Holly knew that her father was wise beyond his years and was one of the most respected officers in the force. When he gave advice, she listened.
Rookie police officers didn’t make much money but after a few paychecks and Henry’s help, she moved into her own place. It wasn’t much but it was hers and it was the last step to her complete independence.
Six months after she joined the force, she was given a partner and a regular patrol. Charles (Chuck) Littlejohn was a gruff, unkempt man who was looking at retirement in three months. It was clear that teaching her the “ropes” was not very high on his agenda. He would often fall asleep while they were on patrol. Sometimes she would slam on her brakes just to wake him up. “What the fuck?” he would ask. She would smile and say “squirrel.”
She constantly reminded herself of what her father told her about paying dues and treating people like they mattered. Henry was nearing retirement, too and she tried to understand that about Chuck. But Henry was just as diligent now as he had been when he was a rookie. In her eyes, Chuck no longer honored the uniform, the badge or the profession and to her, was just about as useless as a third tit.
She didn’t dare complain because she didn’t want to be known as a whiner. She knew she could handle herself but she did worry about facing a real situation with a partner who was clearly no longer in the game. If she could just hang on for the next three months, everything would be golden.
Chucks’ retirement day finally came and there was the usual “good old boy” send off, regrets about seeing him go and good wishes for the future. Holly dropped by long enough to shake his hand and lie when she said “it was a pleasure riding with you.” Then she walked out, raise her hands in triumph while channeling William Wallace as she yelled “F R E E D O M!”
Her next partner, Earl Sinterman was the complete opposite of Chuck. On their very first call together, they were dispatched for “some strange man wandering around town.”
As soon as they found him, his first reaction was to run. He was no match for Holly’s speed and was quickly detained. Earl wanted to immediately slap handcuffs on him and haul him to jail.
Earl was one of those officers who wanted total and complete control of the situation. He told the suspect to keep his hands out of his pockets and when it looked like his hands were moving, Earl pulled his revolver and threatened to “shoot him where he stood.”
Earl was senior to Holly, so she figured that her input would be mostly ignored or considered invaluable but she was no pushover. It seemed to her that he could learn a few things like respect, consideration and compassion…the very things Henry tried to instill in her…and she wasn’t shy about sharing those thoughts with him.
Holly said. “Let’s talk to him and see what’s going on.”
Earl still had his revolver drawn as Holly began talking. “Sir,” she said. “Can you tell me your name?” He looked at her and said “people call me T-bone.” Holly asked why. He said “when the restaurant throws out the trash, I sometimes find what’s left of a steak and I gnaw on the bone.”
He looked at her and said “I wasn’t trying to cause no trouble, Miss. I was just looking around for change that maybe someone had dropped so I could get something to eat.” Earl snidely said “or something to drink.” Holly quickly gave him the “eye.”
She asked T-Bone where he slept. He said “most times, I sleep in the dumpster behind this restaurant.”
“How long has it been since you ate anything besides a bone?” she asked. T-Bone held up what looked like broken fingers and said “I think maybe three days.”
Holly walked into the restaurant and ordered a meal to go. When she handed it to T-Bone, he looked like a child on Christmas morning. He cried. Holly cried. Earl holstered his revolver.
As T-Bone walked down the dark alley, littered with trash, he turned and gave Holly a gentle salute.
She turned to Earl and said “we are the authority figures here but we are also the protectors. People call us when they need help or they think someone else needs help. Some people call us when they are afraid and see something they perceive as a threat. Some people call just because they’re mean-spirited and think homeless people are a menace to society.
Not everyone is a criminal. Not everyone is a bad guy and until they prove that they are, they deserve to be treated like they matter. This man may be dirty and he may smell bad but the only thing he’s guilty of is being homeless and hungry. Try to put yourself in his shoes.”
It was a watershed moment for Earl. Holly had made an impression. He appreciated her candor and her empathy. He excused his behavior as having been influenced by other officers who were trigger happy and more or less considered the general population to be garbage.
He apologized and Holly accepted. They were going to be a good match.
To be continued______________