Thunder Rolls On

Splayed across the cold, hard gray linoleum floor lay one uniformed Los Angeles police officer, unconscious and bleeding. Feverish sweat mixed with dark blood matted up into tufts of his strawberry blonde hair. Flushed red cheeks and a perspiration soaked white undershirt showed signs of an obviously ill man. Long narrow isles and tall store shelves walled him in. Large SALE signs covered the front store windows hiding the victim from view.

Three hours earlier Officers Reed and Malloy climbed into their squad car after finishing the job of clearing a traffic accident scene. It was a cool evening in LA, but not so cold to warrant a jacket. Before he turned the key in the ignition a subtle banter started back and forth between Jim and Pete. Jim noticed Pete wiping away the perspiration on his brow.

"Do you want me to drive, Pete? You don't look like you feel well."

"If it wasn't for my partner being a walking Petri dish, I probably wouldn't have this lousy cold."

"Come on, Pete. It was over a week ago that I was sick, and it was the flu not a cold."

"Jim, how can you be so sure. Maybe it was both." Pete commented with a sarcastic tone.

"Really Pete, I'm worried it's not just a cold. You look awful."

"Thanks Jim; that makes me feel soooo much better." Pete sniffled then before he had a chance to pull out a handkerchief. "Ahchoo!"

"I mean it, Pete. Should you even be working tonight? Maybe we should just head back to the station." As Pete blew his nose, Jim continued by asking, "I could just switch to an L car."

Pete glared over at his partner. Jim can really look like a worried puppy sometimes.

"Pete, have you taken any medication?"

"Seriously Jim, I don't need another mother." A sudden cough interrupted the conversation. "Can you clear us on the radio so we can get back to work?"

Jim gently shook his head with frustration and worry for his stubborn partner. "Sure." He picked up the mike and said, "1-Adam 12 clear."

A wake of silence hung in the air for the next few minutes. Jim knew he could only push Pete so far. Even with the close bond between them, Jim understood the space Pete demanded. But Jim had a way of testing the boundaries, as annoying as it was.

A short time later while patrolling near the 405 and Wilshire Boulevard, the black and white came up on a swerving navy Pontiac sedan. Pete flicked the lights to signal the driver to pull over. The driver didn't seem to notice the squad car following and continued the erratic driving. Pete tapped on the horn to get the driver's attention. Jim ran the plate and found no wants or warrants on the vehicle. The car finally pulled over and appeared to have only one person inside. As both officers climbed out of the car, Pete glanced over at Jim and asked, "Can you take this one?"

"Yeah, I got it." Jim carefully walked up to the driver's side window and bent down to talk to the driver. "License and registration, please?"

Pete suddenly coughed into his tightly clinched fist. He stepped over to the curb to watch Jim's interview of the driver. Jim quickly came back around to his open door to run the driver's license. After a quick radio check, he got the all clear. He stepped up beside Pete to say, "He doesn't have a record. I don't smell anything on his breath. He said he just pulled an all nighter and just dozed off when driving back to campus. I think our lights and siren might have startled him awake."

"Ok, let's cut him loose."

Jim gave the student a warning and encouraged him to drive with the windows down and the radio up since he had only a short drive back to his dorm.

"Thank you, Officer!" The young man said. The sedan pulled away with music blasting on high.

The officers got back in the squad. Jim picked up the mike again. "One Adam-12, clear."

The dispatcher responded, " One Adam-12, see the woman at 228 Tilden Avenue, for possible domestic disturbance, code 2."

"One Adam-12, roger."

It took only a couple minutes to get to the address. The address was located in an upscale neighborhood not far from Brentwood and Beverly Hills. The area around the house was dark except for two street lamps at the curb. They could see a light on in the first level of the two story white home. As Jim radioed in, "One Adam-12, code 6 at 228 Tilden Ave," both officers heard screaming from inside the house.

They approached the house with caution. They then heard a woman yelling at the top of her lungs, "Get the hell out!" Both officers placed one hand ready on their side arms. Domestic situations had a history of being dangerous. Pete knocked on the door and announced, "This is the police! Open up!"

A six-foot tall, broad shouldered woman swung open the door. She wore a ruby colored full-length robe over a white lacey nightgown along with slippers. Her eyes were bulging and her cheeks were flushed. She looked over the officers and shouted, " What the hell do you want?"

"Excuse me, Ma'am, but we received a call for a disturbance at this address." Pete said before briefly turning away to cough.

"Oh, there is more than just a disturbance here! I have a damn idiot of a husband. Matter of fact, why don't you drag his sorry ass out of here!"

Jim raised the palms of his hands trying to signal her to calm down. "Ma'am, can I talk to you in the kitchen for a moment, please?" as he stepped into the house.

"Is this really necessary?" She said in a huff, but then started to simmer down some.

"Yes, it will only take a few minutes if you cooperate." Reed quickly followed the wife through the hallway to the kitchen at the rear of the house.

Pete walked into the front room and spied the irritated husband pacing at the far end of the living room. The man was well dressed in black slacks, a white button-down shirt, and loosened red tie. Some shattered pieces of glass were spread across the Oriental rug in the middle of the room. Careful to avoid the shards, Pete approached the mister.

"I'm Officer Malloy. Can you tell me your name?"

The man paused for a second and briefly looked over at Pete. "Ken Jenkins"

"Mr. Jenkins, can you tell me what is going on here?"

"Yeah, just a second." He walked over to a small liquor cabinet. As he proceeded to make himself a whiskey on the rocks he began to share. "Officer, it's just a big misunderstanding." The man turned to face Pete while taking a gulp of the drink.

"What kind of a misunderstanding, Sir?"

With hesitation in his voice, "My wife, Jacqueline seems to think I had an affair." He took another big swig then wiped a drip away with the back of his hand.

"Mr. Jenkins, I don't think drinking is going to help the situation. You need to keep a clear head."

Just then Jim came back into the living room wanting to share notes with Pete, close behind was Jacqueline Jenkins. She appeared to be calm, but then got a glimpse of her husband drinking.

She lunged forward and said, "Hiding behind that bottle won't save you!"

Pete stepped between the two. "You need to calm down, Mrs. Jenkins!"

Jim pulled her a couple steps away and tried to reason with her.

Malloy faced Jenkins. "Do you have somewhere else you can stay tonight?"

Looking more defeated than ever, he said, "Yeah. I do." He set the glass down on the cabinet, and then rubbed his forehead anxiously.

"We don't want to be called back here tonight."

"Yeah, yeah, I got it." He walked to the door grabbing his suit jacket on the way out. Pete followed close behind.

Mrs. Jenkins mumbled, "Good riddance," then the waterworks began. She retreated to the couch with her face in her hands.

Jim knelt down beside her. "Are you going to be ok?"

She glanced up at him with tears dripping down her cheeks, "Eventually."

Not knowing what else he could do, Reed quietly left the house. A gray Thunderbird pulled out of the garage with Jenkins in the driver's seat. He slowly drove away. Jim met Pete back at the squad. As the partners got in Jim said, "That could have gotten really ugly."

Pete tossed his hat in the back. "Maybe they can cool down and talk civil to each other tomorrow."

Jim took the mike and cleared them.

As he pulled out his notebook, he shook his head. He began to scribble notes on the pad for the nightly reports. "So, what was the husband's story, Pete?"

Pete covered his mouth as he cleared his throat. "All I really got out of him was they had a misunderstanding. His wife thought he was having an affair."

"It sounded like it wasn't the first time according to her."

Again Pete covered his mouth with a closed fist as he coughed again. He then commented, "One more reason not to get married."

"Not funny, Pete. All marriages don't end in break ups. You just need to find the right woman. By the way, Jean has a girlfriend that she wants you to meet."

"No thanks, Jim. The last girl Jean set me up with wouldn't stop talking long enough to even take a breath."

"Speaking of breathing, you sound terrible."

"Thanks for reminding me." Pete rubbed his brow as a mild headache turned a ratchet up on the pain scale.

"Seriously, have you taken anything for that cough?" Jim paused, but Pete didn't respond. "Why don't we stop at the next drugstore and you can pick up something?"

"We only have another two hours of our patrol."

"But if you take something now, you will feel better by the time your home and in bed."

"Ok. Ok."

Since it was a little after midnight, not many shops were still open. Thankfully, one Rexall Drugstore on Pico Boulevard was open all night. Pete pulled into the side parking lot.

Jim spoke up, "I'll wait here and listen for the radio in case we get a call."

"I won't be long." Pete felt a little light-headed from the now throbbing headache. He walked around to the front glass door entrance of the store. As he entered, the storekeeper asked, "Can I help you officer?"

He approached the older man at the counter. "Can you tell me where the cold medicine is?"

"Sure, it's on the back wall in that isle," as he pointed to the far right side of the long one story building. The clerk noticed Pete looked a bit out of sorts.

Pete went searching for the cold medicine along the far wall. In the meantime, the clerk was busy stocking some shelves behind the counter.

Unbeknownst to the clerk and Pete, three masked men quietly came through the rear service entrance of the store. With a quick visual sweep of the place, the three divided up. One, dressed in blue jeans and a denim vest with a large logo embroidered on the back, moved to the front of the store. He flipped the open sign to closed and twisted the deadbolt knob. The second guy, wearing worn blue jeans and a red plaid shirt, scouted out the store clerk while the third one, a short, heavier set guy, ransacked the back looking for valuables.

While the clerk reached up to place some bottles on the back wall the second man stepped up behind him. The man pulled out a pistol and poked it in the store clerk's side. "Don't say a word! Just open the cash drawer and you won't eat a bullet."

The first thug then noticed the police officer after peering around the isles. He came up an inside isle and pulled out a handgun from his back waistband. After coming around the end shelf just one step away from Pete who stood looking at a medicine bottle in his hand from the back shelf lined with many cough elixirs, the thug slammed the butt of the gun across the back of Malloy's head. Pete collapsed to the floor in a state of unconsciousness dropping the bottle in the process. The thug grabbed out Pete's gun from his holster before hurrying to the back of the store. The three reconvened in the back. Lou, the second thug, held a bag of cash and shoved the store clerk to his knees. "I got the money!"

Eddie, the first man, was quick to say, "There was ONE customer in the store. It was a COP! I knocked him out cold! I got his gun, too." He passed the weapon to the heavy-set man who promptly stuffed it in his front waistband. The third man seemed to be in charge. He issued orders to the two others. He pointed down at the store clerk, "Tie him up and put him in the back room. Let's go see this cop you put out of commission."

The two men marched to the spot where Pete laid. The man in charge rolled Pete over from his left side to his back. "Oh, Man!" the leader blurted out as he saw Pete's face. The man looked down at the ID badge that read Officer Malloy. "I can't believe it!" The leader suddenly pulled down his red bandana from his face to his neck.

Eddie asked, "What is it, Bach?"

A long grin spread across his face like the Cheshire cat from Alice in Wonderland. He said, "It's the pig that put us in jail from the ghost town!"