Chapter 1

"You're not working this case and that's an order," Captain Pete Mallory said with a bit of anger. "Quit bugging me about it"

Mallory was the Police Captain in charge of Precinct 16. Detective First Class Rollie Chambers was the man the order was directed at. Rollie and Captain Mallory were close. Pete was Rollie's boss but more importantly his friend and mentor.

"But Captain, I can help," Rollie objected. "I've got descriptions of their attacker from two of the victims. You know they refused to talk to anyone until I interviewed them. I can help," he repeated.

"Sit down," Mallory invited. It was more of an order than an invitation. He turned and drew two cups of coffee from the never empty urn on the table behind his desk and handed one to Detective Chambers. "You're too close to it Rollie." He held up his hand to stop Rollie's protest. Mallory looked at Rollie with compassion. He knew his detective's history with rape cases and understood why Rollie put his body and soul into each one that he worked.

"The last three rape cases you've worked on you've gone overboard putting in 16, 18 hours a day," Mallory said. "You're going to burn yourself out if you're not careful and I can't afford to lose one of my best detectives." The Captain smiled and added, "Yes I said one of my best detectives; but don't let it go to your head."

A sad look came over Mallory's face. "I know that you're still hurting over Susan's death but that was four years ago. You need to get over it and move on."

Rollie sat up straighter in his chair. Looking Mallory in the eye he said, "I'll never get over it Pete. And I don't intend for any other husband, boyfriend, or significant other to feel the way I do." Rollie took a deep breath. "God damn it Pete, let me work this case."

Mallory stared at Rollie for several seconds. "Go work on that Grand Theft Auto case and let me think on it. I'll let you know in a day or two."

"You know as well as I do Pete that if we don't catch the guy in the first 48 hours the odds of us doing so get smaller and smaller," Rollie protested.

"Okay, okay. I'll think about it and let you know before the end of shift today," Mallory said. "That's the best you're gonna get right now. Get back to work."

"Thanks Captain," Rollie replied.

He went back to his desk in the middle of the huge squad room. Rollie pulled the file on the case in question and started going over the descriptions and statements of the victims. One of the young rape victims reminded him of his wife. Same long brown hair, same big brown eyes, and the same little button of a nose. Or what would have been a button nose; it was broken and swollen in the picture. She had two black eyes and the discoloration made her look like a raccoon. But at least she was alive.

Rollie Chambers met Susan Taylor when he stopped her to give her a speeding ticket. She'd been driving her fire engine red Miata 55 MPH in a 25 zone. He quickly gave chase in his patrol car as she whizzed by him. After he pulled her over he purposely made her wait while he used his radio to run her plates and get his ticket book. Rollie slowly walked up to the passenger side of the convertible. A couple of motorcycle cops had been hit by passing cars recently while writing tickets. If I go down it's not going to be because I was hit while doing a traffic stop, he thought.

He had been assign to a patrol car just three months ago. Rollie had applied to the Police Academy the day he graduated from high school. Wanting to be a policeman was something he'd dreamed about since he was twelve years old. Now, at 25, he'd been a "cop" for seven years. Rollie had taken the exam to become a detective last month. He hoped to take the next step in his police career in the near future.

Every year the Police Department gave exams that would begin an officer's climb in the ranks. Exams for Detective, Sergeant, Captain, and others were necessary for advancement. There were a limited number of slots open for each rank and passing an exam or even getting a very high score didn't guaranty promotion. Each candidate was ranked by the test scores and personal interviews. Then their name was added to the promotion list. After that it was a matter of your name reaching the top spot on the list.

Rollie took the test for detective more on a dare from his friend Pete Mallory than anything. He was happy being a patrolman. But Pete had made it sound like Rollie couldn't pass the exam anyway so why bother. Rollie had aced the test and got the second highest score in that year.

For her part Susan only saw an impediment that kept her from getting to her meeting. She watched in her side mirror as the patrolman slowly went about his business and began to walk toward her. "He's a good looking guy," she mumbled in spite of her wish to get going. About 6' 1with an athletic build. Bet his dark hair is wavy under his hat. As the office got closer she could see his piercing blue eyes.

By the time he got to Susan waiting in her car, she was squirming in her seat. She was late for a meeting with her thesis counselor at college. "I'm late for a meeting so maybe we could speed this up," Susan said smiling at the young patrolman.

"Should have left home earlier," Rollie replied. "Then you wouldn't have to do 55 in a 25 MPH zone. License and registration please."

Susan's smile slipped away as she got her driver's license from her purse and the registration from the center console. She handed Rollie the two items with somewhat of an angry gesture. Rollie clipped the license to the top of his ticket book and started writing, ignoring her anger.

She's 23. Two years younger than me, he thought. Good looking too in a sort of girl next door way. Pretty long light brown hair and she got those big brown eyes that a guy could get lost in. Rollie keep glancing over at Susan as he wrote. Says on the license she's 5' 9 and 120 pounds, he said to himself. Good, she can wear high heels when we go out. I like a woman to wear high heels.

"Here you go Miss Taylor," Rollie said handing back her documents. Holding the ticket book out to her he showed her where to sign. "This isn't an admission of guilt; it simply says you'll appear on the court date if you decide to contest the charges. I gave you a break and listed your speed at 40 instead of 55. That'll save you about $50. Don't make me regret giving you a break. Slow down."

Rollie gave her a copy of the citation. "I'm not allowed to call you or ask you out. Police ethics you know. But I put my card with my precinct phone number and cell number with your paperwork. There's no rule against you calling me Miss Taylor." Rollie smile at her, nodded, and walked back to his car.

"You expect me to call you after you gave me a ticket," Susan said loudly as he walked away. "Giving me a ticket isn't very romantic you know." Now she had a small smile on her face.

"The ticket is the law. I didn't have a choice." Rollie grinned, "The romantic part is between you and me. Call me please." He continued on to his car. Who knows maybe she'll call, he thought as he watched her pull away at a much slower speed than previously.

Three days later he was surprised and pleased when Susan called him on his cell as he got off duty.

Without identifying herself she said, "You know you cost me $50 plus court costs."

Rollie chuckled as he recognized her voice. "I didn't cost you anything. You were the one speeding. In fact I saved you money. The fine could have been $100 plus costs."

"Well I think you owe me at least a couple of drinks and maybe even dinner tonight," Susan replied.

"Well as a policeman I did promise to protect and serve. I guess a drink and or dinner could be thought of as serving." He waited until she stopped laughing. "Should I come by for you or do you want to meet somewhere?"

"The service should include door to door transportation. Pick me up at 7. My address is..."

"On Butler," Rollie interrupted. "I know. Remember I read your driver's license. See you at 7." He hung up hearing her laugh again as he did.

That evening was the start of a fast paced romance. Rollie and Susan, Susan and Rollie; if you saw one the other was close by. They spent an evening camping out by the old quarry. Around their campfire they talked about their thoughts, beliefs, and dreams. Around 2 AM they went skinny dipping and spent the rest of the night in each other's arms.

After several dates and a few sleepovers they talked about more important things than what kind of music they like, do you prefer cake or pie, and what's your favorite movies. During their talks on the phone and when they were together they found that they shared many of the same beliefs, ideas, and goals. Susan agreed with Rollie assertion that you were responsible for your actions and their repercussions. Neither thought that an unhappy childhood didn't give you the right to be a bad person or do bad things.

They also agreed that family should be the most important thing in your life. Susan wanted at least three children and wasn't opposed to more. Rollie wanted to be a father; the number of kids didn't matter to him. One or two or ten, it's all the same he told her.

The only logical result of their dates and talks and sleepovers was marriage; which happened about six months after that first date.

For the next ten months Susan and Rollie were as happy as two young working adults could be. Rollie's schedule was very flexible and changed every three weeks or so. Because of his schedule and Susan working on an advanced college degree they made the most of their time together.

Their friends laughed at how close the two newlyweds were. One of Rollie's fellow cops kept inviting him to play poker one a week. About the fourth time Rollie thanked him but turned down the invitation, he asked Rollie why he didn't want to socialize with his work mates.

"It's not that I don't want to have some fun with you guys," Rollie answered. "I like you guys very much but I'd rather spend the time with Susan. Our schedules are so screwed up we take every chance we can to be together."

It was a trying but wonderful time for the two youngsters. Right up until Bradley Thomas came into their lives.

Thomas was a small man. More than one person said that with his small beady eyes, his wild mop of blond streaked dark hair, and his skinny build he looked like a ferret or a weasel. Whatever his size, whatever he looked like, he destroyed Susan and Rollie's happy life.

He attacked and raped Susan one night as she left a late class. Susan said later that she felt an arm go around her neck as she bent over to put her key in the door of her Miata. Some kind of cloth with a strange smell was pressed over her nose and mouth. She told the investigators that she passed out shortly afterward.

Susan had been found just off the parking lot in a row of decorative pine trees by another student. By the time she woke up she was in the ER. After treating her injuries, a rape kit was used to collect DNA evidence. Susan had several bruises on her thighs, a broken eye socket, a broken nose, and both her lips were split.

One of her nurses asked the attending doctor, "She'll be okay won't she? She's such a pretty young girl."

The doctor nodded his head. "Physically she'll be fine. The eye socket will heal without surgery and we've set her nose so that'll soon be okay. The rest are just cuts, contusions, and bruises." He stopped and looked at the wild look in Susan's eyes. "I don't know about her mental state; this is a hell of a shock to her. I think she should get into therapy or a support group as quickly as possible."

Rollie's patrol cruiser made a power slid up to the door of the ER. He was out of the car before it stopped moving and headed inside to find his wife. He'd heard the radio call giving the description of an assault and rape victim and then asking for an ambulance.

The doctor saw the young policeman charge into the hospital and went to meet him. The patrolman identified himself.

"Your wife will be okay Officer Chambers," the doctor said. He went on to detail Susan's injuries. "She'll be sore for several days and the bruising will be extensive but Mrs. Chambers will make a full recovery."

"Thank god," Rollie replied. His knees got weak and he had to sit down in a nearby chair. Taking a deep breath to steady himself he stood up. "Thank you Doctor, thank you very much. Can I see my wife now?"

"I'll have the nurse take you to her." He motioned for one of the ER nurse's. "One suggestion Mr. Chambers, get your wife into a support group or to a therapist as soon as she leaves the hospital. Rape is very traumatic for most women and they usually need professional help to get through it." The doctor put his hand on Rollie's shoulder. "I'll have the nurse take you to see your wife now. Call me if I can help in any way."

As he turned away the doctor muttered to himself. "What kind of animal could do this to a woman? If the police catch this psychopath I hope they lock him away for the rest of his life."

Rollie was able to take Susan home the next day. He spent the first two days with her taking personal time from the force. Susan seemed to get better so he went back to work. Rollie arranged with Captain Mallory to work the day shift for the next month. He wanted to be home with Susan during the night.

Susan at first resisted seeing a therapist but finally agreed to meet with one. She met with Jessica Talbert twice a week for a month and talked to her on the phone almost every day. The bruises faded and the swelling around her eyes went away. The therapy seemed to help and slowly Susan became more like her old self. She was still a little high strung and nervous but she was getting better.

In the mean time a city wide man hunt had been going on. The police knew that Bradley Thomas was Susan's attacker. Thomas had been implicated in another rape and attack four months earlier. He'd had an iron clad alibi but his DNA was now on file with the police department. He left his DNA behind in Susan as evidence.

Even though Susan was one of their own, the police had other crimes to handle so the man hunt slowly petered out. Every day at roll call for three months, the officers were reminded to be on the lookout for Thomas but after several weeks their attention had moved on to other problems in the city.

Rollie looked forward to being able to make love to his wife but he didn't want to push her. Susan began to snuggle up to Rollie when they went to bed. At first she would just put her foot on his leg or lay her hand on his shoulder. One night she asked Rollie to just hold her.

The Chambers' life was getting back to normal. Susan was smiling and joking with Rollie more often and the haunted look in her eyes had disappeared. They still hadn't made love but were looking forward to it. Susan had gone for a three month follow up visit. During the visit she told the doctor that she felt like she was coming down with the flu.

"We'll take some blood and run some tests," the doctor said. "Probably just a virus but we'll check it out. You can come back next week for the results."

The results of the blood test were devastating. It took Susan close to thirty minutes to make the fifteen minute drive home from her doctor's office. Her mind was spinning and she had trouble concentrating. Several times people honked at her because she just sat at an intersection after the traffic light had changed. Susan pulled into her parking space at her and Rollie's condo.

She entered her home leaving the front door wide open and went into her kitchen. Susan sort of folded onto a kitchen chair and stared at the wall for several minutes. Finally Susan stood and went into the small guest bedroom that they used as an office and study area for her. She tore a sheet of paper out of a notebook and wrote a short note.

Susan put the note in an envelope, took it into the master bedroom, and propped it up on the night stand on Rollie's side of the bed. Then she walked into the bathroom. Opening the medicine cabinet Susan took out the bottle of Oxycontin pills the doctor had prescribe for pain after the attack on her.

There had been 15 pills in the prescription but Susan had only taken two; she didn't like the way they made her feel. Susan got a glass of water, lay down on the bed and took the 13 remaining pills. Tears were running down her cheeks as she dropped the prescription bottle on the bed next to her.

That's the way Rollie found her when he got home from work.

He looked at the open front door in surprise and rushed into the apartment. "Susan, Susan! Where are you?"

Rollie check the small living area, kitchen and went down the short hall to their bedroom. He saw Susan and knew she was dead. Slowly he walked over to the bed and sat down next to her. Rollie picked up the bottle and read the prescription. He held Susan's hand and cried.

"Why baby?" Rollie asked choking on his tears. "You were getting better; we were getting better." Then he saw the envelope on his night stand. He walked around the bed, opened the envelope, and read the note.

Dear Rollie,

Please forgive me but I can't face this anymore.

Jessica has been a big help and I've been slowly getting better. My mind felt clearer and I wasn't in such a fog anymore. I was looking forward to making love with you again and holding you as you held me for so many nights.

You are the best thing that ever happened to me and I often thank God that I was speeding that day. Maybe I was speeding toward my one true love. I guess so because that is what you are; my one true love.

When I went for my three month follow up I wasn't felling very well. My doctor said he thought I had a mild case of the flu and took my blood to test. He called me today and asked that I come in to discuss the results of the test. I thought it was strange that he couldn't tell me over the phone.

When I got the results I understood why he wanted to see me in person. There is no easy way to say this. That animal, that fiend Thomas that raped me gave me HIV. It wasn't bad enough that he almost took my sanity but now he has taken my life.

My doctor told me that testing positive for HIV doesn't mean it will develop into full bloom AIDS but I can't take the chance. A life time of worrying about a mistake or an accident when we make love isn't something I can live with. What if you became infected too because you showed me how much you love me? I couldn't live with that.

So instead of waiting and praying that it doesn't happen I'm taking this way out. Please forgive me and think of me sometimes.

I want you to mourn me, mourn us, for a while and then get on with your life. You are too fine a man to be alone. Someone else needs the love and caring that you can provide.

But remember I will be waiting for you.

I love you Rollie. Thank you for being mine.

All my love forever.


Rollie called Pete Mallory and explained what Susan had done. He was lost and didn't know what to do.

"Stay put Rollie," Pete said. "I'm on my way.

Mallory told his wife, Mary, what had happened and she joined him to go take care of Rollie. While driving Mrs. Mallory made several calls. Arrangements had to be made and she took over. Pete listened to the calls. When she finished he reached over and took her hand, brought it to his lips, and kissed it.

"Thanks Honey," he said. "That'll take care of Susan, now we need to take care of Rollie.

"Hey Rollie, are you reading that file or trying to memorize it?" Frank Wends asked. He was also a Detective working out of Precinct 16. "You been staring at it for better than 30 minutes."

"Not trying to memorize it Frank, just trying to get a feel for the perp from the incident reports." Rollie grinned at Frank. "It's called being a detective. Course you wouldn't know anything about that," Rollie teased.

"Well it don't take me 30 minutes to read an incident report," Frank defended himself. "Bunch of us are stopping at Riley's for a couple of beers. Come join us. I'll even buy the first round."

"Thanks, but I need to get home. Couple of projects I need to finish. See you tomorrow Frank. Don't drink too much now; your wife will have your hide if you go home blitzed."

Frank and two other detectives waved good bye and left the squad room.

"Damn that victim's picture sure brought back some memories," Rollie said in a soft voice. "I guess it's because she was beat up just like Susan."

Susan Chambers was buried three days after her death. As the grave side service began, Rollie put a picture of he and Susan sitting at a campfire on top of her coffin. Rollie had used a tripod and the time delay feature of the camera to get in the frame with his wife. It had been on one of their camping dates at the old quarry.

Pete Mallory stood next to Rollie during the service. Most the Precinct is here, Pete thought. If you ever planned to break the law in Precinct 16, now would be the time to do so. He looked at Rollie and was surprised that the young husband wasn't crying. His eyes were dry and Pete didn't see sadness in them. What he saw was rage.

After the service Rollie thanked everyone and turned to Pete. "I'm gonna take compassionate leave for a couple of weeks," Rollie said. "I need some time to myself."

"Take whatever time you need Rollie," Pete replied. "Give me a call if you need anything."

When Rollie got home he lay down on his bed and took a nap. He woke at 10 PM, ate a sandwich, and got dressed. He put on some old jeans and a sweat shirt. The weather had turned a little chilly so the bulky sweatshirt didn't look out of place and it hid his service weapon on his hip; a 9MM Berretta 92. Rollie got into his 10 year old beat up pickup and left his condo.

There was a section of his city that Rollie only saw while on duty. The area once known as the De Baliviere Strip was home to upscale restaurants, night clubs, gentlemen's clubs and even a speak easy during the 1920's. Now it was a rundown area with several flea bag hotels, sleazy bars, and flop houses. There were also several abandoned buildings; old row houses that no one had lived in for years, closed warehouses, and empty store fronts. It was an area that the police patrols were always two officers.

For the next week, every night, Rollie would frequent the bars, flop houses, and hotels. He was searching for anyone that could help him find Bradley Thomas. He knew that his fellow detectives, the uniformed patrol officers, and just about every cop in the 16th had looked for Thomas with no success. Rollie's plan was to do things a little differently.

The police have rules that must be followed during investigations. They could try to get individuals to give them information by using persuasion, bribery, or helping a person out of an existing problem; but there was a line that they couldn't cross. Rollie didn't plan to follow those rules and there wasn't a line he wouldn't cross to find Thomas.

Rollie asked around and found a guy that at least knew the name Bradley Thomas. After some persuasion, consisting of Rollie putting the barrel of his pistol in the informant's ear and cocking the weapon, he gave up his information. He said there was a man called Denny that hung out in a certain bar. He bragged and talked about being friends with Thomas and saw him every couple of days or so. Rollie let the hammer of his weapon down and put it away.

"If I find out you warned this Denny, I'll be back to see you again," Rollie threatened.

The eighth evening of his search he heard Denny talk about meeting a friend later to get high. Denny said Brad had given him the money to score Crystal Meth for the two of them. He said that Brad was on the down low because the cops were looking for him."

"Why are the cops after him?" The second drunk said.

"Brad raped and robbed a girl over at Central College a few months ago. He said if stayed low for another month or so the cops would have to close the case as unsolved and he could make his way out of the city."

Rollie paid closer attention when he heard "Central College". That was the school that Susan had gone to. He waited patiently and followed Denny when he left the bar. Rollie tailed the man to a rundown hotel. He watched Denny walk past the desk, down a long dark hallway to a room in the back.

Denny knocked on the door and entered the room. Rollie waited for two or three minutes and kicked in the door. Denny and Bradley Thomas were heating the Crystal Meth in a spoon so they could shoot up. Rollie's abrupt entrance caused them to drop the spoon and the drugs.

"You, Denny. Get the hell out of here," Rollie ordered as he pulled his weapon. "Don't look back, don't come back."

Denny nodded and left as fast as he could. Thomas started to follow him.

Rollie pointed his pistol at him. "Have a seat Bradley. We're going to have a little talk."

"Who are you and what do we have to talk about?" Thomas asked. Now he was shaking; both from fear and from the beginning of withdrawal symptoms. He needed a fix.

"We're going to talk about Susan Chambers," Rollie said. "You know, the woman you attacked and raped at Central College a while back."

"You a cop?"

"Yeah, I'm Detective Chambers. Susan was my wife."

Bradley's eyes got big and he started to sweat. "I ain't sayin nothin without a lawyer," Thomas vowed. "I know my rights; you gotta give me a lawyer. I ain't talkin until I got a lawyer."

"You ass. Do you think I care about your rights after what you did to my wife?" Rollie motioned for Thomas to sit back down. "Did you know you're HIV positive you piece of crap? You infected my wife and when she found out she killed herself."

Thomas went white when Rollie said that. He knew that he would be lucky to get out of that room alive. There was a large steak knife on the table in front of him that he and Denny had been using to divide the packet of Chrystal Meth. When Rollie turned his head, Thomas grabbed the knife and started toward Rollie.

"I hoped you'd do something like that," Rollie said as he turned back toward Thomas. He let Thomas take two or three steps and shot him. Rollie kept pulling the trigger until the slide locked open after all sixteen rounds in the Berretta had been fired.

"You won't rape any other woman," Rollie said. He used his cell phone to call 911. "This is Detective Chambers. I'm at the Conrad Hotel on 7th Street, room 135. Send a patrol car and an ambulance. There's been an officer involved shooting and a fatality so you better get a shooting team over here too. I'll be waiting in the lobby."

Rollie had to turn over his Berretta to the Inspector from the shooting team. The gun would be fired in the lab to match the bullet with the ones found in the shooting victim. It was normal operating procedure. Rollie was also told to report to the Internal Affairs Department the next morning.

As he walked into IAD, Peter Mallory met Rollie. "Don't get in front of this Pete," Rollie warned. "This could turn out bad and I don't want you to get involved."

"But Rollie, I can help," Pete protested.

"Please stay out of this. If IAD really wants me there's nothing you can do but get them down on you too." Rollie put his hand on his friend's shoulder. "It doesn't matter much what happens to me. Thomas won't rape and infect any more women and now I can sleep at night."

"Detective Chambers, I'm Inspector Adams. We've got a few questions for you."

Rollie nodded. "I thought you might Inspector. Go ahead."

"You're entitled to have a Union Rep or attorney present you know."

"Don't need either one," Rollie said. "It was a good shoot."

"I have to inform you that we'll be taping your this meeting." Rollie nodded his understanding. "Tell us what happened." Adams held up a folder. "I've read your report but I'd like to hear your statement. Reports are usually so dry and officious." Adams smiled to show he was a good guy.

"Like I wrote in the report, I got a tip from an informant that this Denny character had talked about knowing where Thomas was. I spotted him in a bar and followed him to the Conrad." Rollie pointed at his report. "Denny went to room 135 and knocked. While he was waiting I saw he had a large zip lock bag a third full of a white substance. He was a known Meth user. That gave me probable cause to enter the room."

"Would you like some coffee or something Rollie?" Adams asked. "Talking can be thirsty work."

Rollie shook his head and continued. "When I forced the door, I saw Denny and Bradley Thomas and identified myself as a police officer. Both men started moving. My attention was on Thomas as he had a warrant outstanding. I guess I lost track of Denny and he ran passed me and escaped. Maybe I will have some coffee if you don't mind."

He really didn't want coffee but he thought it would piss off Adams. He was right. Adams couldn't hide his displeasure at the interruption but he got the coffee for Rollie. He nodded for Rollie to continue.

"Where was I? Oh yeah. Denny ran out the door. Thomas picked up a large knife from the table and came at me. I warned him to stop but he kept coming. I was forced to shoot him. Then I call Emergency Services. You guys showed up and took my weapon and here I am."

Adams turned off the tape recorder and leaned back in his chair. "Just between us Rollie, was it really necessary to shoot Thomas? I mean the guy didn't weight 150 pounds."

"My intention was to arrest him," Rollie answered. "But he attacked me with a lethal weapon. I had no choice." Rollie's justification of his actions was straight out of how to write a police report.

"Okay, but was it necessary to shoot him 16 times?" Adams smiled and shook his head.

"Thomas was a Crystal Meth addict. You know as well as I do that most of them don't feel pain and are extremely strong. I hit Thomas twice and he kept coming. So I kept shooting until he went down. I didn't count my shots."

Adams nodded. "That's bullshit and you know it Rollie. But this interview is over. I'm clearing you and you can go back to work. But between you and me, I know you executed Thomas." Adams paused for several seconds. "If it had been my wife, I would have done the same thing."

Rollie nodded and stood to leave. As he got to the door Adams said, "You need to see a therapist or get some counseling Rollie. What happened to your wife would drive most men crazy. That's not official, just my suggestion. Good luck Detective Chambers.

Adams was a pretty good guy, Rollie thought still at his desk leafing through the report on the two rape victims. He could have made it a lot tougher on me. Course Pete was the one that came down hard on me. I can remember how mad he was at me when I came back to work.

Rollie returned to work the week after the Thomas shooting. He'd no sooner sat down at his desk when Pete Mallory called him into his office.

"Good morning Pete, it's good to see you and it's good to be back," Rollie said as he entered the office.

"That's Captain Mallory and this is official business Detective Chambers. Close the door and sit down."

"Yes sir Captain Mallory." Rollie sat down and looked at his friend. I've never seen him so mad, Rollie thought. His face is red and you can see that vein in his forehead throbbing. If he's not careful he'll have a stroke.

Mallory sat on the edge of his desk in front of Rollie. "Just what the hell were you thinking? Charging into that room like John Wayne. You should have waited for back up." Rollie started to respond and Mallory held up his hand.

"Don't give me any of that fairy tale that you wrote in your report. You could've been killed." Mallory took a deep breath and calmed down. "Rollie I know you're still hurting. But there are other people that care about you. I don't know why but I'm one of them."

"I'm sorry Captain Mallory."

"One Captain Mallory a week is enough," Pete replied.

"All I could think of was finding Thomas after the way Susan died." Rollie looked out the window for several seconds. "I guess I became a little obsessed."

"Okay, let's put that to rest now," Pete said. "But I'm going to order you to do something you won't like," he said with a grin. "You will attend counseling or see a therapist. You can come back to work but you will get some help or I'll suspend you."

"But Pete, I don't need..."

"No argument Rollie. I'm serious. You will see a Police Department approved therapist. Any questions?" Pete continued before Rollie could answer. "Good. That's all, get back to work." Pete motioned Rollie out of his office. "But I want to know who you're going to see by the middle of next week. That gives you ten days."

Three days later Rollie still hadn't looked for a therapist. It wasn't that he meant to disobey his Captains orders but he was in the middle of a GTA crime ring. Someone was systematically stealing very expensive cars. Rollie and Detective Frank Wends had a theory that it was one group. Frank and Rollie had agreed that the cars were being stolen, taken to a chop shop, and dismantled for the parts.

"You can get more for the parts than for the whole car," Frank lectured at a roll call one morning. He laughed and added, "This is one time that the sum of the parts is greater than the whole."

Rollie was the only one that laughed with Frank. Guess you had to be there, Rollie thought.

Frank and Rollie spent the day following up and developing leads. They were getting close to finding out who was behind the rash of auto thefts but didn't have anything solid yet.

On his way home after his shift, Rollie heard a radio call about a stolen car on his scanner. The car was in a high speed chase with a police cruiser. The stolen car, a new Camaro, had too much speed and horsepower for the patrol cars to keep up.

They're on Dillard, Rollie thought. That's two blocks in front of me. Dillard's a narrow two lane street with cars parked along the curbs on each side. Maybe I can get there and block the street. At least long enough for the patrol cars to catch up.

He gunned his old truck and it shot forward. His truck looked like a beater but underneath the beat up body was the heart of a race car. The old truck had a powerful V8 engine that had been modified to extract the last ounce of horsepower. Its transmission was something you normally found in NASCAR.

Rollie got to Dillard before the fleeing Camaro and parked his truck sideways completely blocking the street. He got out of his truck and stood behind the front end with his 9MM drawn.

The Camaro skidded to a halt only 20 feet from Rollie. The driver jumped out with a pistol in his hand and ran at Rollie firing his weapon. Rollie returned fire, hitting the man with his first three shots. The thief kept firing and kept coming at the man blocking his way. Rollie fired ten times before the man fell to the ground.

"Hell, not again," Rollie said softly. He knew he'd be before IAD once again.

Normal procedure was followed after the shooting. A shooting team questioned Rollie at the scene, they took his weapon, and he was instructed to report to IAD the next morning.

It was 8 AM when Rollie was called into Inspector Adams' office. "We've got to stop meeting like this," Adams said. "People are starting to talk."

He laughed at the shocked look on Rollie's face. "It's okay Rollie. This is just red tape. I have the shooting teams report, your report, and the reports from the patrol officers that were chasing the car. It was a justified shoot. You probably saved some citizen from being in the way and getting hurt." Looking down at a report Adams added, "It's no wonder that perp didn't stop when you shot him. He was so high on Crystal Meth that he could've flown without a plane."

Adams motioned to a chair and Rollie sat down. "You have anything to add to your report?" Rollie shook his head. "Okay consider this interview over. You're cleared to go back to work." Rollie nodded and stood to leave.

"Can I make a suggestion before you go?" Adams asked. Not waiting for Rollie's permission he said, "Get a different weapon. That issue 9MM just doesn't get the job done when you're up against crack heads, Crystal users, and some of the other garbage out there."

"The 9MM is police issue Inspector Adams," Rollie replied. "I thought we had to carry it or the .38 revolver."

"As much as I've seen you lately I think you can call me Steve," he said with a smile. And you do have to carry a police issued weapon if you're a patrolman. But as a Detective you can carry almost anything you can qualify with." Steve saw the confusion on Rollie's face.

"Damn administrative types," Steve said. "They give a youngster a Detectives badge and tell him to go out and solve cases but they don't give him a full orientation on his duties. They leave that up to the precinct Captains. They also don't advise you of your rights as a detective; one of which is to carry a weapon of your choice."

Adams reached into his desk drawer and pulled out his weapon. "This is what I carry. It's a Colt 1911.45 and when you hit a man with it they go down and stay down. None of that crap like what happened with that car thief." He pulled the magazine and ejected the shell from the camber and handed the Colt to Rollie.

After a minute or so Adams took his weapon back, opened the slide, and slid a cartridge into the chamber. Then he replaced the mag. "Let's go down to the range in the basement and you can try it out."

A very large Sergeant met them at the door as they entered the indoor shooting range. He walked over and shook hands with Steve Adams, grinned, and asked, "Finally decide to come down and let me teach you how to shoot?"

"I shoot better blind folded than you do with your eyes open," Steve replied returning the Sergeant's grin. Turning to Rollie he said, "This Sergeant Jacob Tully. Former Master Gunnery Sergeant in the United States Marines. He retired from the Corp about four years ago. Tully this is Rollie Chambers."

"You're the guy that stopped that psycho car thief." Tully shook hands and added, "I read the report. You fired ten rounds and the only ones that didn't hit the perp were two that hit the door as he got out of the car firing at you. Good shooting."

Rollie looked at Tully as they shook hands. The Sergeant was the stereotypical retired Gunnery Sergeant. Tully was about 6' 3 with a barrel chest, a very erect posture and big arms and hands. His hair was salt and pepper; cut so short that his scalp showed through. Tully was a poster boy for former Marines; except for one detail. His right leg was missing below the knee.

Tully bent over to pick up a piece of paper on the floor and his pant leg rose showing his prosthetic leg. The Sergeant saw Rollie glance at his leg and grinned. Rollie tried not to stare but Tully was used to people looking at the metal and plastic device that replaced his lower leg. "Works damn near as good as the real one and it don't itch none," Tully said with a grin.

Embarrassed Rollie apologized for staring. Tully waved off the apology. "You'd have to be dead or dumb not to be interested in something new to you. Don't worry about it Detective."

"Tully took retired from the Corp after 20 years but couldn't stand sitting at home," Steve informed Rollie. "He joined our police force and became the oldest rookie in the department's history; he was 36 at the time.

"If you put in 20 in the Marines does that means you enlisted when you were 16?" Rollie questioned.

"Yeah, I was big for my age and told them I was 18," Tully answered with a grin. "I also had a fake birth certificate and driver's license. Couldn't see the sense in waiting around for two more years. Joining the Marines was what I'd wanted to do since I'd been twelve. I wasn't much of a student, not motivated you see, so as soon as I could get the phony papers I joined up."

"I'm the one telling this story," Steve said with a laugh. "Anyway just to keep his hand in, Tully joined the National Guard shortly after completing his probationary period with the department. His unit was activated about ten months later and he went over to the sand box; that's where he lost his leg."

"My body had an adverse reaction to an exploding IED," Tully offered. "You know an Individual Explosive Device. Some gomer dropped one off a roof right on top of my squad." The Sergeant stopped for a few seconds staring off into space. "Lost two men and my leg that day." Tully smiled grimly and added, "The gomer lost his life: I put a round into his head when he peeked over the edge of the roof to see how his bomb had worked."

Steve patted Tully on the shoulder just once and Rollie nodded his admiration for the Sergeant.

"So Tully came back home after a stint in VA hospitals and wanted his job back," Steve continued his story. "The department tried to get him to retire, even offered full disability and a pension, but Tully told them as long as he could walk he wasn't disabled."

Turning to Rollie Steve said, "There's a federal law that says a company has to give a person his job back. The offer of a pension got the department off the hook as far as that went. But there are a few former Marines in positions of power in the department, our commissioner for one, and they saw to it that Tully was reinstated.

Steve and Tully laughed as they remembered the uproar. "Rather than manning a desk in some precinct or administrative duties Tully asked to be put in charge of the shooting range. That's where this broken down old Gunny Sergeant has been ever since."

Rollie stuck out his hand and shook with Tully again. "Thank you for your service Sergeant; both for 20 years in the Marines and for your National Guard duty."

Tully made a noise like he was clearing his throat, embarrassed by the emotions that the young detective brought out. "Numb Nuts here didn't mention that I teach tactical shotgun methods and do some sniper training for SWAT now and then." He smiled and then laughed. "I'm not just a pretty face you know."

"Back to business Gunny. I've been telling Rollie that if he carried a heavier weapon he wouldn't have to worry about Meth heads continuing to come at him after the first couple of rounds," Steve said. "Thought I'd let him try my 1911 on for size."

"Good weapon but it takes a little getting used to," Tully replied. "Let go over to the shooting bays.

Tully provide shooting glasses and special hearing protectors called 'cans'. "These headphones are electronically activated," he explained. "You can hear someone when they talk but the loud report of a weapon firing is shut out."

Rollie fired several rounds from Steve's Colt. "Got a lot of recoil don't it?"

"Yeah it does," Tully replied. "Some people just have to be old school," he said pointing his thumb at Adams with a smile. "Now me, I carry a .45 also," he said pulling his sidearm. He dropped the magazine, ejected the round from the chamber and handed it to Rollie. "This is a Glock 21C. Most of the recoil and blowback is vented out of these ports on the top of the slide. You can hold on target for your second shot a lot easier."

Rollie hefted the Glock. He looked at Tully and at his nod replaced the magazine and worked the action being careful to keep the weapon pointed down range. Rollie fired six shots at the paper target hanging ten yards away.

"That's very nice; he said and placed the pistol on the counter in front of him.

"It also carries 13 rounds as compared to 8 in the 1911," Tully told him. "There's a lot to be said for the 1911, but with new times comes new technology."

"Then why does the department issue 9MM instead of .40 cals or .45s?" Rollie asked.

"I guess they're following military guide lines," Tully replied. "The 9 has less recoil so supposedly an officer can get back on target easier. It fires a smaller bullet but at a higher muzzle velocity so it's supposed to be as effective. Not necessarily true but that's what they say."

"That's not the only reason," Steve said. "The force issues you a weapon with 50 rounds a month, right? The 9MM is cheaper as is the ammo than a .40 ca. or a .45, comparatively speaking. So it cost the department less to provide a weapon and ammo that if you carried almost any other weapon."

"Why a .45 Tully? Rollie asked. "Why not a Magnum?

"First Magnum's are not police department approved. They will do the same thing as a .45 but they're even harder to hold on target. Talk about recoil." Tully laughed and shook his head. "I saw a young Detective shoot a .44 Magnum, you know like Dirt Harry used." Rollie and Steve nodded that they knew the movie. "The kid thought it would be cool to carry a .44 but didn't know much about that type of weapon. The recoil threw it up and into his face. Had to get three stitches over his eye where the barrel hit him." Tully doubled over laughing. "Funniest thing I ever saw."

Catching his breath he asked, "You ever watch Star Trek?

"Huh? Well ya, hasn't everybody?" Rollie answered.

"Remember their weapons? Phasers they called them. They had two settings; kill and stun." Tully pointed at Rollie's 9MM. "Your 9 is a .45 on stun. You might bring em down but they could get up again." He paused and looked Rollie in the eye. "Steve's right kid; with the people you've been running into you need to carry a .45," Tully advised. "Okay, I'm done preaching. Who's buying lunch?"

Rollie bought a Glock 21C after lunch and qualified with it under Tully's tutorage later that afternoon.

And that's how I came to carry this, he said to himself as he patted the Glock on his hip. So far I haven't had to use it; thank God. He looked up from the files he was studying and saw Captain Mallory staring at him. Oh hell I've got to get going on this therapist bull, he thought. Pete looks like he meant what he said.

The phone on his desk rang and he picked it up. "First Squad, Detective Chambers," he answered.

"Detective Chambers, I'm Jessica Talbert. I was Susan's..."

"Susan's therapist, yes I remember," Rollie interrupted. After a few seconds of silence he asked, "What can I do for you Doctor Talbert?"

"A Captain Mallory called me yesterday. He said he was your friend as well as your boss and that you'd been ordered to see a therapist. The Captain asked that I be that therapist; considering my experience with Susan and indirectly you too."

"I knew Pete wouldn't let it slide," Rollie mumbled. "I'll call you Doctor Talbert if I decide I want to see you."

"Rollie, I'm sorry, I mean Detective Chambers he told me to tell you that if you didn't come to see me he would make an appointment with the first name on the departments approved list." Jessica paused and said, "Let me help you. If nothing else you'll get Captain Mallory off your back."

A grumbling Rollie said "All right you've got yourself a patient."

"Good. Would tomorrow at three fit your schedule?" Doctor Talbert asked. "My office is at 16..."

"I remember where your office is. See you at three," Rollie said and hung up. He got up and went to Pete Mallory's office.

"Got my first appointment with a therapist tomorrow at three," Rollie told him. "It's Doctor Talbert. She said you asked her to call me. Why?"

"Yeah, I did ask her to call," Mallory answered. "The why is because you weren't going to do what I told you to do. At least not until you forced me to suspend you. Now I don't have to suspend you."

The first meeting between Rollie and Doctor Talbert was not very productive, at least in Rollie's mind. He'd walked into the reception area at 2:45 and was told to take a seat by the receptionist. It almost 3:15 before Doctor Talbert opened her door and invited him into her office.

"I'm very sorry for being late" she said. "My last patient ... well let's just say he was having a rough time of it today."

She motioned offering Rollie a seat in front of her desk. "Now we can concentrate on you."

Rollie had met Jessica Talbert once before while Susan was seeing her. He'd offered to come to one or all of the sessions if it would help his wife. Doctor Talbert turned down his offer and requested that he not question Susan about their talks. He agreed and never asked or talked about it unless Susan brought it up. True or not, he always felt that if he'd been in on some of the sessions Susan might not have committed suicide. Because of that feeling his attitude wasn't the best as far as the doctor was concerned.

"It's nice to see you again Rollie. May I call you Rollie?" Dr. Talbert asked.

"May I call you Jessica?" Rollie responded.

She looked at Rollie for several seconds and gave him a little smile. "If it will make you feel more at ease, please do."

Her response was not what Rollie expected. "Look Dr. Talbert, I don't know why I'm here. I'm fine; just overworked like the rest of the Detective squad. I want to be honest with you. The only reason I'm here is because Pete, Captain Mallory, ordered me to see a therapist."

"What happened to calling me Jessica?" She asked and then continued before he could answer. "I know you are here under duress but you are here so let's make good use of the time." Jessica gave Rollie a bigger smile.

"Captain Mallory, who sounds like he cares, is worried about you. After talking to him I believe he has some legitimate concerns." Jessica interrupted Rollie before he could speak. "As exampled by your dealing with Bradley Thomas."

"Thomas was high on Crystal Meth and attacked me," Rollie explained.

"The Captain told me that the shooting was deemed justified but in his mind you executed Thomas."

"Two shots didn't stop him so I kept shooting until he did stop. End of story," Rollie said defending his actions. "If he'd let me arrest him he would still be alive."

"It wasn't so much that you shot Thomas that bothers Mallory, it's the way you took leave and then hunted him down." Jessica consulted a legal pad that held some notes she'd made while talking to Captain Mallory. "He said that the whole department had searched for Thomas for three months and couldn't find him. But during a two week compassionate leave you tracked him down. Mallory said you must have gotten your information in a way that, well he said it wouldn't have been allowed by the courts."

Rollie gave Jessica an evil grin. "Prove it Doctor." He paused and said, "I'm done talking about Thomas. If you've got anything else then move on or I'll leave."

The two stared at each other for about 10 seconds and Jessica finally dropped her eyes. She wasn't giving in to Rollie but he was agitated and on the defensive. If she was going to help him, he had to feel that he'd won this confrontation.

For the rest of the hour they talked about general things. Things like why Rollie had become a police officer.

"Growing up I was taught that if I was ever lost or ever in trouble to find a cop to help me," Rollie said. "To me a policeman was a friend and someone that would help me. I wanted to make a difference in people's lives not just make money."

"That's an understandable reason Rollie," Jessica commented. "In my opinion a very good reason."

The young Detective saw Jessica glance at the clock on the wall. He smiled at Jessica and stood up. "Our time for this session is up Doctor. When do you want to meet again?"

She laughed. "I would like to see you at least twice a week. Today's Tuesday, could you come back Thursday at the same time? I promise not to keep you waiting next time."

"That works," Rollie replied. "See you Thursday." Before he got to the door Jessica gave him an order.

"Rollie, don't bring your pistol to the next session. Leave it at home, at work, or in your car please."

He looked embarrassed, nodded, and left the doctor's office.

Rollie was sitting at his desk the next morning when Pete Mallory called Rollie into his office. "I know you just started but how's your therapy going Rollie?"

"Doctor Talbert told me not to talk about our sessions Captain Mallory. You'll just have to wait for her report. If that's all Captain, I've got work to do."

Mallory nodded and motioned Rollie out of the office. "The boy's pissed at me for making him go to therapy," Mallory said to his office wall.

At his next session, he lifted his coat to show that he was unarmed. Jessica laughed and asked him to sit down. The next hour was more generalities. There was nothing with a lot of depth and nothing very intense. Jessica was building a foundation so that Rollie would trust her.

The third meeting was when the gloves came off.

"This week we need to discuss some real issues Rollie," Jessica said. "Let's talk about the reason, that after three months, you decided to look for Thomas by yourself."

Rollie sighed. This woman is like a pit bull, he thought with a little admiration. When she gets her teeth into something she won't let go.

"Do our meetings come under Doctor/Patient confidentiality?" Rollie asked. "Will anything I tell you get back to Pete or the Department?"

"Anything we talk about is privileged information Rollie," Jessica answered.

"But you can tell the Department that I'm not fit for duty, just not why. Is that it?"

Jessica stood, walked around her desk, and sat in the chair next to Rollie's. "Yes, I'll have to give them my opinion. And as you say I can't tell them why." She leaned forward in her chair. "Rollie if, and I say if, you have problems I hope we can correct or solve them before it comes to that. Okay?"

Rollie looked at Jessica. I can understand why the guy that was in here before me didn't want to leave, he thought. She's a damn fine looking woman. Whoa where did that come from? He asked silently.

Jessica stood, walked over to a couch, and sat down. Motioning to Rollie to join her she said, "Let's make this more like a talk instead of a doctor's visit. Come get comfortable."

He watched her walk to the couch. I was right; she is a good looking woman. Rollie's trained detective's eye and his trained girl watching eye cataloged her charms. She must be about 5' 9 and weighs 130 or so with an athletic build. She looks like a runner or a swimmer. Rollie knew from his scrutiny that she had long auburn hair and laser like blue eyes. Plus she's got freckles; he told himself surprised that he'd missed that before.

Rollie mentally shook himself as he joined her on the couch. Remember she's not a friend, he thought. Not exactly an enemy but not a friend ... yet. The thought that she could possibly be more than his doctor surprised him too.

"Rollie," Jessica said and stopped to see his reaction. He smiled and nodded. "Why after three months did you go on what could be called a search and destroy mission? Was it because Susan died?"

"She didn't die," he responded heatedly. "Susan was killed by that piece of crap just as sure as if he'd put a gun to her head and pulled the trigger. The son of a bitch deserved what he got. I just wish I could've made him suffer the way Susan did." Rollie hesitated and added softly, "The way I did."

Rollie's mind went back over the three months after Susan was attacked. At first she didn't want anyone to touch her, not even him. Progressing to the chaste kisses on the cheek and then on the lips when he went to work. Finally she let him, even wanted him to hold her at night. Many nights he held his wife in his arms as she whimpered in her sleep.

He smiled to himself. Then she started getting better. Susan lost the haunted look and began to laugh and joke with him again. The kisses, while not overly passionate, became more like ones between a man and his wife, like ones between lovers. Rollie knew by Susan's actions that she was ready for them to make love and very soon. Then she got the results of her blood test. Rollie hung his head and let the tears fall.

"That's all right Rollie," Jessica told him. "Let it out so we can put it to rest."

He looked up unaware that he'd voiced his thoughts. Must be beginning to trust her, he said to himself. To Jessica he said, "I'll never be able to put it to rest. I'll remember how she died, killing the hope I had, we had, for our life together."

Rollie stood, walked to the water cooler and got a cup of water. "You asked why after three months I went after Thomas." Rollie repeated Jessica's question from the first session. "Because that's when Thomas finally killed her. He tried when he attacked her but it took three months for him to get the job done. That's why I went after him. That's why I did whatever I had to do to find him. And that's why I went into that hotel room alone, without back up."

Rollie stopped for a few seconds getting control of himself. "You said this was privileged so I'll tell you the truth. I went into that room praying Thomas would give me an excuse. But it didn't make any difference, he wasn't leaving, at least not alive. How do you like that for an eye for an eye scenario Jessica? I planned on killing Thomas; there was never a thought of taking him in."

"It's like you said Rollie, the Department will have to prove it," Jessica said and touched his arm. "But they'll have to do it without my help. The Department pays my fees but my loyalty is to you."

He smiled at her and patted her hand on his arm. I feel better, he thought.

Jessica quickly pulled her hand free. "What happened with the stolen car incident?"

"Still digging huh Doc? That whole situation was a fluke."

Rollie explained his thinking and what happened right up until the shooting. "The idiot came out of the car shooting at the police officers. Then he turned and fired at me." Rollie shook his head, not as sad or as intense as he'd been talking about Thomas but not happy either.

"My first two shots hit the door of the Camaro. The third shot hit him in the leg; he didn't even flinch. He just kept coming at me and shooting. It took seven more shots to put him down." Rollie looked over at Jessica. "The guy was so high on Crystal Meth; he didn't even know that he'd been shot."

Jessica got up and got herself a cup of water because she wanted Rollie to calm down a little. "Is that when you started carrying the Glock?" She asked. Rollie looked surprised. "I know my weapons. My father wanted a son and what he got was me. He taught me to hunt, fish, and enjoy the outdoors."

"Yeah after that shooting I bought the .45 Glock. I hope I don't have to use it but if I do the perps will stay down when they're hit."

Rollie and Jessica met twice a week for one month. Their meetings became less confrontational as Rollie started to trust Jessica. Rollie was at his desk on Tuesday morning, trying to think of an excuse to get out of that afternoon's session with Jessica. He was working on a missing persons case. Rollie and the other detectives knew that if you didn't find someone in the first 48 hours chances were you never would. Alive anyway.

Someone sat down in the chair next to his desk. Rollie looked up from the file he was reading and was surprised at his visitor. Jessica Talbert sat there with a big smile on her face.

"Come with me please," she requested. She stood, crooked her finger at Rollie and walked to Captain Mallory's office. Rollie followed her.

Now what? He questioned himself. His thoughts ran in circles. Maybe she's going to tell Pete I should take some time off, maybe she's going to tell him I shouldn't be a cop anymore. No, she would have said something at our last session. Rollie entered the office and Jessica closed the door behind him.

"Hello Doctor Talbert," Pete greeted her.

She nodded in greeting. "Captain Mallory, I'm here to give you my conclusions and opinions concerning Detective Chambers." Jessica turned to look at Rollie for a few seconds.

"And what have you found Doctor?" Pete asked.

"I think Detective Chambers is a dedicated police officer. He really cares about helping people and in his own words 'making a difference'. Sometimes he can become obsessive in doing his duty but it's only because he does care so deeply."

"What about the Thomas shooting?" Pete asked and looked at Rollie.

"I think he was obsessed with finding the man that attacked and in his mind killed his wife," Jessica replied. "I also think it was a normal reaction, especially from a man whose life was and is being a good officer."

Rollie started to speak but Mallory said, "You just stand there young man." He smiled and added, "This is between us grownups." Turning back to Jessica he asked, "What happened with Thomas? What did Rollie tell you?"

"What Detective Chambers told me is privileged information between a doctor and patient." Mallory started to argue but she held up her hand to stop him. "I can't and won't tell you what was said in our sessions; about the Thomas case or anything else. I will tell you that whatever demons were pressuring Rollie have been laid to rest. If, and I say if, he stepped over the line it's something that won't happen again. At least that's my conclusion."

Jessica turned to look at Rollie again and then back to Mallory. "In the future Detective Chambers will probably work too many hours on any rape or assault cases against women. But that's understandable ... and commendable."

She handed a written report to Mallory. "In my professional opinion Rollie should be allowed to continue doing what he does best. Make a difference." For the first time since entering Mallory's office she smiled. "That's my story and I'm stickin to it," she said. "I'll send my bill to the Department." She turned and left the office.

"Well you made quite an impression on Doctor Talbert Rollie," Mallory said. "Quit standing there gawking and get back to work."

Rollie left the office and caught Jessica at the elevator. "Thanks Jessica. Your opinion means a lot to me."

"I still think you have a few issues that we could deal with. If you need to talk give me a call." Jessica smiled again and said, "No charge for follow up visits Rollie."

"How about we make the first follow up visit over dinner tonight," Rollie suggested. "You know sort of a celebration of my graduation."

Jessica put her hand on Rollie's arm and smiled. "Rollie it's normal for a patient to develop feelings for their doctor. I was able to help you confront your loss and anger when Susan died. Because of the emotional things we've discussed and you've come to feel a romantic attachment to me. But your feelings aren't real; they're just a side effect of our relationship as doctor and patient. It would be unethical for me to have a social interaction with you. I'm sorry but it wouldn't be a good idea."

Rollie listened to Jessica's dissertation quietly. When she finished he gave her a sad little smile. "You're the doctor but you're not as smart as you think. You're right; you did help me through a bunch of garbage that was clogging up my mind. You helped me find a way to live with Susan's death and not lose myself in the process. And I thank you for your help."

He touched her hand on his arm. "But you're wrong about me. I know what I feel and it isn't gratitude. You may not admit it because you think it's unethical but we made a connection. One that was more than just a doctor/patient relationship. Remember what I've said; you can bet one of these days I'll make that follow up visit and it won't be for counseling." He leaned over and kissed her cheek surprising her. "See ya around Doc."

"Earth to Rollie. Hey kid wake up," Frank Wends said with a laugh. "Your phones ringing."

Rollie shook himself back to the present. Man, I was lost in a time long ago and far far away, he thought. It's been six months since I've seen Jessica and over a month since I've talked to her. He picked up the phone.

First Squad, Detective Chambers," he said.

"Chambers this Major Taylor at the Special Victims Unit. You got a minute?"

"Yes sir. How may I help you?" Rollie answered. When a Major in the Department wanted a minute of your time, you made sure he got it.

"We're setting up a special task force to go after this rapist. Some think the same guy did all five of the attacks and some think it's a group of two or three that are getting their kicks. Either way we're putting our best on the task force. I'd like you to join us."

"There are others with more experience than me sir," Rollie replied. "Wouldn't they be more useful? Besides I'd have to check with Captain Mallory before I would know if he can spare me."

"Mallory just left my office and it was him that suggested I add you to the force," Major Taylor said. "He said you were the only one that got the latest victims to talk. Said you're the one that got the description out of them. That true?"

"Yes sir."

"How'd you do it Chambers? We had officers, both male and female, talk to them and nothing. I personally had a female detective question them. She got nothing. How'd you do it boy?"

"Well I..." Rollie hesitated. He didn't want to point a finger at other officers working the case.

"Out with it Chambers," Major Taylor ordered.

"I didn't question the victims sir, I just talked to them," Rollie answered. "Everyone was going at it trying to get info so they could catch the guy. They felt sorry for the girls but their focus was the perp. I made the focus the girls. Reassured them that it wasn't their fault, told them they'd make it through to the other side." Rollie took a deep breath. "I told them about my wife Susan and how she got past what happened to her. I did leave out the part about her death. Didn't think it would help."

"Mallory was right. You got a feel for this. You'll be point man on the investigation. That all right with you Rollie?" The Major wasn't sure the young officer would take the job and he waited for Rollie's answer.

"Who'll be the commander sir?" Rollie asked. There were a lot of good detectives in the Department but this task force would need a special commander. One who wasn't married to doing things by the book and could think outside of the box.

"I thought since you would be lead that Pete Mallory would make a good commander. That suit you Rollie?"

"Yes sir," he replied with enthusiasm. "Pete, I mean Captain Mallory, will make an excellent commander. Count me in sir."

"Good. Pete's on his way back to the 16th and he'll fill you in on the other team members," Major Taylor said. "Oh, I forgot to mention; we're gonna have a psychiatrist working primarily with you. Some one that can do a profile on the perps. You know give us ideas on the type who, what, how and most importantly why. It works for the FBI so I guess we can make use of the tactic too."

"Yes sir. If I can ask, who is this profiler?" Rollie asked.

"I think you've already met.

Her name is Doctor Jessica Talbert."

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Story tagged with:
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