Thanks for reading. I really hope you enjoyed it and please leave a comment if you can. I still don't own these characters.
5 days later…
The graveyard was quiet that Sunday morning. I hadn't meant to get there so early, on the contrary I usually arrived a few hours after the gates opened, but I couldn't sleep. I walked past tombstones with names of people I had never met, names of people who had lived lives both long and short, and a few names that I recognized from my lifetime. There was one particular grave I was looking for, one particular grave I wanted to see.
It was under the shade of a beach tree, a few fallen leaves scattered around it. He hated being in the limelight, preferring to stay in the shadows. My mother wanted to bury him in a patch of sunshine, but I pleaded with her to respect his wishes until she finally agreed. Grandpa never liked to be undermined.
I was about to set a pack of cigarettes on top of the granite, lung cancer the final nail in his coffin, when I noticed someone had already beaten me to the punch. But instead of cigarettes it was a small, lumpy shaped parcel. My eyebrows shot up in suspicion, the cop in me telling me not to touch it. But then I spotted the note underneath it, my name scrawled across it in familiar handwriting. I rolled my eyes, picking the parcel up.
I placed the parcel in the nook of my arm, my sling becoming more of a hassle then it was worth, and grabbed the note. I unfolded it, reading: Found this in a thrift store the other day. Consider it a token of our appreciation. From both Jules and me. He didn't sign it, but it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out who it was from.
I rolled my eyes as I set the note down. Taking the oddly wrapped package into my hand, again, I clumsily began to unwrap it. I had expected to find an identical stress ball like Spencer had, but was surprised to find a watch.
The thing was silver, old, and had a long scratch across the glass screen. There were a few nicks and dings on it, but it seemed to work just fine. I could tell someone had put fresh batteries in it, most definitely O'Hara, and had set it to the correct time. There was something so familiar about the watch, but I couldn't put my finger on it. Then my fingers brushed the back, feeling a few groves across the metal.
I flipped the watch over, my eyes raking across the engraved message: To George. Love Maggie. George was my grandfather's name and, as you can guess, Maggie was my grandmother's name. But I couldn't totally trust the names across the back. That's when the back slipped out from under my fingers. A piece of paper fell out, fluttering to the ground, and settling amongst the grass and leaves.
I crouched down, picking the folded piece of paper up. I straightened up, unfolding the yellowing, crinkled, fading page. It was from a small notebook, like the one I used several times when questioning witnesses. There wasn't much written on it, but it was all the proof I needed.
No matter what, I'll always be there.
I refolded the note and put it back where it belonged. Pocketing the message from Spencer and the watch, I put the cigarettes on the grave and headed toward the exit. I headed toward my car, deciding to pay Karen a visit after I checked in at the station.
Spencer was taping something to the bulletin board when I stepped into the station fifteen minutes later. I stopped a few inches from him, reading the announcement over his shoulder.
"Who the hell is Señor Pineapple?" I asked making him jump and spin around.
"Lassie, ever think of investing in a bell? Maybe a little collar that jingles when you walk," he asked running a hand through his hair. His memory was back, unfortunately, and with it came his 'pain-in-the-ass' demeanor. I kind of missed the memory less Spencer.
"Shut up, Spencer," I grumbled. "And who authorized you to hang that up?"
"Lassie, Señor Pineapple is a very important member of the Psych office. He was taken from my desk, and it couldn't be Gus because he wasn't even home. So, I was hoping someone from the department might have information."
"And this thing is…?"
"My pineapple shaped stress ball."
I had a vague recollection of throwing that thing across the room. I was pretty sure it landed behind a plant. It made me wonder why he hadn't found it yet. On any normal occasion I probably wouldn't have told him where it was, I would have made some crack about him using his 'psychic' powers to find it. But he did a huge favor for me, without knowing it, so I was going to repay the favor.
"First off, Spencer, that is the stupidest thing to be looking for. I mean, it's not even alive and you could easily buy a new one for two bucks at any gas station," I started glancing at the flyer. "And second, are you sure you checked everywhere in your office?"
"Why? Did you do something with it?" he gave me a suspicious look, probably trying to coerce a confession out of me. Please, I was a professional; I have dealt with worse suspects than him. He'd be lucky to get anything out of me any other day.
"There's a plant in the corner of your office. Check behind that." I said ignoring his question and started towards O'Hara's desk. She was in charge until I was cleared to come back by Reynard. Once I came back, I would be in charge until Karen was cleared to come back and work.
"Hey, Lassie," Spencer called making me stop.
"Yeah," I said turning to face him. Before he could answer me, Guster entered the station and headed toward us. He nodded my way, turned to Shawn, and said, "Are you almost done? I have to drop you off at your dad's and head back to Central Coast. I have to get another copy of that information you lost."
"Gus, I said I was sorry," Spencer said glancing at his friend.
"Shawn, it's not apologizing when you buy me a pineapple smoothie and then drink it."
"I was thirsty."
"And maybe I was, too, Shawn. Maybe I was too." Guster turned on his heel and started walking toward the door.
"Gus," Spencer called after him and raced to catch up. I rolled my eyes and continued toward O'Hara's desk. She was on the phone, glancing down at a pad of paper. She scribbled furiously as she listened, nodding her head after everything the other person said.
"Okay, Chief, I'll check. Hey, aren't you supposed to be taking it easy…?" she was quiet for a second and then, "I'm sorry I asked. Get well soon." She hung up soon after, glancing up to meet my eye. There was a slowly fading bruise across her cheek and a stitched up cut on her head, the aftermath of being kidnapped by Edwin Palmer and crew.
Palmer and a man named Jackson Carter both ended up in the morgue, while Phil Davis and Quinn Daniels ended up in the hospital. Both were under 24 hour police guard and would be escorted to jail the moment they were released. Neither were big fans of me right now, and I wasn't surprised. In my line of work I have made a lot of enemies. It was to be expected.
"You aren't supposed to be here," O'Hara commented getting to her feet. She snagged the notebook from her desk, glancing at what she had written.
"I'm not staying," I said wearily. I couldn't wait until I was able to come back to work. I was bored at home and I couldn't exactly go to the shooting range. Well, I could, but I couldn't shoot anything. So, I'd just stand there like an idiot watching other people do what I wish I could.
"You checking up on me?" She asked walking past me and toward the stairs. I followed her, nodding to a few uniforms as I passed.
"Do you have to ask?" I responded three steps behind her as she descended the stairs.
"I'm fine, Carlton. Really, Shawn was just here doing the same thing. I mean, I can see through that Señor Pineapple stuff. I mean, he found it the other day. I'm not stupid." So it was a cover, a very convincing cover, but a cover nonetheless. I was impressed, not many people could lie to me and get away with it.
"So, the flyers…?" I glanced back at the bulletin board, my eyes catching the sign Spencer has tacked up there.
"It's 'proof' that he wasn't checking up on me, but I spotted Señor Pineapple on his desk yesterday. It's a ruse. I have told him 'I'm fine' several times, but he doesn't believe me.
"Anyway, what do you have planned today?"
"I was going to see Karen," I replied watching as she pulled files from the file cabinet. She double checked them with the names on her notepad, then closed the drawer and started for the stairs.
"That's great. I'm sure she'll love that."
Truthfully, I haven't been to the hospital since I was discharged. I know, I should have went and checked on Vick, but I felt partially responsible for what happened to her. I know Spencer did too, but he had gone to see her, at least. He had been to the hospital every day since the accident, more so when his memory returned. I just couldn't face her. Well, today I was going to.
I said good-bye to O'Hara a few minutes later, heading outside to my car. The drive to the hospital wasn't long in reality, but in my head it was the longest drive of my life. When I finally pulled into the visitors' parking lot, parking next to a Volvo, I wasn't sure if I really wanted to go in or not. But I'm Carlton Lassiter for God's sake, I wasn't afraid of anything (except snow globes and only me and Spencer knew that) I could easily do this. So, I turned my car off, pocketed my keys, and got out.
I found Karen sitting up in bed, looking pale but better, with an IV sticking out of her arm. She was picking at her hospital meal-dry meatloaf, runny potatoes, and green jell-o-looking bored out of her skull. She had only been awake for thirty-six hours and already she was ready to get out of there. I didn't blame her, but I would rather her be bored than risk her health.
"Hello," I said knocking on the doorframe. She looked up, a smile spreading across her lips. She pushed her unfinished meal to the side and gestured me to come into her room. I stepped over the threshold, crossing the room to sit down in an unoccupied chair next to her bed.
"How's the arm?" she asked after a moment of awkward silence.
"Better," I replied glancing at my sling. "How's… How are you?"
"I've been better," she responded tiredly. I guess almost dying twice could do that to anyone. Her husband had told O'Hara who had told me that Karen's heart had stopped once in the ER and once on the operating table. Iris had come close to being without her mother. And losing a parent is the most unpleasant experience to ever happen to a child. Danny and I were prime examples of that, except our dad didn't die. He just up and left us one day: no note, no phone call, no explanation at all…
"Carlton, are you okay?" I glanced up, meeting Karen's eye. I hadn't realized she had been talking, too caught up in my thoughts.
"Yeah, I'm fine," I replied running a hand through my hair. "Where's Peter?" Karen's husband hadn't left her side since the incident. O'Hara told me they tried to make him go home, but he refused to go and ended up in a screaming match with a nurse. It ended when Reynard stepped in. She promised to talk to the Chief of Staff and he ended up agreeing to let Peter Vick stay as long as he wanted.
"I told him to go home and take a shower, maybe catch a few hours of sleep. He'll be back later with Iris."
"Oh." We lapsed into another long, awkward silence. I looked down at my shoes, wondering when I had gotten dirt all over the left one. I was almost certain we would have stayed like that for a while longer if a nurse hadn't come in to change Karen's bandages and check her vitals.
"I'd better go," I said pushing myself to my feet. I walked past the nurse, stepping into the hall.
"Carlton!" Karen's voice made me stop. "I'll tell you exactly what I told Mr. Spencer. I don't blame you. I was doing my job when I was shot. There was nothing either of you could do."
"I'll keep that in mind," I said slowly. "Get better soon."
I started toward the elevators, intending to take a drive to my mother's-it was the anniversary of her father's death and all-when I heard a familiar voice call my name. I turned, spotting Reynard hurrying toward me. Her red hair was pinned back; her green scrubs making her eyes stand out. I guess I never noticed how pretty she was before. Of course, I was a little too busy to really see her before.
"I take it you're not here to be stitched up," she said tucking her clipboard, she had been holding, under her arm. She had said, when I was admitted with my shoulder wound, that, "I should start handing you out frequent flyer miles for the amount of times you have been admitted."
"No," I replied giving her a small smile, "I was just here visiting Chief Vick."
"I kind of figured," she muttered giving me a crooked smile. We were quiet for a second, neither of us sure what to say. I took a deep breath, let it out, and said, "Well, I'd better go."
"Okay," she responded someone calling her name. "I guess I'll see you around."
"Yep," I said pressing the button to call the elevator.
"Bye, Detective Lassiter," she said. I nodded to her, the elevator doors opening. I stepped inside, pressed the L, and gave her one last wave. She waved back, the doors closing seconds later. As I rode the elevator, I took my grandfather's watch from my pocket.
I hadn't seen it since I was sixteen, not since that guy stole it from my wrist. Not since Jacob McGee was shot and killed trying to stop two men from robbing his store. I hadn't thought about that day in years, an occasional nightmare the only thing that ever reminded me of what happened. I couldn't believe it was just sitting in a thrift store, all these years, and no one ever bought it. I guess that old saying was right about how something you let go will come back into your possession if it really was supposed to be yours. It took over two decades, but I guess this watch was really mine.
I put the watch back in my pocket, the doors opening a few seconds later. I started toward the exit, stopping when my phone started to ring. I pulled it from my coat pocket, barely sparing a glance at the caller id. Unknown Caller flashed back at me. Whoever it was, there number wasn't in my phone. I rolled my eyes, figuring it was Spencer calling from a pay phone or something, and flipped it open.
"Spencer, don't you have anything better…" a voice interrupted me, a voice I hadn't heard in almost ten years. I didn't know how he got my number, probably Mom, but it was no doubt who was on the phone. And I truly couldn't believe.
"Danny…?" I didn't know whether to yell at him or not. So, I landed on, "How are you?" he told me he was fine, told me he was in Florida living with a friend. "Oh, and which friend would that be?"
"Now, don't give me that crap that I don't know her." I started toward my car, listening to my brother's response. "Because she could be a psycho." Again I waited. "No, I'm not being paranoid." I slid behind the wheel of my Crown Vick, rolling my eyes when Danny said his next words. "No I won't do a background check on her." Although I was thinking about it, but that didn't stop me from responding with a, "No, I wasn't thinking about it." he was quiet for a second and then said four words I never thought he'd say. I was stunned for a second and then I said, "I miss you too, Danny." And I did, even though he annoyed me to no end when we were growing up, and had me wanting to kick his ass a few times. He was my brother after all and that was all that mattered. And at the end of the day, that was all I needed…