The Tilted Cup- Morning
“The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.” – James A. Garfield
It was early but it didn’t matter. Hondo hadn’t slept well all weekend and since he had decided to take some time off, he had nothing else to do. So, here he was, sitting in a coffee shop forty minutes away from home.
A lot had happened recently and in hindsight, the last few years had led him to this place. He was tired; tired of being the pawn for someone else’s gain and political aspirations, tired of providing and fighting for folks that expected even more. He’d done what everyone had asked and had demanded and because of it he had lost everything. No one else had paid a cost quite as high as he had. And for what? Truth?
Fatigue had emotionally dropped kicked him and there was nothing to show for it but egg on his face. He’d ridden around on his self-righteous high horse, demanding his way, while stomping his feet demanding to be heard and…to be right. Deacon had succumbed to his tantrums, and he’d paid dearly for it.
Hondo wondered if Deacon would forgive him. He’d asked the man to put his life and the lives of his family on the line because it was the, “right” thing to do. Was it? Deacon’s hesitance was not what defined him, was not a symbol of his character, but Hondo had convinced him it was and after the dust settled, Deacon could very well become roadkill in Hondo’s fight for truth.
He was sorry, but Deacon, the man who most people believed should have been 20 David, wouldn’t hear it. Now that Hondo had been demoted, perhaps in a twisted way, justice for Deacon would be done. Somehow, the thought didn’t bring Hondo comfort. His friend had done the unthinkable, he’d turned on a fellow brother in blue; there would be a price to pay. It would be a steep price, one that could very well force Deacon to watch a deserved promotion escape him once again.
So deep in thought he didn’t see her standing at his table. He didn’t hear the bells over the door announce her arrival either. He didn’t hear her say, hello…twice.
A soft hand on his shoulder pulled him from his thoughts. Her friendly concerned smile caused him to straighten in his seat.
“Othella, please! I think we’re way beyond formalities.” Then, “May I join you?”
Hondo nodded and smiled while Othella sat in the chair across from him. Her eyes studied him. This man had saved her life almost a year ago and she’d thought about him often over the months. She’d kept track of his career, his rise and his fall but she would keep what she knew to herself for now.
“You looked so far away I hope I’m not disturbing you.”
“Uh, no, no… I was just…It’s good seeing you again, Othella.”
The older woman smiled and nodded and wondered how long their dance of pleasantries and denial would last. The waitress came and took her order as she refilled Hondo’s cup.
“You’ve been quite busy.” She began. “How are you, really because frankly, you look like hell.”
“Honestly I’m not sure.”
“I heard what happened and I’m sorry.”
“Wow, bad news travels fast.”
“Can I ask you something? If I’m out of line just let me know.”
“Why did you do it? What did you hope to accomplish?”
“I was tired of the hate and tired of racists sons-of-bitches not being held accountable for their actions!”
“Okay, okay!” she began holding her hands up as if to surrender.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to take that out on you.”
“No apologies, please. I’ve been around a long time, and I know your frustration but…”
“You have to be willing to risk it all and more often than not, you will lose, everything!” She warned.
“Okay, what was I supposed to do, just let it happen?”
“Let what happen? Racism and in equality and corruption is a part of the LAPD history. Did you think you were going to change it in a day, with one interview?” She asked.
“Honestly, I didn’t know what was going to happen, I was just so, so angry. It sounded like…”
“…a big, F-You?” She interrupted.
“Yeah.” He chuckled dryly.
Othella watched as he stared into space while his fingers tapped lightly on the table.
“You’re not wrong you know?” She began again.
Hondo slowly turned back to face the older woman. She reminded him so much of his mother. He nodded, yes then sipped his coffee that had now grown cold. As if on cue, the waitress approached and refilled their cups.
“It’s all about knowing your place.” She started.
“Knowing my place, really?”
She saw the anger in his eyes.
“It’s not what you think. What I mean is that sometimes we’re placed here to merely stir the pot, you know make things uncomfortable. We may never see the change; we may pay a high price for even opening our mouths and we may never even see that what we did made a difference.”
“I hear you.”
“It’s what our ancestors did, what our grandparents and parents did.”
“It just seems like we’re fighting the same old battles that we thought we’d already won.”
“That’s the problem, the fight never ends, the enemy simply adapts, like a virus. It shifts, changes directions, and comes at us in another way even uses our accomplishments as a weapon against. You see, they know the more you gain, the more you have to lose.”
“That’s for damn sure.” Hondo agreed.
“Now my young friend, you have to ask yourself, are you willing to lose everything you’ve gained for the cause?”
Hondo didn’t have an answer, besides it felt as if he had already lost everything. He had never felt so alone in his life, fighting a war that seemed un-winnable. He had convinced himself that he was fighting for everyone, that his cause went far beyond color but now it was hard to identify an ally, black, white, or blue.
Othella smiled across the table, she felt for him, committed and a little naive but committed, nonetheless. He was battle-worn, and his heart was shattered, but she saw something in him; she’d seen it the first time they’d met when he had saved her life. It was a fearless, selfless courage that was rare, and she’d only seen it a few times. He was wounded and perhaps needed time to heal, but she was certain that he would survive, and once Hondo had a moment to rest and lick his wounds, he would be back with a vengeance.
Othella pulled a business card from her purse and slid it across the table and stood to leave. Hondo looked up at her wanting to say something, not sure of what.
“I admire you Hondo for having the courage to do what you did. Don’t let anyone convince you that you were wrong.”
Hondo shook his head, still not sure what to say. Then just as she turned to leave, he found the words.
Home of Hondo Harrelson – Afternoon –
An hour later, Hondo was packing his bags. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d left town to take care of himself. Perhaps it was because he never had. He pulled the business card from his pocket and plopped down on the bed. She was the last person he expected to see or hear from again.
It had been two years; the billionaire businesswoman was holding court at a downtown five-star hotel, treating her management staff to her words of wisdom while at the same time treating them to expensive food and drink. It was her opportunity to fellowship and to thank them all for being a part of her business empire.
The woman had found herself in the middle of a hostage situation being threatened by a heartless murderer. She held her ground offering herself to protect the others in the room. Hondo had saved her from certain death, a fall of nearly eight stories. It was all in a day’s work, but Othella thought it was much more.
Hondo heard footsteps coming down the hallway. He wasn’t in the mood for talking but he had to at least tell his father that he’d be away for a while. Suddenly, Hondo felt guilty for leaving the household to fend for itself. He was smothering, drowning in the feelings of helplessness, betrayal, and utter aloneness.
“You leaving?” Pops asked stepping into the room.
Hondo looked toward his father briefly then back to his bags.
“I need to…”
“What, run? Just say it! Those bastards kicked your ass! They closed ranks and showed you who was in charge!”
“Not now Pops!”
“Look son, I’m not criticizing you, we’ll never agree on you being with the LAPD, but I respect you for being the man that you are. What they did, yeah it was wrong!”
“So, what, are you saying, Pops, I told you so?”
“What I’m saying is that I get it. You go do what you need to do, for as long as you need to do it. We’ll be fine and I’ll hold down the fort while you’re gone.”
Hondo nodded his head in understanding still packing, still wanting to be reminded of where his life had led him. Pops was no fool, he knew his son was in pain. It made him angry to think about what had been done to him. The older man turned and headed toward the door. Just before stepping back into the hallway, he turned again to his son.
Hondo stopped and turned to face his father.
“I love you son and if you need me, no matter where you are, I’m just a phone call away.”
Fighting tears, Hondo nodded.
“But I suppose the most revolutionary act one can engage in is…to tell the truth.” – Howard Zinn, Marx in Soho: A Play On History
*We do not own S.W.A.T. or its characters. We are not affiliated with the show or its creators. We have created our original characters that will come out to play from time-to-time*
Photo Credit: Shemar Moore-Facebook page