True Companion

Note from Leslie: This story was written by Eric at my request. Please be aware that it is rated Adult for profanity, violence, and sexual situations.


True Companion

It was with no small amount of work that Dan had set up the perfect date. Doing a lot of juggling with his schedule and case load as a new detective in the Sleepyside Police Department, he managed to get a rare Friday night completely off. Technically, he had Saturday off, but that day he had set up a meeting with others on the force. He however given himself enough time to still have a lazy morning.

The night before, with money he had saved up by not going for coffee and donuts everyday, and bringing his own lunch to work, he took his girlfriend Kelly Knudsen out to dinner at a nice, but relatively inexpensive steak house in White Plains, and then they came home for a lazy night of movies to a small house he rented on the east end of town. First up was a comedy he knew was one of her favorites, that he rented from Mr. Lytell, Weekend at Bernie’s. Then was a movie from his collection that he knew she could handle. It was the old 1981 adult cartoon movie Heavy Metal. It was a very juvenile flick obviously aimed at fanboys who really didn’t get out enough or expect to get laid in the near future, but to Dan it was mindless fun, and Kelly, surprisingly enough, could tolerate it, because she liked some of the songs and more psychedelic sequences.

When the movie was over, and the fire had died down, round one happened right on the couch, and then moved to the bedroom where they cuddled, kept each other warm and eventually went for a round two and three. Since he knew she liked the music form the movie, he turned on the Heavy Metal soundtrack on an old boom box he kept in his bedroom, and when they finally fell asleep it was to the mellow sound of the Donald Fagen song True Companion.

Everything had seemed perfect, and so it was with no small amount of consternation that Kelly seemed hell bent on ruining it the next morning.

It started without warning. Dan was already dressed. One of the perks of being a detective now was that he didn’t have to wear his full uniform. So he could be dressed for work, and simply grab his holster, cuffs and other gear before leaving, and that left him time to cook Kelly breakfast.

When he went to find her, she was just stirring under the sheets and comforter, and when she saw him, she got up on her knees and beckoned him over. At that point, she was still only in a pair of hot pink bikini panties she had pulled back on after Dan had taken the condom off after their last romp, and her nipples clearly indicated she was still a bit cold.

“Hey Sleepyhead,” he greeted warmly.

Kelly simply smiled shook her bangs out of her eyes and held her arms out indicating she wanted to be warmed up with a hug.

Dan obliged and kissed her. Then he kissed her again. Then he kissed her again.

“Oh baby. I’m still raw from that wild ride, but when you kiss me like that, I’m ready to go all over again.”

“And I’d totally do it too,” Dan said. “but I can’t be late for my own meeting today. Get dressed and we’ll have just enough time for a lazy breakfast before I have to go in.”

This is precisely when she assumed a pouty expression that meant trouble.

“Call in today baby.”

“I can’t. I scheduled this meeting myself. I’ll get pounded if I ditch.”

“Can’t you just reschedule? They work you like a dog. You deserve a weekend.”

“I know, but I can’t drop the ball now. They don’t work me any more than they work the rest of the force. Budgets and manpower are thin, and we have a lot on our plate.”

“You said you took care of most of the big stuff. That I could have you to myself for a while.”

“And I wasn’t lying. I went all out for our date last night. I turned my cell phone and scanner off, and you had me.”

“I know, and it was perfect, and that’s why I don’t want it to end.”

Nothing is ever enough with her.


“Come on, let’s not do this. You’re welcome to stay and hang out. I just need to get through this meeting, get some stuff taken care of, and I can come back tonight and we’ll pick up right where we left off.”

“Last time you said that, you weren’t back until midnight.”

“Yeah, I know, and I said I was sorry, but crooks don’t always work out with work schedules. I swear, today is just this meeting, and some paperwork.”

“If it’s just a meeting and just paperwork, then why can’t it wait? Till tomorrow?”

“Come on Kelly. I’m not going to get into this same fight with you again. Let’s have breakfast. Then you can figure out what you want to do tonight when I get home.”

Kelly fell into a silent pout as she stepped off the bed and scooped a black Wonder bra and purple dress off the floor. Dan sighed inwardly and left to the kitchen to check on breakfast.

By the time Dan had grabbed his phone, keys, badge, cuffs and stuffed a GLOCK 19 in an inside the waistband holster to leave, Kelly managed a quick kiss and a ‘bye’.

“Geez Dan,” Molinson greeted. “Don’t tell me you and that needy bitch have been fighting again.”

“Okay, so I won’t say it.”

“What was it this time? Your date not go well?”

“That’s never the problem. It’s just that she always wants more.”

“You date these hot little suburban princesses not used to hearing the word no, and you deserve what you get. When you get to be my age, you’ve learned a few lessons the hard way. Ones that usually fall on deaf ears when you tell the youngsters. But I’ll say it anyway. Hot doesn’t make up for crazy.”

“You calling Kelly crazy?” Dan said in teasing defiance.

“Well, not howling at the moon, drooling on the carpet, kidnapping and barbecuing cub scouts crazy. But in her own way yes. I’m familiar with the breed. Needy, neurotic, insecure. Was raised with money instead of attention. Semi consciously seeks out boyfriends who can double as a father figure, but then tries to wheedle everything they want out of them the same way they did with daddy. Become a drama queen when shown any backbone. Alien to the concept of normal adult responsibilities and working for a living. Have to be the center of your universe. But I know this isn’t news to you, because before Kelly, you were very familiar with the breed. There was Margaret, there was Betty, there was Heidi, there was Joan. And don’t even get me started on Lisa. . . . .”

“All right, all right, all right, you win. But it was just another stupid fight. I already know what’s going to happen. One of two things. One, I’ll get home. She’ll be gone having a snit. I’ll call and get her machine, talk about going to the bar since she’s blowing me off, but will actually just sit home and watch Chuck Norris movies, and around midnight when she’s had enough time to imagine me flirting with bar girls, she’ll call up all teary and apologetic and beg to come over.”

“And two?”

“She’ll have decided she’s had enough and I’ll get dumped with a quick phone call.”

“I’m sorry I asked,” Molinson said.

“Hey don’t sweat it. I fully acknowledged this possibility before I even came in today. Odds are, she was just spoiling for a fight this morning. If not, whatever. But I don’t even want to think about it or deal with it right now. I want to be focused on this meeting. I have an idea I think will really get us set up to take care of our immediate problem.”

“This better be a great idea, because the chief really wanted to know why you had time for a Friday night off, when you said you were going to jump on this. He’s getting tired of procrastination and excuses.”

“Hey, I busted my ass this week to make sure everything else was off the table, so that we could focus on this.”

“Yes, he knows that, and in case he was going to try and pretend he forgot Spider and I reminded him. It’s the only reason you haven’t been called down on the carpet for this. You aren’t in trouble. Yet. But this meeting better make some waves and convince him you haven’t just been putting this off and blowing smoke up his ass.”

The chief was hard to read. Dan had been warned many times about demanding his time like this on a Saturday, and he knew he had been getting impatient for progress on this case. Dan didn’t want to have to walk on eggshells around him. He wanted to project competence and initiative. But at the same time, he didn’t want to risk shooting himself in the foot by being pushy with a superior that probably didn’t want to be there. His expression was indecipherable when the other officers walked into the small conference room at the Sleepyside police station, but when they finally sat down and helped themselves to coffee and donuts, Dan just decided not to dawdle any longer, and cleared his throat.

“Whatcha got for us Detective?” the chief asked pointedly.

Dan swallowed the lump in his throat and began with a speech he had been rehearsing in his head for days.

“Okay. At this point, I’m pretty sure you’re all familiar with this case, so I won’t bore you with the details and history. Short version is, we’re pretty sure we now have a drug ring operating in and around the Sleepyside area. There has been a spike in busts for possession of crystal meth. And every witness we’ve spoken to, snitch, street source and suspect we’ve grilled has basically said there is a new player in town. At this point, through intensive surveillance, we think we know where sales are being made. But we don’t know the source. With the epidemic in meth, we’ve also seen a spike in robberies, assaults, and domestic violence calls.”

“Do we have enough evidence for warrants to bust the salespeople?” a cop asked.

“Yes,” Dan said.

“Then I say it’s time to get in front of a judge and start kicking down some doors.”

“We’ll never find the source if we do that,” Molinson said.

“Who cares? With no sales organization, it’s just another meth lab that’s probably not even in town.”

“I disagree,” Molinson said. “With production, they’ll just find more people to sell for them. The gang bangers and pushers they have moving for them are like roaches. They scatter when you go after them, you never get them all, and when you stop paying attention, more come back.”

The chief chuckled at Molinson’s analogy, but then grew dead serious.

“I agree. We’ve gotten nowhere playing tag with the street pushers. We need to burn this to the ground, and I came here today, because Detective Mangan said he had a plan for doing so.”

Dan nodded and continued.

“We’ve seen a lot of this recently. Low key, out of the way meth labs and sales organizations, moving into smaller towns and areas where there aren’t necessarily enough tactical assets to take them on. They have too much firepower for small town cops, but not enough to get quick action from state or county tactical teams. And in this case, so well hidden, we don’t even really have the resources to look for it very thoroughly.”

“So what do we do?” the chief asked pointedly.

“I’ve been looking at all the information we’ve gathered on the recent crime spree. Up until this point, we just assumed that a lot of the robberies and such were occurring simply because junkies and trouble makers were following the supply. I think they may be more related than that. In specific, I think the building supply robberies and grocery and convenience store robberies are directly related to the lab. I think a lot of the crap getting stolen is random window dressing and just junk to hock. What is being consistently stolen is acetone, ether and paint thinner from the building supply stores, and Sudafed and other psuedo-ephredrine medicine from the markets. I think our cookers are stealing their ingredients right here in town.”

“I don’t think they’ve stolen enough to account for the amounts we’re seeing.”

“I thought of that too. But they did steal enough to get started. I think once they started to get some sales, they were also buying a lot of what they needed. The reasons the stores are bemoaning the loss of this product is that it was selling so well. So I think if we can lay our hands on our burglars, we may also lay our hands on our meth cookers or at least people who know who and where they are.”

“So how do we get them?” Spider asked. “You said yourself, these are bad hombres that are very strapped.”

“Yeah. If these burglaries were just for starting stuff, what will make them come back?”

“They’ve come back and hit several businesses more than once. For this same stuff. For everything I’ve think they’ve bought, they still prefer the five finger discount. We know where they are probably going to come back.”

“So what do we do?” the captain pressed.

“Well, we have to face reality here. Ever since 9/11, drugs and drug smuggling and drug cartels have taken a giant back seat to terrorism. Unless we find out that our pushers have converted to Islam, we aren’t going to see much help. So we have to make this happen on our own and get enough done to either solve this problem or convince people we need help. And I think I know how. I’ve done a lot of reading on cop stuff. I read about what used to happen in New York in the seventies before they had a formal SWAT team. I read a lot about Jim Cirrillo.”

Just the mention of the name was enough to make Spider, Molinson and even the Chief smile.

“What I am proposing is that we put together our version of the famous NYPD Stakeout Squad. Jim Cirrillo basically picked out about forty men. The best shots he could find. And they simply started setting up at places they were fairly certain were going to be hit. The perps would get a single warning, and if they so much as twitched, the shooting started.”

“Ah Jim Cirrillo,” Spider said with a distant look. “a dying breed. A modern day gunfighter. Not like the others. Not like Massad Ayoob or Jeff Cooper. One who was an expert because he did it, and was not just over trained.”

“Just where are we going to dig up a squad of ‘modern day gunfighters’,” a detective asked.

Dan was ready for this.

“I’ve talked to some men. Some detectives and some in patrol. Men who shoot also as a hobby. Practice on their own time. Members of the local gun club. Even talked to some qualified Westchester Sheriff’s deputies that would be willing to help. I reviewed their records. I came up with a list. I’m confident, with enough practice, we may be able to put together a pretty decent stakeout squad of our own. Certainly enough to watch the few businesses in town that keep getting hit.”

“If you do your OK corral impersonation and kill all your burglars, it’s not going to help you find the lab,” the cynical cop said.

“If we do this right, we won’t have to. Not saying there won’t be any trouble. We’re dealing with meth addicts, and we can’t count on them all to be rational. But I think with a sufficient show of force, if we can even convince one to surrender, we may finally put our hands on a suspect who can tell us who the cooker is, or where the lab is.”

The room fell silent for a moment. Dan was about to make another argument when the chief cut him off.

“I love it. Let’s do it. Mangan, since you’ve already done all the prep work, get things going, and keep me posted as to the details. I’m having a late lunch with the mayor. I’ll tell him we finally have a plan to clean this mess up.”

“Sir, I know the budget is slammed, but I will need some overtime hours, and a fairly big chunk of ammo to train.”

“Write up what you need and get it to me. Don’t worry about the cost. I’ll get it out of the mayor even if I have to deliberately lose at golf for a year. This was good thinking Dan. Now we just need to make it happen. How soon can you get this up and running?”

“I can formally create the unit by tomorrow, at least as a temporary task force. They have to understand they’re going to be busy. They can sleep when they’re dead. I want to get some intense training in, but I also want to have our first stakeout up and running by tomorrow night. Sunday night seems to be a popular night for their robberies. When no one is open and they are short on supplies from their weekend sales. We’ll train in the mornings and early afternoons, I’ll let them off to nap, and then by evenings, we can be in position.”

“Do it,” the chief said, getting up and looking at his watch. “and keep me posted. But I have to go now if I’m going to make it to lunch on time. I won’t make a good impression on the mayor by being late.”

Dan was flushed with excitement as he took five minutes to get some water from the office water cooler, and wait for another pot of coffee to finish brewing.

“Way to go Mangan,” Molinson said, walking up smiling. “I haven’t seen the chief that impressed with any idea put to him in years. You keep this up and you’ll make sergeant in no time.”

“Yeah well, I’m glad he listened. But talk is cheap. Now I have to make this happen. I have some calls to make. I really do want to be up and running by tomorrow night.”

“Kelly is going to kill you,” Molinson teased.

“I can’t think about that right now. Right now, I’d give it even odds that I’ll go home to a Dear John message on my machine. If not, she’s just going to have to understand. This is too important for me to fuck up. I hope enough men follow through and sign up.”

“Just relax. Word around the campfire is, this is going to happen. You know the men you talked to want this to happen and want to do this. And when they hear the chief wants this to happen, they’ll jump in with both feet. This is the highest profile case we’ve dealt with in years. No one wants to say they weren’t a part of it.”

Dan nodded.

“So on that note, Mangan, I’m ordering you to take a chill pill. You’re coming to lunch with me, and that’s not up for discussion. Your meeting wasn’t long and you’ll have plenty of time to call everyone and get your ammo and budget requests typed up this afternoon.”

Dan nodded again, but looked longingly at the coffee machine, which still wasn’t done yet.

“Come on. You don’t need that paint thinner. I know a place were they have real coffee.”

Predictably Dan got home to a quiet dark house. Kelly’s car was nowhere to be seen. He was still in too good of a mood to really think about it. The chief has sold the idea to the mayor, and since Dan had been on the ball with his reports and requests for what he would need, the mayor assured him he could hit the ground running.

As much as he had accomplished, part of him felt like he was spinning his wheels. That he hadn’t worked enough that day, since his meetings, the calls and the requests had only taken him a few hours to take care of.

Rationally, he knew there was nothing he could really do until tomorrow, but part of him still felt guilty for not working more on his Stakeout Squad.

He nervously checked his answering machine and found no messages, so breathing a sigh of relief, he put his police gear away, changed out his dress shirt for a sweat shirt, and plopped down in front to the TV, picking up the remote to see what was on. As much as he was paying for cable, he thought he ought to enjoy it once in a while, and started to channel surf.

An hour later, when he was sucked into another Chuck Norris movie, his phone rang. Checking the number, he sighed and steeled himself before answering.

“Hey Kelly,” he greeted in as upbeat a voice as he could muster.

“So what? No call? No where are you or what happened? Out of sight, out of mind? Is that how it is now?”

“Kelly,” Dan said with exasperation. “What do you want me to say? I asked you to stay. I welcomed you to wait for me. I finished my meeting and my work as fast as I could. Which went very, very well for me, thank you very much for asking. And I come home and you’re gone. You obviously didn’t want to be here, and if that’s the case, I’m not going to beg you to hang out.”

“Dan, I had a few things to do. Errands to run. Things to check on at home. And I figured while I was here, I could get a change of clothes and freshen up.”

“And freshening up took you eight hours?” Dan asked pointedly.

“Once I was home, I figured I’d just hang out and wait for you to call me when you were done.”

“And you couldn’t be troubled to leave a message or tell me what you were doing and what you had planned? Kelly, half the time you storm off, you ignore my calls. What was I supposed to think? I’m not a mind reader. A thirty second phone call, to say, hey, I’m home and I’m freshening up, let me know when you get home. If I didn’t rate that, I can only assume you don’t want to see me.”

“Geeze, I’m sorry. When you don’t call, I assume you’re headed off to the bar or something, like you always talk about.”

“How often do I actually go to the bar? I have to be in a pretty bad mood, and today I’m not, because things at work went very well for me.”

“All right, all right, all right. Let’s not fight baby. I screwed up. I should have called,” Kelly said. “I’m glad your day was good. Do you still want to see me or will that ruin your good mood?”

“Kelly, you are always welcome to come over when I’m here. You know that. The question, is do


want to be here?”

“Of course I do. Okay. I’ll be over soon. Love you baby.”

“Love you too,” Dan said, and hung up. With a sigh, he realized he wasn’t all that excited to see Kelly, but would make the effort, and hoped the visit would go better than their day of fighting. With a look at this watch, he at least took comfort in the fact that he could finish watching Code of Silence before Kelly showed up and either begged him to change the channel or distracted him from watching anymore. There was a Chuck Norris film festival on that he would have gleefully watched. The Octagon, An Eye for an Eye and Forced Vengeance would be on. And later, his absolute favorite, Lone Wolf McQuade. He thought, maybe if Kelly was just into mellow hanging out, she’d be fast asleep in his arms by the time it came on.

Dan had nearly drifted off. When he snapped out of it, The Octagon was in progress and Kelly was already late from when she said she’d be around. But then a noise caught his attention. It took him a minute to figure out what it was, and after another moment he got up to see what it was.

He search led him to the side of his house near the trash cans. Cowering behind one of them, squeaking, was what appeared to be a just past kitten sized long haired Calico cat. It looked tired, hungry and afraid and when it saw him it let out a pathetic squeak.

“Hey buddy. I’m not going to hurt you. It’s okay.”

The cat tensed up, like it was getting ready to run. Dan took slow steps towards it, slowly reaching out with his hands.

“It’s okay. It’s okay.”

The cat got low and backpedaled behind the trashcans, and let out another squeak.

“It’s okay. It’s okay. I gotcha. . . .”

Dan leapt. The cat scrambled away and Dan swan dived with a horrific crash into his trash cans. Although it stunned him, and the cat bolted until it got the fence and cowered in the corner, Dan forced himself to scramble up and after it. He got one hand on the cat and clamped down. The cat let out another frightened squeak.

Getting situated without letting go of the cat proved to be another noisy and painful affair, and when he finally managed to scoop the cat up and stand up, he felt over a dozen new aches, pains and bruises which would probably haunt him for the rest of the week, but now he had the cat and could feel its heart beating rapidly. When he brought it up to face him, it let out another squeak.

“It’s okay buddy. It’s okay. I’m not going to hurt you. Let’s get you inside and see if we can find you something to eat.”

Ten minutes later, the cat was eating tuna ravenously out of an open can on Dan’s small coffee table, and purring like a motorboat. There was still no sign of Kelly, and he didn’t want to leave to the store until she showed up.

“It’s okay. Don’t you worry. We’ll find you a bed. Maybe a blanket or something. You just get settled in.”

The door suddenly burst open, and Kelly roamed in. She was in a very short denim miniskirt, and low cut top, and had touched up her make up a bit, but otherwise didn’t really look like she had done a great deal of ‘freshening up’.

“Hey baby. Sorry I’m late. Traffic was . . . . what’s that? And what happened to you? Did you get beaten up at work? I thought you said it was just meetings and paperwork.”

“Found her crying by the trash can. Kind of wiped out trying to catch her.”

“You just caught and brought in a stray?”

“Why not?”

“Dan, that’s dangerous. You don’t know what it could have. It’s probably completely feral. Don’t get me wrong, I like cats and all, but does it have to be in here?”

“She’s not sick. And I’ll take her to the vet soon. I’m sure everything will be fine.”

Kelly sighed with exasperation and glared at the cat. It took one look at her and bolted out the door. Dan just gave her a long hard look. Kelly quietly closed the door.

“I’m sorry Dan. But it’s probably for the best. You fed it. You did your good deed for the day. But it probably wants to go back to hunting and causing trouble like most strays do.”

Dan didn’t answer her.

“Oh come Dan, don’t be mad. If you’re still worried about her, we can buy some food and a dish and feed it outside. At least until we can get it checked by a vet.”

Dan sighed and relented.

Kelly came up to him, and tossed her jacket off. She glanced at the TV with a derisive snort.

“I really don’t know how you can watch that garbage. I’ll give you something to check out. . . .”

She wasted no time pulling her top off, revealing a bright white bra and straddling him. She started to kiss him and reach up his sweatshirt. She finally raised it up enough so that she could mash her chest up against his.

As annoying as she could be, when she put her mind to it, she really knew how to get Dan worked up, and pretty soon he was kissing her back, and letting his hands start to roam. . . .

The following night, Dan waited in an old car with one of the new men in his Stakeout Squad. He was a young kid, fresh out of the academy, that had only been with the department a few months. This was his very first assignment outside of patrol. Although Dan had told him to dress down, he was so normally clean cut and together, about all he had managed to do was not shave for a day, and downgrade to cargo pants and a black turtleneck.

He was obviously nervous, but Dan had hand picked him, because in addition to his high grades at the academy, he was an area IPSC champion, in the open division, and had obtained permission to carry his STI custom built 1911 race gun.

“Think they’ll come tonight?” the kid asked nervously for the third time in last half an hour.

“Yes. It’s still early. You need to relax.”

“Right boss.”

He waited all of two minutes before asking another question.

“You think I’ll be okay with ball ammo? This thing wasn’t really built for exotics.”

“It’s a .45. With the way you shoot, ball ammo will be just fine,” Dan assured.

“Think I should test it with other stuff.”

“If you really want to. But don’t worry about it tonight.”

The kid nodded.

Things lapsed into an uncomfortable silence. Dan did one more check to make sure everyone was in position, and the nervous vigil continued.

“Dan!” the rookie said louder than he intended. “Look!”

Dan quickly glanced around. A beaten up old pick up truck lurked up the street. A couple thugs started walking up the street with their hands in their coats and just looked around.

Dan got on his radio.

“Saddle up boys, and get ready to roll! I think our brash young thieves are about to hit! Remember your stations! Wait for my signal!”

The two men kind of squared off and looked around, nervously. Then one of them waved up the truck. It pulled up to the front of the old drug store. There were two more men in the cab, and two in the bed, and the two in the bed quickly hopped out. They were both carrying crowbars and trash bags.

“Damn,” the rookie commented. “They aren’t even trying to be sneaky anymore.”

“Why would they? No one has really tried to stop them. Must have been pretty desperate to come this early. Get ready.”

The rookie had broken down in a cold sweat. For all this championships and practice, this was his first dangerous bust. And Dan couldn’t really blame him. He was just as nervous. Whereas he had been on dangerous busts before, this was the first that had the potential to turn into a gun battle.

The perps didn’t give him much time to think about it, because pretty soon one was busy smashing out the glass on the front door, and the two lookouts had now drawn handguns.

“Let’s go!” Dan shouted over the radio as he got out of the car with his GLOCK in one hand and a bullhorn in the other.


The two lookouts looked very started, but it only took one second before one collected his wits enough to begin to fire. A shot harmlessly flew over Dan’s head, although he and the rookie instinctively ducked.

“I SAID DROP YOUR WEAPONS!” Dan shouted again.

By now his friend, inspired by the other lookout’s courage, raised his weapon sideways, ‘gangsta’ style and started to shoot as well.

Dan dropped the bullhorn in the car, and decided it was time to stop talking and start shooting. The rookie already has his weapon out, and the other men converged on the scene ready to fight.

The other men were shooting before he was, but remembering his tactical breathing, Dan was the first to get a hit. The shooter visibly flinched, but kept going.

Christ. High as a kite . . .

Dan shot again and again, peppering the target until he finally collapsed.

As the battle really got going, some of his men cut off the pick up truck and fired until they shattered the windshield and flattened the front two tires. The rookie swallowed the lump in his throat and fired three quick shots. Two found their mark and sent the other gunman to the ground.

At Dan’s motion, they advanced, tightening the noose, until the burglars and getaway drivers fell to the ground shouting.

“STOP! STOP! STOP! We surrender!!”

Dan motioned for everyone to cease fire and with the rookie in tow, they moved up to handcuff and detain the burglars while the other men pulled the drivers from the pick up to apprehend them.

“You have the right to remain silent . . . ,” Dan began.

Both Dan and the rookie were taking a quiet moment as cops swarmed over the crime scene. The rookie had an open case of the shakes, and Dan felt a tight knot in his gut and wondered if it was ever going to go away.

Just then the chief wandered up. His expression was indecipherable which did little to calm Dan’s nerves.

“You okay?” he asked calmly.

“Yeah. I think I’ll be okay.”

“You did good Mangan. Real good. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”

“Got messy.”

“Yeah, I know, I saw them haul those two bodies off the sidewalk myself. But we all knew this was probably going to happen. You were ready for it, and you handled it. None of your men got hurt.”

“We going to get anything from these clowns?”

“You let us worry about that. We’ll let them sweat before we talk to them. You worry about getting your Stakeout Squad trained up and on the job.”

“Is the mayor going to fund this after tonight’s bloodbath?”

“I’ll handle the mayor. You do what you need to and don’t think about it. You have enough on your plate right now.”

Dan nodded.

“First time you’ve had to kill?” the chief asked.

Dan nodded again.

“First time I’ve ever had to fire my weapon in anger.”

“Look, there was no gray area here. This was a good shoot. We’ll still have to put you in front of a review board, but at this point, it will just be formality. We’ll get that taken care of tomorrow. In the meantime, go home, visit with your girlfriend and get some sleep. You’ll feel better in the morning. You have too much to do to get hung up on this, and if you have any problems, let me know, so that we can get you in to talk to someone.”

“No, I’ll be fine. I think I’m more wrung out from just coming down off the adrenaline.”

The chief smiled slightly, but then grew serious.

“If you don’t mind a little constructive criticism.”

“No, of course. I kind of felt like we went through this bust by the seat of our pants.”

“Your plan was sound. That’s not my concern. Look. I admire your instincts as a cop. You have your head screwed on straight and your heart in the right place. That’s why I’m not even slightly concerned over what a review board will say. But don’t get so worried about what happens after that you don’t do what you need to do at the time. You warned them and they opened fire. There was no need to warn them again. Next time that happens, you stop talking and start shooting. There are no second chances in a gunfight. Don’t get shot over principal and worry over what happens afterwards, because when you get hit, there is not always an after to worry about past a funeral bill. Save the constant threats and yelling and stuff for the perps that are waffling. That you think you can talk down. If they don’t hesitate to fight, then you don’t either. You got that Mangan? This is far too dangerous to screw around with.”

Dan nodded.

“Okay then. Get home and get some sleep. I mean it. We’ll clean this mess up, and don’t forget. You did good.”

“Oh my god!” Kelly said. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’ll be fine. I’m a little freaked out that I had to kill someone, but all things considered, I’d have to say tonight went about as well as I could expect. Now I’m more stressed about what has to happen from here. The chief said I’ll feel better after I sleep, but right now, I’m still too torqued up.”

“Do you want me to come over?”

“You can if you want. Just can’t be a late one. I have to force myself to get some sleep tonight. I’m in for a long bad day tomorrow regardless, and it will only be more hellish if I don’t get any shut eye.”

“Don’t you worry about me. We’ll just mellow out and I’ll make sure you get some rest. I’ll be there soon.”

“Okay. Love you.”

“Love you too.”

Dan sighed. Kelly really was a sweetheart when she wanted to be and sensed Dan really needed it. The whole problem was, outside of those rare moments, when things were just normal, she found it far to easy to fall back on being a needy drama queen.

He was about to find something to watch on TV when he heard it again. This time it sounded like it was coming from right outside.

With a groan, Dan got up and opened the front door. His friend was now skulking over by a rusty old barbecue his landlord had left on the front porch. It squeaked when he saw him.

Dan reached down to grab her, but the cat scampered to the side. As Dan tried to turn to catch her, he tripped over the barbecue and went down on the porch with a crash that was enough to get several neighbors to turn on their porch lights to see what happened.

Dan once again caught the young cat, and it was already purring by the time he managed to stand up, with a fresh set of groans at his new bruises.

“You know,” he told the cat, “it’s good to see you too, but this would be so much simpler if we could do this without the chasing and crashing. . . .”

The cat continued to purr.

“Okay. Let’s go inside.”

Kelly paused at the door for half a moment when she saw the cat, but wisely decided not to make an issue out of it.

Dan started to get up with a groan, but she waved him down.

“You okay?” she said with alarm. “You look beaten up? Did you have to fight before you shot that crank head?”

Dan chucked. “Oh no. I tripped over the barbecue trying to catch the cat.”

She gave the cat a dirty look. It gave one back to her and went back to eating.

“You stay put baby, I’ll take care of you. Do you need anything? A beer? Something to eat?”

“A beer would be great.”

Kelly dumped her jacket and purse on a living room chair and scurried off to the kitchen. When she came back, she set down an open can of beer and an open diet coke on end table coasters. She then kicked off her shoes under the coffee table, unbuttoned and unzipped her jeans until Dan could see white, and quickly settled in on the couch next to him.

“You feel tense. Do you want a backrub or anything?”

“Maybe later. Right now, I just want to wind down.”

“Do you want to watch some TV? Is there a Chuck Norris movie on or something?”

Dan grinned in spite of himself.

She’s really pouring it on thick if she is actually suggesting that.

“Don’t know, but we can watch whatever.”

Kelly just smiled and handed Dan his remote. He surfed through until he found a movie.

“Here we go. Jackie Chan’s Police Story. You like this one right?”

Kelly just smiled and unbuttoned most of her top blouse buttons before snuggling up even more.

It was just as they were getting ready for bed when Kelly opened the front door a crack and spoke to the cat.

“Okay you. You need to go out now. Out, out, out.”

The cat had finished eating and been sleeping under an end table and looked up with an indignant yawn.

“Come on you. You can’t stay here tonight.”

The cat yawned again, and got up. Giving her a dirty look, it strutted slowly out the door.

Dan came in just as she was closing it.

“What’s going on?”

“Just putting that cat out.”

Dan decided not to say anything. As much as he would have let the cat stay, she wasn’t instantly mean to it, so he let it go.

Dan had to head out early the next day, but left a dish of food out for the cat on the porch. Kelly left just on his heels, with a quick kiss, a quick smile, a quick ‘call me’, but an indecipherable expression otherwise.

Dan put all worry out of his head and went to the station to round up the men for a morning of training.

After a long, but rewarding day of training, and a lot of paperwork and meetings, Dan found himself on another stakeout that night. All he found on his machine at home was a message from Kelly saying she was going to go out with the girls for a girl’s night out. Grateful there wouldn’t be any drama, he was just about to head out when he found the cat waiting for him by the door. It squeaked it’s greetings.

“Look, I don’t have time to play tag with you right now. But if you want to go in, you’ll have the house all to yourself.”

Dan held the door open. The cat looked at his longingly but suspiciously.

“Come on. I don’t have all night. I’m due on Hawthorne in ten minutes.”

The cat hesitated.

“Fine. I have to go. Don’t say I didn’t offer.”

Even as Dan closed the front door, the cat bolted in like lightning.

Dan grinned and locked up.

Although the stakeout was uneventful, Dan ended up waiting until about three before reluctantly forcing himself to go home. He wanted his men back out on the range the following morning, and knew he would at least need a power nap before then.

He came home to find Kelly’s car parked outside, and that she had let herself in. She had already gone to bed. Although she had cleaned up a bit, and brushed her teeth, he could still tell in the dim light of the bedroom that she hadn’t washed her make up off, and hadn’t quite metabolized all the margaritas out of her system. She simply lay in bed in her underwear and one of Dan’s long NY Giants jerseys, and her bar clothes, which still reeked of cigarette smoke, lay on the floor next to his bed in a heap.

Dan quickly changed and climbed into bed, trying not to wake her up.

She did anyway.

“Oh hey. What time is it?”

“It’s three thirty.”

“Yikes. Didn’t realize you were working quite that late.”

“I probably shouldn’t have, but I did. What time did you get in? Last call?”

“Oh no. The bar was kind of a dud, and my friends were being lame and flaking out, so I got here around eleven.”

“Oh hey. That cat got inside somehow. I checked all the windows and stuff. Tried to put her out, but she started hissing at me. I think she’s behind your washing machine. I wasn’t going to risk getting bitten or scratched.”

“I let her in. That’s fine.”

“You what?! Come on Dan, this is getting out of hand.”

“That cat is harmless.”

“You don’t know that, and you shouldn’t be so casual about it, until you do know.”

“Look. If you really think there might be trouble, and it will put your mind at ease, I’ll catch her tomorrow at take her to Dr. Samet’s.”

“Why don’t you just call Animal Control and let them worry about it.”

“The shelter is overcrowded and underfunded. This will be quicker and easier.”

“Please tell me you aren’t seriously thinking about keeping her?”

“I don’t know. She seems to have adopted me. No harm in leaving a little food out if she wants to hang around.”

“Dan, you’re always so busy, and I don’t get to see you that much, and now I have to share you with someone else?”

“For crying out loud. You don’t need to tell me how busy I am. I have to be back in at eight, which is just a little more than four hours from now. But we’ve seen each other more in the last few days, than we had in the last few weeks. And it’s a cat for Christ sakes. If there is any kind of animal that is low maintenance. You talk like she’s another woman.”

“Fine, fine, fine. Just promise me you’ll get her checked soon.”

Tomorrow. I promise.”

“Okay then. Hold me, and let’s sleep, if you have to be up so soon.”

“Heard that.”

Any time Dan would have had the next day to catch up on a little rest was shot in the act of trying to catch the cat and get it to the vet. The cat led him on a merry chase in which he wiped out on his trash cans again, smashed part of his fence, and tripped over his recycle bin full of empty beer cans.

Once again, the minute he caught the cat, she purred like nothing had happened, and when Dr. Samet saw him, he asked if he had been having a rough time at work fighting.

The cat cried a bit after Dr. Samet drew blood, but Dan just waited while he went to run the tests. Dan ended up taking a nap in the waiting room, petting the cat with one hand.

“Well,” Dr. Samet said, startling Dan awake, “I sent some of the blood off for more extensive tests I’m not set up for. But I didn’t find anything bad. No rabies. No feline leukemia. Not even fleas. Your cat is clean, and now up to date on shots.”

“What do I owe you?”

“Oh don’t worry about it Dan. We’ll square this later. I do this sort of thing for the shelter all the time.”

“Thanks doc. I suppose I should get this rascal home and catch dinner and a nap so that I can get back out on Hawthorne tonight.”

“Heard about that shoot out the other night. You okay?”

“Yeah, but this mess is far from over.”

“I’m sure you’ll be fine. Just be careful. Those meth heads will mess you up.”

“Trying catching a cat.”

Dr. Samet laughed and Dan closed the carrier so he could take the cat home.

That night, Dan got home shortly before midnight. He was dead on his feet, but after another thwarted robbery, he was feeling pretty good about his day all things considered.

Kelly was waiting for him again, this time in a knee length white dress and a with a lot of make up on. It looked like she had been crying when she silently came up to hug him.

“What’s wrong?” he immediately asked.

“They said there was more shooting. Down by the building supply. That someone died.”

“Yeah. We figure they must be getting desperate to try again so soon, but we think they were after the ether and acetone to make more meth. When we showed up, they scattered into the lumber yard to hide and take pot shots, so we had to go in after them. Jake, the rookie I was telling you about had to drop one. The rest quickly surrendered after that.”

Kelly nodded, and tears streamed down her eyes, as she continued to hold him. Dan could already tell she wanted to say something, but wasn’t sure how.

“They wouldn’t say who was hurt or killed. I was so worried. . . .”

“I know, and I would have called, but that fight was literally just a couple hours ago, and I get so busy when we have to actually shoot.”

Kelly nodded and held him.

“You off tomorrow?”

“No. I want to be there when Jake faces the review board over both of this shootings, and this isn’t over yet.”

“How many more of these nights are their going to be?” Kelly asked incredulously.

“As many as it takes, until one of these zipper heads tells us where the lab is.”

Kelly sighed and decided she didn’t want to fight.

“Come on. You look dead on your feet. Let’s go to bed.”

Dan nodded and didn’t resist when Kelly took him to the bedroom by the hand and started to undress him. Soon he was under the covers in his boxers and just about to fall asleep, even as Kelly pulled her dress off, when something occurred to him, and he woke up to tell her.

“Oh. Thought you’d like to know. She’s healthy.”

Kelly looked down suspiciously.

“Who’s healthy?”

“The kitty. I took her to Dr. Samet today.”

“Oh. Okay. That’s good, I suppose. I haven’t seen her today.”

Dan just nodded and yawned. Once Kelly got her bra off and tossed it to the floor, she crawled into bed with Dan and they were soon fast asleep.

The following morning, while most of his men were at the range practicing, Dan was at the office, coaching Jake to face his review board and processing paperwork and information over the latest bust, when he heard two familiar voices wander in. He turned up with a smile to see Trixie and Honey roam in.

“So, what did the chick say when she saw the hen lay an orange?”


“Look at the orange marma laid.”

“What kind of soup runs around northern Minnesota and cuts down trees?’


“Paul Bullion.”

“What did the fish say when it swam into a wall?”



“What did R2-D2 order for lunch in England?”


“Fission chips.”

A detective who looked like he was in physical pain jumped in.

“Hey, I got one for you two. What’s twenty inches long and makes a woman scream?”

They both looked at him suspiciously.

“What?” Trixie finally asked.

“Crib death!” he said with morbid glee.

They both gasped, and then Trixie slapped him while Honey hit him over the head with her purse. He looked up at Dan apologetically.

“Sorry. It’s the only way to make them stop.”

“There may be a commendation in this for you,” Dan told him seriously.

Trixie and Honey gave Dan a playfully dirty look and then came up to greet him.

“So we hear you’ve had a rather harrowing week,” Trixie said. “Two shootouts within three stakeouts.”

“Harrowing, but productive,” Dan said.

“Oh you look awful,” Honey said looking at all of Dan’s scrapes and bruises. “Did you get hurt during these?”

Dan was confused for a moment, but then laughed. “Oh no. Didn’t get a scratch during the busts. This is all from chasing the cat.”

“The cat?”

“Yeah, there is this cat that’s been hanging around my house. Been feeding it, and today I took her to see Dr. Samet. Very friendly, but makes you earn time with her. Still instinctively flees. Doesn’t realize until you’ve caught her that you’re a friend.”

“Yikes. Looks like you’ve really had to earn it. But I’m guessing that’s not why you’re so tired.” Trixie said.

“You guessed right. Been working night and day to get this new Stakeout Squad formally up and running. We basically have to train all morning, and work all night.”

“Maybe now that you’ve made some busts, you can take a break.”

“Don’t have time. Everyone who didn’t hear the shooting is going to read about it the in paper, and two fire fights in three days is going to make waves. We called down the thunder, so now we have to deal with it. This is coming to head, and we have to be ready.”

“Has any of the perps given up the location of the lab?”

:Not yet, but we figure we’ve taken down two robbery crews, they know we aren’t screwing around, and we haven’t really had a chance to sweat it out of the crew we apprehended last night.”

“How you holding up?” Trixie asked sincerely. “Heard you had to drop one yourself.”

“I’m fine. Molinson was right. A good night’s sleep was all I needed. I’m more worried about Jake. This is the second review board this week, so I think even though it’s still pretty much a formality at this point, they’ll give him a bit of a rougher time. One shooting doesn’t raise too many flags. Two is when they start to really grill you to make sure you aren’t a subconscious gunslinger, looking for excuses. He’s still a little freaked out, and I don’t want to the hearing to rattle him any more.”

“He discover that combat wasn’t like punching holes in paper or elaborate IPSC drills?” Trixie asked sagely.

Dan nodded.

“I think he’ll pull through, but we have to get this taken care of today.”

“You going back out tonight?” Honey asked.

“No. Molinson said I looked like hammered shit, so he and Spider are going to take out the Stakeout Squad tonight. Give Jake and I a chance to sleep for more than a power nap. But tomorrow we’re back at it. If we get an address from one of these crank heads, we’ll need to move fast and get a no knock warrant.”

Trixie gave Dan a quick hug.

“Well, take care of yourself and be careful. And get some sleep tonight.”

“And don’t let the cat beat you up tonight,” Honey added.

The cat sensed Dan’s stress and fatigue, and spared him a chase. As soon as Dan got home, it scampered up and sat down by the door, patiently waiting for him to open it. Dan reached down and pet it, and it immediately began to purr.

It scampered in when he opened the door, and when he sat down on the couch, and set his gun and badge down on the end table, it leapt up beside him and purred some more, head butting him to get pet.

Not realizing how tired he was, the purring put him to sleep.

It was dusk when the phone startled him awake. He glanced at the number and answered.

“Oh hey. I meant to call, but I fell asleep on the couch.”

“It’s okay,” Kelly told him. “You probably needed it. Going back out again tonight?”

“No, they actually gave me a night off.”

Kelly squealed.

“That’s great. Can I come? I mean, if you need to sleep more or anything I won’t, or we won’t have to do anything.”

“No, that’s cool. I’m actually feeling somewhat refreshed. You up for dinner or something? Doesn’t have to be anything fancy. A burger or something?”

“Sure, I’d love it. I’ll see you soon.”

Dan somehow found the energy to get up off the couch, and get showered and changed.

The cat waited for him on the couch.

When Kelly let herself in, Dan couldn’t help but grin. Even when he explicitly told her it would be casual, Kelly always dressed herself up for dinner dates, and once again, she was in a dress and heavy make up. In addition she had packed an overnight bag, to come prepared, obviously excited Dan had the night off.

“Wow. I feel underdressed,” Dan joked looking down at his jeans.

“No, you look great baby. I was just feeling dressy. You ready?”

“Yeah, let’s do it.”

Kelly then looked down at the cat on the couch.

“You just going to leave her in?”

“Yeah, she’ll be fine.”

Kelly looked at the cat a bit dubiously, but the cat just looked smug and settled in, tucking its legs under its body to ‘loaf’ it. Dan got up, offered Kelly his arm and they were soon off.

A very chilly drizzle was in full swing when they came back. The rain seemed to hover in the air like a frigid mist that quickly soaked and chilled everything that stayed in it long.

Dan quickly hurried Kelly up to the porch out of the rain, but she still shivered while he fumbled with his keys to get the door open. When he finally let her in, she shuddered and rubbed her arms with her hands, even as Dan closed the door and went to turn up the heater and get her a towel.

The cat, awakened from a satisfying nap, looked smugly at them again.

Kelly grinned tolerantly as she excused herself to the bathroom to dry up a bit and fix her make up. When she returned, Dan had a fire going, and the TV was on, although muted.

She smiled and went to sit next to him, although squeezing in next to him without sitting on the cat proved to be problematic. The cat quickly grew annoyed and scampered off.

“What would you like to watch?” Dan finally asked Kelly.

“Whatever you want.”

Dan channel surfed for a few minutes until he found a movie he knew Kelly liked.

“Look. It’s Office Space.”

Kelly smiled and hugged him and they settled in to watch.

After a quiet evening of TV, as the fire died down, Kelly excused herself to change for bed. When Dan found her again, she was in a very light purple see through baby doll nightie with matching underwear that left nothing to imagination.

Dan couldn’t stop grinning as he got ready for bed, but noticed that now that the cat had eaten and had a satisfying nap, it was starting to get restless and wanted to explore his pad.

He figured it was fine, and couldn’t think of any reason not to let her, and was soon preoccupied with other things as he took Kelly to bed.

The couple was laying quietly, listening to the rain coming down outside after their first romp when they suddenly heard what sounded like the cat getting into something. Kelly giggled at first, but then her look grew annoyed.

“Dan, I know you like that cat, but would it be too much trouble to put it out for the night? I’m never going to get to sleep if it keeps getting into trouble.”

“Seriously? It’s wet and freezing out there.”

“Dan, it was feral. It probably got on just fine on nights a lot worse than this. I’m sure it knows a million little hidey holes around here it can use.”

Dan was about to say something scathing, but decided he didn’t want to fight. He got up and pulled on a robe and stepped into some slippers and went in search of the cat.

He found it adorably playing with some junk mail it had knocked off the coffee table and onto the floor.

“All right you. It’s time to go out.”

The cat meowed in protest, but Dan quickly scooped it up and took it to the front door. He made a big show of opening it. Then furtively looking around, to make sure Kelly wasn’t looking, he closed it again and set the cat down on the floor.

“You need to keep quiet,” he whispered.

The cat roamed off, and Dan went back to bed.

He and Kelly had been making out for about another fifteen minutes when they heard that cat again. Now it sounded like it was in the kitchen. From the banging sounds, it sounded as if the cat was trying to open bottom cabinets. Dan was hoping Kelly would ignore it, but her look grew cross.

“I thought you put the cat out.”

“I thought I did too. Must have slipped in before I closed the door or something.”

Kelly just gave him a hard look. Dan sighed and got up to put the cat out again. This time Kelly got up and followed him.

This time, they found the cat sniffing around the fridge. He scooped it up and took it to the door.

“All right. I know it’s nasty out, but I mean it. You have to go out. You can chill on the porch. I’ll fill your dish.”

As the cat meowed in protest, he took it to the door, and opened it, and tossed it out.

Kelly smiled and shivering from the cold air that came in, went back to the bedroom.

Dan waited half a second before closing the door once Kelly was gone. Sure enough, the cat darted back in. He made a noisy show of closing the door, working the bolt and putting the chain on, before going back to bed. When he got back, he turned on his boom box.

His Heavy Metal soundtrack was still in the CD player, and the sounds of Donald Fagen came on as Dan spooned up behind Kelly.

Crewmen of the true companion. . . . .

This time, they had both drifted off for a good half an hour before the CD ended, and the sounds of the cat getting into something woke them both up. Kelly awoke with a start and rolled over to face Dan, looking very annoyed.

“Look, you saw me put her out. I have no idea how she got in. You know how sneaky they can be.”

Kelly sighed, even as Dan got back up. This time she came out with him. The cat had found an old wrapped lollipop that had fallen on the floor from Dan’s bowl of Halloween candy from a few weeks before, and was playing with it. It would get the stick in its mouth and with a flip of its head, would fling it across the floor, and chase it. Whereas Kelly was forced to admit to herself that this game was incredibly cute, it was also incredibly noisy.

“Okay. I mean it this time. You have to go out,” Dan said as he scooped up the cat.

This time, Kelly lingered suspiciously while Dan put the cat out and closed up the front door. It started to meow in protest, but Kelly didn’t budge. They then went around and checked the back door and checked windows. Finally satisfied, Kelly went back to bed.

As Dan checked the very last window, he cracked one of the smaller living room windows that was only covered with a torn screen. In the half a second he had it open, the cat scampered in, before he closed it loudly.

“Now I mean it!” he whispered harshly, even as he fed it a treat. “You have to keep quiet.”

The cat curled up on a living room chair and started to purr.

Dan went to bed, once again, turning on the radio, and putting on some soft music.

Kelly had to shake Dan awake again.

“Dan! Dan!”

“Wha? What?!”

“Do you hear that?”

“Hear what?”

“It or she or whatever. It’s in again!”

“The cat?”

“No, the Prime Minister of Israel!” she said sarcastically.

“Shalom?” Dan said sleepily in a way that made Kelly giggle in spite of how annoyed she was. She finally glared at him.

“Look. What do you want me to do? I have no idea how the cat is getting back in, and I don’t have time to figure it out and remodel the place so that it can’t.”

“Dan, I’m tired, and I have a long day ahead of me tomorrow.”

“And I don’t? I have a full day of training to get in, before I have to take the Stakeout Squad for another long haul. I don’t know what to tell you except that I really need to sleep. If the cat is bothering you, close the bedroom door and turn up the radio a little bit. I know you can sleep through that. It’s getting late. She’ll just do her cat things for a little while longer, and then probably go to sleep too. If you can ignore her long enough, we can be asleep soon too.”

Kelly sighed.

“Okay. Fine.”

Dan got up for her and closed the door. He turned the radio up slightly, and programmed for an hour of sleep mode. He then climbed in, and spooned up behind Kelly, and true to his prediction, they were soon out like a light.

“I’ve got some good news and some bad news,” Molinson announced to Dan and his men.

The Stakeout Squad was currently getting ready in a meeting room.

Loading 230 grain +P Speer Gold Dot hollow points into extended ten round magazines for his STI 1911, was Jake Barlow, the rookie that had been promoted up to the Stakeout Squad from patrol. From the hardened expression on his face, his two shootings in one week seemed to have instantly added years of age and maturity. In one fell swoop, he had gone from seeming like an eager kid to a grizzled veteran.

Next to him, checking over a SIG Sauer P226, and a GLOCK 23 with a light was Detective Greg Lightman. He was the oldest and most experienced detective in the group, that had worked vice for a long time.

Next to him was a balding man in a pristine white shirt and black slacks, who wore a GLOCK 31. He was Detective Bradley Krupp. He was formerly a New Jersey game warden. Although few regarded people from Fish & Game as true cops, he had experience few would realize, because few realized that a game warden policing hunters was someone who was always dealing with armed suspects. And theses suspects were usually armed with a weapon designed to take out an animal a lot bigger than a person.

Leaning against the wall was a deputy on loan from the Sheriff’s Department. His name was William Holt, but everyone referred to him as Billy the Kid. They way he wore a Colt Python .357 and a Smith & Wesson J frame .38 revolver made him seem more like a cowboy that would be more at home in the southwest. Not only was he an active shooter who did western and civil war reenactments, once during a routine traffic stop, he had been in a short, ferocious shootout with two escaping bank robbers, and in spite of taking a round in the vest, had fought back and prevailed.

Last, but not least, was a former Yonkers vice detective named Paulo. He was a seasoned vet of many messy drug busts who had come to Sleepyside for a little peace and quiet, but when the drug epidemic threatened to spread to his new beat, he hadn’t hesitated to join up with Stakeout Squad to deal with it. He was currently fiddling with a GLOCK 17, although sitting on the table was his favorite Mossberg riot gun.

“All right,” Molinson said. “the good news is, we won’t have to stake out tonight. One of the perps finally dropped dime, and we have an address for the meth lab.”

This announcement created a buzz within the room.

“The bad news is, we’ll have to stake out this place. But if it does turn out to be our lab, we’ll have a warrant within an hour, and we’ll have to be ready to hit. The judge told us, even if we have to call him in the middle of night, if we’ve kept our p’s and q’s straight, we’ll get a green light to raid.”

“Will we have any support?” Dan asked.

“Westchester Sheriff’s SWAT is probably going to be tied up, and the DEA isn’t going to help us with a lab this small. They’ve got bigger fish to fry around here. So if we get that warrant, it’s all us.”

“What do we know about this place? How well defended it is?” Paulo asked.

“That’s what we’re going to have to find out. I’m going to find out what I can, but in the meantime, Dan is going to take charge of you all again for a hard morning of training. Work hard. The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war. We’re going heavy kit tonight, and we need to be ready for anything. The buck stops with Stakeout Squad tonight. A success or a failure could go a long way towards how this department is viewed, what kind of budget we get, and whether or not we’ll be allowed to handle heavy problems around here. Capice?”

Everyone nodded.

“Okay everybody,” Dan said. “Meet at the range in fifteen. After that, we may get some training time at the county SWAT training course. . . .”

Dan had a couple hours between when their morning training was done and when he was due at the stakeout, so he went home to chill for a few. There was no sign of Kelly, or any messages, but the cat was waiting right by the door. It meowed happily and when he opened the door, it trotted in, and leapt up on the couch. He checked his machine for messages and debated what to do. He felt he should sleep a little, but was too wound up.

With no message from Kelly, he just made himself a sandwich and settled in on the couch with the cat.

“Let’s see what’s on TV,” Dan told the cat. The cat just purred.

“No Chuck Norris on right now, but we can watch some reruns of the A Team.”

The cat just continued to purr.

That night proved to be eventful. When he and Jake showed up for work, Spider and Molinson were already there to give them a full update.

“This is what we know. From the stink, we know the lab is there. Think they are mixing up batches in the bathroom, and probably more in the basement.”

“What’s the property like?”

“It’s a run down house on a road off Hawthorne. The one with all the trailers and those derelict houses that squatters routinely stay in. Kind of off in the woods.”

Dan nodded.

“Appears to be a real party house. Several of the neighbors confirmed to us that our burglars were regulars there. They aren’t exactly discreet.”

“Why should they have to be? Most cops here in town just don’t go there without a very good reason,” Dan said.

Molinson nodded and continued.

“We think there are two or three main cookers, and that one of them is the boss. We think they keep around muscle, who are usually just paid with new product.”

“How well armed is this muscle?”

“So far all we’ve seen is little stuff. Brass knuckles. Knives. Handguns. And one shotgun. But there are reports that they have a lot more.”

“How many people are there in the house?”

“During a big party, up to a couple dozen, but we’ve only seen about eight to ten at any one time.”

“Now for the ten thousand dollar question. Do we have a warrant?”

“Yes. But this is a good news, bad news situation.”

“Just lay it out,” Dan said.

“Given how dangerous and messy this could get, we asked for a no knock warrant. We weren’t given one.”


“The judge felt that since we were not a professional, formally trained SWAT team, we shouldn’t have one. We told him about our new Stakeout Squad, but since it doesn’t exist yet as a formal SPD unit with standardized training, he wouldn’t give it to us. He felt rather strongly that no knock warrants should only be handled by experienced professionals. So he only gave us a normal one. Which means we’re going to have to announce ourselves and pull a shield.”

“I can sympathize with the judge’s instincts, but this is going to be dangerous, and we really need to stack the deck in our favor.”

“At this point, we’re just going to have to make due. But as soon as we’re ready, we’re going to go. Billy the Kid and Paulo are already watching the house. We have some toys and equipment we borrowed from wherever we could get it. So as soon as the others are ready, we’ll go make the bust. Hopefully before it gets too late, and a big party is underway.”

Dan nodded.

“So who pulls the shield?” Jake as nervously.

“I’ll do it,” Dan said. “I started this mess. May as well see it through.”

It was just after dark when the Stakeout Squad and a few back ups arrived. Dan and Molinson deployed people in various places as back up, and Dan finally swallowed the lump in his throat and got out of his car.

“Don’t worry boss man,” Jake assured, although it sounded more like he was trying to reassure himself. “We got your back.”

Dan nodded. Although he was just in jeans and black shirt, he was now wearing body armor, his police hat, and his badge was now clearly visible on his belt. He calmly walked up to the house.

The house itself looked like a run down hunting cabin with a sagging roof that was missing a lot of shingles. There was a porch in a poor state of repair with a lot of broken furniture on it, and an empty beer keg in a gray plastic trash can. The yard was surround by a fence that was missing a lot of its posts, and was choked with weeds and trash, from beer cans to old tires. Even as the edge of the yard, some very nasty smells of alcohol and nail polish remover were very evident.

It sounded like there was already a party underway. A stereo blasted some Rage Against the Machine and it sounded like there was a lot of yelling going on.

Dan was only halfway across the street when two thunderous gunshots blasted out.

The next thing he knew, he was laying on the ground. The plate in the front of his vest was shattered, he was seeing stars and lightning, and had had so much of the wind knocked out of him, that he couldn’t muster up enough air to even yell audibly in pain. It was the most painful thing he had ever experienced. He felt as though a giant had smashed him in the chest with a sledgehammer and was now gripping him too tightly to breathe.

All hell proceeded to break loose after that. Even as Jake fearlessly flew out of the car to come rescue Dan, someone up somewhere on the roof opened fire with automatic weapon, that sounded like an illegally converted Ruger Mini-14. The flash lit up the night and bullets sprayed everywhere from the front fence to the street.

“THIS IS THE POLICE!” Spider’s voice called out over a bullhorn. “DROP YOUR WEAPONS AND SURRENDER!”

This statement just seemed to alert the partiers inside that it was time for battle, and there was a mad scramble as they armed up. Moments later, a couple people were shooting out the windows and a few punks scrambled out to join the fight.

Billy the Kid appeared at one corner of the yard, and was promptly spotted by a shirtless punk, in black jean shorts, combat boots, and who had dreadlocks down the middle of his back. He raised a TEC-9 submachine gun and opened fire with a burst that went wild until his weapon jammed. Billy promptly returned fire with this main revolver and killed him, sending his back into the trash cans with a crash.

Paulo appeared at the other front corner of the yard and started shooting back at the people firing out windows.

The punks simply escalated, until a couple more with MAC-11 submachine guns started spraying bullets out the window and pushed them back.

Jake met up with Krupp and Lightman. Krupp was carrying a large ballistic riot shield they had borrowed, and the trio tried to carefully advance to save Dan, but were met with a deluge of automatic weapons fire.

Although it was considered horribly bad from outside of the movies, Lightman grew aggravated and impatient, and with a pistol in each hand, fired at the front of the house with both guns to get the window shooters to duck, so they could get closer.

This only worked for a minute, and the counter attack was swift. While they cowered behind the shield, a trio of gunmen managed to emerge from the front door. One was holding a shotgun, one had another TEC-9, and the head shooter appeared to have what looked like a very short barreled M-16. They quickly advanced on Dan and the cops advancing behind the shield when reinforcements arrived.

From what it sounded like, some of the extra cops they had brought along as back up who were watching the back yard were now in a gun battle with gang bangers that had exited to the rear.

A group of black and whites pulled up and quickly blocked off the streets, and out of one of them came Molinson and Spider. From a car at the opposite roadblock, the chief of police got out and watch the battle intently.

Spider came up the street with Molinson. They both carried a weapons they had borrowed from the sheriff’s department. It was a British made Arwen 37mm grenade launcher, and from one, Spider started to fire tear gas shells. The first landed in the front yard and got the gunmen to scatter. When the one with the shotgun ran near the corner were Billy the Kid was hiding, Billy shot him and killed him.

Spider then managed to get a shell into one of the front windows and it started to flood out the house with tear gas.

Molinson had different loads in his. As the mayhem started and several angry neighbors and street punks started to throw bottles and rocks at them, he dealt with them. With one particularly brave and drunk punk ran out at them, he shot him in the gut with a foam stun round that smashed against his stomach and sent him to the ground wheezing in a crumpled heap.

Jake, Lightman and Krupp took advantage of this to get up to where Dan lay, and when the gunman with the short M-16 fired at them, they opened fire and sent him down in a hail of bullets.

Right as they moved the riot shield to cover Dan, the gunmen at the windows of the house tried to shoot them by just holding their hands up and firing out without exposing themselves. Moving to cover them, Paulo fired into one of the windows with his shotgun, and blew one of the shooter’s hands completely off. Even over the din of the gunfire, his screams were horrific.

Just having watched a bunch of his friends get killed or start to surrender in the back yard, the shooter on the roof decided it was time to get more aggressive even as he put a fresh magazine in his weapon. Little did he know, his number was almost up.

From his position at the roadblock about seventy yards back, the chief of police had continued to watch. With the machine gun fire, he was prudently taking cover behind his car, but before he had done this, he had gotten his old Winchester .270 hunting rifle out of the trunk. He was now peering through the scope and taking aim at the roof top gunman.

Once he was sure of his shot, he fired once, and killed the shooter, silencing the last of the machine gun fire.

With the brief pause in the shooting, now the only sound that was clearly audible was the screaming from the punk that had lost his hand.

Jake quickly checked on Dan.

“You gonna be okay?”

Dan managed to sit up with a groan and nodded. He was about to look around, when he was cut off by some shouting.


The head meth cooker came out of the house waving his hands in the air. When he got to the yard, he collapsed to his knees and started to throw up from the tear gas. He was soon joined by the rest of the partiers.

Spider, Molinson, Billy and Paulo quickly moved in with strip tape binders and began to zip tie perps, while Jake, Lightman and Krupp helped Dan up.

The chief finally roamed up.

“You gonna make it Mangan?”

“Think so,” he managed to wheeze out.

“Then let’s get you to the doctor, just to be sure.”

Dan was about to protest when the chief cut him off.

“No discussion Mangan. You did good. You’re finished here. We’ll take care of the rest.”

A couple days later, Dan was back at the station. He had two cracked ribs that still hurt like hell, but he was up and around, and as souvenirs, had the two .40 caliber slugs that had hit him.

Molinson talked.

“We’re obviously a small town department, without the numbers to have a permanent tactical squad of any kind. But for when we need it, the Stakeout Squad is now an official, on the books unit for SPD. We promoted Jake to detective, and he’s now a full member. We obviously can’t keep Billy the Kid, and he is going to stay with the Sheriff’s Department for the time being, but we are free to borrow him for Stakeout Squad whenever we need him. And now that Stakeout Squad is officially on the books, we can start coming up with a formal training program and some gear. Body armor. Tac radios. Maybe a few new shotguns or rifles. An AR-15 or two if we can swing it. We’ll need your help and input. And the budget won’t be there at first to get it all. But if we start nibbling at it, we may come up with a pretty decent set of gear before too long. It’s now a police budget priority.”

“That’s awesome,” Dan said. “Guess we’ll have to make due with the nickel and dime approach.”

“Don’t want to count our chickens just yet, but there may be a bit of a windfall in the works. Since 9/11, the issue of emergency preparedness for all municipalities is coming to the forefront. And a lot of money and grants through the newly created Department of Homeland Security is coming through to departments and agencies throughout the country. I don’t think anyone is really expecting anyone to fly a hijacked airliner into Hoppy, or strike in most small towns in this country, but just the same, the money is flowing out for all manner of preparedness, and everyone is shameless using it to get all kinds of equipment that small town budgets never allowed for before. Everything from MOPP suits to bomb disposal trucks. We aren’t obviously going after anything weird, but the city attorney is already working with the mayor to see about getting some of that grant money for Sleepyside. Some of it will be earmarked for the Fire Department and Civil Defense, but a lot that money, if it comes our way, will go a long way towards getting a good complete set of gear for Stakeout Squad and the department, as well as a giant pile of ammo to train up with. If it all comes through we may even be able to start sending detectives, on a rotating basis off to some serious schools and seminars. Rogers. Thunder Ranch. Blackwater. Front Sight.”

“That would rule.”

“So regardless, we should have a plan soon. What we want. What we want first, and what can come later. What skills do we want to specifically train in. What equipment is must have. So on the off chance that this grant money comes through soon, we’re in a position to hit the ground running.”

“Oh, I’ll be so ready.”

“No one is doubting that Dan. But for the time being, you are going to take it easy. Just like the chief said. Don’t mean to broach a potentially sore subject, but is Kelly still officially your significant other? If she is, you should spend some time with her.”

“Christ. I have no idea if she still considers us official. Haven’t talked to her since before the bust. I suppose one way or the other, I should sort that out soon.”

“Don’t stress over it. I’m sorry if it’s over, but don’t let her or it bring you down. You’re a hero now, you should be proud of what you’ve done, and you don’t need some needy woman bringing you down or taking that away from you. If she’s too dumb to realize what she’s got, then that’s her problem, not yours. If she realizes what she’s got, celebrate. You’ve earned it.”

Dan came home to an empty house once again. The cat came in cheerfully and twined about his legs as he put his gun and badge away. He couldn’t really bend over to pet her without making his ribs seriously ache, so instead he sat down on the couch and patted the cushion next to him. The cat happily scampered up and purred while he pet her. He finally reached over and checked his machine. There was a single message from Kelly, asking him to come to an address he hadn’t heard of before, and she sounded excited.

His curiosity piqued, he got up with a groan, filled the cat dish, and then after a quick debate, he changed and cleaned up before putting the cat out again and heading over.

The address Kelly had given him was in a White Plains gated community of nice, two to three bedroom, two story family homes, on the northern edge of town.

When he pulled up to a house, near the end of a cul de sac, he saw her car parked in a driveway. He carefully pulled up to the curb and walked up to the front door.

She answered the door with a wide smile. She had obviously been in the city for a make over, and was wearing a new Richard Tyler dress. She quickly pulled him in and closed the door.

“New house?” Dan asked.

“Yeah. Do you like it?”

“It’s very nice. How did you get it?”

“My dad co signed on the mortgage and covered the down payment. He’ll also cover the house payments for a year or two until we are on solid footing.”

“We?” Dan asked carefully.

“I got this for us.”

Dan sighed inwardly, and knew where this was heading.

“We can have you moved in by this weekend. And if your stuck in a lease or anything, my dad already said he’d pay it off.”

Dan was already reeling.

“Kelly, look. This is above and beyond.”

“I took care of every detail. I’m going to go back to school. The job placement at the community college is top rate, so I’ll be working in two years.”

“What about my job? I’m a Sleepyside cop. I have to be in Sleepyside.”

“That’s the other news. My dad got you a new job. One that will be so much better than SPD.”

“Doing what?”

“Security in this neighborhood. The head of the firm heard about your big bust in Sleepyside the other day, and said he really wants you. Said you have your head screwed on straight, and you were exactly the kind of ambitious young officer he needs to keep the riff raff out of here.”

“Kelly, Sleepyside needs me too. The taxpayers who can’t afford to live behind a gate need people like me too.”

“And you helped them. You won. I’ll never be able to tell you how proud of you I am. But you don’t have to do that anymore.”

“Kelly, this isn’t over. So much is happening now. Just got a new unit going. I can’t just run off on them.”

“Dan, you got shot for them. How much more do they want?” she more angrily than she intended.

Dan took a step back and forced himself to count to ten. Kelly immediately looked apologetic and stepped close enough to him to hold him again.

“Oh god, I’m sorry. Here you are being all noble and heroic after your ordeal, and I’m still being a bitch. I’m sorry. I know what I’ve been through worrying about you since I heard has been nothing compared to what you’ve been through, but I was a wreck.”

“Look, it’s okay. When all was said and done, I think the adrenaline pulled me through it. At least until the doctor had to set my ribs.”

“I’m sorry if this is all so sudden. I know I probably should have talked to you first. I know I’m asking a lot to make to take so many big steps with us so quickly. I just did a lot of thinking while I was waiting, and thought maybe instead of worrying, I should turn this all into something positive. Show you I could be supportive of us and contribute to us. Show you that I was serious about this, and wanted it to work, not just now, but for the long haul. That I could take care of you. That I wasn’t just a spoiled daddy’s girl. But I want this to work so badly. I even made them put in a cat door on the house. . . .”

Dan turned to look and smiled, but when he turned to Kelly, the look on his face made her start to silently cry.

“Kelly, I love you. You know that. But this was never about proving I was good with one big headline bust and then walking away. Being a cop and helping kids and cleaning up the gangs and stuff has been my dream ever since I was sent to my Uncle Regan and had time to get my head screwed on straight. I was never in this for the glory. It was about making a difference. And now it’s happening. And I made it happen. And I have to keep making it happen. And as much as I love the idea of settling down with you, in a beautiful house with a cat door, and as much as I love the fact that you made all this happen, it still feels like your way of quickly pulling me out of all this so that you can have me all to yourself.”

Kelly nodded, continuing to cry and leaned her head on his chest as she talked.

“I love you Dan. I’ve loved you since the day I met you. I was driving through Sleepyside, lost, and almost out of gas, and there you were, with your shirt off in your yard, chopping wood, and stopped everything to help me out. You invited me in. You got me something to drink. You loaned me your phone and phone book. You just had this way about you that soothed me and calmed me down even though I was a nervous, neurotic wreck. We talked. Then you took me to lunch. One thing led to another, and I didn’t end up leaving until late the next day. . .”

Dan just held her silently while she reminisced.

“It was just last summer, but it sometimes it seems like ages ago. But there is one thing I just can’t get used to. The worry. The fear and the stress. The waiting when you go out to do something dangerous. And when I read about the Stakeout Squad in the paper, I knew it was only going to get worse. I love you too much to have to share with something so dangerous. It’s why I dumped my high school sweetheart when he went off to the Army. I knew after 9/11, that I would never be able to handle the months or years of worrying. I knew I didn’t have it in me to be an Army wife. I thought maybe with you it would be different. That you were just going to be a small town cop. Told myself there was nothing to worry about with a man that was probably just going to spend most of his time writing speeding tickets and tossing drunks in the drunk tank. Guess it was just the self reassuring delusions of a silly girl, but for whatever I thought, those delusions were shattered when I read about you getting shot in a gun battle outside a crack house. . . ”

Kelly started to sob uncontrollably. Dan held for a while until she calmed down a bit.

“Wish I knew what to say,” Dan said. “But this is what I signed up for, and as long as trash like this decides to come to my hometown, I need to be ready for this. People are depending on me now to keep the wolves at the gate. You don’t know how badly part of me wants to just run off with you and ride off in the sunset. But I can’t. I can’t walk away. Not now. Not for a while.”

Kelly broke into a fresh tirade of sobs.

“Somehow I knew you were going to say that. I hoped against hope that if I did enough and talked fast enough, maybe, just maybe I could get you to come with me and indulge the schoolgirl daydreams of us playing house. But I guess I knew deep down inside you were too good for me and too good for that.”

“That’s not true,” Dan said. “I never thought I was better than you.”

“Maybe. But in a way it’s true. Because your life isn’t just about you. You’ve made your life about more than your own hopes and wants and dreams. You took on responsibilities. And that good, decent noble part of you isn’t going to let you walk away from them. The part of you that made you stop and help a stranded woman. The part of you that doesn’t want to see kids doing meth in your home town. The part of you that won’t even let a nice stray cat spend the night in the rain, even if it means lying to a spoiled princess about throwing him out.”

Dan wasn’t sure what to say. Kelly just held him for another eternal minute before she leaned up and gave him a long kiss.

“Guess it’s time to give you back,” Kelly finally said. “Good bye Dan. Take care of yourself, and remember I’ll always love you.

With that she turned around and walked away.

Dan only stood there for a long minute before he forced himself to turn around and leave.

“Okay kitty,” Dan greeted when he got home. “Guess it’s just you and me now.”

Dan set down some grocery bags and started to get stuff out.

“The weather said it was probably going to be rainy and nasty for a while, so I went ahead and got you a box. And a bunch of other stuff. Litter. A scoop. Some toys. I’m kind of new to this cat thing, so I hope you’ll be patient with me.”

The cat meowed from where she sat on the couch.

After getting the box set up, Dan roamed back in and sat down next to the cat. He pet her until she began to purr and then he found the remote.

“Let’s see what’s on tonight. Don’t have to be anywhere tomorrow. We’ll find a movie, and then a little later, I’ll order us a pizza. How does that sound?”

The cat meowed again.

“Okay. Oh hey kitty. Chuck Norris. We can watch The Delta Force and Invasion USA. Score!”

The cat meowed again.

“You know, if we are going to be buddies, we’re going to have to find you a name.”

The cat meowed in agreement.

“I could call you Bruiser. You certainly gave me enough in the beginning, trying to catch you.”

The cat meowed in protest.

“Yeah, that’s no good. You need a nice name. Hmmm. Okay. I’ve got it. I know this may sound like a bit of silly name for a cat. You to me, you seem like a . . Hannah. . . .”

The cat purred.

“Okay. Hannah it is. Glad to know you Hannah. I know I’m kind of busy all the time, but I always have time for a true companion. . . .”