Death Shall Have Its Day

Part 1: Fran

It had been a wonderful day for me as far as law enforcement had gone. Not too much crime, no disciplinary meetings, or going head to head with my desk sergeant about my preferring to be called ma'am or Cap, not Captain, as my father had often been called, or Mrs. Belding, who had been my mother. I'd been able to leave at five so I could get to a department gathering that was done by seven, then mercifully home before nine, allowing me to enjoy a glass of the Chief's cabernet and watch Inspector Morse on public broadcasting and catch more than my usual four hours of sleep, a true luxury. I was tucked under my down comforter in a deep sleep, fantasizing about Ed. I missed him terribly. We were in Golden Gate Park listening to the sound of a musical fountain. I could see the water shoot up in colored plumes. It was gorgeous. Fellini couldn't have done better. We were entranced by its beauty. The music repeated itself once, twice, three times. I groaned. It was my phone, and at this time of the morning, it was not going to be good news. I rolled over on my side. So much for more than four hours of sleep, I thought.

"Fran Belding" I said in a sleep clogged voice.

"Oh Tia, thank God you answered." It was Suzanne Dwyer, sobbing her heart out on the other end.

Sleepily I eyed the alarm clock. The luminescent dial glowed two.

"It's daddy."

I knew exactly what she meant by "It's daddy". I'd gotten that phone call and the knock at the door too. Immediately I was awake, out of bed, grabbing my robe and stumbling towards the kitchen to make coffee. By the time our call ended an hour later, I was working on cup number five and figuring out how to get to Denver as early as possible, finally booking a ticket on a 7 am flight. I'd worry about a hotel when I got there. Before Suzie hung up, I managed to get the details. Sam had been on a call. The perp panicked and began shooting wildly. Sam had taken two to the chest, his sergeant two more, but had managed to wound the shooter and call for help. Sam had made it to the hospital, but died in surgery. Eve had gotten to say she loved him one last time while he was alive. I was glad Sam had hung on for that. He was a good man and an equally good friend. I would miss him…a lot. I took a tissue and wiped the tears from my eyes. Picking up the phone, I dialed a familiar cell number.

"I've been waiting for your call." Ed said. "Tried calling a couple times, line was busy; figured that you must have been talking to Suzie. I'm calling her after we hang up."

I knew Ed would be spending as much time as he could with Eve and Suzanne, but he also had a murder investigation to attend to, all complicated by keeping his detectives focused not only on the Dwyer investigation, but on all the other cases they had on their desks, and keeping them away from any taint or complaints of police brutality in finding Sam's killer. I'd gone through that six weeks earlier, when Patrolman Teddy Chan had been struck and killed by a getaway driver. Fortunately, we'd gotten a description of the car and the plate and were able to arrest the driver in a relatively short time, but there had been more than a few hotheads of mine ready to face Internal Affairs in order to solve their friend's death.

"I'll be flying in about nine thirty."

He said he'd pick me up at the airport and offered to let me "bunk" at his place.

"Can't wait to see the bunkhouse, sheriff," I laughed.

"It's marshal, ma'am. I'm one of them there city boys." Ed's levity sounded heavy and forced. "I'm glad you're coming. Eve needs you, and I, well, this isn't how I planned to see you again, but I could really use your help."

It wasn't the circumstances I planned on either. "I better call Eve. You don't sleep through these nights."

"That's for damn sure. I'll let Mark and the Chief know and see you about 9:45." Ed replied and hung up.

As usual, Ed was hiding his feelings. Sam was a friend and a colleague, responsible in part for bringing him to Denver. Eve was not only his friend, but his former partner. I knew how he felt, sad at the loss of his friend, and at the same time furious this had happened. He'd be cautious and by the book, but whoever shot Sam Dwyer, wasn't going to stand a chance with Ed. He would take care of this and make things right.

Before I called Eve, I showered, dressed, and packed my carryon and bag, making sure I had all my identification and permits. I didn't want them to be alarmed as the Sig Sauer and shoulder harness went through x-ray as well as my trusty Smith and Wesson Sigma as a throwdown, what Mark used to call my "Ladies Gun". I had a feeling I might be asked for help and I wanted my own familiar weapons with me, just in case. I called the sergeant on duty at Mission, letting them know I was taking some emergency time off. "At least two weeks, maybe longer," I said. Promising to stay in touch, I told the sergeant, "It's family", when he asked for the reason for my sudden leave taking. I told him to have my sergeant, Midori Yamamoto, call me as soon as she got in, at the far more reasonable hour of seven a.m.

The clock in the kitchen read 3:30 a.m. It was almost time to go, but I needed to make that phone call. I punched the keypad with trembling fingers.

"Fran?" I heard her voice as she answered her cell. She sounded old, frail, her voice so shaky. "He's gone. Oh my God, Fran, Sam's gone. He's gone. What am I going to do without him? " She began crying huge wracking gulps of tears. I felt tears stinging my own eyes. I had an increasingly hard time making out the familiar contours of my apartment.

I waited for her tears to slow. "I know and I'm so sorry, Eve. He was a good man. I'm on my way to Denver. I'll be there about ten. Ed's getting me and then you and I will have some coffee and talk, just like we used to do at Phil'z. Do you think you'll be able to get any sleep?"

"The doctor gave me something. I haven't taken it yet. Suzanne and I haven't been able to leave." She was still at the hospital, too scared to go home where his spirit would be alive and very present. I realized I couldn't get to Denver soon enough.

"Ask someone to find you a place to sleep there. Take the pill and I'll be there soon. I love you."

"I love you too, Fran" she said softly.

I stared at the phone after we hung up. There were two more people I knew who would be up at this hour. I could do that much for Eve. I owed them this. Picking up my bags, I turned out the lights and locked the door.

Instinctively I drove to the familiar house on Nob Hill. All the lights were on. Parking the car, I walked up to the front door and knocked. Howard Whitfield opened the door. He gave me a silent hug, squeezing me so tightly I thought he might break something. After he pulled away, he led me into the sitting room. Marion Whitfield sat drinking coffee from a thin china cup. She was red eyed but otherwise composed. She got up quickly when I entered the room and hugged me for a long time. Then she remembered her manners. "Bonita, would you get another cup please? Captain Belding is here."

Bonita brought a cup of steaming coffee to me. I thanked her. She asked if I was going to find the pacheco who had killed Miss Suzanne's papa. I told her that I had been asked to help, and would do what I could.

"Bien" she offered as a benediction.

Marion motioned for me to sit on the settee next to her. I put the cup down on a coaster and took her hand.

"I so disliked Sam when I first met him", Marion began sniffling slightly. "He was not the image of the person I desired as a son in law, that I felt Eve deserved. I didn't want her to marry a police officer. But I was so wrong about him, so wrong." She broke into sobs. After she composed herself she added, "Sam was such a good man, honorable, a wonderful father, and he made Eve so happy."

Howard Whitfield moved closer, his arm around her, hugging her. He looked over at me. "If the Denver police do not do enough. If they can not bring this animal to justice. I want you to personally investigate Sam's murder. I want you to find that sick punk bastard and kill him." He got up, pulled out his checkbook from a drawer and scribbled.

"I can't do that sir."

"Damnit Fran, why can't you?"

"It's a matter for the Denver police, sir. Ed Brown's going to lead the investigation. You know he'll do a good job. He'll find Sam's killer, but I can't do a revenge killing. That's murder."

He sagged, suddenly looking ancient. He pushed the check into my hand and sighed deeply. "I, I'm sorry Fran, that was totally inappropriate of me. My girls are hurting and for once, all the money I have can't make it better for them." He paused to pull out a handkerchief and dabbed his eyes. "We'll be there early afternoon. If Evie needs anything, anything at all, you get it. It's the same for Suzie. Will you do that much for me Fran, please?"

I looked at the check. "This is very generous sir. I'll keep track of the bills and give you anything left."

"No, let me pay all your costs. It's good of you to go be with Eve and Suzanne. You're a true friend.

I looked at my watch. It was time. I gave them both and Bonita a hug and went out into the darkness.

As promised, TSA had an anxiety attack when they saw what I needed to have with me in carryon luggage and I fitfully slept on the plane. I felt dragged out and bedraggled when I got off the plane. Then my stomach did that flip thing. There was Ed. He'd changed in the year and a half he'd been out here. He looked great. Better than great.

He greeted me with a hug and kissed my cheek. "I'm so glad to see you."

"Me too." I returned the kiss.

He picked up my carryon. "Anything else?"

"A suitcase hopefully."

He handed me a credentials folder. "I've temporarily seconded you from San Francisco." He said as I opened it. "You are Captain Fran Belding of the Denver Police Department with full rights, privileges, and pay. We'll get a photo ID for you when we get to the office."

"That was fast."

"I need all the help I can get."

"I want to go see Suzanne and Eve. I know you do too. Afterwards.."

"We do what we were trained to do. Go through what we have so far, and find who killed Sam Dwyer."