"Patience"

by Cardinal Robbins

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Disclaimer: Munch is not mine, but I sure wish he was!

This is a challenge response to the word 'patience.'

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They couldn't prove a thing.

I carry a nine-millimeter Glock, a matte black piece that protects me from Charm City and protects Baltimore at large from perps of all sizes and descriptions. Sometimes, my sidearm has more to do than simply rest against me in its holster. There are times when it is an instrument of revenge. Improbable, unproven, blissfully sweet retribution doled out by a career cop with a concealed carry and a quiet taste for vengeance.

He tried to take it all away from me that day. My friends, my family, my job…my life.

We put on our vests and walked toward the apartment building, silently confident the bust would go like most others. We knew it could have its hazards, which was why we wore Kevlar, but we didn't count on ordnance that would slice through. Our mistake.

A bigger mistake was in letting Kay Howard go through the door first, even though she wouldn't have had it any other way. We followed her up the stairs, straight into Hell as Gordon Pratt released a volley of shots that cut through vests and flesh with blood in their wake. Officers down, all three of my colleagues, and yet I hadn't caught a single bullet. Nor could I get a shot off in the ensuing chaos, much to my regret.

Lives were changed that day, and not for the better.

Kay Howard lost what little bit of naiveté she had harbored, turning into a more skeptical person than I remembered. A hole in her heart had drained more from her than merely blood. It had drained the last reserves of her essence, that spark of humanity, which kept her from becoming as cynical as myself. She returned to the murder police a changed woman, and I ached for who she had been.

In the days after the shooting, I spent copious hours at my partner's hospital bedside, watching in confused fright with his ex-wife, as he coded before my very eyes. Only the quick response of the medical staff, and subsequent surgery, saved his life. A hole in his stubborn brain, a ragged semi-circular scar that reminded us all how close we'd come to losing one of our own. Stanley was never the same after that experience, changed from the jovial 'Big Man' into a sarcastic, ever-skeptical cop, jaded more than even I was at that point. It hurt me to see him change.

Beau Felton was the exception to the rule, not really metamorphosing into anything less than what he was before: a lazy, self-indulgent cop, who had no real future in the BPD. Perhaps the experience left him a bit more thoughtful, unfortunately those thoughts were limited to himself and how he viewed each situation. Everything managed to roll off Felton like the proverbial water off a duck's back.

And where did all of this leave me? I'll tell you where – sitting on a bus bench outside an apartment building, biding my time. When the situation requires, I have all the patience anyone could ever need. This was one of those times. I sat, waiting…simply waiting, patiently observing. An hour passed, then two. At the top of the third hour, he came home. My target. Soon to be a victim of the same violent crime he had inflicted upon my squad mates.

I slipped from my watch point and followed him inside, quickly drawing my gun without so much as a sound. He heard my footsteps, or perhaps sensed them, and turned. His eyes widened in raw fear as he saw my Glock pointed directly at him. When he heard the muffled rapport, he saw my wry grin in the instant before he fell. Dead.

How did it feel to take his life? It felt good, oddly enough. It seemed…right, somehow.

Four lives vindicated in the moment my nine-mill round left the barrel and settled in his head. Oh, sure, I knew there would be hell to pay later on, after they'd decided maybe someone should investigate. But I didn't care. There were thousands of virtually identical Glocks being carried by uniforms and detectives alike, and the same gunsmith had honed almost perfectly matching patterns in the barrels of each one. Ballistics would never be able to tell the difference, leaving this as the perfect crime.

My patience had paid off at the bedside of each of my colleagues, just as it rewarded me while staking out Gordon Pratt. As I squeezed the five and a half pounds of pressure against the trigger, I felt nothing but vengeance coursing through my veins. I pumped a single shot into the man who tried to kill me, a slug propelled by gunpowder into the piece of detritus who wanted me and my fellow detectives dead in the hallway of a squalid apartment building.

As Pratt's visage stared into space, with its expression of shock and surprise, I felt a strange sense of relief flood over me.

I knew this day would come. Because I had all the patience in the world.

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