When At Last We Say Good-bye"

by

Dorisann Anderson

It was a cold, dark L.A. morning, as Jon waited by the underpass for his partner to show up. They always met there and rode into work together. This morning, Ponch was late... He was always a little late, Jon thought, but on this particular morning his partner was twenty-five minutes late already.

Jon was beginning to worry, when finally he heard the bike ride up. "Morning, Ponch, glad you could make it."

"Morning, Jon. Now don't give me a speech about being late. I was having a hard time waking up this morning...I still feel like I could sleep for a week!"

Jon shook his head. "You know if you went to bed at a decent hour you could get more sleep."

Ponch looked at his friend, with a worried frown on his handsome face, "I feel like something bad is going to happened, Jon."

Jon was used to Ponch's 'feelings' and knew something was wrong with him, but wasn't quite ready to deal with it this early in the morning. "Let's get to work, okay, Partner?"

Jon and Ponch had made it to morning briefing just as Sgt. Getraer was finishing up. "...and for the last thing this morning, be careful out there. We have a guy out to get cops. Last night he hit and ran over an LAPD officer...this morning there was a report of a guy sandbagging a motor cop. Keep on the look out and be careful."

Jon and Ponch spent most of the morning giving out speeding tickets.

"Jon look! A hit and run!"

Jon and Ponch quickly took out after the car. The driver took an off ramp to downtown Los Angeles. Ponch was close behind when the driver of the car suddenly sprang around and stopped.

The dark haired CHP Officer was going too fast to stop. Desperately, he swerved to miss the car, but was too late. He lost control of the bike.

Ponch was flung toward the car...his chin hitting the headlight and his chest smashing up against metal bumper. His bike came up from behind, slamming down onto his back.

Jon watched the entire event in horror. "7 Mary 3...officer down! Roll an ambulance to this location!"

As he radioed for help, the driver of the car once again got away. Jon ran to his partner's side. There was a lot of blood, and try as he might, Jon couldn't find where it all was coming from.

Ponch was in great pain and gasping for breath. Jon tried to make him as comfortable as possible, without moving him and possibly risking additional injuries.

"I can't breath, Jon!" Ponch gasped. "It's worse then you're telling me, isn't it?"

"Ponch, calm down. You can't breath 'cause you got some broken ribs," Jon said soothingly. Ponch drew in another ragged breath, then his eyes rolled back in his head. Jon grabbed hold of his hand, knowing he must try to keep Ponch awake. "Ponch! Ponch, talk to me! Tell me who I am! Ponch...open your eyes!"

Finally, the ambulance came and they rushed Ponch to the hospital.

Joe ran into the waiting room, where he saw a very worried and angry Jon. "Any word from the doctor, Jon?"

"No...not yet. What could be keeping them so long!?" Jon was walking the floor, his hands balled into tight fists. "I will find the person that did this, Joe, and when I do...I hope they give me reason to use my gun!"

"Jon, you're upset about Ponch ...you don't know what you're saying." Joe frowned, thinking. I hope he really doesn't mean what he just said. He knew how close the partners were.

Both men looked toward the waiting room door, as the Doctor walked in.

"Officer Poncherello has a broken right wrist, a fractured sternum and both lungs are collapsed. As of right now he is in critical condition."

"I want to see him," Jon said.

"Well, all right," the doctor said, "...but for only ten minutes."

"I'm staying with him for as long as he needs me!" Jon challenged, starting out of the room.

Jon walked into Ponch's room...having reluctantly left long enough to get something to eat, at the insistence of the medical staff.

Three days...and his Partner was still hooked up to all kinds of machines.

"Ponch," Jon whispered. "I'll find who did this to you and make him pay!"

Jon sat down beside the hospital bed. As he studied his friend's still form, his mind -- against his will -- traveled back to another terrible day...

VIETNAM:

It was early morning. The camp was just waking up, when they heard the first gun fire.

"Jayson over here!" Jon yelled, as the two ran off to safety.

Jon was just a little ahead of Jayson when he heard him yell out. As Jon turned, he saw Jayson fall. Rushing back, he tried to pick-up his friend, to carry him to a safe place.

"NO! Jon...it's too late. I...I'm not going to make it out of here alive. Jon, run! Get out of here! There's no use in both of us dying in this jungle."

Jayson looked at Jon with a gentle smile on his face.

"Jon remember when we were kids...all the trouble I got you into? When you think of me...think of those days."

"No...Jayson...!"

Jon watched, as his best friend died.

He heard the soldiers coming...took Jayson's dog tags...and ran.

A nurse had walked into the room to get Ponch's vitals, yanking Jon back into the present. As she left the room once again, Jon stood beside Ponch. He could hold back the tears no longer. He stood, there with tears running down his face, his voice cracking, as he started to talk.

"Come on, Partner, wake up. You have been asleep for three days now...you just got to wake up. Ponch...I need you!" Jon looked up. "God...don't take another friend from me! Please! I can't take it! I just can't!"

Ponch could hear Jon and knew something was wrong with his friend. He started to fight the darkness.

Jon had a hold of Ponch's hand when he felt a weak squeeze. Looking down, he saw Ponch open his eyes.

Smiling, Jon returned the squeeze. "Welcome back, Partner."

Several weeks later, Ponch was released from the hospital.

"You will need to be on light duty for some time," the doctor had told Ponch.

It was early morning when Grossman spotted the hit and run car responsible for Ponch's accident. "7 Mary 5...hit and run suspect last seen getting on the 405, north bound."

It wasn't long until Baricza, Clark, and Jon joined in on the chase. When the driver of the car realized that the cops would stop at nothing to catch him, he finally pulled over. Grossman got the man out of the car and started putting the handcuffs on when the guy began to speak.

"It's too bad I couldn't take more of you pigs down like that I did that Mexican cop!"

Jon heard the statement, instant rage showing on his face. "Let me have him Grossman!"

Instead, Grossman handed the suspect over to Clark. In the next second, he was helping Baricza hold Jon back. Jon Baker was six foot, strong and right now...out of control!

Officer Clark told the guy his rights, adding with emphasis, "You have the right to remain silent...use it or I'll let Jon have you!"

"Jon, STOP!" Baricza called out. "He's not worth it! He's not worth your job!"

Jon walked into Sgt. Getraer's office. "Hey Joe, I need to take the rest of today off."

Sgt. Getraer looked up at Jon. "Yeah, well, Grossman told me what happened out there. Go ahead and take the day off." As his officer started out, he added, "Jon... Ponch is out of the hospital and is doing good...so don't let this eat at you so much."

"Okay, Joe," Jon agreed, a bit too readily. He knew that his superior realized it, but he wasn't ready to talk about what was keeping him awake nights. "I got something I need to do."

Right after Jon left the office, Ponch came in. " Hi Joe! Where's Jon?"

"Poncherello, what are you doing here? You're supposed to be OFF. You don't start light duty till next week."

Ponch grinned. "Gee...I've missed you too Joe." His expression became serious again. "I'm looking for Jon. He doesn't seem to be acting like himself. I'm worried about him."

"Me too Ponch," Getraer responded. "He just left here...he said there was something he needed to do."

"Sounds like I better find him." Ponch hurried out of the office.

Jon walked into his bedroom. He took out a shoebox from inside the closet. Within the box...

...were pictures of him and Jayson...

...and Jayson's dog tags.

Jon put the dog tags into his pocket. Looking at the pictures, he said, "One last thing still I need to do, Jayson..."

Ponch pulled up just in time to see Jon leave the apartment, and decided to follow. He remained in his car, when Jon made a stop at a flower shop.

He followed again, when his friend started the drive toward the mountains, falling behind as they took the twisting, turning roads. It wasn't too long, though, before he spotted Jon's car parked along the roadside.

He had gone as far as he could by car and now walked across the field, finally picking a spot in which to sit beside the mountain stream.

He was remembering...

...the time he and Jayson skipped school to go fishing.

"I caught the biggest cat fish ever and I have to throw it back 'cause we're suppose to be in school!" Jon looked over at Jayson who was laying bank laughing.

Ponch had followed Jon, but didn't know if he should go to him just yet, so he stayed out of sight for a while.

He watched as Jon got up and started to dig a hole beside a big oak tree.

Jon held Jayson's dog tags in his hands, looking up to Heaven, as the tears came again and he started to talk.

Jon said his last good-byes to Jayson, "I never told you how happy I was to have you as a friend...or how mad I was that you died. I...I never got to say good-bye."

Ponch walked over to Jon, not knowing what to say, so he simply stood there beside Jon...offering silent support.

At last, Jon looked up at Ponch. "Hi. You know, Partner, you need to work on your trailing. Your not very good at it."

Ponch laughed, then knelt down. "A special friend, Jon?"

"Yeah." Jon dropped the nametags into the hole, and covered them with the fresh earth. "I never got to say good-bye to him."

Ponch placed a hand on at Jon's shoulder. "Umm, Jon...you just did."

Sitting by the mountain stream, Jon began to tell Ponch about his other best friend, the one he had lost so many years ago.