“New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.” Lao Tzu
Home of Buck Spivey –
It took Hondo thirty-five minutes to arrive at Buck’s home. Thirty-five minutes to think about a man who’d been more than a boss to him. Thirty-five minutes to figure out where things had gone so horribly wrong for a man who’d dedicated his life to serving others. Hondo needed someone to blame for Buck’s death. No matter what the coroner had said, Hondo wasn’t ready to accept that his friend had taken his own life.
The CSI’s were still on the scene combing every inch of the house but he knew that they’d already made up their minds. Even now their search through the house seemed just routine. There was nothing that suggested anything to contradict their assessment and so it seemed that this would be the epitaph of a man who’d lost so much in so little time.
The lead investigator recognized him and waved him inside past the Internal Affairs officers’ suspicious glares. He wanted to ask them why they had arrived too late to save one of their own and why they had acted so swiftly to brand him the villain, not once but twice. Instead he found himself pulled past them at the sight of the bloody scene in front of him.
Sergeant Corky Martin gloved in white latex returned his gaze to the worn recliner where Buck’s body had been found as Hondo carefully navigated the scene until he stood next to where the chair sat.
“Tell me something, man. Tell me that Buck didn’t do this. There has to be another explanation.”
“I’m sorry, Hondo. If there is I haven’t found it.”
“He wouldn’t do this! I know Buck, he wouldn’t kill himself.”
Corky looked up into the anguished eyes of Buck Spivey’s successor. He saw the pain and disbelief and he was sorry that it wouldn’t change the facts of what had happened there earlier.
“Single gunshot to the head. There are powder burns on his temple. The gun was fired by a right hander…Buck was right-handed. There are powder burns that support the findings of suicide.”
“Damn you, Buck!”
“I’m sorry I wish I had better news.”
“Yeah me too.”
Home of Hondo Harrelson – Later that Evening –
Jessica had only used the key once before. It had been a week after he’d given it to her. She’d let herself in out of curiosity to see if it really worked. She’d found it still hard to believe that he had given it to her. He hadn’t been home and to this day he did not know that she had wondered around his home alone without him being there.
The lights were out but this time she knew he was there. His car was parked in the driveway and his cologne still hung fresh in the air.
Her voice was almost a whisper but it was still loud enough for him to hear. He didn’t answer. He wasn’t ready to talk especially to her.
“Hondo, I know you’re here. Where are you?”
She felt his presence just as she rounded the corner to his bedroom. The nightstand lamp flickered on illuminating the room in a warm golden hue. She froze suddenly second-guessing the wisdom of her visit.
“What do you want Jessica?”
She shivered as she stepped into the room. He hadn’t called her, Jessica in a long time. It was the barometer for her visit and she knew he was angry.
“I wanted to check on you…”
“I’m fine, you can go.”
“No, not yet.”
She slowly lowered herself onto the bed forcing him to move his leg to make room for her small frame.
He’d been drinking she could smell the odor of whiskey and she saw the half-empty bottle of Jack on the nightstand.
“I’m sorry about Buck I know you two were close.”
Hondo turned his head to face her his eyes were discolored by the alcohol and tears.
“Did you know that Buck’s wife left him?”
“She up and left took the kids. She couldn’t handle it anymore. He was all alone.”
“Buck confessed to shooting that kid, Hondo! No one knew he’d take his own life!”
“And guess what, he didn’t shoot that kid! If there had been a proper investigation they would have found that out before…”
Hondo ran his hands over his head and closed his eyes before continuing.
“No one not the department, not the city, no one stood up for him! Everyone was willing to let him take the blame!”
Hondo reached for the bottle but Jessica managed to reach it first pulling it out of his reach.
“Give me the bottle!”
“No! You’ve had enough!”
“Yeah, you’re right! I’ve had enough! Enough of the politics, the lies, the betrayal…the choices that are made that have nothing to do with truth and protecting this city!”
“Hondo, we’ll make sure we clear his name, I promise you that! I’ll make sure Hicks makes a public statement and let Buck’s family know that he was innocent.”
“It’s not enough! Buck will still be dead! It won’t bring him back!”
“I know…I know.”
Elijah’s Bistro –
Herman Lauder, a well-dressed blonde man checked his watch for the second time in the last five minutes. His coffee had gone from steaming hot to lukewarm since his arrival. As if reading his mind the older heavyset waitress waddled over and filled his cup again.
“You sure you haven’t been stood up, darlin’?”
“No, no he’ll be here.”
“No rush, no rush at all. It’s a slow night and I can use the company.”
Herman nodded and smiled glancing out of the window before checking his watch again. The ringing of the bell over the window drew his eyes toward the front of the small restaurant.
Maurice Johnson, a tall dark-skinned man glided to the table and ignoring the irritation in Herman’s eye, took the seat across from him.
“Hey, sorry I’m late man.”
“Mo, you know I hate waiting! Time is…’
“Yeah, yeah…money! Time is money.”
“Where have you been?”
“I was at that cop’s house, watching things like you said.”
“And this other dude…I recognized him from the T.V. showed up and was looking around.”
“You recognized him from the T.V. who is he?”
“He’s that brother they made the new S.W.A.T boss.”
“Is he going to be a problem?”
“Hell if I know. They’re calling it a suicide, so from what I understand it’s a closed case. I told you, I handled it. I’m good at what I do.”
“That’s why I hired you. I need the best and we can’t afford any screw ups.”
Maurice leaned across the table lowering his voice.
“I don’t screw up, believe that.”
Herman smiled until the other man returned the smile. Then taking a long sip of his coffee he motioned for the waitress.
“Just to be on the safe side I need you to keep an eye on that, brother and if he becomes a problem…kill him! You got any problems with killing one of your kind?”
“Nah man, white, black…it’s all green to me.”
“Good to hear because what we have planned for this city we can’t afford any problems.”
Home of Hondo Harrelson –
Hondo had finally given up getting the bottle of Jack Daniels from Jessica. She was stubborn, almost as stubborn as he was. So, he sat quietly at the kitchen table while she brewed a pot of coffee.
“You’re going to be in a lot of pain in the morning.”
Her attempt to lighten the mood fell on deaf ears as she set the mug in front of him. It was several seconds before he responded taking a sip and grimacing at the bitterness.
“I’ll be fine.”
She placed a reluctant hand on his shoulder. Jessica was disappointed that he did not relax under her touch.
“Do you want me to stay?”
“No, no…I’ll be okay.”
He turned just in time to see the hurt in her eyes.
“Are you sure?”
“I’m sure. Besides, I think that would be going way beyond the call of duty.”
“No relationships, remember?”
Her heart dropped and she quickly pulled away from him. Jessica felt foolish with her own words being used against her. She hadn’t planned on letting things get as far as they had between them. She knew the consequences if they were found out. But she’d fallen for Daniel “Hondo” Harrelson…fallen hard. Suddenly the lines between wrong and right seemed blurred now.
He regretted his words but he was too hurt and angry to take them back. She’d chosen her job over him and had demanded her key back as if he meant nothing to her. Besides he hadn’t planned on letting things get that far. He assumed they were just having fun, keeping things casual but he was hooked and he had to admit that Jessica Cortez had managed to steal his heart without him being able to put up much of a fight.
He watched her grab her purse and her jacket and head to the door. Hell yes, he wanted her to stay but he remained silent. Then just as she reached the front door she reached in her pocket and pulled out a weathered leather strap with a single bronze key hanging from it and placed it on the table near the door.
“See you at work tomorrow, Hondo.”
“There are no endings. If you think so you are deceived as to their nature. They are all beginnings. Here is one.” Hilary Mantel, Bring Up the Bodies
(Photo credit: CBS)
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