Monday, March 31, 2014

Sergeant Finley - Day 71

I wish I could tell you that Angela and I sat and talked that day; but, alas, it was not to be, at least, not that day, anyway. 

As soon as the ball game had been played out, we all sat down on blankets we had brought with us, and after the leader, an older man of about 35 led the saying of grace, we ate. It was wonderful. I waited until Angela and her brother had spread their blanket, and then I spread ours close to hers. She turned away slightly and seemed to be intent on taking the food from their basket. 

Following the picnic, the leader of the group arose and taking out his Bible, began reading from Matthew. It was from the Sermon on the Mount. 

Odie looked over at me in irritated astonishment. 

"This is a religious meeting? Why have you brought me to this?"

"Please, Odie, just listen to what Mr. Ruggles has to say. Haven't you had a great time so far? Has anybody been unkind to you?"

"I'm going home! You tricked me! You know I don't go in for this kinda stuff!" 

"Just give it a chance, please! Nobody's going to embarrass you. I'm your friend!" 

He calmed down and began listening, reluctantly. However, he kept casting hurtful looks my way. 

Mr. Ruggles was a powerful speaker, and before Odie realized it, he was drawn into the story. By the time the story was over, Odie's attitude had changed. 

It would take some time, but I knew Odie would eventually be won over. He had a good heart after all, and he was listening. 

It was beginning to grow dark when we left the riverside. The other guys and gals came up to us and told Odie how glad they were that he had come with me. Mr. Ruggles invited him to come to church the next Sunday. 

"We'll see," replied Odie. "Are you going to be there?"

"I'm the youth pastor, and I look forward to seeing you next Sunday. Please come."

We gathered up all our stuff, and left. 

"I guess I'm glad you invited me, Zeeb. It was fun. It's been a long time since I've been around a lot of other people like that. In fact, when our parents died, I kind of lost touch with people. My sister is always on my case, fussin' at me."

"Does she care about you?" I asked, knowing the answer if he were truthful. 

"I reckon so," he replied, kicking an empty drink can that was in our path.

Our conversation stopped then, and we walked along in companionable silence. 

When we reached the corner where we separated, each going our own way, I asked him one more question.

"So, will you go with me next Sunday to church?"

"I guess, maybe. Will that pretty girl that sat on the blanket next to ours be there?"

"You mean Angela? Why?"

"Well, it sure would be nice to get acquainted with her."

I knew I had to be truthful, so I replied in the affirmative. 

"Yes, she usually is."

"Okay, I'll go with you, buddy."

In that moment, I felt a little tinge of jealousy. He was smitten with Angela Rae, too.

We would just have to wait and see who she went for: Odie or me. 

At the end of the next two weeks, we graduated from the police academy and were then ready to take to the streets with older, seasoned cops. I knew this would be my life's work, serving and protecting the public. 

As for Angela and me, well, let's just say it was an interesting time ahead of us. 

(The end)  

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Sergeant Finley - Day 70

For several Sundays I had been meeting with this group of young people. I have not mentioned them before, but I had met them in church. It was a small church but quite active. They had welcomed me in and I felt as though I had truly come home when I was with them. 

I especially had my eyes on a lovely young girl named Angela Rae. She seemed to like me, too. Her chestnut hair was cut to frame an oval face; her eyes were a soft brown almost the same color as her hair. I thought her name suited her; when she spoke, it was a soft southern tone that reached my ears. 

Smitten was the word that would describe me and I knew without a doubt that she was meant to be mine. I had told no one about my feelings for Angela; not realizing I didn't have to even open my mouth for it to be obvious to others. 

Jackson had taken me to the church for a visit the first time I went. After I saw Angela, I knew that would be my church, for sure. Of course, the pastor was very good, as well. It took me two weeks to get up my nerve to speak to Angela. 

At first, I just nodded to her. She looked directly at me, then looked away, blushing. That captured my heart. I had seen lots of girls in my day, but seeing one almost as shy as I was, I knew she was the one for me. 

When I met Odie around three, I was carrying the picnic basket filled with goodies for the meeting. 

"Your Mama Nina sure knows how to fill a basket," Odie said, lifting the lid and peeking inside. 

"Now you just keep your paws out a' the food," I chided him, jokingly. 

"Tell me something about these people we're picnicking with today," he demanded. "How do I know I'll like them...better still, how do I know they'll like me? Not everybody does, you know." 

"Oh, just be nice, and they can't help but like you. You're a great fella, once you stop being a jerk!" I joked. 

I knew he was nervous, but I encouraged him to settle down and just be natural. I had realized that one reason he acted like such a jerk sometimes, was that he hadn't had a man to teach him how to behave for several years since his Pa had died. He had been allowed to run wild for too long.

When we arrived at the riverside, we saw the other young people gathered and I noticed some of them had begun a game of softball. 

"Come on, Odie; let me introduce you to some of the fellas."

After I introduced him, we joined the game of softball and before long, Odie was enjoying himself. Turns out he was a natural pitcher and was soon being clapped on the back for doing such a great job.

Soon after the game began, I saw Angela Rae arrive with her brother, and I smiled in her direction. She saw me, I knew, but offered little recognition of the fact. Sooner or later, I would get her to speak to me. It was destiny. 

(To be continued) 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Sergeant Finley - Day 69

When we got back to the station, Captain Wintermeyer and the squad were in the process of booking the thugs we had taken down. We got to observe the whole process. 

Wintermeyer inquired about the absence of Bix. 

"He chose not to go with us; since it was truly voluntary, we let him off the hook. He said his wife was worried when she was all alone at night." Odie informed him.

The captain merely lifted his eyebrows and nodded.

I pulled Odie to one side. "You think it's going to be a black mark against Bix? What do you reckon Frosty will do?" I whispered as quietly as possible.

"It sure won't do his standing any good in the Captain's eyes. He shouldn't be a cop if he can't be out at night. You know he's not held down any job for long. Can you imagine having a wife who's not behind you a hundred percent?"

"Well, it's kind of hard to imagine having a wife to support, that you have to keep assuring you're not going to be fired. Also, one that's afraid all the time for her own safety." 

"I heard they're from a large city up north, where you have to live in fear for your life all the time." Odie replied. 

He seemed to catch all the scuttlebutt floating around. 

"It'll be interesting to see what happens on Monday when we go back to class; we'll see if Bix is still going to be one of us, or if he'll be gone."

I decided to change tack, and asked Odie a question of my own. 

"You doing anything this weekend?"

"Naw! You got somethin' in mind? Got a girl you're seeing and wanta double date?"

"No, not at present." I smiled. "I do have a place I want to take you, though. I want you to meet some of my friends on Sunday afternoon that don't have anything to do with police work. How about it?"

"What are we gonna do?"

"They're having a picnic down by the river. The weather is supposed to be getting nice, and I'll have Mama Nina pack a basket for us. There's some girls in the group.  What do ya say?"

"Hey, that sounds all right! Are the girls pretty?"

"They sure are! Come on! You'll enjoy it! We can forget all about classes and police work and just have a good time. Wear your casual clothes and meet me at Mama's around three p.m. Okay?"

"It's a deal!"

(To be continued) 


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Sergeant Finley - Day 68

That night as I readied myself to go out, I was thinking about Bix and his situation. Was he just using his wife as an excuse? Why had he encountered so many problems keeping a job? Were there underlying issues he wasn't dealing with? I knew without a doubt, he was headed for failure once again. He'd never make it as a cop unless he dealt with whatever was bothering him. He certainly has aroused my curiosity, that was for sure. 

It was dark that night, no moon and these fellas didn't know the area as well as I had learned it, so they were going to be relying on my skills. I knew we could do it.

We arrived near the alleyway where the three men always set up their business.

"Okay, fellas. Can you all act drunk? Instead of sneaking up on them, we're gonna be singing like we are three sheets in the wind, looking for a good time, including the purchase of some drugs."

Odie remarked, "I sure can. I've had a little experience at the real thing." 

Some of the others nodded their agreement. 

"Say, what about you, straight-laced Zeeb! You ain't never been drunk in your life, I'll bet." This came from D.K.

"Let's just say, I know how a drunk behaves. I don't have to explain why. Now come on fellas. Here we go." 

We linked arms and began stumbling around and singing one of the latest rock songs. We were laughing and pushing each other around. 

"Hey, look there! A fire! You cold, D.K.?"

"Nah! I could use a rainbow, though! Any a you got a rainbow?"

We began shoving each other around and laughing, putting on a good show for the three watching us.

One of them came over to us. 

"You fellas need to warm up a little? We don't mind sharin' our fire with ya." 

All the while, he was patting our pockets in preparation for a little wallet lifting. He wasn't going to find any though. I had already warned my friends not to carry any thing they didn't want to possible lose.

"All righty," I answered. "Don't mind if we do, eh, fellas? Sure looks warm."

We stumbled over to the can filled with burning refuse. 

The big guy spoke then.

"Did I hear somebody say he was in the market for a rainbow? Got some 'ludes, and red devils as well. Anything you want. You got some money?"

"Well, let's see what cha got. You could just be sayin' that to get our money, and give us nothing." This came from Odie.

He reached into his pocket and brought out a handful of pills. 

"Let me see the color of your money, now." He demanded.

 I gave a prearranged signal and we took them down. Within seconds, all three were on the ground. I retrieved the pills which had fallen to the ground. They were evidence.

Odie gave a loud whistle, and around the corner came a squad of policemen, led by Captain Wintermeyer, and they carted the three men off. 

"Good work, men!" I commended them. "We did it! We made our first arrest. Now, we need to go to the station and fill out some paperwork. That's always part of the job!" 

Needless to say, we were so energized, I doubt if we could have slept immediately after arriving back at our places of residence.  

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sergeant Finley - Day 67

All weekend, I worked in the diner, busing tables, cleaning floors, talking with Mama and Papa, the owners. They had much advice to offer me, and told me stories about how they had come to America as a young couple. They had worked hard and become successful in a small way (according to them) and were trying to give back in gratitude to the country that had become home to them.

They lived very modest lives, but never turned away anyone who needed help. I admired them beyond measure, and came to love them like my own family back in Kentucky. 

I kept in touch with my family back home by calling them at least once a month or so. It seemed they were doing well, mostly. My brother, Les, was in school and keeping out of trouble as far as they knew; my little sister, Marie, was growing more lovely by the day.

My sister, Rose ... well, they still didn't speak of her. Rosie, the hothead, always leading with her temper, was no doubt in all kinds of hot water. One day, I knew I would have to hunt her down and set her straight, probably get her out of whatever mess she was no doubt in.

Soon the third week of school began, and I was back at the academy every day, learning more about how to become a good policeman. I could see most of the others shaping up, but by this time three of the ten had washed out, so that left one without a partner. I felt for him, so I asked Frosty if he could join Odie and me. 

"Well, Zeeb, that is a bit unorthodox, but we are here to learn to co-operate with one another, so, yes, if he is willing and if Odie is, that would be acceptable. How about it, fellas, is that okay with both of you?"

Bixby, called Bix by all of us, readily agreed. 

"Well-l-l... okay," laughed Odie. "He's an okay guy. Ain't his fault his partner got sent home, so sure. Welcome to our team, Bix, old boy." 

Let me tell you a little about Bix. He was older than most of the recruits. He was around thirty and married. Most of the rest of us were just out of the army or high school, so not out of our early twenties, some our teens.

Bix apparently had several jobs before the academy and seemed to have had a bit of bad luck in them. That would no doubt make anyone feel a bit down, but he seemed cheerful enough. I wondered what his difficulty had been in keeping a job. 

After our morning run, we came back in to take up some basic medical training, such as artificial respiration and basic first aid. We had a dummy person to practice artificial respiration and of course the usual jokes were made. A written test followed the morning's instruction and then a performance test after that to see how well we had learned from it all. 

Following lunch, we had a test over everything that we had the first two weeks of school. It was a surprise to us all, and it's purpose, I am sure, was to see if we were retaining what we had been instructed in. It was also another way to winnow out the chaff. 

When we came in the next day, we were down to six; one more had washed out, so Bix left our team and joined another lone student, , D.K., who had just lost his partner

By this time, I believed that Frosty was satisfied with the competence and cohesiveness of our group. 

So, we were now three groups - Odie and me; Bix and D.K., Del and Ben. 

By the end of that week, we were all pretty close pals. We could almost smell the success of graduation from the academy ahead of us. 

I decided it was time to try the apprehension of the thugs again. This time I swore them to secrecy. Instead of calling a regular policeman in on it, though, we would take down the three ourselves. After all, it was six against three, and we were strong young men.  We'd make a citizen's arrest and take them in.

"Sorry, fellas, I can't do it. I have a wife and two kids. We're new in town and she worries about being alone at night." This came from Bixby (Bix). He spoke very apologetically.

We all turned as one man and looked at him, amazed, unbelieving.

"What are you going to do when you have night patrol, Bix?" Odie asked him. "What's she gonna do?"

"Well, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. Maybe I can just work in the day shifts."

That man had his head in the clouds, I thought. 

"Well, if you can't tonight, you can't. We can take care of it, I reckon," I replied. "See you on Monday, then." 

We all parted ways after we finalized our plans for later that night. 

I wondered how long Bix would be with us. 

(to be continued) 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sergeant Finley - Day 66

Going into the station that Friday at noon, I located Lieutenant Hicks, who had trained with Jackson Finley and told him of my plan. We needed him along in order to make an arrest, so we would have a better chance of making the charges stick.

"Well, now, I don't know, O'Hanlon. Your plan is a bit irregular. You say you believe these fellows are the ones who beat you and also who caused the death of Fin? But, are you sure?"

"I know that they are peddling dope; and I know they are the ones who beat me senseless, and I'm relatively sure they are the ones who beat the Sarge. We had zeroed in on them before my academy classes began. I can take you to them."

"Well, okay... we'll see how it goes. How many of your friends are going to be going with us?"

"There'll be five of us including you. We'll all be in vagrant disguise to throw them off. You can have three pair of handcuffs and we'll get them with the goods. We may even catch them beating up somebody. I know exactly where to find them. You'll do it, then?"

"Sounds like fun! It's been awhile since I've done anything like this. Thanks for thinking of me, Zeeb!" 

I looked at him in mouth hanging open. 

"You don't realize how names get bandied about among the men here? We all have our eyes on you academy kids; watching to see what our next crop of men are going to be like and how capable. We know you and Odie are teamed up together, too. We're watching that situation for sure. What time this evening?"

"We figured around eleven thirty or so, we can meet a couple of blocks from here and just kind of wander in the direction of their hangout area."

"Okay, Zeeb...sounds like a plan! See you then."

I was elated! We were actually going to be able to use some of our training!

That afternoon, around four o'clock, as the evening shift of policemen took over, I noticed Sgt. Johnson standing on the steps. He was talking to Hicks as I passed by the station on my way to the diner. Johnson smiled and nodded at me as I walked by. 

"What was that all about?" I wondered. Then I dismissed it from my mind. I had a full afternoon of work at the diner to do, before I got off around ten. That would be followed by an hour of class study and another period of time spent in Bible study and preparing my mind for the night's activity.

When the evening's work was over, and we closed the diner, I went home with my hosts, and immediately to my room. 

Somehow, I was finding it almost impossible to concentrate; my mind was so filled with the night ahead's activities. Then I took a deep breath and appealed to the Lord to calm my nerves and bring me inner peace for the task ahead. 

At eleven, I donned my disguise and smeared dirt all over my face and hands, as though preparing for battle. 

Fifteen minutes later, I headed out the door and locked the outer door behind me. I was on my way to meet my friends and take them to our quarry. 

We all gathered on the corner, and wandered along as though we hadn't a care in the world. It was interesting to see what disguises my friends had come up with; we certainly looked like a bunch of ne'er-do-wells. 

After a bit of aimless wandering, we went to the place where I had seen the three men several times. Much to my dismay, no one was there. We began searching in earnest. 

"I don't understand! They've been here every night I've seen them. What has happened?"

My friends looked at one another, then back at me. 

"Looks like they've disappeared, Zeeb! Are you sure this is the place? After all, a lot of these alleyways look the same. Let's search around some more in some of the other streets." Odie was sympathetic to my plight. 

We searched around for another hour, coming up empty.

"Say, did any of you guys mention to anybody what we were going to be doing tonight?"

I looked at them and saw a few guilty faces, including the Lieutenant's. 

"We got a leak somewhere, fellas. We'll wait a while and then try it again. In the meantime, 'Mum's the word', hear? When you are on a secret mission, nobody except the people on the mission are to know. It's a hard and fast rule." 

I was disgusted. 

"Thanks, guys, for going out on this tonight. I appreciate your help. We won't give up, will we?"

"No, Zeeb, we'll get 'em." 

"Goodnight, fellas! See you next week."

I went back home with a taste of bitterness in my mouth.

(To be continued) 


Monday, March 24, 2014

Sergeant Finley - Day 65

When class was over, I remained seated, waiting for the axe maybe to fall. 

Captain Wintermeyer, however, pulled over a chair to face me and sat down. 

"Son, I realize you've lost a best friend and I know he would want you to succeed in becoming a policeman. He was one that could be depended on to do what was right. You may not know this, but he led me to know the Lord, just like he did you, but I was much older. You've had your time of getting accustomed to his passing, now you need to buckle down and do your best. I'm pulling for you, Zeeb. Oh, yeah, I know all about the nicknames, and that one will stick with you, believe me. I believe the new kids call me Frosty; it's an old name and will no likely continue. Do you have a place to stay? I know you were living in Fin's quarters."

Well, the surprises just kept coming! He actually took an interest in his students beyond what they did in class.

"Yes, sir. I've made arrangements with friends. Thank you, sir, for asking. As for knuckling down and working to pass the course, I will, sir. Thank you for understanding. You won't need to remind me again."

"Very well, then, O'Hanlon! See that you do. I'll see you back here in about 45 minutes; and you'd best be ready." 

"Yes, sir." 

He stood and we left together. 

Odie was waiting around outside for me, and we took off for the diner. 

When Frosty got out of earshot, Odie asked "What did he say? Did he tell you to clear out and not come back? Have you washed out?"

"No," I smiled at Odie. "He told me to buckle down and get with the program or else I would be gone. That was it. He also paid a special personal tribute to my friend, Jackson Finley. That's all. Now, let's hurry and get to the diner. I'm starving!"

After lunch, the class took up being instructed in how to make a proper apprehension and arrest without the use of a weapon. We role-played the action of a chase and apprehension. Wintermeyer had us set up barriers in the shooting range area for the role-playing. We took turns in two against one and one against one doing the chasing and being the chased. 

The Captain gave us some actual tricks that the fleeing criminal would use, but gave them only to the ones playing the criminal in order to make it more difficult. We soon realized that we really had to think about what we were doing, rather than depend on being more fit than the criminal.

By the end of an hour's worth of that practice, we were ready to come back inside and work on another chapter of the police manual. Each day, after we worked on the manual, we took a short exam over what we had learned (or not learned) on the day before. It gave us a chance to review the manual at home before we had the actual test on it. It was a good method. 

On the next Friday, an idea came to me. I was going to get the guys who beat up my friend, and see that they were brought to justice. I was sure it was the three who had beaten me. I would need help to do it, though, and I figured my friends would help me. 

(To be continued) 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Sergeant Finley - Day 64

I slept through the afternoon and all night, as though I had never slept before. My grief had overtaken me and left me bereft of my friend. 

When I awakened, I remembered anew that in this lifetime, I would never see my friend again. However, I knew that one day I would see him in the hereafter. That gave me strength to go on. 

Upon arising from my bed, I heard a knocking on the door. When I went to open it, I found a notice tacked to the frame. It was a note telling me that unless I could pay the rent on the place, I was to vacate it immediately. I knew I had to leave because I had no money to speak of. 

I decided that I would find employment for the time I wasn't going to school at the academy. I certainly wasn't getting paid for attending the school.

I decided to ask Mama Nina if she knew of a place where I could work and perhaps stay until I was earning money as a policeman. It didn't take me very long to pack up my belongings in the duffel bag; I was soon on my way to the diner to talk to Mama Nina. 

They had closed the diner the day before in order to attend Jackson's funeral services. It would have meant a lot to him to know how they had honored him by doing so. 

I carried the uniform carefully along with my duffel bag to the diner. Mama and Papa hugged me when I arrived and asked if they could do anything for me. I could see the concern and affection in their faces. 

"Well, since you ask, could you perhaps tell me where I can get a part time job and a place to live until I begin to earn money as a policeman? I realize you all know a lot about the community and might have an idea for me."

Mama looked at Papa and lifted her eyebrows at him. He gave an almost imperceptible nod back to her.

Wiping her hands on her apron, she began speaking to me. 

"You know, Zebbie...we've been needing someone to help out around here for awhile. Perhaps you could wash dishes and clear tables, perhaps sweep and mop, too, on your time off from school. We have a small room at our house that we can clear out so you will have a place to sleep." 

"Are you sure? I wouldn't want to be any bother to you."

"We can't pay you much, of course, but you will get all your meals free, and a few dollars to spend, to boot."

It really humbled me to realize how kind they were being to me. They didn't have to do what they were offering to me, but I knew they meant it and it would have been churlish of me to turn up my nose at their offer. 

"Thank you, Mama and Papa. I appreciate your offer and I accept." 

"Okay, Zebbie, you may begin after your classes at the academy today. We'll expect to see you around four o'clock this afternoon." 

I hugged them both. It was a real comfort to feel their arms around my waist. 

"You might as well leave your duffel bag and we can stow it in the back somewhere until we all go home tonight." 

I left with my heart singing their praises. 

Bobby Joe Odum greeted me at the door to the academy. 

"Hey, buddy! How are you doing today? Are you ready to begin our run this morning? We had an assignment to turn in today that you missed yesterday afternoon. Do you reckon Frosty will penalize you?" 

I hit my forehead, feeling like I was days behind instead of just one day; I hadn't gotten the assignment, because I had gone home right after the funeral instead of returning to the academy. I would need to talk to the Captain to see about making it up. 

Pretty soon all ten students were present and we ran the laps before settling down for the day's work. 

"O'Hanlon, if you would remain a few minutes after class this noon, we need to discuss a few matters." Captain Wintermeyer spoke quietly to me.

"Yes, sir." I hoped the ax wasn't getting ready to fall. 

That morning we had some more practice with shooting and the use of the baton. We cleaned guns and then reviewed a chapter in the manual about the use of excessive force in making arrests. We seemed to be taking small bites in our training. 

I was pleased to see that Odie (his nickname) was settling down and less obnoxious in his behavior. My nickname among the other students became Zeeb. It seemed everyone eventually received a nickname.

(To be continued)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Sergeant Finley - Day 63

Over the next few days, arrangements were made for last rites of my friend. His children were informed of his passing, and I finally got to meet them. 

When we met, I told them what a wonderful friend Jackson had been to all those who knew him, and how much he meant to me. They asked me to speak at his funeral, since I had such a first hand knowledge of his recent activities and I had been so influenced by him. 

At the service, I looked out over the sea of blue uniforms, and felt a sense of coming home. I would soon belong to that brotherhood, just as I belonged to a brotherhood of believers in Christ. Not as important as the brotherhood of Christ, but it would be a partnership, nevertheless.

I began to speak...

"Eleven years ago, I was just a boy, still wet behind the ears when I met Jackson Finley. I'm honored to be able to speak on this important day on his behalf. It was Sergeant Finley who came to my home to tell me about my Da being found beaten to death. I had met him earlier when he came with others to look for my Da after he had been in a fight and killed someone. Jackson gave me my first Testament and also my first lesson in self-defense. He was the first to invite me to ask Jesus into my heart. 

Later on, he kept me from straying into a life of crime.  Then my family left the town where he was and I lost track of him. I never forgot him, and when I left the armed services, I went looking for him. I just found him a few weeks ago, and was elated. Once again, he helped me.

Jackson was compassionate, a true believer, and he lived what he spoke. He will be missed. I loved him like a brother."

I left the dais, wiped my eyes and sat down.

The pastor got up and preached a short sermon from John 14. Everyone then arose from their seats, the family passed by the coffin once more, and everyone filed out. 

I had been chosen to be one of the pallbearers and loaned a uniform to wear. Taking my place with the others, I stood nearby while the casket was closed. Then we carried my friend out to the hearse. Within minutes, the whole cortege was at the cemetery and we once again carried my friend's remains, this time stopping at the burial site.

As we carried his remains, the bagpipes sounded their mournful song, "Going Home - The Fallen Soldier". That was the first, but not the last, time that I heard the pipes on that tune. It brings shivers to my frame even now.

Following the pipes, a twenty-one gun salute was given.

The graveside service was short. I spoke to his children and their families once more, then it was all over. 

Later on, I happened to reflect that I had not seen his sister or  her husband at the services. Perhaps her husband's illness prevented her coming. 

As often happens, all the policemen congregated later at the bar in the local pub to drink to Jackson's memory. I went, but chose not to drink; I could not forget what drink had done to destroy my family. I didn't believe Jackson would feel honored to have them drinking in his memory anyway. 

I went back to the place Jackson and I had shared. I wondered if I would be able to continue staying there; and figured, 'probably not.' 

Removing the uniform and hanging it up carefully, I crawled into bed and went to sleep. 

(To be continued)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Sergeant Finley - Day 62

The next few days passed uneventfully. I was no longer going out at night with 'Krispy', but getting sleep that I needed for attending academy classes. 

Friday morning came and when I awakened, 'Krispy' was not home as he usually was. I was not awfully alarmed, since I was not his keeper, but I was a bit concerned at a change in routine. 

Getting up and ready to leave, I continued to wonder what was keeping my friend. 

Deciding to go to the station house to see if he was there, I hurried, praying all the while. I kept remembering the apparent pain in his side that he had been trying to play down.

Sure enough, when I arrived at the station, I went in to find the men huddled in a couple of groups talking quietly. As if in one entity, they turned to look at me as I entered.

"What?" I inquired.

I saw one of them knock on Captain Shannon's door; immediately he came out and motioned to me.

Feeling a dread wash over me, I walked numbly to the office, and at once sat down. My legs seemed not to be able to hold up my body. Somehow, my mind knew what was coming.

"I'm sorry to tell you this, Zeb. As you probably know, Jackson Finley has not been a well man for some time, not since he took the bullets a few years ago. The fire was also detrimental to his health as well. He was stopping the beating of a homeless person while ago and his heart gave out on him. The coroner suspects the bullet shrapnel had reached his heart and finally took his life."

By this time, I was sobbing unashamedly. What was I going to do without my good friend, now that I had found him. My loss seemed to have doubled, and my pain seemed greater than I could bear. 

I arose and stumbled from the room, feeling more alone than ever before. 

"How could this have happened?" I asked myself, then fell to my knees, asking God. "Why? Why did you do this? I don't understand?"

One of the men helped me to my feet and I stumbled out of the station, not having any destination in mind. I had never felt so alone. Now what? 

For the next hour, I wandered aimlessly, then looked up and saw the steeple of a church. On top of the steeple was a cross. There on the sidewalk, I fell to my knees once again, hit anew with the realization of what the cross stood for. The Sacrifice made for all mankind. 

I still felt the loss of my friend, but the cross put it into perspective. He would not want me questioning God for taking him, but to praise God that my friend was now at home with our Savior. I sent up a prayer of thanks to Him.

But I was going to miss my friend. I knew Jackson, 'Krispy' Finley would want me to go back to the station and see what I could do. I knew he had children that had to be notified, and I had an academy instructor that I needed to square things away with.

(To be continued) 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sergeant Finley - Day 61

Next morning when I arrived at the academy, everyone else was already there, gathered around the bulletin board. It didn't take long for us to see who we were partnered with. 

My hunch had been correct; my partner for the duration of the school was Odum. However, his manner was more in keeping with that of a person who had been sorely chastised, at least verbally. 

He reached out and shook my hand.

"Looks like Frosty has us partnered up, buddy," he smiled.

I lifted my eyebrows at the nickname he had called Capt. Wintermeyer, but I had difficulty keeping from smiling at it's apt irreverence.

The captain did sometimes appear quite 'frosty'. 

"You'd better not let him hear you identify him in that manner," I whispered. 

"Ah, that's his nickname around the station, didn't you know? It's a natural!" 

"He chew you out yesterday?"

"Yeah, somewhat, but that's okay. I been listenin' to that kinda stuff most 'a my life, what from my sister to my brother in law, people all around me."

"Your parents don't tell you that stuff as well?"

"Nah. They died in a car wreck when I was just thirteen. My sister has been in charge 'a me since then; ha, she tried to be, that is. Always 'a bossin' me around. 'Don't do that, Bobby! You'll get inta trouble, Bobby!' Yak, yak, yak!" 

"Hmm. I see. How about if I just be your friend. I promise not to say anything unless I see you doing something that will cause danger or harm to someone, you included." 

"Say, that'd be cool! I promise to guard your back as well, like real partners." 

"One more question; are you a Christian, Bobby?"

"Nah! I don't believe in all that Jesus baloney! My sister tried to drag me to church all the time. Don't tell me you're one 'a them?"

"Yep! I sure am. I'm gonna be praying for you big time, partner, and I'm not gonna let up on telling you about Him and what He's done for me. You're gonna find how important God is in the days and years to come, if you live long enough. Just you wait and see. Now, here comes the boss."

"Okay, men, let's do some stretches and get ready to run. Next time, you better be doing your stretches before I get here. Got it?" 

"Yes, sir!" we shouted. Real classes at the academy had just begun. 

When I went to lunch that day, I took Odum with me to Mama Nina's. 

"Who is this young man, Zebbie?" Mama asked me.

"This is my partner at the academy. Bobby Joe Odum, meet Mama Nina. Mama Nina, Bobby Joe. We've been paired up for the next four weeks."

"Very nice to be meeting you,  Bobby. You gonna be eatin' here every day with our Zebbie and Jackson?"

"Hmm, yeah, I guess so. Who's Jackson?"

"He's my friend from many years ago, when I lived in Pennsylvania. It's a long story. Oh, here he comes now."

Bobby turned on his stool and when he saw Jackson come in, he looked at me kinda odd and said, "Oh, he's the one got burned out that was married to that, uh..uh.."

I frowned at him. He immediately stopped what he had been ready to say and dropped his head, apparently speechless.

"Hey, Jackson, meet Bobby Joe Odum, my new partner!" I smiled at Jackson. 

"Glad to meet you, Bobby. I think I may have seen you a few times around the station house and all." 

Jackson reached out his hand and grabbed Bobby's hand. I didn't know until later about the kind of attention Odum had paid to Jackson around the station house. It seemed he had been a ringleader in casting aspersions on Jackson's character, simply because of his choice of marriage partner. 

We ate lunch in an air of companionship. I noticed once again that my old friend was holding his side. I was going to speak to him in private as soon as possible.

Saying goodbye to Mama Nina, the three of us left and Jackson turned in at the station house while Odum and I continued on to the academy building.

"Listen, Odum; let's get one thing straight, here and now! Jackson Finley is a good man, honest and true. I don't ever want you to speak unkindly of or to him again. Understand?"

"Sure, sure. Word of honor!"

I vowed to tell my new partner all about Jackson in the near future. 

(To be continued)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sergeant Finley - Day 60

Walking into the diner, I hollered at Mama Nina. 

"Hey, what's the menu special blue plate for today, Mama?"

"Hey, back at 'cha, Zebbie! How about a nice plate of my special spaghetti? With some nice buttered toast?"

"Hmm, sounds great! Ya seen Sarge yet?"

I felt someone clap me on the shoulder and turned around to see Jackson smiling at me. 

"Hungry, huh? So, tell me, how did your first morning go? Who's the instructor?" 

"A Captain Wintermeyer is. We have ten students, including me. One of them, I want to ask you about. His name is Bobby Joe..."

"Odum!" We both said simultaneously. 

"Oh! You know him? Who is he, anyway?" 

"Did you notice, when I introduced you to Captain Shannon in his office, and that young woman with the baby came in, how much younger she is than the Captain? Yet, she is his wife."

"Well, yes, come to think of it; she was much younger than he."

Speaking in a very low voice, Jackson replied, "It so happens she is his second wife. His first wife passed away about three years ago. The Captain met this one when her brother was brought in on a drunk and disorderly misdemeanor. Somehow, she decided to appeal his case to the Captain, over the arresting officer's head. She wanted the brother's record expunged, because she wanted it not to follow him around. It seems that she really appealed to the Captain in such a winning way that about ten months later, we all got an invite to their wedding."


"So, her maiden name was Odum."

I slapped my forehead. "Oh, man! Of course! No wonder Wintermeyer defers to him somewhat. I knew Odious wasn't kidding when he said he 'knew someone'. I just didn't realize how high it went. Poor Wintermeyer; well, I'll bet he's not going to take as much guff as Bobby Joe thinks he will."

By that time our plates were in front of us and after saying a brief grace, we dug in.

As we stood up, I noticed Jackson rub his left side. When I started to say something about it, he waved my question away with a shaking of the head and smiled.

We soon left and were back on the way to our respective places.

The afternoon was filled with our learning more about use of the baton, as we practiced. The last hour was spent learning to safely load and unload a shotgun. 

"Men, come prepared to do some running in the morning. Fitness is a very important part of being a policeman. There are standards for fitness as well as other standards. Odum, you please remain for a few minutes; everyone else, you may leave." 

Oh, boy, I would love to have been a fly on that classroom wall. 

(To be continued) 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Sergeant Finley - Day 59

Odum leaned forward and tapped me on the shoulder.

"Hey, pal! What did you score? Did you pass?" He whispered. 

Wintermeyer had begun a lecture on use of the baton. He looked in our direction and stopped momentarily, giving Odum a chance to shut up voluntarily. 

"Mr. O'Hanlon, I believe you might want to have your eyes facing the front of the room so you can see the demo and hear what I'm telling the class."

I could feel my face burning as I turned back to face him and I replied, "Sorry, sir. I guess I just got distracted. It won't happen again." 

The military had taught me that one never places blame on another, but takes it on the chin oneself. 

"See that you don't. This is an important lesson for everyone." 

After several more minutes of lecture, he brought one of the men to the front to demonstrate proper use of the baton. It looked like a dangerous weapon as he demoed it. 

He then told us how it could be the difference between life and death when apprehending a suspect. He had each of us come up and he demonstrated individually, having us to then practice by twos, so he could observe.

"Upon graduation in four weeks, those of you who make it will receive a baton as part of your equipment. I want to be sure each of you understand its proper use and advantages."

Sitting on the edge of his desk, he began to relate a story of how his partner a few years earlier had saved his life from a drug addict. 

"Having and being a good, dependable partner is better than any visible weapon a policeman has. I'm going to assign partners to each of you. At first, you may not understand my reasoning in the assignments; but I'm hoping it will eventually prove to be a good choice on my part."

We each looked around the room expectantly.

"You can check on the board in the morning when you come in. I need some time to think about the assignments. You are excused for lunch. Report back here in an hour, ready for more instruction." 

As we left, I collared Bobby Joe. 

"Listen, Odum. You're beginning to be like a gravel in my shoe. Irritating. Got it? I'm not in here for anything except to become a policeman."

"Okay, need to get all prickly on me. Listen, you stick with me, and we'll be in like Flint."

"Why do you say that? Who do you know that gives you that assurance? I know the Captain doesn't like you. I've met men like you while I was in the Army. Your kind always drag down the ones you associate with."

"Ah, don't you worry none about that, little buddy. I got connections is all you need to know."

"I need to go, Odum. See you later." 

Walking away, I headed for the diner and Jackson Finley. I was going to do some investigating.

(To be continued)


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Sergeant Finley - Day 58

Then I looked at the Captain. Was he going to say anything? Was it possible the men were to be allowed to choose a partner; was that the way it was done?

Instead of saying anything about partners, he simply said, "Odum, you're up next. Let's see what you can do."

Odum struck a cocky attitude as he stepped forward to take the gun. He took the revolver and spun it on his finger as though he were a gunslinger. 

I waited for the Capt. to react with some kind of retribution; there was none, except for the look of disgust that crossed his face, followed by an inner rage that was obvious, at least to me. Uh-oh! I waited for an explosion that never came. Instead he spoke quietly.

"Odum, enough of that. We're not cowboys here. Just go ahead and take your turn; we'll talk later."

He had spoken quietly enough that only those standing very close to him could hear; but both Odum and I had heard the steel in his voice. I knew I wouldn't want to cross the Captain, under any circumstance. 

Odum took his three shots and I could see he would have a lot of practicing to do. He smiled and stood back, returning the revolver to the Captain. 

As the Captain reloaded, Odum stepped back into line beside me and clapped me on the back.

"Hey, buddy, not bad, huh? At least, not for a first time at a target." He smiled at me. "Yeah, you'n'me, that's how it's gonna be from now on."

I wondered to myself just then if he was right. What was his pull with the Captain, anyway? I'd seen enough of that kind of favoritism in the military to know Odum was kin to somebody important or else he had something on Wintermeyer. Which was it, anyway? Did it even matter to me who or what? 

Deciding then and there to find out, without getting myself into hot water, I knew I would try.

We finished the shooting practice and then went back inside, where we were instructed on the cleaning of a weapon and taught about the importance. 

While we had been outside, someone had come in and checked the tests we had taken. After looking them over, the Captain passed them to us.

I had missed two of the questions; I had misread them and I felt like kicking myself.

There were a few groans to be heard coming from some of the men.

I heard Odum wadding up his test paper and realized he must have failed miserably. I wondered what effect it would have. 

(To be continued)


Friday, March 14, 2014

Sergeant Finley - Day 57

I learned that the fella sitting behind me was named Bobby Joe Odum. The name meant nothing to me; I had no idea as to whom he was connected, but somehow suspected it was to someone of importance. That information would come to me later on, I knew. 

We all headed outside and lined up as instructed. The Captain had sheathed the revolver again until we reached the outdoor range. It was a huge area, backed by a high fence to prevent anyone behind the shooting area from getting accidentally hit. It was amazing to find such a place inside a city limits; but then this was the way it was. 

After we were lined up, the Captain once again removed his revolver and held it out in front of him, demonstrating the way to hold it with two hands to steady it, at eye level. Then he turned and fired at one of the targets, hitting it in dead center of the man's head on the target, then in the area of the chest where the heart would be. 

As he replaced the bullets, he said, "That, men, would be overkill. One bullet should be all that is necessary. However, only use a bullet to kill if there is no other way out. We're not in the business to kill criminals, just bring them to justice." 

I heard one of the men snigger at his comment. What did he know that I didn't? I knew for one thing that Captain Wintermeyer was a dead-eye marksman, and wouldn't be a person to get on the wrong side of. He looked as though he would brook no fools. I determined to listen carefully to everything he said and watch all he did. I figured whoever selected him to train men knew what they were doing.

Wintermeyer called one of the men up near him and showed him how to hold the gun, how to turn and stand, finally how to bring the gun up to shoulder level and fire. The fellow almost hit the target. Good thing that fence was behind the target. He got two more tries; then it was the next fellow's turn. He had been practicing while watching the first one; so he did a little bit better. 

"Okay, O'Hanlon, get over here, let's see how you do." The Captain had reloaded the revolver.

My hands were a bit sweaty; it had been several months since I had fired a gun, but it was a rifle. I had excellent eyesight, however, and had been shooting since I was thirteen, when my Grandda took me hunting.

I went through all the steps demonstrated earlier, then fired once at the head, once at the heart, and stopped; I had hit both and didn't need to fire again.

Handing the .38 Special back to the Captain, I stepped back into line. 

He looked at me with new respect, as did the other men. 

"O'Hanlon...where did you learn to shoot like that? Were you in the military?"

"Yes, sir, four years. I served in Vietnam. My Grandda taught me nearly ten years ago how to hunt rabbits with an old .22."

Bobby Joe came up and clapped me on the back, "I'm with you, buddy. You're gonna be my partner."

I turned and looked at him with something akin to amazement. 

(To be continued)