Home of Chris Alonso – Morning –
Chris frantically rushed around her room pulling pants and tops from the closet and drawers then discarding them on the floor. She had no idea what to wear; not wanting to look too formal and unapproachable yet, she didn’t want to disrespect the intent of the experience either. So, after nearly displacing her entire wardrobe, she finally realized that the only thing that made sense was to wear her uniform. After all, it was her work with S.W.A.T. that had drawn the attention of the school’s awards committee.
Chris and most of her siblings and cousins had graduated from McGregor High School; she hadn’t been back since graduation and she was surprised that anyone remembered her. It was a shock to hear from Erving Spurnwell informing her that she’d been selected as this year’s honoree for the Community Phoenix award. Growing up she hadn’t thought much of awards but now as an adult Chris was humbled and she wanted to represent herself, her family and her community the best she knew how.
As Chris took one last look at herself in the mirror her phone rang; looking at the name flashing on the screen, she cringed.
“What’s up, Street?”
“Oh, just wanted to wish you luck today; you know with the award and everything.”
“Thanks, I appreciate that.”
“So, we’ll see you there! Luca and Deac are going to stop by the grocery store and grab some ridiculously large balloons and flowers…”
“NO, no way! You can’t do that! I don’t want you guys there, so call them and tell them not to come!”
“Ah come on, Chris!”
“I am so serious, if any of you show up and embarrass me, so help me I’ll…”
“Calm down, I was just giving you a hard time. No worries, besides Hicks has us all assigned duties to get the department ready for our annual inspection.”
“Well good. Remind him that I’ll be in after the awards ceremony.”
“Will do…and Chris?”
“Good luck, I’m proud of you!”
Chris smiled; breathing a sigh of relief, she ended the call and headed toward the door.
Home of Dominic Luca –
“Well, did she buy it?” Luca asked.
“Hook, line and sinker!” Street responded.
Smiling, Street slowly turned to face Luca who was nearly bursting with anticipation. Both men along with Deacon and Tan had hatched a plan to support Chris on this special day. They knew how she felt about attention, but it didn’t matter. Hicks had already given them an hour off to surprise their friend and now with balloons and flowers in hand, they headed out to meet Deacon and Tan at the high school.
Home of Hondo Harrelson –
“DARRYL! Hurry up man, you’re going to be late!”
“I’m coming, I’m coming!”
Darryl stepped into view before getting the last few words out of his mouth, Hondo shook his head eyeing the young man. It was hard to believe how much he had changed over the last two years. Darryl had gone from a gang banger selling drugs on the corner to a responsible high school student looking at graduation in the spring. He’d fought the system for his freedom and his rights as a father to participate in his son’s life and Hondo was proud.
Darryl looked up and saw the seriousness in his mentor’s eyes. He was about to get mushy and Darryl wasn’t in the mood for mushy this morning.
“Nah, no you don’t.”
“What? I’m just trying to say good morning. That’s what civilized people do you know.” Hondo teased lightly punching his arm.”
“You sure because it looks like you’re about to get all emotional on a brother.”
Darryl chuckled as Hondo worked to restrain his emotions. He hadn’t told the boy enough just how proud he was and what he thought of the man that he’d become. It would have to wait until a later time he supposed. They were both running late now.
Darryl adjusted his backpack on his shoulder and grabbed the breakfast sandwich from Hondo’s hand just before Hondo had a chance to take his first bite. Then laughing hysterically, he ran to the door.
“Hey, that was…” Hondo protested.
“Thanks for breakfast! I’ll see you tonight!”
The door slammed closed and Hondo laughed while his stomach growled mockingly. Then looking around the kitchen and finally in the refrigerator, his smiled turned into a frown.
“Damn, that was the last of the bacon.”
Home of Herman Lauder –
Maurice was nearly skipping as he strolled into Herman’s den. Handing one of the large cups to his friend, Maurice plopped down on the expensive leather chair in front of the desk.
“Ahhhh…I love the smell of napalm in the morning!” Maurice playfully quipped.
“The explosives haven’t gone off yet and neither has the gunfire.”
“Yeah, but just the anticipation of it all makes me horny!”
“That’s why I love you man…you get it! No one else does but you Maurice my man, get it!”
“We may be from two different worlds, you white and me black but yeah, I get you. Together we both are going to make sure this city pays for what they did to your father.”
Herman shook his head and took a sip from his coffee. Maurice was his best friend; the two of them made an unlikely pair but both were willing to die for each other. Maurice was the only person who Herman would trust to partner up with in the completion of his life’s work of revenge. Today was an important day, a day that would send a message to the city of Los Angeles and anyone who had opposed him. This was just the beginning; he would bring the city to its knees starting with the most vulnerable. They’d learn, all of them, including Sgt. Daniel Harrelson.
S.W.A.T. Headquarters –
A hungry Hondo entered the building, stomach growling and in search of food; he hoped that Luca had brought in another experiment from the food truck; he’d gladly serve as a guinea pig this morning.
The building was quiet and there were no signs of his team. The kitchen, locker room and even the command center were deserted. Just as he rounded the corner near his office he bumped into Cmdr. Hicks.
“Hey, where is everybody? I thought we were cleaning house this week?”
“Yeah we are but I gave the guys an extra hour this morning to support Chris at that awards thing at McGregor.”
“But I thought she didn’t want a fuss…”
“Neither did you but did that stop them?” Hicks smirked.
“No, it didn’t.”
Hondo smiled remembering his welcome back reception that had been interrupted too early for him to enjoy it.
“Chris is going to have a fit!” Hondo added.
“Yeah well she’ll get over it.” Then just before disappearing into his office, Hicks turned back. “Don’t forget we have that meeting with the Mayor this afternoon.”
“Trust me, I won’t forget.”
McGregor High School – Auditorium – 8:55 a.m.
Mr. Spurnwell hadn’t changed a bit; still punctual still the skinniest man she’d ever seen in her life. He had become an institution within an institution having served as McGregor’s principal for over thirty years. Looking around the room, Chris was relieved to see a sea of strange faces; no one from work had decided to show up against her wishes and she was grateful. In less than thirty minutes she’d be on her way to work without the relentless teasing from her friends ringing in her ears.
Between the irritating tapping and squeal from the mic’s feedback the room finally came to a halting silence. Luca, Deacon, Street and Tan quietly slid through the door and found seats in the back. It was quite a sight to those around them to see four old guys wrestling with a bright rainbow-colored cloud of oversized balloons while taking their seats and looking so un-cool.
Meanwhile, Chester pulled his dirty-blonde hair into a ponytail and tucked it under the black ski mask that hid his face. Maurice had warned him what would happen if he messed up and so checking to make sure that he was not seen, and weighted down with a semi-automatic and enough ammo to re-load at least a dozen times, he opened the double doors of McGregor High’s main entrance and headed toward the auditorium. Following the noise of cheers and applause Chester knew he had one chance to prove his worth to his employers. Reeling from the murder of his friend, Ricky, Chester didn’t want to end up the same way. He was determined to make Maurice and Herman proud today no matter what.
S.W.A.T. Headquarters –
Hondo chuckled as he checked his watch; the awards ceremony should have started by now. He could only imagine Chris’ reaction at seeing the others. He didn’t want to be on her bad side, but he’d give anything to be a fly on the wall of that auditorium right now. Then his phone rang, the number was unknown; puzzled, he answered it.
“Is this Sgt. Daniel Harrelson?”
“Yes, this is Sgt. Harrelson, what can I do for you?”
“How does it feel to know that somebody’s child will die today and there’s nothing you can do about it?”
“Who is this!” Hondo shouted.
“I’m your worse nightmare!”
“What do you want?”
“I want you to know that I beat you…I won…I always win, Sgt. Harrelson!”