Keys

Chapter 4

Steve sensed a presence in the doorway of the ICU cubicle and looked up. Rudy Olsen smiled slightly. “Can I come in?”

Steve sat back a bit and lowered Mike’s right hand to the bed, releasing it. “Of course.”

Olsen slowly crossed to the bed, staring at its occupants still form. “How’s he doing?” he asked quietly.

“Good, good,” Steve answered. “They told me he looks a lot worse than he is. I sure hope so,” he finished with a sigh. They both stared at the sedated man for a long moment, then Steve looked up at his colleague. “You look exhausted.”

Olsen sighed heavily as his eyes shifted to the younger man. “It’s been one hell of a day and it’s a long way from over.” He glanced behind him at an empty metal chair. “Do you mind?” He gestured towards it.

“No, please.”

Olsen picked up the chair and brought it closer to the far side of the bed, so that he and Steve would be talking across it.

Steve looked down, as if trying to find words. “Ah, Rudy, I, ah, I just want to thank you for what you said back there…in the waiting room. It was exactly what I needed to hear.” Olsen smiled and nodded. Steve looked at Mike once more. “I just couldn’t imagine my life without him,” he added softly.

“Well, you don’t have to, thank god,” said Olsen. “You’re two of the lucky ones today,” he finished with a sad sigh.

Steve looked up at the captain, who was staring, seemingly unfocused, at the wounded man on the bed. Steve gave him a moment and then asked, “Rudy, what the hell happened today?”

Olsen seemed to pull himself back to the moment and turned to meet Steve’s stare. He shook his head. “We’re still trying to piece it together. The only thing we know for sure is there was more than one shooter and they got away without a trace.”

“More than one --?”

“Ballistics has identified at least three different guns, and most probably there were four. Big bastards too – forty-four caliber.” He stopped and took a deep breath, and his eyes travelled back to Mike. “It’s amazing anybody survived…”

Steve cleared his throat. “I, ah, I’ve been so caught up with what was going on with Mike, I never even thought about the others.” He sounded apologetic, and Olsen smiled softly in understanding. “And now I’m almost afraid to ask…”

Olsen’s smile disappeared and a look of infinite sadness claimed his features. He took several seconds and a deep breath. “We lost two at the scene,” he began quietly and watched as Steve closed his eyes and froze.

“Who?”

“Derek Collins and Alan Donner. Both of them were hit in the head.” He waited a few seconds before continuing. “Two more are critical – Charlie, who was hit in the stomach, and Bob Jeffries, who caught two in the chest. Mike was critical when he got here but he’s listed as serious now.”

Eyes still closed, Steve nodded.

“The others are all going to be fine. John Yu has already been released, and Carl Macklin is going to be released in the morning. Roy’s going to be here for awhile – he took a bullet to the right thigh and it broke his femur.”

Steve had leaned forward, elbows on his knees, head down, and now he ran his hands through his hair and sat back. “Goddammit,” he hissed, gave himself some time to absorb everything then looked his superior officer in the eye. “I want to work on it, Rudy, don’t tell me I can’t.”

Olsen had been expecting this, so the demand didn’t faze him. He gave the young man a reassuring nod. “Don’t worry, you will be. You, Jack, Simon, John – nobody’s partner is going to be excluded. We want these bastards, but we’re going to take them down as a department, not as a bunch of revenge-seeking vigilantes.

“But,” Olsen continued, getting up and putting the chair back in the corner, “until he’s on his feet again,” he nodded at Mike, “and we’ve done right by our fallen, your place is here.” He looked Steve in the eyes. “Are we clear on that?”

“Yes, sir,” Steve said with a slight smile, knowing an order when he heard one.

Olsen looked at Mike once more. “He looks peaceful. Look, why don’t you head home for a while, get some decent food and some sleep?”

“Thanks, but, ah, I’m not leaving this room until he opens his eyes and looks at me,” said Steve with finality.

Olsen nodded slowly. “Yeah, I understand…I’m not going anywhere either. I still have two guys who could go either way,” he said sadly. He turned and plodded towards the door.

“Keep me in the loop?”

Olsen turned back at the door. “You bet.” He tapped the doorframe twice, then turned slowly and exited into the ICU hub.

Steve moved his chair so it was perpendicular to the bed, laced the fingers of his left hand through Mike’s right, leaned his head against the back of the chair and closed his eyes.

# # # # #

He felt his arm being jostled and he awoke with a start, his head snapping up from the chair. “Steve…it’s Philip. Rudy said you wanted to be kept in the loop.”

Steve stared bleary-eyed up at Sergeant Polanski, not much older than himself, who sometimes acted as Olsen’s aide-de-camp. “What is it?” He glanced at Mike, who seemed fine, but that didn’t stop his heart from racing.

Polanski suddenly didn’t seem to know where to start. “Rudy just wanted you to know that they had to take Charlie Bidwell back into surgery.”

That woke Steve up in a hurry. “Why?’

“Seems they can’t get the bleeding in his stomach to stop. It’s not looking good,” he finished helplessly.

Steve nodded. “Okay…okay. Ah, thanks for telling me.” As Polanski turned to leave, Steve caught his sleeve. “Where’s Jack?”

“He’s in the waiting room with Charlie’s wife and daughter.”

“Okay, thanks. You’ll come back and tell me…?” He left the rest unsaid.

Polanski nodded. Before he turned again to leave, he glanced at Mike and then back to Steve and smiled slightly. “I’m really glad Mike’s going to be okay.”

As Polanski left the room, Steve half-stood and leaned over the bed. “So am I,” he whispered with a smile.

# # # # #

Disheveled and bleary-eyed, Steve stood in front of the coffee machine, trying to fish coins out of his pocket. He felt a hand on his shoulder. “Here, let me get that for you,” Haseejian’s voice boomed in his ear.

The sergeant fed coins into the machine. “What are you doing out here? I thought you weren’t going to leave the room till Mike woke up?” He knew it was too early in the day for that to start happening.

Running a tired hand over his unshaven face, Steve cleared his throat. “They’ve taken him for an x-ray to see if his lung’s re-inflated. And if it has, they’re gonna take the chest tube out.”

“That’s the best news I’ve heard for awhile,” Haseejian smiled.

Steve nodded. “Yeah. Look, Phil never came back to see me last night – how’s Charlie doing?”

Haseejian took the coffee cup out of the machine and handed it to the young inspector. “He’s not doin’ good. He’s back in ICU but they might have to operate again. They can’t get him to stop bleeding.” He glanced around the waiting room. “It’s a good thing that half the department has been here to give blood.”

Steve took a sip of the coffee and winced.

“That stuff’s crap,” said Haseejian. “Throw it out. I’ll send one of the young guys out to get us some good stuff and a couple of donuts. What do you say?”

On Steve’s nod, Haseejian gestured across the room and a young patrolman separated himself from some others and started towards them.

“Have you heard anything about Bob? Rudy said he was critical as well.”

“Bob’s doing great – they think he’s gonna be okay too, like Mike. Lucky.”

The patrolman was now beside them, and stood waiting patiently while Haseejian dug some bills out of his pocket. He took the young man aside to give him their coffee and donut order.

Steve turned to look at the waiting room, still overflowing with uniformed and plainclothes cops. As awful as the coffee was, he kept sipping, badly in need of the caffeine.

Suddenly, from the far corner, the volume rose; the timber of voices had changed from quiet conversation to startled exclamations and cries of alarm. Haseejian broke away from the patrolman and quickly crossed the room.

Steve started to follow, but Haseejian moved faster and had turned back to face him, his face a shattered mask. “We just lost Charlie.”


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