywhere. I’m his mother. I know what he’s like.”
“See? I was right! You’re cold busted, Harper!”
“Are you guys ganging up on me?”
“Yes! You’re outnumbered three to one! So you lie there and rest! That’s an order, boot!”
I think that one registered with the Marine in his dad.
“I really like this one, Ryan.”
“Yeah, she’s a real holy terror, dad.”
“Which is exactly what you need! Don’t worry, Dani. He’s benched and he knows it. We’ll take care of him.”
“If he gives you any lip, just handcuff him to the bed. It seems to work.”
“Hey, don’t let her do that again!”
Uh, I think we might be guilty of “too much information” with that one!
“Is there something you want to tell us, Dani? Something my wife probably doesn’t want to hear?”
“I’ll let Harper – I mean, Ryan – fill you in on that. I have to get to the station.”
“Are you coming back later?”
“Not if I’m working tonight. Right now, there’s a meeting in the captain’s office. Harper, I’ll let you know how it goes.”
“I know what it’s about. You watch your back, Dani.”
“Will do. I’ll see you. You stay there! You hear?”
I’d give anything to be a fly on the wall when Harper explains to them that we’re an item. Hey, maybe they’ll be happy about it? Like I said: at the rate this is going, they might just pick up a daughter-in-law. You never know.
Central Station. Captain Mayones’ office. This meeting is either going to be a personal triumph or the end of my career. If everyone who says they’re on my side makes good on that, then I’m in good shape. If they don’t, well, I might as well turn in my badge at the end of it. I haven’t been in there yet, but I can see who’s already in the room: Captain Mayones, Lieutenant Hagan, Sergeant Gellar, Detectives Godfrey and Cardozo, and mister asshole himself: Commander Hillel. I should probably have my rep in there with me, but since I don’t plan to do any talking, I should be OK. Still, I’ve learned a few things as a result of my last time in the bucket. All good cops carry a digital recording device to protect them from bullshit citizen complaints. I’m going to record every fucking word that’s said in there. Since I’m wearing my uniform, they won’t even think to notice it. And since they’re supposed to know that I’ve got it, there’s nothing in the rules that says I have to tell them about it.
“Captain, you wanted to see me?”
“Yes, Officer Lynott. Come on in. Commander Hillel has something he wants to say.”
Yeah, I’ll bet he does!
“Commander. Good to see you again.”
Hey, what do you know? I actually said that without vomiting!
“Captain, why is she in uniform? Is she on duty tonight?”
“She is if she wants to be, sir. Is there a problem with that?”
“Is that a joke, Captain? After what just happened, she shouldn’t be performing any official duties. She shouldn’t even be seen in uniform.”
“Why not, sir? Officer Lynott was cleared for duty, and she’s already spoken to the shooting team. Everything she’s required to do is already done. And I’m already short one car on Midwatch. I can’t very well have her sitting around here doing nothing.”
“You’re not seriously considering putting her back out there as a training officer? She damn near got her last probationer killed! Do you really want to give her another one? The next one might not survive.”
Oh, you motherfucking son of a bitch! I ought to beat the living dog shit out of you for that!
“Commander, that’s not what happened, and I don’t know where you’re getting that from. That dope dealer knew what he was doing. He was well-prepared. Both officers performed in outstanding fashion. There was nothing they could’ve done to prevent what happened, and their response was the best that could’ve been accomplished under the circumstances. I commend their actions.”
“You commend them? Her boot’s lying in the hospital with multiple gunshot wounds and she’s standing here without a scratch. That should tell you a lot about what kind of training officer she is.”
“No, it doesn’t. But it does tell me a lot about what kind of police officer Ryan Harper is.”
“One unlucky enough to draw her as his training officer?”
I swear, if he keeps this up, I’m going to shoot him! They can put me away for life! I don’t give a shit! I just want to kill this piece of shit right here and right now!
“Commander, Officer Harper forcefully threw Officer Lynott out of the line of fire and positioned himself between her and the gunman. Officer Lynott wasn’t hit because Officer Harper wouldn’t let her get hit.”
“And who told you that? I’m guessing it was Officer Lynott, right?”
“Not just her. Officer Harper said so. So did numerous witnesses to the shooting. I’d say that was pretty brave of him, wouldn’t you?”
“Or he’s just trying to cover for her. I wouldn’t be surprised if she told him to say that.”
Just when I think this asshole couldn’t sink any lower, this is fucking beyond belief! I honestly think this son of a bitch is making Ricky look good by comparison! Thank God Captain Mayones isn’t backing down.
“Commander, I’ve already spoken to Officer Harper. So has the chief. So have the detectives. Officer Lynott didn’t tell him to say anything.”
“Well, we’ll see about that. I haven’t spoken to him. We’ll see what he has to tell me.”
It looks like Sergeant Gellar thinks that’s a bad idea. He’s right.
“Commander? Are you sure you want to do that? Because I know Harper. He’s as straight-arrow as they come. And if you go in there and suggest to him that his partner’s a coward and he’s covering for her, I honestly don’t think you’ll get out of the room with all of your teeth intact. I’m just saying.”
“Thank you for your concern, Sergeant Gellar. We’ll see about that.”
“OK, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
“Do you honestly think Officer Harper’s going to physically assault me?”
“Officer Harper is an outstanding police officer. But after what he’s been through, if you go in there and try to malign his partner and what he did to save her, well, you are familiar with what he did to the asshole who assaulted her in the stairwell, aren’t you?”
“Then maybe he doesn’t belong on the job, either?”
You son of a bitch! Even if Harper and I weren’t crazy about each other, Sergeant Gellar’s right: Harper would kill you for even suggesting that! And I’ve got half a mind to tell him about it so he can beat the living shit out of you! But I see Captain Mayones isn’t going to let you get away with that bullshit. Stand by, motherfucker!
“Commander, the official position of the department is that the officers’ actions were downright heroic. Both of them. Are you sure you want to go against the department on this one? Because if you do, you’re going to end up looking like a fool. And then you’re going to end up on the chief’s shit list. You don’t want to go through that again. Believe me.”
I think Commander Hillel’s starting to lose it. I’ve seen him like this before. He can’t stand that everyone’s not falling in line with him. What a fucking dick!
“Captain, do I have to spell it out for you? Two of your officers – two of your white officers – massacred a Hispanic immigrant! Fourteen shots! A final head shot at ten feet! Do you really believe the Hispanic community isn’t going to have something to say about that? Or the community activists that already think we’re targeting minorities? We’re going to take a bath on this one!”
And there goes Angelo! Christ, I thought he was going to reach across the table and hit him!
“Commander, are you out of your mind? Where are you getting this bullshit?”
“Detective, what are you even doing here? This doesn’t concern you or Detective Godfrey.”
“Yeah, it does. Officer Lynott and Officer Harper were working with us, trying to put Ricky out of business. That makes it our business, sir.”
“Detective, you work Narcotics. They work…”
“And you don’t, Commander! Ricky was a major dope dealer. That made him our problem. We routinely work with patrol officers to build cases against street dealers, in case you’ve forgotten. That’s what they were doing, sir. So yeah, it’s our business. Why is it yours? You don’t work Narcotics. You don’t even work in the field.”
“Are you questioning my authority, Detective?”
“I’m questioning your piss-poor grasp of the facts!”
Oh, here we go! I think Angelo just bit through his own leash! This is going to be good!
“You’re out of line, Detective!”
“No, you are, sir! You don’t know what you’re talking about! For starters, I’m the only fucking beaner in this room, so don’t go telling me how the Hispanic community is going to react! They hate lowlife dope dealers just as much as we do! They’re not going to shed a tear for that useless motherfucker! Go down to the Big Lot, Commander! You won’t see any candles marking the spot where that asshole got his brains blown out! And second, what the hell are you talking about, ‘Hispanic immigrant?’ Ricky’s from Santa Fe, New Mexico! He’s no immigrant! His parents aren’t even immigrants! And they didn’t like him any more than we did! We know! We’ve talked to them!”
“I gave orders that patrol was to stay away from narcotics enforcement!”
“Is this about your non-existent task force, sir? The one that the DEA never heard of? I was at the debriefing after those two shooters got taken out, sir. Remember that? Remember what the Agent-in-Charge told you? Because I do, sir. Would you like me to tell everyone here what he said to you?”
Yes! Fucking Hillel looks like he just shit himself! Angelo, if you weren’t married and I wasn’t seeing Harper, I’d fucking blow you in the kit room right now!
“I don’t think this is the place for that, Detective.”
Yeah, I’ll bet you don’t, motherfucker!
“Bill, he’s right.”
“It’s Commander Hillel, Captain!”
“The door’s closed, Bill. It’s just us in here. And I think we’re way off the record, now. So let’s just cut the bullshit. Almost all of the press on this incident has been positive. There was one story linking this to the Reid shooting, and I think we all know where it came from. Our officers were in the right. No one is going to make a big deal out of this except you. You’re about to make the same mistake you made last time: thinking this is some sort of widespread misconduct when it isn’t. This shooting was tragic, but it’s always tragic when we have to use deadly force. The review board is going to rule it justified and in-policy, and they’re not going to hear any of this crap about the Reid shooting.”
“Oh, they’ll hear about it. In case you’ve forgotten, I sit on that board.”
And here’s where Captain Mayones kicks you right in the balls, asshole!
“No, Bill, you don’t. Or at least, you won’t. When the shooting comes up for review, I’m filing a motion to have you excluded. You won’t be hearing this case.”
See? Captain Mayones said he was going to do that. And here he is, making good on his word. You know something? Watching this happen is like a dream come true!
“You’re filing a grievance against me? On what grounds?”
“Personal bias. I think it’s pretty clear to everyone that you can’t be objective in this case.”
“You’re accusing me of bias?”
“Bill, you blame Lynott for what happened to you when you went on your crusade and it failed. You thought you’d ride that righteous indignation straight into the chief’s job, but it didn’t work out that way. You took a chance and it cost you. So you can call off your witch hunt, stop leaking information to the press, and stay the hell out of this, or you can keep screwing yourself over on it and deal with the consequences. It’s your choice.”
I’ll have to remember to tell Harper about the captain’s ‘witch hunt’ reference. He’ll get a kick out of that. Hey, I’m a woman from Salem. Maybe it qualifies as harassment?
“Are you sure you want to take this line with me, Tom? Because it could really come back to bite you in the ass.”
“I’m just telling you the truth. You’re not going to turn this into a chance to take your revenge on Officer Lynott. If you try to spin this into a smear campaign, everyone in this room is going to show up and testify about this meeting at the hearing. You’re going to embarrass yourself and you’re going to embarrass the department. You don’t want that and neither does anyone else.”
“Are you threatening me, Tom?”
“No. I’m just telling you the truth. I’ve already spoken to the chief, and we both know how he feels about you. Now, the smartest thing you can do right now is to drop this. Let the process play out the way it’s supposed to. You interfere with that, and you’re going to spark a lawsuit that’s going to make the whole department look like shit. Who do you think will be in the doghouse then?”
I couldn’t have said it better myself, sir. Commander Hillel looks like he doesn’t know whether to scream or cry! He can’t even speak! I am so enjoying this!
“I think we’re done here. Does anybody else have anything to add? No? Good. The department will answer any inquiries from the media about this incident in the same way they always do. As far as we’re concerned, that’s the end of it. I think everyone should get back to work.”
Amen! That is exactly what I wanted to hear! Thank you, God! You’ve really been good to me lately! And I’m going to play this recording ten thousand times! I love it! Goodbye, Commander Asshole! I hope I never see you again!
I guess I should find out what I’m doing for the rest of the night.
“Lieutenant, what’s my assignment for tonight? There’s no one else for me to work with.”
“That depends. Did the Red Sox win yesterday?”
“Yes, sir. Five to two.”
“And you’re going not going to shut up about it all night, are you?”
“No, sir. And I’m pretty sure the Yankees got hammered by Baltimore, didn’t they?”
“Don’t remind me.”
“Three errors, and they walked in the tying run, right?”
“There’s no fucking way I’m having you in the station with me tonight, Lynott! Log on as a report car.”
I didn’t think so. Baltimore took the Yankees? Blowing a lead by walking in a run? I would never let him hear the end of it!
“And try to stay out of trouble.”
“Will do, sir. Three errors? Ouch!”
“Go away, Lynott!”
“Going away, sir. Thank you, sir.”
You know, my only regret is that Harper wasn’t here to witness this. I’ll have to play him the recording. I think I’m going to add it to my greatest hits playlist. I’m going to listen to it over and over again!