It was another beautiful morning in Los Angeles. The California sun glared off the badges of Central Station's daywatch as they moved to their patrol vehicles. The hum of conversation was more lively than usual and cheerful faces filled the parking lot.
"Three days off - it's about time." Jim Reed was smiling in anticipation as he got into Adam-12.
"No kidding." Pete Malloy tossed his hat onto the back seat. "And I plan to make the most of them."
"Another trip to Catalina?"
"I wish. I don't plan to spend much time in my apartment, I'll say that much. How 'bout you?" Pete backed the black and white out of its spot.
"Well, I'm planning to go racing at Indian Dunes. They set up a new jump this week."
"Don't break anything important. If you fall just land on your head."
"Very funny." Jim picked up the mike. "I'm also planning to work on that truck in my garage. 1-Adam-12, daywatch clear."
"You think it'll ever run?" Pete was obviously skeptical.
"Of course. It should only take a few hours to get the transmission fixed, then I can start on the ..." He was interrupted before he could get into details.
"1-Adam-12, 1-Adam-12, unknown trouble, 1361 Ceres Avenue. PR is female, hysterical. An ambulance has been dispatched. Handle Code 2 high."
The address wasn't far away - it was a neat, white one-story house with a few bushes fronting a well kept lawn. The front door stood open, so Pete and Jim approached with caution. About halfway up the walk they heard a woman's sobs. Gaining the porch first, Pete glanced inside, then stepped through. Jim followed, noting from his partner's expression that he wouldn't like what he saw. He was right. In the middle of the living room lay the body of a middle-aged man, obviously lifeless. A gun lay close by. The sobs came from a slim woman huddled in an armchair; a phone sat near her outstretched hand. A quick glance around didn't reveal anything out of place or obviously missing. Pete and Jim both walked over to her, trying not to look too closely at the room's other occupant and purposely blocking the woman's view as well. She looked up as they approached, her eyes glazed with grief and shock.
"Miss, I'm Officer Malloy and this is Officer Reed. Can you tell us what happened?" Pete's voice was gentle.
"I don't know ... I don't know ... I came home and I ... he was ..."
Jim broke in, trying to keep her mind from wandering. "What's your name, Miss?"
"And your last name?"
"Hill ... Mrs. Hill. That's ... he was ..." She broke down again as the ambulance's wail sounded through the open door. Pete decided to let his partner deal with the distraught widow and went out to meet the ambulance crew. Jim knelt next to the chair.
"Mrs. Hill?" She looked up again, blinking to focus on the concerned face in front of her. "Could we go into another part of the house?"
"Yes ..." Jim helped her up and led her into a nearby bedroom. He sat her on the bed, facing away from the door, and brought a chair over for himself.
"Do you think you can talk to me now, ma'am?"
"I'll try, officer." She was quiet now, her emotions growing numb.
"Could you tell me again what happened?"
Mrs. Hill took a deep breath. "I'd just gone to return some library books. The library is about ten miles away, so I wasn't gone more than half an hour. When I came back I walked in the front door and Brian was ... just like you found him. I remember calling for help, but it's all so confused, I can't tell you anything after that."
"All right. Do you remember seeing the gun before?"
"Yes. He kept it in his desk. It was for protection ... that's what he told me ..." She sounded like a bewildered child.
"Is anything missing? Any sign that someone else has been in the house?"
Mrs. Hill shook her head in despair. "I don't think so," she said softly. "Just ... just Brian ..." She stopped, on the verge of tears once more. They could both hear the ambulance crew in the next room.
"That's all you need to tell me, ma'am," Jim said soothingly. "Would you like me to call a friend to come and stay with you?"
"I, uh ... I suppose Jamie would come." She glanced up. "I don't understand, officer. I don't understand." Her voice was pleading, but the young man had no answers to her questions. All Jim could do was call Mrs. Hill's friend and stay until she came; then he went to find his partner.
Pete had spent the time talking to the elderly next door neighbor. She said she hadn't heard the shot and couldn't give him any information, so after collecting their DOA slip the two officers left. Jim was subdued.
"Don't let it get to you," Pete warned his friend as they got back in Adam-12.
"I know." But somehow it always did.
They cleared from the scene only to be called to help subdue a disorderly 390 in the middle of a busy street. When they arrived he was yelling at passing cars and waving a wine bottle. Another officer named Thomas was attempting to calm him down while his partner diverted traffic.
"I'll go help Franklin," Jim called over his shoulder as he moved to the other end of the street.
"Thanks," Pete muttered, edging towards the intoxicated man. Both officers remained wary in case the wine bottle came flying heedlessly their way; the chances of being hit by accident were much greater than being purposefully nailed. They maneuvered to opposite sides of the man, then moved in. Thomas caught the arm with the bottle and Pete brought the other behind its owner's back. Fortunately, he didn't put up much of a fight.
"We'll take him in," Thomas said and led the man off. He and his partner were stuffing the man in their black and white when Adam-12 pulled away.
An hour of minor calls dispelled the shadow that the morning's episode had cast. Since many of the calls involved citations, Jim was developing writer's cramp; he decided to rescue his fingers.
"How 'bout 7?"
"You can try. It's been so busy I doubt we'll get a chance."
"I feel lucky. This is 1-Adam-12 requesting Code 7 at Miller and McWhorter."
"1-Adam-12, standby." A short silence ensued. "1-Adam-12, okay 7."
"1-Adam-12, roger. What'd I tell you?"
Pete rolled his eyes. "Let's hurry before they change their minds."
They got lunch in the black and white to be ready if a call came through. As Jim downed his meal Pete once more marveled at his friend's ability to remain unscathed by his eating habits.
"It's not fair. There are a thousand people out there living on green leaves and water once a day trying to stay thin, and here you are shoveling in junk food without gaining an ounce. I'm surprised they don't hunt you down and shoot you."
"They're afraid Jean'll return the favor," Jim replied cheerfully.
The light-hearted atmosphere was somewhat dampened a few minutes later. A call came over for Adam-10; a man had attempted suicide by cutting his wrists. Before lunch was over they learned that the man had been taken to a mental hospital for evaluation.
"Two suicides. Some people just don't want to learn to deal with life." Pete frowned as wiped his hands on a napkin.
"At least we can help this one," Jim offered.
"Maybe. One thing's for sure, the day can't get much crazier."
Pete's statement was doomed to be proven optimistic. Among other calls in the next few hours he and his partner arrested a teenage female pushing marijuana, heroin and pills in all colors of the rainbow; it was one of the largest busts they'd ever made. Only an hour after that they were called to another suicide - someone reported a man hanging from a tree on a quiet side street.
When Pete and Jim arrived they found a large, 30-year-old male dangling four feet off the ground. In the fading sunshine it was an eerie sight.
"Mac's coming, right?"
"Yeah. He said he'd be here any minute."
"Okay." Pete glanced over at a small group standing nearby and decided none of them would be any help. "We'd better wait 'til he gets here to take this guy down." Neither officer had seen a hanged man before; it was surprisingly unaffecting. The body appeared strangely unreal.
Mac and the ambulance arrived almost concurrently. It took the strength of every officer to keep the body from falling to the ground once the rope was cut. A cursory examination determined he was very dead. Pete and Jim collected another DOA slip then turned to the bystanders. One was the man who had originally seen and reported the body. His girlfriend was with him, though she gave no statement.
"Three suicides, two fatal," Mac remarked wearily to the Adam-12 team as he got into L-20. "At least the day can't get much crazier." Pete and Jim had a sudden urge to take the rest of the shift off.
"Careful, Mac. That's what I said."
"1-L-20, 1-L-20, 1-Adam-19 reports a 261 has occurred. The victim has been taken to Central Receiving. 1-Adam-19 requests you meet them at the hospital."
"1-L-20, roger." Mac glanced at Pete with a harried sigh. "What a day."
"And it's not over yet."
Thankfully, things slowed down enough that the two men decided to get started on their paperwork. As Pete pulled into their spot in the station lot he saw Wells and Brinkman getting out of Adam-23.
"Hey Ed. Busy day?" Pete asked as he opened his door.
"You're not kidding." The normally irritating officer was subdued. "We just came from one for the detectives. We found a guy DOA."
"Another body? That makes three today!" Jim traded incredulous glances with his partner.
"The moon must be full. Our guy told his wife he was going to the store. Three hours later she realized the car was still running. She went out and found her husband dead in the passenger's seat."
"The exhaust killed him?"
"Couldn't have, Pete. The car was sitting in the driveway. His face was all bloody, though." Wells shook his head, then accompanied his fellow officers inside. He and Brinkman headed for the coffee room, but the other two decided to get things over with as quickly as possible.
"Looks like we've got almost an hour of pencil pushing tonight," Pete commented as they sat down in the recess outside the Watch Commander's office.
"I can hardly wait," Jim replied dryly, feeling distinctly dispirited. It wasn't just the paperwork. There had been too many unhappy deaths that day for him to shake off and each report recalled the details.
"Reed." The younger man looked up in surprise to find his partner regarding him with mixed concern and exasperation. "How many times do I have to give you the 'let it go' speech?"
Jim grimaced and looked back down at his form. Pete knew him much too well.
"We've got three whole days of vacation coming up, remember? This morning you could hardly wait."
"Yeah." Jim remembered the plans he'd made and suddenly realized he'd left out an important detail - his family. All at once the new jump and the broken transmission seemed unimportant. He had three days to spend with the most important people in his life and he wasn't going to waste them. "You're right, Pete," he said, turning back to his paperwork, melancholy replaced by resolution.
Pete didn't know exactly what had happened, but he saw that his friend had solved his problem, which was really all that mattered. Now to get back to the paperwork and try not to think about sleeping in tomorrow ...
These incidents are true and all occurred within a single shift. I adapted them, changing circumstances and locations, from Officer Russell's now-defunct Life On the Beat list archive. Jim, Pete, Mac and the others are fictional characters, of course - but there are thousands of real police officers on America's streets who are just as brave, kind, dedicated and worthy of praise as those we meet and love on Adam-12.