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A Day Just Like Any Other

By Ryan Hickey

I have thought a lot about posting this part. This is a look at the early part of the day for the adults in the story. A bit of background and a way of showing how each life can be connected even with out knowing it. Please let me know what you think of this part…because like I said I don't know if I should have posted it. I hope it adds to the story and not takes away. Thanks.

Police Chief West relaxes every muscle, takes a deep breath and waits for the randomized timer on the target range to flip the profile target to face him. BING! His hand shoots down to his hip and then is a blur as he brings it up to a double hand grip at chest level. The gun jerks slightly as five rounds fire off in quick succession. He lowers his modified Beretta 10mm to the stall's counter, switches the safety on and clears the chamber before pushing the button to bring the target back to him.

Yup…all five rounds center mass and a perfect score… I haven't lost my touch.

"Your one fast gunslinger Chief."

Turning towards the voice, West takes out his earplugs and sees Sergeant Janet Liddell leaning against the wall watching him.

"What was that Janet?"

Smiling, she nods at him, "I said you're as fast as greased lightning with that thing. You looked like Shane from that old movie. How did a city-bred boy like you learn to draw so fast?"

Smiling back, he picks up his pistol, ejects the clip, and walks to the firing range door, nodding for her to follow. Once out of the firing range and into the maintenance area, the detective walks over to a work bench. After working the slide to verify an empty chamber, he begins to strip and service the pistol.

The five-foot-nine female police sergeant follows her new chief to the work bench and watches as he begins to expertly clean his weapon. "You didn't answer me, sir."

Looking up from his work, but not missing a step in the process, he gives the sergeant a lop sided grin, "Well Janet, despite what you might think, us city boys can learn a few tricks. The FBI training in Quantico is very good. When I was stationed there we would have matches against the pukes at the Secret Service and the ATF. I would always walk away with a case of the good stuff at the end of it."

"The Secret Service? I hear they're good. Are they really as cold as I hear they are?" she asks.

Shaking his head, "Nope, they're like everyone else. Maybe a little more intense than most but that comes with being tasked to protect POTUS I think."

"POTUS, sir? What's that?"

Picking up the oil rag, West starts working it over the now-disassembled gun. "It's just kind of a slang Janet, it stands for 'President Of The United States', that's all. It's easier than saying the whole thing, and they take the name really seriously. I have to admit, though, they get some of the nicest toys. The rifle their sharp- shooters use is one fine piece of work. Wish I could get my hands on one… but you can't."

Curiosity lighting her face the sergeant leans forward, "Really? Why not chief?"

"The rifle is made special for the Service. The manufacturer is a small company and they have an agreement not to make them for anyone but the Service. You know what they call it?"

Shaking her head, "No, what?"

Chucking, he said "Their called a J.A.G., or Just Another Gun. Its their little joke, so I guess you have to say the Service as a whole does have a sense of humor… albeit a bad one."

The sergeant points to the detective's sidearm, "That's one of the new Berettas ain't it, sir? The ones with the extended barrel and the night sights?"

"Well not really new, I've just modified it a lot over the years. But it does have the extended barrel, the night sights, and it also has the new gas vents they just came out with to reduce recoil." Looking down at the weapon on the officer's hip, "I see your still using the standard forty-five ACP Janet. Why don't you get rid of that nickel plated sissy pistol and get yourself a real gun. Something with more then say seven rounds?"

Placing her hand on the butt of her pistol the sergeant smiles at her boss, "First off sir, the forty-five has all the stopping power I need. Second if a person needs more then seven rounds to bring down a suspect then that person needs to go back to the range… sir. And lastly… this was my father's gun. He carried it all through World War Two. He nickel plated it when he got back from the war and joined the force. So, if you don't mind, I think I'll stay with what I have."

Smiling ruefully and looking back down to his cleaning, the chief said, "Up to you sergeant. At least your not carrying around one of those monsters like sergeant Hedrick. I can't even lift that fifty-caliber Ruger Super Redhawk he's packing. You'd think he was worried about a herd of angry Moose running rampant in town."

"I agree, sir…but you have to admit even in the holster that thing could scare the piss out of someone thinking of making trouble," She replies.

Shifting her stance and taking on a more serious expression, she asks, "Sir, can I ask you something?"

Sliding the last piece back into place and slipping a fully loaded clip in to the pistol, West primed the chamber and then slid the clip back out to load one extra round before putting his service pistol back in his hip holster. "Sure…but first stop calling me 'Sir'. Call me Richard or Rich or just Chief if you have to, but not 'Sir', okay?"

Relaxing a little, she smiles at him. "Why did you leave the FBI. I mean, it sounds more exciting then this little town, and if what I have heard is true… you were well on your way. So why come to a small town where its biggest mystery is who's taking old lady Trimble's chickens and then letting them loose in the High School gym?"

Putting his jacket back on and walking out of the gun range's work room into the cool morning air.

"To be honest, that IS why I left. And why I came here. I was in the Hostage Rescue Team, and then Kidnappings before they moved me over to the Violent crimes unit. I have hunted terrorists, child molesters, and serial killers…"

Reaching into his jacket pocket, he pulls out a rumpled pack of Marlboro's and offers one to the sergeant. She takes one of the offered cigarettes and produces a small Zippo lighter.

"Thanks boss."

Lighting his cigarette on the sergeants Zippo, the detective takes a deep drag, and slowly lets the smoke drift out of his nostrils.

"You see Janet -- you don't mind me calling you that, do you?"

"No…Not at all."

"Good. The force -- heck, this town -- is too small to be caught up on formalities like that. There's an old saying, 'A man can only look into the abyss for so long 'till he sees himself looking back.' I started to see myself in that abyss. So, for my sake and the sake of my family, I got out." Dropping the barley used cigarette to the ground and crushing it out, he looks at the sergeant. "Now, who do you have driving me around to day?"

Smiling around her cigarette, the sergeant says, "Tim Nuven. He's new to the force, but he grew up around here so he knows everyplace and everyone. You still going to head out and take a look at the chickens?"

Nodding with a big smile, Chief West replied, "Yup. I have been here for nearly three months and I still can't figure out how they're doing it, and I love a challenge. Also I promised old Miss Trimble that I would be out this week, and I can't do it tomorrow. The school board has asked that I take a day and talk to the grade school and high school tomorrow, so that day is booked up. Tell Tim I'll meet him at my car in a few."

"Sure boss… and you know, your right: it's nice to be in a town where nothing ever happens."

*************************************************************

Putting on his hard hat and pulling on his gloves, Todd Demos, the newest partner in the 'Steel and Glass' construction company and foreman for the new downtown shopping mall expansion, walks across the muddy parking lot to one of the lifts carrying men and supplies to the upper levels. He nods to his workmen as he walks by, asking this one about his wife and that one about his daughters broken arm, giving each person some one on one attention. It always helps production to have workers know that their boss really is one of the guys -- and he was one of the guys. He had paid his dues and done his time in some of the worst cities in the world, but it all paid off in the end. The skills and contacts gained had allowed him to pick and choose from the job offers available over the last few years.

Stopping off at the food van that is a fixed part of any construction site he orders a cup of coffee and a blueberry muffin. Pouring cream into his coffee -- he had made the mistake of trying to drink Zeek Zanders world famous coffee, also known as his world famous axel grease, without cream once and lived to regret it.

"So Zeke, how's business?"

The shaggy haired old man behind the counter smiles revealing two missing teeth and the rest yellowed from years of chewing tobacco. "Not bad, boss man, your boys here eat like there's no tomorrow and they seem to like my coffee. You want anything with that muffin?"

"No thanks, Zeke, the muffin and the coffee will be fine, what do I owe ya?"

Holding up a hand waving the offered money away, "For you boss man, nutten. Youz given me a great place to do my business so's the least I can do is keep you fed."

Picking up his coffee and wolfing down the small home baked muffin, Todd finishes his walk across the work site to the lift.

After nearly twenty years in the construction business, most of it as a high steel man and welder, he had seized the opportunity when the Ledric Brothers offered him a buy into the company. It worked out well for everyone. The aging twin brothers are now able to enjoy their golden years and not worry about the company falling apart on them, and Todd can now spend more time at home with his son, and maybe in a year they can move up to a slightly bigger place to give his son his own bathroom. He is getting older, and it's about time he had some privacy.

Jake, the workman assigned to run the lift for the day, opens the lift doors for Todd and asks, "What level boss?"

Reaching inside his jacket Todd pulls out a note pad. Flipping it open he begins to hum to himself. After a few seconds of reading he looks up.

"All the way to the top today Jake. Need to take a look at the cross support beams and get a feel for the lay of the steel up there. By the way, my son told me that your younger brother…Matt I think is his name, won the drama competition, if you see him tell him congratulations from me."

Smiling Jake nods, "I will boss; I haven't had a chance to stop by the place in the last few weeks, what with Liz at her mothers. But she's back so I was planning on stopping by tonight. My mom is out of town so it's going to be just us guys tonight."

The lift car rumbles to a stop and the doors open to admit a young, slender blond woman carrying her toolbox in one hand and her electrical cabling in the other.

Todd smiles and nods to her, "Hi Sarah and how are the newlyweds doing?"

Blushing, a smile splits her face from ear to ear. "Great, and thanks for putting us in touch with that elderly couple, the apartment they're renting us is perfect, and well within the budget. I don't know how they can afford to rent it for so little."

Fighting to keep the grin off his face Todd just nods, knowing that Sarah would never accept the rent on the place if she knew the cut in the rent was due to him doing some free work on their property; fixing up the barn and the out buildings. But she never has to know.

"And Tim started with the police department two months ago. He loves it. I have to say I'm loving the way he looks in his uniform when he gets home..." She cuts off abruptly, blushing even more realizing what she said.

The two men laugh and Todd pats Sarah on the shoulder, "Don't worry about it Sarah, I've worked in construction ever since I got out of the Marines, so I have heard it all."

Still chuckling, Jake turns to Sarah, "What does Tim say about his boss, this new guy from back east? I hear he's a real hard a**."

The car grinds to a halt; Sarah lifts the door open and steps out, "Tim seems to think the guy is all right. Knows his stuff. He even loaned Tim some books published by the FBI on investigation techniques and police work. Well, this is my stop." and she turns and walks off, quickly lost in the crowd of workers and equipment.

The two men ride in silence the last few floors to the top of the site. Todd puts his notebook back into his pocket and steps out onto the small wood landing laying across the large beams that make up the primary supports. Once on the landing he says to Jake, "Josh said something about wanting to have some friends over this weekend. I think he named Matt as one of them. Do you think your dad would agree to letting me take them camping?"

Leaning against the mesh side of the lift cage Jake pushes his hardhat back a little, "Well I don't know, now that the drama competition is over, pops is likely to have some other project for Matt to start on. Dad can be kind of hard like that, always driving Matt to do more and more extracurricular activities and sports. Says it will help him get into a good college. I guess dad knew I didn't have what it took for college so he never pushed me that hard. But I'll tell you what, get me off lift duty today and I'll try to talk him into it tonight. I'll tell him it would be good for his Scouting. Matt should reach Eagle Scout before he graduates in two years."

Nodding to Jake, Todd says, "Thanks, that would be great. Josh seemed really hyped about the idea this morning. And you have a deal: get Thomas to take over for you and then get back up here. You can help me today."

Jake groans and rolls his eyes. "Me and my big mouth."

Laughing and stepping out onto the thick I-beam one foot after the other like a tightrope walker, Todd says, "You pays your dues, you takes your chances Jake. Now get moving. We have a lot to do today, and I want to have the long weekend free for my son and his friends."

*************************************************************

Stepping off the elevator Mr. Patrick Witcher, President of Research Lab's Inc., strolls down the carpeted office hallway carrying a briefcase in his right hand. He looks at his gold Rolex watch on his left wrist: 6:45 exactly. Smiling to himself, he passes the desks of the office staff and through his door into his private office. Taking off his charcoal gray jacket, he hangs it on the hook on his wall next to the plaques for civic service and photos of him with all types of people that would come and tour his family's Research labs. Taking a seat at his large polished oak desk, he straightens his blood red silk tie and smoothes the white silk shirt.

"Tiffany, Where is my coffee?"

A lovely blond in her early twenties, dressed in a tight black skirt and white blouse, walks hurriedly into the room, carrying a cup of coffee and a small stack of papers. "I'm sorry Mr. Witcher, I was picking up these papers that Dr. Felix wanted you to take a look at."

Leaning back in his luxurious leather chair, he smiles and allows his eyes to take in the full gorgeous figure of his new receptionist. "Don't worry about it Tiffany. If Dr. Felix thinks I need to take a look at that, then you did the right thing taking care of it first." Leaning forward, he takes the stack of papers from Tiffany, as she places the coffee cup down in the silver coaster built into the top of the desk. "Mmmm let's see what that mad man wants now. Did he give you any idea how much he wants when you picked this stuff up?"

Looking unsure of exactly what to say, "Ummm, no sir…should I have asked him? I don't really understand this stuff, I'm sorry."

Flipping open the first folder and glancing at the cover sheet; "No, don't worry about it. You'll learn fast that if he wants money he tends to be overly gracious when he sends up the paper work, and if its just authorization for some thing or other we already have on hand, then he's more blunt about it."

"Okay. Next time I will pay more attention, sir. Is there any thing else I can get you, sir?"

Waving a dismissal, he answers, "No this will be all for now, but I have a meeting with the EPA guys this afternoon and I need to chat with Jennifer from Risk Management before that, so let her know I need to see her at… let's say eleven or so."

Tiffany backs out of the office closing the door and then taking a seat at her small prefabricated desk.

The office door opens and Mr. Wither walks out, his hand on the shoulder of an older man with graying hair in glass and a white lab coat.

"Okay Doctor, that sounds fine." As the technician walks off down the hall, Mr. Witcher walks over to his secretary's desk.

"Tiffany did you let Jennifer know that I needed to see her?"

Looking up from her paperwork, she smiles, "Yes sir, she said she would be in her office all day and to just buzz her when you were ready. Should I do that now?"

Sitting on the edge of the secretary's desk, looking down at her and smiling once more at the near perfect beauty of the young woman before him, more then a few lurid thoughts run through his mind, and he remembers that his wife will be out of town this whole weekend at some conference in New York.

I wonder if I can get Matt to stay at a friend's house this weekend. That would give me some time alone, well not alone really. This young one should be no problem with the proper enticements.

Blushing, she sees the smile slowly spread across Mr. Witcher's face and guesses at the meaning behind it, not caring that the man looking at her is married. He's rich is all she cares about.

"Ummm, sir? Did you want me to buzz her for you, Ms. Limpen that is?"

"No,I still have time. I hear that our new Chief of police is your brother in-law? I didn't know you had a sister."

The smile fades from her face, "Yes sir, I have two. One, Cynthia -- she's the second oldest of us -- lives in Juneau working for some oil company, and the other one is Betty. She's the oldest, and yes, sir, she is married to the Chief. He's a loser though. He gave up a big job in Washington, D.C. to come here. I mean, my sister tells me he was being groomed to be the Director of the FBI some day. That's who he worked for before coming here."

"The FBI… really? How interesting. I wonder if I could steal him away from the city council and get him to head up our security here. Jack McDonald is due to retire soon anyway. What did he do there?"

Failing to keep the bored look off her face she just shrugs, "Don't know. A few things I think. My sis told me he left because he was just burning out. Something to do with a case where a kid got killed by his own parents. She told me that he never really told her what happened, just that afterwards he was never the same man. I don't think you can steal him away sir. From what Betty told me, the fool turned down a couple six or seven figure job offers from some big companies all around the world. And he ends up here in this town…. I just don't get what she sees in him."

"I couldn't tell you. It does sound like he might have burned out. Thanks for the tip off on him. Next time I play golf with the Mayor, I might want to talk to him about this. I just don't trust a man that doesn't have his own best interests in mind and doesn't care about money. They make things difficult, and we can't have a burn out running the shop downtown.

"But onto happier things. Do you have big plans for the four day weekend? Your boyfriend taking you someplace nice?"

Shaking her head and looking back down at her desk, "No…I don't really have a boyfriend right now."

Of course he knew this but the game has rules so he feigns surprise.

"Really? A lovely active girl like you? That's nearly a crime, I am shocked. There must be too many fags in this town now, or you would definitely be swimming in suitors."

"You might be right at that Mr. Witcher. No one seems interested, and besides I like my men mature. Too many of the guys my age are so boring. I like a man that understands the world," she replies.

Lightly he places his hand on top of hers, there eyes meet for the briefest of moments, and in that one look the agreement is made. Yes he is, and yes she will.

"Well, that makes this a little easier then, I need to do some work this weekend in the office, so I'll need you here to help me with it. I was going to ask you to come in. I'll spring for meals and pay you extra -- off the books of course. Let you keep it instead of Uncle Sam taking a bite out of it."

Smiling and fluttering her eyes, she responds. "If you need me here, I'm happy to be here for you, sir. You can count on me to be here as long and as late as you need me."

With that done, he stands up and walks away from the desk, "Tell Jennifer that I'm going to pop by her office, I just need to get her to correct some errors I found in our last safety reports so I can give them to the men from the EPA."

Copyright Notice - Copyright ©2004 by Ryan Hickey

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A Son's Father

by Ryan Hickey

I was sleeping on the bus when this story popped fully formed into my head. I haven't done much editing to it...other than spelling. I normally just forget them and never go back to them when they just pop in there. But this one forced me to put it down on paper...please let me know what you think.

Sitting at the kitchen table head bent down, his long blond frosted tip bangs falling across his right eye, the boy looks at his old, scuffed, white Nike knockoff shoes. The teen notices his right shoelace needs to be tied. His pale white hands, covered in sweat, are clasped together in his lap to keep them from shaking with fear. He listens to his father, standing at the kitchen sink, open the envelope from school.

Oh God oh God oh God… I'm so dead. Why… why did they have to find us?

He hears the sound of unfolding paper, followed by the light humming sound his father makes every time he's reading. He can still see the look in his father's eyes when he handed over the sealed letter from the school principal. His brother had brought home a lot of letters from the principal… but never one like this.

The humming suddenly stops. Josh closes his crystal blue eyes, feeling tears welling up in them, and not wanting to break down. And there it is: he's reached it.

Why now? Why does this have to happen now? We weren't hurting anyone. I can't believe I got caught on my first kiss, I wanted to kiss him for so long… and now I'll likely never see Matt again.

A single tear escapes from each eye and runs down his cheeks, falling off and landing on the tops of his shoes. Taking a deep breath, he begins preparing for the inevitable explosion, the yelling, the disgust in his fathers voice. He hears his father sigh and then the sound of paper being placed on the kitchen counter.

"Josh?"

Josh opens his mouth to try and say something - anything - but fear grips him totally and he is unable to do more then let out a quiet whimper.

He thinks, "My life is over."

His father takes a step closer to the table, and in a sterner voice, demands, "Josh, what exactly happened, the letter is a little vague."

Josh feels a wave of hope. They didn't tell him everything in the letter; maybe the school just told him that I was making out with another student; maybe they didn't even mention that it was Mark, or even another boy...

His hopes shatter with his father's next words.

"All the school is saying in the letter is that you are being suspended for a week because you were caught 'In an inappropriate sexual situation with a fellow male student,' but they don't say exactly what it was."

The room is filled with an oppressive silence. Josh is too frightened to say anything, too frightened to even notice the lack of hostility and the presence of concern in his fathers voice.

The quiet of the room is broken by the sound of a chair being pulled out from the table. Josh sees his fathers legs step in front of him and take a seat. The boy shifts his gaze onto his fathers feet, taking in his fathers stone washed jeans and the black boots covered with dried mud from the day's work at the downtown construction site.

"Josh…can you look at me son?"

Josh's only response is a shake of the head, and a fervent wish he could just curl up and disappear. He nearly jumps out of his skin as he feels a gentle hand rest atop of his head.

"Josh, I need to know what happened. For them to suspend you for a week it must have even more then your brother got up to. You remember what he was like in High School. I could paper the living room with all the letters from school warning me that he was caught kissing some girl or other, but even then they never suspended him."

Josh shakes his head, and sobs, "Dad….please…please don't be mad... please don't hate me. All we did was kiss. I swear, that's all we did, I don't mean to be gay... I don't want to be. It's just... God dad please...."

His explanation and pleading is cut off as he begins to shake violently when hours of pent up fear come pouring out of him. The frightened teen feels a powerful set of arms encircle him and lift him bodily into his father's lap, just as his father had done when he was a young boy, frightened by nightmares and the dark. He feels himself slowly rocked back and forth and his father tighten his arms around him. Josh buries his face into his fathers shoulder. He cries and cries until the tears are all spent.

Shuddering with the last of the sobs, he slowly tilts his head up to look at the man holding him like a baby. Josh is shocked to see tears flowing from his fathers deep green eyes, down his cheeks to drip on to his black t-shirt.

His fathers voice quivering with emotion, he leans down and kisses Josh on the forehead and says, "Please tell me you don't think I would ever reject you, or that I would ever hurt you. You're my son, you're the joy of my life Josh, I could no sooner reject you then I could cast out my own heart. I love you, nothing will ever change that, and nothing could."

Blinking away the last of his own tears the father clears his throat.

"But it's clear to me, from the total fear and anguish you were in, that I failed in showing you that love. I failed in my duty to you, I failed to reassure you that you would never have anything to fear from me, and for that... for that I can only ask your forgiveness and promise that I will do better."

With mouth hanging open the young man can only shake his head and hold on tighter to his father.

"There is nothing wrong with what you did Josh. There is nothing wrong with you, or the feelings you have. They're natural, they're normal, and you have nothing to be ashamed of. No matter what others might say, as long as you follow your heart."

The man wipes the last traces of tears from his son's face.

"You have always been a good kid, Josh. You work hard, you are always willing to help out, whether it's me, or anyone that you meet. And you have a kind heart. Those are the things that matter, and anyone who judges you because of who your heart calls out for... well, they're fools."

Ruffling his son's hair and pulling him tightly against his chest, he continues to rock back and forth. "You may have picked a bad place for it. The school does have rules against students making out at school, but that only makes sense, teenagers being what they are, but if all you did was kiss, then it's the school that's wrong. They're overreacting." A small smile breaks across the older Steelworker's face. "I mean, if all your brother got for kissing nearly every girl in school when he was there was a few detentions and a ton of letters home to me, then is no way you should be suspended. But I can deal with..."

He is interrupted by the sound of his son's snoring and loud sniffle. Smiling even more, he looks down at his son.

He murmurs, "You're getting older, my boy. If you have found someone you want to kiss, then you're older then I though you were. Where did the time go..."

Carefully standing, cradling him in his arms, the father carries his son to his room and tucks him in bed.

"Sweet dreams Josh. We have lots to talk about, but luckily lots of time to talk about it."

Walking to the door, the father shuts off the lights to his son's room.

"I love you my son."

Copyright Notice - Copyright ©2004 by Ryan Hickey

This story is copyrighted by the author and the author retains all rights. This work may not be duplicated in any form, physical, electronic, audio, or any other form known or unknown without the author's express written permission. All applicable copyright laws apply and will be enforced.

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