THE DETECTIVES OF THE 9TH PRECINCT SERIES
“I’LL MEET YOU IN THE LEFT-HAND CORNER OF HEAVEN”
THE 9TH PRECINCT SQUAD ROOM TWO DAYS LATER:
“Alright Steve the info that Ben gave to us helped us to eliminate one more suspect.” Neal replies as he throws the file down onto the desk.”
“So that leaves us with these two and I know this one is dead.” Steve replies as he holds the file up.
“Oh really how do you know that.”
“Well, for one thing it says right here and for another reason this is the first guy I shot and killed when I was a rookie….”
Neal meets Steve’s eyes.
“What’s his name?” Neal asks.
“Frank Roberts Cummings.” Steve replies as he hands Neal the file.
“Ah Frank Roberts Cummings at the time he was a notorious and dangerous bank robber.”
“Yeah he terrorized Oceanview for a good year or so, that is until Hank and I caught up with him.” Steve replies.
“He was very bold, from what I remember he would rob banks in broad daylight, killing the bank guards.”
“Neal….” Steve replies.
And Neal looks up at Steve as he holds the corner of a sheet of paper in the file that he had been reading from.
“Yeah?” Neal replies.
“….He had a family.” Steve replies as he nods at the file.
“Yeah I saw that.”
“I have a gut feeling that you’re looking at the answer right there.” Steve replies.
“Steve you do have another file there you know.” Neal points out.
“Yeah I know.”
“I know what you’re thinking….” Neal replies as he looks at Steve.
“If you do then prove it.” Steve says pointedly.
Neal takes a deep breath then he exhales. “Alright I’ll do the backgrounds on them and see what comes up. Steve it would be crazy….”
Steve shrugs. “Wouldn’t be the first time that something crazy has happened, right?”
“Right.” Neal agrees.
“And from what Ben told us….” Steve replies.
Neal gets out of his chair. “I’ll go down to Records and see what I can find out.”
“While you do that I’ll make some phone calls.”
“Dinner later?” Neal asks.
Steve smiles. “Yeah dinner later.”
Neal turns to walk off then he stops and he looks back over his shoulder.
“Yeah.” Steve looks up as he reaches for the phone.
“It’s going to be alright.”
Steve smiles. “That’s what I like about you Neal you are always the eternal optimist.”
“Later.” Steve replies.
Of course there are channels you have to go thru so the day before Neal and the Captain made a phone call to the warden and Neal made the drive out here…alone. Lately Neal made it a point to avoid any down time, to avoid anytime where he could think and to avoid being alone. Like now, but this he couldn’t avoid and his mind was doing loop de loops. All the what-ifs he tried not to think about before were now his close companion on the three hour long drive, things he didn’t dare let himself think about before.
What-if Steve had died? What-if he had lost him forever? What then? No one knew this, only Neal did, and he told no one the decision he had made in the event that something would have happened to Steve, just not now but at anytime. If Steve was to ever die in the line of duty, lose his life in the pursuit of Justice Neal, first of all, he would find whoever did it, run them to ground, execute them then he would walk away from it. He would hang up his gun and badge and live a more civilize life. If there is such a thing.
Neal knew it would be a hard thing to do, to give up his career, give up being a cop but he already decided, without Steve as his partner and best friend, what would be the point? Really. What would be the point….to it all.
Finally Neal was able to turn his mind off as he approached the gates of the prison and he wasn’t happier to see a penal institution as he was now because now he could do what he did best….his job.
“The Warden told me that you wanted to talk to me. We can sit out back.”
“Sitting here I almost forget that I’m at a prison.” Neal replies as he looks at the lake.
is what you get when you become a model prisoner, more privileges and opportunities.”
Neal nods. “The Warden did tell me that you are one of his success stories.”
“What made you change?” Neal asks.
day I was standing next to a guy in the yard and he was stabbed from behind
and he grabbed a hold of me and he died in my arms.”
“How so?” Neal asks.
“Well for one thing I got my high school diploma here and they taught me a trade, welding and they already have a job lined up for me.”
“When do you get out?” Neal asks.
“In six months and for me there will be no looking back. I plan on changing my name and get on with my life. I’m sorry that my father influenced my life like he did.”
“What about Lou? Did he also influence Lou’s life?” Neal asks.
about what happened to that cop, we get newspapers in here and I suppose you’re
“Yeah he did.”
“Was it this one?” Neal asks as he hands him a photograph.
“Do you think Lou could handle that motorcycle?” Neal asks.
“Our father taught us how to ride, Detective….”
“Call me Neal.” Neal replies.
“Neal….you really think Lou did this then?”
I never thought I would hear Lou being called a suspect.”
the way the evidence lies, yeah
“Like I said it’s been awhile but I’ll do what I can to help you….oh sweet Jesus.”
puts his hand on
Neal takes out his notepad. “Tell me anything you remember, where you think Lou might be now, etc.”
SANDERSVILLE LATER THAT SAME DAY:
stayed longer at the prison than he planned to but at least
After dinner and after the meeting with the Sheriff Neal made a very much needed phone call to Ruby then he called Steve.
“Perry residence.” Steve replies when he answers the phone.
Neal laughs. “Well that is certainly fancy I must say.”
“Neal!!!” Steve replies excitedly. “Hey!”
“Hey yourself buddy how’s things?”
“Ah you know the usual, where are you?” Steve asks.
Steve whistles. “Wow out in the boonies! Did you have to climb up a pole to use the phone?” Steve asks as he laughs.
“No not quite. I’m at the Sheriff’s house.”
“So you tracked down Lou?” Steve asks.
“Hopefully. The Sheriff and I are going to go by the house tomorrow, or the last known address. The Sheriff told me it used to be the grandparent’s house and they passed away some time ago.” Neal replies.
“I wish I was there with you.” Steve says.
Neal smiles. “I wish you were here too partner, how are you feeling?”
“Hang on let me check on something.”
“Okay.” Steve replies.
“What were you doing?”
“Checking to make sure Ray can’t hear me.” Steve replies seriously.
“What?” Neal asks as he laughs.
“I’m serious! If Ray heard me say anything about being tired….Ray won’t let me do anything around here! He’s been doing all of the shopping, laundry, housekeeping! Right now he’s taking a shower so it’s safe. I’ve been a little tired today….I can’t wait to get back to work.”
“I can’t wait for you to come back to work either. It will just take time Steve.”
“I know. Neal you sound so far away.”
Neal closes his eyes. “So do you Steve, so do you. If all goes according to plan I should be home tomorrow or at the latest the next day. Keep an eye on Ruby for me.”
“You know I will. I’ll get Ray to drive me over and we’re check on her, maybe bring her some Chinese food.”
Neal smiles. “You know I think she would like that.”
“Be careful tomorrow okay? I won’t be there to save your ass like I usually am you know.”
Neal laughs. “I know and I promise to be careful. You be careful too.”
Steve makes a noise on the other end. “Yeah sure! I’ll be careful not to fall out of my wheelchair when Ray is pushing me around!!!”
Neal laughs. “I’ll see you later Steve.”
“Yeah man later and Neal….”
“Yeah me too Steve, me too.”
Neal then replaces the receiver back down onto the phone.
“Lou this is the Sheriff I want to talk to you. You need to come out.” The Sheriff replies as he knocks on the front door of the Cumming’s home.”
While the Sheriff knocked on the front door Neal slowly made his way around to the back, keeping down low and sticking close as possible to the house and as he was doing so he noticed how quiet it was, that is until he made it to the garage. The garage, like the rest of the house was old, weathered beaten wood and peeling paint, with a double set of doors with the windows painted over. Neal could still hear the Sheriff on the front porch as he made his way over to the front of the garage doors and using his free hand he tried, in vain, to wipe off some of the dirt and grime to see if he could get a peek inside and that is when he heard it.
It was very distinct and loud in the country silence and Neal was too late. The sound was that of a motorcycle being started and it being gunned as the rider stomp on the gas pedal, Neal tried to move out of the way but he wasn’t quick enough as the motorcycle burst thru the garage doors, reducing them to wooden shrapnel. Neal tried to cover his head but it was to no avail as the largest and heaviest piece of the door came back and hit him on the head and then the last thing he saw was the ground coming up to meet him.
It was a beautiful day and Neal was lying on the beach watching Ruby coming out of the ocean like a wet, goddess. He watched as she reached behind her and took her long hair in both of her hands and bringing it over her shoulder she begin to wring the saltwater out of it then she sees Neal looking at her and she smiles as she walks seductively over to him across the sand. He reaches out to her as she slowly sinks down to her knees beside him and her hands are damp from the ocean as she places her hands on his chest and as she leans over to kiss him Neal hears her say….
“Neal, old buddy, are you awake?”
Neal slowly opens up one eye. “Steve?”
Steve smiles as he removes his hands from Neal’s chest and he puts them on his hips.
“The one and only, you were maybe expecting someone else?”
“Yeah actually I was and she is a damn sight better looking….Oh holy shit my head!!!” Neal replies as he tries to sit up which causes him to grab his head.
“Easy man you have a concussion.” Steve replies as he puts his hands on his shoulders.
“A…a concussion?” Neal replies.
“Yeah man you’re lucky that barn door hit you on the hardest part of your body.”
“Barn….barn door?” Neal asks as he makes a face then Steve sees recognition. “Oh yeah that barn door. Hey what are you doing here?”
“Well that’s nice I must say, lie back down.” Steve instructs.
Neal lies back down. “Oh you know what I mean silly, I’m I still in Sandersville?”
“Yep you’re in the County hospital, a nice spacious 30 bed facility; you’ve been here since yesterday….”
“Yesterday?!” Neal yells as he quickly sits up once again grabbing his head. “Oh shit….”
“Yeah man I told you, you have a concussion. The Sheriff called me, see I told you that emergency contact card would come in handy.” Steve replies as he points his finger at him.
“What about Lou?” Neal asks.
“Figures. How long have you been here?” Neal asks.
Neal rubs his head. “So….you drove up here all by yourself?”
“No I didn’t say that, you can come in now.” Steve says over his shoulder.
A few seconds later the door opens and Ruby comes in smiling at Neal as she walks over to the bed and takes his hand.
“Ruby!” Neal exclaims.
“My sugar that is an ugly bump you have on your head.” Ruby replies as she moves a strand of hair smiling down at him.
“Ah Ruby, honey, you shouldn’t have come. It’s a long drive and in your condition….” Neal replies. “Steve….I can believe you brought her all this way, you know she is in a delicate state!”
Ruby laughs. “Now sugar I am just fine and I am not the first woman to be pregnant you know.”
“Well no….” Neal replies.
“She wouldn’t stay home Neal and why should she? She’s your wife you know and she certainly has a right to see you….” Steve points out.
“Well yeah….” Neal replies.
“Sugar I couldn’t stay away, I wanted to make sure you were alright. It seems like it has been months since I’ve seen you.” Ruby leans over and she kisses him.
“Besides Neal somebody had to drive your car back.” Steve replies as he crosses his arms over his chest, wriggling his eyebrows as he rocks back and forth on his heels.
“Oh I see how it is now. You just want to drive my car.” Neal replies.
Steve shrugs. “Look at it this way, you and Ruby can spend quality time together on the drive back.”
“So….when do I get out of here?” Neal asks as he looks at Ruby then Steve.
“Tom….tomorrow?!” Neal replies loudly. “I have work to do! I can’t stay in here….oh Holy Mary my head!”
“Uh huh that is why you have to stay in here; you got your bell rung pretty good. We’re catch Lou so don’t worry….” Steve replies.
“We?” Neal asks.
“Yeah we, you and me. We.” Steve replies as he points to Neal then to himself.
“You haven’t even been cleared yet to go back to work!” Neal replies.
“I know but I will be and soon.” Steve replies. “Then both of us can go after Lou.”
“Ah hell Steve I was this close!” Neal replies as he holds two fingers close together. “This close….!!!” Neal replies as he rubs his forehead.
Steve takes Neal’s other hand. “I know and Neal we’re going to get Lou. Neal….”
“Oh you’re going to say it aren’t you?” Neal replies as he looks at him.
Steve nods his head. “….It’s going to be alright.”
“Ah hell!” Neal exclaims.
“So Dad can I have the keys to the car? Please?” Steve asks as he puts his hand out.
“What? Leaving so soon?” Neal asks.
“Neal honey he spent yesterday and all last night right here in your room.” Ruby replies.
“He did?” Neal replies as he looks at Ruby. “You did?” Neal replies as he now looks at Steve.
Steve nods his head. “That I did, see.” Steve points to a cot that is in the corner.
“Oh.” Neal replies.
“Just like you did for me.” Steve replies. “And now that I know you’re going to be okay I think you kids need some quality time together and besides
I have work to do….”
“Work to do? What work exactly? You aren’t even cleared….” Neal replies.
“Yes I know and you’re find out later, now just relax.” Steve replies. “So now can I have the keys?”
“Did you get enough sleep?” Neal asks.
“Yes.” Steve replies as he crosses his arms over his chest.
“It’s a long drive you know.” Neal replies.
“Yes I know.” Steve replies.
“You won’t drive fast will you?” Neal asks.
“No I won’t drive fast.” Steve replies.
“Promise?” Neal replies.
“Neal!” Ruby replies loudly and surprised Neal and Steve look at her. “Give him the keys sugar.”
“Oh alright they should be in my jacket pocket, it’s hanging in the closet.” Neal replies as he points.
Steve goes over to the closet and he takes the keys out of the jacket pocket.
“Thanks. I’ll see you kids later.” Steve replies as he turns to the door.
“Steve put gas in her!” Neal replies.
“Don’t I always?” Steve replies back.
“The good gas not the cheap gas!!!!” Neal yells back at him.
“Later!!!” Steve replies as he goes out the door.
“Well sugar we’re alone now.” Ruby replies.
“Yes we are.” Neal replies.
“Do you think this bed is big enough for two people?” Ruby asks as she smiles.
“We can always find out.” Neal replies as he smiles back.
THE 9TH PRECINCT SQUAD ROOM TWO DAYS LATER:
“Thanks Sheriff I appreciate your help, goodbye.” Neal replies then he hangs up the phone.
“Well?” Steve asks.
“Well nothing. No Lou.” Neal replies as he throws his pen down onto the desk grasping his head with both hands.
“Maybe this time the good guys don’t win.” Steve replies.
Neal looks at Steve across the desk. “What did you say?”
“I said maybe this time the good guys don’t win. Maybe this time we won’t find Lou. Lou is in the wind. Neal, we can’t win them all. What are you doing?” Steve asks as Neal suddenly starts rummaging thru the desk drawers.
“We won’t lose and Lou won’t get away, not if I have anything to say about it!” Neal replies as he points to himself. “I’m looking for Wendy’s phone number.” Neal replies as he starts to take things out of the drawer.
“Wendy? You mean the reporter, Wendy?” Steve asks.
“Yes the reporter Wendy, do we know any other Wendy?”
“It’s in the rolodex.” Steve replies as he puts it on Neal’s desk.
“Wow when did you do this?” Neal asks.
Steve shrugs. “I’ve had a lot of time on my hands lately so I organized. It’s under ‘R’.”
Neal looks up. “R?”
“Yeah for reporter of course.” Steve replies.
“Oh of course.” Neal replies as he thumbs thru to the R’s. “When do you go back to the doctor’s?”
“Friday.” Steve sits up a little straighter. “Why?”
“Let’s see this is Monday, that’s enough time, it has to be enough time.”
“Neal, enough time for what, exactly? Neal….?” Steve asks.
Neal looks over the desk at Steve. “I think….”
“Uh oh….” Steve replies.
“….I’m getting an….”
“Oh don’t say it!” Steve replies.
“…Idea.” Neal replies.
“It’s that concussion you had.” Steve points out.
“Just hear me out, when you were shot it was a big story in all of the papers and you were even on the nightly news at 5….” Neal replies.
“Really? I hope they caught my good side….”
“Steve!” Neal replies.
“Neal! What’s the point to all of this again?”
“Lou thinks you’re dead so….” Neal replies.
“So…?” Steve replies as he gestures trying to encourage Neal to spit it out.
“So….we plant a story in the newspaper with Wendy’s help with the headline ‘Once critically injured Detective Perry now recovered to return home.’”
Steve crosses his arms over his chest. “That’s a terrible headline.”
Neal leans across the desk. “Steve it’s just an example and maybe we can get the local news station to run an interview with you.”
“An interview with me?” Steve points to himself. “I’m going to be on television?!”
“Well maybe I don’t know….” Neal replies.
“I’m going to be on television!!” Steve says excitedly.
“Steve we have to talk to the Captain and we’re been on television before you know.” Neal replies.
“Yes I know ‘we’ have but ‘I’ haven’t been on television by myself before! I have to shave and get a trim and….”
“We still have to talk to the Captain.” Neal points out.
“I wonder what I should wear….Oh hey wait!!” Steve replies.
“Yes.” Neal replies.
“Lou thinks I’m dead!!” Steve replies as he points to himself.
“Yes I know.” Neal replies as he rests his chin in his hand.
“Lou shot me three times!!”
“Yes I know that too.” Neal replies.
“So if we do this then Lou will know that I’m….alive!!”
“Yes that is true.” Neal replies.
“So that means…!” Steve’s eyes widen as he looks at Neal.
“Oh that’s mean! Mean and dastardly I must say! You’re just getting back at me for that time you were hit by that cab and in the hospital!!” Steve replies as he points at Neal.
“The thought never crossed my mind.”
“Uh huh.” Steve replies. “What if Lou doesn’t watch television or read the papers? What then?”
“Lou will know trust me.”
“I do trust you and I can’t let, no we can’t, let the bad guy win. Let’s talk to the Captain then I have to go shopping!”
“Shopping for what?” Neal asks.
“Clothes for my big television debut of course!” Steve replies.
“Oh of course.”
Steve reaches over and he grabs Wendy’s card out of the rolodex. “Let’s go and see the Captain and let’s get the wheel of justice….rolling!”
Neal reaches over and he puts his hand on Steve’s shoulder. “Nice to have you back, partner.” Neal replies as he smiles.
“It’s nice to be back, partner.” Steve replies as he returns the smile.
TWO DAYS LATER
“I must say that Wendy can write a good news story.” Neal replies as he reads the paper.
“That she does and she was able to get it out on the AP wire too.” Steve replies as he reads his own copy of the paper. “Where’s the Captain?”
“Coordinating things with the news crew.” Neal replies.
“Look Wendy spelled your name right.” Steve points out.
“Personally I think she was doing it on purpose.” Steve replies.
“Why do you say that?” Neal asks.
“Because she likes me better than she likes you, that’s why.” Steve points out.
Neal makes a snorting noise. “Well that doesn’t surprise me at all, you charmer you!”
Steve laughs as the Captain comes into the room. “Well it’s nice to see you two having a good time, here Steve theses are for you.” Captain Reynolds
replies as he places some articles of clothing in Steve’s lap.
Steve laughs as he holds up a typical hospital gown. “Cap what are these?”
“That is what the news crew wants you to wear when they interview you.” The Captain replies.
Steve continues to laugh. “No way! I mean I bought new clothes!”
“The news crew thinks hospital wear will make you look, what was the word they used, pathetic.” The Captain replies.
Neal laughs as Steve looks at him. “Pathetic?!” Steve exclaims. “No! I mean I got a trim for god’s sakes!”
“Yeah Cap do you know how long it took Steve to get his hair like that?” Neal asks as he continues to laugh.
“Sorry Steve but I think they are going to mess it up.” The Captain replies.
“MESS IT UP?!!!” Steve exclaims loudly.
“Sssshhhhh!” Neal replies as he puts his finger over his lips.
“Yeah Steve I mean it has to look like you’ve been in bed awhile you know.” The Captain replies.
“Yeah but where is my pride and my dignity and where is the back to this gown!!!” Steve asks as he holds it up.
Neal tries not to laugh. “They gave you a robe to wear.”
“Ah man this is just so….wrong!!!!” Steve exclaims.
“You better go and change they will be in here soon to set up.” The Captain replies.
“Oh….alright. Ah Cap I even had my jeans pressed!!” Steve replies.
Neal covers his eyes as he shakes his head.
“Yes I see that and those creases are certainly sharp but go and change. Scoot!” The Captain replies.
“You know this is a bad idea!!!” Steve exclaims.
Neal looks up. “You liked this idea before, remember?” Neal points out.
“Well….that was before!!! What if….if Farrah Fawcett is watching the news?!”
Neal and the Captain look at one another. “Steve, just go and change.” Neal replies.
“Oh okay.” Steve gets up from the chair clutching his new wardrobe and before he goes into the bathroom he turns around and he points. “But I certainly won’t like it!! I bet all my good scenes end up on the cutting room floor!” Steve then turns and he goes into the bathroom shutting the door behind him.
“Prima Donna.” Neal replies as he looks up at the Captain.
“I heard that!!!!!” Steve yells from the bathroom.
“They must’ve showed that interview at least a hundred times by now.” Neal replies as they watch it yet again from the hospital room the city rented from the hospital for this charade.
“Oh at least. Everything is a go for tomorrow.” Steve replies.
“Yeah everything is marked off the list, okay, so what’s wrong partner?” Neal asks.
Steve shrugs. “Nothing is wrong.”
Steve looks at Neal as he takes a deep breath. “I just wish we knew if all of this did any good at all, we don’t have any idea if Lou even saw the news or read the papers.”
Just then the door is opened by the nurse who is carrying an oblong box.
“Detective Perry these are for you.” The nurse replies as she hands them to Steve.
Steve takes them. “Ah Neal you shouldn’t have!”
“I didn’t.” Neal replies.
Steve puts his ear to the box.
“What are you doing?” Neal asks.
“Making sure it isn’t ticking.”
“Nurse did you see who dropped these off?” Neal asks.
“No they were at the Nurse’s station.” The nurse replies.
“Alright thank you Nurse.” Neal says as he opens the door for her then he goes over to the window and he looks out thru the window blinds.
“See anything?” Steve asks.
“Of course not.” Steve replies as he stares down at the box that is now on the bed tapping his finger on his chin.
“So what do we do now?” Neal asks.
“Well opening it will be the next logical step.” Steve replies.
“And get blown to kingdom come I don’t think so.” Neal replies.
“Don’t you think that when the nurse was carrying it, it could’ve blown then?” Steve asks as he reaches out to untie the ribbon that the box is tied with.
“Unless….” Neal says as he raises one finger. “….it’s set to blow when you untie it you big dope!”
Steve quickly pulls his hand back. “Well that is encouraging I must say.”
“So….” Neal replies.
“I have an idea.” Steve replies.
“Yeah come on.” Steve replies.
“Come on? Come on where?”
“On a scavenger hunt of course.” Steve replies as he heads for the door.
“Oh of course! Hey wait up!!”
AN HOUR OR SO LATER:
“You know I don’t think the hospital will appreciate the fact that we stripped the beds in the room next to ours for the mattresses.” Neal points out.
“Well tough beans.” Steve replies.
“You know this closet isn’t as big on the inside as it looks from the outside.”
“Yeah I know.” Steve replies.
“Where did you get that thing anyway?” Neal asks.
“Oh you mean the grabber thingy?”
“No Steve I meant your nose!!” Neal replies.
“Now that was highly uncalled for.” Steve replies back.
“Yes, of course, I meant the grabber thingy.”
“From the maintenance closet of course.” Steve replies.
“Oh of course. How did you get in the maintenance closet?”
“Don’t ask. Okay hold this while I screw the extension onto it.” Steve asks.
Neal holds it while Steve screws the extension onto it then Neal helps him to put it thru the opening in between the mattresses.
“Hey look I think it’s going to reach!” Neal exclaims.
“I think so too, okay, move it to the left just a little….whoa! Okay now hold it while I use the handles.”
“It was a good idea to prop the pillows up around it.” Neal replies.
“Sssshhhh I’m trying to concentrate!” Steve replies.
“Move to the right just a little….whoa.” Steve replies.
From the closet the two mattresses flank the door which have been duct tape close together to leave a gap just wide enough for the grabber to be put thru and for Steve to be able to see. After Neal maneuvers the grabber into place Steve uses the handle to gently grab a hold of the ribbon and ever so slowly pull the bow out of the ribbon.
“Easy man easy.”
Steve lets out the breath he had been holding. “Whew. Rag.”
Neal pulls a washcloth out of his pocket and he mops the sweat off of Steve’s forehead.
“Don’t mention it.” Neal replies. “How’s the old nerves holding up?”
“So far so good. Okay now here comes the tricky part, to untie the rest of it. How’s the arms holding up man?” Steve asks as he looks over at Neal.
Neal makes a muscle. “The guns are good. Steve….”
“You know if that box really has a bomb in it I don’t think these mattresses will save our collective bacon.” Neal replies.
“Well it’s better than nothing and I think being in this closet will help, you know, some.” Steve replies.
“I just want to say before anything happens, if something was to happen to us that it has been an honor and a privilege to work with you Steve.”
“You’re going to say it aren’t you Neal?” Steve asks.
“Yeah I have to, Steve, I love you. You’re the brother I never had.”
“Neal the feelings mutual. Okay let’s do this, are you ready?”
“As ready as I’m ever going to be.”
Neal holds it tighter as Steve slowly uses the handles to move the grabber into place over the ribbon then using the grabber he grabs the ribbon and he slowly pulls it apart and away from the box.
“So far so good.” Steve replies.
Again slowly Steve uses the handle as he grabs lid of the box and he slowly lifts it off and away then they both exhale. Neal pulls the pole back into the closet.
“Where’s that mirror?” Neal asks.
“Right here.” Steve hands it to him.
“Hold it while I duct tape it to the pole.”
Steve holds the mirror while Neal duct tapes it good and tight to the pole then when that is finished he puts it back thru the opening and out and over the box on the bed.
“See anything?” Neal asks.
“Turn it just a little….hold it right there. Can you go sideways, start at the top and work your way down slowly.” Steve asks.
“Yeah, you mean like that?” Neal asks.
“Yeah, boy that is odd!”
“What is odd? What is it?” Neal asks.
“It looks like….”
“What?” Neal asks.
“Roses? You mean we went to all of this trouble for some ordinary roses?” Neal asks.
“They don’t look too ordinary to me.”
“What do you mean? Did you see wires? Ingenious! Bomb roses!!!” Neal exclaims.
“No I didn’t see any wires and I don’t think they are rigged to explode.”
“Hey what are you doing?” Neal asks.
“I want to get a closer look!” Steve replies as he starts ripping the duct tape off of the mattresses.
“Steve do you really think that’s a good idea?” Neal asks.
Steve finishes taking the duct tape off of the mattresses then he is able to get between them then he goes over to the bed with Neal close behind.
“See, I told you there was something odd about them.” Steve replies as he picks up the roses and shows them to Neal.
“Yeah I’ll say….their….”
“Dead.” They both say at the same time.
“Black roses.” Steve replies.
“Look there’s a card.” Neal reaches for the card and he takes it out of the envelope.
“Dead roses for a dead cop.” Neal says as he reads the card. “Boy that is cheery; oh look it is signed ‘Your secret admirer.’”
“Oh brother that is rich I must say.”
“Still think that Lou didn’t see the television or read the newspapers?” Neal asks as he tosses the card back into the box.
“Go ahead and say it I know you want to.” Neal replies as he puts his arm around Steve’s shoulders.
“Okay, gosh darn it, you were….” Steve replies.
“Ah!!!” Neal pats Steve on the chest. “That’s my boy! Come on let’s clean this place up and get something to eat, all this excitement has made me hungry.”
“Okay at dinner we can go over the plans for tomorrow.” Steve replies.
“Then before I go to bed I’ll call Ruby and tell her that I love her.” Neal replies.
“Ah that is sweet.” Steve says as he opens the door. “Age before beauty.”
“Steve you’re older than I am you know.” Neal points out.
“Yes I know but I’m better looking!” Steve replies as he wriggles his eyebrows at him.
“Comfy?” Neal asks as he adjusts the blanket.
“Perfect.” Steve replies.
“Wheelchair alright?” Neal asks.
“It’ll do.” Steve replies.
“Can you hear and see alright?” Neal asks.
“Yeah it’s all good, Neal don’t be nervous.”
“I’m not nervous, are you nervous?” Neal asks.
“No not really.”
“Let me take one last good look at you. Okay remember what I said?” Neal asks.
“Yeah for me to keep my head down.” Steve replies.
“And what else?”
“No matter what I hear or see I’m suppose to stay out of it.” Steve replies.
“Exactly. Now it’s almost eleven, are you ready?”
“As I will ever be.” Steve replies. “Look both ways before crossing the street.”
“Thank you. Alright here we go.” Neal replies.
Neal pushes the wheelchair out of the side entrance of the hospital across the sidewalk and down to the corner.
“Wow there are a lot of people out today.” Steve replies.
“Yeah I know that is why we picked this side street and the lot across the street to park in. See anything?” Neal asks.
“Alright here we go crossing the street.” Neal replies.
This side street was not a small side street, it was at least four lanes across and it had Neal looking both ways and when Neal got right in the middle of the street is when they heard it.
“Yeah Steve I hear it.”
“But where?” Steve asks.
Neal didn’t even finish the sentence when out of the corner of his eye he saw it, death riding a motorcycle. Lou came around the corner and the motorcycle was headed right for the wheelchair and as Neal drew his gun, Lou also drew a gun and fired quickly at the wheelchair which caused it to fall sideways.
Neal hit the pavement and he rolled right into the wheel of a car parked at the curb and when he looked up he saw the dummy that had been impersonating Steve lying on the pavement with two bullets holes in it then he saw the motorcycle turn around down the street and head back in his direction and that is when Neal got up and he ran.
He ran across the street in the direction of the parking lot and as he jumped a chain link fence Lou was right on his heels. Lou tore thru the chain link fence like a hot knife thru butter and Neal knew it was no good to run overland so he decided to go up.
He veered to the right and he jumped on the trunk of the nearest car and then he was up on the roof and using the cars as a bridge he was running across them and then he glanced back to see Lou on the motorcycle following him. The roar of the motorcycle was loud in his ears as he made his way across the cars and he knew he was running out of steam and then he noticed the gap in between the cars in front of him, and it was wide enough, it had to be wide enough. Neal could feel the motorcycle gaining, he could feel the tire practically running up his back and that is when he jumped and he landed in between the front bumper of one car and the rear bumper of the other, he could feel the wheels barely clear his head as Lou flew over him.
Neal in between the two cars drew his gun and he took a deep breath, steadied his nerves then he stepped out into the open to see Lou once again roaring back towards him and Lou pointed the gun at Neal and fired just as Neal aimed at a place on Lou’s chest and then he fired twice in quick succession. Once again Neal hit the ground and then he looked back over his shoulder to see that Lou had fallen off the motorcycle, and the motorcycle had ran itself into a bunch of garbage cans that were stacked there.
Neal, his eyes never leaving Lou, slowly made his way to his feet and holding his gun out in front of him he cautiously approached Lou. There was no movement of any kind from Lou but Neal was still very wary as he got down on one knee and he rolled Lou over and then he felt Steve beside him.
“You’ve been shot, you’re bleeding.” Steve exclaims.
Neal shakes his head. “It’s nothing.” Neal puts his gun back in its holster then he began to unbuckle Lou’s helmet and when he was able to he removed it then he felt for a pulse.
“I’ll call the coroner.” Steve replies as he puts his hand on Neal’s shoulder then he gets to his feet and he walks away.
Neal sits there for a moment, his hand resting on the helmet, using his sleeve to wipe the sweat from his forehead. “Oh Lou why did you have to do this? Why?”
In the distance Neal can hear the chorus of sirens begin and they gain clarity as they come closer and Neal raises his head to see a crowd of curious onlookers forming. Then once again Steve was by his side.
“Sam’s on his way.” Steve replies.
Neal simply nods his head.
“Are you okay?” Steve asks.
“Yeah I’m fine.”
“You had to do it you know otherwise….” Steve replies.
“I know I’m just thinking….”
“Thinking? Thinking about what?” Steve asks louder over the roar of the sirens.
“If there’s anybody to meet Lou in her left-hand corner of….heaven?” Neal replies as he looks up at Steve and their eyes meet then they both look down at Lou.
THE 9TH PRECINCT SQUAD ROOM THE NEXT DAY:
“Louise Marie Cummings was just 18 years old.” Neal replies as he pulls the report out of the typewriter and he reads it over.
“Yes I know here’s your coffee, how’s the arm?” Steve replies as he sits it on the desk.
“Thanks.” Neal glances at his shoulder and he shrugs. “It’s just a scratch, no big deal.”
“You’re the only person I know who thinks a crazy person on a motorcycle shooting at them is no big deal.” Steve hesitates then he says, “Neal you know that was a pretty smart idea you had to use a dummy in that wheel chair and you were right about using the television and newspapers….”
Neal raises his hand. “You don’t have to Steve.”
“I don’t have to do what?” Steve replies.
“Try to make me feel better.”
“I….it’s just I know how you feel. Lou….I mean Louise was an 18 year old kid and…” Steve replies.
“And other normal 18 year old girls are dreaming of college and getting married not plotting for years to kill a cop.” Neal replies. “The sheriff was even shocked by what he found in her grandparent’s house. She saved every newspaper clipping that had anything to do with you and according to her journal she was there that day at the bank when her father was killed.”
“I didn’t even see her there.” Steve replies.
“If you had you wouldn’t have known who she was anyway. Her brother told me that she acted as their father’s advance man; she would go in and scope the place out. Her brother also told me that she had a photographic memory, so she would go in, asking for directions or to use the bathroom but in actuality she was counting the number of people that worked there, the layout of the place and where the vault was….”
“….There she would report back to her father, nice.” Steve replies.
“Yeah isn’t it though.” Neal replies sadly.
Steve looks sideways at Neal as he leans over the desk closer to Neal. “It bothers you doesn’t it?”
Neal just raises his eyes from the paperwork to look at Steve. “Yeah it does. It bothers me that a man, a criminal, involves his children to help him commit crimes, dangerous crimes. He teaches them the ins and outs, how to rob, steal and kill….and in the end the youngest of his children, his daughter….is dead. It also bothers me that Louise worshipped that man! In her eyes he could do no wrong!! How do we fight this Steve? How do we? When the bad guys were strangers on the street but now….now….when the enemy is the parents?”
“Thinking about Joey aren’t you?” Steve asks.
“Always.” Neal replies. “And the baby Ruby is carrying. I feel like I did the first time I shot and killed someone.”
“I know you do and doing it because you didn’t have a choice doesn’t make it any easier does it?”
Neal doesn’t answer he just shakes his head and after a few minutes of silence Neal says, “So what was this project you were working on?”
“If you want to come with me I’ll show you.” Steve replies as he smiles.
“Go with you where?” Neal asks.
Steve gets up from his chair and walks over and he stands by Neal’s chair and he leans over then he says, “Come with me and find out. It’ll make you feel better I promise.”
“You promise?” Neal replies as he looks up at him.
“Have I ever steered you wrong before, partner?” Steve says as he puts his hand on his shoulder looking down at him.
“Not that I can recall, partner.” Neal replies as he smiles.
“Well then what cha waiting for? Let’s make like a tree and leave!”
Neal laughs as he gets out of the chair and as they leave the squad room they put their arms around the other’s shoulders.
OCEANVIEW RETIREMENT VILLAS:
Steve knocks on the door of Villa 12B and the door is opened by good, old Ben. Looking younger and happier than ever.
“Steve! Neal! Nice to see you two!! Come in!” Ben says happily as he opens the door wider for them then once inside Ben grabs Neal into a strong bear hug then when he gets finished patting him on the back, hard, he grabs Steve and gives him the same bear hug.
“Ben I think you broke some ribs man!” Neal replies.
“Yeah Ben you don’t know your own strength.” Steve replies.
“So this was your special project?” Neal asks as he looks at Steve.
Steve shrugs. “Well sorta….”
“Here sit! Sit at the bar!” Ben replies as he pulls out two bar stools then he runs around the corner into the kitchen.
“Wow Ben this is a swanky place I must say.” Neal replies as he looks around. “It’s a far cry from that old rooming house. Oh look man you have plants and everything.”
“I’m glad that Steve talked me into coming here! Now can I get my two favorite MP’s a beer?”
“Steve you talked Ben into coming here?” Neal asks.
“Well in a way, how about two cokes, if you got em?” Steve replies.
“Two cokes coming up!” Ben reaches down behind the bar and he brings out two cold bottles of coke and after he opens them he puts them in front of Steve and Neal.
“Ben you look and sound great!” Neal replies as he takes a drink of his coke. “Retirement living agreeing with you I see?”
“Oh yes! I thought I would miss that old rooming house and I was a little reluctant to come here….” Ben replies.
“A little reluctant? Try a lot! It was like pulling teeth!” Steve replies as he smiles.
“This place is good for me. Here, in this place, the war is getting farther and farther away and my mind is clearer. I thought I could never talk about what happened to me in the war but the doctors here, for some reason, I feel safe talking to them. Before I was afraid that the doctor’s would think that I was crazy and put me away….” Ben hesitates then he says; “Besides there are some hot babes here!!!”
As Steve and Neal laugh at this there is a knock at the front door.
“Excuse me for just minute!” Ben says as he runs out of the kitchen and to the front door.
“I can’t get over the change in Ben he seems like a different man.” Neal replies.
“It’s amazing what love can do.” Steve replies as he takes a drink of his coke winking the same time at Neal.
“What does that mean?” Neal asks.
“Neal I want you to meet someone.” Ben says happily from behind them.
Neal turns around to see a man standing next to Ben and Neal can easily see that this man is the spitting image of good, old Ben and he was young enough to be his….
“Neal this is Jack Wheeler, my son.” Ben says proudly as he puts his hand on his shoulder.
Neal puts his hand out to meet Jack’s and they shake hands. “Jack it’s nice to meet you.”
“It’s nice to meet you too Neal, Dad has told me a lot about you. Hey Steve, how are you doing?”
Neal looks over to see Steve standing next to him with his arms crossed over his chest and with a smile on his face.
“Better Jack a lot better.” Steve replies.
“You two know each other?” Neal asks.
“Well in a round-about way you see Steve tracked me down and told me where my father was and that he was looking for me but what Steve didn’t know was that I have been looking for my father, for years. You’re partner is a good detective.” Jack replies.
“And a sneaky, sly old dog detective too, so this is what you were doing with all that free time, Jack was your special project.” Neal replies.
“It was time well spent. You see Neal, Ben saved my life that day and all I did was return the favor. Happily returned the favor.”
“I will always be grateful to you Steve for bringing my son back to me, he’s a good lad!” Ben replies.
“I found a place close by and a job and I don’t ever want to be that faraway again.” Jack replies.
Neal and Steve look at one another and they smile then Steve grabs Neal’s arm and he looks at the watch on his wrist.
“Oh holy Mary look at the time!” Steve replies.
“The time? What time is it?” Neal asks curiously.
“Lunch time of course!!” Steve replies.
“Oh of course.” Neal replies.
“What say we all go out to lunch? Neal’s treat!” Steve replies as he goes towards the front door.
“That sounds like a great idea!” Ben replies as he and Jack follows Steve.
“Hey wait!! My treat? Steve wait a minute!!!” Neal replies as he trails after them moving his arms up and down. “Steve! Wait!”
A WEEK LATER IN
At the sound of her name Brenda turns to see Steve and Neal walking her way and when they get closer to her Brenda reaches out and she takes Steve in her arms and she hugs him then after a few minutes she pulls back and she looks at Steve and she touches his face then she hugs Neal as
“I’m glad you two could come.” Brenda replies.
“We missed the funeral and we didn’t want to miss this, right Neal?” Steve asks.
“Steve’s right Brenda we feel bad that we missed Hank’s funeral.”
“Oh you two! You couldn’t help it, you Steve were near death yourself and you Neal was looking for Hank’s killer. You’re here now and I know
Hank would be pleased, Katy is here too.”
Together they walk to the bench that is positioned underneath a tree that is right next to Hank’s grave where Katy sits.
“Katy.” Steve replies softly.
Katy looks back over her shoulder and when she sees that it is Steve she gets up and she runs into his arms.
“Steve I’ve been so worried about you.”
“Katy you sound so much like your mother, worried about somebody else instead of yourself.” Steve replies.
“I’m glad that you’re here.” Katy replies.
“I’m glad I’m here too.” Steve replies as he smiles at her.
“Steve why don’t you help Katy to remove the cover from the headstone.” Brenda replies as she and Neal move closer to the grave.
Katy and Steve hold hands as they walk to the headstone and they separate as Steve moves to one end of the headstone and Katy moves to the other end. Steve grasps one end of the fabric of the sheet as Katy grabs the other and they both lift to exposure the headstone to the daylight. And they hear Neal gasp as he covers his mouth.
“Neal what is it?” Steve asks as he helps Katy to fold the sheet.
“Why don’t you come over and see for yourself.” Neal replies.
Katy takes the sheet from him and she clutches it to herself as she follows Steve over to where Neal is standing. Once there Neal grabs Steve by his shoulders and he turns him until he is facing the headstone.
“Oh my god.” Steve exclaims loudly.
“Steve I hope you don’t mind that Hank used it.” Brenda replies.
“Oh no of course not I just wouldn’t imagine, couldn’t imagine that he would….”
“It’s beautiful Steve don’t you think?” Neal asks as he stands close behind him with his hand on Steve’s shoulders.
“Can I touch it?” Steve asks Brenda.
“Yes of course.” Brenda replies.
Steve slowly walks over to the headstone and he gets down on one knee and he touches the letters that are etched deeply into the granite.
“Steve, Hank also wanted you to have this.”
Steve looks back over his shoulder at Brenda who is holding an envelope out to him which he takes.
“Steve we’re leave you alone okay?” Neal replies as he puts his hand on his shoulder.
Steve nods his head as he looks at the envelope. “Come back in an hour, Hank and I we have a lot to talk about.”
“Sure.” Neal replies as he takes Brenda by the hand and they begin to walk away from the grave. Katy comes up behind him and she kisses him on the top of his head.
“I love you Steve.”
Steve takes her by her hand and he draws her around to him. “I love you too Katy.” He says as he looks up at her and as she backs away they continue to hold hands until her fingers slip from his. Then he watches her walk away.
He gets up and he walks the short distance to the bench that faces the headstone and he sits down looking at the envelope, turning it over and over in his hands, until finally he slips his thumb under the flap and he slips it open pulling out a sheet of paper that he unfolds to read it.
If you’re reading this letter then that means that something bad has happened to me. I am either in the hospital in a coma or I am dead and in either case I am not capable to tell you in person what I want to tell you, hence this letter.
First of all Steve no tears and I know for you that will be hard but whatever happened to bring us to this point was meant to happen and life, for you, does go on. When I first met you I wasn’t at all sure about you but once I got to know you, you convinced me that you would become the best cop that you wanted to be and I was glad to be able to see you become Detective.
Second of all, take care of my Katy, and yes I do know how you feel about her, how you feel about each other, I have known for quite sometime now and I approve. I give you two my blessings.
I am glad to have known you Steve and it’s hard to say goodbye and if you don’t mind I would like to use your mother’s saying on my headstone and in many ways this isn’t the end Steve because….
I’ll meet you in the left-hand corner of Heaven.
Take care and live long,
All my love to you,
Steve read the letter at least three times then he folded it back up and he put it back into the envelope then he put it in his jacket pocket then he wiped his eyes as he looked at the writing on the headstone.
“No Hank I don’t mind, I don’t mind at all. And you’re right this isn’t goodbye because I’ll meet you in the left-hand corner of….heaven.”
©LAB and SRP & JRNY FANFICTION 2007 to 2009. 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. I have no permission from Steve Perry or/and the members of Journey to use their likenesses or names and this story is purely fiction and written solely for the love of things and people back in the day. No real rock stars were injured in the writing of these stories and I put them back when I am finish with them.