S.W.A.T. Headquarters – Morning –
The mood was lighthearted, and Street and Luca were up to their normal roughhousing and silliness. Hondo loved the energy and frankly this morning he needed it. His mind was still on Buck and even after almost three years the man was still a big part of his life; he’d made him the S.W.A.T. officer he had become, and he’d been like a father to him. Now with this latest development, Hondo wasn’t sure what to make of it all.
The breakroom was empty, and Hondo helped himself to the last cup of coffee. Before taking a sip, he started a new pot, his mind wandered back to the first time he had been chewed out for taking the last cup and leaving the pot empty. Coffee was a religion to Buck and Hondo would accuse the older man of having caffeine running through his veins. A lot had happened since those days, good and bad.
“I see the kids are at it again.”
Hondo turned to see Deacon enter the room.
“Yeah, looking at them reminds me of just how old I am.”
The too chuckled as Deacon grabbed a mug and waited for the new batch of coffee. He’d wanted to talk to his friend, but he also wanted to give him time and space. Deacon saw the far away look in Hondo’s eyes and his struggle to hide the fact that he was struggling.
“Old, are you kidding? I got up this morning and I swear half of my body stayed in bed.”
“Sometimes I think Mumford had the right idea, new wife, new life…”
“Are you thinking about leaving us, boss?”
“No man…they’ll probably have to carry me out of here in a pine box. Besides, no wife, no kids…this is my life.”
“There has to be more to life than S.W.A.T. Hondo.”
“I don’t know, I think you and Mumford are the lucky ones. I mean look at Annie, she’s amazing. They don’t make ‘em like her anymore. Your kids, they’re beautiful and they…they love their father!”
“If you’re trying to say I’m blessed, I won’t disagree with you. I know I’m blessed, but your blessing is out there too if…”
“I don’t think so, man. I can’t seem to, I don’t know, close the deal.”
“It’s never too late; look at Mumford!” Deacon teased.
“Yeah, okay. Let me go and order my red sports car right now.”
The two men shared a much-needed laugh and Deacon was happy that his friend’s mood had changed for the better. As much as it had hurt to have been passed over for promotion, he was happy that he and Hondo had remained true friends. He cared for and respected the man who had been chosen to lead their team for all the wrong reasons but who’d earned his regard without realizing that Deacon now considered him family.
Community Center – Afternoon –
Sybil was looking forward to Nechelle’s return. Her boss had been on the road for several weeks and running the center had fallen on her shoulders. The two women had met a few years ago at a conference on at-risk youth and hit it off immediately. When Nechelle offered Sybil the job as assistant director she jumped at the chance and made a fast move from Cleveland to Los Angeles.
A lot of work had been done while her boss was away and the center was almost unrecognizable with new paint, new flooring and a large delivery of furniture coming today. The large donation couldn’t have come at a better time.
Herman was surprised to see the recent face lift; impressive he thought as he parked and got out of his car. He smiled as he surveyed the area; the center stood as a bright shiny beacon in an otherwise worn and rundown part of town. His old college friend had done well but he was not surprised. Herman had known she would do great things and it would be nice to reconnect with someone who understood the benefits of focus and determination.
Sybil was surprised to see the stranger walk through the door; not many that looked like him ever made it down to this part of town but there he was tall, well-dressed and handsome. His smile spoke a confidence that she only saw on the privileged and successful.
“Hello, can I help you?”
“Yes, perhaps you can; I’m looking for Nechelle.”
Maybe he was another interested do-gooder looking for a place to spend his money. It was funny how only weeks ago, nobody knew the center existed.
“I’m sorry but she won’t be back until tomorrow. I’ll be happy to let her know you stopped by if you like.”
“That would be great, thank you.”
Herman pulled a business card from his breast pocket and handed it to the beautiful woman in front of him. He waited as she read it and he smiled inwardly at her recognition of who he was.
“Herman Lauder; the Herman Lauder?”
“In the flesh.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t realize it was you.”
“Not to worry. Nechelle and I go way back, and I just thought I’d stop in to say hi. Will you have her give me a call when she gets back?”
“Of course, Mr. Lauder.”
“Please call me Herman, I’m sure will be seeing each other again.”
“Herman it is. I’ll be sure to let Nechelle know that you came by.”
Sybil watched as the man turned and disappeared through the doors. Her friend had never mentioned that she had friends in such high places. As the delivery trucks pulled up in front of the building, Sybil sighed to herself.
“Oh well, back to work.”
Gables Bar and Grill – Evening –
The upscale eatery had made Hondo wish that he had gone home to change before agreeing to meet with her. It had been months since they’d spoken. The last time he’d seen her he and Nechelle were out on a date. Hondo had seen the look of joy then disappointment when he told her he was seeing someone. He was surprised that she had agreed to meet him tonight.
The waitress had seated him, and he ordered a drink while he waited. This was the same place he and Nechelle had met and even now he wondered if that meeting was by chance. She was smart and he believed that very few things in her life happened by chance.
He stood as the hostess led her to his table. He loved how she carried herself. She was confident and there was a flare about her that put the world on notice and whenever she entered the room everything seemed to pause momentarily. Hondo was happy to see the woman who he had shared so many nights with neither expecting or demanding anything from the other except relief and release and a place to land in the meantime.
Nia placed a light kiss on his cheek before taking her seat. Pushing her seat in, Hondo continued to eye her remembering their times together.
“Thanks for meeting me.”
“Why not? I never pass on an opportunity to reconnect with an old friend and you are buying, right?” She joked.
“I am indeed.” He countered back.
“I was surprised to hear from you Hondo. The last time we ran into each other, you were in a relationship.”
“Yeah, about that.”
“Don’t tell me, you’re free and single again?”
“Let’s just say, it didn’t work out.”
“Is that why you called me?”
“No, I just wanted to…”
“To what, go back to our old games?”
“No not at all. I just, I just wanted to see you that’s all.”
The waitress came and took their order. Hondo ordered drink number two and Nia ordered a glass of champagne. The next several minutes and a few more drinks later were spent in comfortable conversation. It was evident that Nia had not been bothered by the fact that they were no longer seeing each other. She was happy and doing well and now whatever they had seemed to have effortlessly morphed into friendship.
“So, what’s really going on with you Hondo?”
“What do you mean?”
“Something else besides a breakup is bothering you.”
“You were always a straight shooter, Nia.”
“I don’t know any other way to be. Life is too short, you know?”
“Okay fine. What do you know about a guy name Herman Lauder?”
(photo credit: Showbiz Junkies)