A Year in Seattle – Week 17 – Reality Crash

A Year In Seattle

Week Seventeen

Thursday, October 12th, 2056 – Hazards of the job

It wasn’t until I’d reported for duty that I realized I hadn’t heard anything on the Philips’ case, or on my evil twin for that matter. I gave Andrews a call but got his voice mail. Curiouser, when I reviewed my new disk, Philips wasn’t on it.

I didn’t have all that much time to ponder it though, our clientele had other plans for us. It wasn’t quite as stressful with Ray splitting the motorcycle calls with me. The sad part about that is the fact that soon we’ll be switching to different shifts. Soon we’ll be training new moto medics. And it looks like the simulator is going to be an approved part of the training.

When I finished cleaning up and briefing Walter, I called Andrews at the station I got his voice mail again. It was still a little early so I drove over to the station, planning on waiting for him.

I was surprised when the desk sergeant signaled me over to the side when I asked to see Andrews.

“You haven’t heard have you?” he asked me softly.

If that wasn’t enough to set me on edge, his expression was. I waited, all the while my stomach sinking.

“Pete got shot the other day.”

Just like that. ‘Pete got shot the other day.’ I nodded numbly, wanting to know how it happened., knowing it was probably better I didn’t know, but still wanting to know.

“Is he … all right?” I finally managed to ask.

The sergeant nodded. “They say he’s going to be fine, but they’re keeping him under observation for a few more days.”

I took a deep breath and nodded. “Where?”

He looked at me for a moment as he tried to figure out what I meant. “Turner Clinic,” he answered finally.

“Turner?” I asked in surprise. The Turner Clinic was not the sort of place you went if you had a choice in the matter. At least I’d learned that much in my travels. It was also in Snohomish, which is kinda out of his way.

“Do you know what case he was working on?” I asked.

The sergeant studied me for a few minutes and shook his head. “You’ll have to ask him,” he told me, knowing full well that I was already on figuring on heading over there.

I nodded. “Thanks.”

He smiled and told me he’d see me Monday.

Snohomish was sort of on my way home, in a general sense at least. When I got there I was just in time for visiting hours. It took me a little while to find Andrews, but when I did, I understood why he’d ended up here.

Judging by his chart, he’d have been dead if they’d tried to take him anywhere else. As it was he was in serious, but stable condition. He was still pretty out of it, but I stayed there until visiting hours were over, dozing in the chair.

Then it was time to head back to work.

Friday, October 13th, 2056 – Things don’t always go the way you plan

The night started out slowly, giving me way too much time to think. I began wondering if Andrews getting shot had anything to do with my cases. I’m like that. Somebody I know gets hurt and my first thoughts are: ‘What happened?’,’ Could I have done anything to prevent it?’, and after what’s been happening lately: ‘Was it because of something I’d done?’

I spent a lot of time wondering if it was my fault. I mean, let’s face it, I’ve made some really wonderful friends and some rather terrifying enemies. The Philips case had AZT written all over it, although shooting someone lacked a certain grace and the element of terror I’d come to expect from them.

I knew it could be something else, and that the Philips case was now his, but I’d done the groundwork, I’d gotten people into Paren Dee…

Fortunately, things picked up as the night progressed and I had less and less time to worry about it. Sometimes I think that’s why I stick with the job. It’s not the adrenaline, it’s the total concentration and focus required to get the job done.

When you’re working on a victim with multiple stab wounds, you can’t be thinking about anything except keeping them together, getting them stabilized and getting them out of there ASAFP. It demands your concentration and dedication, nothing else matters until the call is over.

Almost nothing, it’s not an unhealthy thing to worry about the person who stabbed your patient, and whether or not they’re going to play a roll in you getting him where he’s going. The key is to be prepared but focused on the situation as it unfolds.

Everything is in flux. Your patient may be stable and everything may look fine right before they go into cardiac arrest- it happens.

I had a lot to think about, but I had a lot of things to nicely put it on a back burner where it could be viewed objectively. To think that Andrews got shot as a direct result of something I’d done was… egotistical? The world does not revolve around Jess Miller. (If anything it flows past me on its way somewhere else.)

I was planning on heading over to the hospital when I got a call from Saunders. Andrews had stabilized enough that they were taking him into surgery. He promised he’d call when he knew anything.

I asked him about the shooting and he told me it was still under investigation, but as soon as he could, he’d tell me about it. I didn’t like the sound of that, but I could tell that Saunders didn’t like not being able to tell me about it either.

I decided the best thing for me, (aren’t you proud Mario?) was to relax and take my mind off of things for a little while. And for me, that meant Saturday morning trid with Michael.

When I tried to get on the island, I learned something else that can take your mind off of things- bureaucracy. Unfortunately, it can also cause a lot of undo stress.

When I got there the border guards were busy and seemed to have imported some new help to deal with the deluge. One of the guards I didn’t recognize asked me for my blue card, and whether I had an appointment or not.

I’ve never had a blue card, just a standing invitation. That had always been fine before, but now- before I could answer any of his questions, he decided I looked ‘suspicious’ and signaled another newbie over to help him deal with this possible threat.

As one of them started going over my bike, the other continued questioning me. “Who are you?”, “What is the purpose of your visit?”

All in too fast a succession for me to answer, and of course my not answering just added to their suspicions, and the number of guards that were surrounding me.

My luck, running true to form, left me surrounded by complete strangers who only knew that I was a possible threat. Finally one of them realized that the questions were coming too fast for me to answer. He took it slower, and got really confused by the answers.

I mean how do you deal with some chick on a bike that’s trying to get through security to watch Saturday morning trid? Finally, it escalated to the point that one of the older guards arrived. I was never so relieved to have someone call me by name. You should have seen the expression on the mob of guard’s faces when he walked up and asked me what the problem was.

“Jess,” he called. “What are you still doing here? Michael’s probably figured you aren’t coming by now.”

I gave him a relieved smile, he gave me a wink and told me to go on. I could see the surprise and confusion on the faces of the assembled group of guards as he waved me through.

After that, I vegged in front of the trid with Michael.

Saturday, October 14th, 2056 – Keep moving

Once again I ended up sleeping over at the Walkers. I got to talk to Jonathan before I left. I could tell he knew a lot more than he was telling me.

I gave him a rather hard questioning look and he shrugged.

“It’s all I can tell you, Jess,” he sighed. “There is more and I’ll tell it to you as soon as I can, I promise.”

I nodded, but I was beginning to feel like a little kid where all the adults are talking over your head. On the intellectual level I knew that it was a police matter, but emotionally- they were keeping something from me and I wanted to know what it was.

I had a few hours before I was due at work so I decided to take a swing around Turner and see how Andrews was doing. When I got there, Casey was waiting for me.

Just as simple as that. He wasn’t there to see Andrews, he was there because he knew I would be.

“Jess,” he said with a slight nod.

“Case,” I answered with a slight smile. “Good to see you’re looking better.”

He smiled. “I’d be doing a lot better if I didn’t have to be here.”

I nodded. That was something I could completely understand. I wanted so much to ask him what had happened, but I knew that even if he did know, he wouldn’t tell me- not until he’d been given the go ahead.

We had a long talk about other things. Life, my search- the trouble I’d been having with AZT. We very nicely avoided any talk of his wife, relationships or anything like that. I really wish I understood where I stood with the man, but right now we’ve got a lot more important things to deal with.

I was mulling that over all the way to the station. Once I got there though, I didn’t have too long to stew over it though. Work was hectic and chaotic- in other words, everything I love. By the time was over, we’d treated some 30 odd people… Attended three fires, I say attended because there wasn’t all that much for us to do aside from treat smoke inhalation. We helped go through the building and search for people, but there was no one to be found, the fires weren’t really all that dangerous. That in itself can be a hazard.

I’ve seen more firefighters get hurt fighting a simple blaze. It’s easy, and they get careless. Guess its true for everyone.

Sunday, October 15th, 2056 – False trails

I stopped by Turner again on the way home. Andrews was looking better. He was still pretty much out of it, but his chart indicated that he was doing better. I stayed there for an hour before heading on into work.

We were monitoring the police calls when I heard a traffic stop call for one Alan E. Miller. I stood up looking around. Something told me it couldn’t be, but the SIN they relayed was his. I ran into the Chief’s office.

“Chief,” I called anxiously. I didn’t know where to start. I had to go and check it out, I just had to, but I was on duty.

He looked at me a minute, and as I waited, I could hear the scanner call continuing in his office. He’d heard it too.

“Miller” he sighed. “I think somebody did something to the bike- why don’t you take it out on a test run.”

I smiled at him and then headed out, it was too good to be true, and that was exactly the case. As I got there, I saw a muzzle flash. I turned towards it, my headlights illuminating the area as the police officer fell to the ground.

I don’t know who the shooter was, but it wasn’t my brother. He fired three shots at me, taking out the headlight with the second shot, me with the third. Once again I was very thankful for my vest, and Mrs. Walker’s enhancements on it. My chest hurt like a mad dog, and I was flat on my back, but I was suffering from impact damage, not penetration.

It took me a while to force myself upright and call it in. Then I was concentrating on the officer. I shook my head as the APB went off on Alan. ‘It wasn’t him,’ I wanted to scream at them, but it had to wait. The officer was my first concern. I got him stabilized, but it took a while. It took even longer for an ambulance to show up, and even longer for the Star to release the officer to their care.

They wanted as much information as they could from him, and when they saw my name tag, they didn’t want to listen to anything I wanted to say.

It was a very frustrating call. I couldn’t help the man I was supposed to help and I couldn’t defend the man who hadn’t shot him. They had his name, everyone had heard the police call- open and shut case.

I could have talked to Andrews about it, but he was still at Turner. As I turned to get on the truck I was detained. The investigating officer held me back. They’d gone from thinking I was covering for my brother to thinking I’d somehow been involved.

That went away when one of them started to pat me down and little too hard. The officer felt the vest about the same time as she hit one of the slugs. I winced. She looked at me questioningly as I pulled up my shirt. It was the first time I noticed where the bullet had hit- if it wasn’t for the vest, I’d probably have been killed. She reported this to the chief investigator as he waited for his team to collect the tapes from the officer’s onboard cameras.

They had two, the more obvious one on the dash and one mounted in the grill work. The dash-mounted camera had been destroyed, but the grill one was still functioning. They never got a good view of the shooter like I had, but there was one thing we could agree on, the shooter had been left-handed- Alan is right-handed.

It wasn’t much, but it put enough question into the matter that they changed the call to ‘wanted for questioning in the shooting of an officer.’ At least there was that.

I wasn’t up for too much more, and was forced to get checked out before I headed back to the firehouse. A flatbed had already returned my bike by the time an officer from Lone Star had dropped me off.

I was feeling pretty bad about the whole thing, but now more than ever I needed to talk to Andrews. I knew that would have to wait till morning so I went to work replacing the headlight. It was no use- the bullet had it dead center taking out the light and some of the wiring. It’s a wonder that bullet didn’t go through the rest of the bike and kill me.

Yet another thing to think about, and yet another mystery to deal with.

Monday, October 16th, 2056 – The wrong door

When I got off work I headed over to the station. It was not a good day for Lone Star. I knew that when I saw the flag flying at half mast. I knew they’d lost someone over night. I was afraid it was the officer from last night’s shooting.

Almost as soon as I got in, I found out that wasn’t the case. He was still unconscious in ICU- I should have been relieved about that, but when I found Jonathan and Casey waiting for me, I knew it was a lot worse.

Andrews had died of complications following his last surgery. I know better than most that it can happen. Patient’s doing well, goes in for surgery and doesn’t come back. It happens- It happened.

They’d come to console me, to tell me what had happened. I was only half listening. Andrews had become a part of my life, my search. He was an anchor in this insanity and losing him, just as I was maybe getting somewhere, was too much.

Jonathan was the one who suggested getting me out of the station, away from the chaos. They were both upset by the loss as well, I realize that now, but- I was still in shock.

We ended up at a pub near the station. It was the local ‘police bar’ and it seemed to have its share of mourners. People drinking to the memory of lost comrades, to Andrews- and to Martinez, the officer who’d been shot last night.

I got more than a few stares from those toasting Martinez. Seems a lot of people had heard of me at the station, me and my quest. Now I was involved with the death of one police officer and possibly a second.

It didn’t matter that I had treated Martinez, that Andrews was a friend of sorts. All that mattered was the name Miller and the fact that Martinez had just called in my brother’s name. Only it wasn’t my brother- or was it? Was I so sure of that that I was blinding myself to what I had really seen?

I stared woodenly at the beer Jonathan had placed in front of me. I was numb. Finally, I looked up at him and then at Casey. “What happened? How did it happen?”

They knew I meant Andrews and that I didn’t mean how did he die, that I understood too well. I needed to know how he’d gotten shot in the first place. They didn’t have all the details, but they had enough.

He’d gone to Shonomish investigating one of his cases. They had no idea which, but as I scanned the list I figured out which was most probable: a woman who had just vanished. Her husband had gone to work one day, and when he got home she was gone. I shared that information with them and they nodded.

Turns out he’d had a lead on her and was going to talk to her sister when he knocked on the wrong door. Instead of a worried sister, he’d found an illegal chem lab.

That was it, with all the dangers he’d faced every day, he’d ended up being killed because he’d ended up at the wrong place at the wrong time. I took a healthy drink from the glass in front of me as I let it all sink in.

I’d like to think that if it had just been Andrews or Martinez I’d have been able to deal with it, but it was just too much. I could feel myself shutting down. I was numb. I wanted to just have it all go away, but I knew that wouldn’t happen. There was too much else going on.

I was practically oblivious when an officer came over and demanded to know what ‘SHE’ was doing here. He was drunk, upset and I was the best scapegoat he could find. Only problem was he meant it, and a lot of the others watched in silent agreement. I think that’s what sent me over the edge.

I’m not sure what happened, but I do know that Casey took me home while Jonathan kept the other officers from following.

When I woke up, it was all over the news: one cop dead, another in critical condition. Two different shootings in less than a week. Again, the newscasters were giving ‘in depth’ coverage of the situations. For Andrews, they told the story of how he died, for Martinez, how desperately he clung to life- and how he’d been shot by some scummy low-life shady character. I turned it off as they displayed a driver’s license picture of Alan.

Whoever had ended up with the case had decided my brother’s fate with that. He’d gone from suspect, to possible suspect, to public enemy number one, and there was nothing I could do about it. I’d become persona non grata at the police station, and something tells me it’s going to get a lot worse.

Tuesday, October 17th, 2056 – Good-Byes

Now I know it’s going to get a lot worse before it even thinks of getting better. Jonathan broke the news to me that I had been asked not to attend Andrew’s funeral. It was suggested that it might cause trouble. He offered to stay with me, but I knew he needed to say goodbye as much as I did, Case too.

I’ve never felt so defeated in entire life. It wasn’t Alan, it couldn’t have been. Part of me wondered if I was deluding myself, but the primal level, the one that had brought me out here in the first place, told me it couldn’t be Alan. Alan was a healer, not a killer. I knew that, and I knew he hadn’t been the one who’d shot Officer Martinez, but in staying home, it was almost as if I was admitting that my brother had something to do with his shooting and that I was somehow involved, even if it was just giving him an alibi.

Jonathan gave me a quick hug, told me that Pete would understand, then left with Case. Casey had no idea how to treat me but finally opted for a hug. “We’ll tell him you wanted to be there,” he said softly, then they were gone.

I wasn’t alone for too long though, Mario saw to that. When I told him what had happened, he smiled at me. “I’ll take you.”

I shook my head. “What about the police, the request, the…”

He cut off my questions with a simple indulgent smile. “Jess,” he told me in a patient voice. “They won’t see you.”

And so, I attended the funeral with Mario. We stood away from the others, I was always afraid that the spell would dissipate, or that someone would walk into us, but nothing happened.

Listening to the priest I realized once again, that the services are for the living… and I was glad I got to hear the words, to see his friends even if they couldn’t see me.

At least I was there.

Wednesday October 18th 2056 -The third degree

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, they did. It was bad enough that I had been practically banned from the station, then, instead of asking me in to answer a few questions, I was brought in– in handcuffs. (at least I did get a good look at their IDs before they got in.)

I could tell the officers were hoping that Alan would be there. They did a good job of looking around, but the only people that had been there were me and the cats, who were hiding again.

I was hustled into an interrogation room where I got to sit and wait while they watched me. When they decided they’d waited long enough, the chief investigator came in.

“Sorry to keep you waiting Miss Miller.” His tone was even, but I could tell he’d already made up his mind about me.

“No problem,” I answered. “But it would be nice if I were un-cuffed.”

He gave me some song and dance about procedure. I pointed out that you cuff suspects, not witnesses. He told me that my status was still under investigation.

“Miss Miller,” he explained. “You have to understand my position on this. Your brother is wanted for shooting one of my officers.”

“I thought we operated on the assumption of innocence until proven guilty,” I finally answered. “My brother is wanted as a *suspect* not the shooter.”

He sighed. “It would be so much easier if he turned himself in,” he said as if I knew where Alan was and could make him materialize with a simple happy thought.

I started laughing a very bitter, almost hysterical, laugh. “He’s been a missing person’s case for over 6 months! I think if he were available, he’d have shown up a lot sooner…”

I didn’t mean to be sarcastic, but in trying to intimidate me, all he was succeeding in doing was annoying me.

“Miss Miller, I’m not the enemy here,” he told me.

“Neither am I,” I answered in as even and controlled a tone as I could manage. “You seem to forget… I got shot last night too…”

He glared at me and pointed out that I wasn’t in the hospital. “It seems you were very lucky Miss Miller.”

This time he emphasized my name as if by some odd association I was as guilty as he’d assumed Alan was.

“I was wearing my vest,” I answered. “And for once, I wasn’t moving on the bike.”

He looked at me after that comment. “You were expecting trouble?”

I let out a sigh. “I’ve had a lot of people shooting at me lately.”

“Look, even if I was to buy the fact that your vest saved you, there’s still the whole matter of you being there in the first place.”

I looked at him. “I’ve been here just shy of four months looking for my brothers, I hear a scanner call where someone is doing a wants and warrants check on one of them… Of course I’m going to try and find out what’s going on.”

“So it was your brother,” he said as if he’d caught me in something.

“The call was for my brother, right down to the SIN, but the man that shot your officer wasn’t my brother.”

“Are you sure?” he asked.

I nodded. “Shooter was left-handed, fast, very fast…I focused my headlight on him right after the muzzle flash. He turned, took out my headlight, then me– if I hadn’t been wearing my vest, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”

He studied me for a very long time, then sighed. “Miss Miller, as I see it, either you’re giving your brother an alibi, or you’re in denial.. either way, you can’t be trusted in this. Best case you’re a nuisance, worst case an accessory… so I wouldn’t be planning any long trips anywhere.”

I looked at him and sighed. “I’ve told you everything, and right now I’m not going anywhere.”

“I also want your gun.”

I looked at him and shook my head. “You suspect my brother of shooting a police officer so you’re going to confiscate my gun. That makes a lot of sense.”

“Look, Miss Miller,” his tone was a step lower. “We’re going to catch your brother, and if I find out you knew where to find him and you didn’t tell me, we’ll be coming for you. And if we have your gun, there’s a lesser likelihood of something bad happening to you when we come and get you.”

It was insane. Not only did he want my gun, he wanted me to cease and desist on my search for the boys, any active cases I might have and to relinquish all proprietary police information– the missing persons’ case files Andrews had given me. I was surprised he didn’t take my vest as ‘evidence.’

He hounded me for an hour more with threats about being an accessory and how he wouldn’t show his face around here if he were me, then finally cut me lose.

Of course, there was no offer to take me home and no way for me to get there without my ID short of walking. I ended up walking to the station. Casey caught up to me there and took me home.

I’m afraid I wasn’t much company.

Copyright 1999 – M.T. Decker

June 22, 2018

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