THE DETECTIVES OF THE 9TH PRECINCT SERIES
“I’LL MEET YOU IN THE LEFT-HAND CORNER OF HEAVEN”
“Steve you know I don’t know if I want to talk about this one or not.”
“Why not?” Steve asks.
“Why not? Why not? I can’t believe you can sit there and say that, you of all people!!!” Neal replies.
“That is why I can talk about it because I am sitting here.” Steve replies. “And you know what they say?”
“No what do they say?” Neal asks.
“He who doesn’t remember the past is doomed to repeat it.” Steve replies.
“Jesus god almighty I hope not, it almost killed me the first time I don’t know if I want to think about it, let alone talk about it. How can you….?” Neal replies.
Steve takes a deep breath. “Well remember I couldn’t for a long time….”
“Yeah I remember.”
“But I realized it’s a big part of my life and yours too and I carry the scars, everyday.” Steve replies.
“I know you do.”
“And you learned a lot about yourself then.” Steve replies.
“I know I did but I can think of a hundred different better ways I could have learned a lot about myself without having to go thru that….without you having to go thru that.” Neal replies.
“I think in every cop’s life it happens and right then it was my turn.” Steve replies.
Neal laughs. “You have a funny way of looking at dying.”
“It will happen to all of us eventually and with us, it’s not a question of how, it is just a question of….when.” Steve replies.
“Jesus god I hate this.”
“I know but I think we should do it.” Steve replies.
“Alright folks out there get your box of tissues ready….” Neal replies.
“….It started something like this….”
EARLY SUNDAY MORNING THE STREETS OF OCEANVIEW:
It was an early Sunday morning in October and Steve was on his way to Ruby’s and Neal’s house for Breakfast and as usual they were going to make a day of it, Ruby, Steve and Neal, the three Musketeers together again. Even after a year and five months of marriage some things hadn’t changed much and Steve was happy about that fact. He hadn’t lost his best friend to the land of matrimony and if Steve had said that he hadn’t been worried about that fact, well he would be lying. He was worried that he would be forgotten about and pushed aside; Steve had seen it happen with other friends of his but Ruby and Neal were no way, in any shape, form or fashion like his old friends, and Ruby and Neal both had seen to that.
There was a hint of coolness in the morning air and the streets were glistening from the rain just hours before as Steve drove the thirty or so minutes to Neal’s house and he was enjoying the leisurely drive, listening to the car radio, when he hear it split the Sunday morning stillness, the roar of a motorcycle.
Steve looked up into his rearview mirror to see the offending, noisy, motorcycle coming up fast behind him and then it did the oddest thing, it passed him on the driver side, close to his car, on only the back wheel, moving fast it got in front of him and Steve watched as it sped up even more and at the next intersection it turned the corner, this time on both wheels.
Steve stopped at the intersection and he looked up the street at the retreating motorcycle shaking his head.
“Hey fellow it’s Sunday!!!! Keep it down!!” Steve yells as he continues to shakes his head.
When the light changed Steve progressed thru the intersection continuing to sing along with the radio when up ahead, from out of the alley comes that same motorcycle and they were headed right in Steve’s path, so Steve did what anybody would do, he put on the brakes but on the wet, slick pavement the tires found no traction and Steve, like he was trained to do, turned in the direction of the skid and he felt the rear bumper come in contact with the motorcycle and from his rearview mirror he saw the motorcycle and the rider fall to the ground. When the car finally came to rest Steve throw the car into Park and he jumped out of the car and he ran around to the back where the motorcycle and rider both lay.
“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to hit you but you drove out in front of me….are you alright? You see I’m a cop….”
The motorcycle rider, clad in black leather pants, black leather jacket and still wearing a helmet, was still astride the motorcycle as it lay underneath the rear bumper on it’s side, turned their head and looked in Steve’s direction.
“I know who you are and this is for Frank….” The motorcycle rider replied.
From somewhere behind it the rider brought a gun into view and it was that fast and that certain as the rider pointed it at Steve and as the sun broke thru the overcast sky Steve thought it was a good day to….die.
The gun itself was huge and when it was fired it was loud in the alley, it was much too late for Steve to back pedal away and it was too late to draw his weapon as one bullet entered low and to the right, the next one was in the chest and the last one Steve wasn’t sure where it entered.
It was like something out of a movie, in slow motion, he could see the chamber turn on the revolver as the trigger was pulled, he could see the bullet leave the chamber, count each puff of smoke and he could smell the gun smoke as the light breeze moved it into his direction and the first bullet was hot and like a hot knife thru butter, it cut thru him, the second was not as painful as his mind shut down to counteract the pain and the third brought him down to his knees. From the position on his knees he looked at the barrel of the still smoking gun then he raised his eyes to the helmet of the motorcycle rider and then he realized that it would be the last thing he would see in this world so he tilted his eyes up to see the blue skies and then they closed as he fell over onto his side onto the wet, dirty pavement of the alley.
He waited ten minutes or so, he had waited for the gunfire to stop and then he waited and watched as the black harbinger of death pulled the iron horse out from underneath the bumper of the car, mounted it, started it and rolled away without a backward glance.
The man slowly came down the stairs and he carefully made his way over to the trash cans that were there, holding in his hand a large knife, he peered over the trash cans and seeing no one he made his way quickly over to the body that was lying there. He placed his hand on the neck of the fallen soldier, and from there he moved his hand down until he came to his back pocket removing his wallet which he placed in his own coat pocket and then from this soldier’s coat pocket he took another wallet looking thing and this he too slipped into his own coat pocket. Then he slowly retreated backwards returning back the same way he had came leaving the body there.
OCEANVIEW POLICE DEPARTMENT MAIN SWITCHBOARD:
“Oceanview Police 9th Precinct how may I direct your call?” The operator replies.
“Excuse me what did you say?” The operator asks.
“I said listen strong
“Did you say fallen soldier? This is the Oceanview Police 9th Precinct sir and we don’t allow prank callers….”
“I know who you are and I have one of your MP’s lying in my alley and he needs a medic right away! I have his name, rank and serial number! Name, Perry, Ray, Stephen, rank, Sergeant and his serial number is 196!!! Now do you want the coordinates?”
The Operator covers her mouthpiece as she yells across the room. “Get somebody we have an officer down!!!! Yes sir please I would like the coordinates.”
“136th and Hemphill the north end of the alley, the lad is hurt bad, ambush it was the enemy was on an iron horse.”
“An iron horse? Yes sir we are sending help there right now, can I have your name? Sir? Sir? Can I have your name?”
The man exits the phone booth leaving the receiver hanging as it swings to and fro.
NEAL AND RUBY’S HOUSE:
“I don’t know what happened to Steve.” Neal replies as he hangs up the phone after trying Steve’s home phone for about the tenth time.
“Maybe his car broke down or maybe it was a girl Sugar.” Ruby replies as she smiles putting her hands on Neal’s shoulder.
“It isn’t like Steve to miss one of your omelets.” Neal replies as he puts his arms around Ruby.
Just then the doorbell rings. “Maybe that is our boy now.” Ruby replies.
“I’ll make some more coffee while you get the door.” Neal swats Ruby on the rear as she turns to walk away.
As Ruby gets the door Neal heads into the kitchen and he starts to make a fresh pot of coffee, he rinses out the carafe and he turns to the doorway of the kitchen when he hears footsteps.
“Steve what in the hell….” Neal says as he turns but instead of Steve he sees the Captain standing there.
“Captain? What are you doing here?” Neal asks as he smiles then he notices the stricken looks on their faces. “What’s happened?”
“Neal, son I tried to reach you on the phone but it was busy.” The Captain replies.
“Ruby?” Neal says to her as her eyes begin to fill with tears.
“Neal its Steve he’s been….shot.” The Captain finally manages to say.
At that moment the carafe that Neal was holding in his hand was let go and when it made contact with the tile kitchen floor it shattered in half a million pieces.
OCEANVIEW GENERAL HOSPITAL OPERATING ROOM 1:
“Jesus god it’s been hours. Nurse! Nurse! Please! Can you tell me what’s going on in there!!!?” Neal replies as he grabs the nurse by the wrist outside the operating room.
“Sir I’m sorry I don’t know.” The nurse replies sheepishly.
“You don’t know!!! Nobody knows anything!!! Nobody can tell me anything!!! My partner is in there, he has been in that damn operating room for hours, he could be dead for all I know and you don’t know anything!!!!” Neal rails at her.
“Everybody is sorry!!!!” Neal yells as he throws his cup of coffee against the wall.
“Neal come on.” Captain Reynolds replies as he puts his arms around him.
“Sugar calm down.” Ruby replies.
“I hate this waiting!!! All I want is for somebody to tell me something, anything!!!” Neal replies.
At that moment, as if he heard Neal’s cries, the Doctor comes out of the operating room removing his mask.
“Doc! Doc oh thank god finally!!! Steve how is he? Please I just need to know.” Neal replies as he holds him by his arms.
“He was shot three times, one bullet destroyed his spleen and that bullet exited his body, the second punctuated his lung and that one also exited his body but the third one is lodged dangerously close to his heart.”
“Get it out! Remove it! What were you doing in there all those hours?” Neal asks.
“The surgery was to repair internal bleeding, remove what was left of the spleen repair the punctuate lung and as for removing the bullet that is near the heart, it is too dangerous….”
“Too dangerous?” Neal yells.
“Detective you have no idea what your partner went thru in there, he died at least twice on that table and it had to be by God’s hand that he came back because I had no control over the matter. He had to have a blood transfusion and if your partner has nothing else left he has a strong will to live, maybe later when he has passed the crisis stage we maybe be able to operate again and remove that bullet. But for now he needs extreme rest, he will be heavily sedated and he will be on a ventilator to help him breathe because of his punctuate lung.”
“Doc please tell me the truth will he….survive this?” Neal asks.
“Does he have any family? Wife, children, anyone?” The doctor asks.
“He has his father, Ray, he’s in
“And us….” The Captain replies.
The doctor puts his hand on Neal’s arm. “I would call his father and tell him to come here as fast as he can and his priest. We took this off of him before the surgery.” The Doctor puts Steve’s Saint Jude necklace in Neal’s hand and he closes it. “Call them.” Then the doctor turns and he walks away.
“Neal what is it?” Ruby asks.
“Saint Jude he is the Patron saint of desperate cases.” Neal replies.
“I’ll go and call Ray….”
“Yes Neal.” The Captain replies as he stops and he turns.
“Call Father Ignacio….” Neal replies as he looks at him.
“Isn’t it too soon….” The Captain asks.
“No it’s what Steve would have wanted.” Neal replies as he closes his fist over the Saint Jude necklace and he holds it tight. “It’s what he would have….wanted.”
“Hey Neal wake up you smuck!!! Hey Neal wakey, wakey!!!”
Neal is being poked and prodded until finally he opens his eyes and he sits up. “Steve?”
“You were maybe expecting Emily Post?” Steve replies as he smiles.
“But what in the hell are you doing out here?” Neal asks as he looks towards the window that is Steve’s room. “You’re supposed to be in there.”
“I am in there technically but you see I can also be out here I just wanted to make sure you didn’t forget what we talked about that time….you have the key right?” Steve asks.
“Oh sure I do I carry it with me everywhere and I won’t forget I promise….Steve….” Neal starts to say but Steve raises his hand to stop him.
“I love you too Neal and whatever happens never forget that okay? Remember what else I told you?” Steve asks.
Neal nods his head. “I’ll meet you….”
“….In the left-hand corner of heaven.” They say at the same time.
Then Steve puts his hand on Neal’s hand. “Steve your hands are cold….”
“Neal?” Ray says as he puts his hand on Neal’s.
“Ray?” Neal replies as he looks around. “But I thought….”
“What?” Ray replies as he sits next to him. “I’m sorry Neal you were asleep.”
Neal rubs his eyes. “No that is okay.”
“You called me Steve.” Ray replies.
“Oh did I? I think I was dreaming about him. I’m glad you’re here Ray.”
“I came as fast as I could. Neal where is my little one? He hasn’t….he didn’t….not before I get the chance to see him.”
Neal shakes his head. “He’s in there and you should go in and see him.”
Ray stands up and he starts to walk away then he stops and he turns around. “What were you saying about the left-hand corner of heaven?”
“Nothing it was silly.” Neal replies.
“It sounded like something his mother would say that’s all.” Ray says then he turns back around continuing on to Steve’s room.
A DAY LATER:
Neal sits in a chair facing the bed watching. Watching that damn tube that is in Steve’s neck helping him to breathe, Neal watching to make sure that his chest still falls and rises. Watching the machinery that is attached to him, watching the tubes that are plugged into him. Watching and waiting. They let him stay in Steve’s room, a cot in the corner covered with a blanket and a pillow, which they usually reserve for the family members but Neal knows what they are thinking. Oh yeah he knows. They think that Steve, his best friend, partner will die. That is why they are allowing a lot of leeway.
Ruby and the Captain and Ray have been here a lot. Neal finally made Ruby go home and stay there it wasn’t good for her to be here after all, it started out just them two, Neal thinks and it should end that way. If that was what was going to happen.
Neal has never been so tired. Not ever. Sitting here in this ungodly, uncomfortable hospital chair he could go to sleep but he is afraid to, afraid that Steve would die but it has been hours since Neal has really slept that cot as yet unused. Neal looks at the blips on the machine that is monitoring Steve and they lull Neal into a sleepy state, his eyes opening and closing, opening and closing until finally they stay close, Neal’s arm drops off the arm of the chair as he goes to sleep, the magazine in his hand dropping with a soft ‘plop’ onto the floor.
“Can I ask you a serious question?” Steve asks as they sit in the car one night while on patrol.
“Sure I guess so. What’s the question?”
“Do you believe in premonitions?” Steve asks.
“Premonitions?” Neal repeats.
“Yeah you know when you dream something and it comes true or when you think something and it comes true, a premonition.”
“Well sure I guess so I mean anything is possible right? Did you have a premonition?” Neal asks.
“Yeah I did.” Steve replies.
“Oh really what was it about?” Neal asks.
Neal looks at him. “Steve I don’t want to talk about this anymore.”
“No Neal we have to!” Steve replies.
“No Steve I don’t have to do anything out here except do my job and I don’t want to hear about my best friend dying!” Neal protests.
“Neal I know you don’t and I don’t really want to talk about it myself….”
“Then let’s don’t! Let’s talk about something else! How about those 49ers?” Neal replies.
“Neal I’ve have more than one dream or premonition and I feel like….” Steve replies.
“Steve do you know how many cops in their careers have had dreams of their deaths and nothing has ever happened to them.” Neal replies.
“Neal do you know how many cops in their careers have had dreams of their deaths and it came true!!! I feel like….”
“You feel like what?” Neal asks.
“That it’s going to happen.” Steve replies.
“Ah Steve come on.” Neal replies.
“No Neal listen to me, I’m due.”
“Oh holy crap what does that mean you’re due!!!?” Neal replies.
“It means Neal ever since I’ve been doing this job I have never been seriously injured….”
“Now that isn’t true! What about when you were blind?” Neal points out.
“No Neal I mean seriously hurt, I mean being shot.”
“Steve a lot of cops go thru their whole careers and they have never been shot.” Neal replies.
“I’m not them and Neal I know what I feel so that is why I want to give you this.” Steve replies as he takes a key out of his jacket pocket and he gives it to Neal.
“A key to a safety deposit box at my bank, if anything was to ever happen to me….”
“Neal please listen to me it’s important okay?” Steve replies. “You’re the only person I can trust to do this.”
Neal looks at him. “Okay I’m sorry go ahead.”
“When I got the safety deposit box the Bank told me I could give this extra key to somebody I really trust and I put you down on the paperwork I filled out. If anything was to happen to me there’s papers in there that say exactly what I want done, for you know afterwards. There’s a Will, which you’re in by the way….”
“So is Ruby and Joey and Ray.”
“What about Ray can’t he do this?” Neal asks.
“No Ray is too far away.”
“I thought he moved to
“He did but
Neal nods his head.
“And I don’t want to be cold, you know, in the hospital. The safety deposit box is the most important thing by far, it’s all in there. Promise me Neal that you’ll do what I ask okay?”
“Sure Steve I promise.”
“Then someday we’re meet in the left hand corner of Heaven.”
Neal smiles despite the conversation. “Where did you get that from?”
“My mother. When I was a kid I was a spunky little devil!”
“No you?” Neal replies.
“Yeah me! You see when my mother took me shopping etc I would always get away from her, something always distracted me, so mom told me if we ever got separated I should go to the left hand corner of the store.”
“Oh I get it.” Neal replies.
“Yeah she would be there waiting for me so before she passed away she told me to meet her in the left-hand corner of….heaven.” Steve wipes his eyes. “So Neal someday we’re meet in the left-hand corner of heaven…..”
Neal abruptly sits up in the chair and he immediately looks over at Steve who hasn’t moved. He checks the breathing tube, he checks the blips on the monitor and he makes sure that Steve is warm. Ray brought the quilt off of Steve’s bed from his apartment that his mother had made and now it covers Steve in his hospital bed.
“You know that is my favorite quilt.”
Neal looks back over his shoulder to see Steve sitting on the cot, his feet in white cotton socks, his hands folded in his lap. Then Neal looks back to the bed to where Steve is lying.
“It’s alright Neal you aren’t going crazy.”
“Then how?” Neal asks.
Steve shrugs. “Does it really matter? Suffice it to say I would rather be out here then in there.”
Neal looks back over his shoulder to see Steve standing right next to him pointing to himself on the bed.
“I don’t look too good do I?”
“No, no you don’t. Are you in any pain?” Neal asks.
“Na not really I’m just numb.”
“Are you going to….?” Neal asks.
“I don’t know that Neal….” Steve replies.
“Who are you talking to?” Ray asks as he comes into the room.
“Steve of course.” Neal replies as he points to him.
“Neal why don’t you get some rest I’ll sit with him awhile.” Ray replies as he puts his hand on Neal’s shoulder.
Neal looks up at him. “Alright but if anything happens….”
“I’ll wake you up.”
Neal reluctantly gets out of the chair, relinquishing it to Ray, then he walks over to the cot and he lays down covering himself with the blanket.
TWO DAYS LATER:
“Here Neal I brought you something to eat.” The Captain replies as he hands him a plate with a hamburger and fries on it.
“Thanks Cap I’m not really hungry thou.” Neal replies.
“I know son but you have to eat you don’t want to end up here. What did the Doctor say?”
“He’s not any better but then again he’s not any worse either, he seems to be healing, maybe in a few days they can take him off the ventilator, I hate seeing him on that thing.” Neal replies.
“Neal you should go home.”
Neal shakes his head. “I can’t do that Cap we made a promise to each other. Do we know who did this yet?”
“No not yet I’m going back to the Precinct, please Neal eat that hamburger okay?”
“Alright Cap I’ll try see you later.”
Neal picks up the hamburger and he takes a few bites out of it then he sits it back down.
“You know I can certainly use one of those right now.” Steve replies which immediately causes Neal to choke and he starts to cough. “Hey man be careful.”
“Thanks.” Neal replies as he coughs.
“Man that hamburger sure looks good! This bottle of whatever this is is not the same.” Steve replies as he points at the bottle. “You know what else I miss?”
“No what?” Neal asks.
“A shower! I miss taking a hot shower I would give my soul for a hot shower.”
“Don’t say that it isn’t funny.” Neal replies.
“Sorry. The answer is yes.”
Neal looks at him. “To what?”
“To the question that you want to ask me but you’re too scared to.” Steve replies. “The answer is yes to both times. I did die on the operating table….twice. I saw the bright light and the tunnel that everybody talks about, I saw them operating on me from way up above. It was all very strange.”
“Is that why you can walk around here and still be lying in that bed?” Neal asks.
“Probably but I think it is more than likely that you’re doing it.” Steve replies.
“Yeah you, you see Neal your will for me to live is very strong you won’t let me go. Neal it’s not your fault.”
“Then why do I feel like it’s my fault?” Neal asks.
“Things happen for a reason and this….” Steve gestures back towards the bed. “Was meant to happen.”
“Your premonition?” Neal asks.
“I was due.”
“Can you tell me who did this to you?” Neal replies.
“Maybe later but not now.”
“What if there isn’t a later?” Neal asks.
“There is always a later.” Steve shrugs. “If not here then someplace else.”
“Jesus God this conversation is not making any sense. This whole crazy thing isn’t making any sense.” Neal replies but then he realizes he is alone except for the Nurse who just came into the room and who is looking at him like he is crazy.
“Mr. Schon are you alright?”
“I guess so why?”
“Who were you talking to?” The Nurse asks.
“Steve of course.”
“I need to change his bandages so if you could leave for about thirty minutes or so.”
“Oh sure. Where’s the chapel?” Neal asks.
“Up the hall and around the corner.”
“Thank you Nurse.”
Neal leaves the room and he walks up the hallway and as he turns the corner he sees the chapel and when he opens the door he sees an older woman kneeling and praying. Neal sits down in a chair near the door and after a few minutes she finishes and she leaves smiling a little at Neal as she does so. Neal sits there a little longer then he gets up and he kneels at the altar.
“You know God Steve has been after me for months to go to Church and strange enough, because of him, I am here. I’m about to do what others have done before me when they come in here, make a bargain……”
Ten minutes Neal leaves the Chapel and he walks into Steve’s room and he sees the orderly stripping the empty bed of sheets their eyes meet.
“Where’s Steve?” Neal asks.
“Who?” The orderly replies.
“Steve! The guy who was in this bed just ten minutes ago! Where is he?”
“I don’t know man they just told me to come in and strip the sheets….”
Neal turns and runs out of the room and he runs up the hallway towards the nurse’s station knocking a nurse over who was carrying a tray causing it to crash to the floor with a loud metallic clang.
“Nurse!!!! NURSE!!!” Neal yells loudly as he bangs on the counter. “NURSE!!!!”
“Will you stop yelling Mr. Schon this is a hospital you know!”
“I want to know where Steve is and I want to know now!!! What happened to him?” Neal asks.
“The doctor was looking for you Mr. Schon; Mr. Perry had developed an infection they had to take him back to surgery.”
“An infection? Surgery? What operating room?” Neal asks.
“Operating room 1.”
The words were barely out of her mouth before he was running towards the elevator and he punched the button and when the doors opened he jumped in and he punched the button for the 5th floor.
“Come on! Come on!”
“Babies are like elevators they take their sweet time.”
Neal jumps when he hears Steve’s voice next to him in the elevator.
“Steve are you alright? I mean the infection and surgery?”
“Ah it’s no big deal.”
“No big deal?” Neal replies.
“Yeah I mean when you have died twice what is a little old infection?”
“Yeah right.” Neal laughs.
When the doors open Neal finds that he is alone.
A FEW HOURS LATER:
Again Neal is watching but this time the ventilator has been removed and Steve almost looks like his old self except for the fact that he is so pale, so deathly pale. Neal reaches out and he holds Steve hand.
“Steve you have to stop biting your fingernails.”
“I know aren’t they awful?” Steve replies.
Neal looks up and he sees Steve standing by the bed his arms crossed over his chest his head tilted to one side.
“If this keeps up people are going to think I’m crazy.” Neal replies.
“Maybe they think that already.” Steve replies as he smiles.
“Oh fine you’re dying and your cracking jokes.” Neal replies as he shakes his head. “What’s it like?” Neal asks as he looks at him.
“You mean to….die?” Steve asks as he walks around the room.
“Steve can’t you stay put in one place?” Neal asks.
“Neal you smuck I am staying in one place.” Steve replies as he points to himself on the bed.
“Right.” Neal replies.
“You know what it’s like to die I mean, you have been where I am now.”
Neal shakes his head. “No! I’ve been shot sure but nothing this bad….”
“You mean a triple shot of lead.” Steve replies.
“Yeah. What are you thinking, lying in that bed?” Neal asks.
Steve looks back at himself. “You.”
Neal looks at him.
“Ruby, Joey, Ray, the Captain, everything. It’s all a big mish mash of stuff. Stuff back when we were kids. Heaven….”
“Heaven? Well I guess that’s better than the other place.” Neal replies.
“Holy….there you go again.”
Steve walks over to the window and he lifts one of the slats as he looks out. “You can’t do it you know.”
“Do what?” Neal asks.
“Trade places….trade places with me. It doesn’t work that way.”
Neal looks shocked. “How do you….?”
“How do I know what you said in the Chapel? Well that’s easy….I heard what you said. I was there with you, Neal don’t you know by now….I am always with you.”
“I would do whatever it takes Steve….”
“I know but dying for me won’t make me better and it’s not your time or your decision. There are people here that you need you.”
“I need you Steve.” Neal replies as he looks at him.
“I know and I need you too.” Steve replies.
“Will this be over soon?” Neal asks. “I….I don’t think I can take much more.”
Steve smiles. “Those shoulders of yours are strong and as for being over soon….” Steve shrugs. “Only god knows. I’m still waiting for you to say it.”
“Say it? Say what exactly?” Neal replies.
“Come on what you always say.” Steve looks at him.
Neal smiles. “It’s going to be….alright.”
Steve smiles back. “That’s it.” Steve lifts the slat again and he looks out. “Oh look it’s an iron horse.”
“What? An iron horse?” Neal replies.
“An iron what?” Ray asks as he comes into the room.
“Ray….oh nothing. What’s in the sack?”
“Shaving cream, a razor, a comb and hairbrush. My little one needs a shave.” Ray replies as he moves a strand of hair from his forehead then he kisses him. “His hair will all be in
tangles. What did the doctor say about his infection?”
“They went in and they cleaned the wounds and that new bottle there….”
Ray looks to where Neal is pointing.
“And the bullet?”
“Has he spoken today?” Ray asks.
Ray’s eyes light up.
“I…mean no. Not out loud anyway.” Neal sees the perplexed look on Ray’s face. “I can’t explain it.”
“There’s no need to.” Ray says as he lowers the rail on his side of the bed. “Want to help me?”
“Sure I’ll get a couple of towels and some warm water.”
“Yeah Ray.” Neal replies as he looks back over his shoulder.
“Does he….my little one? Does he know that I am here?” Ray asks as he looks down at him.
Neal smiles. “Sure Ray he knows that you’re here. I’ll be right back.”
A DAY OR SO LATER:
“Neal you know you were never good at playing Solitaire.” Steve replies as he wanders around the room. “Wow look at all of these flowers and plants.”
“Well a lot of people love you. Carl was even here.” Neal replies.
“Well the person who shot me didn’t love me.” Steve points out.
“He’s proud of you.” Steve replies.
“Who?” Neal asks.
“Your father.” Steve replies as he looks at him.
“My….my father? Steve you know he’s been gone along time.”
“Yes I know I saw him.” Steve says.
“You….you saw him? How? When?” Neal asks.
“One of the times when I died on the operating table, I told you I saw the bright light and tunnel well I also saw people. I saw your father, Matthew; he wanted me to tell you that he’s proud of you.”
“I….don’t know what to say.” Neal replies.
“That’s alright he knows what a skeptic you are he told me that you wouldn’t believe it.” Steve replies.
Neal clears his throat. “Aren’t you cold?” Neal asks.
Steve looks down at himself. “Na not right now. I guess they had to cut my good jeans off of me didn’t they?”
“Damn! You know they were almost new! Oh well I guess I won’t be needing any jeans where I’m going….” Steve replies.
Neal sits up. “Steve? What do you mean by where you’re going? Steve….”
“Son are you alright? Who were you talking to?” The Captain asks.
The Captain walks over to the bed and he holds Steve hand. “How is he this afternoon?”
“About the same when you were here this morning.” Neal replies.
“Can I talk to you outside?” The Captain asks and Neal recognizes the serious tone.
They walk out to the hallway and before he speaks he makes sure they are far enough away from the door.
“I didn’t want to tell you this in there with Steve I know he can hear us and this news won’t help him any.” The Captain replies.
“What is it?”
“You remember Hank Rivers?” The Captain asks.
“Sure he’s was Steve’s first partner when he first got on the streets, he taught Steve a lot. Good old Hank didn’t he retire last year?” Neal asks.
“Yeah he and his wife moved to
“Yeah that’s right Steve went up there for a visit he and Hank went fishing….Cap?” Neal replies.
The Captain takes a deep breath. “Yesterday he was shot and he….died this morning in the hospital.”
Neal looks back to Steve’s room. “Dear god. The two shootings are they connected?”
“We think so.
Neal looks at the floor. “What else did
“Neal, Hank was assassinated. He and Steve were targeted because of something in their past.”
“Jesus that’s been five or more years ago.” Neal replies.
“I know son but people can hold long grudges.”
“Was Hank able to say anything about who did this?” Neal asks hopefully.
“No but his wife did pass on something that Hank said.”
“What was that?” Neal asks.
“He said tell Steve I’ll meet him in the left-hand corner of….Heaven. Now you know why I wanted to talk to you out here.”
“Somehow Cap….” Neal looks back thru the glass and into Steve’s room. “….I think Steve already knows.”
Steve lying in the hospital bed may not be able to move, unless Neal wills him to, but that doesn’t mean his mind is idle. His mind wanders and it wanders so badly it is like a TV with a bad picture tube, it flips and wobbles and the pictures come in and out of focus and right now on Channel 2 is the story of a rookie cop and that rookie cop is Steve himself. Oh yeah he sees it all just like it happened yesterday.
“Well Steve by this time tomorrow your probation will be officially over.” Hank replies.
“Yeah I can’t believe it’s been six months already.” Steve replies.
“And in another six months your rookie status will officially be over as well.”
Steve smiles. “So your going to recommend my probation should be over eh Hank?”
“Well I don’t know now….” Hank reaches over and he folds Steve’s left ear over. “….You still look a little wet behind that ear there!”
“Ah Hank!” Steve replies as he brushes Hank’s hand away.
“I saw Neal the other day and I think he is just as excited as you about you getting off probation, if not more. He also told me that you two are going to be partners.”
Steve smiles. “That’s the plan.”
“Well Steve I have known Neal a long time, I mean way before you came on board and I have never heard him talk about anybody as much as talks about you. You two will make a great team; the crooks out here won’t stand a chance!”
“If I can move some stuff around and clear my schedule maybe you, me and Neal could go fishing this weekend?” Hank asks.
“You mean if you’re wife let’s you can me and you and Neal go fishing this weekend?” Steve reinterprets as he laughs.
Hanks clears his throat. “After that remark I may have to reconsider my recommendation.” Then Hank laughs. “Let’s make another patrol then it’ll be time to head back to the Precinct.”
“Ocean this is Henry 5 we are 10-8.” Steve says into the microphone.
“10-4 Henry 5.” Dispatch replies.
Hank stops at the intersection then he turns left and they drive their usual route but Steve notices something strange in the bank as they pass it.
“Hank go back.”
“What did you see?” Hank asks.
“I’m not sure but I think I saw somebody holding up the bank.”
“We’re go around back.” Hank replies.
Steve calls it in on the radio as Hank drives the police cruiser up the alley and he parks it behind the building next door and without saying a word, using only hand gestures, they work out who goes where. Hank heads for the south end of the building and Steve goes north. Steve makes his way around the building and when he gets to the corner in front of the building he looks across to the other corner and he sees Hank who has his hand on the handle of the front door and then Steve sees something else. The man, who Steve saw in the bank as they drove pass was now outside and he had concealed himself in the bushes that were right behind Hank and now that same man had now risen up and he was pointing his gun at Hank’s back.
Steve pulled his weapon just as he saw the man stand up and he probably yelled at Hank to get down just as the man fired and when Hank was out of harm’s way and on the ground Steve fired striking the man just once in his chest. At that moment everything stopped and Steve keep his weapon trained on the man as he realized that he had been hit, he touches his chest and his hand comes away bloody and he looks at Steve, their eyes meet, and in the man’s eyes is a look of disbelief and something else Steve has never seen until now….death.
The man’s eyes roll up into the back of his head and he falls over the bushes. Hank looks over his shoulder at Steve who is still in his pose then Hank makes his way over to the man, he kicks the gun away then he checks the man’s pulse. Then he reaches for his radio.
“Ocean this is Henry 5 shots fired….I repeat shots fired. 1201 Yucca First National of Oceanview.”
“Attention all units Henry 5 reports shots fired 1201 Yucca First National of Oceanview.” Dispatch repeats.
“Ocean the suspect is deceased we need the coroner.” Hank says to dispatch. “Steve it’s over now….Steve.”
Hank’s hand is on the barrel of the gun and he feels it tremble slightly as he puts his other hand on Steve’s shoulder. “Son you can put the gun away now.”
Steve looks at him. “Is he?”
“Yes Steve he is.”
“It….it all happened so fast. He was going to shoot you.” Steve replies as they hear the sirens.
“Yes I know and you did exactly what you were suppose to do son. Now I want you to go in the bank and talk to the people in there and get all the information for the report,
okay?” Hank replies as he helps Steve to put the gun back in its holster.
Steve nods his head then Hank watches as Steve goes into the Bank.
TWO HOURS LATER:
Neal waits in the hallway by the Watch Commander’s Office for Steve and Hank to come out and Neal knows when there is a shooting it takes awhile to get all the information straight but finally Hank comes out first.
“Neal have you been here all this time?” Hank asks.
“Yeah I’m waiting on Steve, how’s he doing?”
“Remember the first time you shot and killed someone on duty?” Hank asks.
“Yeah I do.” Neal replies.
“I’m glad you’re here for him he’s going to need you. I have a ton of paperwork to do see you later.”
“Later Hank.” Neal replies as Steve comes out of the office.
“Hey….” Steve replies.
“Hey Steve. Can I walk with you?” Neal asks.
They go into the locker room and Neal follows Steve over to his locker.
“You know there’s a new episode of Charlie’s Angels on tonight, what say, we get a pizza and some beer and we watch it together?” Neal asks.
Steve shrugs as he unbuttons his shirt. “Ah I don’t feel like it tonight. I think I just want to go home and be by myself.”
“Okay that’s cool; if you change your mind I’ll be upstairs at my desk.” Neal turns and he starts to walk away.
“He had a long record, a lot of strong arm violence.” Steve replies.
Neal turns around and he comes back. “That’s true he was no stranger to the police.”
“He also had a family.” Steve replies.
“You saved Hank’s life today.” Neal points out.
“Yeah the Watch Commander pointed that out to me.” Steve replies.
“You did exactly what the Academy taught you to do.”
“Yes I know but then why….” Steve replies.
“Because no matter how bad he was he was still a human being, a person and you shot and killed him. It is the most personal thing that can happen between you and another person out on the street. If you hadn’t shot when you did Hank would be dead.”
“I know, it all happened so fast. The Watch Commander told me it’s going to go down as a righteous shooting; I’ve been told by at least four people that I saved Hank’s life. I’ve been patted on the back and had my hand shook, the Watch Commander even mentioned something about a Commendation then why do I feel like shit? Did you feel like this the first time you….?”
“Oh sure, I even got sick threw up my dinner all over the sidewalk.” Neal puts his hand on Steve’s shoulder. “You killed another human being Steve it’s not an easy or fast thing to get over.”
“I got sick too, when Hank sent me into the Bank I went into the bathroom.” Steve looks at Neal. “He looked at me Neal, right in my eyes as he died, he looked right at me, and I don’t think I will ever forget that look.”
“Still want to be by yourself?” Neal asks.
Steve shakes his head. “I don’t think I’ll be very good company thou.”
“Well that’ll be alright I will always have Farrah.” Neal replies as he smiles. “Besides even if you don’t say a word it’s still nice to have you around.”
“What if I want to talk all night?” Steve asks.
“Whatever you want to do we’re do.” Neal replies.
“Okay. I’ll meet you upstairs I want to finish dressing then I want to say goodnight to Hank.”
“Alright see you upstairs.” Neal replies as he turns and walks off.
“Neal.” Steve replies.
“Yeah Steve?” Neal replies as he stops and he looks back over his shoulder.
Neal smiles at him. “See ya later.”
Neal had been reading Treasure Island to him, it was a long book and Steve didn’t have time to read before, that is until now and what with the lack of sleep Neal finally succumbed. He read fine for a few pages but then everything became blurry and then nothing and his head dropped down to the bed and that was where he stayed but for how long he didn’t know.
It may have been the sound of the book hitting the floor that startled him awake or the cold hand on his shoulder but when he raised his head he saw Steve standing there holding the book out to him.
“I can tell you there is a witness one who never let the war go….”
“Steve?” Neal replies. “Jesus god you’re hands they’re like ice.”
“….Trouble….Help….I need your help partner….”
“Steve?” Neal stands up. “What’s going on?” Neal looks back towards the bed. “Everything looks normal.”
“No….Neal it’s time for me to go…..go on….”
“Steve? No! No it isn’t time for you to go anywhere!!!” Neal makes an attempt to grab him but Steve takes a step back.”
“Tell everyone else that I love them….”
“NO!!” Neal yells.
“I love you too Neal and I’ll meet you in the left-hand corner of….”
“No Steve! You aren’t going to die!!!” Neal replies.
“….Heaven.” Steve replies then he is gone.
Neal quickly turns back towards the bed then he scans the machines then he leans on the buzzer that brings the nurse.
“Yes what is it?” The nurse asks as she comes into the room.
“It’s Steve! There’s something wrong.” Neal replies.
The nurse looks at the machines and the I.V. drip. “Everything looks normal.”
“I know it does but I’m telling you there’s something wrong….”
Just then a loud buzzer sounds.
“His blood pressure is dropping….” The nurse hits the button on the wall that starts up the lights and sirens. “….But how did you know?” The nurse asks Neal.
Neal doesn’t answer all he does is look down at Steve and then Neal was pushed out of the room as the crash cart with other nurses and the Doctor filled the room.
45 MINUTES LATER:
Once again they were all assembled in a ‘wait and see’ mode. Neal, the Captain and Ray and when Neal looked up, much to his surprise, he saw Ruby. Two of them sat frozen on the
bench outside the operating room clinging to each other, while the Captain paced and Ray prayed. None of them were breathing, holding their collective breathes, all of them thinking the same thing but afraid to voice it, to give life to it.
Until the doctor came out of the operating room untying his mask, “I’m sorry but he didn’t….make it.”
The look of disbelief was widespread across their faces.
“What?” Neal replies. “Steve’s dead, but he can’t be! It wasn’t supposed to turn out this way….”
“I’m sorry but the blood loss was too great but I did manage to retrieve the bullet.” The doctor replies.
“I want to see him.” Neal replies.
“Honey maybe you shouldn’t.” Ruby replies.
“I want to say goodbye….we never said goodbye before.” Neal replies.
“Alright we will clean him up then you can see him…”
“Neal….” He feels a cold hand on his shoulder and he jumps. “I’m sorry I didn’t mean to startle you.” The nurse replies as she hands Neal the book that she picked up from off of the floor.
Neal rubs his eye as he takes the book. “No, no it’s alright. It’s time already?” Neal asks as he looks back at Steve.
“Yes I’m afraid so we have to prep him for surgery, the doctor did talk to you didn’t he?” The nurse asks.
“Yeah he did, he said when Steve got stable enough they were going to remove the bullet and I guess today he’s stable enough.” Neal replies.
“Yes he is.”
“Tell the doc to make sure that he keeps a close eye on his blood pressure, you know, don’t let it drop too….low.” Neal looks at the nurse.
“I’ll tell him.”
Just then the orderlies come into the room pushing a gurney.
“Nurse can I say one more thing to him?” Neal replies.
Neal takes Steve’s hand as he leans over him. “Steve I was going to tell you this that Sunday you were supposed to be have been there for breakfast and when this happened to you, I was waiting until you woke up but now I think it might give you the strength to get through this surgery. Something for you to hold to….” Neal leans his forehead against Steve’s as he closes his eyes. “Steve, Ruby’s pregnant.” Neal opens his eyes and he looks at him. “She’s going to have a baby Steve and I want you here, I need you here damn it! Jesus god don’t leave me alone, just think about that baby Steve, you’re going to be a godfather. I love you, come back to us….come back to….me.” Neal carefully lays his hand back down beside him. “Alright nurse, take good care of him.”
Neal watches as the orderlies lift him from the bed and over to the gurney and they cover him back up and Neal follows him out to the hallway and there he sees Ruby.
“Ruby what are you doing here?” Neal asks her as he hugs her.
“I wanted to be here, for you and for Steve. You’ve kept me away from here long enough….” Ruby replies.
“I have good reason to you know.” Neal replies.
Ruby smiles, “I’m fine but I’m worried about you. You look terrible.” Ruby replies as she holds Neal’s face in her hands. “When was the last time you ate anything or even slept?”
Neal holds both of her hands in his. “Later. When I know that Steve will live thru this then I will eat and sleep….”
“Liar.” Ruby simply says. “When you know that Steve will live you will hunt down the people that did this to him and you won’t stop until you find them, right?”
Neal takes a deep breath. “You know me so well.”
“True but if it were you in here Steve would do the exact, same thing. No one could stop you Neal, not even me. So let’s go upstairs and wait for Steve to come out of surgery.” Ruby replies as she pulls him up the hall.
“Ruby I love you.”
“I love you too Neal.” Ruby replies as she puts his arm around him as they wait for the elevator.
THE NEXT DAY:
Tears. Neal started crying when the doctor told them that the surgery to remove the bullet was successful and that he was starting to heal, by no means he won’t be healed overnight but the process had started so now why was he crying? Neal didn’t know maybe it has been the week or two of frustration, the waiting and watching, the hoping and praying or it could be the simple fact that the worse is over….for now.
“Softie.” Steve replies very slowly as he puts his hand on Neal’s head.
Neal raises his head and he looks in Steve’s direction taking the hand off of his head he grasps it tightly as he moves in closer wiping the tears from his eyes.
“Hey buddy.” Neal replies happily.
“Hey….yourself.” Steve says slowly his voice coming out in hoarse, dry tones. “Caught you crying.”
“Yeah you did but that’s okay.”
Steve closes his eyes then he opens them again. “You….look like shit.”
This causes Neal to laugh. “Well you don’t look too good yourself but you know I don’t care I am very happy to see you.”
Steve closes his eyes then he opens them again. “I am happy to see you too. I…I heard a nasty rumor.”
“Oh really about what?”
“About Ruby being….pregnant. True?” Steve replies.
Neal looks at the bed then he looks back up as he smiles both hands holding Steve’s. “It’s true alright I’m going to be a father!”
“When?” Steve asks.
“June probably around our second anniversary.” Neal replies.
“I should be out of this bed by then don’t ya think?” Steve asks.
“Oh yeah I think so.”
“I am shocked I must say I didn’t think you had it in you.” Steve replies.
“Oh and why did you think that?” Neal asks.
“Pants too tight cuts off circulation.” Steve replies.
“How long?” Steve asks.
“Oh probably two weeks by now.” Neal replies.
“Did….did you find?” Steve asks.
“No not yet I was waiting to make sure that you were out of danger.”
“Stupid.” Steve replies. “But I’m glad that you were….here.”
“When you feel up to it I need some info from you.”
Steve nods. “Hank’s dead isn’t he?”
“Yes Steve he is, he was killed a few days after you were shot.” Neal replies.
“Same person?” Steve asks.
“We think so we’re find out for sure when the ballistics comes back on that bullet they took out of you.”
“Yeah Steve?” Neal replies as he leans in closer.
“I….I saw my mom.” Steve says slowly. “She told me that I had to come back, that I had things to do. Neal it was so hard….I so wanted to stay with her. She was beautiful and Neal she looked….whole, her body no longer broken. Its real Neal, heaven is a real place. Mom told me to come back, to come back for you that you need me….you do need me?”
Neal puts his hand on top of Steve’s head. “Yes Steve I need you, I’ll need you more than you will ever know. We all need you.”
A tear runs down Steve’s cheek. “You believe me don’t you about my mom?”
“Yeah Steve I do.” Neal wipes the tear away. “Softie caught you crying.”
“Say it Neal okay?” Steve replies as he closes his eyes.
“It’s going to be alright Steve.” Neal says slowly and almost at a whisper. “Now….it’s going to be alright.”
Then Steve holding as tight as he could to Neal’s hand Steve begins to cry in earnest. Neal slowly sits on the side of the bed as he gently pulls Steve by his hand into a hug, giving some of his warmth and some of his life to him, his hand holding Steve’s head against his chest as Steve cries, relishing in the fact that Steve was alive and in time he would be healed and this awful experience would be behind them. Right now, today was for the living and to celebrate that life but tomorrow will begin the day of reckoning. And god help those that dare to get in Neal’s way because for them they will be no tomorrow.
TO BE CONTINUED:
©LAB and SRP & JRNY FANFICTION 2007 to 2008. 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.