The phone woke me up early the next day. I groaned, rolled over and grabbed the phone from my nightstand.
"Street?" The deep voice beckoned.
"Hondo?" No way in hell. Hondo could not have something for me to do this early. It couldn't be possible.
"Yes Sir Street. Could you come down to the station today?"
"What for?" I groaned. This was my day off, my only day off.
"Time to pick our new man." Hondo said. I could hear the little laugh in his voice. He obviously thought this was funny.
"When do you need me there Hondo?"
"As soon as you can get yourself here Jim."
"Ok," I glanced at the clock, 7:42. "Give me eight thirty Hondo."
"See you then Jim." I set the phone back down and rolled off the bed. Time to get my ass moving.
There were mountains of papers.
I swear to god. Give me a Sherpa and some climbing gear, and I'll knock that Edmund Hillary off the highest peak on the world.
"Hello there Jim." Hondo called from behind the huge stack of files.
"Hondo? Yell louder, I'll pull you out!" A loud chuckle led me to the other side of the desk. Hondo was seated in his executive chair, leg crossed over his knee and hand under his chin.
"Yeah, looks like we have our work cut out for us huh?"
"You could say that again." I said, swinging my arm at the piles. "Jesus Hondo, look at it."
"Don't worry yourself Jim, that is the pile I've already sorted." He grabbed a box from under the desk with about twenty or twenty-five files, and I could practically hear the boulder come off my shoulders.
"Damn Hondo, you scared me for a second." I sighed.
"That was the point." Hondo laughed again and moved towards the door. "Now let's get started. You'll take those ones, I'll take these." He pushed a stack of folders towards me.
Each guy was like the next; all of them had decent scores on academy testing. They had decent records as police officers. No one was outstanding.
"So," Hondo started. "You find anybody special?"
"No, how bout you?" I said, glancing at the clock. It was already two thirty.
"I got nothing." He sighed, propping his head up on his palms.
"Let's just try them all." I offered.
"What do you mean Street?" Hondo said.
"I mean, let's just try one guy, we don't like them. Try the next guy, you know, cycle through till we find what a guy who works with the team." I watched Hondo consider it. I couldn't tell if he thought it was stupid or not, but I was starting to sweat it just a little bit. Finally he went to answer.
"Not a bad idea there Jim."
The first replacement came two days later, Monday. His name was Frank. Frank Guiseppi. And if his name doesn't sound enough like a mobster, you should have seen his long slicked back hair. The guy was Al Capone in the twenty-first century, just on the wrong side.
Any ways, the guy was completely 51/50. It took him two hours to think he was the boss and two minutes to grate my nerves.
"Why do we got to go to the left?" Frank yelled from behind me. I whipped my helmet off.
"Because fucker, like I told you thirty seconds ago, it's a mock up. We have to go left because if we go right, like this," I motioned to the right, hit the trip line, and fired paintballs at myself. "Then that will happen." The rest of the guys moved back as the man pushed lightly on my chest.
"Whoa, slow down there little man, I'm just trying to understand you that's all."
I reared back and nailed him, straight under the helmet in the kisser.
"Hondo," I called out to wherever the he was watching us from. "This guy isn't working for me." His voice came over a hidden PA system.
"Yeah?" The man called, cradling his mouth.
"You heard the man, you're off my team." Guiseppi's face contorted in disgust.
"Hey fucking brainiac, you blind? This asshole hit me first!" He yelled. "If anybody's getting offed, it should be him!" Hondo's calm voice came back over the loudspeaker.
"Get out of my training facility."
"Whatever." The Italian ass called, dropping his gun on the ground and spreading both arms wide. "I'm better than this, and better than you."
"Hey get the fuck out of here." Boxer called, moving towards the man. Boxer had him with probably forty pounds and five inches.
"Yeah, you ain't on our team anymore." Deke nods, crossing his arms.
"Dick." Jesse spat, as Guiseppi walked away.
"And it's Sir next time Guiseppi," Hondo's voice boomed overhead. "Ok guys, go home. We'll try again tomorrow."
"They are dicks Chris, none of them are good enough." I said, resting my elbows on my knees.
"Come on, one of them has to be." She sighed. All I could do was shake my head. We'd been through six different guys, and each one of them was worse than the next. Too macho, too timid, too nervous, too anxious, too crazy, none of them were worthy of filling Chris's space.
"I swear to god Chris, six men, none are even half-way decent for SWAT."
"Fuck," She said tiredly. She had just finished her fourth failed attempt at circling the floor and was once again wiped. "Don't worry, you guys will find somebody."
"Yeah, but how long will it take?"
"Who knows, Jim?" She said, throwing one hand up in the air.
"Let's talk about something else," I said, disgusted with the prospects of our team. "How soon do you think till you get out of here?"
"I don't know, I think I just have to make the floor, and be off morphine and shit. Then maybe," She said.
"Yeah, I give you three days to make it happen."
"Ha! We'll see." She laughed. "Sometimes it feels like I'm never getting out of here."
"No way girl, three days," I repeated, just as my beeper went off. "Remember that."
"You better get going." She said. "I'll talk to you later, tell me what happens."
"Ok, later Chris." I said. I flew down the stairs jumped in my car, rushing towards the PD department.
"What do we got Hondo!" I yelled bursting into the locker room. I was halfway into my kevlar when I noticed no one else was mounting up.
"What's going on?" I asked warily. Deke motioned towards Hondo's office where a heated conversation was currently take place.
"We got a new guy." I looked at him for a second.
"Ok, but why did they beep us all in here?" I asked.
"Fuller picked him. He says this is it. We are stuck with this dude." Jesse said, obviously annoyed, from behind me.
'Hey Boys, I want you all to meet Alex Forman." Fuller said, bursting out of Hondo's office. "He's your new teammate." He had a huge, obnoxious grin on his face. The man who followed him looked like he was straight out of GQ. He had the whole, clean cut look going, and it made me want to throw up. He had that hair. You know what I mean. He spent three hours in the bathroom trying to make it look messy.
The pretty boy offered his hand for a handshake. I took it and forced a smile to my face. It felt like I was shaking hands with a noodle or something. The guy had no grip. Each guy went around and shook hands with him. And each one forced an awkward smile just as I had. Hondo didn't even bother, and just crossed his arms in front of his chest.
"Forman here is from the Boston SWAT team." Fuller said as he back his way out of the locker room. "You just get aquainted now, and I'll get going." The man crossed his own arms over his ironed track jacket and smiled.
"Well, boys, how do you run things around here? Which one of you leads this team?" He asked. His voice held a thick accent.
"That'd be me GQ," I said and moved towards my locker to get my stuff. Forman looked me up and down.
"You think you can handle adding me to your team? I'm pretty hot stuff." He scoffed.
"Oh yeah Forman, I think we can handle you." I laughed, and grabbed my backpack from my locker. I pulled my vest back off, strapped the pack tightly to my back. I bid a "later", to the other guys, and made my way from the locker room and back to my car. Out in the parking lot, I was pulling my door open, when I heard a yell.
"Street, wait up!" I turned to see Boxer jogging lightly from the building. I closed the door, and walked to the back of my car.
"Hey Box, what's up man?" I said, leaning into the trunk.
"Can you believe that son of a bitch! I don't want that dick on our team. I mean, can we handle him? What the fuck does that mean?" He said, slowing to a walk.
"Yeah I know what you mean. He's grating my nerves already." I sighed.
"Yeah, well, I guess we'll see how he handles tomorrow," Boxer said. "You want to grab some drinks with me and the guys."
"Hell yeah! Same place?" Finally I got some plain old hang time with the guys. I'd waited too long for this.
"You know it bro. See you in five." He said, back towards his own car.