The words dropped on Tom Hanson's ears like a bombshell. He and Doug Penhall complete with Dennis Booker were going undercover at a high school in the middle of Waylon County. This was where all the rednecks and hicks went to school. What could possibly go wrong there? It was like going to school with Oppy Taylor and ughhhh Tom did not want to even consider Deliverance the thought sent shudders up and down his spine.
Doug's face fell as he too considered the thought of going to school in cowboy boots and Wrangler jeans. He shook his head "Cap'n you've got to be kidding " Doug flopped down on the couch and started to thumb through the files in his hand.
"Coach this school is in the middle of a corn field. I mean what is it they're doing stealing the scarecrows from farmer Fran's corn field" Tom stated with a sarcastic Southern accent.
Dennis and Doug both giggled as Fuller caught Tom in a cold as ice stare.
"No Hanson." He retorted. "There has been a string of rather harsh hazing rituals going on at this school. There have been four kids hospitalized with injuries from burns to broken bones."
"Sir, hazing is illegal." Dennis stated matter of factly.
"Yes Booker, I am aware of this and you guys are going to weed out the guilty parties. I was contacted by the Local Police Department in a desperate attempt to get this situation under control. Until the time you solve this case you three fine officers are on loan to Waylon County. Here is the address to the house you will be living in and the door key. These attacks appear to be getting rougher each time, so you need to be careful. You should also know that the younger students are the ones getting hit the hardest. They are thumping on the nerds, the jocks, it doesn't matter who no one is safe. Now remember, this is a school in the middle of nowhere so try not to stick out too badly."
"Well Doug, the McQuaids aren't going to Waylon County High." Tom snorted as he looked at Penhall who stuck out his lower lip. Booker smirked at the dramatics being played out before him.
"Boys " Fuller continued. " you are going in as brothers. You will be Doug, Dennis and their little brother Tommy Miller." Fuller laughed as he ruffled the hair on Tom Hanson's head and proceeded out the door of his office and into the Chapel.
"Hey Cap'n wait I-I'm not little brother material " Tom was up and out of his seat chasing after Captain Adam Fuller. Doug and Dennis both exploded into laughter as they walked out the door behind Hanson and Fuller.
The four men walked into the Chapel, Hanson running behind Fuller all but begging not to be the little brother. "Come on Cap " Fuller turned around looking square into Tom's eyes.
"Hanson, perhaps you would like to spend the week on special assignment, you know, Judy is on vacation and the Mayor's office is in need of an "Officer Milk Carton" for a couple weeks." Ioki who was sitting at the desk next to Hanson and Fuller working on a report for his day at the local elementary school's drug seminar dipped his head behind his fingers laughing. Hanson furrowed his brow glaring downward at the Vietnamese man, then he popped his head back up smiling, looking his superior back in the eyes.
"So, am I a freshman or sophomore in high school, Sir?" Hanson mock saluted Captain Fuller as he sat down at the table in the middle of Jump Street Chapel.
"No need to aim that low, Junior is just fine. Booker and Penhall will be seniors."
"So who failed their senior year Cap'n?" Penhall inquired.
"Neither, you've heard of "Biological Twins" right?" Fuller laughed.
"Twins " Booker pursed his lips and ran a hand through his charcoal hair then sat down on the banister next to the table.
There was a new face at the table. He was tall with dark hair with distinguishing grey lines peppering around his face. Dean's eye's were sea green and seemed to dance when he smiled. He was a nice looking man who appeared to be in his late fifties. The man was wearing blue jeans with a red blue flannel button down shirt over a white t-shirt. Fuller walked up to the man and smiled. "Dean Miller, it has been too long." Fuller and the stranger laughed and hugged clapping each other on the back. Dean shook his head agreeing with the other.
"Adam Fuller your too right." He smiled back.
Fuller then turned to his officers "Folks, this is Dean Miller; we graduated from the Academy together. He is the Chief of Police in the city of Waylon. In case you are wondering, he will be acting as sort of a guardian for you all. We thought that having you living in his house as his nephews would give you an easier time to work on this case. You are his sister's sons and she is very ill living in Alaska so she sent the three of you to him to care for until she gets well. This way you will be free to make calls and receive them from me."
"Fortunately, I didn't grow up in Waylon County so nobody will no the better about you boys." Dean stated as he clapped his hands together. "I am grateful that you're coming to help. I am at my whit's end watching the teens in my town crumble under all of the strain from this " The man's voice trailed off as he looked down at the table. Fuller placed a hand on his friends shoulder as Dennis Booker looked up from where he was perched on the banister.
"Chief Miller, were going to figure out who is responsible for this and bring them in." Dennis sympathized.
Tom and Doug both looked at each other. They had never seen Dennis so empathetic towards the plight of another human being. It was so comforting to know that Dennis was human after all.
"Well, boys," Dean looked up from his momentary melt down to address his newest undercover officers. "I'll be leading the way back to Waylon. We're on some time constraints as I need to get back to the city. If you could, pack clothing that is not so uh urban?" He wrinkled his eyebrows as he looked at the streetwise undercover cops. "you know what, pack what you need and we will deal with this later. Let's meet back here in three hours Oh, Tom Hanson, your joining the band, so bring your saxophone." He winked as Tom looked up.
"Band " Tom ran his fingers thru his hair as he thought about the musical instrument he dearly loved to play when time permitted. "Crap " Hanson blurted out.
"What's wrong?" Dean asked
"I need reeds." The younger man stated wrinkling his forehead.
Fuller laughed as he turned and walked into his office closing the
door behind him.
The drive to Waylon was so long, Tom was sure that they would never make it. The three men drove their vehicles following their superior officer for the case at hand. Tom watched as the lights, traffic, and decay of the city slowly melted away into small suburban homes. The homes then gave way to trees which in turn lead to flat farmland. He had been to the country hundreds of times; he had not ever take time to note the landscape.
There was a smell that wafted through the window of his classic blue Ford Mustang. It was the smell of grass being cut, but the smell was sweeter. Not like you would smell as you cut the grass on your lawn mower at home. More like the sweet cool smell after a rain storm. He saw an older farmer in his field driving a red tractor pulling a contraption he had never seen before. It was like a giant "field vacuum," picking up the grass clippings, but this "thing" was pulling around a wagon onto which a younger man who looked to be about sixteen or seventeen was stacking the bails of hay. "So that's how they do that." Tom said to himself as he continued past the fields. Despite his dread of this whole case Tom thought 'this really is beautiful country.'
What felt like half a century later the three vehicles and one motor cycle came to a halt at a very old, two story home on the edge of the town. The home was modest but well kept. It's white exterior complimented by the black shutters at each window. There were numerous very old, very large trees in the yard. On one low branch of a particular oak hung an old tire swing which appeared to have seen better days. The grass was beautifully manicured as the multicolored flowerbeds dotted the landscape. There appeared to be two additional vehicles in the large driveway.
Tom pulled his car into the driveway way let the care idol for a moment before killing the engine entirely. He slowly emerged from his car glancing from side to side taking in the new surroundings. The sounds were so different, the air was different it was like stepping onto a new planet.
Dennis Booker pulled up next to Tom parked his car and gunned the engine. Tom furrowed his brow glared through the window at the black Monte Carlo next to him.
"Relax little brother, just introducing myself to the neighbors." Dennis laughed.
Tom rolled his eyes and looked over at Doug who was stretching as he threw his leg over the back end of his motorcycle.
"Dennis, Doug, Tom get your things and come on inside." Dean said as he grabbed his bag from the back of his Maroon Bronco II. Dean headed for the house walking in the side door.
The officers gathered their belongings and walked into the house. They were greeted by the smell of hot apple pie, fresh baked bread and what smelled like meat loaf. Doug's spirits were instantly lifted as he realized he was very hungry.
"Boys, come on in here, I want you to meet someone." Dean's voice came from the next room over.
The three officers walked into the room and there were three people sitting on the couch.
"Boys, I want you to meet, Officer James Thompson, Principal Bonnie Woodruff, and my wife, Angela. These are my nephews Doug, Dennis and Tom Miller. They are my sister's boys. They will be staying with us for a while."
The three officers looked around the room and gave an uncomfortable "Hello" to the three people looking back at them.
Dean, my Lord, boys you've grown so much!" Angela Miller stood up and darted over to the officers and gave Hanson, Penhall and Booker each a hug and a kiss. She smiled and laughed as if she had known the boys their whole lives. "You have all gotten so handsome, and you look just like Sarah. Tom, you have your mother's cheekbones. Dennis you look so much like your grandmother. Doug, my goodness, you get taller every time I see you! You are so handsome, all of you are. Come on let's get you settled in and then will set down for some dinner."
Doug grinned at Tom and Dennis as the trio followed their new Aunt Angie up the stairs. Tom bent over to pick up his bags and turned around to look at the group of people behind him. Dean was talking to his Officer while the principal looked on. He heard Dean describing to the pair the illness his sister had and why these boys were staying with him. 'This is getting very complicated' the thought to himself. He turned to the stairs and headed up to join the Penhall and Booker. It was then that Tom started to wonder if they would really be able to make this whole charade work, and that thought scared him very badly.
Tom slowly started up the stairs from the living room. As he climbed he noticed a wedding picture hanging on the wall. He stopped as someone standing next to the groom caught his eye. "No way couldn't be." The officer let out a muffled laugh as he realized the man standing next to Dean was none other than Captain Adam Fuller, afro, ruffled cumber bund and all.
"Tommy!" A sweet voice broke into his thoughts.
"Coming!" He answered back. He glanced one more time at the photo wondering when it was taken. He noted how "Aunt Angie" looked amazing. Her lightly curled auburn hair brushed the milky skin of her freckled shoulders while her veil covered her wavy locks. She was a breathtaking, beautiful woman standing next to a dashing, young looking Dean Miller.
Tom rounded the corner up the next incline of the staircase when a pillow came out of nowhere and crashed into his head.
"Who the " Hanson watched as the guilty party stood over the edge staring back at him laughing. Angela stared down over the railing laughing next to Booker and Penhall. Tom grabbed the pillow in his free hand and ran up the remaining steps to the top chasing the trio down the hall.
"HEY!" Came the voice from downstairs. "Keep it down up there you too Angie!" Dean's voice carried up the stairwell.
"Yes Boss!" Angela laughed back. "Come on Tom, you three pretty much have the run of the upstairs." She continued walking to the end of the hallway. "This is your room. Doug and Dennis are on either side of you." She smiled at him as he carried his bag inside. The room was nice sized decorated using soft yellow and green hues. There were two paintings on the wall behind the double bed. One was of ducks landing gracefully on a pond, the other of two deer, a buck and a doe standing in a field covered in winter snow. There was a very large window with a black steamer trunk with a white cloth runner along the middle. It was decorated on top with a large antique lantern.
"Thanks." Tom answered glancing back at his hostess.
"The bathroom is at the end of the hall and the towels are in the closet." She looked up at him hers dancing as she treated him like she were his favorite Aunt. "Set your bag down and come into Doug's room with me."
Tom did as she asked and followed her to the next room. The three officers were gathered into the bed room. Penhall lay quietly on his bed. Tom plopped down onto the window seat that over looked a giant oak tree in the back yard. Looking out the window Hanson noted the slight slope to the ground and the clear blue sky reminding him, they were not in the city anymore. Angie sat down on the edge of Penhall's bed while Booker lay down on the floor feet propped up on the desk.
"I hope I didn't scare you boys too badly." She glanced around the room. All eyes were focused on her. "Dean has been working long and hard on this case. It is almost consuming him. These are good kids being attacked; I guess they are calling the attacks 'hazing'. One kid was only fourteen years old; they burned him on the arms with cigarettes. These kids are so scared that they will not talk to anyone about this, not even Dean. It was a miracle Adam was able to spare you three for a while." She stated
"Angie," Dennis began, "when did all this start happening?"
"I don't know, maybe a month ago. Dean will have to give you the exact dates, but it became a problem this last time around. Kirk Davis, Officer Shawn Davis's son, was found tied to a fence post with barbed wire. He had been beaten nearly to death. He is in a coma at Waylon Memorial. That is when Dean went to Adam. Kirk is seventeen, and they're not sure he is ever going to wake up. Kirk he's Dean's godson." Angie looked down at the floor as Doug sat up on the bed putting his arm around Angie. Angie lifted her hands to her face covering up the tears that were running from her eyes.
Standing she turned and looked at the officers "I'm sorry this has been so hard on all of us, including the town. He was the town's pride you know. He was going to Kingston State on a full football scholarship. Anyway, nobody knows who you boys are, not even the other officers at the station. Just Dean and I, that way you're safe. So that is just a little bit of what is going on here. Just be careful, I am not in any hurry to see my new nephews get hurt! So, who's up for meat loaf?" With that Angie turned around headed out the door and down the hallway.
The officers all looked at each other.
"Dennis, Doug I don't know about you but my stomach has been growling since we walked in and I can't even remember the last time I had homemade meatloaf. I think I am going to go eat." Tom stated.
"Right behind ya!" Dennis exclaimed as he raced Tom to the door. Doug looked up after the two men heading out the door and realized he was going to be late for dinner. He could'nt even remember the last time that had happened.
The officers and their extended family Dean and Angela Miller had finished their dinner and were sitting down in the living room. Dean looked at the group and then stood up walking over to the mantel over the fireplace. He looked at the three logs waiting to be burned and then back at the officers. "I have to admit I am a little concerned sending three police officers into this situation. I mean, I know that you do this everyday, but I'm worried. You boys know how to deal with drugs and street crimes "
"Sir..." Doug Penhall interrupted, "Dean, were trained to handle this. I know that this is farm country, but we've been through this type of situation and worse."
"And besides Uncle Dean," Booker began "We're not from here so we don't have to act like the good ole boy society out there. We will do our best to fit in, but we are going to stick out just a little bit at first. We're gonna be fine."
"Dean, it's going to be OK." Angie smiled as she stood up and walked over to her husband placing a hand around his waist. "They're smart boys, and I think they can handle this just fine. I think that they need to be thinking about bed since tomorrow is a school day."
"Awwww your not serious are you?" Hanson started to protest. It had been years since he was told he had to go to bed because it was a school night. "I mean, really, I think we would be fine "
Angie turned and raised her right eyebrow. She looked like his mother when she did it. Hanson ran his fingers through his hair as he looked back at his partners and then at Angie. She smiled at the officer and then looked up at her husband who leaned over and kissed his wife on the forehead.
"Uhhh, Hanson, Penhall I think that we should go up stairs." Booker grabbed the two officers by the arms and headed for the steps.
"Goodnight boys." Angie's motherly voice rang out as the
three officers's ascended the stairs.
Hanson walked into his room and surveyed his surroundings; the clock was sitting on 9:00 p.m.; the curtains were open revealing the harvest moon appearing luminescent in the darkened sky. Leaving the light off Tom moved over the window, opening it to hear the crickets chirping in the cool evening air. There were these amazing stars shining back at him. They shimmered like a beacon on the water, beckoning him towards them. He gazed back at them, lost in their glow.
"Hanson what " Penhall loudly walked into Tom's room, flipping the lights on and interrupting his star gazing.
"Shhh come here and turn the light off." Penhall slowly turned the light back out and walked over to his friend.
"You gonna hold my hand " he jibed.
"Shut up Doug and look at the sky have you ever seen them so bright before?" Hanson continued to look out his window.
Doug walked over to where his best friend crouching down on his knees at the large window. "Wow that is really beautiful." Penhall stated as he quickly became enamored with the luminous orbs in the night sky.
"It's not like this at home " Tom stated dreamily.
Tom and Doug were pulled out of their dreamy stated when the floorboards creaked at the doorway. Dennis stood there with his toothbrush in his mouth and a towel around his neck. His dark hair hanging limp over his brow, his T-shirt speckled with water from his recent shower. He walked over the duo at the window. "Is this a private rendezvous or can any one join " Dennis laughed as he crossed the floor.
"Screw you Dennis." Hanson retorted.
"Dude, look at this sky " Doug interjected.
"I know, it reminds me of the mountains where I go fishing a lot. My friend has a cabin up their, its gorgeous. You two ought to go up there with me sometime." Dennis leaned over looking up at the sky.
"Gentlemen " Angie smiled as she and Dean flipped on the light and walked into Tom's bedroom. The three officers jumped. "That sky will be there tomorrow." She sighed deeply as she reached down and patted Doug on the shoulder. He stood up and looked at Angie and Dean.
"Night." He stated as he walked to the door.
"Doug " Dean stated.
"All of you boys thanks for doing this for me " Dean said quietly.
"Your welcome Uncle Dean " Doug laughed as he clipped the man on the back. Dean smiled at the officer as Angie stepped up, hugged Penhall and shoved him towards the door.
"Goodnight Dennis " Dennis cocked an eyebrow stood up and walked over to Dean and Angie.
"Goodnight my favorite Aunt and Uncle " He stated as he leaned over and hugged Angie.
Angie hugged Booker and laughed at the officer as she pushed him to the door. She walked over to Tom as he stood up from the window. "Goodnight Officer Hanson." She smiled at him reaching up to give him a hug.
"Goodnight." He said softly as he hugged her back.
"School starts at 8:45 so I will see you boys for breakfast at 7:00. We have to register you all tomorrow so please DON'T BE LATE." Dean stated loudly to the three officers. "Remember, you're not in the city try not to be too crazy when you dress "
"Come on Dean the boys can figure this out for themselves." Angie grabbed Dean's arm and pulled him towards the stairs and flipping out the light.
"BEEP-BEEP-BEEP " The infernal sound was ringing in Hanson's ears. There was no way it was 6:00 a.m. already. Tom rolled over slapping the clock and covering his head with a pillow. The sun was streaming through the windows, the orange, red and pink stinging his sleep filled eyes. Next to his room he could here the sounds of Van Halen cutting into the walls. On the other side Doug Penhall cursing Bookers choice of a morning serenade. Tom stood up slowly and walked over to the window to see a green tractor pulling a plow drive by. He grabbed his toiletries and headed off to the bathroom to get a shower.
The smell of bacon and eggs wafted over Tom who was standing in front of the closet in his room looking at his clothes. He was getting very hungry and was not in the mood to even try and dress the part of a country boy. 'Ah screw it.' He mumbled to himself. Hastily he grabbed his torn jeans, white T-shirt, combat boots and his jeans jacket. He pulled a white bandana out of his pocket and then thought better of wrapping it around his head. He folded the material and replaced it in his pocket. He then proceeded to the mirror to look at his reflection, "well, I guess this is as toned down as it gets." He commented to himself.
"Tom, Doug, Dennis breakfasts ready!" Angie called up the stairs. Hanson walked out the door and walked around the corner and smack into Booker. Dennis had a black T-shirt and jeans complete with his black leather jacket.
"Well little brother, we're not gonna fit in at all, are we." Dennis clapped his partner on the back. Tom's skin started to crawl at the thought of being "little brother" to Dennis Booker. This was going to be a long day.
Doug was already at the table when Dennis and Tom made their way down the steps. He was sporting a flannel shirt over a white T-shirt, blue jeans and a gym shoes.
"Morning boys..." Doug stated between bites of bacon. Hanson walked over to the counter and grabbed the pot of coffee. He poured himself a cup and walked over to the table and sat down across from Penhall.
"She is a world class cook." Penhall said as he finished his eggs and toast. "Angie if Dean ever leaves you you can come live with me." Angie smiled looking up from the skillet.
"Doug, if Dean ever leaves me you will be the first to know." She laughed.
"Doug that's my wife " Dean started laughing as he walked into the room. He was wearing his uniform complete with a black Stetson hat.
"Dress up day?" Booker commented as the officer walked into the room.
"Lookin good baby!" Angie winked at her husband. Dean strolled up to his wife and leaned over kissing her on the cheek.
"I love you." He whispered barely audibly in her ear. Angela grinned as he kissed her ear while the three younger officers looked on. Dean looked up at the men as they all three turned their attention to the windows next to the table. Angela turned red as she returned her attention to plating the food in front of her. She handed the large plate to her husband who thanked her and walked over to the table.
"Okay, I need to have you to the school by 8:45 to get you registered. Fortunately Captain Fuller has done most of the work with your transcripts and registration forms. I'll go ahead and go with you today so that it looks legit." Dean and the officers finished their breakfast and got up to head for the door. "Tom, you got your saxophone?" Dean inquired.
"Yes." Tom confirmed.
"Good, one of the kids attacked was in band, so I need you there. Doug, you and Dennis are going to join the Football team. I know that Angie has told you about Kirk. I've already talked to Coach Ballard, so you guys are a shoe in." Dean grabbed a thermos of coffee and leaned over to kiss Angie one more time. She reached up and fixed his standard issue clip on tie and smiled at the man in front of her. He started out the door followed by the three younger officers. As the boys walked out the door Angie handed them each a brown bag with a packed lunch and gave them each a hug.
Penhall marveled at the attention they were getting from a woman they had met only twenty-four hours prior. She was so maternal and could not understand how the two could not have any children of their own. He could not even remember being treated like this by his own mother as a child. Angela Miller was like the mother he always wished he had.
"Boy's why don't you all ride together with me today and tomorrow, take your own vehicles."
Hanson, Booker and Penhall all slumped over to Deans Bronco II.
"Lordy, you boys all look like I ran over your cat. No wonder you are good at your jobs, you act like high school kids about your cars." Dean grinned as he climbed in the front seat.
"Hey, I resemble that remark." Penhall retorted sarcastically as he climbed into the front seat of the SUV. Booker and Hanson both climbed into the back seats. This was going to be a long day for them all.
Tom, Doug, and Dennis Miller approached the front door of Waylon County High School. Tom had a nervous feeling in the pit of his stomach that today was going to be a very hard day for them. The school was literally in the middle of a very large corn field at the corner of four roads. There was a sea of Purple jackets with gold leather sleeves pushing into the school. The students looked like the students that they saw everyday. There were jocks, geeks, pretty girls, and people of all kinds. There were the blue and yellow corduroy jackets of the FFA reading "Waylon" on the back in large yellow letters. That was something they had never seen before. Tom stared at the sea of people in cowboy boots and Wrangler jeans how the hell did he get here?
"Well boys, I can't say that this was the best choice of attire for you Tom, but, you will defiantly draw attention to yourself, Dennis, you will too. But like you said, you are from Juno, Alaska."
"Juno huh " Booker looked ahead as he stepped coolly out of the back seat of the vehicle. "The Beach Boys wrote a song about the Mid West farmer's daughters didn't they?"
"Make you feel alright " Doug quoted.
"Booker, these are high school girls." Hanson scolded.
"Yep, I can look can't touch but I can sure look." Booker stated back like a robot.
Dean shook his head. "Boys, move it." He ushered the boys past the girls and into the school building.
The building was older, built in the late 1930's with the new addition added in the early 1970's. Dean ushered the officers forward into the principal's office.
"Dean!" The secretary's face lit up. "Who do you have with you?" She looked the three officers up and down. "You're not from around here, are you?" She raised and eyebrow at Tom.
Hanson looked back at her, his face never cracking. "No ma'am." He stated back
"Helen, I mean Mrs. French; these are my nephews Tom, Dennis and Doug Miller. They are my sister's boys and they are staying with Angela and me."
"Well Dean, we'll get them fixed right up." She smiled back. She was an older lady who was lost between the decades. She had been the secretary at the school since she was twenty-five. Her hair was a dyed lemon yellow and her lips were painted bright pink. She had "cat eye" reading glasses attached to a cord. She smelled very strong of coffee and perfume.
"Well, look at this appears that everything is in order and ready to go. Boys, here are your schedules. Doug and Dennis, it looks like you and your uncle have a meeting with Coach Ballard in fifteen minutes, so you can stay here. Tom, your first class is English with Mr. Tolle, room 215 upstairs and to the left. Here is your locker assignment, and the combination."
Tom took the slip of paper and looked down at it. Band, eighth period GOD it was gonna be a long day. He didn't even have a study hall. Chemistry, Advanced Math 'SHIT' he thought to himself. 'I like being an under achiever when I'm on assignment. This means homework.'
"Tommy," the voice brought him back to reality. "You be careful and call me if you need anything. You have my wireless number, right?" Dean looked at the younger officer.
"Uhh, y-yeah " Hanson looked back up at Dean Miller.
"Go on son. You're already late. I will call if there are any changes with your mother, OK." Dean patted Tom on the shoulder.
"Sure thanks Uncle Dean." Tom smiled back at Dean. Looking at Doug and Dennis the two other officers had taken a seat in the two remaining chairs by the principal's office.
"See you at lunch Tommy." Doug winked at his partner.
"Knock'em dead kiddo." Dennis cocked his eyebrow at Tom.
Running his fingers through his hair and letting out a deep sigh, he headed down the hallway hoping he would not get lost on his way to deposit his saxophone in his locker and then onto his first class. He folded his schedule up and stuck it in his jacket pocket. He was carrying a second slip of paper to hand to Mr. Tolle when he arrived at his destination.
Tom walked down the hallway and finally caught sight of his locker, number 275. He walked over to it and began to fumble with the combination lock on the front. 25-34-36 he pushed the lever up and the door came open. He quickly pushed his instrument into the narrow opening and realized that he had no notebook paper or a pen.
"Crap!" He stated to himself.
"Is everything okay?" Tom heard a voice from behind him. He turned around to find himself face to face with the biggest bluest eyes he had ever seen.
"Uh I just realized I forgot my notebook and pencils." Tom stuttered.
"You're new?" She smiled back at him. Her brown hair was laced with blond highlights throughout. The sides had been pulled back on her head. Her generous lips were glossy and pink. He could not remember seeing a girl this beautiful at school before. Her skin was a warm sun kissed tan. She smelled like lilacs in the spring breeze.
"Yeah " He smiled back at her. "My brothers and I just started today."
"Well, you are in luck, I happen have an extra." She walked around him to her locker which just happened to be next to his. She quickly opened it up and pulled out a notebook and an ink pen and pencil. She handed them to Tom and then looked up at him. She smiled warmly and said. "I'm Alexa George, you can call me Lexi." She popped her hand out to shake Tom's.
Tom reached up and took the smaller hand in his.
"Tom Ha-Miller " he looked into her eyes and smiled back
"Well Tom, I am late for English, where are you headed?"
"English with Mr. Tolle." He offered back.
"Well Tom, come with me, I'll get you there in one piece." She laughed graciously.
"OK." Hanson followed his impromptu guide to his class.
"So, Dean, these are your nephews I have heard you talking about. Good lookin boys." Coach Ballard began. He was a tall, intimidating and very muscular man. Penhall and Dennis stood next to the coach as he shook their hands. "Your uncle, he's a good man. I am also going to assume I have not got anything to worry about with you two."
"Excuse me?" Dennis stated.
"I am not going to have to worry about any trouble or grade problems from you and your brother." Coach Ballard stated as he looked at the two officers doubling as teens in front of him. "I'm counting on a winning season this year. We have had a minor set back loosing Kirk, but Dennis you and Doug here seem to be set for tight ends. The position of quarterback has been handed over to Darren Thompson."
"Well " Dean smiled sounding surprised. "it's good to hear something positive coming from this mess. Boy's, Darren is Officers Thompson's son. I've known Darren since he was in diapers."
"Yep, were gonna miss Kirk, but I think that Darren could very well take us all the way. Dennis, I think that maybe we might see how good you're arm is. We may need to have you as a backup quarter back for Darren."
"Thank you for this Dan." Dean stated as he stood up shaking hands with the football coach.
"Hey, don't mention it." Dan Ballard stated back. "I'll see you two after school today, dressed and ready by 3:45 p.m."
"K." Dennis responded looking at Doug.
"Coach, how long do practices normally last?" Doug asked
Coach Ballard turned to the taller officer and patted him on the back. "As long as they need to." He responded.
Doug furrowed his eyebrows and looked at Dean.
"Uh, Coach Ballard, I need to know when to pick them up today. I drove them in today."
"That will be great." Dean smiled as he led the boys out of the coach's office. Once in the hall way he turned to the boys. "Doug, Dennis, I am sure that whoever is responsible for these attacks are probably on the football team. These guys are mean and I don't want either of you hurt, so please be careful. Call me at lunch to let me know that you and Tommy are in one piece. I will see you both at six and I will be in at 3:30 to pick up Tommy, so let him know."
"Copy Chief." Dennis raised his eyebrow to the older man in front of him.
Dean smiled at Doug and Dennis, "Please be careful, and don't forget to let Tom know I will be here at 3:30."
Dean turned and walked down the hallway, black Stetson in hand. He turned and looked at the boys who had taken their schedules out of their pockets and were comparing where to go next. He slowly proceeded to the vehicle, opened the door and stepped inside. Once inside, he bowed his head and whispered a prayer that the three officers would be ok and that this case would end soon.
The school day felt like it was dragging on forever. Tom had started the day reminding Booker and Penhall that the girls of Waylon County High were all off limits then he met Lexi George. She had taken Tom under her wing showing him where to get from one class to the next in the quickest manor. The day was going great and then the bell rang to signal the end of fifth period and the start of the thirty minute lunch period. Tom made his way to his locker as a sea of students pushed their way out of various class rooms. Tom got to his locker and had begun to fumble with the combination lock again when he was slammed violently into his locker. A forearm held Hanson's face flat against the locker, while another fist sucker-punched him directly in the kidney.
Hanson gasped out loud as the sudden influx of pain caught him off guard. Tom struggled against the arm securing him in place. He winced and closed his eyes to the pain. The arm which secured him in place had a jacket with slick leather sleeves. The person holding him had big hands and nobody seemed to want to mess with him. No one said a word as the person attacked Hanson from behind.
"Stay away from my girl new blood, or the next time will be worse!" The voice was harsh and cold. His breath blew hot on his face as a bit of saliva dotted across Hanson's face. There was a hand that came up and slammed Hanson's face into the locker again and then released him as the officer fell to the floor. In the chaos of the hallway Tom had not been able to see who had assaulted him. He knew that the person wore a letterman's jacket, but the purple and gold seemed to surround him on all sides as the students continued to dash by. Tom got the feeling that he had just made an enemy he did not want to make.
Hanson reached up and touched his cheek with is hand as he lay his head against his locker front. He looked up as the last of the students scurried by him. He slowly stood up and turned to his locker. Shakily he opened the door and placed his notebook inside. He then closed the door and walked in the direction of the cafeteria.
Tom made his way through the line and found Booker and Penhall sitting at the end of a table by themselves. Tom walked over to the table and sat down.
"Damn Tommy, first day, and you got your ass kicked already!" Dennis commented loudly.
Tom slammed his tray down onto the table and looked bitterly back at Booker.
"Yo Tommy, what happened." Doug asked as he lifted Hanson's face to examine his cheek. "Wow, who did this."
"Don't know." Tom hissed back.
"What do you mean you don't know?" Booker asked.
"I DON'T KNOW!" Hanson shot back "Did that help, because I can write it out for you."
"Cool it Tommy." Doug leveled his eyes at Tom. "Did he say anything?" Penhall inquired.
"Yeah " Tom trailed off.
"What?" Booker asked.
"Told me to stay away from his girlfriend "
"Shit Tommy what happened to they're under eighteen?" Dennis laughed.
"Cram it, Dennis!" Tom spat back looking down at his tray. Hanson could not stand Booker reminding him of something he had said earlier. This just continued to chew at him until he looked up and saw Lexi standing next to a giant ox in a purple and gold letterman jacket.
"That's her " Tom stated pointing across the room. Doug and Dennis both looked at each other and then at the girl Hanson pointed out.
"Well Tom, if your going to break the rules " Doug began.
"Or get your ass kicked " Dennis chimed in.
"At lease she's a looker " Doug laughed picking a limp French fry up and shoving it in his mouth. Dennis let out a low whistle as the boy with the letterman jacket looked up and glared in the direction of the three officers.
"Who is it." Tom asked.
"I think that is the new quarter back for the Waylon County Indians. I think that's Darren Thompson." Dennis said "I also think that he may be the one who is responsible for Tommy's cheek.
"And how do you know this, genius?" Hanson asked sarcastically.
"He was in my Government class." Booker answered back, his voice dripping with the same blatant sarcasm.
"Look Tommy, keep your nose away from anymore trouble. Dean will be here at 3:30 to pick you up, so be ready. We will be getting out of practice tonight at six, so we will see you then. We have a lot to do and Dean is gonna want some answers, especially about your face. He also thinks that these are football boys are the one's responsible for all the trauma in this town. My guess is that Darren here has a little to do with this." Doug said a look of concern crossing his face. Tom stood up and walked with Penhall and Booker as the three proceeded over to the trash cans to dispose of their garbage.
"You guys be careful, I have a bad feeling about all of this." Tom said looking at Booker and Penhall.
"Don't be a worrywart baby brother..." Dennis ridiculed. "We decided to look and not touch."
Doug looked at the floor shaking his head while Hanson furrowed his brow, steaming at the jibe. Penhall grabbed Booker by the arm and walked forward. "See ya tonight Tommy." Doug shouted over his shoulder.
Tom turned and walked towards his next class, only two more periods and I can go breathe mental note stay away from all pretty girls and don't get your face slammed into a locker again. He just hoped that Doug and Dennis faired better with Darren then he had the first time.
The second part of the day flew by rather quickly. Tom was careful not to attract any more attention to himself than he had already. He hadn't seen Lexi since lunch and really didn't want to explain the bruise on his cheek to her. The bell rang for eighth period and Hanson got to his locker, grabbed his saxophone and ran. He had a bit of ground to cover before class. He ran outside and up the back stairs, threw open the door to the hallway outside of the band room and smack into an iron chest.
"Watch it punk " Darren's cold blue eyes burrowed straight into Tom's. He grabbed Tom by the shirt and proceeded to run him into the wall. Something caught his attention as he let Tom go and his eyes warmed up. Tom took a deep breath as the grip holding him relaxed. "Hey Baby." He said in a singsong voice.
"Darren " Lexi smiled, her blue eyes dancing as she snuggled into his chest. He moved away from Tom. She arched her neck and pushed herself up onto her tip toes, wrapping her thin arms around his neck she kissed the football player in front of her. He leaned over wrapping his hands around her narrow waist, he gently planting his lips against hers returning the display of affection. Tom slid along the wall into the band room carrying his instrument case.
"You must be Tom Miller." A female's voice stated out of the blue. Tom turned in the direction of the voice to see a tall woman standing by the music stands. "Hello, I'm Miss Harner." She said as she approached the officer. She held out her hand and offered a firm handshake. Hanson returned the gesture. "How has your first day been?" She asked
"Long " he returned with a nervous smile running his fingers through his dark locks.
"Believe me, I understand. I have been doing this about three years now and I am still nervous on my first day of classes." She was a young lady with a bright twinkle to her eyes and an understanding smile. Her long brown hair flowed gently over her shoulders in loose curls. She was very tall and had a commanding presence to her. "There is a seat for you next to Jeremiah, but I may be moving you. I need to listen to you play a little bit. From what I here about you from your uncle, you're pretty good." She winked at him walking out of the room.
By the end of the period Tom was set to play in a quartet on the sidelines for their marching band show. He was given a position to march in on the field and would be issued a band uniform later that week. He wasn't sure if he could remember all the positions he was to stand in as they marched. Miss Harner had promised him that if he would take it slow and learn what he could and she would place him in the show when he knew the steps well enough. Until then he would play in the stands and would be in the Quartet on the sidelines. The class had been great, but trying not to be distracted by Lexi, the drum major standing in front was hard. Once class had ended he darted over to the side to disassemble his instrument and get out before she had a chance to notice him.
"Tom!" Too late, he turned his head and saw Lexi George walking up to him, her hair bouncing off of her shoulders with each carefree step. Tom rolled his eyes and let out a sigh.
"Hello Lexi." He returned.
"What happened to you?" Her eyes narrowed as she caught sight of the purple bruise on his cheek.
"Uhh, I cut a corner to tight and I uhh hit the door frame." Tom lied cocking an eyebrow at her. "Really, it looks worse than it is." Tom lied again. His kidney still ached where her boyfriend had possibly assaulted him earlier. His cheek had been throbbing all day as the purple and blue blended together to an unhealthy black color on his face. He felt miserable lying to her, but how could he tell her that her boyfriend was an ass.
"Wow, be careful next time." She smiled at him lightly rubbing his shoulder. Tom continued to remind himself that her boyfriend may have assaulted him earlier and had slammed him into a wall just forty-five minutes before. "Hey, Miss H. wanted me to give this to you and let you know that there will be practice after school on Tuesday and Thursday. She is going to have your uniform ready on Thursday also."
Tom flipped the latches closed on his instrument case and picked it up. He was standing toe to toe with Lexi who smelled so good. He looked down at her and she looked back up at him. She was beautiful, but she was also seventeen.
"Look, I gotta go, my uncle is going to be in the parking lot in about two seconds." Hanson told Lexi. "Thanks for everything today." He said quickly walking away.
"Have a good night, see you in class tomorrow." She grinned as he walked away.
Hanson nodded over his shoulder as he ducked around the corner when he saw Darren making his way to the band room. Tom wanted to check into his new friend Darren and find out a little bit more about him.
Hanson made his way to the front door of the school through the multitude of students. The students seemed removed from reality. They walked carelessly through the halls cracking their gum and talking. Tom walked out the front door looking for Deans Bronco II in the sea of parents and students vehicles. Tom spotted Dean leaning on the SUV looking at a file and talking on a wireless phone. Dean looked up and saw the young officer slowly making his way to the parking lot. Tom was carrying a stack of books and a saxophone case. He walked slowly weaving in and out of the other students.
The afternoon sun glinted brightly off of the silver chrome bumper of the vehicle. Tom glanced up as the sun reflected into his eyes. He looked back down the ground as he made his way over the Dean.
"Hey sport, how was you're MY GOD TOM!" Dean started out smiling and then his expression turned stormy.
"Relax; it looks worse than it is." Tom replied nonchalantly. He walked to the other door and placed his belongings in the back seat, shut the door and proceeded to the front seat to climb in. Once inside Dean looked over at Tom's face. He slowly placed his finger under the officer's chin and shifted his face to one side.
"Tom who did this?" Dean asked.
"Darren Thompson, I think. He blindsided me by my locker."
"Tommy " Dean seemed concerned for the young officer.
"I'll be alright." Tom stated looking back at the man. "It hurts a little right now, but I'll be fine "
Dean looked back at Tom who looked back at his superior "Are you sure, I mean I have known Darren since he was a boy."
"Dean, I don't know for sure, but he grabbed by the collar outside of the band room and when his girlfriend showed up he let me go."
Dean looked at the steering wheel and then let out a deep sigh. He shook his head and then looked back at Tom. "Are you ok, did he do anything else?"
"I'm sorry Dean, this day has really sucked and I feel like I'm getting nowhere with this case and now this " Tom pointed at his cheek. "I got hit because his girlfriend talked to me today."
"Tom I know that his is rough, you guys are like a fish out of water here, but I know you guys can do this. I talked to Adam Captain Fuller today and he was concerned about you boys, but he also said if anyone could figure this out, it is you three."
"Thanks Dean " a slow smile spread across Hanson's face.
"Want to watch some of football practice tonight?" Dean asked raising an eyebrow.
"Sure, but can we get some pizza first I'm starved." Hanson grinned.
"Well Angie will ahh sure, I'll buy; you can't tell Angela, she'll have my hide."
As the vehicle drove away they passed the football team moving down to the football field. Darren spied the young passenger in Captain Dean Miller's SUV. Tom he must be Doug and Dennis's younger brother. A slow smile spread across the senior football player's face. This was going to be better than he thought
Tom and Dean pulled up to the school at 5:30 to watch the rest of football practice. They walked over to the stadium and through the gated entrance of the chain link fence to the bleachers. They walked down to the middle row of metal stadium bleachers and sat down. They could here the coach talking to the players.
"Dennis Miller, I want you to throw as quarterback for the purple right now. Thompson, take the bench for a bit."
"Coach, I " Darren pulled his helmet off and walked over to the coach.
"Darren, don't argue with me, bench, NOW!" Coach Ballard commanded.
Darren stormed over to the bench talking to the group of players standing along the sidelines preparing to enter the game. Hanson looked around trying to find Penhall in the flood of purple and gold.
"Dean, where's Doug, I see Dennis."
"Number 75." Dean answered.
Tom shook his head as he spotted the large man in full gear on the
sidelines. He then returned his attention back to watching the remainder
of practice. The coach blew the whistle and the players talking to Darren
on the sidelines returned to their positions on the field. Dennis who
was in jersey number 33 walked up behind the players holding the ball.
"Blue 32 hut HIKE!" The words came out of Bookers mouth as the oval shaped brown leather ball snapped easily into his hands. Booker took a number of running steps backwards glancing from side to side looking for a person to pass the ball to. Dennis quickly made eye contact with his intended recipient and volleyed the ball in the direction of the other player. It was then a rush of about six players charged at Booker tackling him to the ground. The men piled aggressively on the officer and a whistle blew.
Doug had been on the sidelines watching as the six players took his partner to the ground. He had heard the assistant coach blow the whistle, signaling the end of the play, and waited for the crowed of men to get off of Booker. The assistant coach walked over to the pile of men,
"Break it up!" He shouted angrily as the men were not moving fast enough off of the fallen quarterback. Slowly the men stood up and moved away. Dennis slowly got to his knees holding onto his left side. He felt some pressure on his left side as one of the men had used him for a support in order to stand up. Booker slowly stood up and moved back over to his position on the field. He bent over at the waist with his hands on his knees trying to take a deep breath and then slowly stood back up again. The pressure in his side was starting to become a sharp pain.
"Run it again good hustle their Dennis!" The coach beamed. Dennis nodded his head and gritted his teeth as the pain in his side was growing more intense. Dennis swallowed hard and took his stance.
"Blue 32 Blue 32 Hut HIKE!" Dennis shouted as the ball snapped back. Dennis caught the ball and again moved back two steps and BAM! The sound echoed through out the stadium as a line of players ferociously took the fledgling quarter back to the ground.
Tom felt himself jump as the crushing sound of pads and helmets collided with his partner. Whistles blew and there was a rush of movement in the direction of the pile up. There was a scuttle on the field as several players stood and Hanson was sure he had seen someone throw a kick in the direction of a downed player. No they wouldn't
"Hey!" Doug shouted. He watched as Dennis slowly tried to stand up only to fall back down again. Dennis was panting rapidly while clutching his left side. Doug started to move forward when a hand grabbed his arm. Penhall turned and looked at Coach Ballard. "Did you see that?" Doug insisted.
"What?" The coach responded. Of course he hadn't seen anything he was busy talking to one of the assistant coaches about the next play when the kid kicked at Dennis.
"He kicked Dennis." Doug tore free of the coaches iron grip
to get over to Dennis who was still faltering in his attempt to stand.
He had managed to get to his knees only to collapse into the fetal position
on the field.
The pain was intense at it ripped at Bookers ability to breathe. "Ahhggg " He struggled to stand and then fell from his knees back to the ground. He fought to regain his breath as the clutched at his damaged side. He was winded, but there was sharp more intense than the pain from earlier. Dennis rolled onto his back and then onto his side where he remained.
"Dennis!" Dean jumped to his feet and ran the steps down to the field followed closely by Tom Hanson. The duo made it to the field shoving and pushing their way to the front. Doug was on the ground with the team trainer and Coach Ballard next to Dennis. Doug had a look of anger and concern clouding his features. Dean and Tom both dropped to their knees next to the injured officer.
"I think he has a bruised rib, could possibly be cracked." The trainer said looking up at the trio. "We need to get him to the ER to be sure." Coach Ballard looked down at Dennis and then back at the trainer.
"I want him checked out, and then I want a full report back."
He patted Booker on the leg and looked up at Dean with fear in his eyes.
"He's good Dean, I don't want to loose him too."
"Dean " Booker gulped down a ragged breath and looked at his temporary commanding officer. He winced as the breath tortured his insides.
"Yeah son, I'm right here." Dean answered.
"Hurts to breathe." Booker choked out.
"I know, were gonna get you all fixed up Dennis, just hang in there." Dean looked up at Tom and then at Doug.
"Ambulance is on its way Coach!" The assistant coach ran
back breathing heavily.
"But Coach "
"Doug, go get a shower and I will drive you to the hospital myself." Coach Ballard reiterated.
"Yes sir." The defeated Penhall turned and looked at Hanson as Tom rose to his feet.
"See ya there Doug Hanson looked up at Doug squinting as the evening sun caught his eyes as it started to droop below the trees.
"Yeah " Doug slapped Tom on the shoulder looked one more time at Dean and Dennis. Dean had helped to get Bookers helmet was sitting on the ground holding the officers hand. He then proceeded in the direction of the locker rooms. "I'll see you in a bit "
"Doug!" Tom yelled. Penhall turned his head in the direction of Hanson. Tom moved quickly to his partners side.
"Be careful I think that someone " Tom began.
" kicked him." Doug interrupted. "I saw it. Do you think that "
"Darren, he didn't do it, but he arranged it. This is my fault " Tom stated running his fingers through his hair as the magnitude of what had happened sank in."
"No, you didn't do this Hanson " Doug began
"Showers Miller, NOW!" Coach Ballard looked over at his player. "You have ten minutes; I will pick you up at the door, now MOVE!"
"Yes sir, Coach." Doug gave Tom a sigh and ran to the locker
Darren Thompson walked into the locker room and patted Glenn Wise on the shoulder.
"This isn't finished yet." He stated quietly to the other student. "I am nowhere near done with Tommy Miller " He pulled off his tattered practice jersey and tossed it into the locker and stood facing the men gathered in front of him, his broad, chiseled shoulders rising and falling with each deep breath. "Keep it quiet for now, we'll finish this discussion later "
"Fuller here." The words rang in Tom's ears.
"Hey Coach " Hanson said halfheartedly.
"Hanson, how is every thing going in the country. How's Dean and Angie treating you all." Fuller responded enthusiastically.
"Well Coach, Dean and Angie are great, but " Tom stopped mid sentence.
"But what Hanson."
"Is he ok? What happened? Can I talk to him?"
"Cap, he's fine. He may have a cracked rib. The doctor is with him now."
"Hanson, how did this happen?"
"Well, he and Doug were at football practice and well, to make a long story short. The quarter back, didn't like the fact that Dennis was being considered for his position."
"Who is this kid that worked Dennis over?"
"Well Cap'n he is the son of one of Dean's police officers and he personally didn't do any thing to Dennis. He had someone else do his work for him." Tom answered.
"His name, Hanson." Fuller demanded.
"Darren Thompson, his father is Officer James Thompson."
"Really " Fuller responded. "Do you think this Darren kid might have anything to do with these beatings?"
"Well, yeah we think that Darren is the ring leader. He, I think, attacked me in the hallway today because I talked to his girlfriend."
"What do you mean you think?"
"Someone caught me from behind and ran my face into a locker, I never saw him. He threatened me and then later grabbed my outside of the band room and ran me into a wall. He stopped as soon as his girlfriend showed up. Sir "
"Hanson," Fuller interrupted. "You three better be careful. It sounds like you have your hands full there. I am going to have Harry do some research on the Thompson kid and I'll get back to you."
Thanks Cap, you might also want to know that the quarter back for Waylon County is currently in the Hospital in a coma and is not expected to recover." Tom added.
"Dean's godson, I know do you think that this Thompson kid had anything to do with it?"
"Cap, I'm sure of it I just can't prove it yet."
"Hanson, how's Doug?" Fuller inquired.
"He is on his way over from practice. The coach gave him ten minutes to get cleaned up and he was going to drive him over. He should be walking in any minute." Hanson answered.
"Hanson, I want you to have Dean call me when he can and let me know what is going on with Booker. I will be getting back to you with information on Thompson. In the mean time, stop beating yourself up over Booker, I'm sure he will be fine."
"Coach " Hanson was cut off.
"I can hear it in your voice. It's not your fault. Just keep me up to date and I will be in touch. Tell Booker I expect a call tonight and Hanson "
Stay away from the girls." Fuller jibed.
"Good-bye Sir." Tom rolled his eyes as he hung up the pay
phone in the lobby of the emergency room.
Tom walked through the empty emergency room at Waylon Community Hospital. Tom's thoughts were on Kirk Davis, he was in a coma across the County at Waylon Memorial. What if they had hurt Booker worse? Tom could not shake the feeling that this was all his fault. Tom rubbed his tired eyes as he sat down on a hard plastic chair in the 1970's style waiting room. He had propped his elbows up on his knees and buried his face in his hands when a gentle female voice jolted him out of his thoughts.
"Tommy " Hanson looked up to see Angie in the doorway walking his direction with her arms outstretched. Tom stood up again and walked in the direction of Dean's wife.
"Dean just called have you seen Dennis yet?" She asked as she wrapped her motherly arms around the young officer. Her hair was pulled up into a ponytail and her sunglasses set atop her head like a crown. She smelled of fresh flowers mixed with the cool evening outside air. She pulled him to her and Tom allowed himself to get lost in her loving embrace. In the back of his mind he wondered why on earth these two had never had children of their own.
"No." Was all he said. Angie reached up and brushed Tom's hair to the side as the officer pulled out of the hug.
"Your face " Angie's expression turned to concern as she reached up and touched his cheek. "Tom, what happened?"
Tom sighed deeply as he looked at the floor and then at the lady in front of him. Not again, he really didn't want to explain this again.
"Darren Thompson " He stated.
Angie shook her head. She looked at the angry discolored mark on Hanson's handsome face and felt her blood begin to boil. "Did he have anything to do with Dennis?" She asked angrily.
"I think that he might have." Tom answered slowly.
She shook her head and looked around the room and then back at Tom. "He has always been trouble. Jimmy, his father, he has a heart of gold, but this boy. He is mean he was always doing something destructive and just plane evil. He was abusive to his mother when she was dying of cancer. I just don't know where he got this mean side." Angie was shaking with her fists clenched in rage. Tom wrapped his arm around her shoulder and walked her over to one of the brightly colored plastic chairs and sat her down kneeling in front of her.
"Angie, calm down. You can't help Dennis getting all worked up. Were going to get him, we just have to have some more solid proof that it is him were "
"Were what?" Angie's jaw quivered as she looked at the officer in front of him. Tom's eyes fell to the floor as he realized he had said too much already.
"Oh my GOD
" Her jaw dropped as she started
to piece together what had been happening. "Darren
"I know, I know Tom, I'm just so angry right now" Tears were starting to well up in her eyes as she reached up and brushed a stray hair out of Tom's eyes. "Just promise me you boys won't let anything happen to you " she said trying to smile.
"We'll try." Tom said letting a slow smile spread across his face.
"Where's Dennis!" Doug Penhall walked in with Coach Ballard on his heals. Tom and Angie both jumped to their feet as the officer entered.
"There still in the back." Tom said looking at his partner.
"What's going on, do we know anything yet " Coach Ballard chimed in. "Excuse me, Angie; sorry that is a fine couple of athletes you have."
"Thanks, Coach this is my other nephew, Tom." Angie said.
Coach Ballard reached out to shake Tom's hand. "Son, are you a runner?" He asked Tom.
"Uh band geek." Hanson responded with a grin.
Coach Ballard smiled and looked the officer over. "You look like a runner to me." He offered with a smile, "but we can't all be perfect."
"Yep my mother told my brothers that once " Tom responded with a grin.
Dean walked slowly into the waiting room running his fingers through his hair. The man had a look of relief on his face.
"He's gonna be fine. He has a couple of bruised ribs and a pulled muscle. The doctor says that's why he was having so much trouble getting his breath. He should be ok in about a week."
"Can we see him." Doug and Tom said in unison.
make it quick. He's getting dressed and then we're
going home." Dean said as he reached for his wife wrapping his
arms tightly around the woman.
Hanson and Penhall rushed back to see Dennis trying to pull his jersey back over his head. He let out a groan as the pain of moving became to much for him.
"Need a hand." Penhall laughed.
"Not funny man and yes I do." Booker panted as Doug pulled off the flannel shirt he had over his white t-shirt and handed it to Booker. "Doesn't quite match does it." Booker laughed and then winced as he buttoned the garment and compared it with the slick white color of his football pants.
"Gorgeous " Hanson said raising an eyebrow.
"I swear someone is getting as ass kicking tomorrow." Booker said as he sank into the hospital bed again clutching his damaged ribs. "Who kicked me, Penhall?" Booker asked looking up at Doug.
"I didn't see who did it, but my guess is that Darren Thompson had something to do with it." He responded.
"Booker, I'm sorry " Hanson looked at the injured officer with the feeling of guilt washing over him again.
"Hanson, this isn't your fault. You didn't set me up--and you sure as hell aren't responsible for this. I think--that Darren had his eye me when he found out I was--coming in as a possible quarter back. That means you need to watch out for yourself--both of you. He's gunnin for blood--and he aint gonna stop till he gets what he wants." Booker took another labored as the two officers standing in front of him let his words sink in.
"Knock, Knock." Angie's voice could be heard on the other side of the green curtain.
"It's ok Angie, come in." Booker said out loud.
"Hey, how are you feelin?" She asked leaning over and giving him a peck on the forehead.
"Better now." He grinned, his cocky nature was slowly returning.
Angie blushed as she rubbed the officer on the head. "Good, Dean's bringing the cars around. One of you can ride with me and the others with him "
"Shot Gun!" Penhall called loudly.
"I'm going with Angie." Booker panted.
"Guess I'm in the back seat." Hanson shrugged.
"Ok can you guys help me get the cripple to the car and I will see you at home." Angie smiled.
I resemble that
" Booker grimaced with his
first steps. Hanson and Penhall each took a side helping the injured
officer to the waiting car.
The day following the incident with Booker went by rather quickly. Tom had done and amazing job of avoiding contact with Darren Thompson and the girlfriend that seemed to be the cause of all his trouble. He made it all the way until just after lunch when a foot came out of nowhere and caught his feet toppling Tom to his knees on the floor.
"Oh so sorry Miller did you hurt yourself?" The body belonging to the overly friendly voice in the sparsely populated hallway came strolling over to him. Tom tried to ignore him as he quickly gathered his books up from the floor. A hand came down and grabbed him by the collar and pulled him up from the floor.
"You ignoring me punk?" Darren asked his icy blue eyed stare boring a whole through Tom's brown eyes. Darren drug Tom around a corner to a narrow corridor. Darren's friends shoved Tom's books against the wall as the trio of men and their prey rounded the corner away from the prying eyes of the school. "You are one dumb s.o.b." Darren said to the officer as he shoved Hanson into the vacant hallway next to the boiler room.
Tom was beginning to get a little anxious as he realized he was alone. He was still angry about Booker and the two other times he had run into Darren already. Doug had told him he would meet him after seventh period to call and check on Booker. Booker had been told by Fuller to follow the doctor's instructions and take the day off and stay home. Much to Dennis's protests he finally agreed if the two other officers would call and check in. Hanson realized he would not be missed for right around an hour.
"Darren, the way I see it you're the idiot here." Tom said with a smug expression. He started to get braver as he took a step forward and pointed his finger at Darren. "It wasn't the best idea for you to take out the quarter back, of the football team so you can have his position and then try and take out Dennis. Because it's only a matter of time before you get caught." Tom spat back.
Darren grabbed Hanson by the collar smashing his smaller body against the cold hard limestone that supported the inner walls of the school. Hanson closed his eyes as the impact was so hard it jarred his whole body.
"Darren, come on let's get the hell outa here before we get caught." Aaron Williams pleaded.
Darren glared over his shoulder at the boy standing just behind him to his right. The six foot three inch muscular high school student drew his right fist back and then lunging it forward buried it deep into Tom's chiseled midsection. Hanson gasped loudly as the jab shoved the valuable oxygen from his lungs. His legs started to buckle as the much bigger man pulled the smaller man closer to his moving lips. Tom registered nothing as his ears were ringing from the most recent assault on his body.
With his hot breath blowing hard into Hanson's ear, Darren's lips nearly brushed against his face as he whispered harshly into his left ear. "This isn't finished yet you piece of shit " Darren lifted his right hand while continuing to hold the officer against the wall and backhanded him across the face. Tom fell to the ground with a loud thump. Hanson crumpled onto his side clutching at his stomach. Tom gulped and heaved searching desperately for the precious air that had just been slugged out of him. He closed his eyes as he felt a sudden onset of dizziness accompanied by a low pitched hum in his ears. The world felt like it was closing in around him when he let out a low grown as the sound of gym shoes squeaked in retreat around him.
Tom laid in a heap on the floor the world spinning around. Slowly he felt the stolen breath returning to his starving lungs. He slowly lifted a hand to his face. His lip was stinging and he could taste the blood in his dry mouth. He squeezed his eyes closed as he slowly shifted, pulling his knees up under his stomach and then into a sitting position on the floor. Tom sat on the floor long after the tardy bell rang, like a cruel joke reminding him that he was not only late for class, but he was a fish out of water in a rural school that surly could have no real problems. There were no gangs; these kids were all farmers and future teachers. What in the world was wrong with Darren Thompson; moreover, what the hell was up with the people who did his bidding? This place is a mess.
Tom stayed in place on the floor cradling his head in his hand waiting for the dizziness to subside.
Penhall darted from his class to the communal phone booth to meet Hanson following class. He waited three minutes for the officer before deciding that he would pick up the phone and make the call on his own. He hoped the missing officer would turn up shortly.
"Hello." The voice was warm and friendly, Aunt Angie.
"Hello Aunt Angie, is Dennis there?" Penhall asked.
"Yes, but, he just took a pain killer about thirty minutes ago and fell asleep about ten minutes before you called. Do you want me to wake him?" She asked.
Doug wanted badly to talk to Booker himself and be sure that the injured officer was doing ok. He also knew that the injured man had struggled to sleep the night before. Dennis was a tough man, but a big baby when it came to getting attention. "Nah, just let him sleep. I will check in again after practice."
"Ok, well, you have a good practice and I will talk to you when you get home sweetie."
"Yes ma'am. I'll talk to you then. Doug answered courteously and hung up the phone.
She was so warm and friendly. A mother, almost, to him. If only his father hadn't married her. Maybe he wouldn't have drunk himself to death. Maybe she would have been the glue that salvaged the relationship he had lost with his younger brother Joey. Maybe he
"Tom what the hell!" Tom Hanson walked slowly down the hallway holding onto the wall with one hand, holding his head in the other. Doug broke into a quick sprint to his injured partner. Doug was at his side in no time with an arm around his shoulder. He quickly sat Tom down on the bench next to the cafeteria. "Hanson what happened he asked in hushed tones."
Tom looked mutely up at his friend. His lip was split in two places. A slight discolored bruise coming up by his mouth. "Doug my head hurts " Tom answered slowly.
"Yeah, mine would too who did this!" Doug demanded.
"Who do you think? Tom answered as his partner wiped the dried blood form his partners lip causing him to flinch.
Doug shook his head and then looked back at Tom. "Darren?"
"That was quick. The bastard thinks he runs this school. He told me he wasn't done with me. He hit me and ran."
Doug was feeling a storm of anger welling up from his feet and exploding through his body. "Tom what happened."
"He tripped me in the hallway; he and his followers drug me into a hallway I have never been in before. He knocked the wind out of me, told me he wasn't finished and then slapped the shit out of me. I just don't understand how he gets away with this all the time." Hanson exploded.
"I don't know buddy, but I'm starting to worry about him. He's laying a pretty good case against him. Assaulting an officer "
"Doug, we can't prove he did anything. We have NO case unless we get a confession out of him or someone else. We can't nail him for assaulting an officer, that's not what we're here for. We have to get a statement from one of the injured students and none of them are talking. If you can figure out how to get that, I'm all ears."
"Tom, we will get what we need "
"Doug, I all but accused him of beating Kirk half to death he didn't even flinch."
"You did what?" Doug looked inquisitively at his partner. No he would not have done that. That was signing his own death warrant. Then again, it was a good tactic for getting a confession out of someone. Just not smart for Tom
"He called me a dumb s.o.b. and I told him he was the dumb s.o.b. for attacking Kirk and Dennis for a position on the stupid football team."
"Oh GOD Hanson you may have opened yourself up for "
"For what Penhall another ass kicking I think I can take care of myself. In the mean time, how's Booker?"
"He's asleep Angie gave him a pain pill and he's sleeping." Doug answered the injured officer, not appreciating the change of subject.
"Hello Miller boys class, NOW!" Doug and Tom both looked over to see the raised eyebrow of the school principal standing ten foot from them. She had her arms across her midsection and was watching the boys as they both jumped to their feet. Hanson looked at Penhall who patted his slighter partner on the back.
"Hey, tell me all about her after school ok. I'll see you later. Tell Aunt Angie I'll be a little late getting home. With the first game tomorrow, practice may go on a little later." Penhall interjected quickly. Hanson looked back at his partner, not wanting to go to band class since his head was pounding and he had a busted lip that was still throbbing. He nodded at Penhall and turned heading in the direction of the band room.
"Mr. Miller, are we going to win tomorrow "
Hanson shook his head at the question Mrs. Woodruff had asked Dennis.
Modern day Gladiators he thought to himself.
Hanson slipped into practice and sat down paying careful attention not to make eye contact with Lexi. She caught his eye with her perfect form fitting jeans and tight shirt. She winked at the officer who looked down at his music again and tried to concentrate on the notes in front of him. He had a section of music where he and three others play on the sidelines. It was sort of "solo" for those in the group. He was not sure how he could walk in the door one day and be handed a "solo" part the next. In fact Tom felt he was a little rust since he had not been able to practice as much as he would have liked to. His job life seemed to take over and he was starting to hate that.
As quickly as it began, the end of day bell rang and Tom ran, in hopes of avoiding confrontation with the ox's girlfriend.
"Tom Miller, can I see you after class?" Miss. H caught him at the doorway.
Crap! "Sure." Tom scurried to put his instrument away and turned around to look at the perfect blue eyes.
"Tom is everything ok you were late." Lexi took her job as drum major a little too seriously.
"Yeah, I was calling to check up on my brother Dennis." Tom answered trying to dodge the unwitting object of evil in his life.
"I heard. Darren said it was really scary. He thought that your brother had real potential to be a great quarter back." She said with genuine concern in her eyes.
"Really." Tom responded sarcastically.
"Yeah, he was really concerned for him. I hope that Dennis is ok. You know he was a little creped out; it was rough on him when Kirk was beaten. They were really great friends. He's taking this whole situation really badly. He visits Kirk's family when ever he can. He's a really good man."
Tom could not believe his ears. Was she really that naïve? Could she not tell he was a lying to her?
"Lexi, who was the band student that was beaten?" Tom asked.
"Shorty I mean Josh Malone. He moved about a month ago. He was burned with cigarettes. Nobody knows who did it. In fact we were all scared for a long time. We thought whoever did this was going to take out another." Lexi said.
"Lexi!" Darren's icy voice tore through the room. Tom jumped and looked over at the man standing in the doorway.
"Baby hey." Lexi smiled and walked over to her boyfriend. Tom stood in the band room and waited for the two to exit the doorway. Lexi moved in for a hug and Tom caught the icy daggers from Darren's glare. He then turned and guided Lexi George down the hallway to her locker. Hanson walked out of the room and across the hallway to the music department offices.
"You wanted to see me?" He said sticking his head through the doorway.
"Yes." Miss Harner smiled rising from her desk. "Your uniform and your shoes. You are not quite ready for the full show, but, you will do the quartet from the sidelines. You are a good saxophonist." She complimented. "Try not to be late to my class anymore either."
Hanson looked down at the uniform. Purple, yellow and white what a combination of colors. He was sure he hadn't seen anything that hideous since Jenco's bell bottoms and Fuller's afro. His name was written on a white label and attached to a plastic bag.
"Keep it in here and hang it in the next room." Miss Harner said with a smile. "I will see you tomorrow at 5:30 on the dot. We warm up and march down to the field as a group."
Hanson shoved the uniform as neatly as possible into the bag and hung it up in the uniform room. He walked into the band room and gathered his instrument and books. One more day of practice, I can't believe I'll be in a band uniform again Ugg!
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