Okay, I originally did this as a DS story, but I like the idea, so I'm redoing it for TS. If you read the other one, it won't be the same. That one was definitely past tense, narrative. This one will be more active/present tense. Poor Blair. This is based on a real incident. The former cop it happened to told me the story the other day. You have to understand that cops find some really icky and bizarre things funny.
As always, the characters from The Sentinel are not mine. I make no profit and am eternally grateful that the creators and owners of the intellectual property don't sue me over the use of them.
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"One-Charles-eight, see the woman, probable suicide. Six-one-four Pacific Avenue, apartment twelve."
Blair frowned as Jim slowed down and reached for the microphone. They had just gotten finished with their shift on a stakeout, and now Jim was going to answer a suicide call?
"One-David-fifty-two. I'm in the area and will respond to the DB call."
"One-David-fifty-two, Roger. One-Charles-eight, do you copy?"
"Jim?" Blair asked. "We just finished six hours on stakeout, with a full eight hour shift prior to that. Why in the world are we rolling on this?" He didn't bother to mention the lousy coffee they'd had to drink, nor the fact that they hadn't eaten since lunchtime, fourteen hours earlier.
"Because we're right here, Chief," Jim replied. And they were.
Blair looked up at the apartment building and frowned. "Oh."
Blair was exhausted. Not because they'd had anything physically taxing to do, simply from having to sit and stare for six, long hours at nothing. He hadn't even had a book to read! He dragged himself from the truck and followed his partner into the building and to the first floor apartment.
The woman who answered the door was hysterical. She was screaming and crying and covered in blood. It took both of them to control her. It was hard to understand her through her hysteria, but they finally got the gist of the story. She'd been asleep when her husband had come home. She was unaware of anything until the shot woke her. Jim and Blair exchanged glances and headed towards the door the woman indicated. Blair steeled himself for what he was about to see. He wasn't real sure, but he knew that a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head was bound to be messy. They looked into the room. The woman's husband lay spread-eagled across the bed, eyes staring glassily at the ceiling, mouth agape, with a pool of blood under his head and gore splattered across the bed and onto the wall.
"Oh, man," Blair muttered, swallowing hard and turning his eyes away. Jim looked around and shook his head.
"Easy, Chief," Jim murmured, grasping Blair by the shoulder. He turned, cocking his head, "Sounds like the patrol unit and paramedics are here." He started to turn away.
There was a sudden noise from the bedroom and both men turned back just in time to see the victim sit up and grab his bleeding head, groaning. Jim and Blair's jaws dropped open in shock.
"Oh, man..." Blair whispered. "This is like so unreal." Jim, who was no less amazed than his partner, gingerly moved over to the injured man.
"Owwww. My head. Shit, shit, shit!" The man moaned. Suddenly, Blair realized that the woman was right behind him. He glanced over his shoulder at her, then turned around and prevented her from entering the room.
"Charlie! You stupid sonofabitch!" she screamed. "How could you do this to me? What were you thinking?" She'd gone from hysterical to furious instantly. Blair had his hands full trying to keep her from getting through and attacking her husband. Jim, meanwhile, had checked 'Charlie' out and then turned to help his partner deal with the distraught... furious woman.
As the patrol unit and paramedics came in, Jim called out, "Got the victim in the bedroom. If one of you could help us here?" One of the paramedics joined them, trying to calm down the woman, while the two patrolmen and the other paramedic sought to take care of the injured man.
"I'll kill you, Charlie!" His wife screamed as it took all three men to pull her away from the doorway to the bedroom. "I'm gonna kill you, you stupid sonofabitch!" While Jim and Blair held onto the woman, the paramedic called in to the hospital and got permission to sedate her. Everyone was grateful when she finally succumbed to the injection and they strapped her on a gurney. The husband wasn't far behind. He kept complaining of his 'killer' headache, which had both paramedics stifling their laughter. Jim and Blair joined the patrolmen in questioning 'Charlie'.
It appeared that Charlie hadn't gotten a promotion he'd been promised and, despondent, he decided to kill himself. He'd gotten home, undressed for bed, then taken his gun placed the muzzle against his forehead, and pulled the trigger. Fortunately for Charlie, or perhaps unfortunately, depending on your personal view, the skull is pretty hard, particularly the forehead. The bullet snapped his head back and plowed a furrow from the middle of his forehead, back. It had gouged out skin and hair, and, as head wounds do tend to bleed profusely, had sent hair and blood everywhere.
But it hadn't killed him. Checking with the paramedics, one estimated that Charlie would have one hell of a headache for a couple of weeks, possibly lasting beyond the psychiatric tests, and healing of the actual scalp wound. They guessed that it would probably take less than twenty stitches to close the gash.
By the time they had finished, it was another hour and the senior patrolman suggested they go out for some breakfast. Blair and Jim readily agreed. They followed the patrol unit to a nearby restaurant and chose a booth near the back. The senior patrolman, Doug Roberts, whom Jim and Blair had worked with previously, explained to the two rookies, "There's only two things you should order after a case like that."
Jim grinned, realizing where Doug was going with this. He decided not to tip his 'rookie' partner off. After all, it was tradition that the senior partner do this to any rookie he was partnered with. Most were lucky enough to avoid this particular initiation, but not these two.
"What's that, Doug?" Blair asked innocently.
"Can you get them both here, Doug?" Jim asked.
Doug nodded. "Yep. I myself don't care for the more traditional meal, but I love the other one. How 'bout you, Jim?"
Jim shook his head. "Never really acquired the taste for the traditional one, but I love the other."
Doug looked at the two rookies. "So, what'll it be, traditional, or the new version?"
"What is it?" his partner asked uncertainly.
"Uh-uh. Which will it be, Rookie?"
Blair frowned and looked at Jim, who gazed innocently back at him. "Uh, I think I'd like to avoid tradition on this one. Can't I just order what I want?"
Roberts looked affronted. "But... It's tradition, Sandburg. You wouldn't want to go against tradition, would you?"
Blair stared at him, frowning. There was nothing threatening about Doug's demeanor or expression, but he realized that if he didn't follow this 'tradition' it would be all over the department by the time he got back to work in... four more hours.
"Fine. I'll go for the traditional version, then."
"Uh, I'll go with that, too." Doug's partner, Don White agreed. Jim and Doug exchanged conspiratorial grins.
When the waitress arrived, Doug got up and whispered their order to her, so the two rookies couldn't hear. She smiled and nodded, poured everyone a cup of coffee and left to turn their order in.
They were already chuckling over the attempted suicide when their meals arrived. Jim and Doug had taken the inside seats, leaving the aisles for their partners. Don took a close look at what Doug and Jim got, turning a little green.
"What is that?" he asked.
"Hangtown Fry," Doug explained. "Oysters and eggs, with hashbrowns and sourdough toast." He picked up a bottle of catsup and poured it liberally over his food, then handed the bottle to Jim, who did the same.
Blair frowned. "Jim? You almost never eat catsup."
"This is tradition, Chief." Jim explained, stirring the food on his plate together. Both Blair and Don turned pale. Then the waitress set their plates before them and Don was out of the booth and headed for the restroom. Blair closed his eyes for a moment to try and compose himself, then took another look. Yep, it was exactly what it looked like.
"I suppose I'm supposed to cover this with catsup, too?"
"Or Tabasco," Doug said. "Like I said, I could never get into the traditional version." He shuddered.
"I can see why. Was I supposed to join Don in bowing down to the porcelain god?"
"Up to you, Rookie." Doug smiled at him. "The big test is whether either of you actually eats it."
"Ooookay." Blair reached for the catsup and poured it liberally over his food, then carefully added several dashes of Tabasco sauce to it and stirred it up. "So, who was the wise-guy who came up with this?"
"Don't know, Chief. I heard it goes back to the thirties, at least," Jim explained. Blair only nodded and took a tentative bite. He chewed slowly and swallowed.
"Needs salt." Jim handed him the shaker, then the pepper. Blair sprinkled both liberally over his food, then began eating again. He shrugged and nodded. "Not bad."
Don White came back, glared at the three men and almost passed them by on his way back out to the car. But seeing Blair apparently enjoying his meal gave him the impetus to sit down. He frowned and decided to drown his food in catsup like everyone else, hoping it would hide the flavor of it.
"Try some Tabasco, too. It helps," Blair advised. Jim and Doug were grinning as they ate their breakfasts.
"Oh, and it needs salt, too," Blair added.
Don took up a forkful and closed his eyes as he stuck it in his mouth. He chewed, then, surprised, he opened his eyes and looked at his companions. "Hey, this isn't half bad!" Happier, now, he dug in and finished eating before everyone else, much to the senior partners' surprise. Blair wasn't able to completely finish, but he came close.
Jim and Doug split the check, as was also tradition. As they headed out, Roberts and White to return to patrol and Jim and Blair to head for home for a couple of hours sleep, Jim overheard Don and Blair talking to each other, and began to chuckle. Doug looked up at him and quirked up an eyebrow in question.
"They're trying to decide if it was real or not," he explained.
"Oh. You gonna tell 'em?"
"Sure. Why not. But I suggest you wait a while, until it settles, first," Jim advised.
"Yeah. Don't need him pukin' on the upholstery, now, do we?"
Jim laughed. "Definitely not. But I suspect that Blair knows what it was."
"Yeah, but it was no big deal for me. After all, I spent eighteen months in the jungle. I ate some much worse things. And still do, every chance Blair gets. Remind me to tell you about some of the weird stuff that man eats." Jim shuddered.
Doug chuckled. "I might do that some time. Catch you later." Doug moved to join up with his partner at their car.
"Have a good one," Jim called after them as he turned to his own partner by the truck.
Once they were in the car, Blair looked at him. "So, was that what I think it was?"
"What did you think it was, Chief?"
"I think that was scrambled brains and eggs."
"Yep. That's what it was."
"Well, sort of. Seems that when a rookie gets a suicide-head wound call, the senior partner takes them out for breakfast and orders brains and eggs. Usually, the rookie tosses his cookies and goes to sit in the car while the rest of the group laughs it up at their expense. You can only do it to a rookie if you've had it done to you. Doug got his initiation about the time I joined the force. Turns out he'd grown up eating that stuff. He doesn't like it, but he can eat it without flinching. He's the one who introduced the Hangtown Fry variant. A lot of folks are glad he did."
"And, of course, you give the victim the option of the 'traditional' or the 'modern' version. Do most go for the traditional?"
Jim shrugged. "I don't know. This is the first time I've been involved with it." He glanced at Blair, "You don't seem either surprised or particularly upset about it, though."
"Well, I wasn't the only victim, and it's not like you invited the entire precinct to watch. For which I am grateful, by the way."
"Thank Doug. It was his show."
Blair grinned. "You mean, you wouldn't have thought of it?"
"Nope. But the second he suggested food, I knew."
"So, does everyone in Major Crime know about this little initiation?"
"Simon does, and I'm sure Joel does. I don't think it's ever come up for any of the others. And, you're not allowed to talk about it to non-initiates."
"Got 'cha." Blair grinned. He'd passed one of the rookie initiation rituals. Not only had he passed, he had failed to react. He couldn't keep the grin off his face, nor the bounce in his body. One more step towards being accepted. One more bit of information for his new diss on the closed society of a modern police department.
Jim grinned, as well. He was pleased that his partner had successfully passed the test. He wasn't surprised, though. "You did good, Chief."
Blair felt his breath catch. Jim wasn't big on praise, but that only made it better when he gave it out. He wondered if his success would change anything? Perhaps with some of the older cops... those who were part of this particular sub-culture of their closed society. Like the warrior caste in more primitive cultures. Yeah. He'd passed the initiation with flying colors.
Jim looked at him in surprise. "For what?"
"For not 'protecting' me. For letting me go through the initiation."
Jim smiled and reached over to ruffle his partner's shorter curls. "There was nothing to protect you from, Chief. I knew that Doug wouldn't hurt you. He likes you, you know."
"Hey, he's a good guy." Blair frowned, "How come he's still just a beat cop? He's smart, he's dedicated. Why hasn't he become a sergeant or detective?"
Jim considered the question. "I don't know. Ask Joel. He's been around longer than the rest of us. He might be able to tell you."
"I just might do that." Blair yawned. "Later, though. Right now, I want to get intimate with my bed and closely examine the inside of my eyelids."
Jim chuckled as he pulled into his parking space in front of the loft. "Yeah. Me, too, Chief. Me, too."
It could all definitely wait for later.
Well, both incidents in this story actually happened... the first to a former cop I work with, the second, was a popular 'joke' amongst the older members of LAPD... thirty or so years ago, they were still doing it, and laughing like loons whenever they caught someone with it. The Hangtown Fry is a real dish, but never figured into the 'joke'. I just remember that brains and eggs are an acquired taste... I remember it from when I was a kid, but probably will never have it again. It's okay, if the brains and eggs are scrambled together, with lots of Tabasco in it...
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