Jon Baker sat on his motor by the
side of the Glendale overpass, waiting for Ponch to show up. He leaned back on
his motor and yawned. His watch read 6:56am. As usual, he was early. It was
another beautiful California morning. The air was cool and clear, the sun was
spilling golden rays on everything, and thousands of commuters sat swearing in
rush hour traffic. Jon smiled as he kept a watchful eye on the sluggish
motorists passing below him. Reaching into his saddlebag, he pulled out a rag
and began to polish his windshield. At 7:20, Ponch roared up beside him.
"Mornin partner!" he said with a grin.
"Morning, Ponch." Jon returned the grin.
Ponch reached into his saddlebag and pulled out his supply of Ding Dongs.
Jon shuddered as he watched him take a bite.
"I still don't know how you can eat that stuff at this hour of the morning."
"Oh, don't you start, Baker. I got enough of that from Bobby and Bruce." Ponch said, returning his stash to the saddlebag.
"Did you hear the latest? Bobby pulled over Lieutenant Bates yesterday." Jon laughed.
"I heard. It would have been understandable if the Lieutenant had actually been doing anything wrong…but the guy was going 56 in a 55 zone. Please!"
Jon shook his head, yawning. "And to think I considered you eager!"
"Who me?" Ponch asked innocently, a smile on his face.
Jon laughed. "Must've been a ball being his FTO."
Ponch grinned as he started his motor. "Gave me a whole new respect for you partner!" he called as he drove off.
"Yeah right." Jon replied with a grin as he followed Ponch onto the freeway.
"I don't get it Ponch," Jon shouted as they headed for Central," why'd he become a CHP if he doesn't want to follow the rules?"
"He's not a team player, Jon. He's out to make a name for himself, trying to be a hero. There's no room for that here."
"I agree with ya, Ponch. I just hope he doesn't go too far one of these days."
"You and me both, partner."
* * * *
"Okay folks. Listen up." Joe Getraer said as he began the mornings briefing. There was a soft rustle as notebooks were opened.
"Item one. The Captain has asked me to stress proper procedure concerning pursuits. The primary officer is in control at all times. Any other units involved are backup only. Do not…I repeat do not become involved in the arrest
unless you are asked to by the primary officer. And remember…the primary officer is the unit that responds to a call first. The keyword here is teamwork." Getraer eyed Bobby.
"Item two. We've had reports of drug activity in the Mullholand Drive area in the hills. Who's got a beat in that area?"
Meg, Bonnie, Jon, Ponch and Bobby raised their hands.
"Okay. You five keep a lookout. If you become involved in a pursuit, use extreme caution. I don't have to tell you how dangerous those roads are."
"One last item. The latest weather reports are saying we're in for quite a rainstorm starting this afternoon. Motor officers make sure you have your raingear on you. And I will ground all the motors if I have to. Okay that's it. Hit your beats."
Great, Jon thought to himself. He'd always felt that their bright yellow rain gear made them look like bananas with feet.
"Hey Bobby," Meg asked as they walked out of briefing," I heard Bruce is due back any day now."
"Yep. Can't wait." Bobby replied.
"Meg, you were one of Bruce's instructors at the academy, right?" Jon asked as they walked outside.
"Yes I was. And he was one of my best students. A little overeager, but I guess that runs in the family." she grinned.
Bobby smiled in reply.
"Later guys. Have a good day." Meg called as she stepped into her cruiser.
* * * * *
As the skies grew darker and darker, Meg sighed. Rainy days were the worst. She
handed a ticket to the driver of the green T-bird she'd just pulled over and walked back to her car. As she stepped in, her radio came alive.
"Attention all units- be on the lookout for a yellow 1982 BMW two door license plate Adam Ida Nora 3290. The driver is a 10-851 and 11-352 suspect. He is armed and considered dangerous."
Meg grabbed the handset. "10-4 L.A."
She'd barely driven a mile when the suspect vehicle roared past her in the opposite direction. As she screeched to a halt and made a u-turn, she grabbed the radio.
"L.A. 7-Edward in pursuit of 10851 suspect westbound on Mullholand!"
Her siren screaming, Meg gunned the engine as she sped after the BMW. As she passed Jon and Ponch they fell in behind her.
"L.A. 7-Mary 3&4 assisting in pursuit of 10851 suspect."
"10-4 Mary 3&4" Ponch saw Bobby ride up behind them. "Stay back Bobby!" he shouted over the sirens.
"Mullholland units, this is S-4. Locke is primary officer. Stay with her but stay out of her way."
"10-4 Sarge!" Jon shouted.
Just as the words left his mouth, Bobby roared past them. Ponch grabbed his handset. "Bobby! Back off! Now!"
Meanwhile, Meg was gaining on the suspect as they weaved their way through the hillside. Just as she was preparing to pull up alongside it, she saw Bobby begin to pass her.
"What the hell is he-"
Suddenly he cut in front of her. Meg slammed on her brake and swerved sharply. Damn it Bobby! she swore to herself. As they approached a curve, Bobby slowed. Horrified,Meg realized she was going to hit him. There was no way she could slow down in time. Hitting her brakes with all her strength, she swerved toward the shoulder, losing control of the cruiser. As Bobby and the suspect vehicle roared past, the cruiser drove off the side of the road, flipping over twice before landing in the ditch below. Jon and Ponch arrived just in time to hear the screams of crumpled metal as the cruiser came to rest in the ditch. Jon jumped off his motor, yanking his helmet off and tossing it over his shoulder as he ran towards the wreck.
Ponch grabbed his radio. "L.A. 7-Mary-4. Code 33. Repeat Code 33!"
"Go ahead Mary 4."
"11-99! Repeat 11-99! Westbound on Mullholland near Crawford's Ridge. Roll an
11-41, 11-85 and fire units!"
"10-4 Mary -4"
As the call went out, Ponch ran down to help Jon. The blond officer was clawing at the twisted metal of the passenger side door, trying to get it open. The cruiser was upside down, its roof nearly flattened. Ponch added his strength to Jon's and pulled until the door finally opened. Jon got on his knees and crawled inside as Ponch ran around to the driver's side.
"Meg? Meg?" Jon asked as he knelt beside her. She was unconscious, slumped against the roof, dangling from her seatbelt. Jon fumbled with the buckle and unhooked it. As he began to release her from it, he felt some resistance. He turned her over and gasped. Part of the metal window frame had come apart, impaling her left arm and pinning it to the seat. Horrified, Jon quickly refastened the seatbelt to prevent injuring her further and backed out of the car.
"Oh my God." Ponch said as he watched. The steering wheel was jammed against her, and there was glass everywhere. Reaching through the crumpled opening where the window should have been, he touched her battered face.
"Meg, it's Ponch and Jon...can you hear us?"
She didn't answer. Ponch swallowed hard. She was much too still. Blood seeped
from her mouth.
"Damn it! Where's the paramedics?" Jon yelled.
Screaming sirens and crunching gravel answered him. They looked up to see a
paramedics truck and a fire unit finally arrive. As the two medics stepped out and grabbed their equipment, Jon shouted to them.
"Roy, Johnny, hurry up! She's trapped in there!"
They hurried down the dusty incline. "What do we got?"
"We can't get her out…she's got a piece of metal in her arm pinning her in." Jon explained.
The two worried officers stood back and watched helplessly as 3 firemen joined
the medics. After looking over the scene and checking Meg out, one of them looked up.
"We're going to have to cut her out of there. We'll have to go slow to avoid damaging that arm any further."
"Well what are you waiting for? Do it!" Ponch replied.
As the rescue team worked on Meg, Joe Getraer arrived at the scene. He'd ran for
his motor the minute the call came in. His relief at seeing it wasn't Jon that was hurt was painfully short lived. He got off his motor and walked to the edge of the cliff, wincing at the high pitched squeal of the saws cutting the crumpled cruiser open. Oh my dear God, he thought. Ponch was helping the rescue
crew, tossing pieces of bent metal aside as they were cut away. Jon was watching nearby. Joe swallowed hard, trying to dislodge the lump in his throat. He stared, relief mixing with fear as Meg was finally removed from the remains of her cruiser. He began to run down to the scene. Amid shouts and curses, a stretcher was lowered down to the ditch. As Meg was carefully lifted on to it, the metal shard still in her arm. Joe, Jon and Ponch watched as the medics checked her one last time before she was lifted up to the
"Hold it! She's not breathing!" One of them shouted. The three men watched, unable to move as CPR was started. After a few minutes one of them looked up and shouted for the defibrillator. Jon turned away..he just couldn't bear to watch.
"We got her back!" someone shouted. As Meg was loaded into the ambulance, Jon and Ponch headed to their motors.
Joe found his voice. "I'll meet you guys there."
* * * *
Jon sat next to Ponch in the busy waiting room at the Valley General E.R. Bonnie
and Baricza had joined them. All four looked up as Joe arrived.
"Nothing." Ponch replied heavily.
"Jon, Frank, what happened out there?"
"I don't know, but I'd bet my badge Bobby had something to do with it." Jon replied tersely.
"Nelson? Where is he anyway?"
"I dunno, but if he's smart he'll stay away from me." Ponch said.
"Did either of you see the accident?"
"No Sarge. But we know that Bobby tried to pass Meg. He passed both of us too. We yelled at him to back off but he didn't listen." Jon told him.
"What? What the hell was he trying to do?"
"The only ones who know that are Bobby and Meg." Barry said.
They all stood up as a doctor approached them.
"How is she Doc?" Jon asked.
The doctor ignored him and looked at Getraer. "I'm Dr. Raintree. Are you Officer Locke's Sergeant?"
"Yes, I'm Joe Getraer."
"Well Sergeant, your officer is very lucky to be alive. She's got a severe concussion, several broken ribs, a collapsed lung and a ruptured spleen, and of course her left arm was severely injured. She's also got a fracture of the right orbital bone and a lot of cuts and bruises. She's in surgery now."
"Will she be okay?" Ponch asked.
"The next few days are critical, but she should make a full recovery."
"When will we be able to see her?" Jon asked.
"Oh, she'll be in surgery for several hours. Not before tonight at the earliest."
"Thanks doctor." Joe replied, then turned to his officers.
"Bonnie, Baricza, I want you to track down Nelson so I can get to the bottom of
Joe watched the two officers leave, then took a deep breath as he turned to Jon and Ponch.
"Sarge," Jon interrupted, "I'd like to stay here, make sure Meg comes through the surgery okay. Ponch can handle the paperwork."
Getraer looked at Ponch. He nodded.
"All right. Call us if anything comes up. We'll be back later."
Jon watched them go, then sat down heavily. He was lost in his own thoughts when a voice called,
"I'm glad one of you is still here."
Jon looked up as Dr. Raintree walked toward him carrying a small bundle. His heart leapt to his throat as he stood up.
"Is something wrong? Is Meg okay?"
"Officer Locke is still in surgery. I wanted to turn these things over to someone." he handed Jon the bundle.
"Officer…Baker is it? Officer Baker, she's won't be out of surgery for another 3 to 4 hours, then she'll be in recovery for another few hours.." the doctor began.
"I know." Jon said softly. "I know."
After Dr. Raintree left, Jon sat down and went through the bundle. Wrapped in the remains of Meg's uniform was her gunbelt and a small plastic bag. He slung the belt over his shoulder as he walked to the trash can and stuffed the bloodied uniform into it. He walked back to his seat and opened the plastic bag, pouring the contents into his palm. He fought back tears at the sight of Meg's badge, its golden glow stained with blood. Her name plate was there too, the "M. Locke" shining up at him. He shoved it, along with her watch and marksmanship pin back into the bag. Jon clutched her badge in his fist and closed his eyes. How many times had he been through this? He'd lost count of the times he'd sat waiting for word on Ponch...Joe... Sindy...and too many others. It was part of the job, knowing the next day on the beat could be your last. There wasn't a single CHP officer he knew that wasn't willing to take that risk. They all knew when they walked into the academy that this job wasn't fun and games. It was dull, often frustrating, and always dangerous. He'd accepted that. But he couldn't accept this...it was too stupid…too pointless. He sighed, clutching Meg's badge so tightly the points dug into his palm.
* * * *
Ponch pushed the reports away angrily. He'd just written the same sentence four times. He stood up and headed for Getraer's office.
"What is it, Frank?" the sergeant asked, looking up as Ponch walked in.
Ponch closed the door and sat down across from Getraer before he answered. "I knew something like this was gonna happen. I knew it! Why didn't anyone listen to me? I told Lieutenant Bates Bobby wasn't ready for the streets."
Joe sighed. "I know Frank. I expressed my reservations too. Lieutenant Bates
said Bobby was just eager. " He hesitated before continuing. "He said Bobby would grow out of it, like you had."
"Me?? Sarge, I may have done some stupid things in my day...I may have been
hotheaded and I may have driven Jon and you crazy. But I'd never put someone's life in jeopardy…not Jon's, not yours, not even Bobby's!" Ponch retorted angrily.
"Easy Frank. We don't even know Bobby's responsible."
"The hell we don't. You know it and I know it Joe. "
Joe sighed as he watched Ponch storm out.
Ponch's anger suddenly dissipated when he remembered Kellie. Someone had to tell
Meg's 10 year old foster daughter. He spun around and headed back to Getraer's
"Sarge, I just remembered..what are we going to do about Kellie?"
"Already taken care of, Frank. Betty's going to pick her up after school. She can stay with us."
"Way to go Sarge." Ponch allowed himself a brief smile.
* * * * *
Ponch walked in from patrol that afternoon to an unusually quiet station. Word of Meg's accident had gotten to everyone by now. He stopped to glance through his mail, and glanced at Meg's mailbox, stuffed with memos. For some reason tears began welling up from deep inside him.
He turned around, "Jon, hey…wasn't expecting you back."
"Yeah, well Meg's out of surgery. Doctor said everything looks good."
"Yeah, but we can't see her till tomorrow. Did Bonnie and Bear track down Bobby?"
Ponch's smile faded. "Yep. Get this. He's been in court all after- noon. And ya know what? He lost the guy Meg was chasing!"
Jon sighed. "I bet he doesn't even know."
"Baker, Poncherello!" Getraer called.
"What's up Sarge?" Jon asked as they walked into the office.
"Great news about Meg, Jon. Now maybe you two ought to hit your beat for the rest of shift."
"C'mon Sarge, there's only 45 minutes left. And I've got paperwork to do." Ponch
Grossie poked his head in. "Sarge, Bobby's on his way in."
"Thanks Grossman." he turned back to the two partners. "Like I said, maybe you'd better get out of here."
"No way." Jon said firmly.
"Listen guys, this is going to be hard enough. I don't need you two flying off the handle."
"We'll be cool Sarge." Ponch promised.
"All right…but either one of you gets out of line.."
"Relax Sarge, we just want to know what happened."
"I know Jon, but I also know how difficult it is when someone you care about is involved."
"Hey what's up Sarge?" Bobby asked with a grin as he arrived.
"Sit down Bobby!" Getraer barked as he slammed the door shut.
"Something wrong, Sarge?"
"You really don't know, do you?" Ponch asked sharply.
"Nelson, I want you to tell me everything you remember about this morning's pursuit on Mullholand."
"What's to tell Sarge? I lost him."
Angrily, Getraer told him about Meg. "Is she okay?" Bobby asked, swallowing hard.
"She's gonna be. Bobby what happened? Didn't you hear us telling you to back
off?" Jon asked.
"No…my radio's been giving me trouble." Bobby replied softly.
"That's no excuse Bobby. I know you were in briefing. I know you heard me talking about not getting in the primary officer's way!" Getraer thundered.
"Sarge…guys…I swear...I didn't know Meg was primary officer. I..I didn't mean to.." he trailed off.
"C'mon Bobby...she was the first unit in pursuit. You knew that." Jon shot back.
Bobby looked devastated. "I guess...I guess I wasn't thinking.." he stammered.
"Nelson, I'd like to rip your head off for what you did to Meg! But this badge says I can't. Better take a good look at yours. You won't be wearing it much longer." Getraer snapped.
"You've gone too far this time Bobby." Ponch added.
Jon clenched his fists and silently counted to 20. "C'mon Ponch, let's get outta here."
Joe picked up the phone. "Get me Lieutenant Bates!" he demanded as Jon and Ponch
"Looks like Bobby is finished." Ponch said.
"Yeah, too little too late if you ask me." Jon replied.
"Tell me about it. Think Meg will press charges?"
"I don't know. Hope so. I don't want to see this happen to anyone else."
Ponch sighed as they walked into the break room. He sat down as Jon got them
"Hey..was I ever as bad as him? I know I drove you crazy but.." he asked softly.
"Ponch, no. Don't compare yourself to him. You were a handful at times. But you were and are , a good cop."
"Thanks partner. Some training officer I am though, huh?"
"Hey, you can only do so much. You did your job. It was up to him to do his."
"Yeah, maybe..but I can't help thinking I could have done more."
* * * * *
After a sleepless night, Jon and Ponch walked into morning briefing. Bobby's seat was empty. Neither of them paid much attention to Getraer. They couldn't wait to get over to the hospital. On their way out, they were stopped by Joe.
"You two on your way to the hospital?"
"Good. I'll join you there."
"Hey Sarge, what happened to Bobby?" Jon asked.
"He's on suspension til we finish investigating."
* * * *
"You ready?" Ponch asked, parking his motor in front of Valley General Hospital.
"Ready as I'll ever be." Jon replied, walking inside.
"Good morning, can I help you?" asked the woman at the reception desk.
"Uh, yeah…we're looking for a patient, a Meg Locke...she was brought in yesterday."
She punched a few keys on her terminal. "Ah..yes…Miss Locke is in ICU..8th
"Thanks." Jon replied.
As the two stepped into the nearby elevator, a voice called out, "Hold that elevator!"
Joe Getraer hurried up to them. "Glad I caught ya."
"She's in ICU Sarge…I don't know that she'll be able to tell us anything." Jon told him as the elevator began its assent.
The three men were silent until the doors opened onto the 8th floor. They all cringed at the antiseptic smell, which reminded them how much they hated hospitals. Getraer walked up to a nurse standing in front of a cart filled with charts. "Excuse me, could you tell me where Meg Locke's room is?"
The nurse looked the threesome up and down. "She's in 804…but I'm sorry, only immediate family is allowed in to see her."
"Hey, " Ponch replied, "We are her family!"
"Um, Miss…he's right…and this is also an official investigation. I'll take full responsibility." Getraer added.
The nurse just shrugged and went back to her charts. Jon and Ponch followed Joe down the long hall. Ponch fiddled with his sunglasses while Jon kept adjusting his baton. When they reached 804, they took a deep breath, swallowed hard, and walked in. Nothing could have prepared them for the shock. Meg lay white and still, an oxygen mask over her mouth and nose, her right eye black and swollen shut, cheek bruised and swollen. There was a tube attached to her chest, 2 more leading from her right hand to the I.V.'s above her. Her left arm was swathed in thick bandages from shoulder to elbow. There was a gash on her right wrist, bruises everywhere. A cardiac monitor beeped rhythmically. Her breathing was labored and painful.
"Oh my God." Joe said softly, running a hand over his face.
"Meg..Meg it's Jon...can you hear me?" Jon said. He and Ponch were at her side, while Joe stood at the foot of the bed. They were silent as Meg lay still. Suddenly her eyes fluttered. Then her left one opened slightly.
"J..Jon?" her voice was a whisper, and muffled by the mask. But Jon was never so happy to hear his name in his life. Gently he raised the mask.
"I'm right here." he said gently, stroking her forehead.
"How are you feeling?" Ponch asked, trying to smile.
The three men looked at each other. Joe spoke up. "Meg, " he said softly, "it's Joe. Can you tell me what happened?"
"Meg, what happened out there?" Jon asked gently.
"Bob...by....cut...frr.ont..of me...could...couldn't stop...had...to…would......would....have.....hit him..." her eye closed.
Jon could barely contain his anger. Looking at Ponch and Getraer he saw he wasn't alone. He started to replace the mask when she began to speak again.
"Don't worry Meg...Betty and I are taking care of her."
Meg suddenly went limp as Jon replaced her mask. Her head lolled to one side. Jon had never felt so helpless. He bent down and kissed her forehead, then turned rapidly and walked out. Ponch did the same. Joe lingered for a second more, kissed her bruised cheek, and left. As soon as the elevator doors closed, Jon exploded.
"I don't believe this! It's bad enough she had this happen to her...but she did it to save his neck?? What a world! "
"So in other words, if she'd hit him, he'd be lying there instead of her? She should have hit him." Ponch's voice was icy.
"Jon, Frank...I know…I'm angry too. But listen to yourselves. I know Meg means a lot to both of you, but lets take a deep breath, shall we? I don't want either of you going off and doing something stupid."
"Something stupid? Oh I'd love to do something stupid. But I won't. You know why? He's not worth it." Jon said sharply, starting up his motor.
"I want to see both of you back at the station. You haven't finished your reports yet." Joe said, fastening his helmet.
"Sure Sarge." Ponch said halfheartedly.
* * * * *
Jon signed his report and looked up. "You finished?"
Ponch sighed. "Yep."
They walked into Sarge's office and handed in their reports. As Jon turned to leave he came face to face with Bobby.
"What are you doing here?" he asked sharply.
"Jon, he and I have a meeting with the Lieutenant."
"Forgive me if I don't wish you luck." Jon replied, glaring at Bobby.
Ponch stood silently, his face stony. You SOB, he thought to himself…I forgave you all those hotheaded stunts, but I will never forgive you for this! You were sworn to uphold that badge, not tarnish it.
"How is Meg?" Bobby asked nervously.
"Hey, what do you care?" Jon replied.
Before Joe could say anything, the phone rang.
"Hello? Yes, this is Sargeant Getraer. What? Yes I understand. We'll be there ASAP."
"What is it Sarge, what's wrong?" Ponch asked, the look on Joe's face frightening him.
"Get Grossman in here. NOW!"
Jon disappeared, returning a few moments later with the heavyset officer in tow.
"What's up, Sarge?"
"Listen. That was the hospital. Meg's been taken back to surgery for internal bleeding. She needs blood…Grossman, you were in charge of the blood drive last
year. I need to know what officers have AB negative blood and I need to know
Their hearts in their throats, they waited for Grossie to answer.
"That's easy Sarge. There are only three officers with that blood type. Meg,
Bruce, and..." he swallowed hard, "Bobby."
Bobby didn't hesitate. "C'mon, what are we waiting for? Let's go."
"Jon, take a cruiser and get him over there."
"Sarge, " Ponch interrupted, "I'll take him. I'm a universal donor. I'll donate too."
"Good. Now get outta here. Jon and I will meet you there."
* * * * *
Ponch was silent as he steered the cruiser onto the freeway.
"Ponch, you gotta believe me...I never meant for this to happen."
"I'm not the one you have to convince, Bobby. Why man? What's with you? What were you thinking yesterday morning?"
"I dunno Ponch. I guess I just wanted to make the bust."
"No way. It's more than that."
"Maybe...maybe I was trying to prove something."
"Prove something?", Ponch exclaimed, "Who were you trying to prove something to?
Yourself? Meg? The patrol? Me??"
"I dunno Ponch..it's just for once in my life I wanted to.." he stopped.
"Wanted to what?" Ponch pressed.
"Damn it! I wanted to better at something than Bruce! Just once!"
Ponch was stunned. "You telling me this is all a case of glorified sibling rivialry? C'mon man!"
"Just forget it, okay? " Bobby snapped as they pulled into the lot at Valley General.
* * * *
Jon and Getraer sat anxiously in the waiting room. Jon pulled out his gloves and began to slap them against his thigh. Joe got up and began to pace back and forth. Suddenly he turned to Jon and scowled.
"Baker, must you do that?"
Jon looked down at his gloves. "Uh…sorry Sarge."
The door swung open just then and Ponch emerged, followed by Bobby. They both
sported small bandages on their arms.
"Heard anything?" Ponch asked.
"Nothing." Getraer replied.
"Sergeant Getraer!" Dr. Raintree hurried up to them.
"How is she, doctor?" he asked.
"She's coming through the surgery just fine. We just sent up those units of blood your men donated. Can't thank you enough."
Relief flooded through them.
"How much longer?" Jon asked, adjusting his baton as he stood up.
"Another hour at most."
"Looks like Meg's got more than just us on her side." Ponch said with a slight grin.
* * * * *
Ponch waved to Jon and turned on the off ramp, his heart heavy. He was on his way
to the Explorers meeting. Kellie would be there, and Ponch knew it was going to
break his heart. He knew Meg would be all right, but deep down he was as afraid
as she was.
* * * *
"Hey Ponch!" called a chorus of voices as he walked into the briefing room.
Ponch smiled at his six charges.
"Hey guys. What's up?"
As he carried on the meeting, Ponch watched Kellie. The girl's green eyes were sad and troubled. She sat quietly through the meeting, chewing on the end of her long braid. She didn't get up to leave when the meeting ended. Ponch closed his notebook and went to sit beside her.
"Hey beautiful. How're you holding up?"
"How's Meg?" she asked softly.
Ponch hesitated a moment. "She's just fine. They're taking very good care of her."
"When can she come home?"
"I don't know, Kel...soon." Ponch said softy, putting his arm around her.
"What happened? All Betty and Sergeant Getraer will say is that she had an accident."
"That's what happened, sweetheart. She had an accident with her cruiser."
"She's not gonna die, is she?" Kellie asked in a tearful whisper.
"No honey, no way. I saw her this morning. She's going to be okay."
"I want to see her."
"I know you do..as soon as they say it's okay, I'll take you to see her, okay?"
"Hey Ponch!", Jon called, walking in, "Sarge wants to see you."
"Thanks partner. I'll be right back." he told Kellie as he got up.
"Hi Jon." Kellie said softly.
"Hi sweetheart. How're you doing?" Jon asked with a smile as he took Ponch's seat.
"I'm okay. Have you seen her?"
"Meg? Yes I did. She's just fine."
"Why won't they let me see her?"
"Well, she's in a special ward so she can rest. They don't allow many visitors."
"How long will she be there?"
"I dunno…maybe a few days."
"Then can I see her?" Kellie asked hopefully
"Sure can. Promise."
Kellie was silent for a minute, tears spilling down her cheeks.
"Hey now...everything’s going to be all right. Meg's going to be just fine."
"I'm scared!" she blurted, burying her face against Jon's chest.
Jon hugged the girl. "Yeah, me too." he whispered. "Hey," he said softly, "I have to go check on Old Gray this weekend. You want to help?"
Kellie looked up, "Could I? Really?"
"Sure thing. Can't imagine a better helper." Jon grinned.
* * * *
Ponch walked out of Sarge's office and headed back to the briefing room. He
spotted Bobby heading out. "Hey Bobby!" he called.
Bobby turned around. "Yeah?"
"How'd it go with the Lieutenant?"
"Don't know yet." he turned to leave.
"Bobby wait..that was a nice thing you did for Meg."
"Hey, least I can do," Bobby said heavily, and walked away.
* * * *
After stopping home to change, Jon went over to the hospital. Meg was asleep, looking small and fragile. Jon pulled a chair up beside her and reached through the bars to touch her hand lightly. He looked up as a nurse came in to check her vitals.
"Hi." he said.
"Good evening. She's still somewhat sedated, so I don't think she's going to be much for conversation. But her vitals are strong. If the next 48 hours go well, she may be ready for a regular ward." the nurse smiled.
"Best news I've heard all day." Jon smiled.
He waited til the nurse left then returned to his seat. As he stroked her forehead. her eyes fluttered.
"Meg?" he asked softly.
"Right here." he said, gently moving her mask.
"H...Hi." she said, trying to turn to look at him.
"No..no..lie still." he scolded softly.
"Everything's fine. Kellie sends her love." Jon thought he saw a faint smile.
"How are you feeling?"
Jon laughed. "That's my girl."
"What's so funny?" Ponch asked with a grin as he walked in.
"Hey beautiful!" Ponch said, grabbing another chair and taking a seat on the other side. As he leaned over to kiss her cheek, Meg tried to lift her right arm weakly.
"Y..your...arm...wh..at.." she started to ask.
Ponch eyed the bandage on his arm. He'd forgotten to take it off. "Oh this? For your information I donated some prime Poncherello vintage to you. You've got the good stuff now. And since you've got Poncherello blood in ya now, you should be up an outta here in no time." he grinned.
Meg smiled faintly as Jon laughed and shook his head.
"Visiting hours are over in 10 minutes." a nurse poked her head in.
Jon replaced her mask. "You get some rest okay? We'll be back soon." he kissed her forehead.
Meg's eyes were already closed.
* * * * *
The next morning found Jon and Ponch in sitting in briefing, waiting for Getraer. The night before had lightened both of their spirits with the knowledge that Meg was truly going to be okay. Ponch had opened his notebook and was reaching for a pen when the door next to him swung open.
"Hey guys! Long time no see!" Bruce Nelson said with smile.
"Hey Bruce! Welcome back!" Jon replied.
The young officer dropped into what was usually Meg's seat.
"I heard about Meg. Is she going to be okay?"
Jon's smile faded some. "Yeah, she's going to be fine."
"I can't believe my brother could be so stupid! How can I ever face Meg?" Bruce exploded, his cheerful demeanor dissolving.
"Hey now. Meg will be thrilled to see you, trust me." Ponch told him.
"Why guys? What made Bobby do such a rotten thing?"
Ponch suddenly turned away as he remembered the conversation he'd had with Bobby in the cruiser. He looked back to Bruce.
"I think I have an idea, but you aren't gonna like it." he took a deep breath and began to tell them what Bobby had said.
“You have got to be kidding."
Jon added, shaking his head.
"Is there a problem, Nelson?" Getraer asked sharply.
"Yeah there is Sarge. A big one." Bruce said, getting up and walking out.
Jon and Ponch looked at each other and sighed.
"C'mon, we'd better go after him before he does something stupid." Jon said.
Getraer looked annoyed as Jon and Ponch hurried out.
"Anyone else? Or can we continue now?"
* * * * *
They caught up with Bruce at Bobby's apartment.
"C'mon Bruce...relax.Don't do something you'll regret." Jon said as Bruce pounded on Bobby's door.
"Stay out of it, Jon!" Bruce snapped.
"Hey man, I know you're angry-" Ponch started.
The door opened. "Hey Bru-"
Bobby never finished as Bruce's fist knocked him to the floor. Jon and Ponch grabbed Bruce as Bobby slowly got up, rubbing his jaw.
"What the hell was that for?"
"Don't give me that big brother," Bruce shouted, struggling against the hold Jon and Ponch had on him, "you nearly killed Meg because you wanted to be better than me at something? What kind of garbage is that?"
Bobby's eyes filled with a mixture of anger and shame as he turned to Ponch.
"Couldn't keep your mouth shut, huh?"
Ponch didn't respond.
"For your information, you happen to be better at a lot of things than me. I used to think you were a better cop than me too." Bruce jerked free of Jon and Ponch and stormed out of the apartment. The two partners watched as Bobby sank into a chair.
"Hey, go after him, man. He's your brother and he's hurting." Ponch told him.
"You think I'm not?" Bobby exploded. "You think I wanted to hurt Meg, or anyone? If I could take her place I would!"
"Bobby…I-" Jon started.
"No! I know you all think I'm some hotshot loser! But I'd never do anything to hurt anyone, ever! It was all just a stupid, stupid accident!"
"Look man.." Ponch began
"Save it! Just get out! Get out!"
As they climbed on their motors, Ponch sighed. "Man, I don't know what to think
"Yeah, well I do, " Jon replied, putting his helmet on, "The guy's sorry, I'll give you that. But if you ask me, they should take his badge away. No way that guy is fit for patrol."
"I'm not arguing with that, Jon, " Ponch said, starting his motor, "but I wish there was something we could do. I trained him, I should have been able to help him."
"Now wait a minute Ponch," Jon pulled up beside him as they rode toward the freeway, "you were his training officer, thats it. You're not his therapist. The academy is supposed to weed out guys like him. You remember all those tests we had to take."
"Oh yeah," Ponch grinned, "I'm still surprised I passed."
Jon's laughter was carried by the wind. "So am I!"
* * * * *
Two weeks went by, and Meg began to slowly improve. She was finally released from ICU and placed in a regular room. Still weak and in a lot of pain, Meg spent most of the time asleep. Bruce had become quiet and aloof, avoiding everyone, including Meg. Bobby's future was still a question mark as CHPIAD (CHP Internal Affairs Division) continued its investigation.
Jon stepped into the elevator, pushing the button for 6, Meg's new floor. He was
carrying a dozen roses, half yellow, half red. As he walked down the hall towards 603, he smiled. It was good having Meg out of ICU. As he reached her room, he heard voices and stopped just outside the door.
"You have got to talk to Bruce." Meg was saying, her voice soft and pain filled.
"He won't take my calls. When I go over to his place he pretends he's not home."
"He's hurt and confused, Bobby. But don't give up."
"Meg..I....I'm so sorry...I never meant for you to get hurt.."
"I know, Bobby, I know. I appreciate you coming here and apologizing."
"I wish Jon and Ponch did."
"Hey, Ponch is in a difficult position…give him a break…as for Jon..." her voice trailed off.
"What do you mean, a difficult position?"
Meg shifted painfully. "As your training officer, he was responsible for making sure you knew how to follow procedure. Now they are going to come down on him asking why he didn't do that."
"But this wasn't his fault! Ponch was a great training officer!"
Before she could finish, he walked out.
Jon coughed and walked in, smiling when he saw her.
"Jon! Hi..oh they're beautiful!" she exclaimed painfully as he set the roses on the table beside her.
"Glad you like them. How're you feeling?"
"A little more human I guess." she replied with a faint smile, her face still bruised and swollen. "How're things at work?"
"Oh, crazy as usual." Jon grinned.
Meg eyed the glass of ginger ale on the table in front of her and struggled to sit up.
"Hey, hey…easy there.." Jon gently scolded, holding the straw to her lips. She took a long drink and settled back against the pillows. As she watched Jon set the glass back down, she spotted something on his palm.
"Let me see your hand."
"What? What is it?" Jon asked, showing it to her.
Meg raised her right hand, still studded with IV's,and awkwardly gestured toward the faint purple bruise on his palm.
"What happened to you.?"
He laughed softly. "You don't miss much, do ya?"
Meg smiled painfully. "Well?"
He turned to greet Joe, Ponch and Grossie as they walked in. Meg smiled. Nothing indeed. She could only think of one thing that could cause a star shaped bruise like that.
"How are you doing, Meg?" Getraer asked as he placed an english ivy plant next
to the roses.
"A little better, thanks. That prime vintage must be working." she smiled at Ponch.
Ponch grinned. "Told ya it would."
"Wow, " Grossie said, "you look awful!"
Joe glared at him as Jon and Ponch rolled their eyes. "Nice, Grossie, real nice."
Meg looked at them. "Do I? I still haven't seen myself. How do I look?"
Jon chuckled. "Let's just say it's the prettiest rainbow I've ever seen."
"I hate to ruin the mood," Joe broke in, "but IAD needs to know if you're gonna press charges against Bobby. I'd say you're entitled."
The room was silent except for the beep of the cardiac monitor.
"I was just talking to him, Sarge. I'm convinced it was an accident. I know he's sorry, and I know the CHP is going to come down hard enough on him as it is. No, I don't think I'll press charges. I'd like to see him get some help."
"Are you sure?" Ponch asked.
"Hey Sarge, do you think they'll terminate him?" asked Jon.
"I don't know Jon. They've asked for statements from me, Frank, Meg and Lieutenant Bates. They'll have to review those, the accident reports, and Bobby's record before they make a decision. That's why it's taking so long. That and I've been keeping them from paying Meg a visit."
"Sarge, I'm up to it." Meg replied with a smile.
"Hey, it's my job to look out for the best interests of my officers. You needed your rest."
"Yes Daddy. " Meg said with a half grin.
Jon, Ponch and Grossie stifled laughter.
"Hey, we'd better get going." Ponch said. "You hurry up and get better, will ya?"
"Meg, can we bring you anything?" Grossie asked.
"Hmm…How about a uniform and a cruiser?"
Joe just laughed. "You take care."
Jon watched the them leave, then turned back to her.
"You sure you don't need anything?"
"I'm fine. Thanks for the roses." she smiled.
"I'll be back later, all right?"
"Counting on it."
Jon kissed her forehead and left.
Meg sighed as the quiet of the room settled over her. A wave of loneliness and depression washed over her. Everything, even breathing hurt. She fought back tears as she stared at the drab walls of her room.
"Um…hi...okay if I come in?"
Meg struggled to look in the direction of the voice. "Bruce? Is that you?"
"Yeah, it's me." Bruce replied softly as he walked in.
"Oh Bruce, it's good to see you! Welcome home! I'll have to give you a raincheck
on a hug. Sit down,I want to hear all about how my best student took Europe by storm!" she smiled.
"Are…you all right?" he asked.
"I've had better days, but I'm fine, really."
"I..I don't know what to say."
"Bruce, it's okay. Bobby knows he screwed up and he's apologized."
"I'm never speaking to him again." Bruce replied tersely.
"Bruce, don't say that. I know you're angry, and you have a right to be, but don't do something you'll regret. Bobby needs help, not scorn."
Bruce sagged in his chair. "I just wish I knew what to do." he sighed.
"It'll be all right Bruce. The CHP will see that he gets the help he needs. All you have to do is be there for him."
They were silent for a minute.
"So c'mon, tell me all about Europe!" Meg prodded.
Bruce laughed. "All right."
* * * *
Later that night after the flurry of dinnertime activity had died, and visiting hours had ended, Meg lay alone in her room. It was silent, except for the beep of the cardiac monitor and the rain beating on the window. The lights had been dimmed, but every so often a flash of lightning brightened the room. She sighed and winced at the pain. It was so boring here, so lonely. She glanced at the TV
but decided otherwise. She longed to sleep in her own bed, to see Kellie, to just rejoin the world! It was awful, not being able to do much more than lie there. She wished she could take a walk, get some fresh air...she turned toward the window, tears streaming down her cheeks, and watched the rain cry with her
until sleep finally came.
* * * *
Jon slipped quietly into Meg's room and sat down beside her bed. She was asleep, a peaceful expression on her face. He was still in uniform, having just finished an overtime shift. He wasn't sure why he was there. He'd been on his way home when he found himself turning into the hospital parking lot, suddenly needing to talk to her.
Meg stirred and opened her eyes.
"Hi!" she said sleepily, surprise in her voice.
"Hi…sorry I woke ya."
"It's okay. I was just dozing." she let Jon help her sit up.
Meg watched Jon as he sat back down. His face was filled with sadness and pain, along with the usual fatigue.
"Jon, what's wrong- are you still on duty?"
"No. Just got off." he replied softly.
"What happened?" she asked, concerned.
"What makes you think something's wrong?" he replied, trying to sound cheerful.
"Jon, it's written all over your face."
Jon sighed heavily. "A CHP was killed tonight."
A chill went through Meg. "Oh no! Was it-"
"No, nobody we know. He was assigned to the Sherman Oaks station. He pulled over a dude for speeding and got shot for it."
"Oh God, that’s awful!"
Jon looked up. "You know, for the first time since I joined the patrol, I've begun asking myself why I do this. I must be crazy."
"You do it for the same reason the rest of us do. It's who you are. We all know the risks, but we also know the joys."
Jon stood up, adjusting his baton. "Joys? I can't remember the last time I found any joy in this job. After I heard what happened, I started thinking about Gary…and Andy…and about how many times I've escorted someone to the hospital. How many prayers I've said for Ponch, Joe, Bonnie...about how damned scared I was when I saw your cruiser in that ditch...tell me...what’s the sense in any of
it? After I saw you in ICU, only God himself kept me from tearing Bobby apart. It's bad enough we have to worry about the jerks out there, but now we have to worry if our fellow officers are going to get us killed?"
"Jon, sometimes death has meaning, sometimes it's meaningless. Either way we're
meant to learn from it. I understand where you're coming from, but I know you love this job. The danger is always going to be there. But hell, there's danger in just crossing the street! I know things have been rough lately..."
"You don't understand. I lost someone loved…someone I was going to marry
because of this job..."
Jon sighed and sat down on the edge
of the bed. "Her name was Ellen. I met her about 2 years before you joined
the station. She had a little boy, Chris. Wasn't long before things got real
serious. 2 months before you arrived, I asked her to marry me. She said yes...
on the condition that I resigned from active patrol. Ellen said she'd thought
about it, and she just couldn't handle the strain of being a cop's wife. She
said it wasn't fair to let her son get attached to someone who could end up
being killed at anytime. She asked me to take a teaching job or something. I..I
just couldn't do it. I loved her, but I couldn't give up the patrol for
Meg reached over and touched his shoulder. "Jon, I'm so sorry. I can't imagine-"
"I still don't know why I couldn't do it."
"That's easy...because she was asking you to give up a part of yourself. Jon, if she really loved you she never would have asked that of you. Last time I checked, the wedding vows said something about for better or worse."
"I don't know. I just don't understand this world anymore."
Meg laughed, patting his hand. "Well, I've never understood it. I just take it one day at a time."
They were silent for a few minutes as Jon wiped his eyes.
"Jon," she asked suddenly, "you're not thinking of quitting, are you?"
"No, " he turned to her and smiled. " I couldn't. As angry as this job makes me sometimes, you're right, I still love it. It is part of who I am."
"That's good to hear. The patrol wouldn't be the same without you."
"Thanks for listening to me vent." he said softly.
"Hey, it happens to the best of us when times get rough." she smiled.
Jon gave her a gentle hug. "Hurry up and get outta here, would ya? "
"Hey, I'd leave right now if I could. This place is so boring...so lonely.. I want to rejoin the world!"
Jon smiled. "Doctor say when you could go home?"
Meg shook her head and sighed.
* * * *
Ponch took his cup of coffee and joined Jon, Bonnie, Baricza, Grossie, Bruce, and Turner at the table. Dressed in their "Dress Tans", they'd just come back from the funeral of the officer from Sherman Oaks. Bruce sighed heavily and pushed his coffee away.
"What's wrong Bruce?" Grossie asked.
"How do you guys do it? I mean, how do you get used to the death and the accident calls and the pain and the stupidity out there?" the young officer asked. It had been his first CHP funeral.
"You don't Bruce. You just learn how to accept it, deal with it and move on."
"You mean you don't get personally involved?"
"Oh, we get involved all right. I confess. I've never made it through a single accident call without crying. I've gotten angry, I've screamed and I've punched things. Sometimes you have to." Jon said softly.
"I'm with Jon. We're still allowed to be human, we just have to balance it with professionalism sometimes." Bonnie added.
"Doesn't it scare you?" Bruce asked.
"Oh sure." Turner replied.
"All the time." Jon added, "I have a healthy respect for it, but I don't let it get the upper hand." He smiled as he remembered his conversation with Meg.
"Hey," Ponch said with a smile, "you can handle it, I know you can."
"Hey Bruce, just think of all the good you can accomplish out there. When I think about the lives I've saved, the babies I've delivered, the kids I've reached…the difference I hope I've made…well, lets just say I never want to get used to that. It reminds me why I'm out there everyday." Jon smiled.
Getraer stuck his head in. "Frank, we're wanted in the Lieutenant's office."
* * * *
Ponch took a seat next to Getraer as he watched Bobby fidget in his chair. So
this is it, he thought. The hammer falls today.
Bates cleared his throat. " Officer Nelson, on the morning of September 18, an accident occured during a high speed pursuit in the Mullholand area, an accident which critically injured Officer Locke. It has been determined that your actions, namely disregarding procedure, disobeying a Sergeant's direct order,
and just plain stupidity caused that accident. Do you willingly admit this?"
"Very well. After reviewing statements from Officer Poncherello, Sergeant Getraer and Officer Locke, as well as a careful review of your record, the Captain has authorized me to hereby suspend you without pay for a period of 6 months, after which you will be placed on probation and assigned to a state
weigh station, until the patrol sees fit to retrain you for patrol duty. Is that clear, Officer Nelson?"
"Yes...Yes Sir." Bobby said quietly.
"While you serve your suspension the patrol will require you to attend weekly counseling sessions. You will also have a Censurable Incident report placed in your permanent record."
Bates looked at Joe and Ponch. "Do either of you have anything to say?"
"No Sir." both men replied.
"Very well. You're dismissed. Nelson, clean out your locker before you leave."
* * * *
When Jon and Ponch arrived at the hospital to fill Meg in, they were pleasantly surprised to find her walking slowly down the hall toward them, wearing a yellow bathrobe and pushing an I.V. pole ahead of her.
"Hey, look at you! Good to see you up and around again!" Ponch said with a grin.
"It feels great! You know the best news? Dr. Raintree said I might be able to go home next week!"
"All right! You just made my day." Jon replied.
After they'd walked to the patient lounge and sat down, Ponch filled her in on Bobby's fate.
"Ouch! The scales huh? Well, at least he's going to be getting some help, and if he wants it, a second chance."
"Yeah, but it won't be at Central. Sarge made that clear to him." Jon replied.
"Good. Then he'll really be making a fresh start."
* * * *
"C'mon man! What do you have up your sleeve?"
"Nothing Ponch, why?"
"Listen ol buddy, you've been acting like the cat who swallowed the canary for the past two weeks, ever since Meg was released from the hospital." Ponch exclaimed.
"Hey, can't a guy be happy?" Jon replied, taking his seat in briefing.
"Sure! But I get the feeling you know something we don't! C'mon man, spill it."
"Don't know what you're talking about, Ponch." Jon replied innocently as Getraer
"Morning. Listen up. First item. Expect a little overtime tonight. Both A and B shifts are shorthanded. Everyone is looking at at least 2 hours OT."
Scattered groans and grumbles filled the room.
"Hmm...shorthanded, huh? Might I be of some help?"
Ponch looked up from his notebook and saw Meg walk in. White bandages peeked out
from under her left sleeve, but her face had a rosy glow. She was in uniform,
clutching her notebook. Ponch turned to Jon, who was now grinning like a Cheshire cat.
"I knew it!" he whispered.
"Meg! I didn't think you were due back yet." Getraer said with a smile.
"I have a note from my doctor saying otherwise." she grinned as she handed it to
him, then turned to greet everyone as they rushed up to her.
"Jon knew!" Ponch exclaimed.
"Hey, I promised Meg I'd keep it a secret." Jon replied, smiling.
Getraer folded the note Meg had given him and slipped it into his notebook. "Uh, Locke, after briefing-"
"I know Sarge, report to the front desk." Meg finished, taking her seat next to Bonnie.
"Actually, I was going to ask if you'd stop by my office. My computer hasn't worked right in weeks."
The room joined in as Meg laughed. "Sure Sarge."
* * * *
Later, stationed at the front desk, Meg turned toward the window and watched as Jon and Ponch practiced for the Motor Drill Team. They'd be showing off their skills at the upcoming CHP Open House. Her smiled faded as the radio caught her attention.
"Attention all units! 11-99..repeat 11-99, eastbound on the Santa Monica near Mulberry. Responding units identify."
Meg watched as Jon and Ponch suddenly stopped their drill and sped toward the
freeway. She listened as the hall filled with the sound of running footsteps, the air with the wail of sirens. Then she closed her eyes and said a prayer for the officer that fate had embraced today. She shuddered as a chill went through her. There were just some things you shouldn't have to get used to.