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The brotherhood, p.15
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       The Brotherhood, p.15

           Jerry B. Jenkins
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  Fox was squat and muscular, about five years older than Boone, with short black hair and a pointy face. Boone decided his name fit. The man seemed unable to talk about anything or anyone but himself. Fox told Boone of his every case, every caper, every exploit in the years he had been undercover. According to him, no one came close to being as good, as insightful, as aware.

  Fox was also impressed with his own libido. He was already separated from his wife, fast heading for divorce number two. Thankfully, no kids. He wanted to talk about his nearly nightly sexual conquests, and he also asked if Boone had met the secretary from Organized Crime.

  Boone shook his head.

  “Now there’s one I can’t crack,” Fox said. “Not a model, but you know, attractive, young. Gets hit on all the time. I mean, we have to be careful with all the harassment rules and everything, but there’s not a guy in OC who wouldn’t want to . . .”

  “Not available, eh?” Boone said. “Isn’t she married?”

  “That never stopped me. Sometimes they’re the most grateful, know what I mean? But no, Haeley’s never been married, far as I know anyway.”

  “I heard she had a kid.”

  “Well, yeah, a little boy. Under three, I think. Cutest little guy. But that was from some boyfriend who ran out on her, if I heard it right. She ought to be ripe for picking, but I think she’s a religious wacko or something.”

  “Yeah?”

  “She’s got some Bible verse on her desk. Well, not the verse, because they don’t allow that, but the numbers—whatever they call it. Besides that, she pretends not to know when someone’s coming on to her—I mean, she’s smart and everything, so I’m not buying that she can be that dense.”

  “Interesting.”

  “Maddening.”

  Fox started in on all his other prospects until Boone finally asked him to quit. “I’m missing my wife, if you don’t mind.”

  “Lighten up, dude. It’s been almost a year, hasn’t it?”

  Lighten up? Just like this idiot to think time heals this wound.

  Boone grew weary of hearing the same stories over and over, but he had not learned how to imply that he was not as impressed as Fox thought he was. Anytime Boone responded at all, with a nod or a really? or an uh-huh, Fox took it as rapt interest and kept going, plainly embellishing every story before moving on to another.

  Fox also seemed convinced that he knew more about street patrol than anyone else, and while Boone did most of the driving and was in essence the senior partner, Fox treated him as a rookie. He reminded Boone of all his years on the street before going undercover, and after each call he would debrief, explaining how he would have done things differently. Boone prided himself on being open to input and able to discern when Fox, though obnoxious, was right.

  And he had to admit that Garrett was a by-the-book cop. Boone never felt vulnerable or insecure with Fox in the passenger seat.

  In December, closing in on midnight, Boone and Garrett received a call to a bar where a man was drunk and disorderly. As Boone sped toward the address, he said, “I don’t know what these tavern owners expect with the kind of clientele they serve.”

  “Tell me about it,” Fox said. “I remember one time when I had to take on four Seabees from Great Lakes, on leave in the city for one night. They were all over six feet and about two-forty. Lucky for me, they were too drunk to counter all my moves. Single-handedly cuffed all four of ’em before backup arrived.”

  “That so?”

  “Dang straight.”

  “You’re telling me the truth?”

  “I don’t have to lie. I can show you the commendation I got from downtown.”

  “You carry four sets of cuffs?”

  “Well, no, I mean . . . You know what I mean.”

  “You subdued ’em until backup helped you cuff ’em all.”

  “Right, but believe me, it was me against four.”

  When Boone double-parked in front of the bar, Fox leaped out and waited for him at the door. They would enter together. But as soon as Boone reached him, two other bar regulars spilled out. “Watch it, Officers. The guy’s armed!”

  “What’s he carrying?” Boone said.

  “Big blade.”

  Fox laughed. “You don’t know Drake’s reputation. Got your move ready, partner?”

  “Shut up, Fox.”

  “Just sayin’ . . .”

  Both cops unholstered their Berettas and pushed into the bar. The place reeked, of course, and most of the patrons had backed into a corner. One slept at the bar, and two others dozed at a back table. The drunk-and-disorderly—a thick and shabby alkie about sixty years old—leaned across the bar, wielding a bowie knife and slurring threats at the bartender, who was keeping his distance and still had a 911 dispatcher on the phone.

  “They’re here!” the barkeep said. “Thanks.” He hung up the phone as the bad guy slowly turned to face Boone and Garrett.

  “I can throw this thing faster’n either of you two can shoot,” he said.

  “I’d love to see you try that, Freddy,” Fox said.

  “Let’s go, Freddy,” Boone said. “We’ve got your cot ready and a chocolate on your pillow. Now drop the knife so we can check you in to the District 11 Hotel.”

  “Very ffffunny,” Freddy said. He shifted the knife so he was holding it by the blade and reached up as if to throw it. He was so unsteady that it was slipping in his fingers.

  “You’re going to cut yourself, Freddy,” Boone said, approaching and holstering his weapon. “Now give me that, and don’t you dare even try to throw it or you’ll be charged with assaulting a police officer. Believe me, you don’t want that.”

  “Or the one I’d put between your eyes,” Fox said.

  Freddy’s eyes grew wide as he tried to hang on to the knife and defend himself, but Boone was on him in a flash. The knife clattered to the floor, and Boone grabbed a wrist and wrenched it around behind him, nearly making the drunk topple. Freddy swore and began crying as Boone kicked the knife to Fox and finished cuffing him. Soon they had Freddy in the back of the squad.

  “What was the trouble in there, Freddy?” Fox said.

  “He cut me off! ’Leven o’clock, and he says I had more’n enough. You b’lieve that?”

  “You sound like you’ve had plenty,” Boone said.

  Freddy leaned forward and awkwardly flashed him an obscene gesture, cursing.

  “Behave yourself,” Fox said. “You know you’re not going to remember any of this tomorrow.”

  “I’ll get my other knife and cut you both before then.”

  “You want me to write you up for threatening a police officer?” Garrett said. “You keep your nose clean and you can keep wasting your life drinking all night instead of rotting in County or Stateville, you hear me?”

  Freddy waved him off and seemed to fall asleep.

  At the station Boone opened Freddy’s door to help him out. But when Freddy got onto one foot, he drove the door into Boone as hard as he could. Boone kept hold of the handle and pressed his hand against the window, but as he tried to position himself to subdue the drunk, he slipped on the ice, and all his weight transferred to the squad car door. It slammed on Freddy, who was half out of the car, and Boone heard bone and tissue give way. When he righted himself, he discovered what he had feared and swore aloud.

  Freddy lay against the floorboard, shin torn open to the bone, a wrist artery splashing, and his face appearing to have been ripped open from his eye to his chin. Fear filled his eyes.

  “Help me get him onto the seat!” Boone said as Garrett raced to them.

  Fox was on his radio calling for an ambulance and reporting a drunk in danger of bleeding to death. He turned to Boone. “That was a little overkill, don’t you think?”

  “I slipped, man! You think I wanted to hurt this guy?”

  Onlookers approached from a nearby bus stop, and a middle-aged woman began bellowing, “Look what you did to that poor man! That’s police brutality! I sa
w it! I’ll testify! I’ll press charges! You better hope he doesn’t die on you, slamming the door on him like that!”

  Freddy the drunk was rushed to the hospital, where he was patched up and held for several days. Meanwhile, Boone was suspended pending an investigation by Internal Affairs.

  Boone hated the downtime. It reminded him of the weeks of furlough that had followed losing his family. Garrett Fox assured him he would say whatever Boone wanted him to say when questioned by Internal Affairs.

  “Tell the truth, Garrett. You know me. You think I tried to kill that guy?”

  “You don’t want me to tell the truth, Drake. I saw him try to ram you with the door. But he was way drunk and half-asleep, and it was more funny than menacing. You weren’t in any danger from that old coot.”

  “I know that.”

  “Then you slammed the door on him so hard, you almost did kill him. Now I’m your partner. You tell me what went down and that’s what I’ll run with.”

  “I told you. I slipped on the ice and all my weight hit that door. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

  “So 100 percent an accident.”

  “Exactly.”

  “You got it.”

  “But you don’t believe me.”

  “I know what I saw, but don’t worry. We’re all brothers under the blue, right?”

  “Let me tell you something. If I thought you did what you think I did, I wouldn’t want to be your partner anymore. And if I thought you expected me to lie for you, I’d be sure of it.”

  “That’s how you thank me for standing up for you? What’s the matter with you, Drake? You’ve got citizens who are gonna say they saw what I saw. If I say the same, you’re done.”

  For several days the story was all over the news, dominating even the increased gang violence accounts. Somehow the origin of the case, a drunk threatening a bartender with a bowie knife, was lost in the shuffle. What it became was a story of a routine arrest gone bad, when a short-tempered cop meted out street justice on a harmless drunk. The eyewitnesses’ accounts were on the news every night, while Garrett Fox said he was not allowed to say anything before the case was investigated by IAD.

  Things looked bad for Boone. And in his hour of need, Francisco Sosa called, texted, e-mailed, and insisted on coming to see him. Boone finally gave in.

  “I like the place, Boone,” the pastor said, sitting next to him in the small living room. “You’re looking good, by the way.”

  “So are you.”

  “Yeah, but you’re working out and eating right. It shows. We’ve missed you, man.”

  Boone wished he could say the same, but he didn’t want to lie. “Maybe one of these days I’ll get back to church.”

  “You’re not going anywhere? I hoped that maybe, you know, you’d found a place without the hard memories, something like that.”

  Boone shook his head. “I read Nikki’s Bible once in a while. Try praying. I’m not too good at this stuff.”

  “You know, don’t you, Boone, that you’re not the first to suffer like this? Is it still too soon for me to get tough with you?”

  “What do you mean?”

  “Something’s got to shake you out of this, man. I’m never going to tell you to quit thinking about your loss. But the Bible is full of people who suffered for no apparent reason. You remember what happened between Adam and Eve’s first two sons? One murdered the other. We feel bad for Abel, but he was in the right. What had Adam and Eve done to deserve that?”

  “They sinned, right?”

  “Well, sure, but they were already paying for that. Was it really necessary for them to lose their beloved son at the hands of their other son?”

  Boone shrugged, but apparently Sosa had just begun.

  “Abraham was instructed to sacrifice his own son. Can you imagine?”

  “He didn’t have to in the end.”

  “So you think he didn’t suffer? Isaac’s twin sons, Jacob and Esau, hated each other. Joseph’s brothers threw him into a pit and left him for dead. Moses was not allowed to see the Promised Land. The list in Scripture goes on and on.

  “People suffer. Sometimes there’s an explanation, but lots of times there isn’t. We all deserve death and hell. Why should you or I be spared? What did we ever do to deserve what we have?”

  “I don’t feel sorry for myself anymore,” Boone said, knowing as soon as it had passed his lips that he was not being entirely honest. “But Nikki and Josh didn’t deserve to suffer that way, especially if the whole reason for it was God getting my attention.”

  “Do you think that was the reason?”

  “I don’t want to think it.”

  “Neither do I, Boone, because that wouldn’t sound like God.”

  “Can you put any spin on this that makes it sound like something God would allow?”

  Sosa hung his head. “I told you, Boone. I’m not pretending to have the answers here. I just want to see you back in church, back in the Word, back in prayer. You don’t have to come to our church, but go somewhere. You need brothers and sisters. You need to nourish the inner life. Here, let me leave you with a reference.” He scribbled it and handed it to Boone.

  When Sosa was gone, Boone had to admit to himself that he appreciated the man. He was trying. And he was sincere. There were certainly plenty of reasons to give up on Boone. There was nothing in this effort for the pastor or his church. With its size and resources, it didn’t need Boone Drake.

  He sighed and looked at the slip of paper. Psalm 23. He knew that one and could probably quote it or get pretty close. He reached for Nikki’s Bible.

  The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.

  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

  “I will fear no evil.” Well, there was some truth to that. Boone was no longer afraid of dying, because what lay on the other side had to be better than this.

  “He restores my soul.” If only that were true. How Boone longed to have his soul restored.

  “God,” he said quietly, “can you really restore my soul? And can you let the truth come out in this investigation?”

  Again he felt foolish after praying.

  The next morning, still suspended, Boone called his parents to tell them why he wouldn’t be home for Christmas.

  “If you’re innocent,” his mother said, “God will protect you. I’m confident.”

  “I’m glad you are.”

  “Oh, Boone . . .”

  “And listen, I need to apologize for how nasty I was to you before the funeral. You didn’t deserve that.”

  “Honey, that was a year and a half ago. I understood then and I’m over it now. Are you sure you can’t get away? You need your family, and we miss you.”

  “Next year for sure. Promise.”

  Boone visited Jack Keller in his new office downtown. He saw the nameplate for the secretary Jack shared with Fletcher Galloway, but Haeley Lamonica was not at her desk. There was a photo of a blond-headed boy, and sure enough, there was a tiny frame with a Scripture reference someone had handwritten in calligraphy. Jeremiah 29:13. He’d have to remember that one and look it up.

  Keller was packing up to head to a meeting but took a minute to let Boone run through the IAD case.

  “. . . So Fox thinks I’m guilty but will stand up for me anyway.”

  “As he should. But that’s not going to carry any weight against other eyewitnesses, especially more than one. And you know Freddy’s got it in for you.”

  “’Course. Could I lose m
y job over this, Jack?”

  “You sure could. I won’t lie to you. And even if you somehow survive it, there won’t be any plum transfers for a while.”

  “It’s been more than a year already since you left.”

  “And it’ll be another half, regardless. But this could kill it altogether.”

  “Any advice?”

  “All you can do is tell them the truth, Boones.”

  To his surprise, Boone found himself praying more frequently, and not always late at night before going to bed. He chastised himself, telling himself he was falling into old ruts, praying only when he had a crisis. But this was a crisis. And while he hadn’t done his part in the relationship with God thing, he really did need help. Would God help him? It seemed he needed a miracle now, and he couldn’t imagine one on deck.

  He looked up the verse Haeley Lamonica had referenced on her desk:

  You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

  13

  Intervention

  Wearing a civilian TIE for the first time since the funeral nearly eighteen months before, Boone bounced a foot and tugged at his collar. The Internal Affairs Division investigation into his abuse charge had dragged on and on, mostly due to the fact that a key witness had gone on vacation at the wrong time. It happened to be a female police officer who had pulled her squad in behind Boone’s at the same time Boone was attempting to extract Freddy the drunk from the backseat.

  When Boone first heard that her dashboard video cam had been running, he was certain he would be exonerated. Unfortunately, especially for Garrett Fox, the angle of the camera did not clearly show what had happened with Boone and Freddy. The door was at the edge of the shot, and while the ugly impact was plainly recorded, only Boone’s hands could be seen on the door, not what propelled all his weight against it. The recording did, however, show that Garrett Fox had his back to the action for several seconds before the impact and had turned only at the sound of Freddy’s screams and Boone’s hollering for an ambulance.

 
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