Inmate (Pt.2)

Return to Pt. 1


The next morning, Penhall and Booker were led into a cement block room at Fulsom State Penitentiary. They were there to interview Marco, much to Marco’s surprise. Marco actually appeared to recognize Penhall, having seen his picture and talked with Hanson about him some.

"Hello, Marco" said Penhall tightly. He was pretty much as Hanson had described him, six two, muscular and well-built, and about 36 years old with dark hair and a mustache. Penhall had been concerned about him being bigger than Hanson.

"Well, let me see," said Marco, "You must be Penhall. And of course, I already know Booker. Just how did your nose get after Hanson decked you?" He smirked thinking of the punch in the cell.

"My nose is fine, smart ass, thanks for asking," replied Booker.

"And to what exactly do I owe the pleasure of this visit?" asked Marco.

"I think you can guess," said Penhall. Marco just looked at him. Penhall continued. "Look, Marco," he said, "you know Hanson was beaten up a couple nights ago. We want to know the story on that."

Marco laughed.

"What’s the matter?" said Booker, "weren’t you in on the fun? Don’t you have anything to tell us?"

Marco shook his head. "Hell, no, man, I wasn’t involved. I don’t know anything."

"Bullshit!" said Penhall. "Maybe you weren’t involved, but I bet you know who was. And why did it happen now? Hanson’s got four months down, why didn’t it happen sooner?"

Marco was silent, just staring at them.

"Look, Marco," said Penhall, "Hanson talked a lot about you. Do you wanna know what he said?" Marco’s eyes widened in surprise. Penhall continued. "He said you were the only one who treated him halfway decent in here. He said maybe you weren’t really such a bad guy underneath that prison uniform. Said you had a tough time growing up - if things had been different, maybe you wouldn’t even be here. Actually told me, "we’re kind of friends." So, Marco, were you really "kind of friends" or did you just want something from him he wouldn’t let you have but you were still trying for?"

Marco remained silent for a minute, then spoke up. "Look, Penhall, I’m sorry about what happened to Hanson. I really am. He’s not such a bad guy. BUT what’s my life in here gonna be like if I rat out who did the deed? I have another five years to go on this burglary rap."

"Nobody saw us come in here, Marco. We had already thought of that. This was arranged so no one is aware you are talking with us. And maybe," said Penhall, "some kind of deal can be arranged, provided you give us good info on what happened to Hanson and why."

"Deal as in transfer? Cause that’s what needs to be done," said Marco. "I can’t stay here if I rat these guys out. I’ll end up dead."

"It’s been discussed with Assistant DA Garrett," replied Booker. "For your information, she’s an old friend of Hanson’s, and she said she would do what she could to get the transfer for you, if you’ll give us the information we want."

Marco sighed, "Look, I’d like to help, but that’s not good enough. Take two years off the rest of my sentence, though, and it’s a done deal."

"We’ll do what we can," replied Penhall. "You have our word."

Marco paused and considered. "All right," he said. "Here’s the story: Penhall, maybe you better sit down."

"Why?" said Penhall, surprised.

"Look," said Marco, "From what I heard, AFTER it happened, to make myself clear, it was said a big cop friend of Hanson’s was overhead in the visiting room telling him he may get out soon." He looked at Penhall. "Sound familiar?"

Penhall sank into a chair, his throat closing up and his ears ringing. 'My God,' he thought, 'I caused it!'

Booker glanced at him, immediately concerned, but instructed Marco to go on.

Marco shrugged. "The story spread from there. The hit was arranged. A guard was involved to clear out the shower room. They nailed him in the shower. I think there were six. End of story. They were havin’ fun playin’ with him until it looked like he would be gettin’ out. Then they had to do it before he could leave. That’s it."

Penhall was still stunned.

Booker glanced his way - he was way too quiet. "So, who are 'they'?" Booker asked.

Marco replied slowly after hesitating a minute, "Flannelly, Wojo, Henderson, Sanders, Schillinger - I don’t know who else."

"Who was the guard involved?" asked Booker again.

Marco hesitated, then replied "Baughman."

Penhall, still sitting quietly in the corner in stunned silence, suddenly seemed to come back to life. "You mean to tell me," he said to Marco, his voice rising, "that those sons of bitches wouldn’t have done that to Hanson if they hadn’t heard me talking in the visiting room?! And just who was it that overheard this conversation?!" Then, suddenly, "I don’t believe you, you asshole! You’re just trying to get something out of this for yourself and put the blame onto a cop!" He rose menacingly, coming across the room toward Marco.

"Penhall!" yelled Booker and reached up to grab him before he could get to Marco.

Marco, seated on the other side of the table, drew himself up, wary of the fury in Penhall’s eyes. As Booker grabbed Doug, however, Marco relaxed, figuring Booker would not let Penhall attack him.

"Look, man, just remember who came to who for this information," said Marco. "I can’t help it if what I said pins the blame on you." Looking at the misery in Penhall’s face, though, and thinking of Hanson, he added reluctantly, "Penhall, it would have happened sooner or later anyway. They were gettin’ bored with playin’ with him. It was time for the deal to go down. That’s what happens in prison - people get hurt, especially ex-cops - especially little and pretty ex-cops. You didn’t cause it, Penhall. It’s not your fault, anymore than it’s mine."

Penhall was silent, staring at Marco. Silence filled the room for a moment.

"All right, Marco, if that’s it, we’re going," stated Booker. "Come on, Penhall - let’s move." He walked over to the bars enclosing the room. "Guard!" he called. He and Penhall, still in a guilt-ridden stupor, turned to go.

"Hey!" said Marco "How is Hanson, anyway?"

Penhall hesitated for a minute. "He’s alive," he said. "That’s all." Then they left.

That night, Penhall had trouble sleeping, haunted by nightmares about what happened to Hanson and how much of it he had been responsible for. Booker had tried to convince him it wasn’t his fault, but Penhall wasn’t swallowing that. He still blamed himself and became more determined than ever to make it right - and that Hanson would recover.

He met Booker early the next morning at the chapel. They made a trip to the police academy they and Hanson had graduated from to get the gun they believed had killed Hanson from a Cadet Mortillaro. They presented this gun, along with other evidence they had found, to Judge Hancock, hoping to gain Hanson’s release from prison. They were overjoyed when the Judge ordered Hanson released.

"Hey, buddy!" Penhall called out as he bounded into Hanson’s hospital room. "Good news, good news!" He looked at Hanson and smiled widely. "Guess what - the Judge ordered your release! You’re coming home, man, you’re OUT! - FREE! - you don’t have to go back to prison!" Penhall leaned over and threw his arms around Tom. Hanson looked up, his face lighting up and a real smile, straight white teeth and all - the first one in a long time Penhall could remember seeing - began to spread across his face like sunshine.

"What?!" said Hanson. His voice was filled with caution. This was too good to believed, at least without some explanation.

"You heard me, man! HOME! You’re going HOME! No more prison bars, strip-searches, solitary confinement - none of that shit! You’re going home, Hanson, you’re free!" He reached down to hug Hanson and threw his arms around him. Hanson had no idea how good Penhall felt, not only for Hanson but also for himself. The guilt he placed on himself for telling Hanson, which still had not disappeared, was killing him.

"Oh, God!" said Hanson. "You did it, Doug, you really did it?! Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!"

At that moment, the door to the hospital room opened, and Booker came striding in. "Hey, Hanson. I take it Penhall told you the news. He was so excited, I thought he’d wreck the car on the way over here."

"When can I go home?" Hanson asked, still unbelieving. His head was spinning and his mind was racing. He had never felt so relieved and thankful in his life. He could not have gone back to prison. He knew that.

"Well, I guess now that’s up to only one person - the doctor" said Penhall. "No more prison guards to worry about."

Just then Dr. Kastanza entered the room. "Well, Hanson, I’ve just been told the news by the officer at the door. Congratulations! Guess we can let the officer go home now, too."

"Doctor, when can I go home?" asked Hanson.

"That depends" said the doctor. "We’ll discuss it later. Soon, I think, based on the results of the test."

"Great!" said Penhall. "Hanson, congratulations!" Then, glancing down and noticing Hanson’s arms, "Hey, don’t let the guard leave before he takes those cuffs off!" He and Booker went out the door to hunt down the guard. "We’ll go find him."

"Fine," said the doctor. "I want to examine Tom. You can catch him later."

"OK - see you later Hanson - this afternoon." Penhall and Booker left the room.

Shortly after, the guard arrived in the room and removed the handcuffs from Hanson’s wrists. Red marks continued to encircle his wrists, even when the handcuffs were removed. Hanson lifted his hands and shook them, relishing the feeling of being able to move them at his own discretion again.

"Now, Tom, I know you don’t like this, but roll over and let me look at those stitches. Be careful of that leg."

Hanson groaned and rolled his eyes but did as he was told.

"OK - healing well." said the doctor. He pulled up a chair and looked at Tom as Tom sat back up, slowly. "I’m going to sign the release papers for this afternoon. Physically you’re okay to go. I’m giving you a prescription for pain for the cuts and bruises and the stitches. Take it easy for a while. All the physical damage will heal just fine. I’m also giving you the name of a therapist, a Dr. Terry Potter." He paused and looked straight into Tom’s eyes. "He’s a good therapist who’s had a lot of experience dealing with victims of violent rape."

Tom paused and turned his head away. "No, I’m really okay, and I certainly don’t want to talk about it to anybody. I can’t, I just can’t. I just want to go home now and start over. Home somewhere," he added as he realized he didn’t have an apartment to go home to.

The doctor sighed, "Look, Tom. . . the emotional damage is what will hurt you, and this is a big emotional blow to your psyche. People have trouble dealing with this. You’ve been through a lot, to say the least. Being imprisoned, beaten, raped," he watched Tom carefully as he said the word, noting his reaction. Tom closed his eyes and shuddered. "And now, getting out of jail. That’s a lot to handle and work through, and you will need someone, a professional, to help you. This is the kind of thing that can result in severe depression and emotional problems. It will not work to pretend this didn’t happen and just go home and "start over." It will come back to haunt you. You need to work through this with someone who is qualified to help you. You may find you need medication to help you get through this also. He’s the best one to deal with that."

Hanson just shook his head. "No."

The doctor sighed, "OK, but I’m giving you Dr. Potter’s number anyway. You may change your mind when you get home. Where are you going to stay?"

"With my mom, I guess, I don’t know where else. My apartment is gone."

"Well, I’ll leave you alone now to call your mother and make arrangements for her to pick you up this afternoon. You’ll be discharged about 2:00 P.M. I’ll be back then to make sure you’re okay and write the prescriptions. Good luck Hanson." Then he left the room.

Later that evening Hanson arrived at his mother’s house. They had all been at the hospital, then had accompanied him to his mom’s for a celebration party - Penhall, Booker, Judy, Fuller, even Blowfish - everyone in great spirits and ready to celebrate. For the most part, he had been, too. But everyone had noticed that Tom seemed a little vacant, listless, lacking something for someone who had finally gotten his freedom back. The party was much enjoyed, but everyone left still worried about Tom. That night, Tom woke up in a cold sweat, screaming. His mother came running, hugged him, and stayed up with him until dawn. It was his first nightmare.

To Tom’s dismay, he was also having trouble walking due to more than just the broken leg. It hurt to walk due to the rape, also - a constant reminder - but Dr. Kastanza had assured him it would pass soon. At least he could pass it off to everyone else as being due to the broken leg only.

His mother was kind and considerate, at times getting on Hanson’s nerves, but wanting to take care of him, and he needed and appreciated her help. Especially as the nightmares continued, and he could hardly sleep at all anymore. Penhall came by everyday after work, trying to get Tom to go out with him for pizza as he felt better, and one time Tom went. But Penhall worried about him. Something wasn’t right. He was SO depressed, SO down, and he was drinking quite a bit. He wouldn’t talk about what happened at all, although Penhall certainly didn’t push him. He was getting worried, though, as there was talk of charges being filed by the state against the inmates and guard who had plotted the attack - if Hanson would testify - but he still refused. Penhall was afraid they were going to get away with it. But it was understandable why Tom didn’t want to testify, and if Tom doesn’t want to, no one should force him.

'After all,' thought Penhall, 'as Fuller had said, Hanson shouldn’t be raped twice.'

One night, knowing Mrs. Hanson was out and Tom was home, Penhall had let himself in the house after repeatedly ringing the doorbell and had found Tom sitting on the floor of his bedroom, pale, sweating, and visibly shaken up. When asked what was wrong, Tom had replied that he had been "sick at his stomach." But Penhall didn’t buy it, and it worried him. He wandered if Tom should ever be left alone.

The next day, Hanson, appearing better and walking well, went to Jump St. Chapel for a visit with his friends at Penhall’s urging - anything to get him out of that house.

"Hanson!" called Blowfish watching him walk in the door. Booker, Penhall, and Hoffs crowded around. "How ya doin’ buddy? Great to see ya back!" said Blowfish, slapping Hanson on the back.

"Yeah, Hanson, how are you doing?" asked Booker.

Judy greeted him with a gentle hug and a smile. She looked closely into his eyes. Tom’s eyes met hers for a minute, and then he lowered them.

Captain Fuller came out of his office and greeted Hanson. "How are you Hanson?"

"OK," replied Hanson. "How are things going around here?"

"Okay," replied Captain Fuller. "Penhall and Booker are on a case at Lincoln High. Other than that, been kind of slow, actually."

Judy remained quiet. Hanson coming back made her think of Ioki, and this made her sadder still. She wished they were all together again, as they had been before Ioki was shot. She was going to see him tonight in the hospital.

They all talked for a while and Booker, Judy, Penhall and even Blowfish made plans to meet Hanson for lunch. Fuller asked to see Tom in his office for a minute before he left, but he was called to the phone. The others went back to work. Suddenly Tom was left sitting at his old desk waiting for the captain. He glanced up and his eyes happened to fall on the holding cell in which a young, small dark haired teenager and a bigger, older blonde boy were being held. They were beginning to argue and were getting loud.

'Jesus, somebody come out and bust it up,' thought Hanson, but he made no attempt to do so himself. No one else seemed to notice as of yet.

The argument began to turn physical with a few pushes and shoves. Hanson’s eyes focused on the two of them and became glazed over, seeming to go a million miles away. He watched as the bigger boy approached the smaller boy menacingly. Suddenly, the others turned as a terrified sound came from Hanson’s throat.

"NO! NO! NO!" he was screaming. He got up out of the chair and began to back away from an unseen, unknown attacker. Penhall rushed to his side followed by Hoffs and Booker. Tom’s eyes were glazed, and it was obvious he did not know he was in the chapel or who anyone was. Penhall reached out to touch him, but Hanson fought him off frantically, panic-stricken.

"Tom!" said Penhall. He reached out to touch Tom.

"NO!" screamed Tom, "NO!" He backed away from Penhall and put out his hands, attempting to keep him away from him. At this point, Penhall was terrified too.

Judy, though, reacted calmly and began to speak to him in a gentle and soothing tone of voice. "Tom, it’s okay," she said. "You’re in the chapel, do you remember the chapel and Jump Street? You’re safe - it’s okay."

It took a few minutes of soothing words and gentle voice tones before Tom’s eyes began to look calmer.

Judy, at that point, reached out to touch his arm. "Tom, she said cautiously "Can I touch you?"

"NO!" screamed Tom. "DON’T TOUCH ME!" He pulled his arm away violently, panic leaping back into his eyes.

"Okay, okay," said Judy. "Don’t worry - I won’t touch you. I won’t hurt you. No one here will. You’re safe. You’re here in the chapel. Remember Captain Fuller and Doug Penhall, your best friend? And Booker and Blowfish?"

Booker, Blowfish, and Penhall were watching quietly. Fuller went quickly to the phone again to call an ambulance. There were several more minutes of soothing words, and then Judy asked Tom again if she could touch him. This time he did not pull back, and he let Judy begin to stroke his arm gently. In a minute, Tom shook his head and his eyes appeared calmer. He seemed to "come around." He turned his head toward Judy and blinked his eyes. Judy smiled.

"Hey!" she said softly "Are you okay?"

Tom rubbed his hand across his eyes. "Yeah, I think so," he replied. He shook his head again. "What exactly happened?"

"I don’t know for sure," replied Judy, "but I think it was a flashback."

"A flashback - like acid or something?" asked Tom, bewildered.

"No, something must have triggered the trauma from the attack. You seemed to think someone was going to get you," said Judy.

At that moment, the paramedics arrived.

"Tom," said Fuller, "I don’t know what just happened, but go to the hospital. Get checked out. You’re not well."

"No, I’m tired of hospitals - sick of being locked up," said Tom. "I’m going home. I’ll be all right." Penhall, who had been standing beside his friend put his arm around his shoulder protectively.

"Tom. . ." started Fuller, then he stopped as he saw the determined look on Hanson’s face. "Look, Hanson, you really need to be checked out, but if you won’t go, I can’t force you. I’ll have Penhall take you home."

"I think that’s best" said Penhall, and they left the chapel.

"You okay?" asked Penhall as he helped Hanson get settled on the couch at his mother’s house.

"I’m fine" said Hanson. He turned his eyes away from Doug and onto the TV.

"Look, Tom, you’re not fine" said Penhall. Hanson continued to stare at the TV. Penhall reached over and grabbed the remote and clicked the TV off with a snap. "Look at me!" he said, suddenly impatient.

Tom turned toward him in surprise. "What?!" he said.

Penhall ran his hand across his face. "I know you don’t want to be locked up, but Fuller’s right. You’ve got to find out what happened to you at the chapel. What if it was a flashback like Jude said? What are you gonna do about it? It has to be worked through. And I don’t think that’s the first one. I think that’s what was wrong with you the other night, wasn’t it?" He looked at Tom challengingly.

Tom turned his head once again.

"Quit turning away from me!" said Doug. He was getting scared - this wasn’t his friend at all to just turn his eyes and avoid things.

"No, I’m fine. I’m just getting used to being out of jail," said Tom.

"That’s crazy!" said Penhall. Then, lowering his voice and speaking softly and desperately, he said, "Tom, you can’t runaway from it. You have to face the fact that you were beaten AND raped (Penhall winced at the word himself) and work through it if you’re going to survive and get your life back together. What about the therapist the doctor recommended, that Terry Potter, have you made an appointment to see him?"

Hanson lowered his eyes and shook his head no. Shame and fear flooded through him all over again. Mention of the attack out loud was all it took to evoke that response from him.

"And what about being angry, Tom? That’s what scares me. I mean, I can understand not testifying, just letting it drop, but all I see from you is. . is. . . depression, defeat. That’s not you! You should be mad as hell at those guys, and I bet you are! But I think you need to show that, too. It would be good for you - healthy! The therapist can help you with that. Tom, please do that - I’ll go with you if you want - I want you to get better. I told you that night I would be with you all the way, and I will. You are not alone," Doug pleaded. "There are things to think about. What about getting your job back? Have you thought about that? What are you going to do, if you don’t? I mean, everyone will understand if you want to do something else, but what I mean is, life goes on and you need to be a part of it - on the force or not. I will always be there - always be your best friend, whether we work together or not. I just want you to get your life back together in some way, shape, or form, the sooner the better. And you haven’t even started yet."

Tears welled up in Tom’s eyes and slid down his cheeks. Penhall put his arms around him and pulled him to his shoulder. He didn’t say a word, just let him cry.

Suddenly Tom looked up. "I - I want to see Marco."

"Marco!?" said Penhall. "What for?!"

"I blamed him for not protecting me, and I know it wasn’t his fault. He was the closest thing I had to a friend in there, and I don’t want to leave him thinking I blame him," said Tom.

"Jeez, I don’t know," said Penhall, amazed. "What would you do? Go back to prison to see him? Could you handle that?"

Tom shuddered. "NO - I’m NOT going back! I don’t know, but I want to work something out."

"What about Dr. Potter? " said Penhall, unwilling to let that go. "You know, maybe he could give you some pills or something to help you feel better." He was thinking about the suicide watch Tom had been on in the hospital. Maybe it needed to continue.

"No," said Hanson.

"Look, Tom," said Penhall, "something has to be done. You can’t go on like this. I can’t be your partner like this if you do come back to work. It’s not safe for me or you. . . OR the public, and I don’t think they will let you come back to work anyway without some kind of treatment. Especially after today."

"I just want to forget it happened," said Tom.

"I know, but I don’t think it’s gonna work that way," said Penhall quietly. "And what about the nightmares? How long do you think you can go on without sleeping? This has got to be stopped, man. Look, you’re my partner and my best friend, and I won’t leave you alone about this. You have got to get some help." He paused then groaned. "God, Tom, I am so sorry. This is all my fault." He ducked his head and tears filled his eyes.

Tom looked at him. "Why!?" he asked.

"Maybe there’s something you should know. I just hope you don’t hate me for it."

"What?" said Tom fearfully.

"Look, when I saw Marco he first said the way they found out you were gettin’ out was somebody overheard it in the visiting room. Then they decided to make their move." There was silence from Tom. "Then he said it wasn’t my fault, it was coming anyway. But I can’t help it. I still blame myself. If there was any way I could take that back, I would, but I can’t. And you were so depressed. I just want you to know I was trying to give you something to live for. I was afraid. . . you would. . . do something stupid." Penhall struggled to get hold of himself. "But this guilt is killing me." He laughed shortly. "I can’t sleep at night either."

"Doug," said Tom, "Marco’s right. It’s not your fault. Believe me, it was in the air before you ever visited me that day. I could sense it. It’s my fault, because I could sense it but I didn’t protect myself like I should have. Don’t blame yourself. I don’t blame you. I couldn’t have made it through all this without you. I know I wouldn’t have. Much more and I would have killed myself. Now you and Booker got me out. Penhall, you saved my life, don’t you know that?"

Penhall looked up, unconvinced.

"Maybe we can work something out to see Marco, both of us. I think you should talk to him again too. Because he’s right - it was going to happen anyway. I know that, it’s just you don’t. Maybe we’d both feel better," said Hanson.

Doug looked up at him, thoughtfully, wiping away the tears on his own cheeks. "Look, Tom, I’ll make you a deal," he said. "I’ll talk to Jackie about maybe working something out for the two of us to see Marco outside the prison. You PROMISE me you’ll go see Potter and get started in therapy."

Tom pressed his lips together and turned his head as a disgusted sigh escaped from him. "Damn it, Doug! And what makes you think Jackie will agree anyway, or have enough pull to get Marco out for a meeting?"

"Because I think she still cares about you - not still hung up on you or anything, but just. . .cares. I think if she knew it was for your own good, she’d pull every string she has."

There was a few minutes of silence, then Hanson reluctantly agreed. "OK, Doug, OK, but DON’T tell her the whole story. Please."

"You’ve got my word on that" said Penhall. And he rose to leave, seeing Mrs. Hanson coming in. He knew she could take care of Tom for the night. He also knew, from recent conversations with her, how relieved she would be that Tom had agreed to see a therapist. Now if he could only get Jackie to work something out.

It took a couple of weeks, but after that Jackie came through, arranging a short meeting between Tom, Penhall, and Marco in a secure room at the courthouse. She had pulled a lot of strings but was willing to do so for Tom.

Marco was seated, handcuffed at a long wooden table in the room, awaiting their arrival. There was to be a guard in the room at all times. He looked up and greeted Hanson and Penhall when they entered the room. Hanson eyed him sheepishly, apologetically. Marco smiled at him, letting him know it was all right, and tried to put out a hand to greet him, but was held back by the handcuffs.

"Hey, Hanson" he said "so how the hell are ya?"

Hanson hesitated. "Better than the last time I saw you."

Marco eyed him. "Yeah, you look a little better." He nodded his head slowly. "So, what do you two want with me?"

"I hear Jackie got you a deal," said Hanson. "That’s great."

Marco laughed shortly, "Yeah, but not so great the way it came about for you." He looked Hanson straight in the eye. "Look, Hanson, I hope you’re all right - I really do. I’m glad to get to see you, 'cause I want you to know something. I tried to tell you this the last time, but it didn’t get through. Course, you weren’t in too good a shape. I am truly sorry that happened to you, and I want you to know they wouldn’t let me in. I was turned away at the door. There really was nothing I could do - they would have come after us both. There were too many of ‘em, the guard was involved - there was no way I could have helped you out. But I’m sorry for what happened. And I am sorry I did nothing." He paused and shook his head. "If there was anything I could have done, I would have done it."

"Yeah, Marco, that’s what I wanted to tell you. Um, I know everything you said is right, and I don’t blame you. I was just so. . . messed up at the time. You’re right, they would have killed us both, sometimes I. . ." He stopped, then went on. "But anyway that’s what I wanted to let you know. And Marco, one more thing, please, please don’t tell anybody, OK? Not all of it, please. I’m not gonna press charges. I can’t. . . I can’t do that. I can’t tell anybody what happened - not all of it. Please try and understand that?"

Marco glanced up at Penhall, who had been sitting quietly. "What about my deal if no charges are pressed?"

Penhall said, "I talked to the Assistant DA. Deal still stands, as long as you talk to prison officials about the guard and get him bounced."

"No problem," said Marco. He turned back to Hanson. "So what are you doing, now that you’re out and free? Enjoying life?"

Hanson snickered. "Yeah, it’s been a blast," he said sarcastically, "just a bowl of cherries. No, seriously, I haven’t figured that out yet. No money, can’t go back to work yet, live with my mom. I don’t know what I’m gonna do." Suddenly he looked up at Marco and said, "Marco, Penhall here blames himself for what happened to me. Do you believe that?! What a load of crap! Think you can convince him otherwise?"

Marco laughed and looked at Penhall. "Stuff like that happens, man. It’s like I told you, the time had come. The only reason he didn’t get nailed sooner was because they were enjoying themselves too much toying with him, but it was in the air even before you visited him. I could feel it, especially with the guard involved. Penhall, it wasn’t your fault. If you feel guilty, stop wasting your time."

"See, Doug," said Tom. "Told you - it was in the air before. And I knew it. And I wasn’t careful enough. So really that makes it MY fault - not yours and not Marco’s. Just mine."

"That’s NOT what I meant!" broke in Marco.

"I know that’s not what you meant, Marco, but it’s what I think!" said Hanson.

"Hanson, we just went over how you had no control - there were too many - I couldn’t help - a guard was involved. How can you still blame yourself?" asked Marco, his voice rising slightly.

"Because," said Hanson intensely, "I was the only one who ever could do anything about it, just by being careful and not getting in that situation in the first place, like not taking a shower then." He turned his head way. "Or even not winding up in prison in the first place. I was the only one who could have prevented it, so it’s my fault it happened."

"That’s bullshit!" said Marco.

"Agreed," said Penhall.

Hanson shook his head. "No," he said, "no."

The guard standing in the corner approached the table. "Time’s up guys. Gotta go," he said.

They all rose. "Well, Marco," said Hanson, "Goodbye, good luck. Thanks for everything. You did help me get through being locked up." He grinned slightly, "I do have to say I hope I don’t see you again soon, though."

"Yeah," said Penhall. "Thanks for all your help with everything."

"Yeah," said Marco. "Both you guys need to stop blaming yourself." He looked at Tom. "Especially you. Go get your life together, man. If you learned anything throughout all this horseshit it should be how much you’ve got going for you. Start puttin’ it together again. You’ve got that second chance."

"You’re right," agreed Tom.

"Definitely," said Penhall.

Tom reached for Marco’s hand, shook it and said, "Take care." They walked out of the room.

In the hallway, Penhall turned to Hanson. "See, even Marco agrees. Get your life together and get back into the swing of things. I’ve held up my end of the bargain and it’s your turn now."

"I know. I’ve got an appointment for day after tomorrow at 10:00 a.m." Tom looked at Doug. "You said you’d go with me, will you still do that? I really dread this."

"Absolutely. I’ll call in sick if I have to," replied Doug.

Tom smiled at Doug for the first time since Doug had told him he could go home. "Thanks," he said, "you’re a great friend." He paused then said, "Doug, listen I just want to make sure you know. . .how much I appreciate everything you’ve done - sticking by me through all this and getting me out."

"I told you before, I wouldn’t have done anything differently," said Penhall. "If the situation had been reversed, you would have done the same thing."

"And I told you before, you would have never been in this situation. You wouldn’t have blown a case like this. You’re too good a cop. Anyway, I want to give you something to show my appreciation."

Penhall looked at him puzzled. "You don’t have to do that."

"No, really," said Tom. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a set of keys to his car. Something sparked on the leather embossed key ring - a nice sized diamond, not too big, not too small, with the name HANSON embossed on it. Penhall’s eyes grew large. He had known about this set of keys to Hanson’s Mustang and had always admired it.

"You’re dad’s key chain from the department?!" said Penhall. "I can’t take those! I know how much that means to you."

"Yeah, but I want you to have it now. And also, Doug, these are the keys to the Mustang - as you know. I also want you to have them, along with the car, if anything ever happens to me. I wish I had something more to give you, but I don’t. Those two things are the most valuable things I have."

"And also the most important things to you," said Penhall. "Tom, I can’t take these!"

"Yeah, you can. Please. I want you to. For now just the key chain with the keys. Then, if anything would ever happen to me, the car. I’ll tell my mom, she’ll arrange it. Just promise me you will." He looked into Penhall’s shocked eyes. "I’m not saying anything is gonna happen, Penhall, and I’m certainly not planning on it, just if. Please. I want to give you something, and it’s the only thing I have. I love you, man, you’re my brother. I just want to give you something to remember that." He looked up at Penhall and smiled with the playful, cajoling, almost flirty look in his brown eyes he used to use to win Fuller over when he wanted something or was trying to avoid being yelled at. For a moment he looked like the old Tom.

Penhall smiled and closed his hand around the key chain as it was dropped into his palm. "Okay," he said. "And thanks. Now let’s go get something to eat."

That night, Tom couldn’t sleep. The nightmares were worse than ever. Men in prison uniforms, guard uniforms, everyone chasing him, holding him down, beating him then approaching him, undressing. Tom woke up screaming once, feeling the pain of the rape slicing and burning through him, bringing his mother running into the room, but there was nothing she could do but hold him, and he allowed her to do this.

When Margaret rose to leave the room, Tom said, "Mom, I want you to know I’m sorry about everything - the being put in prison and everything. I know that was really hard for you. I never meant to hurt you. I love you, mom. I just want you to know that."

Tom and his mother had never discussed the rape, Margaret waiting for an easier way to bring it up, or for Tom to bring it up himself. She did not want to add to his pain and embarrassment.

"Tom, that’s not important. It’s over with now, and all I want is for you to get better. You remember that. You were the one it was hard on, not me. I understand the reason you went into Buddy’s house, and I am proud of you for it." She walked back over to him and caressed his forehead, brushing the hair out of his eyes. "I love you very much, sweetie. Good night." She smiled at Tom, and he smiled back, and she left the room.

Finally, after waking a second time from yet another nightmare drenched in sweat, he gave up and flipped on the TV. The next morning, after Margaret had gone to the grocery store, Tom got out of bed and surveyed himself in the bathroom mirror. He didn’t like what he saw. Disheveled, dark hair, large brown eyes with circles under them, too skinny.

'Jesus,' he thought, 'I look like shit. I AM shit - look what I let those guys do to me. Why did I do those things that ever led me to wind up there in the first place? I knew what could happen. Why did I just go ahead and break into his house, and why did I just walk into that shower? Why do I do such dumb things? This will never go away. I will never be normal. Never be like every other guy on the planet. No woman would ever want me - not if they knew what happened.'

Tears filled his eyes. Then anger hit. 'If I could get to them, I would kill them,' he thought. And he knew he would. 'WHY did this have to happen to me? What did I do to deserve this?' He looked in the mirror again. Waves of sadness washed over him. 'I can’t stand this pain anymore.'

Suddenly, awash in the feeling of depression that filled the very core of his being, the thought occurred to him. 'If I can’t kill them, I’ll kill myself. I’ll just end it once and for all.'

He opened the mirrored door of the medicine cabinet and took out the razor blades which were sitting in there. Quickly, swiftly, without allowing anymore thoughts to enter his head, Hanson took one out with his right hand and glanced down at his left wrist. He closed his eyes and sliced through the vein on his wrist and felt it split open. He gasped as the pain cut through his wrist and the red blood gushed out. He opened his eyes and saw the blood rapidly flowing from his body.

'Good,' he thought, 'it’s ending. No more pain.' He still did not change his mind. 'I’m sorry, mom, dad. I’m sorry, Doug,' he thought. 'But I’ve said good-bye, and you’re better off without me. How would you deal with me - with some guy who’s been where I have? Especially you, Doug, - with a partner and best friend who’s been fucked up the ass by six other guys?! People would never look at me, or at you, the same. Would probably even think you were gay for sticking by me. How can you or anybody else respect me when I can’t respect myself anymore?'

Tom took the razor blade and made three more slices down his left wrist. He began to feel woozy, and he opened his eyes and saw the blood gushing out and his arm turning red from the flow of the blood. He knew it was only a matter of time, and he felt relief. That was the last thing he remembered before he fell to the floor.

Penhall rang the doorbell and rang it again. Something was wrong. He knew Margaret Hanson had gone to the grocery store. She had called him to let him know that Tom had had a bad night and maybe could use some company and had mentioned that she needed to go out. But Tom surely should have been home. Otherwise, why would she have wanted him to stop by? It was 1:00 in the afternoon. Maybe, after the bad night, Tom was just sleeping, but wouldn’t the doorbell awaken him? Maybe not. Not really too suspicious, but something about it bothered Penhall anyway. He hesitated for a moment then pushed the door open.

"Hanson!" he called. No answer. "Hey, Tom!" He began to walk throughout the lower level of the house; kitchen, living room, one bedroom. Still no answer, still no Tom.

"TOM!" Penhall’s voice grew louder, and a growing sense of panic, of something not right, began to fill him. He bounded up the stairs and into Tom’s room, then realizing Tom was not there, into the bathroom. "Oh, Christ!" he breathed.

Tom’s slender body was lying on the bathroom floor, blood flowing from his wrist. He had fallen with his arm lying under his head and his hair was matted on the side with his blood. He looked very pale on the side of his face which was turned toward Doug. The other side looked very bloody. Doug saw the red covered razor blade lying on the floor not too far from Tom’s unharmed hand.

"Shit, man, what’d you do?!" he cried. "NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!" He knelt and swiftly grabbed Tom’s uncut wrist, Penhall’s own hands clammy and cold and his heart racing. He could detect a faint pulse. "Thank God!" he breathed to himself, then raced out of the room to call 911.

Penhall’s back was beginning to hurt. He had been sitting in a chair, back at Mercy General again, only this time on the psychiatric floor, at Tom’s bedside almost 12 hours now, leaving only when nature called or when Dr. Kastanza insisted. Dr. Kastanza hadn’t seemed all that surprised to see Tom back, or even at the circumstances under which he returned. He had thought it was a terrible shame, etc., etc., etc., taken care of him, and impressed upon Penhall and Margaret Hanson that Tom absolutely MUST see Terry Potter. It should be easier this time, though, to convince Tom of that, as he also had to stay in the hospital for 10 days, due to this being a very nearly successful suicide attempt, and would have to be evaluated by a psychiatrist during that time.

If Penhall had not happened by when he did, said Dr. Kastanza, Tom would have died. If his best friend and his mother did not want this to happen again, they would make sure he got to Terry Potter. And Doug and Margaret intended to do just that. Margaret had decided to make that a condition for taking Tom home to live with her - that he see Terry Potter. Otherwise, she didn’t know what he would do. It was the only thing she could think of, and she was not sure it would work, but she would try.

Tom stirred and moaned slightly, gaining Penhall’s attention. He watched Tom intently. Doug couldn’t help thinking, as he observed the wrappings on Tom’s wrist, how the red marks from the handcuffs had been replaced by blood, stitches, and bandages. His wrist looked smaller than it had before, even encased in all the wrappings. He wished Tom looked healthy again, the way he had when they had first met at Jump St. Hanson had never been big, but he had lost weight during this whole ordeal.

"Hey, man," he said softly, as Tom’s eyes began to open. Slowly they focused on Doug and took in his surroundings. Several minutes passed before he began to comprehend what had happened and where he was. He shook his head and looked at Doug, remembering what he had done. He felt very woozy from the lack of blood and stared at the IV in his arm pumping blood back into his body.

"Oh, God," he said.

"Yeah," said Doug. "You’re still here, buddy. I’d say God had something to do with it. It’s a miracle, but you’re still here."

"I don’t want to be here, Doug. That’s why I did it."

"Well, you almost DID do it. You almost died, you know that?" Penhall sounded almost angry.

Hanson was silent for a minute then said, "So, what went wrong? How did I wind up here, alive and well?"

"I came to visit and found you in the bathroom bleeding out."

"Well, I’m sorry you did, Doug, for you and me both."

Penhall shook his head, "I’m sorry you feel so bad, Tom, but I swear I don’t understand it. I’m glad you’re alive. I want you with me. You’re my best friend. I love you - you’re my brother. Don’t you understand that?"

Tom rolled his eyes and glared. Something snapped inside Doug. His eyes grew angry. "Look, man, what is it with you people?!" His voice was strained with emotion, and tears came into his eyes. "Don’t you ever think about anybody else? About us all who are left to deal with things without you?! How could you do this to me again? You knew my mom left me like that, and now you tried to leave me too?!"

Hanson softened, still woozy but comprehending. "I’m sorry, Doug. I just. . . I just. . . can’t take it."

"You won’t try," Doug said shortly. "You won’t try to help yourself. You can if you would just try with that doctor. I know you can, because I know you. You’re too strong for this. Just straighten up and stop being so selfish and TRY! If not for yourself, then for me. I don’t want to lose somebody close to me again - not like this. And I don’t deserve to."

Hanson looked at him, shocked at Penhall’s reaction. He was still woozy and trying to focus, but a light began to dawn his eyes. Penhall had the feeling that maybe his own pain would jar Tom into realizing this wasn’t all about only Tom. Just then Dr. Kastanza entered the room.

"Well, hello again Tom. You gave us quite a scare. What in the hell was this all about?" He did not sound very sympathetic.

"I just. . .I didn’t want the pain anymore. I still don’t."

He examined Hanson’s wrist and the stitches - 20 this time, checked the IV, made notes in the chart, then sat on the bed and looked Tom straight in the eye.

"Well, okay, I can understand that, but I’m not really one to mince words. I told you how not to have the pain anymore, but you didn’t see Dr. Potter. That was the way out of the pain, Tom, without taking your own life. The way out of the pain is to work through it. There are people who love you, you shouldn’t let them down. I’m sure you don’t want to hurt them." He looked at Penhall then back at Hanson, who was quite a bit more lucid now. "Lucky for you, whether you think so or not right now, you’re going to be okay physically. There is a mandatory 10 day hospital stay for all suicide attempts and observation by a psychiatrist. After that, the psychiatrist will give you recommendations. But you’re in here for 10 days at least."

Tom groaned, throwing his head back against the pillow and rolling his eyes upward.

Dr. Kastanza rose to leave. "Tom, you’re a smart young man. You still have a future. Somewhere inside you you know that. Somebody just has to make you feel it again. You’re mom’s outside, scared to death. She wants to see you. I’m sending her in."

During the next 10 days, the psychiatrist, Dr. Ackerman, evaluated Tom. He diagnosed him with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Major Depression. He prescribed Zoloft for Hanson to take for depression, Buspar for depression, anxiety AND sleep problems and wrote a "suicide contract" which Tom signed, agreeing to call Dr. Ackerman immediately if he felt like harming himself. Doug was also listed as a "support person" whom he could talk to. After talking with his mother and Doug, and his mother "laying down the law", so to speak, Tom agreed to see Terry Potter and made his first appointment. On the 10th day, Dr. Ackerman found that Tom was stabile enough to be released from Mercy General on the condition that he see Terry Potter and remain under constant supervision from his mother and/or Doug. Tom gladly went home.

At 9:30 a.m. the morning after Tom’s release from Mercy General, Penhall arrived at Hanson’s mother’s home and picked Tom up for his first session with Terry Potter. After filling out some initial paperwork, Tom and Doug were ushered into his office. Terry was a friendly, down-to-earth guy of around 40, a little on the heavy set side.

"Hello, you must be Tom," he said, shaking Hanson’s hand and looking from Penhall to Hanson.

"How did you know which one of us was me?" said Hanson.

"I have a file on you, and I’ve talked to both Dr. Ackerman and Dr. Kastanza, and you fit the description better than you friend," laughed Terry Potter.

"Oh," Tom breathed. The butterflies in his stomach were beginning to settle down a little as he looked around Leo’s office. The pictures, the soft blue tones, and several bookshelves and candles lit in the room seemed to have a calming effect on him, even as he just glanced around.

"And you must be Officer Penhall," said Terry and shook Doug’s hand.

"That’s right," smiled Penhall.

"Well, it’s great Tom has such a supportive friend, after what I’ve been told he’s been through."

"I just want to help," said Penhall.

"Well, together I’m sure we can work through this - if Tom is willing to," said Dr. Potter. "That’s the most important thing." He looked at Hanson.

Hanson took a deep breath, trying to get his courage up. "I’ll try," he said.

"Good!" said the doctor. "That’s all we ask. Now have a seat and let’s get started."

Hanson continued to see Terry Potter for several weeks, sometimes with Penhall, then as he began to trust Dr. Potter more, increasingly without. But Dr. Potter kept in touch with Penhall, with Hanson’s consent, as he was such an integral part of Hanson’s life. Talking about what he had endured was a difficult thing, and at first Tom had a lot of trouble doing it. But eventually, with help from Penhall and Dr. Potter, and after shedding a river of tears over things that could not be undone, Hanson began to heal. This proved to be a very fortunate thing, as the devastating news came from Fuller that, although to Tom’s immense relief the state had decided not to prosecute the inmates at Tom’s request, Tom would not be allowed back on the police force, at least not in the foreseeable future, due to the suicide attempt. Fuller had arrived at Hanson’s doorstep one day, wanting to tell him in person.

"I’m sorry, Tom," he said. "But remember, it is possible at some point, although way in the future, that maybe you can come back. Maybe this isn’t entirely final."

Hanson was silent for a minute. "I don’t know, coach," he said.

Fuller observed him closely. "Hanson," he said, "are you all right?"

Tom almost laughed. He was so sick of everybody asking him if he was all right. He had discussed it with Terry just the day before.

"Yeah," he said, "I’m just. . . surprised, I-I think." He laughed, sort of. "I really don’t know. I mean, I really don’t know whether I wanted to go back or not, even though I had put in to return. I don’t feel as bad as I thought I would. I always knew it was a possibility I couldn’t come back. Maybe I didn’t really want to after all. It just hasn’t hit me yet."

Fuller stood to leave. "One thing I want you to know, Hanson. In spite of everything, you were one of the best officers I ever served with. Things will work out for you, I know they will. Take care and keep in touch." With that he left.

"Damn!" said Penhall when Tom told him the news. "But I want you back, man, I don’t trust anybody else to watch my back. We’re partners. That can’t ever change. I don’t trust anyone like I trust you."

"Look, Doug, it changed a long time ago - you just haven’t accepted it. Someone else can watch your back as good or better than me. Especially now. You know that."

Doug shook his head, "No, there’s got to be something you can do. Some appeal or somethin’." Penhall was crushed, Tom could see that. Doug’s eyes were actually beginning to fill with tears. Doug blinked them back swiftly.

"No, Doug, I don’t think so. I’m not surprised they don’t want me back. What police force would? I’m not even sure I want to go back." Tom looked up at him, pleadingly. "Please try and understand. I’m not sure of anything yet. Even with the Zoloft and the Buspar and the therapy and the whole bit, I’m not ready yet, Doug. I’m not sure I can handle it. When Fuller told me no, and it didn’t totally tear me up, I realized it. I’m not ready now, and maybe I never will be. Maybe it’s time for a change."

"A change to do what?! I told you before - your father was a cop. It’s in your blood. And besides, you can’t do anything else! You’re not qualified for anything! I mean, no college, no training, no nothing except police work! And I want you to stay with me." Penhall was angry and blunt due to his feelings about Tom not returning.

"Wow, Doug, thanks for making me feel so good!" Hanson exclaimed. "Look, I’m sure I can do something - even if it’s just working in a factory or something just for the money until I can figure out what to do. There must be some job out there I can do even if I didn’t go to college. Maybe it’s not too late to get some training or learn to do something else." His voice softened. "Doug, I mean a change of jobs, not a change of best friends. We’ll always be that no matter what. Look at everything we’ve been through, and we’re closer than ever. I haven’t worked at the chapel for several months now. You can partner with someone different but still be best friends with me. Hell, man, we’re more than just "best friends" - we’re, we’re, I don’t know." He thought for a moment then said, "brothers in spirit. Don’t you get that? That’s as close as anyone can be."

Doug looked at him and smiled, realizing Hanson was right, but still hating to accept the fact he wasn’t returning to the chapel or to him as his partner.

"Please, Doug, just try and understand and help me through this part of it too. It isn’t easy for me either, but please try and understand."

"Sure," said Penhall softly. "You got it. And I like the brothers in spirit. You’re right about that."

"I’ve got an appointment with Leo in a half an hour. Come with me. Let’s talk to him," said Hanson.

"OK," said Penhall.

They arrived at Terry’s office and discussed the situation, Terry listening, making comments and offering insights. Tom and Doug both felt better.

"Tom," said Terry, "I think you’re at a point now where I’d like you to consider something else."

"What?" asked Tom warily.

"There’s a group called SAMSA that I think would do you a lot of good to be involved in. It’s a group for survivors of sexual abuse."

"You mean and not see you anymore?" asked Tom, alarmed. A feeling of abandonment began to seep in.

Terry laughed. "No," he said. "Actually, I run the group. What SAMSA stands for is Survivors of Adult Male Sexual Abuse. There are more of you out there than you realize. Most of them are just like you, actually. The majority were raped and abused for the first time in prison as adults, just like you, as opposed to having been abused as children in the home. So you get together, talk things over, realize you are not the only one, and help each other to heal. I lead the group. When you first came in, you weren’t ready for that. I think you are now, though. What do you say?"

Hanson hesitated. "So you mean I’d have to tell more people?" The thought still turned his stomach. The imprisonment, the rape, the suicide attempt. He still battled all the shame and the pain.

"Yes, the members of the group. But only what you want them to know as you are ready for them to know." He looked at Tom intently. "Do you trust me, Tom?"

Tom raised his eyes to Terry’s. "Yes."

"Then listen to me. There is more to this than just the imprisonment and the rape. Things have been building up for a long time with you - I think since your dad was killed. You will continue to see me outside of group just like we do now. But group will help you immensely. I know it won’t be easy, but none of this is. This is the next step toward healing. If you trust me, you need to do this. I’ll be there and Penhall will be there for you. Eventually, you may even find out that the members of the group will be there for you. Remember, they’ve been through a lot of the same things you have. And a lot of the feelings."

Hanson hesitated then looked over at Penhall.

"I think it’s a great idea, Tom, I think it’s what you need to do," Doug said. "If you have a problem, I’ll be there. Not in the group, but I'll be there right before and right after."

Hanson took a deep breath. "OK then. When would I start?"

Terry smiled. "Next Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m.," he said.

As Hanson and Penhall left the therapist’s office, Penhall turned to Hanson and said, "You know, I am really proud of you. You’ve been through a lot, and I think Leo’s right, a lot of it was building up even before all the prison stuff. But, you know, I think you’re gonna be all right - even with not coming back on the force."

Hanson turned to him and actually smiled - just a little, but Doug could see it. "Maybe. And maybe in a little while I can figure out what else I can do and get out of my mom’s house and get my life on track again. Maybe I need to start over. I can’t do it without you, Doug. Thanks for being there."

"No problem," replied Doug and smiled.


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