Shuttered Part 1

“The only thing that makes life possible is a permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next.” Ursula K. LeGuin

 

Home of Hondo Harrelson – Morning –

Daniel Sr. had grown weary of the endless updates and warnings to stay home.  Even with the Mayor’s voice on TV playing in the background repeating his orders to obey the mandates for social distancing, he was weary of it all.  He’d gotten used to his new routine of spending time with his family; with Charice.  They’d started spending time together, not planned at first but now he looked forward to their occasional mornings at the neighborhood coffee shop or dinner at her place. His children, especially Hondo made it no secret that they were not pleased.

“Hey Pops!”

Hondo couldn’t help but notice the distracted distant look.

“Hey son.”

Pouring the last of the coffee into his travel mug, Hondo glanced at his father who’d retreated back into his thoughts. He wondered if his mother had come to her senses and kicked the old man to the curb; he could only hope for as much.

“What’s up with you?”

“Uh, nothing, nothing.”

Daniel wanted to share but he knew how his son felt; he’d warned him on more than one occasion of what would happen if he hurt his mother again.

“Nah, there’s definitely something. C’mon spill it, Pops!”

“I’m just going a little stir-crazy, that’s all. You know me, I ain’t never been one to be cooped up in the house all day.”

“Yeah, I know.  All about them streets, right Pop?”

“Come on, son! I need to get out, go for a walk…”

“Listen to me and listen to me good! You heard the Mayor and everyone else who has half a brain; it’s not safe! The only way we’re going to get a handle on this virus is to stay home!”

“I got that but I’m just saying…”

“Look, you just finished a round of chemo so that means your immune system is weak and you’re old…”

“Hey, watch yourself now!”

“Stay. Home!”

“Fine!” Then with an urgent desire to get under his son’s skin. “Maybe I’ll call your mother, I’m sure she’s just as bored as I am.”

Hondo shook his head and glared at his father which brought a grin to the older man’s face.  Grabbing his bag and without another word Hondo headed out the front door.

Home of Charice Harrelson –

Charice pulled her robe tight around her body as she waited for the kettle to boil. She hadn’t slept well and now her body ached and her head was splitting.  Denying the truth, she tried to think of a million reasons why she felt as if she’d been run over by a train, but it had been a week and she wasn’t getting any better.

She’d spent a lot of time out of the house before and during the quarantine volunteering at the women’s shelter and delivering home cooked meals to the medical staff at Cedars-Sinai and now she was afraid it had caught up with her. After all, she was in at least one of the at-risk groups. Yesterday she’d finally decided to get tested; it was a waiting game now.

Her phone buzzed on the table; it was Daniel. She picked it up with a slight smile that even she had not realized had appeared across her face.  Things had definitely changed over the last year; no one would have ever been able to convince her that she’d be keeping time with the man who’d left her, and her children broken-hearted years ago.  Charice had convinced herself that she hated Daniel Harrelson for what he had done but now she secretly looked forward to his calls.

“Good Morning Beautiful.” He purred into the phone.

“What are you doing up so early, Mister?”

“I needed to hear your voice before I could start my day.”

“Uh huh, I’m sure you say that to all your women.”

“No; at least not anymore.” He joked.

“Look here…”

“Hey now, I’m just playing.”

There was a silence between them that was comfortable. Charice poured honey into her tea while she waited for him to speak again.

“I can’t wait until they lift this quarantine, I’m going crazy in this house all day.”

“Yeah, I know but it’s the only way to stay safe so you’re just going to have to deal with it.”

Daniel heard something that sounded like a soft muffled cough.

“So, how are you? You okay?

“Yes of course, why?”

“Just asking, that’s all. You’d tell me if you weren’t, right?”

“Of course, old man. Stop acting like you care about me.”

“I do care about you, woman.”

There it was the silence again only it wasn’t as comfortable as before.

“Well, I better go, I’ve got a ton of things to do today.”

“Yeah, I guess. Charice?”

“Yes Daniel?”

“Have a good day.”

“You too.”

She couldn’t tell him that she felt miserable and that she was afraid she’d caught the virus.  Not now, at least not until her test results were in. None of them needed to know. She didn’t want her family worried about her; besides, it was probably just the flu.

SWAT Headquarters –

Hondo slammed his locker shut still irritated at his father’s comment just before he left home.  He couldn’t understand why his mother would let that man back into her life and it pissed him off to imagine them together.  If his mother’s heart was broken again, Hondo would blame himself.

“You okay, boss?”

Street approached his locker cautiously as Hondo searched for an excuse for his behavior.  He wasn’t one to share and he’d made it a point not to let any of them in too close even though he’d pried into their lives on several occasions with an offer of helpful advice.

“Hey Street.”

“What’s going on?”

“Nothing.”

“You sure, because it sure seems like it’s something.”

“I don’t know, maybe I’m making too much out of it but it’s my moms and my pops.”

“Are they okay? They’re not sick, are they?

“No, no. I don’t know it’s like they’re two teenagers…. spending time together and always on the phone…”

“That’s a good thing, right?”

“Hell no! Street that man, left us to fend for ourselves! I used to hear my mother crying when she thought we were all asleep. I can’t let that happen again, man.”

“Look, Hondo, I hear what you’re saying, but your mother is a grown woman and I gotta think she’s smart and she knows better than anybody what he’s done.”

“So why is she…why is she being so, so nice to him?”

“Look, I don’t know but if she’s willing to forgive and forget I guess you have to ask yourself, why aren’t you?”

Hondo had a million reasons why and a million memories of days when he needed his father, waited for his father and cried for his father.  Before he could respond his phone rang and they were summoned to the command center.

Command Center –

Luca, Deacon, Tan and Chris had arrived moments before Hondo and Street stepped into the room. With everyone present Commander Hicks began the briefing.

“Metro is requesting our help on a possible home invasion that took place shortly after midnight. The homeowners, Omar Sanchez and his daughter Sylvia were asleep when the intruders entered the home. Omar was shot twice in the chest and died; his daughter was shot twice once in the chest and once in the shoulder; she’s in surgery now at Community General.

“This is Robbery-Homicide, why SWAT?” Hondo asked.

“Look with this pandemic, everybody is stretched thin. We need to help out where we can.”

“So where do we start?” Tan asked.

Community General –

It had been almost two hours before Chris and Street were allowed to see Sylvia Sanchez. Her father had been killed the night before and the doctors had already warned them to take it easy on her.  To make matters worse the victim’s mother had died earlier the day before.

Marcela Sanchez, 65, a retired nurse had decided to come back to the profession she loved against her family’s wishes.  She’d worked for thirty years as an ER nurse and she considered it her calling.  Retirement had never felt right so when the pandemic hit, she was back on the front line lending her hands and her heart to fight the battle that seemed to be almost impossible to win. Now Covid-19 had claimed her as one of its latest victims.

“Miss Sanchez?” Chris began.

The young woman seemed so frail lying in the bed with tubes and monitors nearly swallowing her small frame.

“My name is Officer Chris Alonzo, and this is Officer Jim Street, LAPD.”

“My father, how is my father?”

Chris and Street exchanged troubled glances.

“We’re so sorry.” Street began. “Your father is dead.”

“Oh my God.” She whispered tearfully. “First my mother and now…well at least they’re together.”

“Miss Sanchez…”

“My parents were inseparable, two peas in a pod we use to say. I was wondering how my father would live without her. I guess I don’t have to worry about him now.”

Tears streamed down her face as she wept uncontrollably.

“Can you tell us anything about what happened?” Chris asked.

“Two men both had on dark clothes. I don’t know everything happened so fast. I heard my father and then the shots! I’m sorry, I don’t know anything else.”

“It’s okay, it’s okay. We’re going to find the men who did this.”

Street looked over at his partner, they had been trained not to make promises that would give victims false hope. The fact of the matter was they had very little to go on and now was not the time to make promises.

Just before Chris began to ask another question, the doctor stepped inside the room.

“That’s enough for now officers, she needs to get her rest. Perhaps you can come back later?”

Nodding in agreement, Chris and Street headed towards the door. Just before stepping into the hallway, Sylvia spoke.

“Wait.”

“Yes?”

“There was something one of them said.”

Chris and Street stepped back into the room and along with the doctor approached the bed.

“What was it?” Street asked.

“He said, they weren’t supposed to be home!

Dr. Marcus Kennedy kept a careful eye on what was happening.  He’d been on duty when the young woman had been admitted after surgery.  To say that he was concerned with her well being was an understatement.  He’d been a doctor at General for nearly ten years and gun shot victims were nothing new in the ICU. But Sylvia Sanchez was special; less than twenty-four hours before he had treated her mother and he was the one that had the unpleasant job of informing the family that their beloved mother had lost her battle against Covid-19. The husband had taken it the hardest unable to reconcile with the fact that his wife of thirty years had died alone and afraid.  Dr. Kennedy had taken on extra shifts to spell his colleagues for a few hours; rest had become a luxury and they all were running on fumes. He vowed to stay on duty, to make himself available and to fight the fight that he and the others on staff wondered if they would ever win.

As the two officers left the room Dr. Kennedy’s phone rang. Keeping his eyes on the two until they disappeared onto the elevator, he reluctantly answered the phone.

“I told you not to call me when I’m on duty!”

“They weren’t supposed to be home! You told us they weren’t going to be home!”

“What?”

“We walked into that house thinking no one would be home! The old man and his daughter were there!”

Kennedy looked around before speaking again.  He couldn’t afford being overheard.

“Listen to me! Calm down, we have to remain calm!”

“Man, we got problems! Now the cops are looking for us! This was supposed to be a simple in and out just like the others!”

“Stop worrying! The witness can’t identify you; it was dark, and she didn’t see it coming!”

“You’re not hearing me, doc! We killed that man! You screwed up!”

“Okay, okay but I swear to you! The daughter said she was taking her father to her house for a few days. How was I supposed to know they’d change their minds?”

“I’m out! I’m out! After we sell the coins that we got last night me and Breaker are blowing town!”

“Come on, we’ve done this at least ten times, one glitch and you want to bail?”

“Easy for you to say Doc, you didn’t kill anybody last night!”

The call ended and Dr. Kennedy nervously pocketed the phone. His associate was right, he hadn’t killed anyone but if his patient became a threat, he might have to.