OK, I was talking about this with Jen, teasing about where my plots (Plots? I write plots?) come from. This is based on a real incident. Fortunately, no one was hurt. Of course, the uniformed patrolman was a tad unhappy when Sgt. B. was through with him. I think he was lucky. Sgt. B. didn't hurt him or cause him to lose his job. I'd have been a whole lot more upset. Come to think of it, when a similar incident happened to me several years ago, if I'd been able, I'd have done a great deal of damage to those two guys. R.I.Eaton The usual disclaimers apply. I don't own them, I will make no money, please don't sue. At the end I might tell you what happened to me. In retrospect, I'm surprised it turned out as well as it did.

Oops, Sorry About That


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He'd finished his workout. Once again, he was exhausted. How did Ellison do it? He was several years older than he was, but he was so strong that trying to duplicate his workout with the free weights nearly killed him. After which, they'd played some B-ball, with their partners. Two on two. Jim and Blair had wiped Henri and himself out. He shook his head in wonder.

He stayed under the hot steaming shower a little longer than the others, trying to ease the pain of his misused and abused muscles. He could hear the night shift coming on duty. The laughter and horsing around that usually accompanied cops when coming on or going off duty. The gossip, the comparing of notes about the happenings of the day.

He turned off the water and wrapped one towel around his waist, using a second to wrap around his shoulders and dry his hair. He headed for his locker.

It was a silly thing to be doing. A couple of the uniforms were horsing around and playing 'quick draw'. It shouldn't have happened. They should have known better. He was just stepping over the bench to reach his locker when one of the 'quick draw' artist's gun went off. He felt the heat of the passing bullet. He froze in place, then looked down in shock, expecting to see blood, only seeing the hole in his towel. He slowly looked up, meeting the shocked faces of the other cops in the locker room. No one moved. Except, of course, Ellison. The man had the reactions of a cat. From the instant of the gun's discharge, the half dressed man had come around the line of lockers, knocked the gun from the shooter's hand, and was even now asking him if he was all right. His shocked brown eyes looked up a bit into the concerned blue ones of his colleague. He started shaking. Jim guided him to a seat on the bench he had just stepped over. He was having trouble breathing. At which point Sandburg showed up.

"You're hyperventilating, man. Take slow, deep breaths. Inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth." He turned to his partner who was glaring at the uniformed man responsible. "I've got him, Jim. You go take care of them." The voice soothing and calming. Helping him regain control. Jim squeezed his shoulder before turning and approaching the idiots who had been horsing around with loaded firearms in the locker room.

About that time, reinforcements in the form of the desk sergeant and Captain Banks had arrived. Once they got it all sorted out, the three uniformed officers involved in the 'quick draw' competition were pulling desk duty, with the promise of some unpaid leave in their near futures. They kept trying to get close to Detective Rafe to apologize. They were prevented from the contact by the large, obviously furious Detective Ellison and Rafe's partner, Henri Brown, who kept glancing worriedly at his partner.

"OK. Take it easy. Now. Are you hurt?" Glancing down to see if there were any blood, turning pale at the location of the hole in Rafe's towel. "Oh, man. That is altogether too close." Bringing his eyes back up to meet the still shocked gaze of the other man.

He couldn't stop shaking. He'd felt the heat of the bullet as it had passed through his towel and between his legs. Another inch higher and... He did not want to contemplate that particular scenario. He shivered harder. Blair started rubbing him with the other towel, "C'mon, man. Let's get you dressed, OK?" Rafe was still too dumbfounded to actually do anything for himself, so Blair rummaged in his locker and pulled out his duffel bag and handed it to him.

Moving automatically, he slowly dressed himself. The desk Sergeant and Captain came over to see if he was all right. Staring in horror at the hole in his towel. They exchanged startled expressions with the others. The Captain crouched down in front of his detective.

"Rafe?" His voice soft, like he was speaking to a frightened child. "Rafe, are you OK?" One hand reaching out to grasp the trembling shoulder. Finally getting his subordinate's attention.

He looked up at his Captain. "I...I'm fine. Just...Just a little...you know." Still unable to quite grasp what had nearly happened. Still shivering from the shock. His eyes a little wild, fear and adrenaline affecting his ability to function, for the moment.

"Take your time. It's all right." He glared at the remaining men who stood around like the crowd gathered at the scene of any accident. "Unless you have nothing better to do, I suggest you get on with your lives." He snarled at them. With the exceptions of Jim, Blair, and Henri, the other officers finished as quickly as they could and left.

"I think I need a drink." Rafe whispered. "Maybe more than one. Maybe the whole damn bottle." Still trembling, but getting it under control "How about dinner and coffee instead?" Blair suggested, only to be met with the wondering eyes of the other cops. Blushing, he explained. "Drinking after a shock like this is an easy way to become an alcoholic, man. You get scared, you have a drink, the fear goes away, but isn't really resolved. Next time, you drink. Then you use it to cope with other things. You've all seen it happen. A hot meal and some coffee or tea would be a much better means of coping." Expecting ridicule, he was surprised.

"That sounds good. I don't drink much, anyway." He looked at the smaller man, managing a weak grin. "Besides, my dad was an alcoholic. I don't ever want to be like that." Gratitude in his eyes. He looked up at the others. "I'm OK. Just a little shaken up."

"No doubt, man." His partner murmured. "Man, that was too close."

Simon's expression was grim. "Much too close." He looked at the still shocky younger man. "I'm going to push on this one. That was a safety violation that could have gotten you killed. This is going to end up a lesson that no one is going to forget." Then his voice softened. "Not that I expect you to ever be able to forget it." He patted his shaken detective on the shoulder and stood. "Go on, you guys. Finish up in here and get out. It's Friday. We're supposed to be at the Taggart's at seven-thirty. Make sure you show up." He patted Rafe on the back again and turned to leave.

The others were nearly smothering him with their concern, but he found himself oddly comforted by their insistence that they stay together. They ended up caravaning to the Taggart's house, where one of Mable's fabulous dinners awaited them and the calming presence of their 'den mother' helped to soothe away the fears and shocks of earlier. He was careful to avoid any alcohol, drinking soft drinks, instead. The others copied his avoidance of alcohol, in support of his decision. For a rare change, Rafe actually came out ahead in the game. Much to everyone's amusement.

"Maybe I'd better give up beer altogether." He quipped, laughing.

"Don't you dare!" Blair complained. "I count on my winnings from you to keep the Volvo running, man." Which comment was met with laughter from the others.

The calm, relaxing evening spent in the presence of his friends and colleagues did a great deal to ease his anxiety over the earlier incident. The laughter and joking soothing away the stress of the day. By the end of the evening, things were pretty much back to an even keel. As they were leaving, he shyly smiled at his friends and said, "Thanks for earlier, guys." He met each one's eyes, then looked down in embarrassment. "Thanks for not letting me make an ass of myself."

"Any time, Rafe. You'd do the same for one of us." Blair answered him, gently grasping his arm.

"Yeah, Rafe, that's what friends are for." His partner added.

"It's what we all do for each other, dear." Mable concluded, pulling him down for a hug.

He was blushing when she let him go. Looking again at his friends, he smiled. "Thanks, again."

"You're more than welcome." Simon answered for them all.

The End

Sgt. B. was stepping up to his locker when a uniform was playing 'quick draw'. The bullet went between his legs as he stepped forward, missing him by no more than an inch. In fact, he had to get his jeans from his locker to change into, because of the hole in the crotch of his suit pants. Much too close. The uniform got the lecture of his life. Luckily he didn't lose his job. I guarantee he never again horsed around with a loaded gun. I hope he never played with any gun again, even unloaded.

My own experience was a little dicier. I was riding one horse, and leading my weanling, up the levee and going to cross over to a friend's house, where the horses were to eat down their overgrown pasture. There were two men across the levee, shooting at the blue herons. For some unknown reason, they fired a couple of shots at me. Hard to miss what we were. Red haired human on a white horse, leading a black and white pinto. Fortunately, both shots missed. The sound a bullet makes as it goes past your ear really is a zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. The first one missed my head by less than three inches, the second by about a foot. I rose in my stirrups, kicked my horse into a run, praying the marshy ground would support us. I've never been more frightened in my life, not even the night I was robbed. That great old horse got me safely away, with nothing more than a little hyperventilating on my part. I stopped at the first house, but the punks got away. I'm much more alert when I ride, now. And much more likely to approach people. There's something about someone on horseback up close that intimidates people. Especially since my horses will step on people, when so directed. J

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