Heading Down The Long Road chapter 21



“And?”

“It’s going to be hard not being out there with everyone else, but doing the stuff the Commissioner suggested is better than not being there at all.”

“Is this really what you want, baby?”

“Yeah, it kinda is. I mean, what are my alternatives? If I turned him down I’d have to quit the force. Then what would I do?”

“We’d come up with something. Are you absolutely sure this is what you want?”

“Yeah. All I've ever wanted to be is a cop. Accepting the position would allow me to still be a cop.” Kevin said with a sigh.

"You know I'll support any decision you make."

₪₪₪₪₪

The ringing of the phone woke Kevin from his nap. "Hello? Hi, Commissioner. What's up?"

"Have you thought about my offer?"

"Yes, I have. All my life I've wanted to be a cop. When I was told that my paralysis was permanent, I knew my career was over. Now all of a sudden I’m given a chance to continue being a police officer. How can I say anything but yes?” Gwen turned in her chair, a look of pride in her eyes.

“Excellent, Kevin. I’m glad you agreed. I’ll get started right away in getting everything set up for you for when you come back to work.”

“Thank you Commissioner for all you’ve done for me.”

“Think nothing of it. I suspect that you will continue to be a tremendous asset to the force. Right now all I want you to do is get better and come back soon.”

“I will, Commissioner. Thanks again.”

Gwen pounced on him as soon as he hung up the phone. “I’m so happy for you, little brother. This is really going to be awesome.” She cried.

As soon as she said that the physical therapist came in. “Time to work on those leg muscles, Kevin.”

“I’ll see you in a few Kev.” Grabbing her walker, she headed to Greg and Dave’s room to give them the good news. I understand why I have to use this damned walker. They don’t want me to fall, especially with this bloody contraption on my head, but I’ll be damned glad to get rid of it. Always an active person, Gwen hated having to use a walker.

“Good news, guys! Kevin said yes to the Commissioner!” She could hardly keep the excitement out of her voice.

Both men expressed their happiness at Kevin’s decision. “We have some good news for you as well. Greg’s going home today.”

“That’s awesome!”

“Yes and no.” Greg said with disappointment in his voice. “I won’t be able to see Dave for a couple of weeks. The physical therapist said I’ll be a distraction, meaning that I won’t be able to help him with his therapy.”

“Greg, he didn’t say you can’t see me for two weeks, you just can’t help me with my therapy until I’m in the right mindset. Believe me, I want you there. To be honest, I’m kind of scared. I don’t know if I’ll be able to learn to walk on the prosthesis or not.”

Greg took Dave’s hand in his. “Baby, if I can do it, so can you.”

“Like I said before, it’s different with me. Your body was whole when you had to learn to walk again. Mine isn’t.”

“The only difference is in your mind. It doesn’t matter if you have both your legs or just one.”

“How can you say that?”

“Easy. When I was learning to walk again, so were several other people. Some had one prosthetic leg, some had two. Some had artificial arms. They made it through and so can you. You know once they let me I’ll be here every day helping you.”

“But what if I can’t do it?”

“You can do it. I know you can. I’ve seen it happen with others the eleven months I was in the hospital. I’m going to tell you something I’ve never told anyone else.”

“Do you need me to leave?” Gwen interjected.

“Only if you want to Gwen. I have no problem you knowing what I’m about to say. You can tell Kevin if you want. Just don’t tell the Commissioner. There’s no telling how he’ll take the news.” Gwen nodded. “Okay. As you know, I was shot seventeen times.

“What you don’t know is that I had a five-percent chance of making it. I spent the first four months in the ICU hooked up to just about every machine imaginable. My heart stopped several times, and a couple of times they had a really hard time getting it started again.” Greg paused at the sound of Dave’s sobs. He reached over and stroked his face before pulling him into his arms.

“So believe me when I tell you that you can do it.”

Gwen sniffled several times before she was able to speak. They talked a lot about each other’s past and stuff like that when Greg was first assigned to the task force, but she was completely blindsided by what Greg just said. “Oh my God Greg. That’s horrible. I’m so glad the doctors didn’t give up on you.”

“After the third or fourth time I was ready to give up on myself. I almost filled out a DNR order.”

₪₪₪₪₪

A very cheerful Pete came in pushing a wheelchair. “Ready to go home, Greg?”

Greg sighed deeply. “Not really, but I guess I can’t stay here forever.”

“No, you can’t, but the sooner you get out of here and back into your daily routine, the better you’ll feel. I’m sure Chiara will be glad to see her daddy.” Greg couldn’t help but smile at this.

“I went by your house and got you some clothes, and well as your toiletries. I’m sure you’ll want to take a shower and get into some regular clothes.
Greg shot Dave an apologetic look. “Yeah, you’re right about Chiara. I miss that pain-in-the-ass fur ball.”

“How’s your vision coming along? Do the glasses help?”

“A little. Shapes are a little clearer now, but I can’t read or see in the dark like I used to.”

“Be a little patient, Greg. I know that’s easy to say and hard to do, but you’ve made good progress and the doctors are confident that you’ll get your eyesight back eventually. You may have to wear glasses or contacts the rest of your life, but that’s a small price to pay have your full vision back.”

“I know. It’s hard to sit back and wait to see if my eyesight comes back.”

“I’m sure it is. One day at a time. Your discharge papers have already been signed. The nurse will be in shortly to go over them with you. In the meantime you can take a shower if you wish before you get changed. Here’s your cane. I put your clothes on the bench by the shower. I’m sure you feel better after you’ve had one.”

“Is that a polite way to say that I stink?”

“No, it’s a way of saying you’ll feel better after a shower. Bed baths just don’t cut it.”

“Tell me about it.” Greg replied.

“I just did,” Pete said, tongue-in-cheek.

The nurse came in just then with a bunch of papers. “These are your discharge papers, Greg. I’m sure you’re glad to be getting out of here.” Greg nodded, not trusting himself to speak, not wanting to leave Dave by himself. She read over the instructions and handed Greg a pen.

Moving his hand gently to the spot awaiting his signature, she said, “Sign here, Greg. I’ll give copies of everything to Pete. Now I’m sure you’ll want to get out of those horrible hospital pajamas and into regular clothes. I’ll just leave you to it.” Handing everything over to Pete, she took her leave.

“All set Greg?”

He nodded and made his way to the shower. “It’s going to be really lonely for you without him, Dave, but I’ll make sure he comes by just as soon as your therapist says it’s okay. You can, of course, talk to him on the phone whenever you want.”
“It’s just going to be hard without him. I know they say he’ll be a distraction, but I want him here with me.”

“It’s only for two weeks. But think about this. It’s going to take an army to keep him away from here once he’s allowed to come back. Between you and me, even though I understand the policy, I think it sucks. Any kind of therapy, physical, occupational, speech, whatever, is always easier when you have a loved one around.

“Being as Greg had to learn how to walk again, your PT will be a lot easier with him around. I’ll talk to Dillon after you’ve had PT for a couple of days and see if we can shorten the two weeks. Get yourself into the right mindset as quickly as possible and who knows. Maybe we can cut it down to a week. It’s all up to you.”

Their conversation came to a quick end as Greg came out of the bathroom freshly showered and drying his hair. “You’re right, I do feel better.”

“Ready to go?”

“No, but do I have a choice?”

“The sooner you get going, the quicker you’ll be able to be on your own until Dave comes home, and the quicker Dave will get adjusted to the PT and you’ll be able to come back.”

Greg turned to Dave. “It just doesn’t feel right, leaving you here alone. I’m really going to miss you these next two weeks.”

“I’m going to miss you as well, but we’ll talk every day, and you can help me figure out what I’m going to do when I get out of here.”

“Aren’t you going to go back to work?”

Dave shook his head sadly. “I don’t have a job anymore. The Center has been destroyed; most of the staff are dead. There really isn’t a Center anymore.”

Greg hung his head. “I know.” He whispered.

“For the last time, it’s not your fault. It was those two dickheads.”

“Yeah, but they never would have bombed the place if I hadn’t gotten them fired.”

“Maybe, maybe not.”

Greg’s head jerked up. “Huh?” He asked, surprised at Dave’s statement.

“Did you ever stop to think that even if they hadn’t been fired, given their homophobia, they would have bombed the place to get rid of all the gay and lesbian police officers?”

Greg thought for a moment then shook his head. “I never thought about it that way. You’re right; they probably would have bombed the place. They would know how to make it look like a gas leak explosion. At least Kenson would. He was on the bomb squad for over five years. He failed his last psyche eval and was reassigned. He kept his regular pay but lost his hazardous duty pay.”

“So don’t ever think it was your fault. It wasn’t. I wouldn’t be surprised that when everyone is back on their feet again, the Commissioner will come up with some kind of plan to recruit more LGBT candidates and have you and Gwen start the fellowship group up again.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised either. He’s so emphatic about LGBT officers to be able to serve openly without having to deal with dickheads like Kenson and Hicks.”

“Well, since you’re the new recruitment and training officer, I suspect the Commissioner will lay that particular task on your shoulders.”

“No doubt.”

₪₪₪₪₪

“I’m doing this, Darren, whether the city council likes it or not.”

“Easy, Fred, I’m on your side. I think what you’re doing is a great idea. I totally understand my Stan retired. Those dickwads are so against change and progress it’s unbelievable. City council not withstanding; where to you intend to get the money from?”

“Every year over the past few years money has been budgeted for new patrol cars, and also for an upgrade to our dispatch system. The dispatch system was upgraded at a far less cost than was budgeted. Most of the patrol cars are in top shape thanks to our excellent mechanics. There’s more than enough money to cover the cost.”

“You know they’ll scream about misappropriation of funds.”

“Let them. It’s my department and my budget. Besides, you know as well as I do their real reason for having a shit fit is because Sergeant Peters is gay. Remember the shit storm when I established the task force?”

“Yeah, I do. I’m glad you didn’t give in to them.”

“Nor will I. I have to go. The architect is here. I’ll keep you informed of my progress.” After hanging up, he explained to the architect his plan for renovating a large storage room into an office. “This is what I want to do. This storage room was used to house all of our files.

“Since everything has been computerized and the written files have been transferred to central storage, this room has not been used for anything. What I want to do is make it over into an ADA-compliant office. What needs to be done?”

The architect took some measurements and looked over the blueprints for the floor. “Actually, not that much. Since this is not a load-bearing wall, we can tear it down and put up a new one with a wider door. Is the person who will be occupying this office handicapped?”

The Commissioner closed his eyes for a moment before replying, “Yes, he’s in a wheelchair.”

“Okay, so we’ll need some wheelchair-accessible shelving and lower the light switch. Some new lighting, a paint job and we’ll be all set.”

“What about glass panels in the new wall?”

“Already included in the planning.”

“Okay, Ben, when can we get started?” The Commissioner asked, getting excited.

“I’ll get started on the blueprints and we can start as early as the beginning of next week.”

“Awesome! Let’s do this.” As soon as the architect left, he got on the phone to IT. “Caitlin, I need a new computer installed up here. It needs to be the best money can buy and needs unrestricted access to every database we have, as well as the internet. We’re also going to need a desk suitable for a wheelchair bound officer.”

“You got it, boss!” Caitlin replied in her usual irreverent style.

Now all that’s left is Greg’s vehicle. I’m not sure how I’m going to pull that one off, but by Jesus I will!




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