Measure of a Mann
Three weeks later…
Late in the afternoon, a man was sitting down at his desk trying to concentrate on his latest article he was writing for the paper in which he worked for. He was a journalist for a major newspaper in New Orleans and for the most part, he loved his job. That was until his boss wanted him to write an article on a local cop who had been caught steeling drugs from major drug busts inside his district.
Most journalists would be excited about getting a big story such as this. However, he was different. He understood first hand what it was like to be the son of a man accused of being a dirty cop. This cop had a son who was four years old and a young wife. Even though the man was definitely guilty of the crimes against him, he didn't want to drag the family through the mud. That is what is going to happen if he writes this article as he was asked to.
The journalist's wife walked in carrying a plate and said, "Ryan, I thought that you could use a slice of pie to help clear your mind. It's pumpkin, your favorite."
Ryan responded, "Thank you Elizabeth. You're the only woman who I know that makes pumpkin pie, sometime other than at Thanksgiving. I'm sorry that I missed dinner; it's just that this article is due at midnight tonight and I have no idea what to write. This cop deserves whatever he gets because he was actually caught stealing the drugs, but his family doesn't deserve to be brought down with him."
"Listen, honey," replied Elizabeth. "I am sure that your boss would understand your situation if you just explain it to her. Don't feel like you have to write this article just because you are the head journalist there. Let someone else do it."
"You don't understand, sweetheart," Ryan answered. "If I don't write this article, then whoever does will end up making this guy's family look and feel like they are outcasts. At least if I write it, I will be able to be sympathetic for them and do all I can to help, but it won't be enough. My mother and I were looked down upon by, not only the rest of the department, but also the entire community. We had to move out of state in order to start our lives over. I can't be apart of that happening to them. For the first time, I just don't know what to write."
As his wife was about to speak again, the doorbell rang. Elizabeth leaned down to kiss her husband on his head and left the room to go answer the door. As she did so, she saw a tall man in a suit, wearing a sling over his right arm and cowboy boots. There was also a beautiful woman with long blonde hair, also wearing a suit.
Both of them pulled out a badge as the man spoke up saying, "Forgive me for the intrusion, Mrs. Combs. My name is Inspector Marshall Mann and this is my partner Inspector Mary Shannon. We were hoping to have a chance to speak with your husband, Ryan. May we come in?"
Before Elizabeth could answer, Ryan walked up behind her and asked, "Marshall, is that you? I see you became a marshal just like your father. What on earth are you doing here? I never thought that I would ever see you again."
I never thought that we would either and I am truly sorry about that," Marshall replied. "I owe you an apology. I know that it doesn't mean much to you and rightly so, but I hope that at least what I am about to say will give some comfort to you and your wife."
"The last time we spoke, you accused my father of being a traitor and that he was responsible for your father getting killed," Ryan said. "You're right, your apology means nothing to me. You were my best friend. You were the one who once said that nothing would ever change that. I guess you were wrong and that I was wrong to believe it."
"I was wrong to turn my back on you," Marshall answered. "I knew that I was a long time ago, but I didn't know how to face you then. I am here now because I want to let you know that all charges against your father have been dropped. I learned that he was innocent, as I once believed that he was. It was my father that was the traitor."
"What do you mean that your father was the traitor," Elizabeth asked?
Marshall responded, "It turns out that my father is still alive. He faked his death the day that the explosion killed your father, the criminals they were chasing, and supposedly killed him. The extra body that they found was a homeless man. He got in too deep with bad men and couldn't dig himself out. Instead of trying, he gave up and framed your father in order to take the heat off of himself. He is now in prison where he belongs, as well as the men whom he worked with. He will pay for his crimes. Oh, you and your family will also receive what is owed to you. Your father's pension, a public apology from the US marshal service, and he will receive the proper burial and recognition, that he should have had then."
Ryan looked at Marshall and noticed that there were tears forming in his eyes. However, he was holding them back. He saw that Marshall meant everything that he said and that he was truly sorry. Just as he was about to speak up again, Marshall's phone rang. Marshall excused himself and step outside.
Mary spoke up for the first time saying, "I can't imagine what you and your family must have gone through, Mr. Combs, but what happened was not Marshall's fault. He lost a man who he admired and loved more than anyone. He grew up and became a US Marshal as a way to honor him and then a few weeks ago, everything that he believed came crashing down around him. That man was no longer the man he believed him to be, but a monster."
Ryan replied, "My wife and I can see that Marshall means what he says. I knew all along that my father was not a traitor despite what everyone said. I know how hard this was for him to come here."
"Marshall wanted to come here and not only because he feels guilty for what happened to you," Mary answered. "He came because you deserve to know the truth. Marshall insisted that he be the one to tell you."
"The sling over his arm, it has something to do with what caused him to discover the truth, am I right," Elizabeth asked? "He subconsciously kept touching his arm while he spoke about what his father did."
"My wife would make a great detective," Ryan said. "She is much more observant than I am. I can't lie to her about anything."
Mary said, "About five weeks ago, Marshall was kidnapped by his father and nearly killed by him and the men that he worked for. Marshall found out the hard way that his father was a traitor. He wanted me to do whatever it took to clear your father's name and be the one to inform you personally, in case he couldn't. It was one of the only things that he made sure that I knew about while he was missing. You should also know that deep down; Marshall really did know that your father wasn't the bad guy. He told his father before the explosion that he was innocent and begged him to help him. He also told Inspector Maryanne Lawson that he believed that your father was innocent. She tried to conduct an investigation of her own, but she was shut down. Marshall is a good man and he cares more about everyone else than he does over himself."
Ryan responded, "He was like that when we were kids too. He saved my life once when we were five, MacGyver style. We got lost in the woods on a camping trip and I broke my leg. He used sticks for a split and wrapped it with his shirt and a bunch of rubber bands from his rubber band ball that he carried in his pocket and he took care of me until we were found. He knew exactly how many rubber bands made up that ball. I thought that he just knew a bunch of useless trivia, but it came in handy. I never made fun of him for it again."
"Believe me, I know what you mean," Mary replied. "He knows even more now."
Marshall laughed as he walked back in the room and said, "Ryan would have done the same for me if the situation was reversed."
"Marshall, you have nothing to apologize for," Ryan said as he tuned to face him. "You are right, Inspector Shannon. What happened between our fathers had nothing to do with us. I am sorry for not realizing that a long time ago."
Marshall and Ryan hugged, while Mary and Elizabeth smiled and walked out of the room. They gave the men a chance to talk, while they got to know each other too.
"If you don't mind, Miss. Shannon, I made one more observation," Elizabeth said. "The two of you are in love, am I right?"
"How do you know that," Mary asked? "We only got together a few weeks ago."
Elizabeth responded, "It shows in your eyes whenever the two of you look at each other and in the way you defend him. It is hard to miss."
Mary smiled and looked out at her partner, who was now outside with Ryan and their twelve-year-old daughter. She had been playing in their back yard during the conversation. Elizabeth looked out too and knew that her husband would somehow know exactly what to write in his article, now that he was given the comfort that he needed.
The next morning, Mary and Marshall arrived back at work and began their usual paper work and banter, waiting for Stan to come in to give them some kind of order that they would find some reason to gripe about.
Eleanor left Albuquerque to go back to her job, but she and Stan decided to actually keep in touch this time. Stan observed his best marshals from his office and was happy that things were finally getting back to normal. He watched as Marshall walked over to hand Mary a folder and then kiss the top of her head. Stan was wrong. Things were not just back to normal; they were better.