Out of the corner of his eye, Malloy saw Reed watching him. It had been a long morning, and the sun was just coming over the hill–about 6:30. Patrol had taken them down by the wharfs, and large warehouses lined the road on the left. Since it was Sunday, no one was working; they had the street to themselves.
The partners hadn’t talked much between calls. Malloy’s anger had diminished with the darkness, leaving an empty feeling in his chest. “Hey, Partner,” he said. “How do you feel about Seven?”
Reed was always enthusiastic for food. “Great! Where?”
“I don’t know. Wanna try The Brink?”
“Sure.” Reed picked up the microphone. “One-Adam-Twelve requesting Code Seven at Loughlin and Fillmore.”
After a couple of seconds, the response came. “One-Adam-Twelve, okay Seven.”
Malloy released a breath. A break sounded really good…
“Hey, Pete?” Reed’s gaze roved the area about them.
Keeping his own eyes on the road, Malloy dropped his head back against the headrest. “Yeah?”
“What did Mac talk to you about after roll-call?”
Malloy had had six hours to think of what to say. And still all he could come up with was the truth… Or at least part of it. “He wanted to continue the discussion we had last night.”
“Oh. The sergeant thing?”
Malloy smirked. “Yeah. The sergeant thing.”
“Yeah? What did he say?”
“Not much. We were interrupted.”
“Ah.” Reed looked out the window.
The blocks were long this close to the bay, and they had some time before they could turn in toward Loughlin.
Reed turned again to Malloy. “Was he upset?”
Malloy sent a glance of mock surprise at his partner. “Who, Mac? Upset when things don’t go his way? You’ve gotta be kidding.”
Reed didn’t bite. “He did seem a little upset last night when you blew him off.”
Malloy raised his eyebrows. “How am I supposed to react when this is the third time in two weeks that he’s hinted at forcing me into a promotion?”
“And how is he supposed to react when this is the third time in two weeks that you haven’t paused to think about what he’s said?” Reed cocked his head. “I’d guess he’s more annoyed than you are.”
“Why not consider it?”
“He’s asked before. I thought about it then and gave him my answer.”
Malloy sighed. “Probably three years ago.”
Reed turned to look out the window. “Things have changed, Pete. Sergeant O’Donnell is retiring at the end of the month.”
“… I’d forgotten that.”
“And Mac probably wants to make sure the percentage of Irish sergeants doesn’t drop at the same time.”
Malloy rolled his eyes in time to see his partner’s goofy grin. “Yeah. That’s probably it.”
“Besides,” Reed continued more seriously, “it’s a little personal at this point.”
Malloy frowned. “It sure felt that way this morning, but I can’t figure out why. Mac’s acting like I’m offending him by not agreeing to take my promotion.”
“Well, you were a little blunt last night.”
Malloy whipped his head around. “What do you mean? What did I say?”
Reed blinked. His lips parted, but he didn’t say anything for a moment. “You said it would take a sergeant to ask the question so many times with such bad results. I was kind of laughing, but Mac looked… I don’t know… Like you’d let the air out of his tires.”
Malloy took a pained breath. He remembered Mac’s comment about the station garbage collector. And about how it had looked to the other officers.
He felt sick again, but this time with guilt, not anger. “I guess I’d forgotten that, too.” He sighed. At least he could set Reed straight. “Look, the real reason I haven’t thought about it recently is that I’m enjoying my job so much now, I really can’t imagine anything else being an improvement.”
He glanced at Reed, who smirked. “I know what you mean…”
Malloy smiled and turned back to the road. But then he frowned. Maybe Mac had already spoken to Reed about taking a beat of his own. That could mean an increase in pay, and it would certainly give him an opportunity for more hours. With Jean wanting to try for another baby soon and Little Jim getting so big, an offer like that had to be tempting…
Would Reed have turned it down in favor of their partnership? Should he have?
Mac’s words rang in his head… “There’ve been a couple of issues we’ve had to consider…”
Copyright © Inkant