The shriek of pain went straight to Jeff’s heart. He glanced over towards Zayne who nodded and pointed down the dark hall. The screams continued as they made their cautious way down the corridor. Jeff had to curb his desire to run headlong down the hall. He needed to get to his Uncle. He couldn’t make that call to his Uncle’s wife and children and tell them daddy wasn’t ever coming home.
They stopped outside a door where the screams seem be be emanating from. The took their position as they did before one on either side of the door. Zayne nodded signaling he was ready. Taking a deep breath Jeff kicked the flimsy door leaving it hanging off it’s hinges as he stepped through it.
A shot rang through the room and old man Reynolds went down hugging his arm to his side moaning. His son grabbed Michael holding a knife to his throat. “Don’t come any closer,” he screamed “I’ll kill him,” he threatened.
Jeff put his hands in the air releasing his finger from the trigger of his gun. “You don’t want to do that,” Jeff told him “let him go and things will go a whole lot easier for you.”
Shaking his head the man’s knife sliced into the delicate skin below Michael’s chin. A think trickle of blood ran down his neck mixing with the blood on his shirt from his other wounds. “Don’t come any closer,” the man repeated backing towards another door in the far side of the dingy room.
Jeff kept pace with the man’s attempt to escape. He knew Zayne had the other man subdued and was ready to step in if needed. As long as the man held his Uncle hostage Jeff couldn’t act. He shoved all thoughts of failure aside honing his attention to just the man’s body movements. Trying to anticipate what the man’s next move will be before he made it. He tried not to thinks about who the man was using as his shield. He couldn’t afford to let his feelings cloud his judgement. He felt sweat break out along his hair line. There was so much at stake he couldn’t let his Uncle down he swore he would protect him.
They reached the door. The man struggled to keep his grip firm on Michael as well as open the door. His momentary slip in attention to Jeff was all Jeff needed to take advantage of the situation. He raised his gun, aimed and fired. The man screamed releasing his grip on Michael who fell to the floor showered in the man’s blood.
Shaking from shock Jeff took a wobbly step forward before falling to his knees his gun slipping from his fingers onto the floor. “Is he dead?”
Zayne nodded confirming it “I’m sorry,” he said going over to his partner “he gave you no choice.”
“I know,” he gasped trying to keep calm when everything inside him wanted to run, to scream. “I feel sick,” he tried to keep the contents of his heaving stomach from spewing out to no avail.
“It’s alright Jeff it’s never easy” Zayne told him “I’m going to call this in and your Uncle needs an ambulance.” Jeff merely nodded letting his partner take charge.
Once the police arrived and roped off the crime scene they had to make a decision of what to do about the captain. “I reserve the pleasure of being the arresting officer,” Zayne asserted into the discussion “it’s only fair seeing as how he tried to kill me.”
“Make sure Mr Reynolds gets the works and his own personal guard” Zayne told the officers who were going with him to the hospital “we don’t want him doing a Houdini.”
“We won’t let him out of our sight,” they assured him.
Zayne walked over to Jeff who was staring after the ambulance that was rushing his Uncle to the hospital. “I called Jennifer to meet him there,” Jeff said his voice flat emotionless.
“You did all you could,” Zayne said putting a hand on his shoulder.
“I killed a man….”
“You had no choice,” Zayne told him “he would have killed your Uncle. You did the only thing you could do.”
“I know but it doesn’t make feel any better,” Jeff turned hollow blank eyes toward Zayne “I never wanted to use my gun. The first time I do I kill….” he turned a ghastly sickly green as he became violently ill once more.
Racing to the nearest trash can Jeff heaved up what little remained in his stomach “I don’t think I’m cut out for this job,” he said wiping his mouth on his sleeve.
“Don’t be so hard on yourself,” Zayne told him “it’s not an easy thing to do to kill someone.”
“I feel horrible. Even knowing he was a terrible human being doesn’t make it any easier. I killed someone. Took their life from them. What does that make me?” Jeff asked mind in a whirling mess.
“It makes you human,” Zayne told him “if it didn’t bother you you’d be just like that serial killer. The city can rest a little easier now knowing he’s out of the way. The victim’s families will know their loved ones have gotten justice.” Sighing Zayne looked up into the night sky “I wish I could say it gets easier but it doesn’t. When it does that’s when you have to walk away.”
Breathing somewhat under control Jeff nodded. He felt no better with what he had done but he knew if he had to do it all over again he would take the shot that saved his Uncle’s life. A world with his Uncle in it was better then a world with a serial killer in it. ” Let’s go and arrest the captain.”
“Now you’re talking,” Zayne slapped his back happy to have gotten his partner back in the game.
They walked into their old office. Everyone turned and stared as they walked into the Captain’s office. Closing the door behind them Zayne walked up to the captains desk. The room was silent you could hear a pin drop. “You’re under arrest,” Zayne announced holding up his handcuffs for the captain to see.
“The hell,” Captain Kody Quinn shouted “what right do you have to barge into my office like a couple of lunatics. Get out,” he shouted pointing towards the door.
“You must think we’re idiots or something,” Jeff said coming up along side his partner “Don’t you recognize your own officer Captain?” Jeff motioned towards Zayne “have you forgotten what he looks like. Is it that easy to forget the face of the man you left for dead?”
“How dare you make such groundless accusations” Quinn stood up behind his desk indignant. Once again he pointed towards the door “get out.”
Shaking his head Zayne produced a piece of paper “this is a warrant for your arrest…”
“For what?” he demanded a little panic making his voice rise “this is absurd.”
“This is a warrant for your arrest for attempted manslaughter of Zayne Thompson and in case you’re wondering that’s me. For tampering with and destroying evidence that allowed a dangerous serial killer remain on the loose….”
“You caught him…”
“Yeah no thanks to you,” Jeff scowled at him “you should have believed your son…”
“He didn’t do it but all the …” he collapsed into his chair defeated.
Zayne approached him without mercy “stand up your also under arrest for assault and battery, breaking and entering and if I could make it stick for being a rotten father and lousy human being.” He slapped the handcuffs on him and led him out of the office through the crowded station. Everyone stopped open mouthed and staring as they passed.
While Zayne escorted the captain to lock up Jeff stopped at his old desk. “Don’t get too comfortable” he said to the detectives sitting there “this is my and my partner’s desks and we’ll be back to claim them.”
Two weeks later Jeff was on a plane to see his wife and bring her home. She didn’t know he was coming. Didn’t know this nightmare was over. He stared out the window trying to ignore the nervous rumbling of his stomach. He couldn’t believe it had been almost a year since he had last seen her and his newborn son. He had lost a year of his son’s life. He’d be a year old in a three weeks. He couldn’t believe it had been that long. What if Lisa didn’t want him now? What if he was a failure as a husband and father? What about the next time his family was in danger? Would Lisa still be there waiting for him?
The troubled thoughts continued until he drove up and parked in his parents driveway. He sighed looking up at the imposing brick house more like a fortress then a home. Shaking his head he opened the door and was engulfed in an over enthusiastic hug. “I’ve missed you so much,” Lisa squealed as she wrapped her legs around him.
“Not as much as I’ve missed you” he said turning to return the hug “I guess this answer’s my question.”
“What question?” she asked looking into his eyes “whether you would want me after being gone so long.” He looked down at the ground “I’m sorry.”
“You have nothing to be sorry for,” Lisa gently stroked his face “I knew what I was getting when I married you. I knew being a police officer is a dangerous occupation. I was ready and willing to support you. That hasn’t changed.”
“I’ve been gone for so long,” Jeff protested “you deserve someone who will be here for you all the time. Someone you can count on to be around for holidays and birthdays. I can’t promise you those things. I’ve missed so much.”
“Jeff I love you,” she kissed his lips when he was about to object “you’re a good detective. You make the world a little better. I can only hope our children will be just like you.” She leaned into him “I’ll worry and fret about your safety and bite my nails until they bleed but I would never ask you to stop being you. Being a detective is who you are. Defender of the innocent.”
“Lisa how did I get so lucky to get you?” he asked squeezing her tight.
“It wasn’t luck,” she looked up at him smiling “I choose you.”
“Then I am the luckiest guy in the world,” he picked her up into his arms “now point me in the direction where I can make love to my wife.”
“Take me there,” she pointed towards a small tree house on the edge of a small woods. “If we go inside we’ll never have amounts peace until tonight and Patrick will be too excited to sleep without being in his daddy’s arms.”
“How do you know he won’t be afraid of me?” Jeff asked walking in the direction of the tree house.
“He told me that as soon as daddy came he was going to have you all to himself,” she kissed his cheek “he loves his daddy even though he hasn’t properly met you yet.”
It felt good to know he was important to his son. That despite the time apart Lisa had kept him a part of his son’s life. Stopping a that the base of the tree house “I love you,” he said bending to give her a passionate kiss he felt her fingers move to remove his shirt “we’re still in view of the house” he cautioned.
“I don’t care,” she said pulling his shirt over his head “I want you now.”