(This is the tenth story in this series, if you're keeping track, taking place a few years after "Officer Down". Many thanks to all of you who have read, enjoyed and commented on this series. I have enjoyed writing them. Its not necessary to read the other stories to enjoy this one, I hope. But it might make sense faster if you do.)
Pat Gibson tipped the man who had brought her bags up to her hotel room and closed the door behind him. She looked around for a moment then closed her eyes and let herself fall backwards onto the king-size bed. Following a muffled "Oof" at landing; she relaxed, twisted her body and yawned. After 5 minutes she reluctantly opened her eyes and got off the bed. Too much to do to take a nap right now.
She picked up the phone on the nightstand, checked the instructions and punched in a series of numbers. As she waited, she levered her feet out of her black running shoes.
"Jackson County Sheriff's Department, Uniform Division, Sergeant Wilson speaking," a clear contralto voice answered the phone.
Pat grinned. "Inspector Gibson, please."
"Whom shall I say is calling?" inquired the voice on the other end. Pat could hear the woman trying valiantly to smother a laugh.
"This is Deputy Inspector Gibson, and stop wasting my time, Sergeant. I swear, every little whippersnapper seems drunk with power just because she answers the phone for..."
"Oh for goodness sake, Mom," Sergeant Carol Gibson Wilson interrupted the tirade. "Quit practicing how you deliver the 'Welcome' speech you give the new cadets. I heard it from Aunt Linda when I went through the Academy."
Pat laughed along with her daughter. "How are you feeling today honey?" Carol had taken a nasty tumble two weeks previously while involved in the foot pursuit of a robbery suspect. She had badly twisted her knee, an injury that fortunately had been saved from being aggravated by her landing on top of the subject.
"I'm fine Mom. I get to work regular hours, 8 to 5, just like a normal person. Daddy's office is warm and comfortable and I sit down and relax the whole time, just answering the phone and keeping his schedule."
"In other words baby, you hate it."
"Momma, I am so incredibly bored I can't stand it! I want to be back out on the street with my husband Roger and that twit of a younger brother you named after Dad. They're having all the fun and I'm missing it. Police work is on the streets for goodness sake, not in the office."
"You'll be back out there shortly." Pat paused. "Enjoy it darling. We did." She sighed. "Now its up to you and your husband and your brother. Much as we miss it, your Father and I are a little too stiff in the joints for street work. Oh well, let me speak to your Father."
Pat heard her oldest child call "DAD! Mom's on the phone."
"Hey honey," Pat's husband of over 20 years greeted her. "How was the trip?"
"For an only five hour drive it was tiring. I just thought I'd let you know I'm here. I'm in room 613 and as soon as I get dressed I'm going to wander down and get signed in."
"Okay honey, see you when you get back. I love you."
"I love you too, Mike."
Pat pulled out a clean uniform and dressed in the dark blue slacks and open collared white shirt that marked her as a senior police official. She debated momentarily putting her sidearm on. She was in a hotel full of cops, after all. A certain movie to the contrary, she didn't think diamond thieves were going to be raiding the conference.
She carefully checked her reflection in the mirror. The gold leaves on her collar balanced the gold badge and nameplate. Satisfied that everything shone she picked up her briefcase, stuffed her room card in her back pocket and headed downstairs.
The registration desk was easy to spot over by one of the conference rooms on the ground floor of the sprawling hotel. Not only was it festooned with signs but there was a milling crowd of men and women in law-enforcement uniforms.
Pat joined the line. Looking around, she didn't immediately see any familiar faces. There would probably be several people she knew though. The state was large but the ranks of the upper level cops were pretty much not unfamiliar with each other.
Just then Pat heard a voice behind her. "Pat? Pat Morrison?" She turned.
"Jim Davis! How are you?" Memories came flooding back to Pat of when she was a rookie patrol officer in that other city so many years ago. Jim had been just as new as her. They had graduated from the Academy together. Jim had asked her out several times, before realizing that, as she had tried to delicately put it "Men were not her cup of tea".
He looked pretty good. A little heavy set around the middle that bespoke of too much desk work and not enough exercise. He wore silver oak leaves on his collar points and his badge was gold. Engraved on it was "Assistant Chief".
"Thanks Pat," Jim replied with more than a hint of smugness in his voice. He always had been full of himself, Pat recalled. Although not really a bad guy, he had been convinced he was god's gift to women. He had hit on her several times, even when it was open knowledge that she had been living with another woman in a state much more than that of roommates.
"So what are you doing here?" Jim's face clouded a bit, as he realized that Pat's presence at this training seminar indicated she probably was fairly important in whatever department she was with.
"I'm a Deputy Inspector, Jackson County Sheriff's Department. I'm head of our Academy and therefore in charge of training too, which is why I'm here. And its 'Gibson', not 'Morrison'."
His eyes dropped to her nameplate. The expression on his face was priceless, a mixture of chagrin at not picking up on the obvious, coupled with sheer amazement. "You're married? I thought you were gay!" He burst out loudly, causing other nearby heads to turn their way.
Pat couldn't resist. "Oh I was. Just had to find the right man you know." She loved the shocked expression on his face. While indeed she had found the right man, she had never been gay. Rather she had been bisexual with a distinct leaning towards other females, at least at the time she had been working with him.
One of the people who's heads had turned headed their way. He was a tall, strongly built black man in his late forties or early fifties. He had a uncertain smile on his face. When he reached Pat he stopped and asked, "I beg your pardon, but 'Gibson'? Are you by chance Mike Gibson's wife?"
"Yes I am," Pat replied.
The man's face lit up with a broad smile. "Hi there, I'm Jack Washington. Many years ago, Mike and I went through SWAT Commander training together and two years ago we were both at the National Academy Course at Quantico. Even without the pictures he showed of you and your family, I would have been able to recognize you just from how much he talked about you."
"Well! I sure am glad to finally meet you Jack. Mike has talked about you for years too." Pat took a minute and introduced Jim. "This is Jim Davis. He and I were rookie cops a lifetime ago."
"Listen, a group of us are getting together in the bar for dinner and a few beers. Why don't you both join us when you get signed in?"
Registration took only a few minutes. Pat headed out to the bar with Jim following behind.
"Speaking of behind and behinds," Pat thought, "Jim is watching mine rather closely. I hope that's not trouble brewing there." She dismissed the thought. She had certainly handled bigger problems than him before.
The beer flowed freely and the laughs rose as the group of senior officers traded stories about themselves and their departments. Pat had a particularly great time talking with Jack. When she shared her story about getting knocked on her ass once by a perp because Mike had confused the street numbers during a call, Jack laughed the loudest. When she told them how he had to make it up to her, she thought he was going to cry from the laughter.
"I didn't know that one, Pat," he finally managed to gasp. "He talks about you so much, but that one he never brought up. I can see why."
Pat took advantage of a break in the conversation to lean over to Jim. "Jim, as an old friend I need to mention one small thing to you." At his wide grin, Pat continued sweetly, "If you put your hand on my thigh one more time I'm going to break it off and shove it up your ass."
Joyce Smithers sat in her chair in the lounge and listened to the woman across the tiny table babble on about what a wonderful time she had shopping. She nodded her head, making an occasional murmured "Really" and "How nice" whenever the other woman paused for breath. That didn't seem to be too often.
What had happened to her life, the mature, attractive blonde woman wondered. It had been years since she had had an actual relationship with another woman. She had partied and been the popular girl for so many years. Then one day she had woken and discovered that time had caught up to her after all.
.... There is more of this story ...