Calm Before The Storm Ch. 03

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The chronological order of my stories is now listed in WifeWatchman’s biography.

Feedback and constructive criticism is very much appreciated, and I encourage feedback for ideas.

This story contains graphic scenes, language and actions that might be extremely offensive to some people. These scenes, words and actions are used only for the literary purposes of this story. The author does not condone murder, racial language, violence, rape or violence against women, and any depictions of any of these in this story should not be construed as acceptance of the above.


Part 10 – Induction Into Honor

“Whaaa?!?!” gasped Teresa Croyle, half out of her chair.

“Please.” said Cindy, extending her arm to the door. In total shock, Teresa got up and walked behind Corporal Kirkpatrick. This had to be a joke, a mistake, she thought. No way they’d vote for me after my past, she was thinking to herself, over and over.

Entering the hallway, she saw that it was not a joke. She saw Commander Troy by the window to her office by the door. Rudistan was near him, with that mischievous perma-grin on his face. The Commander just nodded and extended his hand, silently instructing her to get in the line. She fell in behind Captain Thompson, and they were marched to the main conference room.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Rudistan and I had peeked through the spaces where the drawstrings went through the blinds, and it had been a joy to see Teresa’s face. She’d been totally stunned. I was equally amazed that Cindy had been able to hold her face. I would not be playing poker with my cousin any time soon, I thought to myself.

After escorting the Inductees to the Main Conference Room, we set about the task of gathering the Force into the Auditorium. Some members quietly scurried down the halls, motioning for people to come to the auditorium. I sent a general text message from my Police cellphone, and heard a lot of rings and chirps as other cellphones got the text.

It took about ten minutes to get everyone in the auditorium, and Chief Moynahan used the opportunity to address his new troops.

“I first want to say,” he started, “that I was very excited to be offered the job as your Chief of Police. Your reputation for excellence in this State precedes you as well as follows you, and I am very honored to be a part of this team.” Everyone applauded, somewhat politely lest the Inductees hear them. For some reason, they thought they had to be quiet until the candidates were brought in.

“I also want to warn all of you,” said the Chief, “that being a police officer in today’s times is very tough. You have to be very dedicated to the job, to your fellow officers, and to the People that you serve. There are people out there who do not appreciate you. They hate you. They want to bring you down. They want to hurt you. You are all professional, excellent officers, and I know you’ll continue to do a stellar job. Commander, do you have anything before we bring in the honorees?”?

“Yes sir.” I said, mounting the stage. “I first want to agree with our new Chief’s sentiments that you are an outstanding group of police officers. It’s been a tough year and you’ve made it through impressively. It’s going to be an even tougher year next year, and I am sure you will continue to be the professional and accomplished officers that you are, in whatever position you are in.”

“I’d like to add this.” I said. I held up my Police iPhone. “Ladies and gentlemen, everyone has one of these. Literally, just about everyone. And they want to record you doing something wrong. There are people out there who revel in posting videos of police abusing people or doing something wrong.

“I bring this up,” I continued, “because there was an incident in the City recently where several officers testified the same way about something… then the videotape was brought out that contradicted their testimony. They’re now facing perjury charges.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, the videotape always wins. Always. Now I know what it means to be part of the Thin Blue Line, to have each other’s backs… but it’s also the day and age where you must consider yourself to be under observation and even video recording at all times.

“I know that you are men and women of integrity, that you do what you’re supposed to, and what’s right… but should you ever be tempted, just remember that these things are out there, being used by people who virulently hate you and want you to fail.”

“Okay, now that that is out of the way, it is time to meet the newest members of the Orange Order.” I said.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Once the Conference Room door closed, Cindy said spread her arms out and said “I can’t stand it. Congratulations!” She hugged Teresa warmly, who hugged her back though still stunned. “I am so happy for you!” Cindy gushed.

“Is this for real?” Teresa asked.

“Yes, Lieutenant, it is for real.” said Chief Griswold, Merter Escort who was standing on the other side of the table. “You, and you Captain Thompson, have been voted into the Orange Order by your peers of the Police Force. Your induction process begins now, in spite of Captain Ross’s display of emotion.”

“Sorry, Chief.” Cindy said, feeling chastised.

“Aw hell, girl, I don’t blame you.” said the Chief, grinning under his mustaches. “I’m as proud as punch of her, too.”

“I’m proud of you, too, Captain Thompson,” said the old Chief, “but I’m not going to hug you.” As everyone else in the room laughed, the Chief said “I should note that you’re the first black Officer to be voted into the Order, and that’s overdue. But it’s not about black and white, it’s about Orange, and Police Blue.”

Griswold continued, more solemnly, “Indeed, both of you have come a long, long way in this Police Force, and you absolutely deserve to be here. Now sit tight for a few minutes while we get things ready. Remain silent. I will be personally calling your wife, Captain, and letting her know why you won’t be home tonight. Lieutenant, is there anyone I need to call for you?” Teresa shook her head ‘no’.

They waited for some minutes. Cindy was unable to stop grinning, remembering how Teresa’s face had looked when she’d entered the office. Don had pretty much insisted that she, Cindy, be allowed to go in and get Teresa, and she’d held her face better than she thought she would.

Teresa was still stunned. She still could not believe that she’d been voted into the Orange Order. She did not know, and would not know, that her vote total had been well over 90%…

“Okay, we’re ready.” said Captain Harlow as she opened the door to the Conference Room. Teresa and Thompson were guided down the hall to the door of the Auditorium.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I motioned towards the door, which opened, and the inductees came onto the stage. “Ladies and gentlemen, I’m honored to present to you Precinct Captain Damien Thompson and Lieutenant Teresa Croyle, whom you voted into the Orange Order. Congratulations!”

A long round of thunderous applause ensued. Teresa endured it, looking stoic. Captain Thompson seemed to be taking it in stride.

After a moment, Teresa and Damien were taken back to the Conference Room for instructions. At this time, I also was told to get my cold weather gear, and my arms. Underneath my robes I’d be wearing two pistols in their holsters, and a third strapped to my ankle. It was my duty to protect my charges as I led them on their Walk. The people that had led us the year before had been extremely well armed, I had learned.

I drove myself and Cindy in my SUV ahead of the van taking the blindfolded inductees to Junction Station, burning my blue lights to clear the path. When we arrived, I donned my robe and waited for the candidates; it was my task to give the passwords for them as others led them into the Depot building.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Affirming that she was prepared for the induction, Teresa took off her blindfold. One orange and two green lanterns lit the room, along with some other candles. After downing her beer, and as she was told to take a bathroom break and get ready, she heard a voice whisper “Take your lantern!”

She grabbed her lantern, keeping it with her as required. Captain Thompson did not, and was given the punishment of standing for three minutes half-bowing. He actually made it through the full three minutes.

After they were both gone, Cindy and Chief Griswold handed me $20 bills, followed by Rudistan and several others. They’d bet Teresa would not remember her lantern.

“Betting against me, Crowbar 2.” I whispered in mock disgust. “Nothing but pain comes from that.”

“You sure you didn’t tell her in advance?” Cindy whispered back.

“Swear to God, I didn’t.” I said. “Didn’t need to… that is a daughter of a U.S. Paratrooper.” To this day, I remembered the ‘break area procedures’ at Airborne School. No, I didn’t tell Teresa about the lantern test, but I might’ve told her about what her father and I both experienced at Ft. Benning, Georgia, ‘the land that God forgot’…

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Some time after darkness descended on the Town, they began the Patrol of Honor at the southwest corner of Courthouse Square. They were walking on the sidewalks inside of the streets. People were ringing the Square on the outside of the streets; they were not permitted on the inside.

It was a fairyland of colors, Teresa noted with awe. Christmas lights were up, and had been left on for this occasion. She’d lived in this Town for years, had seen this Square so often… but this time it seemed different, more surreal.

She was even more impressed with all the Citizens that were holding up lighted candles or cigarette lighters as they walked. People took pictures as they walked around the Square. She Merter Escort Bayan saw the KXTC van at City Hall, taking footage.

As they began the second lap around the Square, she noted someone on the inside, on the grass of the Square. It was Todd. He took pictures with his iPhone, a brilliant grin on his face. She figured the Commander had let Todd get on the wrong side of the road, but it wasn’t him… she’d learn later it was one platinum blonde Police Captain.

Speaking of the Commander, he was in front of them, leading them, wearing a robe with the hood over his head. He didn’t have to wear the hood, she thought, at first thinking that he was keeping warm. Then she realized it was to keep him from being too easily identified…

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

As I led the inductees over Town, I was extremely vigilant for any signs of trouble. Most of the spectators were gone long before 11:00pm. I’d been surprised how many people came out to watch as we walked down MLK Avenue; even the Tenderloin District’s inebriated patrons and employees were respectful as we passed by.

In the early hours of the morning, as we walked down University Avenue, the main road that separates the Campus from the Town, I looked up at The Cabin. A year before, as I’d done my long walk, I had looked up to a light overwatching a burned out disaster. Now that part of my life was rebuilt. I resolved that by this time next year, the work would be done, the Town and County liberated from the insidiously Evil presence that had made the fatal mistake of choosing my home as his…

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The first threads of dawn were visible to the southeast as I led Teresa and Damien back to the Junction Station Depot. By the time we reached the building, it was light enough to see our surroundings as far as the eye could see. We hung up our lanterns outside, per the tradition, and I led them inside.

I was instructed to take off my robe and jacket underneath, and my Orange Order Inner Circle medal was pinned onto my uniform shirt. Then Teresa and Damien were awarded their medals. And then came the best part: breakfast!

“I still cannot believe this.” Teresa said as she sat down beside Cindy.

“Why not?” asked Cindy as she ate some eggs and washed them down with beer. “No one deserved it more than you.”

“I thought that with my past,” Teresa mused, “that I’d never make it.”

“I think all that is where it belongs, my friend.” said Cindy. “In the past. And after you led that Beanstalk Gang raid, and led the way to rescue Jenna… it was a done deal, sister. A done deal.”

“Well, it just… it’s just incredible.” Teresa said. “It’s one of those ‘you really like me’ moments.”

Cindy smiled. “Well, if you haven’t figured it out already, you’re highly respected in this Police Department…”

Meanwhile, I was sitting between Corporal Kirkpatrick and Chief Griswold. “So I take it the Inner Circle meets at other times beyond the Orange Order dinners before Promotion Days?” I asked.

“Not all that much, sir.” said Kirkpatrick. “We usually send emails back and forth. We do meet twice a year, during the afternoon before the dinners before the February 1st and August 1st promotion days. And speaking of that, are there even going to be promotions in February, with the budget cuts and all?”

“Oh sure.” I said. “But mostly medals. We’ve got a number of them to give out after the Beanstalk raid and the Stiles rescue. I’m working on getting more medals for Patrol Officers and the Crime Lab people, too.”

“This man takes care of his people, Ronnie.” said Griswold, ever the teacher. “Don’t ever forget that. And by the time he’s done, the Council will have spent on medals as much as they’d hoped to save in budget cuts.” I chuckled at that.

“And word is that Fireman Easley will get the Medal of Valor in February, too.” said Kirkpatrick.

“I sure hope so.” I said. “After what I witnessed that night… the Council better come correct on that…”

Some moments later, I went over to talk with Teresa and Cindy. “I have to thank you, Teresa.” I said. “You made me some good money last night when you remembered to take your lantern on your potty break.”

“Someone actually bet against you, sir?” Teresa said, looking at Cindy as if Cindy had lost her mind. Cindy looked sheepish. “They never learn.” Teresa said. It was a direct accusation… at her soul sister.

“Thank goodness for my dog food fund.” I said.

It was funny, sir.” Teresa said, “I thought I heard a voice telling me to take it, so I did. It wasn’t… it wasn’t Alexis’s voice, though. This one was different…”

“See, the Commander did cheat!” Cindy said, accusingly but playfully.

“No, not me.” I said. “I’m not a psychic like someone’s father.”

“Stoppit.” Cindy admonished. She then finished off her beer. “I’m going to have more beer. Glad I’m not driving home, right Don?”

“Noooo Escort Merter doubt about that…” I replied.

Part 11 – Policeman’s Ball, College Football

After cleaning up the Junction Station Depot, I headed home. I sat down on the sofa against the far wall of the den, telling Laura that everything had gone well and that I was tired and needed some sleep before the Policeman’s Ball this evening. She told me to stretch out on the sofa, and I thought I heard Carole’s voice saying “Sweet dreams, Daddy!”

I awoke hours later. The angle of the sun coming through the windows suggested late afternoon, and indeed it was nearly 5:00pm. As I woke up, I felt something nestled behind my legs… it was Bowser, sleeping peacefully himself. I reached down and gave him a good petting, then got on up.

“Ah, there you are.” said Laura as I came up to the bedroom. “Why don’t you take the kids to the Cabin while I get ready, then you can come back and get ready.”

“Molly has Ian to worry about, and she’s going to keep Carole, Jim, and Ross, too?” I asked.

“She’s going to have help.” Laura said. “Pamela Feeley will be bringing little Pete over, and Alison Sweet, the high school girl that followed you around for her class project, is going to babysit so that Molly is not overworked.”

“Ah, excellent plan.” I said, kissing my wife’s cheek. “Keep this up, and someone in the Federal Government might try to hire you.”

“They could definitely use the help.” my wife replied, with the slightest touch of acid in her voice.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Most of the Officers and their spouses or dates were in the University Hotel’s bar, waiting for the ballroom to be opened and the formal receiving line to begin. Chief Emeritus Griswold, wearing the Medal of Valor, and his wife were at the beginning of the line, introducing Chief Moynahan, who did not bring a date. And since he didn’t have a date, Captain Della Harlow, who was Acting Deputy Chief, stood next to him in the line, essentially killing two birds with one stone. And an attractive ‘stone’ she was.

Next in the line were Laura and myself. Laura had made sure not to overdress, and wore a very nice but not extravagant black dress, with sheer black stockings and mid-heel black pumps. I was in my formal uniform with a bow tie, and wearing the Medal of Valor around my neck and medals on my uniform.

Next in line were Sheriff Daniel Allgood and his lovely wife Melina, and after them was Mayor Lawrence P. Vaughan, the People’s Choice, and his wife. Council Members were invited to the Ball, but were not part of the line. Thank God.

I was very happy to see that Jenna came with Cindy. My cousin was in her dress uniform, the Medal of Valor around her neck where it most very rightly deserved to be. Jenna looked like she was doing well, but seemed a bit uncomfortable. Laura gave her a warm hung when she went through.

Speaking of that, Teresa’s date was the Chief Executive Officer of BOW Enterprises, Mr. Todd Burke. Teresa was in her dress uniform, with the Purple Order (with oak leaf cluster for multiple awards) around her neck, and the Orange Order medal in it’s place with her other medals. Todd was in a tuxedo and bow tie, and had every woman in the place looking longingly at him. Yet the one person who got to hug him in front of everyone was his uncle. Yes, as we shook hands, he gave me a hug and I returned it. Blood kin, ya know. Well, Laura got a hug from him, too. He and Melina were far more… cordial.

After the line was done, we took our places at the tables in the room. They were mostly round tables with 12 persons per table, but the Leadership that had been in the line also sat at the long head table on the raised dias at the front of the room.

“What is that in your ear, darling?” Laura asked, observing the clear plastic coil of the wire to the earpiece disappearing down the collar of my coat and down my back. “You look like a Secret Service agent. Monitoring police radio?”

“No, something far more important, my dear.” I replied with a smile.

“Oh my God, you’re listening to the Wildcats game, aren’t you?” my lovely wife correctly surmised.

“Like I said, something important. Verrry important.” I replied.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The dinner went well, with the Mayor making a few opening remarks congratulating the Police Force on an excellent year, and saying he was getting comments from Townspeople all the time about the Force’s professionalism. I happened to know he was not just saying that: Mrs. Peabody had told me that compliments were massively outweighing complaints, these days. I hoped that would last.

Then I came up, and introduced the rest of the table. When I introduced Della Harlow as ‘Acting Deputy Chief’, the applause in the room got noticeably louder, and I knew why… she was no Deputy Chief Brownlee, and everyone was glad to see her in that position.

Chief Griswold also got a nice round of applause. After introducing the Sheriff, I brought up the evening’s speaker, Chief Moynahan. He used the occasion to introduce himself to the Force again, and then said all the right platitudes and that the next year would have challenges as well as rewards.

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