BADGE # 186


BADGE # 196





Okay so are we going to do this thing or not?” Steve asks.


“Yeah sure, go ahead.” Neal says as he gestures.


“You want me to start?” Steve asks.


“Yeah, I mean you are very articulate. You can turn a phrase or two, so be my guest.”


“Well Neal I must say that is very altruistic of you.”


“See there you go with the big words again.”


“Why are we doing this again?” Steve asks.


“Don’t you read the memos?” Neal asks.


“Yeah but that don’t mean I remember them. So refresh my memory.”


“We are doing this for the time capsule, remember now?” Neal asks.


Steve snaps his fingers. “Oh yeah that’s right. When they finish the new police station next month they are going to bury it in the corner stone, we are going to be encased for posterity. When are they going to open it again?”


“Jesus Steve! In the year 2007.”


Steve whistles. “Wow! That is a long time! Hey buddy what do you think we’re be doing in the year 2007? Retired maybe?”


“One can only hope. Do you want to know how old we will be in 2007?” Neal asks.




“Well?” Neal asks again.


No not really. So maybe we should introduce ourselves.” Steve says.


“Good idea toots.”


“Hi my name is Steve and that is Neal.” Steve points.




“Hmmm what?”


“They can’t see us….” Neal points out.


“Oh yeah they can’t! Anyway, I am Sgt. Detective Steve Perry and I have been on the force now for about five years. Two on the street and three as Detective.”


“This is Neal Schon and I am also a Sgt and I am also a Detective. I have been on the force for about seven years now. I was a beat cop for about a year and a half….what?”


“You know every time you say that you swagger.” Steve says.


Neal laughs. “What?! How can I swagger when I’m sitting down? That is just stupid!”


“No it isn’t. We all know that you were the youngest beat cop to make Detective….”


“They didn’t know that!”


“Well they do now anyway….” Steve says.


“Anyway….I have been a Detective for awhile now and Steve and I have been partners for….?”


“Oh it seems forever….years actually.” Steve says.


“That narrows it down. Okay let’s just say it’s been awhile and leave it at that….”


“Good idea. Well we introduced ourselves so what now?” Steve asks.


“I think we should tell them how we met.” Neal suggests.


Steve snaps his fingers again. “You know that is a brilliant idea.”


Neal signs. “That is why they call me the brain and you the beauty….”


Steve laughs. “No they don’t!”


“Oh…..yes they do!”


“Who says that?” Steve asks.


“Just everybody….”


“Well….anyway.” Steve says.


“Yeah anyway, that is another story for another time. So go on tell them how we met.”


“Well we grew up together….”


“No, no, no and no!” Neal says.


“What?!” Steve says.


“You aren’t going to start with that are you? We grew up together….” Neal mimics him.


“Well we did! What’s wrong with that?” Steve asks.


“What’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with that? It’s boring! That’s what’s wrong with that! Oh I know….! Start with when you were a hooker. What’s wrong now?” Neal says.


“I didn’t know you then and don’t you think the term ‘hooker’ is a little harsh?”


“Why you were one at one time.” Neal says.


“I was a male escort….”


“Excuse me…..a male escort. It’s still illegal. Tell them about the night we met why don’t you?”


“It was a dark and stormy night….”


“No it wasn’t!” Neal says.


“It was dark though.” Steve points out.


“At night it usually is.” Neal says.


“Not if you live in Alaska.” Steve says.




“What in the hell does that have to do with anything?” Neal asks.


“I just threw it in.” Steve says.


“Well just throw it out! That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard in my life. You’re just wasting tape!” Neal says.


“I am not wasting tape! Look there’s ple....”




The next sound is the sound of the tape being turned over and the machine turned back on.


“Testing, testing, one, two, three, okay now that Steve is mad….”


“I am not mad….” Steve says from a distance.


Neal takes a deep breath. “Actually it is an interesting story how we met again and it was dark. You see it happened exactly like this…….”




V7 V7 V7 V7 V7 V7 V7 V7 V7 V7



“Detective maybe I should drive.”


“When they steal your car Officer Williams then you can drive.” Neal says as he dodges other cars in the street as he chases after his stolen car.


“Yeah but Detective this squad car is my responsibility….”


“Don’t worry about it! Where in the hell is he going?”


“Detective the Watch Commander will kill me!!!” The officer yells from the passenger seat.


“Look! I just got that car out of the body shop yesterday! Do you have any idea how much that paint job cost me? Not to mention the fact that the little prick that stole it had the balls to steal it from out front of my house!!! My house! My abode! My domicile! My casa!! I know how to handle a squad car.”


“Yeah well looks to me like he can really handle your car.” The officer says.


“That ain’t no teenager out for a joyride.”


To Neal that had to be the understatement of the year. This guy, whoever he was, could drive that car like a fine tuned instrument and keeping up with him in this city issued vehicle was proving difficult after all Neal’s choice of car was a 1975 Jet Black Dodge Charger with a 318 V8 and a 426 Hemi and it was blowing this car off of the road. The Dodge Charger raced up the street and luckily it was late enough at night that there wasn’t a lot of traffic on the road but there was still the one car or two that the Charger had to pass and when it took corners it did it on two wheels and the driver always maintained control. Soon the Charger was just a speck in the distance as the squad car lacking in muscle car features soon lost it stride as it limped to a stop in the intersection.


“Henry 4! Come in Henry 4!”


Neal and the officer looked at the radio.


“I think they want to talk to you.” Neal says as he hands the mike to the officer.


“Go ahead this is Henry 4.”


“What’s your 20?”


“Willis and Bloomington.” The officer says.


“Be advised. A Black 1975 Dodge Charger was reported speeding in the alley east of your location headed toward Pearl.”


“Did she say Pearl?” Neal asks.


“Yeah. 10-4 Ocean we are on…..hey Detective where are you going?”


“Shortcut.” Neal says as he guns the car thru the intersection and up the street.


“Shortcut? But that shortcut is thru a vacant lot….”


“Yeah I know that. Pearl comes out up there and I am going to be there to greet him.” Neal looks at the officer. “You might want to close your eyes….”


Then Neal jumped the curb and they felt the squad car groan in protest and when it landed on all fours Neal once again gunned it, the tires tearing up the dirt from the lot. Neal struggled to maintain control of the car as it sluiced from side to side in the loose dirt of the lot and when he felt traction under the tires he gave it some more gas and he pointed the nose in the direction of the alley. Lights flashing and the siren wailing announced it arrival as Neal drove it through the lot and thru the fence that separated the alley from the lot and when he came to a stop he saw his car coming at him.


The driver of the Charger heard the sirens and he saw the lights and out of instinct he turned the wheel a hard left sending the car into a spin and the rear passenger fender came to rest against the driver’s door of the squad car then the driver of the Charger opened the passenger side door and he bolted.


“Officer are you alright?” Neal asks.


“Yeah I think so.”


“Do me a favor?” Neal asks as the officer nods his head. “Call Ocean and tell them I’m in pursuit…”


And with that Neal was out of the driver’s side window of the squad car and after the driver of the Charger.


Neal chased him over a fence and thru another alley and as the driver of the Charger ran he knocked full cans of trash over behind him which when Neal came to them he vaulted over. Up ahead the streetlights that lined the street gave Neal the perfect vision to burn this guy’s description into his brain, average height 5’10 or 5’11, skinny at least 156 pounds, long brown hair, blue jean jacket and jeans, tennis shoes and he was fast. He was just as fast running as he was driving and that was when the guy turned the corner and that was when Neal felt the first of many bricks hit him.


“Ocean view Police Department!”


Neal announced as he grabbed a lid of a nearby trash can for protection and then he fired his weapon in the air as a warning then he chanced a glance around the corner to see the guy standing there with his back to him just bending over and picking up an even bigger brick and that was when Neal turned the corner.


“Drop it or I drop you.” Neal said as he pointed his gun at him.


The guy rose to his full height both of his arms held out to his side and in one hand the brick. He looked back over his shoulder breathing hard.


“I said drop it!”


“Hey man it’s cool I don’t like violence.” He says as he opens his hand and he lets the brick drop to the ground.


“Really? Could have fooled me. You don’t call throwing bricks at a cop violent?”


“I didn’t know you were a cop man.”


“Who in the fuck did you think I was, the Tooth Fairy? Put your hands behind your head….”


The man begins to put his hands behind his head then Neal approaches him slowly and as he does so he holsters his gun then he grabs his wrists with his hands holding them tight in place as he kicks his legs apart. Then he reaches for his handcuffs.


“You don’t look like a cop.”


“I’m a Detective and you have the right to remain silent….”


After Neal had him handcuffed he took him back to the squad car and by now there were at least two other squad cars present, the Watch Commander and a handful of others.


“….Do you understand your rights as I have told them to you?”



Neal leans him over the back of the squad car.


“Watch it man I ain’t no Dillinger you know….”


Then Neal begins to frisk him.


“I know you don’t like violence….”


“That’s right man that was why I was throwing bricks I don’t have a gun.”


“Oh that makes me feel so much better and in case you have any doubts in your mind your under arrest for Grand Theft Auto. Mark take him to the station and I’ll see you guys there.”


“Sure thing Detective, come on let’s go.” The officer says as he takes him by the arm and he helps him into the back of the squad car.




“And you think you know this guy?”


Neal looks thru the guy’s file. “Yeah Cap I think I do but the picture I have in my head doesn’t fit the guy sitting at the table.” Neal nods towards the interrogation room.


“He doesn’t look too upset.” The Captain points to the guy in the room who seems to be asleep resting his head on his arm. “Besides from what you’re told me it’s been years since you saw each other and a lot can happen. How does it look?”


“Well it isn’t that bad. A lot of petty ante stuff….” Neal says as he flips thru the pages. “….nothing serious. A few prostitution charges that were knocked down to pandering which he did probation for and he paid all the fines. A shoplifting charge which was dropped, he’s either very lucky or he has a great lawyer….”


“Well with this charge I think his luck has just ran out.”


Neal looks at him. “I’ll talk to him and see if he knows anything….”


A few minutes later the Captain watches as Neal goes into the interrogation room carrying a cup of coffee and as he sits it on the table the guy slowly raises his head and he yawns as he rubs his eyes then he runs his hands thru his hair.


Neal throws the file on the table then he turns the chair around and he straddles it. “Do you remember me Steve?”


Steve leans back in the chair before he answers. “Yeah man I do, old Neal from the neighborhood.”


Neal smiles as he looks down at the chair. “It’s been a lot of years man, how’ve you been? How are your mother and your father?”


Steve grabs his cup of coffee and he takes a drink. “Mom and my step-father passed away about five years ago now.”


“Oh hey man I’m sorry to hear that.”


“Marv he had a massive heart attack at work. Dropped dead on the spot, the doctor’s you know they said that he didn’t know what hit him. “ Steve shrugs. “I don’t know if that’s true or not I would like to think that he didn’t know….” Steve looks into his coffee cup. “Mom she had a hard time after his death. They were very close and very much in love with each other. I think she willed herself to be with him so six months after he died she joined him. Did you ever get the feeling that some people just weren’t long for this world?”


“Yeah.” Neal says.


“I had that feeling about my mother.” Steve stops and he takes a deep breath and he takes another drink of coffee. “How are your mom and dad?”


“My dad has been gone for a long time now….”


“Sorry.” Steve says.


“Thanks. My mom is still alive and well and kicking and she calls me just about every Sunday if she isn’t out with a new friend of hers. She still lives back in the same old hometown.”




Steve drinks the rest of the coffee and what is left in the bottom of the cup he rolls back and forth in the cup. Neal scratches the back of his head as the uncomfortable silence drags on.


“What happened Steve?” Neal finally asked and Steve looks at him thru his bangs.


“Nothing happened.”


“Look around Steve you’re sitting in an interrogation room of a police station under arrest for Grand Theft Auto would you like to try a new answer to that question?”


Steve shifts uncomfortably in his chair.


“I have your file right here.” Neal says as he holds it up. “How long have you been in Ocean View?”


“Almost two years.” Steve says.


Neal opens the file. “You had a few arrests for prostitution.” Neal looks at him.


Steve shrugs. “A guy’s got to live right? It wasn’t like I was standing on the corner hooking, I was a male escort. I needed a job….”




“That was a misunderstanding and besides it was dropped.” Steve says as he crosses his arms over his chest.


“And tonight you jumped the fence from Misdemeanor Land into Felony Town and with your first auto theft and it was impressive….”


“What makes you think that was my first auto theft?” Steve says seriously.


Neal just looks at him then he looks thru the paperwork in the file. “I don’t see any other arrests for….”


Steve leans across the table. “I wasn’t caught….I’m not a amateur….”


“Where were you taking the car?” Neal asks.


“No where.” Steve answers quickly.


“No where?” Neal repeats.


“Yeah man no where! As in no where! I was just taking a joy ride.”


“I don’t believe you.” Neal says.


“Screw you baby blue I don’t care if you believe me or not.”


Neal looks down at the paper in the folder. “This says that you’re an auto mechanic, and that you do body work and paint jobs, right?”




“Where do you work? It doesn’t say here.” Neal asks.


“I don’t….”


“You don’t…?” Neal asks.


“Yeah man it’s called being unemployed, I am in between gigs right now man.”


“There’s no home address either, where do you live?”


“I don’t….” Steve says.


“You don’t….?” Neal asks again.


“Do you always answer a question with another question?”


“So let’s see, you don’t work anywhere and you don’t live anywhere either….” Neal says.


“I know a couple of chicks man and they let me stay with them, they are the friendly types, if you catch my drift man.”


“Where were you last Wednesday night?” Neal asks.


“I don’t remember.”


“If you wonder why I’m asking it’s because there was a 1975 Black Mercedes Benz that was stolen from the high rent district this is what it looked like….” Neal holds a picture up from him to see.


“I know what a Mercedes looks like.”


“Oh yeah man I forgot you’re not an amateur and neither am I…. you see I could care less about the car….”


Steve leans back in his chair as he crosses his arms over his chest again.


“….But I really care about the half mill worth of smack that was in the trunk….”


Neal watches closely the expression on Steve’s face. “Did you hear what I just said?”


“Yeah man I heard you but I don’t know anything about a car with drugs in the trunk! I didn’t steal the car and I don’t do drugs!”


Neal just looks at him as he plays with a pencil. “Couldn’t fool me man.”


Steve slams his hand down hard on the table. “I’m not a hype!!” Steve then stands up so hard that he shoves the chair back against the wall as he starts to take off his jacket and when he gets it off he throws it across the room. “Look! Look man look!” Steve says as he shows his arms to him.


Neal stands up and he looks at his arms. “You can even have a doctor check me over man!! Grass is the hardest shit I do. I don’t know anything about a car full of drugs okay?”


“We used to be best friends Steve.” Neal says as he looks Steve in his eyes.


“That was a long time ago Neal and we were kids! We had kid’s minds and kid’s dreams and the biggest thing we had to worry about was doing our homework and if the girl who sat behind us liked us or not! Right here and now is the real world!!”


“We were best friends Steve and back then I could tell when you were lying and right now….you’re lying.”


Steve looks at the table as Neal leans in closer. “I am very good at what I do and I’ll found out the truth and when I do….”


“I want to go back to the holding cell….” Steve raises his head and he looks at Neal. “….Now.”


Neal pushes himself away from the table then he walks over to the phone and he pushes a button. “Yeah the prisoner is ready to go back.” Neal hangs up the phone then he bends over and he picks up Steve’s jacket and he tosses it to him.


“It’s a good thing your mother isn’t alive to see you like this….”


Steve stops putting on his jacket as he looks at Neal. “Shut up.”


“….Or your step-father.”


“I said shut up!!”


Then Steve was up and over the table in Neal’s direction and Neal grabbed him and he slammed him up against the wall a forearm covering his throat.


“Wrong move. We can add assaulting a police officer to the list.”


“Don’t talk about my family!” Steve manages to whisper.


Neal leans his head in closer. “Talk to me Steve. It’s wrong, all wrong and I can feel it. I can help you….”


“I don’t know what you’re talking about….let me go….you’re choking me!”


Neal then drops his forearm and Steve falls to one knee holding his throat and coughing. Neal looks to the door when he hears it open to see the jailer there.


“Detective are you alright?” The jailer asks when he sees Steve on the floor.


“Peachy….” Neal says as he reaches down and he pulls Steve to his feet.


“Fucking police brutality.” Steve says as the jailer takes him by the arm and he escorts him from the room. A few minutes later the Captain comes into the room.


“And he calls himself a non-violent type.”


“Well yeah Cap you talk bad about somebody’s mother and guys have a tendency to come unglued if you catch my drift.”


“Neal it’s almost three in the morning why don’t you go home and get some rest?”


“Cap I would like to but I have a lot of work to do on this….”


“Detective that’s an order. Besides he’s not going anywhere and a well rested cop….”


Neal smiles. “….Is a good cop. Yes sir I know. I’ll just go and pick up some files and some other stuff and then I’ll go home.”


The Captain pats him on the back. “Good work son and good night or good morning.”


“Thanks sir.”


After Neal made a stop by his desk to pick up a few things he then stopped by Central Booking and picked up a mug shot of Steve and he took that home as well. Home was a big, old two bedroom upstairs apartment that had a view of the ocean; actually just about every place in Oceanview had a view of the ocean, hence the name. Just some of the views were more expensive than others and this place was in the moderate range and on Neal’s detective salary he could afford it.


The place had big rooms with beam exposed ceilings, bookcases, rugs on the wooden floors and a good sized kitchen with a dining area off of it. The master bedroom was Neal’s room and off of that was the master bathroom and down the hall was the second bedroom which Neal used as a office slash storage room and after he grabbed a beer he headed straight for that room and after he turned on the lamp that was on the desk he opened the closet that was in the room and he looked around until he found the box he was looking for. He took it down and he carried it to the desk and after he brushed the dust off of the lid he opened it. He had his mother to thank for this one. She after all had sent the box to him thinking someday he might like to look thru it and get a laugh or two and at the time Neal was a little mad, some parts of his life as a kid, teenager, he really didn’t want to relive but after awhile his anger waned and then cooled and looking back wasn’t so bad. And now he was glad that she had sent them because now they would come in handy.


Neal took a few things out of the box until he found what he was looking for and he set it on the desk then he repack the box and he put it back in the closet. He sat at the desk, drinking the beer and looking through it and when he found what he was looking for he marked the pages then he turned the light off and he went to bed.


Neal slept until noon, he didn’t really have a choice, his body refused to respond to the alarm and anytime after that he couldn’t get out of bed so he slept until noon. Two cups of strong black coffee and a hot shower got him going and after a quick lunch at the diner he always frequents he hit the streets and he begin to hit the usual spots. Neal always made sure he had enough money, sometimes you needed the right amount of grease to get the wheel turning in the right direction and when the usual spots yield nothing he decided to go into the industrial area. After all Steve professed to being an auto mechanic and a paint and body man so Neal even made a stop at his body shop but the guys there didn’t know him from Adam so Neal went deeper into the area. Two hours later and fifty bucks lighter Neal had what he needed so he headed back to the station.


This time Neal was waiting in the interrogation room for Steve when the jailer brought him in.


“Well nice that you could come, sit.” Neal says to Steve who stands at the door. Neal looks back over his shoulder at him. “Well what are you waiting for?”


Steve slowly comes over to the table. “What’s all that?” Steve asks as he sits down across from Neal.


“Oh this, this is what we call research.” Neal gestures to the numerous files on the table. “And this is dinner, you must be hungry.” Neal shoves the bag closer to him. “It’s a hamburger and fries. You do like hamburgers and fries right?”


“I suppose.”


“It’s alright man go ahead. How did you sleep?” Neal asks as Steve takes the food out of the bag.


Steve shrugs. “Nobody molested me if that’s what you mean.” Then he takes a bite of the hamburger, and another and another.


“Pretty good huh? They are just around the corner and they deliver! I tell you they make a lot of money off the cops in this precinct.” Neal says.


“I thought cops ate doughnuts?” Steve asks.


Neal laughs. “That is just perpetuating a stereotype.” Neal points his finger at him. “If you don’t mind I thought while you ate we could….talk.”




“Yeah man talk and I thought we could start with this.” Neal leans over and he picks up the book he was looking at last night and he slams it on the table and he shoves it in Steve’s direction. It was their Junior High Annual. “I want to know what happened to the kid that was in this book….”


Steve looks at it. “I told you nothing happened….”


“Bullshit!!!” Neal stands up.


Steve sits there a minute. “Alright do you want to know what happened? Life happened!” Steve stands up. “When Marv died my mother struggled so I worked two jobs to make ends meet but they never did! When my mother died there was barely enough money to bury her! The bank took the house and the car! I was left with nothing so I split! I made my way to Los Angeles and while I was there I ran into a couple of guys who ran a garage and they wanted to know if I wanted to make some big money, fast cash. I said sure and that night I stole my first car and do you know something, I was good at it!! I liked it! We were riding a wave and we knew sooner or later it would drown us and one day I went there and the place was being raided. I split. Every minute of everyday I was waiting for the law to catch up to me but they never did, they never came after me.”


“How did you end up here in Oceanview?”


“This is where my money ran out. I was just going to stay long enough to earn some more money. Do whatever I could. I was in a bar and this woman came up to me and she wanted to know if I wanted to make some easy, fast money…..”


“The escort thing?” Neal asks.


Steve nods his head. “Yeah, she ah, gave me her card and told me to call her in the morning and she would give me the run down on it. I was only going to do it for awhile, look for another job when I wasn’t doing the escort gig but it wasn’t bad. Wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. They set me up in a nice place, good food, nice clothes and it wasn’t all about sex.”


“No?” Neal asked surprised.


“No. I went to parties, out to dinner, movies, concerts, the opera a couple of times, whatever the client wanted to do. I was more like a companion but if they wanted more that was extra.”


“Extra? Well that is really interesting…”


“Look I wasn’t as lucky as you!!! And what’s in this book is shit!!!” Steve says as he picks up the book and throws it against the wall.


“Does the address 7411 Sunset mean anything to you at all?” Neal asks.


Steve walks away from the table. “No should it.”


“Yeah it should considering it’s where you live and it’s right above the garage where you work. Bernie’s Garage as a matter of fact….where was you taking the Charger last night?”


“I told you nowhere!” Steve says.


“Where’s the Mercedes Steve?”


“I don’t know anything….”


“Where’s the drugs Steve?”


“I don’t know….!”


“Sit down.”


Steve doesn’t move.


“I said sit down!!”


Steve goes back over to the chair and he sits down then Neal moves the chair closer to the table. Then he leans over him.


“I don’t know why you’re protecting Bernie because he isn’t a nice guy. Do you want to see just how nice he isn’t….”


“I’m not protecting….” Steve says.


“I will take that to be a yes.” Neal reaches over to the stack of files and he pulls one off of the top. “This one is my favorite.” Neal opens the file and he shows Steve a picture.




“That used to be a 17 year old girl or how about this one….” Neal reaches for another file and he opens it.


“Stop it!”


“Murder, rape, extortion, drugs, you name it and Bernie has done it. I want him. Hell everybody from the D.A. down wants him and you have been walking hand in hand with the devil for months. I want this guy so bad I can taste it!”


“If this guy is as bad as you say than why isn’t he in jail somewhere?” Steve asks.


“Because everybody we get to testify against him either gets a bad case of the ‘I don’t remembers’ or they disappear or they show up floating in the ocean that’s why and everybody we get to go undercover in his organization gets busted sooner or later and this is where you come in….” Neal says as he swings the chair around to face him and he stands with his arms on the chair leaning into Steve’s space.


“Me…?” Steve asks.


“Yeah you man, we need your help….”


Steve starts to laugh. “You….you want my help? That’s crazy!! There’s a whole police force in this building and you want my help? Oh man that is really, really crazy!”


“It maybe crazy but the fact of the manner is you’re already in….they trust you….you come and go as you please….they won’t suspect you….”


Steve holds up his hand. “Wait man cool your jets! Didn’t you just tell me that everybody you get to testify against him ends up….dead!!!”


Neal nods his head. “Yeah basically….”


“Then man you make a lousy salesman because I ain’t buying what you’re selling…..take me back to the holding cell.“ Steve makes attempt to stand up but Neal shoves him back down.


“Sit down….let me lay this out in language that you will understand….that Grand Theft Auto charge is a felony….”


“Screw you fuzz!” Steve spats at him.


“….Have you ever been in a real prison Steve? Well have you?”


Steve looks at him. “I’ve been in the City and County….”


“No man you aren’t listening to me….” Neal leans in closer. “I said have you ever been in a real prison? I don’t mean some little city or county lockup….I mean in a real, big prison with harden, dangerous people? Well….?”


Steve just shakes his head.


“….To put it bluntly with the way you look you wouldn’t last a day, hell you probably wouldn’t last an hour!! Do you understand what I’m saying to you man? What with that long hair and your cute, skinny little ass you will be fresh meat, they would really love you…..”


“Alright man I catch your drift….I’m listening.” Steve looks at him.


“Now’s a chance to redeem yourself….”


“Redeem myself….I don’t understand.”


“You do this for us, work for us in his garage and feed us information and then testify against him in court and all will be forgiven.”


“What do you mean forgiven?”


Neal picks up his folder. “Everything in this folder including the Grand Theft Auto charge will go away, erased, gone for good never to be seen….again.” Neal tosses it back onto the table.


“You….you can do that?” Steve asks.


Neal nods his head. “My boss talked to the D.A. and it’s all arranged on the condition that you go all the way with this….all the way.”


“What about the owner of the Charger what if he wants to press charges?”


“I don’t think that will happen you see I know the owner intimately.”


Steve points at Neal. “You’re the owner, right?”


Neal nods his head as he smiles. “Very good….”


“Shit….” Steve rubs his forehead.


“So what will it be, redemption or damnation?”


“If I do this how do I know you guys will keep your end of the bargain?” Steve asks.


“Would it help if it was in writing and notarized?”


“Yeah it would.” Steve says.


“Okay we can do that…so yes or no….?” Neal asks.


Steve takes a deep breath. “Okay man I’ll help you.”


Neal closes his eyes as he looks at the ground and he too takes a deep then he raises his head and he looks at Steve. “Where were you taking the Charger?”


“To a warehouse on Baker, warehouse 42.”


“What happens to them once they get there?” Neal asks.


“Repainted, VIN numbers changed, license plates changed and then they are loaded onto an auto carrier.”


“What’s the name of the carrier and where do they end up?”


“I don’t know where they end up, the less you know the better off you are if you catch my drift.” Steve says. “The carrier name is Fast Auto Transport.”


“Did you ever do any, you know, repainting of the cars?” Neal asks.


Steve nods his head. “Yeah a few of them.”


“How do you know what cars to steal?” Neal asks.


“Bernie, Bernie tells us. He, ah gets a phone call I guess. I don’t know from who but I was in the office once and he was taking an order that is what he calls it, an order.”


“What’s your cut?” Neal asks.


“800 per car but it has to be a successful completion, no police, no trouble no nothing.”


“Not bad for a night’s work. How many cars do you get in a night?” Neal asks.


“As many as they want but you have to be careful if too many disappear it raises suspicious you know.” Steve says.


“ Last night when I was chasing you, you weren’t headed toward Baker Street, where were you going?”


“They told us if we’re followed, by the cops or anybody or if something feels hinky to ditch the car and that is what I was trying to do. Who knew that a piddly ass squad car could keep up with me.”


“That’s because I was driving.” Neal says.


“Oh….” Steve says.


“What about the Mercedes?” Neal asks.


Steve rubs his eyes. “Yeah okay I took it, off the street from a ritzy neighborhood but there was something funny about it.”


“Oh really, such as?”


“Well for one thing man the hood of the car was still warm so whoever dropped it off had just left and for another thing I didn’t take it to the warehouse like I did the other cars.”


“Where did you take it?” Neal asks.


“Back to Bernie’s garage.”


“Why did you do that?” Neal asks.


“I was told to by Bernie’s wife but at the time I didn’t know why but now I do and I swear to you Neal I didn’t know there were drugs in the trunk….”


“I believe you, so what happened to it?” Neal asks.


Steve shrugs. “I swear I don’t know, the next day when I came down to go to work the car was gone and like I said the less you know….”


“I got it….” Neal says.


“So what happens now?” Steve asks.


“Well I’ll call an stenographer to come and take your statement and I’ll get a hold of my boss to get a hold of the D.A. to get down on paper what we promised to you and then you can go back to work at the garage. I am sure by now they know that the cops have you so is there anybody there that can bail you out? If there isn’t we can….”


“Yeah Lilly.” Steve says.


“Lilly? Lilly who?” Neal stands up straighter now.


“Lilly, Bernie’s wife.” Steve says.


“You don’t mean Lilly West do you?” Neal asks.


“Yeah why….”


Neal then goes around the desk and he looks through a few files until he finds what he is looking for which is a picture and he shows it to Steve. “You mean this Lilly?”


Steve looks at the picture. “Yeah, I mean her hair is different now and she maybe a little older but she is still gorgeous. Why? Oh shit don’t tell me she’s one of the bad guys too?”




“Oh hell but how can somebody that looks like her be a bad guy?” Steve asks.


“Looks can be deceiving. Looks like we can catch two birds with one stone….”


Steve gets up from the chair and he starts to pace. “Neal I don’t know if I can do this….I mean….I wasn’t scared before and I didn’t feel like I was in danger but now….”


Neal walks over to him and he puts his hand on his shoulder. “You would be stupid if you weren’t scared. You just go in there and do what you normally do, near the garage is a Deli and a Grocery Store have you ever been to those places?”


Steve rubs his forehead. “Hmmm yeah the Deli I have been to quite a few times, we order from there sometimes and I have eaten lunch there and that grocery store is where I do my shopping.”


“So it wouldn’t be unusual for you to go to those places?” Neal asks.


Steve shakes his head. “No not unusual.”


“What about the laundry mat?” Neal asks.


“No, the apartment has a washer and dryer. I go to the news stand on the corner too.”


“Okay great, we’re have a person in each of those places in case you need help or anything else. You can get messages to me that way too. Watch everything that goes on in that garage, a word or a phrase or an incident may not mean anything to you but to me it could mean a lot.”


Steve nods his head. “Okay.”


“We mostly want the drugs and that large quantity takes time to find a buyer so it still might be at the garage somewhere if you happen to stumble onto it….”


“I’ll let you know….” Steve says.


“And when it finally goes down we’re arrest you too just to make it look good. Steve you’re doing the right thing….”


“Then why does it feel wrong?” Steve asks as he turns his head and he looks at Neal.


Neal moves his hand up to the back of Steve’s head. “Because those people trust you and everything they gave you to do you’ve done it you’ve never let them down. In some strange way they have become your family, they gave you a job, a place to live and now you’re going to betray them but Steve they aren’t worth your loyalty. If you only knew the mayhem they have brought down on people….”


“It’s a huge responsibility isn’t it, this ‘To Protect and To Serve’ stuff?” Steve asks.


“Yeah it’s huge and some days the weight of it is crippling….I’ll get the stenographer and I’ll talk to the Captain about that letter so hang tight okay?” Neal says as he starts to walk away.


“Neal….” Steve says.


Neal stops and he turns around. “Yeah.”


“When all of this is over maybe we can go through that Annual and talk about old times that is if you don’t mind being friends with a criminal type.” Steve says as he smiles.


“I would like that Steve that is if you don’t mind being friends with the fuzz!” Neal says as they both laugh. “Give me twenty minutes or less.”


An hour later when the stenographer was finished with Steve’s statement and Steve read over the letter from the D.A. and after he found it to his liking he signed it and then he called Lilly. An hour later Neal and the Captain watched from a window in the Captain’s office as Steve met Lilly at the curb her fancy Cadillac parked there. They watched as Lilly took Steve’s hands and she pulled him into an embraced then she gave him a passionate kiss which Steve gladly returned.


“Whoa Cap did you see that?” Neal asked surprised.


“Yeah I think he’s sleeping with the enemy.” The Captain said as they peeked through the mini blinds. “Are you sure this is a good idea?”


“If it isn’t I’ll turn in my badge and gun.” Neal says.


“If you’re wrong about this, if you’re wrong about him then you won’t have a choice but to turn in your badge and gun.”


“I’m surprised that the D.A. agreed so fast….” Neal says.


“I’m not, he’s been after Bernie for years you said that yourself. He saw a golden opportunity and next year is an election year and if he gets that scum off of the street then everything that Bernie has a hand in will collapse like dominoes and it will be a feather in the D.A.’s cap.”


Neal watches as Lilly and Steve get in the car and pull away from the curb. “If Bernie finds out that Steve is playing footsies with his wife this maybe over before it begins….”


“Let’s hope they are discreet.” The Captain says as Neal looks at him.


“Yeah Cap let’s hope….”




It had been two days now and Steve was just beginning to calm down luckily the garage had a lot of legitimate work for him to do so he was able to lose himself in it but in his travels around the garage and into the office he would keep his eyes open for anything out of the ordinary but everything seem to be the same that is until he went across the street to the Deli for lunch. Sitting at a table he noticed the new guy working behind the counter and then the new guy was coming to his table carrying a glass of water and a menu.


“Thanks man but I don’t need a menu….” Steve says.


The guy thrusts the menu at him. “Take a look at it there are some new things on it that you will be interested in….” Then he walks away.


Steve opens the menu to find a note that read “Call home….” Steve then takes the menu and he stands up and he heads towards the back. “Thanks man I’ll take the number five….” He tosses the menu to the guy behind the counter then he heads towards the back where the bathrooms and a payphone is located. Steve finds a dime in his pocket and he dials the operator.


“Yeah get me the 9th Precinct.”


A few minutes later the phone rings at Neal’s desk and he has to put down the tuna sandwich he is eating to answer it. He hits the button then he picks up the receiver.


“Detective Schon….”


“Interrupting your lunch?” Steve asks.


“It’ll keep. Why didn’t you tell me that you’re screwing Bernie’s wife?”


Steve on the other end is speechless as he rubs his eyes and not knowing how to answer he doesn’t.


“Hello….?!!! Did you hear the question?” Neal asks.


“Yeah I did….”


“Well….?” Neal says.


“I didn’t think it was important….”


Neal laughs as he gets up from the desk. “Wasn’t important?! Wasn’t important?! Steve don’t worry about Bernie finding out that you’re working with the cops when he finds out that you’re screwing his wife he will kill you outright….”


“Bernie isn’t here.”


“Where is he?” Neal asks.


San Francisco.”


“When did he leave?” Neal asks.


“Two days ago.” Steve replies.


“Why did he go to San Fran?” Neal asks.


“I don’t know man Lilly didn’t say and I didn’t….I can’t ask. Lilly runs the show while Bernie is gone….”


“Well I hope that she is worth it.”


Steve takes a deep breath then he looks at the ceiling. “It’s not by choice….”


Neal laughs. “Get out of here!!! Not by choice! I saw that lip lock she put on you when she bailed you out, what does she do hold a gun to your head?”


“No more like money.” Steve says.




“Yeah man I owe her some horrendous dough, who do you think got all those charges dropped or reduced? Her lawyer and now I am paying off a debt, I’m like a, what do you call it?”


Neal rubs his eyes. “An indentured servant.”


“That’s it! Sorry I didn’t tell you.” Steve says.


“Alright. How’s it going?” Neal asks.


“Okay so far.”


“Still scared?” Neal asks.


“You told me I would be stupid if I wasn’t and I am not yet stupid.” Steve says.


Neal smiles. “I’ll be around, you may not see me but I’ll be around.”


“Good to know. I better go, I only have an hour for lunch and I think my lunch is ready.” Steve says.

“Okay and Steve….”




“Watch yourself….” Neal says.


“Yeah you too man you too.”


Steve hangs up first then when Neal hears the dial tone he hangs up on his end.



It was business as usual and even though the business was illegal it was still business as usual and business was good. During the day the guys at the garage fixed cars and by night they stole them and when Steve wasn’t working at the garage or stealing cars or at Lilly’s beck and call he was at the warehouse repainting the stolen cars and on this night he was encased in the painting booth changing a Ferrari from a steel gray to a black when he felt the call of nature and he headed for the bathrooms which were in the back right next to the office and passing by he heard voices so he stop to listen.


“How long before we’re loaded?”


“The guy is painting the Ferrari now so maybe in a couple hours three at the most.”


“How many trucks have left for New York tonight?”


“Yours will make three.”


The driver whistles. “Wow what do they do with all of these cars?”


“I don’t know and I don’t want to know just so long as I get my cut….”


“You know it’s pretty smart to ship cars across the country and use them to smuggle….”


“Shhhh. You don’t know who’s around!” The guy says as he opens the door to the office and he takes a look around the empty hallway then he shuts the door. “I better go and check on the guy painting the car.” Just as he leaves Steve comes around the corner with his hands in his pockets whistling.


“Hey what are you doing back here?” The guy asks Steve. “You’re suppose to be painting that car!”

“Calm down man don’t split a gut I need to use the can okay? The car just needs one more coat and she’ll be finished.”


“How long have you been out here?” He asks.


“I just now came around the corner man now can I please go to the can?”


“Yeah go ahead.”


Steve bows. “Thank you.”



The next day Steve got word from the guy at the Deli that Neal wanted a face to face and he was to met him at the corner of 5th and Warren but when Steve got there the only thing there was a hot dog stand ran by a hippie looking guy.


“We have a new dog we’re trying out today it has pickles and onions….wanna try it man?”


Steve looks back over his shoulder at him. “I don’t like pickles….” Steve says.


Neal raises his sunglasses a little so Steve can see his eyes. “Then how about a pig….in a blanket?”


Steve comes closer to the hotdog stand. “Just give me a hot dog with mustard and ketchup and onions and oh yeah cheese.”


“You aren’t serious.”


“Don’t knock it until you tried it man.” Steve says as he watches Neal take a hotdog and put it in a bun and add the toppings Steve wanted then he hands it to him.


“$1.75.” Neal says.


Steve gives him two dollars. “Keep the change.”


“Big spender.” Neal says as he puts it in the cash drawer.


“So what’s new?” Steve asks.


“Well Bernie isn’t in San Fran.” Neal says.


Steve looks surprised. “No? Where is he?”


“Remember the Mercedes?” Neal asks.




“Bernie was in the Mercedes and yesterday it was fished out of the Bay….”


Steve starts to cough. “What?”


“Bernie’s dead….” Neal says.


“Jesus….I think I lost my appetite. How? Why?” Steve asks.


Neal cleans the counter. “The how is easy, shot, execution style and the why well that might be a little harder but I bet it had something to do with the missing drugs. Oh hey man here comes a civilian wanting a hotdog.”


Steve wanders off a bit until the guy gets his hotdog and when he leaves Steve wanders back over.


“Since you mentioned that I knew where the cars are going, well, at least partly.”


“Where?” Neal asks.


New York but from there it’s anybody’s guess and I know something else too….”


“Well spill it man I ain’t getting any younger.” Neal says.


“I heard the guy in the office talking to the truck driver and the truck driver said something about using the cars for smuggling….”


“Smuggling? Well you know that would fit….pack a car with drugs have that said car stolen and send it off to the buyer and nobody would be the wiser that is until one of the cars comes up missing….”


“The Mercedes….”


“Bingo. Here have another hot dog.” Neal hands Steve another hotdog. “It’s brilliant….a million cars must be transported across the country and nobody ever checks them….”


“But why kill Bernie?” Steve asks.


“When that transport reached New York and they were short one car perhaps somebody came looking for it and Bernie was the recipient of some bad mojo….oh hell here’s a mom and two kids.”


Steve hung back while Neal sold hotdogs to the mom and her kids.


“I think you have a new job.” Steve says. “So Bernie was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”


“You could say that.” Neal says.


“So what happens now? I mean do I keep on doing what I’ve been doing?” Steve asks.


“Definitely…..don’t deviate from the norm my friend.” Neal says.


“Which means what exactly?”


“The drugs are still missing and so far they aren’t suspicious of you right?” Neal says.




“You’re doing a good job just hang in there and if you get anymore info you know where to find me.”

“Okay sounds good….” Steve turns to walk away then he turns back around to Neal.


“Hey.” Steve says.


“Hmmmm?” Neal looks up.


“Watch yourself….” Steve says.


“You too man you too.” Neal says then he watches Steve as he walks up the street.






“It’s been two weeks and the D.A. is getting worried.” The captain says.


“He should know better than anyone that the wheels of justice turn slowly….” Neal says.

“Well he seems to think that those wheels have grinded to a squeaking halt….how’s Steve doing?”


“He’s doing alright….” Neal says.


“Has he feed you any new info yet?” The captain asks.


Neal shakes his head. “Not since he told me about the transport truck….”


“The D.A. is on my back so let’s push the issue….” The captain says. “The next time Steve finds out about a car theft going down he tells you and we bust the thief and we’re arranged for the Highway Patrol to stop that transport truck….”




“Detective Schon….”


Neal looks at the Captain and he very rarely calls Neal Detective Schon and when he does it is usually serious.


Neal looks at the Captain. “Yes sir?”


“Pass the word down….today.”


“Yes Captain.” Neal says as he leaves the office.


Soon after leaving the Captain’s office Neal was able to pass the message onto Steve and that night Steve got back to Neal with the info that Tony was slated to pick up another car and that night Tony was popped and taken into custody and the next day Lilly’s two henchmen were in the office watching as Steve and Lilly came out of his apartment that was above the garage.


“You know Billy I don’t trust that guy.” He says to Billy as he points to Steve on the stairs.


“You have to have balls man to bang the boss’s wife right under his nose. So what’s your gut telling you?” Billy asks.


They watch as Lilly kisses him they then walk down the stairs together and when they reach the bottom they part company, Steve going into the garage and Lilly getting into her Cadillac and driving off.


“My gut’s telling me that something is going on. Everything was fine until he got popped by the cops a couple of weeks back and now Bernie is dead, we had a transport stopped by the fuzz on the highway last night and then Tony got busted….see a pattern?”


“Now that you mentioned it….”


Joe points out the window at Steve. “He’s the weak link and I smell a rat….”


“What about Tony?” Billy asks.


Joe crosses his arms over his chest. “Lilly’s going right now to take care of Tony…..have you noticed the Deli across the street?”


“Yeah what about it? It’s been there for years.” Billy says.


“My point man. Old man Fletcher has ran it for years with his brother and then all of a sudden they hire a new guy and ever since that new guy has shown up Steve has been spending a lot of time over there….I smell the cops. I say we thrown a monkey wrench into the works….”


“We do what exactly….” Billy asks.


“Simple. One of us or both of us go with Steve to the Deli for a day or so, don’t give him a chance to be alone there then one day we suddenly disappear….catch my drift man?”


“I’m following you man….” Billy says as he smiles.


“Then we follow him back to whatever little pig he’s giving info to….then we get the rat into a trap that he and that cop will never get out of....”


Steve was nervous. It was fast approaching day two and every time he went to the Deli Billy or Joe just happen to be there also. Steve didn’t like it and he knew by now that Neal was probably trying to get a message to him but Steve couldn’t make a wrong move without blowing the whole thing out of the water so Steve was treading water. Steve wasn’t used to this sort of pressure and maybe it was his mind doing it to him and he was reading way too much into small things after all he wasn’t the only guy from the garage to eat at the Deli but it nagged after him like a rock in your shoe, it may have been a little stone but to your foot it was a boulder but the next day the two goons Billy and Joe were no where to been seen and Steve felt himself finally take a breath then he called Neal.


“Victor 7, Victor 7.”


Neal reaches over and he grabs the mike. “This is Victor 7.”


“You have a call from Steve.”


“Patch it through Ocean….” Neal says.


“Stand-by Victor 7. Caller go ahead.”




“Yeah Steve who were you expecting Kojak?” Neal asks.


“You sound funny.” Steve points out.


“I’m in my car talking to you on the radio. I wondered if I was ever going to hear from you again buddy.”


“Yeah well two of Lilly’s muscle men were riding my ass hard so I had to cool it….I had a feeling you might want to….” Steve says.


“….Talk to you?” Neal asks.




“Do you like to fish?” Neal asks.


“Fish? Yeah sure it’s been awhile….”


“Tomorrow at 4 in the afternoon north end of the Pier I’ll be the guy with the blue and white cooler that has a 49’ers logo on it.”


“49’ers fan are we?” Steve asks.


“No I like the Dallas Cowboys but that might draw too much attention….” Neal says.


Steve laughs. “Cool man tomorrow then.”


“It’s a date and Steve….” Neal says.


“Yeah man you too.”


Steve hangs up.


The next day right at four Steve was making his way down to the north end of the Pier and that is where he found Neal dressed in another disguise wearing a fishing hat, one foot on the lid of the cooler and a fishing pole hanging over the railing down into the water.


“How’s the fishing man?” Steve asks as he stands next to Neal.


“Not bad grab a can of Coke out of the cooler….” Neal says and Steve does.


Even though it looked like they were alone on their end of the pier the reality was they weren’t alone. Across the bay underneath the Bay Bridge sat a boat with two fishermen in it, Billy and Joe, dressed like fisherman and Joe had the binoculars watching the action on the pier.


“That kid should have been a race car driver….anything yet?” Billy asks.


Joe shakes his head. “They are talking fishing so far….”


“Do you recognize the guy he’s with?” Billy asks.


Again Joe shakes his head. “Not yet but it’ll come to me….”


“Where did you learn to read lips?” Billy asks.


“From my dear old grandmother, she was deaf so I picked it up from her and from time to time it has come in handy….like now.”


“I had something to tell you and I wanted to do it in person….” Neal says as he looks at Steve. “Steve Tony’s dead.”


“What did you just say?” Steve asks.


“Whoa!” Joe says.


“What? What happened?” Billy asks.


“He just told Steve about Tony.” Joe replies.


“Steve I said that Tony is dead….” Neal repeats as he puts his hand on Steve’s arm but Steve still pulls away and he turns his back to the railing.


“But how….I thought Tony was in jail.”


Neal puts his hand on Steve’s shoulder. “He was in jail and there was a fight in the holding cell and Tony was stabbed….”




“But before he died he wanted to clear his conscience so he told us everything that he could, he told us where the drugs were and other info we can use….”


Steve shrugs his hand off. “It’s my fault he’s dead!” Steve says as he points to himself.


“No it isn’t Steve….”


“Yes it is!! I gave him to you! It’s my fault Neal!!!”


“Damn it!!!” Joe says as he continues to look thru the binoculars.


“What now?” Billy asks.


“I can’t read lips if their backs are facing me! Turn around you two morons!!” Joe says.


Neal grabs Steve by his arms and he pulls him closer. “I want you to calm down now!! Count to ten, count to twenty, count to whatever you have to so you can calm down! Take a deep breath!! It wasn’t your fault Steve! Somewhere, somehow they would have gotten to him! Are you reading me?”


Steve looks him in the eyes. “What he told you will end this?”


Neal nods. “Yeah Steve it will and that was another reason I wanted to see you. It’s going down Friday morning but we want Lilly, will she be in the office on Friday?”


Steve rubs his forehead. “Hmmm yeah, on Friday she does the payroll and she’s in the office for hours….”


“Cool.” Neal says as he and Steve turn back towards the railing.


“Finally!!” Joe says. “He’s telling Steve that he’ll send Phil from the newsstand tomorrow if anything changes.”


“What do you mean if anything changes? What’s going down?” Billy asks.


“They were probably talking about that when they had their backs turned to me. I can read lips man but I ain’t no mind reader. Oh shit man!!” Joe says.


“What now?!” Billy asks.


“Steve just called him Neal. That pig is Detective Schon….” Joe says.


“The one that’s had been after Bernie for years?” Billy asks.


“Yeah man the goody-goody cop.” Joe says.


“Oh man Lilly’s going to love the fact that her boy toy is playing footsies with the cops…especially that one.”


“Like I said we can take care of both of them. Ah that’s sweet.” Joe says.


“What’s sweet?” Billy asks.


“Neal just put his arm around Steve.”


“Steve….” Neal says as he puts his arm around Steve’s shoulder and he draws him closer. “….You have to trust me….otherwise this is whole thing won’t work….when it comes down to brass tacks my man it’s only you and me….”


Steve looks down at the water then he looks over at Neal. “I haven’t trusted anybody in a long time but maybe now is the time to start….” Steve extends his hand to Neal and Neal takes it.


“Now their telling each other to be careful, Jesus I think I’m going to puke. Okay Steve is walking away now.” Joe lowers the binoculars and he looks at Billy. “Tomorrow we get to Phil before the pig does….”





Steve had only been at his work for a couple of hours when Phil showed up and he tapped Steve on the shoulder and when he turned around Phil handed him a folded up newspaper and then Phil took off. Steve opened the newspaper and read the note inside then he begins to take off his coveralls.


“Hey Mike where’s the keys to the Buick?” Steve asks.


“Hanging on the hook in the office, why?” Mike asks.


“I have to run an errand.” Steve says as he runs into the office and he grabs the keys and he runs out to the Buick. 45 minutes to an hour later a truck delivering magazines pulls up to the newspaper stand and Neal gets out carrying a stack of magazines wrapped up in string, he drops the magazines behind the stand while Phil watches.


Neal takes a twenty out of his pocket and he discreetly slips it into Phil’s hand. “After I leave go to the garage and give Steve a message….” Neal says.


“Another one….?” Phil asks.


Neal pushes the bill of his cap out of his eyes. “What do you mean another one Phil….?”


Phil backs up. “I….your partner was here and he gave me a note to….”


Neal then grabs Phil by his apron and he pulls him closer to him. “I don’t have a partner Phil!!”


“Neal, Neal man I swear I didn’t know….” Phil says.


“Alright Phil how long ago and what did the note say?” Neal asks.


“Maybe an hour by now and I don’t know what the note said….”


Neal pulls him even closer to him. “Phil I know you’re the sensitive type but you are the nosey snitch that has ever lived in Oceanview now what….did….that….note….say??!!”


“There had been a change of plans and to meet you at the old soup factory out on the old highway….”


Even before Phil had finished Neal had dropped him and he was off and running towards the truck but before Neal gets on he runs back to the stand.


“Give me back my twenty!” Neal says as he grabs the twenty out of Phil’s hand then he runs back to the truck and he jumps in it and he takes off.




After exchanging the truck for his Charger Neal got on the radio and he called in for backup then he drove like hell towards the old soup factory and it was just as the name implied. It was a soup factory that by now had been closed for months and Neal knew that he was heading into a trap, a set-up, whatever you wanted to call it and Steve had been found out. So when Neal got there he didn’t bother to stop at the gate which was closed so he drove thru it with a screech of metal and he barreled passed the empty guard shack as he headed towards the entrance of the factory and he didn’t stop there….he drove into the factory….turning the wheel sharply blocking the entrance and when the car came to a stop Neal was out of it and looking across he saw Joe, who had a tight grip around Steve’s neck holding a gun to his head, a short distance across the factory.


“Joey Simmons, I thought you were in New York.” Neal says as he leans over the roof of his car pointing his gun at Joe.


“Miss me Detective Schon….?” Joe says as he smiles.


“Neal man I’m sorry….” Steve says.

“It’s alright Steve don’t worry about it man….” Neal says. “Come on Joey let him go….”


“So this is your new playmate?” Joe says as he pushes the barrel of the gun harder against Steve’s head.


“Jealous man?” Neal asks.


“A little and now comes the time for me to find out just how much you feel for this guy….drop your gun and back away….” Joe says.


Neal laughs. “He’s a snitch man pure and simple….”


“Neal!!! Behind you!!!!”


Steve yells and Neal spins around and he drops to one knee as Billy fires on him from behind. One bullet finds its way passed Neal’s head and it shatters the passenger side window of the Charger and a second later Neal drops Billy with one shot and as Joe takes his gun away from Steve’s head he takes a chance and he gives Joe a sharp jab with his elbow in his gut and when Joe doubles over Steve takes off and he runs across the factory. Joe recovers quickly and he pops off a couple of shots in Steve’s direction and then Neal swings around and he drops Joe in his tracks.


“Steve!!!” Neal yells as he runs in Steve’s direction but he doesn’t get far because from someplace behind Joe more shots are fired. Neal dives behind an empty vat that once held soup. “Holy fucking shit!!!! Steve!!! How many damn people are in this factory??? Steve!!!”


No matter where Neal moved to the shots always seem to find him and Neal couldn’t make himself small enough it seemed because the shots were getting closer….leaving pock marks in the concrete next to him and Neal couldn’t get any shots off and then he heard screaming and when he raised his head he saw an odd sight….soup cans. A lot of soup cans raining down from above. Steve was perched precariously on some crates throwing soup cans after soup cans down on the gunmen who were hidden behind some crates of their own, in the melee one of them escaped out of the back but by then sirens could be heard coming closer.


“You sorry fucker!!! There! Do you like Vegetable soup? How about some Tomato?”


Steve yells as he throws the cans at the gunman.


While Steve had him pinned down Neal is able to leave his hiding place and he runs to where the gunman is surrounded by cans of soup and his rifle that he thrown aside to try and cover his head from the onslaught of the soup cans. Neal can already see bruises forming on the gunman’s arms. Neal holsters his gun then he jumps on him.


“Make him stop man!!! He’s crazy!!! Those fucking soup cans hurt!!!”


Neal puts a knee into his back as he reaches for his handcuffs and he handcuffs his wrists together. “You stay put!!!” Neal yells at his back then he stands up looking up at Steve.


“How in the hell did you get up there?” Neal asks.


“It wasn’t easy man….” Steve says as he makes his way down and when he gets closer to the bottom Neal gives him a hand down.


“Here comes the cavalry….Steve you were shot! Come over here and sit down.”


Neal steers him over to another crate where Steve sits holding his upper left arm. Neal pulls a handkerchief out of his pocket and he wraps it around the wound which causes Steve to wince.


“Does it hurt?” Neal asks as the sirens fill the factory.


“What do you think? Have you ever been shot man?” Steve asks as he grabs his arm again.


“Yeah I have.” Neal replies as the police cars surround the factory and the police spill into it like ants out of a hill. “They are three of them and one of them is dead and one escaped out of the back.” Neal explains to the uniformed officers. “It’s a thru and thru so I think you’re going to live….”


“It’s a what?” Steve asks as he grimaces.


“A thru and thru….it went thru your arm, it didn’t stop and it didn’t collect two hundred dollars….” Neal says.


“Funny man funny.”


“Come on Steve I’ll take you to the hospital.” Neal says as he helps him to his feet. “Steve you saved my life….” Neal says as they stop and they look at one another. “Billy had me dead to rights and those other two guys….”


Steve shrugs. “I couldn’t let my best friend die now could I….? I’ve missed you Neal and I didn’t realize how much until I watched you being shot at….”


“You know I felt the same way when I saw Joe holding that gun to your head….nothing brings two people closer together than being shot at.” Neal says.


“You know that should be on a Hallmark card….” Steve points out.


Neal laughs. “Let’s get you to that hospital….”


“You won’t just drive by the hospital and kick me out right, I mean, you will actually stop?” Steve asks.


“I’ll do you one better toots I will even go in with you and hold your hand….”


“Really? Well I am impressed….” Steve says.


“Besides somebody from the City has to be there to sign the bill….” Neal says as he smiles.


“Thanks a heap man….”



The crowd spilled down the courthouse steps after the verdict and immediately Captain Reynolds was pulled aside by the media to answer questions and a few seconds later Steve and Neal made their way down the steps to the sidewalk. Both men dressed in suits and ties and Steve’s left arm still in a sling from the bullet that went through his arm, the sling helping to take pressure off of it as it healed both men not really comfortable with wearing suits let alone ties did their best to loosen them.


“Here Steve let me help you.” Neal says as he reaches over to loosen Steve’s tie.


“Thanks man.”


“Better?” Neal asks.


“Much. I couldn’t a wear suit and tie everyday….no way man.”


“I heard that. Well Steve I must say you did a great job. What with your testimony and Lilly and Joey turning State’s Evidence everybody ever connected with Bernie’s organization are going to go away for a very, long time. As we speak all across the country the ax will fall on a lot of people. You certainly held your own against their defense attorney, you know Steve, maybe you should become a cop.”


Steve laughs. “You’re not serious! Me a cop!”


Just then Captain Reynolds comes up and he puts his arms around them. “Boys, I will say that I am proud of the both of you.” Captain Reynolds then shakes Steve’s hand. “Especially you son, not very many civilians would do what you have done. Without your help none of this would have been possible, if there is anything that the department could ever do for you just let Neal here know….”


“Thank you sir but I think you have done enough, I mean, you got me a job at the police garage and a place to live….” Steve says.


“Son you saved my best Detective’s life….”


Steve looks at Neal who seems to be blushing and that causes Steve to smile.


“…..and for that I am eternally grateful. Detective see you back at the office?” The Captain says as he walks off.


“Yes sir. What are you smiling at?” Neal asks Steve who is grinning like a cat.


“Nothing but I think you’re blushing. Captain Reynolds is a good cop isn’t he?”


“No….” Neal says and Steve looks shocked. “He’s a great cop….”


Steve exhales as he smiles. “…..And you love him I can tell….”


“He and Mrs. Reynolds couldn’t have children so I guess I am like the son they never had, I lived with them after I got out of the Academy and they let me live there rent free until I was able to save up enough and get my own place….”


“You mean you lived where I am living now? In the bungalow behind their house?” Steve asks.


Neal nods. “Yeah.”


“That explains the hideous colors the rooms were painted.” Steve says.


“What? No wait a minute I will have you know that those colors are cool….”


“Maybe back in the stone age….” Steve says.


“….In the stone age?” Neal repeats.


“But now they are just hideous! It will take my whole first paycheck just to repaint the place and after I get the place fixed up I want you to come for dinner….”


“You want me to come to dinner after you run down my taste in decorating?” Neal says.


“Yeah sure why not you might pick up a few pointers….” Steve says.


“A few pointers? From whom may I ask?” Neal asks.


“From me of course!” Steve says.


Neal laughs. “Oh that’s rich! You can’t even get your socks to match!”


“They do so match!!” Steve says as he raises his pants leg.


“That’s because I helped you to get dressed!!” Neal says.


“Only because of my bad arm….” Steve says as he points at Neal.


“Bull!!!! If it wasn’t for me you would still be wearing underwear that said Thursday on it and today is Friday Steve!!”


“Oh that is so not true my underwear doesn’t have days of the week on them!”


“Oh I forgot they have numbers, 1 to 7 so you know which ones to wear!!!!” Neal says as they look at each and they try to remain serious but they can’t and they both begin to laugh as they put their arms around each other as they walk toward the parking lot.


“So when does that sling come off?” Neal asks.


“Next week hopefully, hey do you want to do dinner tonight?” Steve asks hopefully.


Neal shakes his head. “I wish I could man but because of this trial I am behind about two weeks, there are files this deep on my desk.”


Steve looks at the ground as he moves a rock around with his foot and he does his best to not sound and not look disappointed but with Neal it doesn’t work. “Oh okay man you know its cool….”


Neal reaches out and he puts his hand on Steve’s arm. “Sorry man, rain check okay?”


Steve nods his head.


“Really Steve I’m sorry….” Neal pulls him into a hug.


“I know you have work to do it’s just that….” Steve says as they pull away from each other.


“Until you start working at the garage you’re out of sorts, you don’t have anything to do and you’re worried that with too much time on your hands that you might slip and fall back into your old ways, right?”

Steve’s face is a mixture of shock and surprise and maybe just a touch of relief, relief that he didn’t have to explain himself to Neal.


“I….yeah Neal how did you know that?”


Neal leans back against his car his arms crossed over his chest. “Because I’m your best friend Steve that’s how I know and in the time we spent together getting ready for this trial and me guarding you I have found out a lot about you and in many ways you are still a lot like that kid I grew up with. The future was this trial and all that entailed and you had something to look forward to everyday, even if it was getting up on that stand and getting beat up by the defense….”


Steve smiles at that.


“….I’ll tell you what I’ll do….”


“Neal no you have done so much already….”


Neal holds his hand up to silence Steve. “When I go back to the Precinct I’ll talk to Jack in the garage and see if you can come in on Monday….”


“But what about my….”


Neal raises his hand again to silence Steve. “….Trust me Steve when I say that the office there is a mess! Jack and the other two guys that work there can’t find a thing! Nothing is organized! I know every time I go in there they are always complaining about not being able to find anything!!! So maybe even with your bad wing you can play secretary and organized the place. So what do you say?”


Steve didn’t have to think about it for too long because he wasn’t looking forward to spending days until he was able to go to work with nothing to do so he answered right away.


“Yes I would love to!!” Steve says happily.


Neal touches him on the arm. “Great be there at 8 a.m. Monday morning!”


“Wait! What do you mean be there at 8 a.m. Monday morning? Didn’t you just tell me that you would ask Jack once you got back to the Precinct?”


“Oh did I say that?” Neal says.


“Yes!!!! Neal you already had this set up didn’t you?!!!”


Neal walks around to the driver’s side of the car. “Come on get in and I’ll take you home….”


“Neal!!!! Don’t do that while I’m yelling at you!!!” Steve yells at Neal from across the roof of the car.


“Do what?” Neal yells back.


“Walk away!!! God I hate when you do that!!! If you already had this set up why didn’t you just say so?”


“I don’t know I just thought I should ask….” Neal says.

Steve laughs. “That is just crazy! Ask me about something that you already had set up for me?! What if I would have said no?”


“You wouldn’t have said no.” Neal says.


“Oh really?! And just how do you know that???!!!” Steve asks.


“Look at you Steve you are already giddy with anticipation of having something to do on Monday….” Neal points out.


“I am not giddy!!!” Steve says.


“Yes you are! I mean your skin is flushed and your eyes are bright and cheery and the last time I saw a look like that my girlfriend was just about to….”


“NEAL!!!” Steve yells at him.


“What?! I was going to say kiss me….”




“What did you think I was going to say?” Neal asks.


“Nothing. Not a thing. Can you give me a ride home?”


Neal wags his finger at Steve as he smiles. “Stephen Ray I didn’t think you knew such language….”


“I was an escort remember I know all sort of things….” Steve says as he gets in the passenger side of the car. “Neal thanks for everything I don’t know how I will ever repay you….”


“You saved my life Steve I figure that this is the least I can do. I’ll run you home and then I have work to do….”




“Come in.” Neal yells when he hears the knock on the door and in the next minute Steve opens the door carrying a pie in one hand.


“Hey.” Steve says when he comes in.


Neal turns around. “Hey yourself and you came bearing gifts.” Neal says as he comes to the door and he takes the pie from him.


“Yeah well I wish I could take the credit but your neighbor….”


“Ida….” Neal says as he puts the pie on the table. “….Hmmm it’s still warm.”


“Yeah Ida she told me to give it to you and you know it’s a cherry pie which just happens to be my favorite and wow this is some place you have here….can I look around?” Steve asks.


“Sure be my guest….”

Steve wanders through the apartment looking at the plants and various things in the rooms and once he finished his wandering he ended up on the balcony leaning on the railing looking at the lights of the city and listening to the ocean.


“Steve dinner is ready.” Neal calls to him.


“Wow Neal this is really fancy, candles and wine.” Steve says as he sits down.


Neal lights the candles. “Just because I’m a cop doesn’t mean I’m a barbarian you know. I do like some of the finer things although I don’t have much time for them.”


“So what’s for dinner?” Steve asks.


“Meatloaf with mashed potatoes, salad and peas.” Neal says as he takes Steve’s plate.


“Those are all my favorite foods, well, that is except for the peas. Neal you can leave them off of my plate….”


“No vegetables are good for you and besides my mother has a special way of fixing them….go ahead and try them.” Neal encourages him and reluctantly Steve tries a spoonful.


“Hmmmm hey these taste very un-pea like….how did you remember all my favorite foods?”


“My mother has a memory like an elephant and for some reason she remembers you eating dinner at our house and eating all the meatloaf and potatoes by yourself.”


Dinner was spent talking about old times and the old neighborhood and when they were kids and they decided to have dessert and coffee out on the balcony to enjoy the night air and the sound of the ocean.


“Oh god Neal I don’t think I can move. That has to be the best dinner I have had in awhile well except for the dinners I have had at Captain Reynolds’s house.”


“Yeah Mrs. Reynolds she can cook alright.”


“So do your neighbors always give you food?” Steve asks.


“You mean Ida?” Neal says.


Steve nods his head.


“Ida is an interesting woman. She worked for a long time at a bank and now she is retired and her husband who passed away had a really, good job with the government so she gets her pension and her husbands so she is doing better than most people that live in this neighborhood and it’s hard to just cook or bake for just one so sometimes if she has extras she gives them to me or anybody else who might need them. She volunteers at the Mission. I remind her alot of her son….”


“Yeah you know she said that to me. Where’s he?”


“He’s dead….” Neal says.




“He died in Vietnam. Her and her husband were real proud of him, he died a hero. She showed me his metals and clippings from the newspaper….”


“So she’s all alone huh?”


“Yeah….well she is but everybody that lives here aren’t really alone. We all look out for one another.”


“So do they know that you’re a cop?” Steve asks.


“Oh yeah they can’t help but know. Notice how quiet it is around here? The first time I rolled out of here with lights and sirens I woke up everybody and from then on my cover was blown….actually I think the landlord uses it as a big selling point for new tenants….you know it makes them feel safe.”


Steve looks around. “I was going to say that this place looks awfully expensive, when I first drove up I thought I had the wrong place. So….where’s the girlfriend?”


“At the moment I don’t have a girlfriend, well, I did. Why?” Neal asks.


“Well because I want to know who decorated this place.”


Neal laughs. “Alright, alright. I decorated it with help from various girlfriends through the years and my mother, she sent me the Macramé things for the plants. Becky liked candles and another old girlfriend liked American Indian rugs and pottery so there you go….”


“Well you certainly have come a long way from the Bungalow so what do you like?” Steve asks.


“Tiffany lamps. I like Tiffany lamps. Over the years, finances permitting I was able to replace all the fixtures with Tiffany lamps.”


“What happened with Becky?” Steve asks.


Neal rubs his forehead. “Oh lord….”


“I’m sorry if it’s a touchy subject….”

“No, no it’s not touchy it’s just the usual course of events. Everything is fine for awhile but then they get tired of me being late for dinner, or not showing up at all, or having to leave in the middle of everything. Romantic and otherwise. Or they get spooked or scared away. One time I had one of my girlfriends in my car, we were going to dinner, and some bad apples decided to take some pot shots at me and that ended that relationship but quick. Or they hear on the news about a cop being shot or hurt and they just assume that’s it’s me….I was even married for a time.”


“You were? When was this?” Steve asks surprised.

“After I graduated from the Police Academy and we were married for about a year and a half when I was a Rookie and she could handle me being on the streets but when I made Detective, whew boy! The weird hours I had to work and the even weirder people I had to associate with, well, she couldn’t handle that. I came home one morning and she was gone….her name was Kathleen.”


“Did you ever have any kids?”


“No. You see it takes two people to make a baby and I wasn’t around that much, we talked about it and she wanted to have at least one but….I guess some things were never meant to be. What about you? Any ex-wives or girlfriends?”


Steve shakes his head. “I never got married and as for girlfriends, well, there has been a few but back then I didn’t hang with the best people and they weren’t the kind of girls you took home to meet your mother, if you know what I mean. Now I look back and it wasn’t even that long ago but I don’t recognize that person, that wasn’t me, that isn’t me. I don’t ever want to go back to that.”


Neal reaches out and he puts his hand on Steve’s arm. “I should have apologized sooner for this, Steve, I’m sorry about what I said about your mom and Step-father, you know, back months ago.”


Steve waves his hand. “Don’t worry about it Neal. I mean when you said it I was pissed and I hated you for it but thinking on it you were right. I was glad that they weren’t alive to see what I had been doing but then again if they had been alive I wouldn’t had to do what I did….does that make sense?”


Neal laughs. “Yeah actually it does. Do you want a beer?”


“Oh yeah man I would love one.”


“Let me grab these dishes and I’ll be right back.”


“Want me to help?” Steve asks.


“No you’re company and company doesn’t help.” Neal says as he smiles.


“Okay. Where’s the bathroom?”


“Through the master bedroom.”


While Neal put the dishes in the dishwasher and grabbed two beers Steve used the bathroom and then they met back out on the balcony.


“It’s beautiful out here. Do you always get to sit out here?” Steve asked as Neal handed him the beer.


“When I can. These were the first days off I had in months so in the mornings I get to sit out here with a cup of coffee and read the paper and now….it’s a great place to entertain. So how’s the wing?”


Steve rubs his left arm. “Oh it’s okay. Every so often it hurts, you know, the damp and cold but other than that it’s okay. It doesn’t stop me from doing what I want to.”


“How’s the job going?” Neal asks.


“Oh I love it. I got to tell you those guys I work with are an interesting bunch of guys. They all have some sort of weird hobbies.”


Neal laughs. “Oh I know. Gary who weighs two hundred pounds and bench presses a car likes to bird watch!”


Steve laughs as he nods his head. “And Ralph grows rose bushes.”


“Pete collects….stamps?”


“No coins.” Steve corrects him.


Neal snaps his fingers. “Yeah coins that’s right.”


“You know you cops are awfully hard on vehicles. Especially the city ones, I mean. I have never seen so many suspension problems, bad tires, dents and dings. It is just ridiculous! Speaking of cars I haven’t seen yours lately, it wasn’t even parked out front.”


“It’s in the garage. I still haven’t got it fixed from the shoot-out in the factory, I have been driving a loaner.”


“The shoot-out in the factory? Holy shit that has been at least two months ago, maybe a little longer.” Steve says.


“Yes I know but I haven’t had the time nor especially the money to get it fixed. The place where I usually go to get her fixed wont extend me anymore credit so I am up shit creek, at least for the time being.”


“Neal, you moron, did you forget that I am an auto mechanic and a paint and body man!!! Did you forget that?!”


Neal looks at him as he sits up in his chair. “Oh holy shit!!! I guess I did!!! But your busy at work and I hate to….”


“Neal what do you do for a living?” Steve asks as he crosses his arms over his chest.


“Steve you dip! You know what I do….!”


“Yes I know but just humor me here. Neal what do you do for a living?”


“Am a cop?”


“And where do you work?” Steve asks.


“The 9th Precinct?” Neal says.


“And what do I do?” Steve asks.


“You’re a mechanic slash auto body paint man.” Neal answers.


“And where do I work?” Steve asks.


“In a garage.”


“In what kind of a garage?” Steve asks.


“A police garage.” Neal says.


“And you drive a want Neal?” Steve asks.


“A 1975 Dodge….”


“No, no you drive a want?!” Steve asks again.


“Oh I drive a police car!!!”


“Bingo!!! You’re a cop that drives a police car who has a best friend that works in the police garage so why don’t you bring your car to me so I can fix it? For free?”


“I guess I never thought about it. Before the guys that worked there, well, you know they did a great job on the City vehicles but I wouldn’t let them touch mine, not really. But now you work there!!! But will you have time to do it?” Neal asks.


“Oh sure. I mean it will be my way of paying you back for everything and I will make her better than new!! Just leave her to me!! If you want I can come by Monday and pick her up and take her to the garage.”


“Yeah okay sounds good but this time you better use a key!!!” Neal laughs.


“Yeah right Neal. Ha, ha, ha and ha!!”


“You know I’m joking!” Neal says.


“Yes I know you big sap! Neal can I ask you a question?”


“Yeah sure what is it?” Neal asks.


“Why did you become a cop?” Steve asks.


Neal takes a deep breath as he gets up and out of his chair and when he reaches the railing he turns and faces Steve.


“Did I hit a nerve?” Steve asks.


“No it’s just a question that doesn’t have a short answer….”


“Well we have all night and you said that this dinner will be where we catch up….so catch me up. I really want to know what made you decide to do this.”


“Alright but I need another beer.”


Neal grabs two more beers and when he goes back out to the balcony he gives one to Steve. “You really want to know? Man you must be a glutton for boring stories.”


“Yes I really want to know.”


“Alright you asked for it. Two years after you moved my dad died. I mean it wasn’t like your step-father, he had been sick awhile and we knew it was going to happen but still it was a shock. Maybe two years after he died my mom met this guy at Church, it was Bingo night….”


“Your mom’s a Catholic right?” Steve asks.


“Yeah but what does that have to do with anything?” Neal asks.


“Nothing I was just curious because I remember as a kid she….”


“Don’t get me off track Steve, you asked me a question so don’t make me lose my train of thought….”


“Sorry go ahead….”

“Anyway where was I….?” Neal asks.


“Your mother met a man at Bingo night….”


“Oh yeah. He turned out to be a cop and the first time he showed up at the house for dinner in his uniform I was scared and excited and intrigued and up until that time the only cops I have even seen was on television, in the movies or just driving down the street but here was the genuine article right in my living room!!! We just happened to live in the district where his beat was so sometimes he would come by for dinner, on the weekends or when he wasn’t working he took me to the ball games and fishing and he told me stories about police work! I wished he had been my father. He was so smart and funny and he was a good cop.”


“Nothing bad happened to him did it?” Steve asks.


“Oh no. He and mom dated for a long time and then he just became a family friend. He was a guy that you could always count on. As I got older I asked him why he never became a Detective, they called them plains clothes back then and do you know what he said?”


“No what?” Steve asked.

“He said he was meant to be a beat cop. That was all that he wanted to do. Oh sure he told me that plains clothes made more money and they might have more interesting cases to work on but he liked the people. When I got older I realized I wanted to do what he did. I wanted to be a cop. He helped me to stay in school and to get good grades and he encouraged me to go to College.”


“Oh man you went to College Neal?”


“It was City College but still it was College and I was the first person in my family to go to College. After College I knocked around a little back in the hometown and one day Frank, his name was Frank, came up with a newspaper from Oceanview California that had been sent by a friend of his that had just made Captain….”


“Oh don’t tell me Captain Reynolds!” Steve says.


“You got it and the paper had an ad for police recruits and it was my chance and I took it and the rest you know….”


“Is Frank still alive?” Steve asks.


“Na, he died last year but at least he got to see me become a cop and a Detective. He and mom were at the ceremony when I graduated from the Academy and when I was sworn in as a Detective they were both there again.”


“I bet they were both proud of you.” Steve says.


“Oh I know Frank was but at first my mom thought I was crazy. The way she carried on you would have thought I had enlisted and got shipped off to Vietnam but she was just scared that was until the Captain and his wife talked to her now she’s okay with it and it’s ‘my son the cop’ this and ‘my son the cop’ that!”


Steve smiles. “So you like what you do?”


“No Steve I love what I do. I can’t ever see myself doing anything else. It’s just the satisfaction of knowing that there are people out there who only exists to hurt others and I can stop them and I have stopped plenty of them.”

“Yeah but the good guys don’t always win right?” Steve asks.


“That’s true we don’t always win but it’s a give and take. It’s that old struggle between good and evil that has been going on for centuries and it will continue to go on…..if it wasn’t for the evil that men do I wouldn’t have a job.”


Steve is quiet for a minute as he thinks on this then he gets up and he walks over to the railing to stand next to Neal who has his back to it leaning against the railing.


“Neal I have been thinking….”




“Not working at the garage anymore.” Steve says.


“But I thought you said that you liked working there.” Neal says.


“I do like working there but I don’t want to do it the rest of my life….”


“Then what….?” Neal asks as Steve pulls a folded section of the newspaper out of his back pocket and he hands it to Neal and Neal opens it to find what Steve had circled with a red pen.


“You’re serious?” Neal asks.




Neal looks at the paper again. “You want to be….”


“….A cop.” They both say at the same time.


“Steve….” Neal says as he folds the paper back up.


“You said yourself after the trial that I should be a cop!!” Steve says.


“I know I did….Do you have any College?”


Steve looks crestfallen. “No but it didn’t say in the paper that you needed College just High School and I graduated from High School and I took two years of Trade School to be an Auto Mechanic and I fit all the qualifications that are listed in the paper!”


“Just getting into the Academy isn’t easy I mean you have to fill out a lengthy application and take an entrance exam to get it, there’s a lot of studying involved, it’s a lot of hard work Steve, what about your job?”


“It says they have classes at the Academy, in the morning, afternoons or evenings. I can switch shifts and go to work an hour earlier and get off at four and then I can go to the Academy in the evenings and Neal I know it’s hard work but I am not afraid of hard work.”


“Steve being a cop is a hard, dangerous, thankless job. I mean if you want to be respected for what you do this isn’t the place to find it, it’s not an easy lifestyle, there are sacrifices you have to make….”


“Why are you trying to talk me out of this? Why?”


“Look around Steve and tell me what you don’t see….” Neal says.

“You have a good thing going here Neal. You have a nice place to live, you have food on the table, a car….”


“Yeah but Steve do you see a wife or children? This nice place I live in is empty! Empty!”


“Other cops have families! I have seen them! Captain Reynolds! He has been married for years!” Steve says.


“Do you know that cops have the highest divorce rate? Do you? And do you know that the next graduating class that comes out of the Academy will lose at least two rookies in the first year!! Two!”


“I don’t care about statistics! What have I got to lose that I haven’t lost already? What Neal? Tell me that!!!”


“You could lose your life. It’s that simple!”


“Yeah it’s that simple but I could step off the curb and get hit by a cross-town bus or I am on the freeway and a tire blows and that kills me so tell me what’s the difference! Dying doing mundane, everyday things is just dying but dying while you are helping somebody is a selfless act….and isn’t that what being a cop is all about?” Steve says.


“You won’t ever cut it as a cop.” Neal says.


“What do you….mean? Why do you say that?”


“You’re too naïve! To….to idealistic! Police work is not black and white!! There are too many areas of….gray!” Neal says as he walks back into the living room.


Steve follows after him. “I know about Matt Taylor….”


Neal looks back over his shoulder at Steve. “What? How….?”


“It wasn’t too difficult to find out I mean people talk Neal. Especially when they found out whom my best friend is….he’s why you made Detective so quickly isn’t it?”


“I made Detective so quickly from hard work….” Neal says as he points to himself.


“Because you wanted to find out who killed him and becoming a Detective makes that easier, right? You have more freedom, more leeway? Right? Neal you’re not a jinx….”


“Wanna bet?” Neal snaps back.


“You aren’t cursed….”


“I don’t want to talk about this anymore!” Neal says as he brushes passed Steve.


“It wasn’t your fault your partner was killed….but it’s the reason why you don’t want anymore partners, right?”


“Steve….” Steve grabs Neal arm. “….You weren’t even a cop in that factory and you were shot helping me!!!”


“And I am still here Neal. Alive, breathing and whole. I want to be a cop and you can either help me….or not.”


“I chose….or not.” Neal says as Steve lets go of Neal’s arm.


“Thanks for dinner Neal maybe I’ll see you around the garage. Later man.”


Steve grabs his jacket before he opens the door and he leaves.




It took Steve probably about ten minutes to eat his lunch and now the rest of his lunch hour was taken up with filling out the application for the Academy and Neal wasn’t kidding when he said that it was lengthy. It was lengthy and complicated and Steve didn’t know that he had to give a one page essay on why he wanted to be a cop and that was where he was stuck and so now here he sits, at this picnic table out behind the garage chewing on the eraser end of the pencil, his left leg bouncing up and down, which Steve always said helped him to think better but today it just wasn’t working.


Steve took a deep breath then he noticed a familiar shadow covering his paperwork and Steve looked to his right.


“Hey, the guys told me that you were out here eating your lunch.” Neal says.


Steve just looks at him.


“Do you want me to leave Steve?”


“Na I don’t guess so….have a seat.” Steve says as he motions to the empty bench across from him and Neal sits down.


“First of all I’m sorry….” Neal says.


Steve shakes his head. “It doesn’t matter….”


“Yes Steve it does matter. There are certain things that I have been carrying around with me for too long and none of those things were your fault and maybe someday I can tell you about them….that is if you want to hear them?”


Even though it has been many years and they were grown men Steve realizes that some parts of Neal never grew up. Like his way of asking permission to unburden himself, Neal being Neal, wouldn’t just blunt out his innermost feelings and whatever demons he was carrying around inside would have to be exorcised slowly and this was Neal’s way of asking to be listened to.


Steve can’t help but smile. “I’ll listen to whatever you want to tell me.”


Neal smiles back at him reassured that their friendship was still intact. “So does that help any?” Neal points to Steve’s leg which was still bouncing.


“Not really, what’s that?” Steve asks as he points to the manila envelope that Neal is carrying.


“Oh this? This is just a couple of extra applications for the Academy, because neatness counts you know and there are a few other things in there for you.” Neal hands him the envelope.

“So what you’re saying is my handwriting stinks?” Steve asks as he opens the envelope.


Neal nods. “Basically yeah. Stuck on the essay question?”


“Yeah I am….Neal what are these?” Steve asks as he pulls out separate envelopes from the bigger envelope.


“Those are letters of recommendation from the Captain, the D.A….”


“Letters of recommendation? I don’t understand….” Steve says.


“For the application. It’ll look good in your file and it never hurts to have a few good men on your side….”


Steve holds up one envelope. “Who’s this one from?”


“Me….” Neal says.


Steve smiles. “A few good men?”


“Okay two good men and one very tired Detective….”


Steve laughs. “Why did you change your mind?”


“I shouldn’t have said those things to you Steve; the truth is you will make a great cop. Back in the factory I forgot that you weren’t a cop. I mean you have a good head on your shoulders, you’re quick, streetwise….”


“I sound like you….” Steve says as he looks across at Neal.


“Two halves make a whole.” Neal says.


“Do you believe in karma Neal? I mean what were the odds of us meeting again like we did after all these years? This is going to sound weird, mushy, sappy and probably just a little cheesy.”


“Uh oh….” Neal says.


“But back in that factory with us and the bad guys I saw the future….you and me.” Steve says.


“….Partners.” They both say at the same time which causes them to laugh.


“So you saw it too huh?” Steve asks.


Neal nods his head. “Yeah it was scary.”


Steve leans in closer across the table. “We could do it Neal, you and I. I know we could. We would be great together….”


“It will be years Steve before that even happens, I mean, you have to go thru the Academy and then be on the streets for at least two years and then….”


“I know all of that but at least we can shake on it, right?”


Neal extends his hand and they shake on it. “Something to look forward to in the future.” Steve says. “Will you read this for me when I’m done?”


“You know I will.”


“Oh shit! I’m ten minutes late!”


Neal put everything back in the manila envelope while Steve collected his lunch sack and trash and they left the picnic table together Neal putting his arm around Steve’s shoulders.


“Oh by the way I brought the car in for you to work on….”


“Oh I see how it is first you bribe me and now you want me to do your bidding.” Steve says.


“You got it toots.” Neal says.




Steve filled out the application and after Neal looked it over and Steve made the necessary changes Steve turned it in and then he took the entrance exam and it wasn’t what he thought it was going to be. It was mostly common sense with a lot of life experience thrown in and it was a long test and it wasn’t anything that Steve could really study for so all he could do was take it and hope for the best. And wait. And wait. And wait. Until finally that letter came in the mail.


When Steve heard the knock on the door he dragged himself off of the sofa and he drew the curtain back to see who it was and it was Neal and even before he answered the door he knew who it was going to be.




“Hey yourself.” Steve replies back.


“I went by the garage to see if you wanted to do lunch and Jack told me that you called in sick today. Everything okay?” Neal asks.


“I guess you could say that you were right.” Steve says.


“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Neal says.


“Here.” Steve hands him a letter. “I guess you were right when you said that I couldn’t cut it as a cop.”


Neal takes the letter and he reads it then he looks at Steve. “Steve….”


“I didn’t get in. I couldn’t even pass that stupid test.”


“It says here that you did very well….”


“But not well enough to pass the test Neal!”


“You didn’t fail by much.”


“Thank you that makes me feels so much better!!”

“Steve it says that they want you to retake the test in six months when the new classes start again.”


“Six months feels like a lifetime.”


“They are going to keep your application on file. They were impressed with the essay and the letters of recommendation and they want you to try again Steve…”


“How many times did you have to take that test before you passed it?”


“Twice.” Neal answers quickly.


“You’re lying!” Steve yells at him.


“Alright three times then.”


“Now you’re insulting me!” Steve says.


“I took it once. Does that in any way make you feel even a little better?” Neal asks.


Steve shakes his head. “No not really.”


Neal puts his arm around Steve’s shoulders. “In six months you go back and try again. And when you get in you will be working your ass off. Classes, the physical training, studying, it will be a tough road.”

“You’ll be around to help me right?” Steve asks.


“As much as I can. Just remember the plans for the future….for you….for us. I’ll wait on you. So next time pass that damn test!!!”


Steve smiles as he nods his head.


“Grab your jacket I’ll take you to lunch.”


Steve grabs his jacket out of the closet and he puts it on. “You have time?” Steve asks.


Neal looks at his watch. “I am in between bank robberies and jewelry store heists so yeah I have time. Let’s go toots.”




It had to be the longest six months of Steve’s life waiting to retake that test and while the rest of the city was getting ready for the holidays all Steve could think of was that test and how badly he wanted to pass it. Steve was nothing but distracted most of the time and he just couldn’t sit at home so he took the time to work on Neal’s car and he did that with care and it was taking him forever but Neal didn’t seem to mind since he was busy with the matters of police work trying to quash a new wave of crime that seem to take over the city. When the time came again Steve went and took the test again and he recognized some of the people from the last time but this time Steve had more confidence and he walked out of that room feeling better and more sure that he had passed and now all the had to do was wait again.


And wait. And wait. And wait. Then finally that letter came in the mail and Steve went straight to Neal’s.


When Neal opened his front door he saw Steve sitting on his sofa in the dark drinking a beer.


“The only reason I didn’t shoot you is because I saw your car downstairs.” Neal replies as he comes in and he sits the bag of groceries down on the table. “You could have at least turned on a light you know.” Neal says as he goes over and he turns on a lamp.


“Sorry but when I got here it was still daylight. I guess I lost track of time. I used my key….”


“So I gathered. You said when you got here it was still daylight? What time did you get here?”


“Oh somewhere in the neighborhood of 4:30.” Steve replies.


“That is a big neighborhood.” Neal says as he goes around and he puts the groceries away. “So why are you sitting in the dark in my apartment?”


“That came today.” Steve gestures to the unopened envelope on the coffee table which Neal picks up.


“Steve do you know what this is?”


Steve nods his head. “Yeah, yeah I do.”


“It is now 8:30 and you have been sitting here since 4:30 this afternoon and you didn’t open it? What in the holy hell is wrong with you?” Neal asks as Steve gets up.


“I just couldn’t open it Neal I just couldn’t. Because if it had been bad news I would have jumped off your balcony!”


“Steve I live on the second floor I doubt that fall would have killed you.”


“Well go ahead what are you waiting for? Open it.” Steve says.


Neal points to himself. “You want me to open it?”


“Yeah. So go ahead man this suspense is killing me.”


Neal just looks at him for a second then Neal takes the envelope and he tears the end off of it which causes Steve to wince.


“Oh be careful!” Steve says.


Neal blows into the envelope and he then he takes out the letter and as he opens it he turns his back to Steve as he reads it.


“Well!!!! What does it say? Neal!!!”


Neal smiles as he reads it but then he puts on a very serious cop face as he turns back around.


“Well Steve it’s like this….”


Steve puts his hands up on his head then he starts dancing around the room. “Oh shit! Shit! I failed didn’t I! Didn’t I? Oh shit!!! Not again! I have to wait another six months!” Steve then goes over to the balcony door and he opens it. “Neal you can have all my shit because I am jumping….”


“Steve man it isn’t that bad.”


“Yes it is!! Another six months!!!”


“Steve….you passed man.”


“Hmmmm what?!” Steve says.


“I SAID YOU PASSED!!!!” Neal yells at him and when it finally sinks in Steve lets out a yell and he runs towards Neal and he jumps in his arms.




They both fall to the floor and then Steve grabs Neal by his head and he plants a kiss on his forehead.


“I passed!!!! I actually really passed!!!” Steve grabs the letter out of Neal’s hands.


Right at that moment the next door neighbor knocks on Neal’s door then it is opened by Ida and when she sees Steve sitting on Neal she pauses.


“Oh my….” Ida says.


“Ida!” Neal says as Steve waves.


“Excuse me boys but I heard yelling, actually I heard screaming. Is everything all right?” Ida asks.


Neal laughs. “Ida I know this looks funny….”


“Yeah Ida funny…” Steve repeats.


“What you boys do on your off time is your own business and Neal when Internal Affairs comes around asking questions I know nothing….my lips are sealed.” Ida makes the motion of zipping her lips.


Neal laughs. “No Ida this isn’t what it looks like….”


“You are two consenting adults but I must say that it is such a waste of two good looking men….”


“Ida….” Steve says.


“Ida….Steve will you please get off of me. Ida my buddy here he just got accepted into the Police Academy!”


Steve manages to get off of Neal without doing too much damage. “Yeah Ida I’m going to go to the Police Academy!” Steve says happily.


“Oh my goodness that is wonderful news!!! So you’re going to be a Detective like our Neal?”


“Eventually Ida that is my goal.” Steve smiles as he looks at Neal. Ida grabs Steve in a hug then she kisses Steve on the cheek.


“You both are good boys and congratulations to you Steve!!! I’ll make you a special Cherry pie!”


“Thanks Ida.” Steve says.


They wave at her as she walks away.


“Neal I made it!!!! I’m going to the Police Academy!! This is the best birthday present ever!!”


“Wait Steve did you just say birthday?”


“Yeah….” Steve nods his head.


“Oh shit!!! This is the 22nd isn’t it?” Neal says as he hits himself in the head. “Steve I’m sorry I didn’t get you a present or even a card.”


“Don’t worry about it! This is the best present I could ever ask for!” Steve says as he holds up the letter.


“Dinner!!! Let me take you out to dinner. It will be a two in one celebration! Anything you want.” Neal says.


“Anything?” Steve says.


A few hours later and more than a few drinks later they leave the restaurant Steve leaning on Neal.


“Neal, Neal thanks for the Lobster!! Are you sure that you can afford….that?”


“They took my credit card didn’t they?” Neal says.


Steve nods his head. “Hey Neal somebody stole the handle off your car door!”


Neal goes around to the passenger side and he steers Steve away from the fender and back to the passenger door. “Steve this is the door. Here get in.”




“How can somebody your size Steve drink so much and still be walking upright?” Neal asks.


“Just talented I guess, hey let’s go by the garage!”


“Why?” Neal asks.


“Something I want to show you. Come on where’s your sense of adventure!”


Neal starts the car they head towards the garage and since the police department and the city runs twenty-four seven so does the police garage so when they rolled up the night shift was there and Steve directed Neal over to where a car was covered with a tarp.


“Help me with this.” Steve says and Neal and he remove the tarp from the car. “Wa la!!! Well what do you think? Neal what do you think?”


Neal was speechless. Steve was right when he said that Neal wouldn’t recognize her and he didn’t and the only way he did was from the license plate on the car. This Dodge Charger was beautiful. It was still black but it was a deep metallic black that had something that made it glittery under the lights and it was polished to a high gloss and Steve had added two yellow racing stripes to the hood. New tires and rims, a new glass passenger side window and it just wasn’t a car anymore it was a work of art.


“Is this the same car?” Neal asks.


Steve nods his head. “Yeah man it is….”


“It’s beautiful I mean she’s beautiful!”


“I….ah fixed the bullet holes and I know a girl who fix the upholstery….and the stripes give it a certain flair. You like it huh?”


“Steve it’s wonderful! It’s so beautiful I’m scared to drive it.” Neal says.


“You have to man because I gave it an oil change and a tune up so she is good to go! We can’t push her home and I am sleepy so you drive.” Steve says as he yawns.


They get in the car and Neal drives and Steve is dozing in the passenger seat and Neal revs her up. “Steve this is wonderful!!! Thanks man you did a great job.”


“Your welcome….Neal.”






“Yeah Steve? What….” Neal looks over at Steve


“Neal I think I’m going to be….”


Steve didn’t have to say another word because Neal pulled over to the curb and he jumped out and he yanked open the passenger side and he practically dislocated Steve’s shoulder pulling him out of the car and he held his long hair up and out of the way as Steve threw up his expensive birthday dinner on the side of the road.


“Feel better toots?” Neal asks.


Steve nods his head. “Sorry.” Steve says as he looks up at Neal.


Neal shrugs. “Hey it’s your birthday dinner you can do what you want with it. Come lets get you back to my place.”


Neal helps Steve to his feet and then he helps him to walk to the car.


“Steve do you realize that this time next year you will be a cop on the beat?”


Steve rubs his eyes as he yawns. “Yeah if I don’t wash out of the academy and if I pass all the tests and if….there are a lot of ifs between now and then. Neal I’m scared….”


“What are you scared of Steve?”


“Failing, I mean I talk a good game but when it comes down to it I’m just plain, old scared. I just don’t want to screw this up! Oh Neal I don’t know, my head hurts.”


“It’s alright. That headache will pass and as for the rest of it well, like I said it takes a smart man to admit when he’s scared. Come on let’s get you back to my place where you can sleep it off.”





V7 V7 V7 V7 V7 V7 V7 V7 V7 V7




“So you would have to tell everybody about me throwing up.” Steve says.


Neal laughs. “So? It wasn’t the first time….”


“I know, I know and it wouldn’t be the last.” Steve says.


“So aren’t you going to regale them with tales from your Academy training days?” Neal asks.


“Regale?” Steve says.


“Yeah regale, I know big words too. So….? Neal asks.


“Na my Academy days were boring. Besides I thought they wanted our most interesting cases.”


“Your Academy days were not boring! You were their top marksmen! I mean your likeness and name is down in the lobby hanging in that big, old glass case!”


“Ya, ya, ya! That was so long ago and that picture is embarrassing! It doesn’t even look like me I need to talk to them about that. Besides your picture is hanging down there too Mister!”


“That picture of you is fine, you just have short hair that’s all. All of our interesting cases are down in the basement on micro-fish….” Neal says.


“Micro-fish….? I thought micro-fish was a teeny, tiny, little….”


“Don’t say it Steve….”


“….fish!!” Steve laughs hysterically. “Get it? Micro-fish?! Teeny-tiny little micro-fish?!” More laughter from Steve.


“Jesus god. Okay micro-film is that better? You better get your ass down in the basement and get cracking!!” Neal says.


“Me? Why me? I might have a date tonight.” Steve says.


Neal laughs. “A date? With who?”


“I think that should be with whom.” Steve points out.


Neal sounds exasperated. “Alright! A date with whom?”


“Your cousin. When she gets off work in ten minutes at the strip club….”


“Ha, ha, ha and ha!!! Very funny. Oh! Speaking of strip clubs….” Neal says.


“What?” Steve asks.


“Have you seen the new girl, I mean woman, that they just hired in Records!” Neal asks.


“Hot huh?” Steve asks.


“Oh man!! Steve you just don’t know! I mean she looks like she could work in a strip club. Long blonde hair, long legs and a figure that just goes on for days!!! And you should see her brea….”






“You said she works in Records right?”


“Yeah.” Neal says.


“They just hired a few extra women to transcribe these tapes….”


“So…?!” Neal says.


“Did you turn the tape off?” Steve asks.






“What!!” Neal says.


“I said did you turn the tape off? You know before we started to talk? Just now?” Steve asks.


“Sure I did….” Neal says.


“Then where is that red light coming from?” Steve asks.


“Red….light? Oh shit!!!!” Neal says.


“Okay don’t panic!! There has to be an Erase button on here somewhere….” Steve says.


Sounds of the tape recorder being picked up, turned around and looked at.


“Neal I don’t think this thing has an erase button!!”


“Oh come on it has too!! Haven’t you heard of Watergate??”


“Well Neal you didn’t say anything bad about her so maybe she won’t be offended.”

“Offended?” Neal repeats. “Steve we have to do something.”


“What exactly? Oh wait her last name wouldn’t be Connors would it?” Steve asks.


“Well….I think so….it might be….why?” Neal asks.


“Oh Neal you are so in trouble!!” Steve says.




“Because I think she might be the niece of…….that would be too much of an coincidence! Don’t worry about it Neal.!”


“Wait! Wait! Don’t worry about what?! Steve tell me!!”


“Well, I think she might be the niece of the Chief!”


“WHAT!!!!! You mean our Chief? Our Chief of Police? Connors? Our big boss?”


“Neal like I said I could be wrong….”


“We have to get rid of this tape!!! Or at least erase part if it!!! He has had it in for us….” Neal says.


Steve corrects him. “….He has it in for you….”


“Whatever!!! Us or me! He has it in for me…..ever since part of the Precinct fell on his new Buick and crushed it!!”


“Neal technically that wasn’t your fault. The scaffolding wasn’t secured properly and we….. I mean….you were chasing somebody and you ran into the scaffolding and the blocks of concrete fell….the Chief shouldn’t have been parked there to begin with! It was a construction and a Tow Away zone….but that is neither here nor there.”


“Steve I know!!! Go find Gertrude!!!” Neal says.




“Yeah Gertrude! She’s the supervisor of the Records department and she really likes you and all you have to do is bat those hazel eyes of yours, with those long lashes at her and give her one of those dazzling smiles of yours and she’ll do anything you ask! And when she is in your power have her erase this part of the tape!!!!”


“I think Gertrude is on vacation.” Steve says.


“Oh hell!!!!” Neal exclaims. “Okay then go and sweet talk some other unsuspecting girl, maybe one that hasn’t worked here long and doesn’t know your reputation….”


“My….my reputation?” Steve says.


“Yeah your reputation! Steve if we don’t find someway to erase this part of the tape I am dead! Goodbye pension, goodbye retirement because once the Chief gets wind of what I said about his niece I’ll be back walking a beat in the unemployment line!!! So Steve I’m begging you man….!!!”


“Neal….” Steve says.




“See this button?”


“Yeah….” Neal says.


“What does it say?” Steve asks.


“Ah….it says reverse.” Neal says.


“Very good! Now see this button with the funny symbol on it?”


“That button?” Neal asks.


“Yeah.” Steve says. “I might have been wrong about not being able to erase the tape.” Steve says.


“You were….wrong?” Neal says.


“Yeah. See all you have to do is push down the reverse button at the same time with the button that has the funny symbol on it and that erases the tape….”


“You mean I did all that begging and pleading for nothing??” Neal says.


“How do I put this delicately? Yes…..and there might have been one other thing that I was wrong about.” Steve says.


“And that would be what exactly?!” Neal asks.


“The Chief’s niece. Now that I think about it I saw her picture on his desk and she is holding a puppy and she is….ten.”


Silence for a full minute. “Steve.” Neal finally says.


“Yeah Neal….”


“You will have until the count of five….” Neal says.


“Five?” Steve repeats.


“….To get out of this room and out of my sight….”


Steve laughs. “Neal we’re on the fifth floor I’m going to need more than a count of five….”


“….Tough bananas. 1….”


“Neal….it was a joke. You know….this isn’t fair you’re always doing shit to me you know!!!!”


“….3…” Neal says.


“….3? Wait! What in the hell happened to 2!! You skipped 2!!” Steve protests.


“….4!!!!!” Neal says.


The next sound heard is the sound of the tape recorder falling off the desk and hitting the floor and the next sound after that is the office door opening and slamming shut.









All rights reserved. Steve Perry and Neal Schon’s likenesses appear only as characters. Any resemblance to any one living or dead is purely a coincidence. This fictional story is for entertainment purposes only and for the complete enjoyment of the author and the readers. And for the love of things and people back in the day.