They finally put in a call for him. He wasn't surprised. He'd heard all the police reports over his radio and, though he was across the city, went in the direction of the problem
He was quickly filled in on what was happening. It was a break-in gone wrong, and now the burglar was holed up with a woman hostage.
During the past fifteen minutes, he'd come out and had the gun to the woman's head.
He had apparently gotten the wrong address for his break-in, not suspecting that anyone was home. She was, Carol Burns was indeed home. She had an off day from the hospital, where she was the charge nurse on the surgical floor.
She had interrupted him in his attempt to burglarize her home, and assured him that she had very little worth stealing.
In a rage he asked her about the address, and she told him that that address was a block and a half away. It all would have been ridiculously funny, if it weren't so serious.
Apparently, while this was going on between Carol and the burglar, a neighbor across the street, tending flower in front of the house, saw what was happening and called the police.
When he decided to leave, he went outside with her, an arm around her upper chest and the gun at her head.
He was fighting panic by then.
In the process, he noticed a deputy moving toward him from the side and, with a quick motion, shot the deputy, putting him down on the ground with a wound in his shoulder.
He waved the gun in the deputy's direction, threatening to kill him if he even moved.
That's when they called for Gail.
Gail Coleman went into the military out of school. Strangely enough, Gail had one skill that was very salable to the military. He was an excellent shot, even better than excellent.
He'd been taught from childhood by his Dad George and his Uncle Andy about guns and shooting. During all of his adolescent times, they had worked with him, realizing that such teaching and consistency from an early age would certainly pay off.
It did. With a gun in his hand, Gail Coleman was deadly.
When he went into the military, his ability with a weapon was recognized and he received even more training.
He had pulled two tours embedded with the Iraqi army in that on-going struggle. His job was training but he also had missions where he was used as a sniper. He was good at that.
After his second tour, he decided that he'd had enough of Mid-Eastern wars and thought that he wouldn't re-up.
He went from the military to the police department by the time he was in 28. He was, just then, in the best shape of his life. He stood fully 6'5" and his 235 lbs fit his frame very nicely. He kept his hair short, and therefore manageable.
For the police department he undertook the same kind of tasks that he'd done before. He trained others to shoot but also remained a 'go to' member of the department SWAT team, their 'Weapons and Tactics' squad.
In that capacity, with 'Weapons and Tactics' he had seen a number of action situations.
For his own part, Gail continued to practice his skills. It was his Uncle Andy's constant mantra: 'If you're going to use those skills, then practice them constantly and seriously.' He did just that.
It might have only been a kind of skill to be used during his younger days. Gail was okay with that. But it was a skill that he had and honed relentlessly.
He was already almost on the scene of the confrontation, when the 'officer down' call was put through the radio.
He consulted with the lieutenant on the scene and they assessed what might be done.
"What do you think, Gail?" the lieutenant wanted to know.
"All I have to do is get into place without him shooting me first and I'm good," was his answer.
They did some moving of officers around on the far right of the action scene. It drew the attention of the, by now, nervous burglar.
"Stop that!" he yelled, holding the gun still to the head of the lady, he was holding.
By then, with the movement diversion, Gail was standing on the lawn. He was in place.
The burglar noticed him right away.
"Stay there," he shouted at Gail. "Don't come a step closer or I'll kill her."
"It's okay," Gail said, waiting for the burglar to move just a fraction in his direction. It was the last thing that he needed.
Carol Burns, meanwhile had her eyes closed, shut tight. She was only breathing in a shallow fashion and she was afraid that she was going to pee herself right then and there from her fright.
Through slitted eyes, she saw the big policeman, who was now on the the lawn with them, at the foot of the lawn. She heard the belabored breathing of the burglar, who was fairly breathing into her ear, and the impression of the gun at the side of her head was constantly, constantly there.
Gail took one last look. The lieutenant had already told him to take whatever action was needed. The guy had turned in his direction, just a fraction so that he could confront him more easily.
The impressions came in groups. Gail thought that the woman was really attractive. That impression was instinctive. He pushed it away with an inner growl: "Later."
He noted, at the same time, that the burglar didn't have the gun at the woman's head cocked.
There was satisfaction in knowing that.
In the last possible instant, having noticed that one detail, Gail said to himself: "Got you, scumbag."
What happened next, happened in such a hurry that those watching were not aware of it, until the action, very brief action, was all over.
Carol Burns, looking still at the big cop, had no time to be more frightened or make any move at all.
The burglar simply didn't follow the movement of the big cop on the lawn. He was dead before that movement even registered in his brain.
With practiced ease and quickness, Gail Coleman whipped his hand up, registering instantly the red laser dot on the middle of the burglar's forehead and shot him in the head before the guy knew what hit him.
He went down like a dropped sack.
At the same time, Carol Burns simply fainted, dead away.
At first there was, on the part of some people, a fear that she'd been injured too. But Gail knew that she hadn't.
He, for his own part, was not surprised that she finally passed out from the tension and the fright, to which was added his own lightning quick movement in shooting the burglar.
That broke the tension of the waiting for everyone. Immediately, police approached the downed burglar from all sides with their guns drawn.
Gail knew that the guy was done. He'd seen it before. He done it before and was that sure of himself about it.
He went to the woman. She was still out, when he got to her. He picked her up and carried her to the bottom of the lawn, while the other officers secured the dead burglar.
She fluttered her eyes and they came open, while he was carrying her down the lawn.
"Oh," she said, in a semi groggy voice. "The big cop on the lawn."
"Yes, Ma'am," he said.
She managed a faint smile. "It's Carol, not "Ma'am," she said, hardly aware of what she was saying just then.
"Pleased to meet you, Carol," he said. "You're okay now."
"Yes," she said, "I know that."
She was shaking her head then and saying: "I've never seen anything like that in my entire life."
He only briefly grinned at her, and she remained wide eyed.
"They're gonna want to look you over to make sure you're okay," he said. "Maybe take you in to the ER just to check on you."
"Oh," she responded, and then the ambulance attendants, who were on the scene, were there and began to take charge of Carol.
Gail walked away, leaving them to their job. He did glance back at the lovely woman one time, as she lay on the grass and was being attended to. She smiled at him, when he did.
He walked over to where the police were hovering around the body of the burglar.
"Slicker 'n shit!" one of the gathered cops said to Gail, when he got there.
"You can say that again," the lieutenant said, turning to Gail and said: "Good job, Gail. Just didn't know when he was going to get nervous enough about his situation to start more shooting."
"How's Egan?" Gail asked.
"Shoulder or upper right chest, I believe," the lieutenant said, "They took him in already. They'll take the woman next in the other ambulance."
"Yes," Gail said, "I told her that."
"Pretty lady," the lieutenant said.
"Sure was," Gail agreed.
"Okay, we've got this, Gail," the lieutenant said next.
"I'll get the paper work done right away," Gail said and his boss nodded his head.
That's the way Gail spent a good part of the rest of his day: paper work, forms. There were also post action interviews to be held, and they went through those procedures, in this case with both the captain and the lieutenant involved.
During that interview, the lieutenant assured the captain that he'd told Gail to do whatever he needed in the situation.
They left the incident there and gave Gail a couple days off to decompress from the situation.
Carol Burns was only kept in the hospital a short time. They knew her there and there was a flurry of visits, when the word got around about the shooting at Carol's house.
Gail had a method that he invariably used, when he was involved in any kind of lethal action. He went home to his beagle, named, for whatever reason 'Barnes and Noble' or just 'Barnsey' for short.
After getting home, he sat in the kitchen with a beer and cleaned his gun. He took extra care of it and put it away, almost lovingly.
Then he did what was important to him. He went into his library and did a meditation for a good half hour. He accompanied it with some background music and also a little incense.
Barnsey sat with him, while he was meditating. They'd been through this together before and the procedure was already known to the faithful beagle.
The meditation never failed to help Gail out with such situations. It helped him get himself right with what had happened.
He also knew that the next time he was in church, at 'All Saints', he'd light a candle for the dead burglar. It was one of his procedures.
What he did, he did very, very well. He never liked doing those kinds of things, as he told Barnsey any number of times but it was indeed what he did. He made sure that he always lighted the candle for the repose of the dead person.
This was a part of Gail's procedure that wasn't known to his friends on the force. It was only for him, and always shared with Barnsey.
He had some ground sirloin, a favorite of his and Barnsey's, that he cooked for dinner, with some for both of them. He chased his chopped sirloin with a bottle of Stout and had a 'down' evening watching a movie on tv. Barnsey snuggled up on the couch with him, while he was watching the tv.
"She was pretty, Barnsey," he said, at one point. The dog's reaction was to simply bang his tail against the cushion of the couch, when he heard his name.
The phone rang, fairly late, after the tv movie.
Gail knew that this too was part of it, part of the post action procedure.
"Hello," he said, and was pleased to her his sister's Lisa's voice.
"Gail, honey" she said, "Are you okay?"
"Yes," he answered, quietly, "Just decompressing."
"Need me to come over?" she asked.
"Don't think so," he said, "Not tonight at least. How about breakfast? Your schedule okay with that?"
"Yes, love," she said, "8 AM?"
"Fine," he said.
"I'll bring some rolls or something," she said.
"Good," he answered. "How's the world's greatest nephew?"
Her could hear the pride in her voice as she answered: "Arnie's fine."
"Tell him that his Uncle Gail was asking," he said next.
"I will!" she replied and then it was her turn: "How's my love?" she wanted to know then.
"Barnsey is great," Gail said. "He's helping pull me out of the flim flams, like he always does."
"Yes," she said, "He's good at that."
"Certainly is," Gail said.
"I'll leave you go then, love," she said.
"I love you, Lisa," he said. "Hey to Ralph."
"I love you too," she answered before hanging up. "I'll tell him."
"That was your love, Aunt Lisa," he said to Barnsey, who thumped his tail, when being addressed.
Breakfast With Lisa:
Lisa was there early the next morning. She was spot on at 8 AM, as she said she would be. She stopped at a nearby Panera and brought some scones with her for their breakfast. She knew that Gail would have a pot of that killing brew that he made for himself in the mornings.
She would, as she always did, add some water to hers but Gail always had it black, and strong enough, he quipped frequently, to remove paint.
He met her at the door.
"Hey," he said, the joy in seeing her written all over his face.
"Hey yourself," she said, sliding into his arms for their usual hug.
Then she turned aside: "There he is, folks! The world's greatest beagle, my own love Barnes and Noble. Barnsey, how are you? Are you healing him? Keeping him sane? Making sure he's alright?"
She went down on a knee, saying these things and she had the full attention of a kind of moaning and wiggling beagle immediately.
Barnsey started to snuffle her right away.
"Yes, your right, pal," she said. "You don't think that I'd come over without a treat for my Barnsey, Barnsey, do you?"
She produced a long dog biscuit, purchased at the nearby grocery store and Barnsey settled down to pay avid attention to it.
Gail stood by and just grinned, watching Lisa spoil Barnsey.
"Your turn again," she said, going to him and hugging him again.
She leaned back then from the hug and went to put the bag of scones on the table.
"By the way," she said.
"I know Carol Burns," she mentioned then.
"You do?" he said, a kind of avidity in his voice now.
She gave him a look, accompanied by a smile and said: "So, so, the big cop is interested?"
He laughed. "No secrets from you are there?"
"Not those kind at least," she answered. She was grinning, when she finished the sentence.
"And," she went on now, "If you'd bother to go to church more often than your mere once a month, you'd know that she is a member of All Saints also."
"Really?" he asked.
"Yep," Lisa answered. "We're a church goer now, are we?"
He laughed and said: "Might just need to be."
They sat then and had their breakfast, with Lisa pouring a half cup of coffee and putting some water in it.
"Don't see how you can drink your paint thinner black," she said. He merely grinned at her.
Then it was time for them; they both knew it. It was time to do a little rehashing of the situation.
She asked him then softly: "How dangerous?"
"A bit," he said, "Potentially. But I watched his movements. It was fairly under control."
"Good," she said. "Do you need to tell me?"
It was their practice. He normally did tell her about such situations. It was a rehash that frequently helped him out, at least from the point of view of him going over exactly what had happened and what the alternatives for him might have been.
He described it to her and pointed out the little things, like the angle between him and the burglar, and the fact that the burglar didn't have the pistol cocked, when he had Carol Burns captive, his arm wrapped around her shoulders and the gun to her head.
"It was the crucial point," he said.
"I see," she said.
There was a silence then. She went on next: "Did you do your usual?"
"Yes," he said, "Last night. Did some meditating to get it in focus and in perspective."
"A candle?" she asked.
"Yes, certainly," he said, "Very soon at All Saints."
"You are so good," she said.
"Maybe it balances what I do," he said.
"Hush with that talk," she said, getting up.
She went to the door, and bent down first to scratch Barnsey by the ears.
"Goodby, my love," she said to Barnsey. Then she turned for a hug from Gail.
"I love you," she said. "You're okay?"
"Yes," he said, "You, Barnsey and my normal procedure; keeps me whole. Give that Arnie a nudge from Uncle Gail."
"Will do," was her next comment and she left.
The Plans Of Fate:
He had plans to go out that afternoon. The policeman who had been shot, Andy Eagen, was in the hospital and he wanted to stop and say 'hi' to him.
He made his way to the third floor, where Andy was staying and knocked lightly on the door. Andy's wife, Eve, was there too.
"Hey, pal," Gail said.
"Top Gun!" Andy said, his voice light.
Then Eve was hugging him too, and saying: "Thank you for taking care of that situation. Thank you for helping my Andy."
"You're welcome," Gail said softly. Then he went and clasped Andy by his good hand.
They stayed and visited with each other for just a little while, and then Gail took his leave.
As he left, he had a shock. There standing behind the nurses' desk, in her starched whites was Carol Burns.
She saw him almost as soon as he saw her.
Then, to the consternation of all the others behind the nurses' desk, Carol was out from behind the desk and hugging the man standing there, simply holding on to him.
"You," she said. "You. Officer Coleman."
"Yes," he said, making no movement to let her go.
She was murmuring her 'thank yous' again to him, and, before she left him go, she got up on her tip toes and planted a kiss on his cheek.
The other nurses behind the desk, and the technicians were simply still staring.
"He's the one," Carol said, "He's the one that saved me from that mad man."
"Oh," one of them said, "The one who did the shooting?"
"Yes," Carol said beaming.
They were all greeting him then, and finally, she was tugging him away.
"Time for coffee?" she asked.
"Yes," he said.
"I have a break coming," she went on. "I'll take you to the caf, okay?"
"Fine," he said, grinning at her.
They went there together. Carol was a bit nervous; she couldn't completely get that scene out of her mind. It's why she went back to work so quickly. She needed to be busy, to be working to clear it from her mind. Of course, seeing Gail brought it all back again rather quickly.
Gail was simply pleased that he ran into her again. His visit to Eagen wasn't planned to have this result but he didn't mind the result at all.
They were an interesting looking pair. Gail was big and hulking, from a certain point of view a dangerous looking man. Carol Burns was on the petite side, though her shape was well balanced in each of its parts. She had kind of strawberry blond hair that she kept short.
Gail thought she was really cute but he kept telling himself to be easy and not blow things by charging right in.
They got coffee and sat.
He sipped his coffee and made a face.
"I know," she said, "Institutional coffee."
"Yes, what I make at home is much, much stronger," he said. "My sister Lisa always puts water with hers, when she's at my place."
"Do you live with your sister?" she asked, getting red in the face from starting out with such a personal question.
"No," he said, "It's me and Barnsey at home."
"Barnsey?" she asked.
He chuckled. "My beagle, Barnes and Noble." That made her laugh behind her hand.
She got a serious look on her face then and said: "Do you mind if I ask about the incident?"
She thought for a second and hurried on: "I don't know if it's against police procedure to discuss those things or not."
"No," he said, "Not procedure. It's just that each of us has a way of dealing with such things."
"I see," she said, showing interest.
He explained to her then his 'procedure.'
The look on her face then changed from mere curiosity to downright admiration.
"Even a candle?" she asked softly.
"Yes," he said seems appropriate to me.
"Yes," she said. "I know there's not much time but can you tell me, even briefly, what you were looking for, when you made your decision."
"Yes," he said, "You have a right to know. There were signs of things that I needed to know and needed to have happen."
She shook her head 'yes' in understanding.
"In this case," he went on, "I needed him to turn my way a fraction. When he saw me and noticed that I wasn't backing off, he made that move. It was to confront me but it gave me a clear angle on him."
"Yes?" she asked, trying to encourage him.
"Then I needed to see if he had his gun cocked," was his next statement.
"Oh," she said, not expecting this.
"Yes, if he did," Gail said, "Even if I got him, the gun might have gone off."
"Oh," Carol said again.
"It wasn't," he said.
She shook her head in understanding then.
"The rest was easy," he said quietly.
"Oh, no!' she objected. "Not at all; not at all."
"For me it was," he said, "Training and practice is what it amounts to."
"Yes," she said, faintly, "Training and practice."
He smiled. "I'd be so out of my element taking care of wounds, and illnesses and bone breaks here," he said.
She nodded again.
"Training and practice," he said to her.
By then, he'd finished the coffee.
"Need to make coffee for you sometime," he said, going out on the limb that he saw in front of him.
"I'd like that," she said, and, giggling, "Though I might also add some water to it."
"Yes," he said, laughing.
"And," she finished, "I want to meet Barnes and Noble."
"Yes," he agreed, "You get to do that. World's greatest beagle."
He made a movement to go but then she had a flash in her mind: "Oh, you mentioned your sister Lisa. You mean Lisa Coleman?"
"Yes," he said, smiling.
"I know her from church," Carol said.
"You'd know me from church too," he admitted, "If I'd go more often."
They both laughed.
"Maybe Sunday?" she said.
"Yes," he agreed. "Maybe I should bring Barnsey." That made both of them laugh. "The father would kill me," he said.
"I think that I need to give you a hug," she said.
"Oh, nice," was his comment, and he got a bit red in the face now with this lovely woman in his arms again.
"My hero," she said to him softly, as they hugged. "Thank you, thank you."
"You're welcome," he said, and before he got away, she made a movement and slid her lips quickly across his. It left her grinning.
"Church soon," she said.
"Church soon," he agreed, as he left.
A Grab At The Hospital:
Gail had a slow day the next day. It, of course, never bothered him, when things settled down for a bit. Carol Burns was on his mind a good deal of the day, remembering the way she felt, pressed up against him. He rewound and played that tape over and over again in his mind. During the day he got a phone call from Lisa:
"Hey, bro," she said.
"What's up with my beautiful sister?" he asked.
"I'm calling to be a squealer," she said.
"Yes?" he answered, "I'm really interested now."
"I happen to know that a certain surgical floor nurse named Carol decided to take a bus to work today, which she does now and then on a whim. She might need a ride home from a local, tall, strong, handsome cop, after she finishes work at 8 PM," Lisa said.
"Well, well, that's interesting news," he answered. "How much does my stoolie get paid for such info?"
"Dinner with me and my gang, and a chance for his famous Uncle to dote on my son, his great supporter," Lisa concluded.
"You've got it, and tell Arni that I'll show him my unloaded gun," he replied.
"Oh, dear," she said. "Just be careful."
"I always am," he said.
"I know," Lisa replied, "I know. I'm just talking like a Mom here."
"You certainly get to, and thanks for the information," Gail concluded.
He was indeed waiting for her, outside of the door, where the employees left the hospital.
She emerged walking with a few friends, and said to them, as they came through the door: "I'm for the bus tonight. My ride is getting balkier and balkier these days."
"Have a good night," one of the other women with her said, as he stepped up.
She was surprised.
"Ohhhhh," she said, "Gail ... er ... Officer."
"Excuse me ladies," he broke in with a grin, "But this lady is under arrest. I'm taking her home to meet my beagle Barnsey."
They began to giggle and Carol also began to giggle. Almost as a challenge to him she shot her hands out, wrists together for the handcuffs.
He didn't disappoint her, he had his cuffs out immediately and she gave a kind of squeal, as he put the cuffs on her wrists. Then he swooped down, with her friends still looking and laughing, and picked her up and carried her away, to the continued laughter in the background and some clapping as well.
She leaned her head on his shoulder and said a soft: "Hi, Officer Gail, my captor!"
"Hi, lovely Carol," he said, brushing her lips with his.
The movement in their relationship was apparently so completely agreed upon by the two of them, even without talking about it, that the present situation seemed natural for them.
"Tired," she said. "Busy, busy day in there. Long list of surgeries and we do the after care. We ran and ran and ran."
"I know," was his reply. "Home to your place and then a chance to have a salad and meet Barnsey."
"Goodie," she said, putting her head against his shoulder. "Don't know if I'm going to be any good to you physically tonight." She said this with some regret in her voice. "You get, maybe, to do all the work."
"No," he said, "Just taking care of Carol is on the agenda."
"I'll second that, Officer," she said. "Plus, with me out of it and tired, you get to have your way with me at any time tonight."
"Well, 'my way', as you put it, can certainly wait," he said. She leaned over and kissed his cheek then.
She was wearing a set of whites with white pants that day.
"You look lovely in your whites," he said.
"Thank you," she answered. "Smelly at the end of the busy day though," she said then defensively.
He replied by lowering his head to her to smell her. She giggled.
"Smell wonderful to this cop," he said back to her. Then: "We'll throw your old bones in the shower or the tub."
He hesitated then and went on: "Unless you'd prefer not. I realize that I might be presuming or poaching here."
"Well," she answered, as they approached his car, "Poach away. You've got me at your mercy here."
His only answer to that was a kind of dirty laugh, which made her giggle.
"Here we are," he said, as he put her down, took the cuffs off of her and settled her into the car.
He took her first to her apartment. She explained to him, on the way, that her car was balky and needed time in the shop. When they got to her place, she fetched him a glass of wine and told him that she'd be ready, as soon as she showered.
"Right," he said, grinning, as she left the room.
He timed her, thinking about his plan and then went to her bedroom, discovering that he was right exactly on time.
She was just out of the shower with a towel in front of her nakedness, and with a pair of panties in her one hand.
He grinned. She made a little surprised throat kind of noise, at the surprise of seeing him standing there.
"Why, Officer," she said, in a mock defensive voice, once her initial shock was over.