|The Road Home
Author: meixel PM
A junior inspector's first undercover assignment has him in uncharted territory over the holidays. Set before the series, Steve proves he is game for the assignment, but Mike follows his every move to ensure his safety. (Story stick close to canon; some HC and some adult language.)Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Adventure - Chapters: 21 - Words: 34,229 - Reviews: 46 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 2 - Updated: 01-13-12 - Published: 12-15-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7640511
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Don't own the characters. My first submission...timeline is generic. The show was set in the 70's, but at this point I'm trying to make it not specific to any era.
Monday, November 22
"I'm telling you, Buddy-boy, it's no problem at all. It's just Jeannie and me, and you know she'd love to see you. She makes the best turkey and dressing – just like her mother did. Uses sausage in the dressing and those sliced water chestnuts. And the pumpkin pie, oh man… It'll be great!" Mike beamed and clapped his hands as he and his young partner hurried down the hall at police headquarters. His pace slowed only as he remembered his dearly departed Helen, who died six years before from breast cancer. Holidays were a bittersweet time at the Stone residence from that point on, but as Jeannie grew into the fine woman she had become, it was as if Helen was alive again and that gave Mike a renewed sense of spirit.
Adding to his renewed sense of spirit, was the very person walking by his side, twenty-eight year old Steve Keller. Steve was three and a half years into his police career, having spent his first six months at the academy followed by eighteen months as a black and white. Afterward, Steve began a brief rotation of Narcotics and Vice, but that ended when a junior inspector role at the Bureau of Inspectors, Homicide Division became available. Within the last year, Mike and Steve forged a strong working relationship built on trust and mutual respect. Steve was more than willing to learn from Mike, who was regarded by many as one of the best cops on the force. And likewise, Mike recognized Steve as someone with great potential.
"Sure, Mike, thanks. You know I love Jeannie's cooking", Steve grinned. "I'm going into the station in the morning, but can make it for an early dinner. I told a couple of the guys I'd cover for part of the day."
"Before you say anymore, you pulled enough duty this year. You deserve a day off – and especially a holiday. You always work the holidays and enough is enough. Besides, you need to put on some weight and there's no where better to eat than our place at Thanksgiving. And no suit and tie – come casual and we'll drink beer and watch football." Mike declared as they rounded the corner and entered into the Bureau of Inspectors office.
A wet and chilly November day, Steve pulled off his raincoat, hung it on the rack near Mike's office and grabbed a quick cup of coffee. Reaching in his pocket, he pulled out two dimes and gave Mike a wink as he covered the nominal coffee fee for them both. Mike grabbed his cup and entered his office. As he circled around his desk, he saw a phone message that Tanner left on his desk.
The message was from Father Adams, a priest whom Mike had come to know through the years. Father Adams conducted Mass at the neighboring parish of Holy Infant near where Mike grew up. His and Mike's paths crossed twice on cases and a few other times through social events at both their home parishes. The first case was a domestic homicide with a longtime member of Father Adam's church as the victim. The other case occurred when one of the locals robbed a liquor store and killed the owner. After the robbery, the killer then broke into the church to take what he could by way of cash or religious artifacts.
Mike reached for the phone and dialed Father Adams, who answered on the second ring.
"Father Adams? Mike Stone returning your call."
"Oh, Mike – thank you for getting back to me so quickly."
"What can I do for you, Father?"
"I'm calling about the Mary Sheffield case from, what's in been…eight, ten years ago? Do you remember that Mike? It's when we first met."
"Sure, Mary Sheffield was killed by her son for drug money. We put him away and he's serving 15-20 for second degree murder and a handful of other charges. Sure, I remember that."
"Well, Mary's sister, Margaret, called me and told me that the son died in prison – a suicide. It happened about a week ago. He left a note – a rather detailed note – of the murder and his role in it. Apparently he did not act alone."
"I can be right over, Father. Will you be there?"
"Sure – I'll see you in a bit."
Mike hung up the phone – "Come on, Steve. I'll fill you in on the way."
Twenty minutes later, the officers pulled up to the parsonage of Holy Infant. Father Adams greeted the detectives at the door, escorting them in. After introductions, the three men sat in the priest's office.
"I'll get to the point, Mike. As I said on the phone, Margaret Temple, Mary's sister, brought this letter to me. It came to her from San Quentin as part of her nephew's belongings. The warden and guards apparently didn't open the envelope since it was sealed with her name on it. Anyway, the kid hung himself in his cell – no one saw a thing – at least there is no one coming forward. Margaret opened the letter and well, I think you should read it yourself."
Stone took the letter from Father Adams hand and nodded his thanks.
"Dear Aunt Margie: I have reached the end. I know it is time and I've come to accept it. I have some things to say before it's all over. First, I am sorry – so very sorry for all the pain and sorrow I have caused you. I never meant for any of it to happen. I got mixed up with the wrong guys. It started out so small – just smoking dope and having a good time. Then we got hooked up with a dealer. Hooked up. I got hooked – that's for sure. And then I couldn't stop. I needed money, so I went searching for her purse. It was late and I didn't think mom would hear, but she walked in. But the thing was I wasn't alone. One of the other boys was with me. He was the one that hit her. He kept hitting her and then she screamed. He grabbed the knife. I couldn't stop him. I was so damned out of it. And then she was gone.
But you need to know that I kept quiet because the other boy threatened to kill Peter. I couldn't have another death on my hands. I did so much wrong before. And there was more going on. There were a couple of robberies that ended in people being killed. I was questioned on those robberies and I nearly took the fall for those too. I did take the fall for Mom and kept quiet. The other boy – I don't know what happened to him, but he seemed to be more in with the dealer. The other boy was Caleb Sanders. He's the one that did the killing, but as far as Mom is concerned, it wouldn't have happened if it weren't for me, no matter who had the knife.
Aunt Margie, please forgive me for what I am about to do. I live in so much pain. I know that this will cost my soul, but I can't take it anymore. I deserve what's coming to me. May God have mercy on me and may He forgive me.
Love you forever, Artie."
Mike handed the letter over to Steve along with the envelope that was addressed to Margaret Temple.
"Had you any contact with Artie while he was in prison, Father?," Mike asked as Steve read through the letter.
"No, but Margaret visited Artie. It was difficult for her. It didn't happen right away, but she worked it through and eventually tried to forgive him. He was her flesh and blood too, and when she realized that he had taken these actions when he was not in his right mind, she began to understand that he needed her."
"She must have been devastated with Artie's suicide," Steve remarked.
"We may be talking to her, Father Adams. Do you think she'll be ready for that?", asked Mike.
"I think getting to the truth will help her find peace.", the Father replied.
"Well first things first: we'll take this to the DA's office. I don't know if it's enough for us to build a case, but we'll reopen the investigation and get that office involved."
"Thanks, Mike, Inspector…" And with that, Father Adams rose and escorted the detectives to the door.
"So what do you think, Mike?", Steve asked as he started the car.
"I think we don't stand a snowball's chance in hell to get this Sanders guy if this letter is the only thing we have."
"But it's testimony…"
"Yes, Buddy-boy, but a good prosecutor would simply argue that Artie had a drug problem, didn't remember how it really happened, was delusional, grief stricken or wanted to take someone down with him. Take your pick. We couldn't even get an indictment at this point."
"Do you believe Artie's letter?"
"I don't know, Steve. I just don't know. But I do know, we need to find out more about this Caleb Sanders character."