“Good morning, Patch!” Jerry handed the sergeant a cup of steaming coffee. “Two more days, huh?”
“Shut up, Jer,” the old man said, frowning even as he took the cup and blew across the top. “You can’t say things like that. My grandson’s starting college, and he’s depending on my retirement pension to supplement his basketball scholarship.” He glanced around the bustling precinct at the shockingly good-looking detectives gathered in small groups, studying huge whiteboards covered with photographs and diagrams. He took a sip of his coffee, hissing as it hit his lips. “You remember what happened to my son-in-law?”
Jerry shook his head. “He was hit by a car, wasn’t he?”
Patch rolled his eyes. “He was hit by a car two days before he was leaving to take that great job with Interpol. We had that party for him, with the streamers and the cake that said Good Luck Michael on it?” He pushed aside a stack of case files and set his cup down. “We ran out of ice, and Michael volunteered to walk across the street to the convenience store and buy some. Three steps into the road and blam! Knocked into next week by a laundry truck being driven by a crazed psycho.” He pointed at the mess on his desk. “That’s why I’m not leaving for coffee, not cleaning off my desk and certainly, absolutely not discussing anything that might happen in two days. It’s just asking for it.”
“Okay,” Jerry said cautiously. “So Michael Jr’s on a basketball scholarship? That’s wonderful. I know he and his mom don’t live in the nicest part of town, so it’s great that he’s getting away from all that-“
“Damn it, man, can’t you keep it quiet?” Patch leaned closer to the rookie cop. “You can’t say that either. Danny Millerson was on the same scholarship last year. High school star, full ride and he was finally going to be free of the gangbangers on 8th Avenue, until the FBI came to town investigating that Eyeshadow Killer. They went to the gym where Danny worked out, because they’d heard a rumor that he might know something. Kid was on the elliptical machine at the time but all the questions distracted him. He fell, broke his leg, lost his scholarship and ended up running that dang convenience store across the street.” He threw his hands up. “I won’t have the same thing happening to Michael Jr. Maybe you should just sit down and type up a report or something.”
“O-o-okay,” Jerry said. He slid into his chair and glanced around the desk for some busy work to do. Suddenly the lights went out, leaving everyone in darkness for a few seconds until the backup generators kicked in, bathing the room in weird bluish-white light. An alarm screamed out from the ceiling, and gunfire echoed from the main hallway. Jerry dropped his hand to the gun at his hip. Patch was already on his feet, but instead of running to help, he was climbing under the desk. “Get under cover, kid!” he yelled.
“But there’s trouble!”
“And you’re a rookie! If we go running out there now, you’ll manage to shoot the bad guys, but only after I get shot first. You’ll hold my hand as I bleed out, and you’ll cry in that manly way over me dying two days before my….you know. Same thing happened in ’11. A crack gang stormed the precinct to break their leader out of the holding cell, and McDow and Fedders ran out to save the day, even though McDow only had one more day. His widow plays bridge with Margie.” Patch grabbed for him. “Get down!”
“Okay fine, you wait here, old man. I’ll be right back.” Jerry turned to join the fray, but Patch leaped out from under his desk and tackled the younger man to the floor.
“You can’t do that, either,” he said. “You leave me here, and the bad guy’ll slip in from the back and hold me at the end of his gun until you come back. Didn’t you read the Police Stories Monthly in January? Phil Brown left his partner to go chase down the Jester when he and his crew were tossing grenades up and down Main Street, but when he came back, the Jester himself was waiting. He’d superglued a grenade to Henry’s chest, tied a string to the ring and was standing across the room waiting to pull it. The only way I stay alive is if you hide, too.”
People were shouting, and shots were ringing out, but Jerry sighed and crawled under the desk with his soon-to-be-ex partner. “Okay, so here we are. How do we know when it’s okay to come out?”
“We wait until the shooting stops and the ominous footsteps have passed us by. It could take some time. Might as well relax.” Patch glanced up, then smiled at Jerry. “Since we’re going to be here a while, can you reach the coffee?”
** Between watching a couple of shows and reading a book that were just stuffed full of goofy tropes like these, I decided to have a little fun. Hope you enjoyed it!