Dave looked up as he heard someone knock on the door frame. “Dave, can I talk to you for a minute?”
“Sure Stan. What’s up?”
“What can I do to convince you to reconsider leaving?”
“Stan, we’ve been all through this and out the other side. I feel I can do more for the community working for the Center. You know I’ve been stonewalled every time I’ve tried to do something for them. I’ve gone as far as I can go here.”
“That’s not true, Dave. You did an incredible job as acting mayor when I had my heart attack.” The mayor sat on the edge of Dave’s desk. “I’m going to tell you something that for the time being needs to stay between us.”
“My heart attack was more severe than anyone was allowed to know. Basically I have a choice, resign as mayor or risk another, possibly fatal, heart attack.”
Dave sat back in his chair. “Wow. I didn’t know it was that serious. So what are you going to do?”
“I don’t have a choice. I have to resign. That’s why I want you to reconsider leaving. I want you to succeed me. You’ve proven you can handle the job.”
“There would have to be a majority vote from the city council. You know as well as I do that they will not, to use their words, tolerate a faggot for mayor. When I was acting mayor, they stonewalled me on everything just on principle. It didn’t matter what it was. I definitely understand where you’re coming from, and I sympathize, but they’ll never agree to me succeeding you, even for one day. Look at what happened when you had a heart attack. The Governor had to step in and force them to accept me as acting mayor.”
“You’re right. I’ve butted heads with them more times than I care to admit on just about everything, and I’m straight. I can only imagine how much harder it was for you with those self-serving ultra-conservative jerks.” He sighed and smiled sardonically. “Well, you can’t blame me for trying.” He stood and extended his hand to Dave, who immediately stood and shook it. “You’ve been a hell of a deputy mayor. I wish you the best of luck in your new job and if you ever need anything, please don’t hesitate to call me.” He walked out the door, leaving Dave in deep thought as he put the top on the last box of his personal possessions. He took it down to his car then returned to his now former office. “Colleen” he addressed his secretary “you’ve been awesome, and I will truly miss you. If you ever need anything please call me. You have my number.” He gave her a quick hug before giving her his keys and ID.
“I’ll miss you too, Dave. You’ve been a great boss. Good luck with your new job and please, stay in touch.”
“I’m sure I’ll see you around. Take care, Colleen.” He left the building and sat in his car for a moment, reflecting back on the last six years. He sighed deeply, started the car and headed for his new life.
Greg nervously pushed open the doors to the fifteenth precinct a little before eight a.m. and asked the Desk Sergeant where the LGBT Anti-Violence task force office was. The Desk Sergeant regarded him for a moment then asked if he needed to see someone there.
“The Commissioner just transferred him here. This is Sergeant Peters.” Gwen replied, coming to his rescue. “Good morning Greg. Ready to get started?”
“You bet I am!”
“Do you have your police ID on you? Make sure you wear it at all times so nobody stops you. Did the Commissioner tell you that it will take a couple of weeks for your shield to arrive?”
“Yes he did.”
“Cool. Okay this is how it works. Today I’m going to show you around the station so you know where everything is, then we’ll head over to the LGBT Center so I can introduce you around and you can get familiar with the place. After lunch I’ll bring you up to speed on what we do and how we do it. Tomorrow you start your training.”
“Didn’t the Commissioner tell you?”
“No. He told me that you would show me the ropes.”
“For the next two months you are going to received specialized training, pretty much the same training that Detectives go through. Crime scene investigation, sensitivity to witnesses, that sort of thing. It’s much more detailed than they teach in police academies.”
“You’re kidding me, right?”
Greg slumped down into the nearest chair, tears rolling down his face.
“Greg, are you okay.” She sat down next to him, putting her arm around his shoulders.
“I’m more than okay. My dream is coming true. Actually, both dreams are coming true at the same time. I just can’t believe it.”
“First, I’m in love and finally after all this time I have an incredible boyfriend.”
“Really? Anyone I know?”
“The deputy mayor? How wonderful.”
“He’s not the deputy mayor anymore. He’s the Director of Public Policy at the Center.
“Even better. And what’s the second dream?”
“I’ve always wanted to be an SVU Detective. This is even better.”
“I’m happy that everything is working out for you. After what you’ve been through, you deserve to have good things happen to you. Oh, Kevin.”
She hollered over to a guy just walking through the door. He walked up to them and gave Gwen a hug. “Hey, sis. Good morning.”
“’Morning, bro. Kevin, this is Sergeant Greg Peters. He was just assigned to us. Greg, this is Officer Kevin Jordan, my brother. He’s also on the task force.”
The two men shook hands. “Pleased to meet you Kevin.”
“Same here, Sergeant. Welcome to the task force.”
“One thing I’m sure the Commissioner also didn’t tell you, because he always forgets. We don’t answer to the Precinct Commander here. We report directly to the Commissioner.”
“Okay.” He spent the next hour learning his way around the station house and meeting the other members of the task force. He then was taken to the LGBT Community Center. “Wow, this place is awesome.”
“You think this is awesome, wait until we go inside.” She pulled the door open and motioned for Greg to enter before her. He was stunned at what he saw inside.
“Good morning. Welcome to the Center. Oh, hi, Gwen. How are you doing today?”
“Just fine, Orie. Orie, this is Greg. He’s new to the task force so I’m showing him around the Center. His boyfriend is the new Director of Public Policy. Greg, this is Orie. She runs the Information and Referral desk.”
Orie came out from around the desk and gave Greg a hug. “Dave’s boyfriend? Cool. Welcome to the Center, Greg. I’m very pleased to meet you. Is this your first time here?”
“Yes. Up until a few days ago I didn’t know this place even existed.”
She grabbed a walkie-talkie radio from the desk. “It would be my pleasure to show you around and introduce you to the staff.”
“Thanks. I’d like that, if it’s not too much trouble or taking you away from anything important.”
“No trouble at all.” She took the astounded Greg on a complete tour of the building, stopping every now and then to introduce him to staff members, all of whom made him feel very welcome. “This office will be of special interest to you.” She knocked on the door.
“Come on in.” a muffled voice responded.
“Hey. I have someone here you might like to see.” Orie stepped aside and motioned Gwen and Greg to enter.
Dave straightened up from the bookcase he was arranging and turned around to see Gwen and Greg standing there. “Baby!” He ran around the desk and swept Greg into his arms, kissing him passionately. “I’m so happy to see you. What brings you here?” Nobody noticed Orie’s discreet exit.
“Dave, this is Gwen. She’s in charge of the task force. She and Orie are showing me around the Center. Gwen, this is my boyfriend Dave.”
“Pleased to meet you, Gwen.” Dave replied as he hastily cleared off two chairs. “Please, sit.”
“Nice to meet you too, Dave.”
“So what do you think about the Center, Greg?”
“It’s beyond awesome. I never knew places like this existed.”
“Baby, there’s something we need to talk about.”
“I think I’ll go get something to drink and allow you two to talk in private.” Gwen said, standing up.
Dave laughed. “No, it’s nothing like that, Gwen. Please, stay. Greg there is so much to be done. So much that can be done. But I can’t do it all by myself. Would you be willing to volunteer a little of your time to help me out?”
“Do you even need to ask?”
“Yes, I do. The Center practically runs on volunteers. There’s a paid staff of 30, and a volunteer staff of 450. The Center takes volunteerism very seriously and requires a serious time commitment. That’s why I need to ask you.”
“Baby, I’ll be here as much or as little as you want me to be. Where to I sign up?”
He quickly glanced at a chart, then picked up the phone and pushed a couple of buttons. “Dan, this is Dave. I have someone here in my office who wants to be a volunteer. What do I need to do to get him registered as a volunteer?” He listened for a moment. “Cool. That’s very kind of you. See you in a few.” He hung up. “Dan, the Volunteer Coordinator is going to bring over the volunteer application and a copy of the Volunteer’s Handbook.”
“Great. When do I start?”
“How about right now by the two of you joining me for lunch as soon as you’re done with Dan?”
“Sounds like a plan.”
“I’d love to Dave, but I’m having lunch with my brother and his boyfriend.”
“Why don’t the three of you join us?”
“Next time. I think the two of you should be alone today for lunch. Just a hunch, but I think you guys have some great things to talk about.”
“Works for me. I’ll hold you to the ‘next time’ Gwen.”
“Cool. Well, if you guys will excuse me…Greg, meet me back at the shop around 1:30.”
“But it’s only a quarter to twelve. That’s over an hour-and-a-half from now.”
“You get an hour lunch break. The remaining forty-five minutes you’re going to spend getting familiar with the Center and its policies.” She said with a wink.
“Thanks, Gwen.” He flashed her a huge, appreciative smile.
“You’re welcome. See you after lunch.” She left just as Dan the volunteer coordinator came in. After introductions were made, they talked for a few minutes, Dan answering Greg’s questions and helping him fill out the paperwork.
“Any idea where you would want to volunteer? We have openings on the dance committee, membership committee, and in the main office answering phones.”
“I’d really like to work in the Public Policy office.”
“We don’t have any volunteer positions for the Public Policy Office.”
“Dan, what do we need to do to get some? There’s a lot of work to be done, especially with the new Promote-The-Vote program. I’m going to need quite a few volunteers to help me with that.”
“How many would you need?”
“Off the bat I’d say ten would be a good starting number. I may need more later on, but ten to start with.”
“All I have to do is get a brief description of the requirements and duties from you then once Bridget signs off on them I can enter them into the volunteer database and we can start recruiting.”
“How long would that take?”
“After I get everything from you, about twenty minutes.”
“Cool. I’ll have it for you this afternoon.”
“Fine. I’ll just keep this application out until I get everything set up. Greg, you are now the first volunteer for Public Policy. On behalf of the Center, I thank you and welcome you aboard.”
“Thanks Dan. I’ll get started on it right after lunch. Hungry, baby?”
“Baby? Are you two…”
“Way cool. Let me get started on this. I’ll have to update the Volunteer handbook to include Public Policy, and also have Kenny update the website. Have a good lunch, guys.” He left to get started on his tasks, happy to have a new area for people to volunteer in.
“What would you like to do for lunch, Greg?”
“Smart ass, I should have known better than to ask you that question. Let’s go get something to eat. I’m starving. There’s a restaurant around the corner that I’m told is very good. Most of the staff goes there or orders from there for lunch.”
After they were seated and placed their orders, Greg asked Dave, “So what is this new Promote-The-Vote program you mentioned?”
“It’s a new program that is being implemented all over the country. What it basically entails is getting eligible LGBT people signed up as registered voters and to get them to vote for the candidate of their choice. The office is required to remain politically neutral. I’ve spoken to Bridget Ross, who’s the Center’s Director, and with her approval, I’ve contacted the Board of Elections to see if we can become a polling place.”
“Cool. If everyone who was eligible to vote did so, we’d have a much stronger voice.”
“Exactly the reasoning behind the program. But that’s not all I want to implement. What good is having a vote if voters don’t know the candidates and understand where they stand on the various issues facing the GLBT community? I want to have open, public forums where people can meet and ask the candidates questions, and not just the local candidates, but national candidates as well.”
“That would be so awesomely awesome! How can I help?”
“Right now, there’s nothing that can be done. I’m waiting on all of the Promote-The-Vote signage and literature from the National Office. Once I get everything, I’ll have booths set up at various events to talk with people and get them signed up. I’ll need help organizing the literature into information packets, manning those booths, stuff like that.”
“I’m there! You know I’ll help you any way I can.”
“I’ve also been told that down the road, if the Public Policy program does really good here that they may hire a part-time assistant to work with me.”
“Where do I apply?”
“You can’t.” Greg face fell. “They won’t allow couples to work together where one is in a position of authority over the other. It could cause problems between them.”
“That makes sense, I guess. Wait a minute. Wouldn’t it apply to volunteers as well?”
“Good question. I’ll ask Dan when we get back. So how’s your day going so far, Sergeant Peters?”
“So far so good. I got to meet the other members of the task force and this afternoon Gwen is going to bring me up to speed on policies and procedures.”
“Wait until you hear this. Starting tomorrow, and for the next two months I-I-I” Greg’s voice was choked with emotion and his eyes started to glisten. “I will be in detective training. My two biggest dreams are coming true.”
Dave reached across the table and took a hold of Greg’s hand. “And what would those dreams be?”
“One, I’ll be a Detective with a specialized task force, which is something I’ve wanted for as long as I can remember. I originally wanted to be an SVU detective…”
“Like on Law & Order SVU?”
“Exactly, only this is way better.”
“And two?” Dave prompted.
“This one is the most important one. To fall in love with the man of my dreams.”
“Oh, you’ve met him, then? When do I get to meet him?” Dave teased.
Greg picked up a roll and threw it at him. “It’s you, you shithead!” He replied with mock anger, only to have his mouth sealed as Dave leaned over the table and kissed him tenderly.
“I’m so happy for you, baby.” Dave looked deep into Greg’s eyes to that there would be no doubting his sincerity. “I can’t begin to tell you how much I love you and how much you mean to me. Let’s go out and celebrate tonight.”
“It will have to be later on this evening. I have an appointment to take my cat to the vet for her yearly shots at six.”
“You have a cat?”
“Yeah, she’s two years old and still plays like a kitten.”
“Awesome! I love cats. They’re the most awesome animals!” Dave cried excitedly.
“How come you don’t have a cat?”
Dave’s face fell. “I had to put Pipsqueak down a little over a year ago. He was sixteen and developed congestive heart failure. The only thing the vet said could be done for him was to put him into an oxygen cage, which would have only prolonged his suffering a couple of weeks. I couldn’t do that to him. I believe in quality of life, not quantity. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life. I miss him so much…” As the tears began to flow down his cheeks, making it impossible for him to continue, Greg scooted his chair over next to Dave’s and pulled him into his arms and rocked him gently. After a few minutes Dave settled down and wiped his eyes. “Damn, I thought I was finally past that stage and that I was finally getting over his death.”
“Baby, that’s something we never get over. He may be gone, but he’s still a part of you. I’m so sorry. I wish I could have been there to help you through it.”
Dave gave him a weak, but grateful, smile. “You’re here now. That’s all that matters. What’s your cat’s name?”
“As in the ‘Lion King’?”
“So when do I get to meet the little fur ball?”
“Why don’t you come by my place around 5:30 and we can go to the vet’s together? It will only take about ten minutes, then I can drop her off back at the apartment and we can go out. Actually, I have a better idea. How about dinner at my place?”
“Sounds wonderful. Unfortunately, we have to be getting back.” Dave grabbed the check before Greg could reach for it and handed it along with his credit card to the waiter.
Moments later the waiter came back. “You are the new Director of Public Policy at the Center, am I correct?”
“Yes I am, why?”
“Well it appears that there is a problem with your bill.”
Dave looked puzzled. “Really. Hm. I’ll have to check with the bank to find out why my card didn’t go through.” He took another card out of his wallet. “Here, use this one.”
“Sir, the problem is not with your credit card.” Catching Dave’s puzzled expression, he handed the bill back to Dave which had a note attached to it. Welcome to the Center. We’re glad to have the two of you as part of our family. I hope you and Greg enjoyed your lunch, which is on the Center. Bridget.
Dave handed the bill and the note to Greg who read it then handed it back to the waiter. “Wow, that’s really nice of her. I haven’t met her yet, so how does she know my name?”
Dave left the waiter a handsome tip and they left to walk back to the Center. “I told her about you the other day. I told her that you were not only my boyfriend, but were newly assigned to the task force. Then she said something about you and Gwen setting up the fellowship group.” He glanced at this watch. “It’s almost 1:30. You need to get back. Good thing the precinct is only one block over.” Dave hugged him and gave him a deep kiss. “I’ll see you at your apartment. Oh, what’s the address?”
“4216 South Street, apartment 302.”
“Great. See you at five-thirty. Have a great afternoon.”
“You too. I look forward to it.” With a kiss and wave, Greg turned and jogged down the street, already making dinner plans. It’s a good thing I get off at four. I have to go shopping. I have to really make this dinner to die for. God I love him so much that I want to spend the rest of my life with him.
As soon as Dave got back to his office, he called Dan. “Dan, I need to ask you a question regarding the Center’s policy on couples not working together when one is in a position of authority over the other. How does that apply to volunteers?”
“It doesn’t, since volunteers are not paid staff. The policy only applies to paid staff.”
“Great, so there’s no problem with Greg working with me?”
“None. I’ve already gotten him entered into the system as a general volunteer until I get the new positions created.”
“Awesome. I’ll get you the information in a couple of hours.”
“I won’t be here, but you can either leave it in my mailbox or email it to me, whichever is easier. That way I won’t accidentally lose it.
“Okay. Thanks, Dan.” Dave hung up and went to work immediately on the duties and responsibilities for the volunteers which took the rest of the afternoon. He showed everything to the Center’s Director after thanking her profusely for the lunch and received her blessings on the new volunteer positions. Dave slipped copies of the paperwork into Dan’s mailbox and left for the day, going home first to shower, shave and get dressed. Damn I love him so much. There’s nothing I want more than to spend the rest of my life with him, if he’ll have me. I know we’ve only known each other for a short time, but this feels so right. I’ve never felt this way about anyone before. He glanced at a picture of his late cat. “You’d love him, Squeaks” he said to the picture, using the cat’s nickname. “He’s a cat lover, just like me.” He reached out and touched the picture. Wiping an errant tear from his eye, he left a few minutes early so he could stop and pick up something special along the way.