A few of them went to the Coffee Pot that morning, once the night's business was done. It had, indeed, been a long night and Lt. Wendell Hayes, like the rest of the small group of detectives, was tired.
This was their usual procedure. It was at the Coffee Pot for a rehash, a good cup of coffee and then home to crash.
Wendell always enjoyed this part of the 'after action' time. He'd spent a good deal of his life lately taking care of first his Mom and then his Dad, as they each, in turn, got sick and eventually went away. His trials continued with the death from cancer of his still young wife, Margie. It left him, his daughter Wendy, and his dog Genearl McLaws alone. Together they struggled through that very, very difficult time, with Wendy constantly worried about her father's reactions and his retreat to the job, as the central point of his life.
So that time had been a sad one for Wendell. His compensation was the job. Wendell had, from the very first, as much as he could remember, been in love with being a cop. He'd gotten some education in criminality at a local Jr College and joined the force, as yet a fairly young man.
He never looked back. He never regretted it. He worked out to constantly hone his physical skills and was a generally respected member of the detective squad.
His gang it was that was out the night before on a rumor, well founded, as it turned out, of some potentially dangerous people, related to a terror cell. Their effort with the suspected people had been right on, and they were pleased.
"Now?" Murphy asked generally.
"Home, bed!" Wendell said. "Let Wendy and the General take care of me."
The others agreed with that general assessment.
It was just then that a small group of men came into the Coffee Pot.
"Oh, crap!" Ryan said.
"What?" Wendell asked.
Ryan leaned forward. "The guy in the leather jacket is a real horses' ass. He has a rep for taunting women and actually flashes a fake gun, a water pistol to impress them. He's a real 'rit'."
(Ryan came from a Czech household and at times lapsed into curses in Czech.)
"Well, as long as he has his coffee and doesn't bother anyone, I'm not going to interfere," Wendell said.
Of course, the peace and quiet was too good to last.
There was, at the coffee bar, a short woman wearing a skirt and sweater. She looked to be about middle aged. She had straight but very pretty blonde to white hair. She was pretty looking. Wendell had noticed her right away.
She made his middle aged, 42 year old heart pound, he said to himself, and grinned.
It was Ryan who spoke again: "Like her, Lieutenant?"
"Yes," Wendell admitted.
"Janie Soames, Dr. Joanne Soames" Ryan said. "She teaches history at the university. Good at it too, I hear."
"She's a beauty!" Wendell said.
"But it's time for me to get going, and rescue Genaral McLaws from his solitude. Wendy has to work today and was out last night. Mrs. Williams promised to look in on him, while Wendy was out."
(Wendell Hayes was, in addition to other things, a student of the Civil War. He loved some of the flowery names of the warriors and, though he was a Union sympathizer, had named his golden retriever 'Genearl McLaws', from Confederate General Lafayette McLaws.)
"Is he okay over night?" Murphy asked.
"Yes, usually," Wendell said. "I have an older lady, Mrs Williams, next door who looks in on him for me. The two of them seem to have a love relationship and she doesn't mind taking care of him. And Wendy wasn't going to be out too late. At least that's what she said."
They laughed at that.
Just then a voice said: "Sorry, toll to pay!"
Wendell and his friends looked over. The guy that Ryan had been talking about, who carried the water pistol, had the blonde-white haired woman trapped between his legs and wouldn't let her go.
Wendell's attention was aimed at the fracas immediately.
"Let me go," the woman said with some asperity.
"Not until you pay the toll!" the man said.
"I said let me go!" the woman said next, getting agitated.
The man grinned at his friends, who looked discernibly nervous at this point.
He moved his jacket enough to show the woman the gun sticking in his waistband.
Wendell could tell from where he sat that the gun was a fake. The woman couldn't.
She got very silent.
The man said: "Don't want to argue with a man that's packing, sweetie, do you?"
"I want you to let me go!" the woman said.
"Not going to happen until I get a kiss; that's the toll," the guys said.
"Shit!" Wendell said, getting up. "And I'm already tired."
"Easy!" Ryan said.
"Yep," Wendell answered, "Get my back."
"Got it," both Ryan and Murphy said.
Wendell went in the direction of the man taunting the woman.
The man stuck his hand in the air and said: "Police business here! Don't interfere!"
That was the last straw for Wendell.
"Shit," he said softly.
The man's jacket was still open, so that he was sure that Wendell could see the handle of his gun.
Wendell swept his coat open in one direction, showing his badge, attached to his belt and then, as the man looked on, a bit bug eyed now, pulled his own gun and had it aimed at the man.
"Put your hands on the table!" Wendell said.
"Hey, man," the guy said hurriedly, "I was only funning with her."
"I said, put your damn hands on the table! My gun is not a plastic toy, dickhead!" Wendell said next.
Then he surprised the woman by turning to her and apologizing for his language. She smiled.
The man put his legs down, letting the pretty woman go, and Wendell moved in his direction.
Just then one of the man's companions moved. Ryan was behind him, and said: "Not another fuckin' move!"
He didn't apologize for his language.
The guy said, defensively: "Hey, man, I was only trying to get away from him."
"Move away, both of you but don't go where I can't see you!" Ryan said, and now Murphy was standing off to the side too, and the other two guys from the table realized it.
"Lieutenant," Ryan said, "We're cool here."
"Thanks, Ryan, Murphy!" Wendell said.
Wendell then reached into the guys belt and pulled out the gun. It was indeed a water pistol. Wendell squirted the guy in the face a few times with the water pistol.
"Don' ever come in here again," Wendell said, "Unless you do bring your manners and don't bring any damn water pistol. Do you realize how close you came to getting shot?"
The guy mumbled a 'sorry' and, nodding to his friends, headed for the door.
Wendell watched him go. Then he went to the counter and said to the owner: "Wayne, sorry about the fracas."
"No, Wendell," Wayne said, "I appreciate it. He's a major pain in the ass. Not the first time that it's happened."
It was just then that the woman, with a small bag that contained her coffee and a bagel, headed for the door.
Wendell went out behind her.
"Ma'am," he said, and she turned.
"Yes," she said, smiling now at Wendell.
"Are you okay?" Wendell asked.
"Yes, thank you, officer!" she said. "Oh," she said after a thought. "I guess I should say 'Lieutenant'. Isn't that what they called you?"
"Yes, Lieutenant Wendell Hayes," he said, wondering at how nervous he felt introducing himself to this woman.
She smiled, and Wendell was almost poleaxed by the smile. "Well, pleased to meet you, Lieutenant Wendell Hayes." she said.
"I am Joanne Soames," she went on, and put out a hand in Wendell's direction.
He only stared at her for a few seconds.
"Lieutenant," she said, "You're staring!"
"Oh, sorry, Ma'am, um ... Joanne!" he said.
She laughed then, as she walked away; it was a tinkling kind of bubbling water kind of laugh.
"Just protecting and serving!" she said over her shoulder.
"Yes, Ma'am, er ... Joanne," Wendell said.
By then both Ryan and Murphy were there.
"Well," Ryan said, "That was interesting! Never saw you stopped dead in your tracks like that!"
"Going home!' Wendell said, ignoring the good humored laughter coming from his pals behind him.
Wendell went over and over the scene in his mind, as he drove home. He noticed that his consternation about his reaction to Joanne Soames even staved off, for the time, the tiredness that he felt, from his all night stint with the terror cell.
He was greeted elaborately by his faithful pal, General McLaws.
He had bought a gift of bagels and coffee for his next door neighbor, Mrs. Williams. He let the General out into the yard and went to Mrs Williams' back door, and knocked.
She came right away.
"Mrs. Williams," he said, handing her the bag. "You are a saint! A pure and true saint!"
"All night Lieutenant?" the pretty next door neighbor asked.
"Yes," Wendell said. "When the General is done with his turn around the estate," she giggled at this reference, "I'm for bed for a bit of the day. Wendy is at school. I appreciate you helping us with the General."
"Oh, he's my love," Mrs Williams said.
"Bed for me now!" Wendell said.
"You've probably earned it!" Mrs Williams said.
"Dangerous?" she asked softly.
"A kind of terror cell in the making that we cleaned up," he answered. "Went well!"
"Good for you!" she said, "Good for us!"
.... There is more of this story ...