P.S.I.--An "Emergency!" Story

Chapter 16--A Homecoming--Sort Of

Home | Cast of Characters | Soundtrack | Chapter 1--"I Wanna Be With Her" | Chapter 2--As Mike Lay Dying | Chapter 3--The Three Clues | Chapter 4--A Bullet With Her Name On It | Chapter 5--"Beauty Doesn't Belong in the Ground!" | Chapter 6--Cassie Lou Remembers | Chapter 7--The Video, The Ad, and The Interview | Chapter 8 --The Perfect Wife for a Firefighter | Chapter 9--"Win It For Dixie!" | Chapter 10--Angel in Topboots | Chapter 11--"Don't Have a Stroke, Mike!" | Chapter 12--Waterloo | Chapter 13--Retail Murder | Chapter 14--The Mares | Chapter 15--Notes | Chapter 16--A Homecoming--Sort Of | Chapter 17--PSI Means What Again? | Epilogue | Author's Notes | Gemma's E! Vision in the Monastery | Guestbook

As Mike & Dr. Brackett were leaving the restaurant, the former hadn't really noticed the music playing over the PA system, until he heard:
Then the flame became a dying ember
All at once, you weren't here.
Mike quickly made his way to Dr. Brackett's car where he leaned on his door, head down, trying to stop the tears.   Futile attempt.   On their way back to Mike's, Dr. Brackett asked what was wrong.
"Some song lyrics got to me," he said. 
"Sorry about that.  At least you had three years with her.  I didn't get any time with Dix."
Well, that was putting it in perspective.
"The last time I heard that song was last year," Mike explained.  "We were driving towards Louisville--past the whiskey warehouses--that song was playing, and Brin was getting teary about it.  I asked her what was wrong, and she said, "It's sad."  I started feeling like I was coming down with the flu, and almost had to pull over.  If I had only known then what I know now."
"Unfortunately, sometimes intuition is 20/20 only in hindsight."

After Dr. Brackett dropped him off, Mike noticed the tape indicator on the VCR was lit.  Upon further inspection, the tape was the blank used to record Alice and M*A*S*H.  Vera and Radar had been Brin's favorite characters.  He could almost hear the flaming arrow whizzing through the air and hit where his heart used to live.  He sunk to his knees and the tears flowed again.  He wished he could find the blasted etheral archer and do away with It.

The little reminders of our daily life together may seem to be too much to bear at times his angel in topboots had said.  Brin had used the tape when he was at work.  They had watched TV together on rare occasions--there were more important things to do, like have quality time.  Like they would've had tonight.

If she had died in a race doing what she loved, he would've missed her, yes, but she was gone because of the Idiot Welles' jealousy.  The sense of violation was intolerable.  He hadn't had the chance to defend her--the chance to jump in front of the bullet and smile when he felt the pain.

The next morning, as Johnny, Roy, Chet, and Marco were engaged in their usual locker room banter, Mike came in and noticed the Captain's exam study guide in Johnny's locker.  Mike had barely changed clothes when the first alarm of the shift came in.  They would not see a lot of the station for the next 24 hours.

The same day, as Peaches and Mundelein were preparing Brin's gear for Mike to pick it up, they came across her tape player.  A tape was in the deck, so Peaches plugged in the machine and turned it on.
                               How deep is your love
                               How deep is your love
                               I really need to learn
She turned it off.  "That's ironic," she said.  "That song topped the charts the day before she was buried."
"How deep is your love?  Ohhh, what a terrible pun!" said Mundelein, putting his face in his hands and shaking his head.  He sat at his desk.
Peaches popped the tape deck open, and withdrew the cassette.  "Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.  Everybody's got one," she said.  She put the tape back into the deck and put the tape player into one of the boxes.

Meanwhile, Welles was in the jail kitchen, mopping the floor after lunch, when the hair on the back of his neck stood on end, and he became nauseous.  He felt eyes boring through him like laser beams.
He turned around and saw four of his fellow inmates staring at him with blood in their eyes.  "God forgive me," he prayed out loud as he dropped his mop and started backing up.  This was it; his number was up.

"You killed the jockey queen," one growled.
Another raised his mop handle over his head.  "WE'RE SABRINA'S VIGILANTES!" he yelled.
Welles saw stars as the mop handle was planted squarely across his head.  If that wasn't enough, he felt his breath leave him as someone punched him in the stomach.  Everything went black and silent as pain tore through his body.
When the guards finally got the assailants off of him, Welles was a bloody mess on the floor.

In Ramsey's part of the jail, his four escorts were taking him back to his cell after his daily walk.  Two of the four deputies were called away.  When they were out of sight, and the trio were on the catwalk, Ramsey took his guards by surprise, slamming them both into the wall.   When one of them came to, he saw Ramsey was gone.  There was shouting below them.  He got up and went to the rail.  Ramsey was face down on the concrete floor, his chin over his right shoulder.

Both Welles and Ramsey were taken to Rampart.  Dr. Brackett pronounced them dead.   Welles had died of head trauma and internal injuries.  Ramsey had died of a broken neck.

The next day, when Mike and Johnny reached Mundelein's office, they were mobbed by reporters asking their opinion on the deaths of Welles and Ramsey.
"I haven't heard anything about it, so I can't comment," said Mike.
Peaches and Mundelein, along with a few uniformed deputies, plowed through the crowd of reporters and escorted Mike and Johnny to their office.
"What's this about Welles and Ramsey?" Mike asked once seated in front of Mundelein's desk.
Mundelein sat down behind his desk.  "Welles was beat up by his fellow inmates yesterday, and Ramsey apparently committed suicide by jumping from a catwalk at about the same time," he explained.  "We were still in the process of finding cells at the state prison for them."

Mike was too tired from his busy shift to really comprehend what was being said.  "They're dead?" he asked with disbelief.
Peaches and Mundelein both nodded.
"I don't know what to say," he said.  "I'm a little tired."
"We had 17 runs in 24 hours," said Johnny.
"Can I have my wife's stuff now?" asked Mike.  Had to get priorities in order.
"Of course," said Mundelein.  He picked up the phone and summoned assistance.

Mike felt like a little kid at Christmas when he saw the jade green corvette with "STOKER2" license plates.  The deputies loaded the boxes into Johnny's Rover.  Once back to the house, a preoccupied Johnny helped him unload, and he left Mike alone with Brin's things.
The room across from the alcove had been dubbed 'the tack room.'  Calling it a room was almost a misnomer; it was more like a misplaced corridor.  From the hallway, the room extended seven feet, then made an angle to the left, and went another five feet, ending in a closet.  The angled wall held a window.  The room wasn't much wider than he was tall.
Once he knew what was in the boxes, he would set about making a replica jockey's locker room for it.  He had received the idea in a dream.
The one thing he wanted right now was something with her scent on it.  Hopefully, her gear wouldn't smell like cigarette smoke from the sheriff's office.  He wasn't sure where the stuff had been stored while there.  Surely there would be a bag with dirty clothes in it--she sometimes changed riding t-shirts several times a day.

On his knees, he found such a bag in the same box as her tape player and tape cases.  He had no idea she'd amassed such a tape collection.  He pulled the tape player out--a tape was in the deck--and plugged it in.
Then he found what he was looking for in the bag--one of her collared riding t-shirts.  He stuck it to his nose and inhaled.  Oh, sweet elixir!  Swoon.  Brin's ring was burning.  He reached over and turned on the tape deck.
                       'Cause we're living in a
                       world of fools
                       Breaking us down
                       when they all should let us be
                       we belong to you and me

As he swept tears from his face, he turned off the tape player, and went to his alcove for a nap, holding the t-shirt to his nose as he fell asleep.

When he woke up, he realized that he was staring the holiday season in the face.  He'd work Thanksgiving.  Christmas, on the other hand. . .
Christmas without her.
He started wailing into his pillow.  How much deeper could the pain possibly go?  He hadn't felt this bereft since the Committal.  Any other holiday wouldn't be a problem, but Christmas. . .  How was he going to live through it?
Last year, they would've been in Kentucky, but since Dr. Early had literally been on his deathbed in Rampart's cancer ward, they stayed home, mainly to support Johnny and Roy.  The liver cancer had made short work of Dr. Early--he was gone in less than six months after the diagnosis.  The end came for their beloved E.R. physician at noon on Christmas day. 

At 2am Christmas morning, Mike was on his in-laws' living room couch.  He had attended Midnight Mass with her family, and now he couldn't sleep.  Diagonally across the room from him was a poster-sized black and white photo of Brin propped on a tripod.  She was mounted, looking upward, and making a gesture in the same direction with her crop--apparently a thanksgiving prayer after a race.
Several tall glass votive candles of various colors--red, white, blue, green, and yellow--were lit in front of the photo.  Boxes holding notes, etc., found on her grave were under the table.   This corner would usually hold the Christmas tree, but they had put it in the front window this year, for obvious reasons.  It wasn't every day that a family honored a deceased daughter and sister as a saint. 

He couldn't understand why he wasn't consoled by the thought.  She wasn't here with him, that's why.  He held her ring and wept.  The one thing he wanted for Christmas was impossible to receive--and she didn't belong to him anymore.  He might've lived in sunny Southern California, but it might as well have been London's pea soup fog--and it traveled with him.

He didn't know how long he had been laying there, but he finally started feeling drowsy.  As he was falling asleep, he felt her presence.  You know I'm with you, he heard within.  Her ring burned his hand as he drifted off.
A sound startled him out of sleep.   Bardstown's monitor tone.  What time was it?  Still dark outside.  He heard his father-in-law thump down the stairs and run out the back door.  Within moments, he saw the red reflection of the lights bouncing off the houses.  Chief never ran his siren between midnight and 6am, he had been told.  He did hear screeching tires, though.
"House fire on . . ." said the male dispatcher with something of a southern drawl.  Mike didn't recognize the address.  He fell asleep, though, before he could decide what to do next.
He was awakened again when he heard Chief come back in.  His father-in-law was chuckling and mumbling under his breath.  Mike sat up on his couch.  When Chief came by the door, he stopped in.
"Got a real winner for you, Mike," he said.  "When we got there, we asked the woman--who was sitting in the living room watching TV--where the fire was, and she said 'In the kitchen.'  'Well, then,' we asked, 'Why aren't you outside?'  And she said, 'But my program's on!'

At the quarter pole. . .