Bull Shannon loved his job. He loved the sense of keeping the order in the courtroom. Others could do his job, but very few had the commanding presence that he did. Sometimes his towering frame was a burden; he'd been turned down initially for the Volunteer Father program, probably because they were afraid he might frighten small children. That had crushed him. There was nothing he loved more than helping others. He didn't often come across children, but when he did he delighted in helping them as much as he could. They were as curious about him as he was about them.
And then there were his coworkers. Harry always made him laugh, even if he was a bit unorthodox to say the least. But Bull was immensely loyal to him and would take a bullet for him should the need arise. Mac was a good man, if a bit sarcastic. He'd quickly become part of the night shift family with his ability to handle the insane situations that they often found themselves in. Then there was Dan. What could he say about Dan? He was oversexed, overconfident, cheap, but he was there for him in a pinch.
Then there was Selma. Bull had a soft spot for her in his heart. With her off the cuff remarks and her overprotection of Bull she'd quickly become his best friend. She'd never wanted children- she'd always claimed that she'd never had a maternal bone in her body. That was, until she met Nostradamus "Bull" Shannon. He brought out a nurturing side In her that shocked everyone, mostly herself. Everyone knew that if anyone hurt the sensitive baliff, they would answer to Selma. Bull was a man proud of taking care of himself. But there were times he wasn't capable of looking out for his best interest, and other inscrutable people could see that. That is when Selma's maternal instinct kicked in and she would do what she had to do to protect her Bull. And when he was his own worst enemy, only she could step into that head of his and bring him down to earth. Their relationship was unique; it was hard to know who offered the other one more. They were an odd pair, but it worked, and they balanced each other out just fine.
So tonight, with the cases ready for the night and everyone's burdened but the unsuspecting Bull's, it was business at usual. All eyes were on Bull as he entered the cafeteria for their usual pre-session snack. As usual, his plate was filled to capacity and he saved the seat beside him for Selma.
Just then a judge and a staff poured in.
"What's going on? Are we being replaced?"
"Bull.. this is the most difficult conversation I've ever had to tell you. I hope you can listen to me and try to understand what I'm trying to say. None of us will be working tonight. Dan and myself and you we won't be working this shift."
"So we are being replaced," Bull slapped his forehead.
"For the next few days we are. And maybe a little longer for you. But your job is safe. It's not going anywhere. There's something you should know."
"What about Selma? Is she working? You didn't mention Selma in that group?" It occurred to Bull that there might be a reason, a terrible reason that Harry omitted her name.
Mac and Dan and Harry looked at each other.
"Bull, Selma has had a heart attack. She may not make it through the night," Harry said sadly. Everyone watched and waited for the gentle giant's reaction. At first nothing was said. Then came the low moan that was usually audible only to Selma, the kind that let her know he was in deep pain, the kind that broke her heart, the kind she would kill the person who would do that to him. Dan got up and started to back off slowly.
"Sit down Dan," Harry ordered.
"Big guy, we're here to take you to see her. You're not driving in this condition. You're the one person she's been asking to see. But you should know she doesn't look like herself. She's not wearing her makeup, she's not smoking her cigarettes, she's pretty colorless, she's going to hate us for seeing her this way. She doesn't want Harry or I to see her. She only wants you Bull. That's a pretty tall order. Do you think you can handle it?" Dan asked. "You don't have to go. I think she would understand if you can't do it."
Bull stood up and glared menacingly over Dan. "That's Selma we're talking about. I would lift the Empire State building . I have to see her. Please guys, will you take me to see her?"
Harry and Dan nodded. They said nothing, not like any words were needed, as they drove to the hospital. All they could think about was Selma and Bull, and how he would handle this.
He walked in the room and began to cry.
Selma motioned for him, and he leaned down. She smacked him one upside the head.
"What was that for?" He asked, puzzled.
"I don't want any tears. I want my last few hours to be a happy time. You know why I wanted to see you?"
"No one made me laugh more than you did. I figured I could use a good laugh right now."
"Well if helps Harry hit all the speed bumps and I hit my head about fifteen times on the way over here," Bull offered.
Selma laughed. "That I would have paid money to see."
"Dan took pictures. Want me to get them?"
"No, you stay right where you're at. I don't want you to go anywhere."
They said nothing for a little bit. Bull tried his best to look happy but he wasn't fooling anyone.
"Come on kid. You're dying to ask me something. What's on your mind?" Selma asked.
"Are you scared?"
"Na, dying's just another part of life. We all gotta go sometime." She paused. "Are you?"
Selma raised her hand. "Tell me the truth."
"I'm scared okay. I'm scared of losing my best friend. It feels like I'm losing my mom all over again. Go ahead and smack me for that. I know I deserve it."
Selma smiled. "You think of me as your mom?"
Bull looked down as he nodded.
"Well that's good. I never wanted kids but if I did I would want you as my son. I'd be proud to call you my boy."
Bull grinned from ear to ear in that childish way that he had about him.
"Now Bull I want you to do me a favor. Go out and get Harry. And hurry."
"Before you go I want to give you something I don't give easily. I don't have much to give but it's my most prized possession. Lean down here. More. More. Close your eyes."
The next thing Bull knew she had kissed him on the cheek. That was the best present he'd ever received in his whole life. He was on cloud nine when he went to get Harry. That feeling faded quickly when Harry came back out to tell him and Dan the news- Selma was gone. Bull was shocked.
"Harry, I don't believe this. Just a few minutes ago she told me… she said… she pulled me over…"
"Yes?" Dan said impatiently.
Bull sighed. Maybe it was better if some things were better between him and Selma. She would have wanted it that way.
"Your honor? Do you mind if we go home now? I'm awfully tired now." Bull asked.
"Sure Bull. Anything for you."
Bull was deeply depressed for a long time, but whenever he got in a funk he thought about what Selma would do- she would call him down and smack him a good one., She may not be there physically, but she was there in spirit. She would always be there. He would make sure of that. There would be other bailiffs, but no one could ever take her place. She was truly unforgettable.