THE DETECTIVES OF THE 9TH PRECINCT SERIES

 

 

“I’LL MEET YOU IN THE LEFT-HAND CORNER OF HEAVEN”

PART 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE 9TH PRECINCT CAPTAIN’S OFFICE:

 

 

 

“Do you want me to play it again?” The Captain asks.

 

“Yeah Cap go ahead.” Neal replies.

 

The Captain hits the rewind button on the reel to reel tape machine then when it stops he hits the play button again.

 

“Oceanview Police 9th Precinct how may I direct your call?” The operator replies.

 

“Listen strong Tokyo Rose.”

 

“Excuse me what did you say?” The operator asks.

 

“Stop it there Cap.” Neal replies.

 

The Captain stops the tape.

 

Tokyo Rose was a disc jockey in World War 2 right?” Neal asks as he takes notes.

 

“That’s right.” The Captain replies.

 

“Okay start it again.” Neal replies.

 

The Captain reaches over and he starts the tape again.

 

“I said listen strong Tokyo Rose I have one of your fallen soldiers lying in my alley and he needs a medic!!!”

 

“Cap fast forward to the address.” Neal replies.

 

The Captain stops the tape then he fast forwards it.

 

“136th and Hemphill the north end of the alley, the lad is hurt bad, ambush it was the enemy was on an iron horse.”

 

“Okay Cap stop it there.”

 

The Captain stops the tape as Neal goes over to the huge map of the city hanging on the Captain’s wall that has every street, alley and avenue on it. Neal runs his finger along it until he finds 136th and Hemphill.

 

“Here it is. It’s an old two story boarding house.” Neal replies.

 

“How old are we talking here?”

 

“Oh gosh I think it’s been abandoned for a good, many years now.” Neal replies.

 

The Captain picks up the phone at his desk. “Cindy I need some information about a property if you can find it.” The Captain laughs. “Oh no I’m not looking to buy it, it’s 136th and Hemphill. Okay thanks Cindy.” The Captain hangs up the phone. “She said it might take some time.”

 

“Let’s go over what we know so far. According to that tape I would say that the caller is a World War 2 Veteran.” Neal replies.

 

“That would make him today in his fifties and he also could have been in Vietnam and from the words that he used it sounds like he never let the war go.”

 

Neal looks up. “What did you just say?”

 

“I said it sounds like he never let the war go, why?”

 

“Steve said something like that.” Neal replies.

 

“Do you think he saw this guy before?” The Captain asks.

 

Neal shrugs. “I don’t know, maybe, how else would he know that he never let the war go? I mean Steve couldn’t hear his conversation with the operator, that payphone was at least a block away.” Neal rubs his eyes. “I don’t know I mean Steve knows a lot of people, when we were out on patrol a day didn’t go by that somebody didn’t come by the car to talk to Steve, he’s always helping people. There’s also a mission not too far from 136th and Hemphill and Steve has volunteered there maybe that is where they saw each other.”

 

“What is an iron horse?” The Captain asks.

 

Neal shrugs again. “I don’t know but I do know what I heard on that tape.”

 

“What did you hear?”

 

“He didn’t say the alley or that alley he said ‘my alley’ like he owned it, like it was his own possession….Cap….” Neal looks hard at him. “You have a house right?”

 

“Yeah.” The Captain replies as he nods.

 

“And your house is in a neighborhood isn’t it?”

 

“Neal what are you getting at here?” The Captain asks.

 

“Just work with me here Cap okay? This is what Steve and I do….”

 

“Oh okay well then go ahead.” The Captain replies. “Yes and my neighborhood is very nice and quiet….”

 

“Did you just hear yourself?” Neal asks.

 

“What did I say now?” The Captain asks.

 

“You said ‘my neighborhood’ and why do you call it ‘my neighborhood’?”

 

“Well….I guess because I….live there?” The Captain replies slowly.

 

Neal hits the top of the desk. “Bingo!!”

 

“You’re saying that he might live in the alley?”

 

“No Cap I think he might live in that boarding house, he said to the operator ‘my alley’ that means ownership, entitlement, and he has been there for so long and now he might be the only one there now, so he feels it’s his….Cap.” Neal looks at him.

 

The Captain points at him. “No.”

 

“Cap, Cap come on!” Neal begs.

 

“No Neal I don’t want you going to that boarding house by yourself if what you believe about this guy is true if he thinks that he is still fighting the war….”

 

“Alright Cap if he’s still fighting the war in his mind what do you think it will do to him if he sees a lot of black and whites out there in his alley? One person….” Neal holds up one finger. “….Is a lot less of a threat then a whole group of people don’t you think? Cap come on let me do this.”

 

The Captain scratches his head as he paces the floor. 

 

“Cap?” Neal replies again.

 

“Alright….”

 

“Cool!!!” Neal replies happily.

 

“No you didn’t let me finish, I want you to wait until I get info about the property at least the size of it, the layout, something.” The Captain replies.

 

“Cap, Steve and I have been passed that building at least a million times! I know how big it is, it’s two stories….”

 

“Neal have you ever been in there?” The Captain asks.

 

“Well no but Cap I bet it’s the same as any other boarding house in the city!” Neal replies.

 

“Neal I want you to wait, I can have other cops spread out in the other buildings to back you up, see if you can find anything on our mystery caller, his background, his name at least.” The Captain puts his hand on Neal’s arm. “Neal I know how you feel….”

 

“It’s been three weeks or maybe even more by now and the person who killed Hank and almost killed Steve could be on the other side of the world by now….” Neal protests.

 

“Neal I’m still your Captain….” The Captain replies as he looks Neal square in the eyes.

 

“I….yes sir.” Neal replies as he looks down at the carpet.      

 

“Now I’m going to go and see if I get that property information any faster do you want to come with me?” The Captain asks.

 

“Ah no sir….I want to go by and see Steve he might have remembered something else.”

 

“Neal I want you to promise me….” The Captain replies.

 

Neal stops and he turns around with his hand on the doorknob. “Yes sir I promise.” Then Neal turns the doorknob with one hand as the other is in his pocket….with his fingers crossed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

136TH AND HEMPHILL BEFORE DAWN:

 

 

 

Neal had parked the Charger on the next block and he walked over to the abandoned boarding house mindful of the fact that he was breaking a promise to the Captain and also disobeying a direct order, he was here all by himself, without the benefit of backup. At least he did find out about their mystery caller and the people he went to see weren’t too happy when he showed up at their door, was it his fault that it was passed midnight?

 

Neal was alone here at this time of day and the people that existed here, and that is what they were doing, existing and not living had yet to make an appearance. So as he made his way around the house looking closely at the boarded up windows he thought about what he had found out about the mystery caller, his name is Ben Wheeler and he was indeed in World War 2 and he even did a tour in Vietnam and from everything that everybody had said good old Ben Wheeler was a quiet sort. Kept to himself and he had lived here when it was still a functioning, well kept, with all the city inspections passed boarding house but now, it was a run-down, falling apart, condemned by the city dead shell of a house and Ben was still here.

 

No one was supposed to be here and that huge yellow sign posted by the city on the front door screamed that fact.

 

 “THIS PROPERTY IS CONDEMED! NO TRESPASSING!”       

 

Neal ran all the facts about good old Ben through his head and no one, not one soul, even mentioned or even hinted at any violence in good old Ben. As a matter of fact Ben kept all of his war experiences to himself but the people that Neal talked to did mention that Ben was a bonafide war hero, a Purple Heart war hero as it were. He had saved 12 of his men from certain death in Vietnam at the cost of one of his eyes and probably his sanity as well but of course he never, ever talked about that himself. Other people always have a way of finding stuff out about somebody else that no one wants them to know but of course Neal being in the fact finding business, always finds out.

 

Good old Ben, Neal also found out had a nice place at the Veterans Retirement home that was all government subsided and fancy and clean, manicured lawns, three hot meals a day, snacks included, the staff was nice as far as he could tell. Ben had been there for one whole day then he took off bolted like a horse leaving a burning barn and where did he run back to? Here. Back to this decaying rubble that was slated for the wrecking ball next month and in some ways Neal could see why. Ben have lived here for a good fifteen or so years, living on what the government sent him, his veteran’s pension and disability and like Neal had told the Captain it was his place. Ben was the first resident when it became a boarding house and now he was to be the last, so yeah Neal could see it. Good old Ben.

Neal had scaled the wooden fence that had separated the back yard from the alley and as he slowly walked to the entrance of the alley it suddenly dawned on him that here was where it had happened. Where Steve had been shot, Neal squatted down and he reached out with one hand to touch the spot on the pavement that could have been blood. Neal paused there for a few seconds trying to pick up on the vibes that Steve had felt that day, the shock and terror. Neal could hear the city around him slowly coming to life, he could feel the energy, the pulse and just being here in this alley that was a silent witness to the almost untimely death of his partner made his resolve even stronger.

 

Neal looked back over his shoulder to the stairs and back door of the boarding house then he raised his eyes upward to the second story. There was another witness to what happened in this alley and he was somewhere in that house. Neal stood up and he walked over to the stairs and he placed his hand on the railing, all Neal wanted to do was to talk to good old Ben. That was all. Neal raised his foot and he slowly climbed the stairs. The back porch was rickety and it leaned slightly and when Neal opened the rusty, metal screen its hinges screamed loudly and Neal winced as he tensed up. 

 

Neal held his breath as he tried the doorknob on the back door and much to his surprised it was locked. Neal looked the door over and he noticed there was a small opening in the pane of glass, broken but covered by duct tape and cardboard and it was just big enough for Neal to get his hand through and unlock the door.    

 

Neal pushed on the door and it didn’t budge then the next time he pushed harder and once he got the door wide enough for him to go in he noticed boxes were piled behind the door. Once inside he shut the door and even though he was just here to talk to good old Ben he drew his gun from his holster as he slowly made his way up the box strewn hallway.

 

The house was huge, hardwood floors, crown molding and glass doorknobs and at one time this house was a showplace but now it is just a memory to a by gone era. Progress, it isn’t grand Neal thinks as he looks in the rooms that he passes up the hallway. At the end of the hallway Neal found himself in the living room or the great room and this room was great or at least at one time but now it was full of dust and gloom, Neal looks to the bay windows that grace the front of the house, now boarded up, then he looks up.

 

 From where he stands he can see the second floor so he walks a few feet then he realizes that he is standing on something and that something is a rug, odd Neal thinks this rug looks somewhat new so why is it here then Neal notices something, in the middle of the rug, Neal looks harder this time then he realizes it’s a silver dollar so he takes a few more steps with every intention to reach for it and when his feet hits the middle of the rug….the world as he knew it….fell away.

 

That rug was concealing more than dust it was concealing a big hole and when Neal stepped in the middle of the rug he fell through it, taking the rug with him in a dusty whoosh.

 

 It was the old baited trap routine and Neal fell for it….literally. He didn’t know how far he had fallen but to Neal he seem to have fallen a long way down and that old saying, it ain’t the fall that’ll kill you it’s that sudden….stop, rang true for Neal because when he finally stopped falling he hit hard.  

 

His downward motion was stopped by three or four mattresses but these mattresses were not the fancy Sealy kind they were the thin institutional type and when Neal hit the cloud of dust it created was blinding and he landed half on and half off of the mattresses and that is where he stayed.

 

 

 

LATER:

 

 

 

Neal had no concept of time, hell he didn’t even know where he was as he slowly begins to come around. He groaned as he tried to move lying on his left hand and that is when he realized that his hand maybe broken, it hurt like a son-of-a-gun and Neal knew that the unnatural angle that it was bent at was not normal, at least for him. Neal rolled over onto his back as he held his left hand and that was when he realized something else….

 

That he wasn’t alone.

 

The hair on the back of his neck stood up as he could see that mingle in with the dust and gloom of the basement was a person so out of instinct and fear he reached with his right hand underneath his jacket to remove his weapon and that was when he also realized one more thing….

 

His weapon was gone.

 

“Looking for this sonny?”

 

Neal looks up to where the man is standing holding his Smith&Wesson revolver, the gun that cost him $800 dollars and that took him a year if not two to pay off. The gun that has been his first and only gun since he made Detective, the gun that he has had longer than his partner Steve, his pride and joy, his baby, in the hands of another.

 

“Friend or foe?” The man asks as he comes out of the gloom and closer to the mattresses causing Neal to back pedal but he only succeeds in backing right into the cinder block wall. This could be only one person, good old Ben Wheeler himself.

 

But this man now standing before him in the flesh was not what he thought he was going to find. Neal had pictured good old Ben Wheeler as a hunched over, frail old, white-haired man, walking with a cane, non-threatening but this version of Ben Wheeler was far removed.

 

This Ben Wheeler did indeed limp and he had a patch over his left eye but his hair was still blonde and long, pulled back into a pony-tail. And he was far from hunched over and frail, he had to be at least 6-2 and in the neighborhood of 250 or so and it was all muscle. Neal could see tattoos peeking out from under the long sleeve of his shirt as he leaned over and placed the revolver on the table, out of Neal’s reach and Neal also noticed something else….

 

The big knife that Ben wore on his hip.

 

Ben came closer and he squatted down at Neal’s feet causing Neal to wish that he could dissolve into the wall.

 

“I’ll ask this question again sonny and I expect an answer, friend or foe?”

 

“Friend….friend.” Neal replies.

 

Ben creeps closer.

 

“Name, rank and serial number?” Ben asks.

 

“Ah….Schon, Joseph, Neal, Sergeant, serial number 186.”

 

Ben creeps even closer to him so close Neal can smell cigarettes on him and even though Neal is scared he could use a smoke.

 

“How long have you been in country?”

 

Neal shakes his head. “Not….not long sir.”

 

“What is the name of your outfit soldier?” Ben asks.

 

Neal thinks. “The 9th….9th Precinct.” Neal thinks he sees a remembrance in Ben’s one good eye.

 

“The 9th Precinct soldier?”

 

“Yes…yes sir. I’m with the MP’s.” Neal replies as he holds his left hand.

 

“You’re injured soldier?” Ben asks.

 

Neal looks down at his hand. “When I fell….”

 

Ben picks Neal’s hand up and Neal winces and he tenses up. “Can you move the fingers?”

 

Neal shakes his head. “I think it’s broken….”

 

“Sergeant Schon do you believe in God?” Ben asks.

 

Neal looks up from his hand to Ben’s face. “Yeah of course I do.”

 

“That’s good sonny because there are no atheists in….foxholes.”

 

Neal was confused and he was just about to ask him what in the hell did that mean and what did it have to do with his probably broken hand or wrist when Ben quickly grabbed Neal’s broken hand and there was a very loud ‘pop’ as Ben snapped the bones back into place.

 

In all of Neal’s life on this planet they call Earth nothing, nothing had ever hurt as much or as bad as that just did and as a natural reaction Neal opened his mouth to scream but Ben was quicker and he clamped his hand tight over his mouth muffling his scream of pain, beads of sweat forming on his face, his eyes wide as he looks Ben.

 

“No screams. No screams. The enemy may be about soldier….”

 

Neal looks at him as his eyelids flutter once than twice and finally the pain becoming too much….he passes out….slumping against Ben’s chest.

 

 

 

STILL MUCH LATER:

 

 

 

Neal could smell coffee.

 

“Steve?” Neal replies as he slowly opens his eyes.

 

Then he could smell food.

 

“Steve?” He asks again as he pushes himself up to his elbows.

 

He can see the table with two cups and two bowls at the places then Neal remembers where he is when he sees Ben at the table pouring coffee into the cups.

 

“Chow time soldier.” Ben replies.

 

Neal realizes that he is hungry actually he can’t remember the last time he had eaten and like Steve always says….don’t turn down free food so Neal manages to get up. Neal walks stiffly over to the table, trying to stretch, he sits down and as he watches Ben spoon hot beef stew into his bowl he wonders how Ben was able to cook this, since this place had no electricity but as Neal reached for his spoon and after he took the first bite he didn’t care how it was possible.

 

Two bowls of stew and at least that much coffee later Ben and Neal were enjoying an after meal cigarette.

 

“How’s the hand soldier?”

 

“It’s okay sir.” Neal replies as he looks at it.

 

Ben points to the hole that Neal fell thru now covered once again by that rug. “That is to catch the enemy but when I saw you….you said that you’re an MP?”

 

“Yes sir I did say that.” Neal replies.

 

“Ben, you can call me Ben.” He replies as he puts his cigarette out.

 

Neal smiles. “Okay Ben call me Neal, nice to meet you.” Neal replies as they shake hands. “I’m here about another MP the one you found that Sunday morning in the alley.”

 

Ben nods his head. “He’s your buddy?”

 

“Yeah Ben he’s my buddy and my partner.” Neal replies.

 

“He’s your best friend?” Ben asks.

 

Neal nods. “Yes Ben he’s my best friend too and I almost lost him….”

 

“I had a best friend once want to see a picture?” Ben asks hopefully.

 

Neal smiles. “Sure Ben I would love to.”

 

Neal watches as Ben goes over to a dresser and he opens the top drawer and he pulls a worn photo album out then he carries it back to the table.

 

“This is Stan.”

 

Ben holds out the picture and Neal takes it and it shows two very young soldiers with their Army green clad arms around each other smiling circa World War 2.

 

“Ben that’s you?” Neal smiles.

 

Ben smiles as he nods. “Yes, Stan and I met in WW2 and we went thru that and then we went thru Nam together then we came back here.”

 

“She’s beautiful Ben who is she?” Neal asks as he points to a picture in the album.

 

“Megan she was my wife.”

 

Neal notices the past tense. “Ben I’m sorry….”

 

“She isn’t dead as far as I know….” Ben looks at Neal. “….she left me after Nam and she took our son with her, my son, it’s been years since I’ve seen him. He is probably your age by now. Casualties of war….” Ben replied as he touched the picture of his wife holding their son as a baby.

 

“Where’s Stan now?” Neal asks.

 

“Gone. We lived thru two wars he an I, both us injured, doing things that two humans never thought they would do, saving lives of people in places we couldn’t pronounce let alone find on a map, then when it was all said and done we come back state side. Years later we come here to live….” Ben looks around. “….life is good not perfect….” Ben raises one finger as emphasis. “Stan goes into that retirement home, that silly fool, and he talks me into going there too and then Stan dies there….”

 

“….And you came back here.”

 

“I miss Stan.” Ben replies sadly.

 

“You know Ben everything you just said describes my best friend and me perfectly.”

 

“His name is Steve isn’t it?” Ben asks.

 

“Yes Ben it is.”

 

Neal watches again as Ben gets up and he goes back over to that same dresser and that same drawer and he takes out two items and carrying them he comes back over to the table and he places in front of Neal….Steve’s badge case and wallet. Neal picks the badge case up and he holds it.

 

“Is he….?”

 

Neal nods. “Yes Ben he’s alive.”

 

“He looks like he’s a nice kid.”

 

Neal smiles. “Yes he is and Ben he’s why I’m here I need to ask you about that Sunday….Ben I need to know what you saw, what you heard.”

Neal follows Ben’s eyes up to the boarded up windows.

 

“I heard the iron horse….”

 

“Ben I don’t understand what is an iron horse?”

 

Ben gets up and he grabs a newspaper and he shows Neal a picture.

 

“A motorcycle?” Neal replies. “The shooter was on a motorcycle?”

 

“Yes an iron horse! It was noisy and it was right outside this window, sitting and waiting.”

 

“Waiting?” Neal asks.

 

“Yes waiting and when it saw your buddy’s car it ran right out in front of it and your buddy did what he could not to hit it but he did and it was underneath the rear bumper!”

 

“Go ahead….” Neal encourages.

 

“I heard your buddy say I’m sorry I’m a cop and the person on the iron horse said, I know who you are and this is for Frank! Then bang, bang, bang!!!”

 

“Ben, are you sure you heard them say this is for Frank?” Neal asks again.

 

“Sonny I may have one eye but my hearing is not bad!” Ben replies.

 

Neal smiles. “Sorry. Is that all that you saw or heard?”

 

Ben thinks. “Yes sonny that was it.”

 

Neal stands up as he puts Steve’s wallet and badge in his coat pockets. “Ben can I ask you for a favor?”

                               

“I suppose….”

 

“If you happen to remember anything else can you give me a call?” Neal hands him a card.

 

“I suppose so, are you leaving now sonny?” Ben asks.

 

“Yeah Ben I have to, thanks for the coffee and food and the info, if there is anything I can ever do for you….do you need money?”

 

“Ah no sonny money I got. I liked your company even though you were passed out….”

 

Neal smiles.

 

“I still liked your company. I hope your buddy gets better.”

 

“Thanks Ben and he will it will just take time. You’ve been a big help….” Neal replies.

 

“You’re AWOL aren’t you Sergeant Schon?”

 

“Yes Ben you could say so.”

 

“Here don’t forget your firearm.” Ben replies as he hands Neal his gun. “You can tell a soldier by his gun and you’re a good solider, you take good care of her.”

 

“Thanks Ben, would you mind if I came back around to visit you again?” Neal asks.

 

“Not at all Sergeant not at all! You know after seeing your buddy’s picture on his I.D. I think I have seen him before. Bring him around too he reminds me of Stan.”

 

“Yes Ben I will do that.” Neal says.

 

“Now let me show you the easy way out of here.” Ben replies as he takes Neal by his arm.

 

 

 

OCEANVIEW GENERAL HOSPITAL RM# 1502 THE NEXT DAY:

 

 

 

Half if not more of Neal’s ass was missing because that is what Captain Reynolds chewed off as he gave Neal a very stern and serious reprimand. One for disobeying a direct order and another for going to the boarding house without back-up and the formal reprimand and disciplinary action went into Neal’s permanent service jacket. The disciplinary action was a three day suspension, without pay. Was it the first time Neal had been in trouble, by no means no and would it be the last, Neal himself doubted it.

 

The Captain hated to do it but he didn’t have a choice but when it came to Steve and Neal well, he hated to admit it, and he wasn’t suppose to but they were his favorite Detectives and Neal could see the hurt and disappointment in his eyes. Neal deserved it and he knew it.

 

So having three days off really didn’t mean much because he was still working on the investigation it just meant that his check will be three days shorter and Neal knew that he deserved that too.

Neal got to Steve’s room just as Ray was helping Steve back over to the bed after his first shower in weeks, up to now it had been sponge baths and even thou the nurses were cute Steve still longed for a nice, long hot shower and to finally wash his long hair, which Ray helped him to do.

 

“Well, well look at you!” Neal replies as he comes into the room.

 

“Hey….” Steve says happily as he sees Neal.

 

“Hey yourself! I see you finally got your shower how was it?”

 

“Oh Neal it was wonderful I think I used all the hot water in the hospital. My toes and fingers are all wrinkly, see!” Steve replies as he shows Neal his fingers and toes.

 

Neal laughs. “Hey Ray how are you doing?” Neal asks as they shake hands.

 

“Oh much better now that my little one is doing so much better. Did he tell you that he had his first shower?” Ray replies.

 

“Yes Ray he did.” Neal replies.

 

“This reminded me when he was a baby and his mother and I gave him his first bath.” Ray replies as he kisses Steve on his forehead as Neal laughs.

 

“Ah dad.” Steve replies.

 

“I was just about to comb his hair….” Ray replies.

 

“I’ll do it Ray that is if it’s okay with you, Steve?” Neal replies.

 

Steve looks at Ray. “It’s okay with me, Ray?”

 

Ray hands the comb to Neal. “Yes I think it will be fine I need to take Steve’s dirty clothes back home and retrieve some clean ones.”

 

“Dad get something to eat while you’re at it okay?” Steve replies as he watches Ray going around the room picking up Steve’s dirty clothes and putting them in a laundry bag.

 

“You’ll be alright?” Ray asks.

 

“Sure Neal will be here if I need anything, right Neal?” Steve asks.

 

“You betcha, yeah Ray you go and get some rest and some fresh air.” Neal replies as he takes off his jacket. “I’m going to stick around awhile so you go.”    

 

“Well….I am tired I could use some sleep in a decent bed.” Ray replies.

 

“Ray….dad nothing is going to happen to me, I’m fine. Go back to the apartment and get some rest.”

 

“Alright but call me if anything….” Ray replies.

 

“We will Ray we promise.” Neal replies.

 

Ray comes back over and he gives Steve a long hug and another kiss. “I love you.”

 

“I love you too Ray, see you later.” Steve replies.

 

They watch as Ray picks up the laundry bag and he leaves the room waving at them as he goes.

 

Steve exhales. “Neal you know I love Ray right?”

 

“Sure I know that, where’s that detangler stuff you use on your hair?”

 

“In the bathroom.” Steve replies.

 

Neal goes into the bathroom and he retrieves the bottle of detangler then he comes back and he sits behind Steve on the bed. “Close your eyes.” Neal instructs and Steve does. “Ray’s driving you crazy isn’t he?” Neal replies as he sprays the detangler on Steve’s hair.

 

“Yeah just a little I mean he’s been here everyday almost all day.” 

 

“Making up for lost time?” Neal asks as he sits the bottle down, sliding off of the bed, he then goes over to the brown paper sack that he brought in and he tosses it in Steve’s lap. “Wow presents! I guess, I think he’s afraid that I’m going to die and he won’t be here….”

 

Neal sits back down behind him and he picks up the comb and he slowly starts to comb Steve‘s hair.

 

“Wow Photoplay magazine Neal you bought me fan magazines!”

 

“Well yeah they have Farrah Fawcett in them.”

 

“I see that! Oh Farrah she is a sight for these sore eyes.” Steve replies.

 

Neal laughs. “I knew you would like them. I can understand how Ray feels, I mean, you did give us all a bad scare.”

 

“Yeah I know and I scared myself worst than anybody.” Steve replies.

 

“Let me know if I pull or anything.” Neal replies as he continues to comb the tangles out of Steve’s hair.

 

“You know this brings back memories.” Steve replies as he flips thru a magazine.

 

“Oh you mean like a couple of months back when you got gum in your hair?” Neal asks as he laughs.

 

“You promised never to bring that up again.” Steve replies over his shoulder.

 

“Opps sorry! I’m just glad that you’re going to be alright and I can do this again. So Steve how are you feeling?”

 

“I’m okay I guess, Neal are you almost done?”

 

“Yeah why are you tired?” Neal asks.

 

“Yeah how did you know?” Steve asks.

 

“I just know.” Neal puts the comb on the bedside table. “Stay put and I’ll get you’re socks and pajamas for you, aren’t you cold in that gown?” Neal asks.

 

“Yeah maybe a little.”

 

“Did Ray get the pajamas with the feet in them?” Neal asks as he laughs.

 

“Ah Neal I don’t have footy pajamas Joey does!”

 

“Oh!” Neal laughs. “Want me to put your socks on for you?”

 

“If you don’t mind.”

 

Steve watches as Neal puts his socks on then he helps him off of the bed and he holds him as Steve pulls on his pajamas bottoms then Neal reaches up and he unties the gown and Steve slips it off and then Steve turns around to face Neal.

 

And Neal didn’t have to say anything it was written all over his face.

 

“It’s bad isn’t it?” Steve replies.

 

“What?” Neal finally comes around and then he helps Steve to place his arm in the sleeve of the pajama top.

 

“You know what, my scars, their bad aren’t there?” Steve asks as Neal helps him with the other sleeve then he adjusts the shirt then he starts to button it but Steve grabs his hand. “Aren’t they Neal?”

 

“Steve you were shot three times and you’ve probably had that many surgeries….”

 

“So you’re saying I look like a patchwork quilt?” Steve replies.

 

“You haven’t looked at yourself….”

 

Steve shakes his head. “Not yet no I can’t so tell me the truth….”

 

“Steve….”

 

“Neal please.” Steve looks in Neal’s eyes.

 

“There are a few….scars from the surgeries and of course the bullet holes and you can see them but it’s still early….”

 

“It’s not like Frankenstein or anything like that I mean I don’t want to scare off any potential girlfriends….” Steve replies.

 

“Oh no, no Steve it’s not like Frankenstein I mean the Doc he did a good job of….you know.”

 

“Yeah I know.” Steve replies as he lets go of Neal’s hand and Neal finishes buttoning his shirt. “You know you did a good job of dressing me.” Steve replies as Neal helps him over to the bed and then he helps him to get into it and he covers him up, then he adjusts his pillows.

 

“Well you know Joey he can fall asleep standing up that one.”

 

Steve smiles. “I know and to think you’re going to have another one.”

 

“Yeah I know and you’re going to have to help me.” Neal replies as he pulls up a chair.

 

“Me? What am I suppose to do?” Steve asks.

 

“Well godfather you have to help me with the baby furniture….”

 

Steve waves his hand. “Oh it’s too soon for that.”

 

“Why?” Neal asks.

 

“Let’s just say I’m superstitions.”      

 

Neal smiles. “You know Ruby said the exact same thing.”

 

Steve taps the side of his head with his finger. “Great minds think alike. So….you got into trouble.”

 

“Who told you?” Neal asks.

 

“Alicia.”

 

“Figures.” Neal replies.

 

“It went in your permanent service record didn’t it?”

 

“Afraid so.” Neal replies.

 

Steve points his finger at him. “You better watch that what if someday you want to make Lieutenant?”

 

“Lieutenant is a boring, desk job. Why strive for normalcy when I have all of this!” They both laugh.  “You still don’t remember anything about that day, I mean about the shooting?”

 

Steve shakes his head. “Na I just remember getting into the car at my apartment and driving a little ways and then nothing.”

 

“There was a witness….” Neal replies.

 

“There was?”

 

“Yeah his name is Ben, Ben Wheeler. He said the shooter was on a motorcycle….”

 

“A motorcycle?”

 

“Ring any bells?” Neal asks.

 

Steve looks at the quilt on the bed. “Well….”

 

“Ben also said he heard the shooter say that this was for Frank.”

 

“Frank?” Steve replies. “Do you have any idea how many people named Frank I have had contact with?” Steve replies.

 

“I know, I know a lot.” Neal replies. “Steve the bullet the Doc took out of your chest matched the one that killed Hank.”

 

Steve picks at the quilt. “So you think this had to do with something that Hank and I got into when I was a beat cop?”

 

“I think that would be a good place to start don’t you?” Neal asks.

 

“Yeah….Neal.”

 

“You want me to talk to the doctor so you can go home, right?”

 

“Yeah Neal please, you know how much I hate hospitals! I mean look I’m not hooked-up to any machines or bottles, I’m healing and Ray is here! I miss my apartment so Neal can’t you do something?”

 

Neal smiles. “So you think you’re ready to go home huh?”

 

Steve nods. “Oh yeah I think so.”

 

“Alright I’ll talk to him.”

 

“Thank you Neal. Can you stick around awhile?” Steve asks.

 

“You aren’t too tired?” Neal asks.

 

“Oh no I mean I actually missed looking at your ugly mug.” Steve replies.

 

“I got one better I actually missed you shedding your long, hair all over everything. Tell you what I’ll sneak out and get us two cheeseburgers and fries….”

 

“And a chocolate shake?” Steve asks.

 

“Yeah and a chocolate shake. I’ll stay here until the nurses kick me out and then tomorrow I’m going to San Francisco.”

 

“To talk to Hank’s widow?” Steve asks.

 

Neal nods. “And to talk to Nancy.”

 

Nancy? I wish I was going with you.”

 

“I do too but there is a lot you can do here.” Neal replies.

 

“Such as?”

 

“Go back in time….” Neal replies.

 

“Back to when I was Perry the Patrolman right?” Steve says as he smiles.

 

“Yeah because that is where the truth lies, in the past.”

 

Steve wipes his eyes. “I feel bad about Hank.” Neal gets out of the chair and he sits down on the bed and Steve raises his hand to stop him. “I know what you’re going to say because I’m always saying it to you. You’re going to say that it isn’t my fault, right?”

 

“Your right I was going to say that. Steve, people do things for reasons that you and I will never understand I mean for as long as I have been doing this, I don’t understand people anymore now then when I first started. For as long as there have been cops we have always been blamed for the reactions and actions of others and I don’t see it changing anytime soon.”

 

“Hank was a good man and he taught me a lot and the best thing I can do for him is to find who killed him.” Steve replies.

 

“Before I forget I have these to give to you.” Neal replies as he takes Steve’s wallet and badge case out of his pocket and he hands them to him.

 

“There they are! You know I have had Ray look everywhere for these, where did you find them?”

 

“Ben had them; he didn’t want the enemy to get them.” Neal replies. “All the important stuff there, like Farrah’s picture?”

 

Steve looks thru the wallet. “Yep she is still here but she isn’t the most important thing.”

 

“Oh I see the credit cards and cash?”

 

“Nope.” Steve replies. “The picture of Joey and Ruby and of course Ray….” Steve replies.

 

“Oh I see so there’s no picture of me in your wallet?”

 

“Neal I see your ugly mug all day everyday and sometimes twice on Sundays so answer me this….why would I want a picture of you in my wallet?” Steve asks.

 

“Because you’re sentimental.” Neal replies.

 

Steve tries not to smile but he can’t help it. “Yeah, okay, maybe I am just a little. Actually there is a picture of you and Joey and Ruby together.” Steve shows him as Neal nods his head. “You said Ben found it?”

 

“Yeah do you remember anything about him?” Neal asks.

 

“A pirate. I remember something about a pirate, but that’s silly isn’t it?”

 

“No not really Ben has a patch over his left eye.” Neal replies as he points to his left eye.

 

“Ah okay.”

 

“I’m going to go and get those cheeseburgers then we can watch T.V. okay partner?” Neal replies as he gets off of the bed.

 

“Sounds like a plan, wake me up when you get back I’m going to take a nap.” Steve replies.

 

Neal smiles. “Have a good nap, see ya later.”

 

“Later.”

 

 

 

1412 HOLLYRIDGE SAN FRANCISCO THE NEXT DAY:

 

 

 

“Do you want me to go in with you Neal?” Nancy asks.

 

“Thanks Nancy but I think I’ll go in by myself.”

 

“Alright I’ll be out whenever you get finished.” Nancy replies.

 

Neal smiles at her as he gets out of the car then he slowly walks up to the house and he knocks on the front door.

 

“Hello Detective we’ve been waiting on you.” Katy replies as she lets him in.

 

“I appreciate your mother seeing me Katy.” Neal replies.

 

“We will do whatever we can to help you find my father’s killer, mom Detective Schon is here.” 

 

Hank’s wife, Brenda was a beautiful and friendly woman always happy to see Hank’s old co-workers.

 

“Detective it’s nice to see you again.” Brenda replies.

 

“It’s nice to see you too but I wish it was under different circumstances.”

 

“Oh I wish so too please have a seat.” Brenda replies as she points to a place next to her on the sofa.

 

“I appreciate you talking to me Brenda I mean after talking to Detective Cross and after everything you have been thru.”

 

“I want to give all the help that I can Neal, how is Steve doing?” Brenda asks.

 

This is so like Brenda Neal thinks worrying about someone else even thou she has been thru a tragedy herself. Neal smiles at her. “He’s doing better he so wanted to go to Hank’s funeral.”

 

“It’s so hard to believe that last month Steve was here and that he and Hank had gone fishing.” Brenda smiles at Neal. “We had such a wonderful time that day.” Brenda pauses then Neal takes her hand in his. “Was it the same person….?”

 

“Yes Brenda it was, Ballistics’ confirmed it. We also found out that the person that did this was on a motorcycle, do you remember seeing a motorcycle?”

 

Brenda’s eyes tear up. “Hank was out back, you see, he like to garden and it was a beautiful, peaceful day. I was in the kitchen and that was when I heard it, no one here has one of those things and I was surprised when I heard it. It was loud, very loud and it got louder and louder and then I looked out of the window and something told me to get to Hank. I went out the back door and Hank knew Hank knew something wasn’t right….Neal….”

 

“Yes Brenda?”

 

“For all those years Hank was a police officer I worried about him, out there on the streets but I wasn’t as scared once in all of those years as I was at that moment and Hank knew it too. It wasn’t a city street or a dirty back alley this was our home, this was our back yard. Yes there was a motorcycle and the rider was dressed all in black and they shot Hank, it didn’t seem real….” Brenda looks at Neal. “It couldn’t be happening here, to us. Hank survived all those years on the streets and just one year into his retirement….”

 

“Brenda did you hear the shooter say anything?” Neal asks.

 

Brenda nods her head. “I won’t ever forget it, they said ‘This is for Frank’ you see Frank rhymes with Hank, Frank rhymes….with Hank.”

 

She collapses against Neal and as she cries he holds her.

 

“It’s going to be alright Brenda it’s going to be….alright.” Neal replies.

 

 

 

THE 9TH PRECINCT TWO DAYS LATER:

 

 

 

“Alright Steve these are the ones that the computer spit out for us, it narrowed it down from two hundred or so cases to ten. You’re okay?” Neal asks.

 

“Yeah I mean I just hate being in this stupid wheelchair, I’m not an invalid Neal!”

 

“I know you aren’t but this was the only way the Doc was going to let you out of the hospital, remember?” Neal replies.

 

“Yeah, yeah I know.”

 

Nancy’s coming this weekend to see you now that should make you happy.” Neal replies.

 

“Yeah I suppose.”

 

“Steve she won’t care….” Neal replies.

 

“I care….you didn’t tell her…did you?”

 

“No of course not, Steve’s she a cop….” Neal points out.

 

“She’s a woman too.”

 

Neal reaches out and he puts his hand on Steve’s.

 

“Steve she loves you and a few scars won’t matter to her.” Neal replies.

 

“If this were you would Ruby care about a few scars?”

 

Neal smiles. “No she would just be happy that I came home to her.”

 

“Maybe Ruby can look at them and….” Steve replies as he smiles.

 

“No way is my wife going to see your bare chest that causes other women to swoon. It’ll be alright Steve you’re see. You better get busy you have a lot of work to do here.” Neal replies as he gestures at the files.

 

“Me? Aren’t you going to help?” Steve asks.

 

“Later.”

 

“Later? What about now? Hey where are you going?” Steve asks.

 

“To see an old friend, want me to send Alicia down to help you partner?” Neal asks.

 

“No if you do that I won’t get anything done, she is too much of a distraction.” Steve looks up at Neal. “Watch your ass out there partner I won’t be out there to protect you.” Steve replies seriously.

 

Neal looks at him. “You got it, later partner.”

 

“Later.”

 

 

 

THE TRADEWIND APARTMENTS LATER THAT DAY:

 

 

 

Neal was used to waiting and he knew eventually that the one that he was looking for would show up so be bided his time and when he finally saw him he got out of the car and he leaned on the wall.

 

“Hey Ernie.” Neal replies.

 

Ernie stops and he turns his head at the sound of his name but because of the sunlight being behind the person he couldn’t quite see who it was. He raises his hand to shield his eyes from the sun.

 

“Yeah man that’s my name who in the hell are you?” Ernie asks.

 

“Oh come on Ernie I’m hurt that you don’t recognize my voice I mean we have spent so much time together in the past.” Neal replies as he steps into the shadows playing with a yo-yo.

 

Ernie takes a step back. “Oh hey Neal I….I didn’t realize that it was you.”

 

Neal takes a few steps closer still playing with the yo-yo as Ernie looks behind him at the door that he had just come out of.  

 

“Hey man what’s with the yo-yo?” Ernie asks as he laughs.

 

“This? Well man you know everybody needs a hobby and this is mine. Want to see some tricks?” Neal asks as he continues to come closer.

 

Ernie starts to sweat. “Oh yeah sure man.”

 

“This is called ‘cat in the cradle’ see.” Neal replies as he holds the yo-yo up as he showed Ernie the trick.

 

“Yeah man that’s cool.” Ernie replies as he tries to smile.

 

“Now this is called ‘the Ernie.’” Neal replies.

 

“The Ernie?” Ernie replies.

 

“Yeah man the Ernie.” In the next second Neal crosses the distance between them then he takes the string of the yo-yo and he wraps it around Ernie’s neck and he pulls on it pulling Ernie towards him.

 

Ernie reaches for his throat as he tries to catch his breath. “Neal man let go!”

 

“Tell me Ernie how a low down scum bag like you can afford a new bike like that.” Neal replies as he looks back over his shoulder to the motorcycle parked there.

 

“It’s….it’s not new!!! I work man….”

 

Neal laughs. “I know about your kind of work man!! The favors you do for people!! I want to know if you were doing a favor for somebody about four weeks ago now!! Does the name Frank mean anything to you!!?”

 

“I don’t know anybody named Frank!!!”

 

Neal gives him a good hard shake. “Are you sure man?”

 

“Yeah man positive! Neal let me go you’re choking me!!” Ernie protests.

 

“Ah poor thing! Four weeks or so ago my partner was shot by someone on a motorcycle and how do I know that it wasn’t you?”

 

“It wasn’t me man I mean I don’t like you or your partner but I wouldn’t try to kill him!!!” Ernie replies.

 

“Convince me of that!!!” Neal replies as he gets in his face.

 

“I…I can’t!! I didn’t shoot him!!”

 

“How much is the truth worth to you?” Neal replies. “Huh how much Ernie? Is it worth your life?”

 

“What are you trying to say?” Ernie asks.

 

“Help me find the truth and I’ll let you live, how does that strike you?!”  

 

“How do I do that?” Ernie asks.

 

“Easy, you know motorcycles; you can help me find the motorcycle that the shooter was riding. You aren’t doing anything else are you Ernie?” Neal asks as he pulls the string around his neck tighter.

 

Ernie shakes his head.

 

“Good now let’s go upstairs to your place and I’ll tell you about the motorcycle I’m looking for.”

 

 

 

STEVE’S APARTMENT TWO DAYS LATER:

 

 

 

It would have been a couple of rough days for Steve, what with Neal keeping company with Ernie if it hadn’t been for Nancy. She came from San Francisco to visit Steve and she ended up helping Steve run down information on the ten files and they were able to eliminate at least two of them but by now they were both ready for a break and Nancy knowing Steve better than he knew himself knew he needed some rest. So after a quick stop at the grocery store so Nancy could make dinner they arrived at Steve’s apartment and while Nancy fixed dinner Steve took a shower.

 

While Steve was in the hospital Ray had helped Steve to take his showers and even after he had returned home Ray had helped him and during all of that time Steve never really looked at himself until now….Steve came out of the bathroom just wearing a pair of his pajama bottoms and that is when he caught himself in his dresser mirror.

 

Now Steve being Steve he never avoided mirrors that is until this had happen to him. Ray never asked him and Steve never told him but now he was caught. So Steve looked. By now the shooting and the surgeries are a little ways down the road and the scars have healed and they weren’t that bad but then again….Steve runs his fingers across them and that is when Nancy opened the bedroom door.

 

“Steve….?”

 

Steve makes a grab for his shirt as he tries in vain to cover himself.

 

“Don’t you knock?” Steve asks angrily.

 

“Sorry I just wanted to tell you that’s dinner ready. Are you alright?” Nancy replies.

 

“I suppose so….I wasn’t finish dressing that’s all.”

 

“Oh do you need my help?” Nancy asks as she comes into the room.

 

“No! It’s okay I can do it.” Steve replies.

 

“Steve you don’t have to hide anything from me.” Nancy replies.

 

“Yes Nancy I do I mean I don’t you want you to see….”

 

Nancy comes closer and she takes the shirt from his hands. “See what?”

 

“Ah Nancy come on don’t humor me okay.”

 

“I’m not humoring you.” Nancy replies.

 

“You don’t think these are bad?” Steve asks.

 

“Can’t you say the word Steve?” Nancy asks.

 

Steve looks at the floor. “Scars okay, don’t you think these scars are bad?”

 

“No I don’t think they are bad.”

 

“Well I think their bad and I don’t like you seeing them!” Steve replies.

 

Nancy takes his hands. “Steve you’re alive and that is all I care about, your scars don’t bother me.” Nancy then leans over and she kisses him.

 

Steve closes his eyes. “You aren’t just saying that are you?”

 

Nancy puts her arms around him as his arms slip around her. “No I’m not just saying that.”

 

Steve kisses her. “You know I think Ray took Ida to the movies.”

 

“And so?” Nancy replies as she smiles.

 

“And so we’re alone so maybe I thought we could….” Steve smiles at her.

 

“What about dinner?” Nancy asks.

 

“Oh we can have it for breakfast!” Steve replies.

 

“Spaghetti and meatballs?” Nancy replies.

 

“Oh well it’ll keep.” Steve kisses her again.

 

“I think you maybe right….it will keep.” Nancy replies as she runs her finger over one of the scars. “You know I think your scars are sexy.”

 

“Sexy? Really? Well I have more….wanna see them?”

 

Nancy laughs as Steve reaches over with his foot and he shuts the bedroom door.

 

 

 

THE 9TH PRECINCT SQUAD ROOM TWO DAYS LATER:

 

 

 

“Five out of ten, it looks like you and Nancy made a quick a dent in them.” Neal replies.

 

“Yeah she was a big help and you were….right.” Steve replies as he looks across the desk at Neal.

 

Neal thumbs thru one of the files. “Right?” Neal looks up at Steve. “Right about what?”

 

“That Nancy didn’t care about my scars.” Steve shrugs. “Actually she thought they were sexy.”

 

“Uh huh….” Neal replies.

 

“So….you know….you can say it if you….” Steve replies.

 

“I told you so.” Neal replies as he smiles looking back down at the file.

 

“Uh huh….” Steve replies.

 

“Detective Schon this man says he knows you.”

 

Neal and Steve both look up at the sound of Alicia’s voice.

 

“Ben?” Neal gets up out of his chair. “Yes Alicia he knows me, it’s alright.” Neal replies as he approaches Ben.

 

Alicia looks suspiciously at Ben. “Are you sure?”

 

“Yeah Alicia I’m sure it’s okay.”

 

“See girlie I told you I knew him.” Ben replies.

 

“Ben would you like a cup of Joe?” Neal asks.

 

“Yes I believe that I would it would hit the spot.” Ben replies.

 

“Alicia could you bring us three cups of coffee please.” Neal replies.

 

“Yes Detective right away.” Alicia says before she walks away.

 

“Now Ben what brings you…?”

 

Steve gets to his feet. “I remember you, you’re the Pirate.”

 

Ben looks at Neal then he touches his eye patch. “I remember you too son.”

 

“Steve you remember him from the alley?” Neal asks.

 

“From the alley and from the Mission.” Steve replies.

 

Ben nods his head. “Yes from the Mission.”

 

Steve puts out his hand and he shakes Ben’s hand. “From what Neal told me, you found me in that alley, you saved my life.”

 

Ben nods his head slightly embarrassed. “So…this is where you do all your MP work?” Ben asks as he looks around.

 

“Yeah this is it. If you want to we can show you around.” Steve replies.

 

Neal puts his hand on Ben’s shoulder. “Ben I know it took a lot for you to come here. Do you need any help?”

 

Ben twists the hat back and forth that he holds in his hands. “You told me if I remembered anything else….”

 

“Yes Ben I did what did you remember?” Neal asks.

 

Ben looks at Steve. “The voice of the enemy….”

 

 

 

TO BE CONTINUED….

 

 

 

 

 

 

-30-

 

 

 

 

 

 

©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.