I've taken the liberty of finding a house in San Francisco that I thought would be a good place for a young couple make a start after World War 2 and gave it to the Chief. His age and his marriage are only mentioned in passing in the movie pilot for the TV show and since I have it on DVD I knew I should use the information.

Again, I thank Alice for her help. I also say hello to Rosa and Florence for their kind words and support. It means a lot to me to know people read my work. Thank you, all my readers, thank you very much.

After the Bullet

Chapter Three

August, 1967

Ed Brown and Eve Whitfield would be driving a SFPD station wagon to St. Mary's Hospital to handle everything that was going back to the city. Tomorrow was the big day; Robert Ironside was finally going home. The problem was; he wasn't sure where home was going to be.

Home had been 347 Claremont Blvd. in the West Portal district. Bought with his wife, Elaine, after his navy service but before he finished with the police academy it was where he had expected to spend the rest of his life with her there. Now, Robert Ironside was a widower with a house he couldn't use. No matter what the therapists and doctors claimed, there were just some things he could no longer do and one was navigate a house filled with stairs in a wheelchair. For all intents and purposes, Robert T. Ironside was homeless.

"Chief Ironside, I believe you are leaving us soon."

The Chief's head snapped up as the voice of Sister Agatha pulled him from his depressing thoughts.

"No doubt you'll be glad to see the last of me," he growled from the bed. "You'll have to find another sucker for your losing cribbage habit now."

"What can I say; there's nothing like a sore winner to brighten my days." The nun stepped into the room, carrying the freshly pressed suit that Ironside would wear on his journey back to the outside world. "Need I arrange for an orderly to help you get dressed when you're ready or has your therapist made sure you can manage dressing yourself?"

"I am so raring to get out of this asylum; I can hardly contain my excitement," Ironside rolled his eyes at the shrewd nun. She could read him like a book and the Chief did not like anyone who could do that to him. "What are you flamin' waiting for, an invitation to watch me strip down to my skivvies or to call the flamin' orderlies."

"Can you 'strip down to your skivvies' Chief?" Sister Agatha stood by the bed and looked into Ironside's eyes. He tried to hold her gaze as if the nun's question was inconsequential. It was when her eyes went from steely to knowing that the Chief dropped his.

Sister Agatha circled the room as she spoke to her patient. "Where is that super ego? I thought you were going to leave here and find the man who shot you?" The suit was hung in the closet and all items on the dresser rearranged before she sat down beside the Chief's bed. "I think I like your bravado better than this silence. Do I have to get the psychologist here to determine if you are truly ready to leave us?"

"No! Damn it, Sister, I've been here too long as it is. My case is cold and unless I get back and re-open it, it will stay cold."

Sister Agatha leaned forward, "and what will you do to the man who shot you? Will you shoot him, cripple him or maybe even kill him. Then what? It won't get you back on your feet. It won't make the San Francisco Police Department give you your job back. What will you do after you find your shooter?"

Ironside scrubbed his hand over his face. "I haven't thought that far ahead."

She leaned back, "don't you think you better start thinking ahead. From now on you must carefully plan what you are going to do each and every day."

"Why, I'm a short timer; I'll be lucky if I make it to fifty now."

With that Sister Agatha jumped up to her full five foot three inches in height and slapped Robert Ironside full force across the face. The Chief's jaw dropped as he rubbed his stinging cheek.

"Why did I even bother worrying about you? If all you are going to do is take up space I could have sent you to a home and arranged your funeral ahead of time. All you have to do is lay there and you'll be dead before the year is over. Just tell me, while you are wallowing how many people will die because you can't be bothered to try to live."

Ironside pounded his fists hard on his thighs. "You seem to forget I'm not a police officer any longer. I no longer meet the physical requirements for the job."

"Oh, forgive me; I forgot that to be a cop you had to have your brains sucked out of your skull." The nun began to pace the room. "What about all the young men injured as you are who came back after the war who became lawyers and architects and teachers. They used their brains and kept going AND they learned to take care of themselves and many are still alive today. Its not easy, but I did not think you were someone who took the easy way out." With that the nun headed to the door.

"Sister," the Chief called out to her. "SISTER!!" Ironside put all his fury into his voice, but the nun didn't stop as she left him alone in his room. He blew a long breath out and sank back into his bed letting his eyes travel around the room. "Sister, just what do you want me to do?"

0o0o0

The western shadows of the mountains were creeping toward St. Mary's Hospital in Sonoma. By now the patients had all been feed their dinners and visitors would soon be heading home. Sister Agatha watched as the sky slowly let each bright star break through the deepening blue. How many wishes did each little star conjure up every night. "Lord, I do not ask the stars for patience. I ask You grant me patience and forgiveness for being a quick tempered fool." With that the nun re-entered the hospital and headed to Robert Ironside's room where she slipped on her professional mask and knocked on the door.

"Come in," Ironside's voice was softer than earlier today.

"Are you tired, Mr. Ironside? I can come back later."

The Chief, now seated in one of the hospital wheelchairs, swiveled to face the door; the imprint of the Sister's hand vivid on his cheek. "Coming in for a second round? What point value do you get for a TKO here?"

"I have come to apologize to you. There's no excuse for my actions today and if you wish to prosecute me for attacking you are well within your rights."

Ironside leaned back and glared at the sister and then shook his head and smiled. "No, Sister, you're safe for now. Sometimes it takes a lot to wake me up and a right to the jaw might just be what I needed. Once. Don't do it again."

"I'll try to restrain myself in the future." She walked further into the room and sat down on the only other chair in the room. "Did you know that St. Agatha is the patron saint of nurses?"

"No, did you know that Michael the Archangel is the patron of police officers?"

"Yes, as a matter of fact I did." The sister leaned forward again, wanting to take her patient's hand but waiting for a sign he would not reject her move. "What about tomorrow? Have you prayed to Saint Michael and have you made any plans?"

The Chief reached over to the bedside table and pulled a sheaf of papers toward him. "As a matter of fact, I've made a few. I've put my house up for sale. I might get as much as $25,000 for it if the market is stays good. I've also called in a favour or two and I think I might have found a new place to liveā€”if I can convince Dennis Randle to let me move in and give me the job I want."

"Good, that's a start but shouldn't you talk to the Commissioner before you arrange for this job and move?"

"Sister," he chided her, "don't you know it is easier to ask forgiveness than permission. I oughtta know, I used to be an altar boy."

"God save me from nasty little altar boys." Sister Agatha smiled she rose to leave. "I will see you tomorrow morning."

"Where to you think you're going?" Ironside growled as he reached into his bathrobe pocket and extracted a well worn deck of playing cards. "This is your last chance to catch up with me."

The nun laughed as she got the cribbage board off the dresser and came back to the chair. "I don't know, Robert, but I have a feeling that when you start moving nobody is going to be able to keep up with you."

"From your lips to God's ears, Sister; now shut up and cut the cards."

The End