The Mentor

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Chapter 22

Luke stood leaning a hand on either side of the door frame when Kelly answered his knock at her front door.

Kelly’s expression wasn’t one of excitement when she opened the door. ‘I wasn’t expecting to see you again tonight,’ she said. She moved to the side of the doorway; a non-verbal indication for him to enter.

After he left the 90th on his way home it suddenly occurred to Luke that there may have been another reason why the old man, Kelly’s dead grandfather—a concept he still struggled to accept by the way—approached him in the bar that night. Maybe it wasn’t just to help him with his difficult cases. Maybe the old guy had other plans.

Luke decided he had to talk to Kelly. He had check she was OK, but he also wanted to discuss his theory with her. He had to set things straight, knowing he hadn’t done anything wrong at dinner, and it was time for her to understand that.

On his way home he made a detour via Kelly’s apartment.

Luke entered her home and she closed the door behind him. Kelly moved ahead of him towards her lounge room and Luke followed.

At the center of her lounge room Kelly turned and faced Luke. Her arms were firmly crossed in front of her. Her expression was unwelcoming. Luke knew things were not good when he wasn’t invited to sit, or offerred a drink.

‘OK, I’ll make this as quick as I can, then I’ll leave you alone,’ he began. Kelly’s expression remained unchanged; a fixed emotionless stare.

‘After you left the restaurant I was a little confused...’ Luke began. ‘I couldn’t understand what I had done wrong.’

With arms still tightly folded Kelly shifted the distribution of weight on her feet. She held a firm glare at Luke.

Luke continued, ‘So I decided to drive by the 90th on the way home and have a look at your grandfather…you know, the memorial you said they had there for him.’ Luke paused to gauge her reaction—still nothing, so he cautiously continued. ‘I saw the photo of your grandfather on the wall and…I don’t know how to tell you this Kelly…’ Luke nervously scratched the back of his head. ‘But the guy in that photo at the 90th…your grandfather…is the same old man that I spoke to at Barnaby’s that night,’ Luke cringed having delivered the news.

Kelly rolled her eyes. Her arms fell limp by her side. ‘Oh Luke…’ she said in a tone that resonated with disappointment.

‘Hear me out…’ he insisted with hands raised submissively. ‘Look…I’m not into ghosts and all that shit, but when I saw the plaque on the wall under your grandfather’s photo…the dates suggested that if he were alive today he would be eighty-three…the guy I met in the bar said he was eighty-three…He also said he’d been retired for eighteen years. Your Grandfather would’ve been retired for eighteen years if he were alive.’

Kelly’s arms crossed again as she glared at Luke. ‘Really Luke…’ She began. ‘You can’t possibly believe you spoke to my grandfather…after he has been dead for fifteen years.’

‘You know what…’ Luke said, ’I was as skeptical as you. I couldn’t believe it either. But when I saw the photograph at the 90th, I knew it wasn’t a dream. I’d never seen your grandfather before and the guy in the bar and your grandfather…they are unmistakably the same person.’

Kelly motioned towards the front door. ‘I think you should go…’ She held her extended arm out in the direction of her front door.

‘OK, I will…I’ll go, but I want you to hear this first,’ Luke said, ‘The man in the bar said some things to me that night that I think will help you believe I am not making this up.’

Kelly’s arm lowered. She crossed her arms. Luke took that as an indication to continue. ‘I thought the reason he appeared at Barnaby’s, or whatever you call it when a ghost speaks to you…’ he said waving a confused hand, ‘was because he wanted to help me with my cases.’

‘And why would my grandfather want to help you…?’ she asked directly.

‘Exactly…’ Luke said. ‘Exactly. That’s what I thought. Why would he want to help me…someone he has never met. Then I realized he wasn’t helping me at all… No, he had another reason for being there.’

‘You know what…’ Kelly waved a hand at Luke. ‘This is all bullshit,’ Kelly said. ‘And I don’t appreciate you coming here and talking this shit about my grandfather. He was a wonderful man and I would prefer you left him to rest in peace.’

Luke ignored her comments and continued. ‘He told me he would’ve been married almost fifty years, but he lost the love of his life five years ago.’ Kelly’s interest level changed. Her face tightened. ‘He told me his wife died in her sleep and he felt so bad that he wasn’t there for her when it happened.’ Kelly’s hand shot up to her mouth. Tears welled in her eyes. Luke continued. ‘He told me her name was Emma, but he called her Em.’

Kelly’s eyes were glazed in a blank stare as she slowly lowered herself onto the armchair she previously stood in front of. Her hand was still over her mouth. He now had her attention.

‘He said she just went to bed one night and didn’t wake up…he said his beautiful young granddaughter found her the next morning.’

Kelly whimpered from behind her hand. ‘That was me…’ she said from behind her hand. ‘I found my grandma in her bed,’ she commenced to sob. ‘After my grandfather passed I visited my grandmother every morning to check she was OK…and one morning… I found her…she had passed away in her sleep. How could you possibly know that?’

Luke continued. ‘He told me he had three children…’ Luke said. He held up his thumb. ‘A University Professor – retired…’

Kelly nodded. ‘That’s my Uncle Stewart…’ she sobbed. Tears started to flow.

Luke held out his pointer finger, ‘his middle child was a son who followed him into the force.’

Kelly started to cry. ‘That’s my dad…’ she said sobbing and nodding.

‘And the youngest…’ Luke continued, ‘he said is a Nursing Sister...’

Kelly’s tears were now freely flowing down her cheeks. ‘That’s my Aunt Julie…’ she said.

Luke continued. ‘He said he has seven fantastic grandchildren, but he didn’t name them to me.’ Luke watched Kelly as she nodded her sobbing confirmation that he was correct.

He suspected she was starting to realize that he couldn’t possibly be making all this up. How could he know so much about her family?

Luke continued. ‘He told me that when he proposed to his wife he took her out on a boat…’ Kelly’s head shot up and she held a deer-in-the-head-lights stare at Luke. 'This was a story that was not shared all that widely.' Luke continued with his story. ‘He said he dropped the ring over board and it took him forty-five minutes diving down but he eventually found it.’

Both Kelly’s hands shot up to her mouth as she sobbed out the words ‘Oh my god…’ she lowered her hands from her mouth. ‘How could you possibly know that…? He was so embarrassed about that, he didn’t tell anyone. My grandma only told me after he’d passed.’ Kelly stood from her chair and glared at Luke. Tears streaked her cheeks. ‘How could you know that?’ she repeated. Her tone was accusatory.

‘Oh and he said to me…’ Luke mimicked his impression of a deep, old man voice, “A word of warning son…Don’t ever try to kneel in a row boat, especially if you are trying to propose”

Kelly grunted out a laugh amid her sobbing. ‘That sounds exactly like my Grandfather…’ she said.

Luke continued, 'He said after he found the ring, “I never give up on anything, son”.

Kelly shook her head. ‘That’s right…he always said that… and he never did. He was stubborn like that.’ A brief smile tried to emerge.

‘I told you…’ Luke pleaded. ’I can’t explain it…but I met him that night in the bar. I met your grandfather…He came to me and helped me.’

Kelly lunged at Luke and threw her arms around his neck and held him close as she sobbed into his shoulder. Luke embraced her tightly as he continued. ‘You remember I said I think he had another reason for being at Barnaby’s that night…You know, I thought he was there to help me, but now I think it was for some other reason.’

Kelly’s head lifted from his shoulder. Her reddened bloodshot eyes stared into his. Even with her cheeks streaked with tears and mascara runs, she was still beautiful. ’I think he was there to help you…’ he said, ‘and indirectly me, I suppose.’

Kelly stared up at him with a confused expression. Her brow plunged. ‘I don’t understand…help me…? How…?’

‘I told him during our talk that my fiancée left me,’ Luke began. ‘He told me to let her go. He said she was not the one. He said forget about that girl…that’s what he called her…“that girl”,’ Luke said. ‘Before he left, in fact, I think he had just stood up from the table to leave, one of the last things he said to me before he left was, “You’ll meet the right girl one day son…”, he called me, son,’ Luke clarified.

Kelly scoffed, but was actually a laugh that she couldn’t suppress. ‘He called all younger men “son”,’ she said smiling in admiration of her Grandfather’s memory.

Luke continued. ‘He said, “You’ll find someone who’ll take your breath away. She’ll be the one…You won’t know it straight away…but she’ll be the love of your life”.’

Luke placed his hands on Kelly’s shoulders and gently eased her away from him. He stared down into her misty eyes. ’He was right…I now know he was talking about you…When I first saw you in the coffee shop you did take my breath away.’ Kelly smiled modestly and her head rolled to the side in apparent embarrassment. ‘He said I wouldn’t know it straight away…and I didn’t. I thought you were a bitter person at first, but then I got to know you. Don’t you see…?’ Luke asked as he stared into her eyes. 'He was there to help me find you. For some reason he wanted his granddaughter to be with me. I would never have called into your coffee shop if I wasn’t following up on a lead from one of my cases that caused me to miss my morning coffee. But I did…and here we are. I truly believe it was all part of his grand plan.’

Kelly smiled and hugged him tighter.

‘How did he look…?’ she asked as the tears of acceptance continued to flow.

Luke hugged her tight. ‘Good…’ he said nodding his confirmation. ‘He looked really good,’ Luke said. ‘Especially for someone who’s been dead for fifteen years,’ Kelly’s head quickly shot up and her eyes met his smiling expression. She smiled at his humor and for the first time since he arrived that night he felt her relax.

Wearing his full dress police uniform Luke was nervous, yet excited as he sat amongst several other dressed-alike cops waiting for their names to be called.

His palms perspired under his white gloves. This was something he had strived for, it was something he had wanted for a long time. For a moment there he thought he had missed the opportunity, or that it was never going to happen, but finally, here he is.

His eyes moved around the packed auditorium. Hundreds of people had gathered to fill rows of seating separated into three aisles. The left and right aisles were filled with anxious and excited people, all family and friends of cops like him who were being honored here today. While the middle row of seating was occupied by numerous nervous, white glove wearing police in their full dress uniforms.

Luke glanced over his shoulder. His nervous searching eyes caught the eyes of Kelly staring proudly back at him. They exchanged a smile. Luke raised his eyebrows to her before turning back to the front and waiting.

His nervous eyes then moved up to the vacant lectern on the elevated stage in front of him. It was strategically placed in front of the stage’s dark blue backdrop that displayed large police badges emblazoned across it with the words “NYPD” repeated in rows across the banner.

Several weeks after Luke finalized the last of the four difficult cases, that being the murder of John Bishop, Luke’s Lieutenant called Luke into his office. He was full of praise for the manner with which Luke had solved each of those difficult cases. He impressed upon Luke that he didn’t believe there would have been too many of his peers who could have achieved what he achieved. The way Luke thought outside the box and found evidence that conclusively proved the guilt of each offender was most impressive; “brilliant” his Lieutenant said.

The threats of being busted back to uniform were very real, but the Lieutenant told Luke he had confidence Luke would shine—and he did.

The Lieutenant told Luke that he intentionally put a great deal of pressure on him to make him achieve. ‘And pressure makes diamonds,’ his boss said.

He informed Luke that on the back of his brilliant policing work in solving all four cases, he recommended him to the NYPD Commissioner for promotion to Detective - Second Grade and his promotion had been approved.

The Lieutenant proudly extended his hand to Luke and the men shook hands. Luke was excited with the announcement. He had wanted for this for so long and it was finally here.

Husken informed Luke that the presentation would be a formal ceremony where he would receive his promotion from the NYPD Commissioner himself in front of gathered family and friends at NYPD headquarters in Manhattan. Husken told Luke he had informed the Commissioner of Luke’s outstanding efforts and he too was suitably impressed.

All in attendance at the NYPD Headquarters auditorium were asked to stand while the NYPD Commissioner and other dignitaries arrived on stage to the strains of the fabled U.S. Cavalry tune – Garryowen reverberating around the auditorium.

The customary speeches about how proud the city of New York was of their brave and dedicated officers followed the introductions. Then the ceremony began.

Excited and proud families watched on, many witnessing the occasion through raised video cameras and phone cameras as one-by-one each officer’s name, and the recognition they were receiving, was announced. The officer then made their way across the stage to present themselves to the Commissioner to officially receive their recognition.

Luke’s name was tenth in line to be called. He only chose to invite Kelly as his guest to witness his long awaited promotion to Detective Second Grade. She had now become his life and things were quite serious between the two.

Promotions among Detective ranks were merit based and were earned, not granted through exams or tenure, so it was something he was proud of; they both were.

When his name was called Luke crossed the stage, saluted the Commissioner and formally received his promotion. As he was receiving his congratulatory handshake the Commissioner had a quiet, brief chat with Luke.

‘Lieutenant Husken told me all about your achievements, Detective. I was looking forward to meeting you today,’ the Commissioner said. ‘Some of your work and your investigative acumen has not gone unnoticed. Your Lieutenant informed me of those four recent murder cases you solved, and more particularly the way you solved them. Very impressive,’ he said, finally letting go of Luke’s hand.

‘Thank you Sir,’ Luke responded. All he really wanted to do was get off this stage.

‘Tell me this before I let you go…’ The Commissioner asked Luke. 'What was your inspiration for such difficult murder investigations, especially when going through a rough period in your life…?’

Luke’s head turned to the crowd. He immediately located the proud eyes of his Kelly seated in the audience smiling back at him. While holding her gaze he replied, ‘I was fortunate enough to receive advice from a very experienced and very special mentor, Sir,’ Luke said, as his focus returned to the Commissioner.

The Commissioner nodded. ‘Excellent,’ he said approvingly. ‘I would like to meet this Mentor of yours one day.’

‘Who knows Sir...’ Luke began. ‘One day you just might be able to do that,’ he said before saluting. He grinned to himself as he exited the stage to the thunderous applause of the gathered audience.

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