Hey, everyone. I deeply apologize for how long it took to post this chapter. I have been extremely busy beta-reading manuscripts (there's a lot of good books upcoming), writing pre-release reviews and working on my time travel story. I promise chapter 15 won't take as long.
If anyone has any comments, feedback, etc., please leave them on my blog http://jd4556.blogspot.com. For some reason, half of the emails I get through my yahoo email end up in the spam basket which I only check one a week or once every two weeks. Thoughts, comments, questions, feedback (both positive and negative) are more than welcome.
That being said, please enjoy chapter 14.
"Greg. Greg! We have some of the best orthopedic surgeons in the country. My money is on Kevin making a full recovery. I've seen people with worse spinal cord injuries than his walk out of this hospital unassisted. Kevin has a chance. Don't take that away from him.
Tears flowed down Greg's face as he digested the news. "I want to see him."
"You can't be moved because of your body cast and he can't be moved because of his broken back. What I can do, though, is get you the number to the phone in his and Gwen's rooms so you guys can at least talk on the phone. Since only Gwen's neck is immobilized, I'm sure I can arrange for her to visit you." Andy answered him.
"I don't know if she'll want to see me," Greg whispered sorrowfully.
"She does. She's been asking about you and Dave."
"Probably to blame me for her and Kevin's condition. I know because I blame myself."
Once again, Dave jumped on this a little more forcefully this time. "You are not responsible for their injuries. Hicks and Kenson are. Not you!"
"I'm the one who got them fired..."
"And did the city a great service, one I don't think you understand the scope of," the Commissioner interrupted.
A look of confusion crossed both Greg and Dave's faces. "How did I do the city a great service?" Greg wanted to know. Dave was listening closely as he was curious to know as well, even though he had a pretty good idea what the commissioner's answer was going to be.
How am I going to get past his guilty feelings and make him understand? "Greg, try and look past your feelings and understand; because of you, I was able to get rid of two homophobic bastards that were a disgrace to this Police Department. If you remember back to the day in my office I asked Hick why the stack of complaints against Kenson was 6 inches thick. My only regret is that it came at such a high cost."
"Yes. Your friend that was raped in his home, his friend that was assaulted and accused of being the rapist, the abuse you had to endure at your former precinct, countless others who were abused by Kenson and those who were injured or lost their lives from the bombing of the LGBT center. An inexcusable loss of innocent people," the commissioner noticed the guilty look that overtook Greg's face. "Don't you dare go there Officer Peters," the commissioner said sternly, pointing a finger at Greg. "I'm serious! No blame, no guilt. They chose to follow that path; you didn't force that on them."
Greg's face cleared of guilt as he finally let go of the destructive emotion. "I understand, Commissioner. If I may ask, what's going to happen to the families of the victims and the task force?"
The commissioner smiled. "The families of all the victims of this atrocity will receive full death benefits. As far as I'm concerned, every police officer who was attending the meeting was on duty."
This proclamation brought tears to both Greg and Dave.
"How did you manage that, Fred?" Dave asked.
"Easy. As soon as I got the list of names from the hospital, I scheduled everyone for specialized sensitivity training on that date and time and at the center. Everyone is covered."
"That's an incredible thing to do, Commissioner. While it won't bring the people back, at least they won't have to worry about the loss of income and health benefits."
"I wish it wasn't necessary. Every officer that was there served, and some will continue to serve with distinction. It is only fitting. I wish I could do the same thing for the families of the LGBT center who lost their lives."
"So what's going to happen to the task force now?"
"At the moment, Brad Colton is running it until you and Gwen are back on your feet. Once the two of you are back to work you'll start recruiting people who you feel with be an asset to the Task Force. There is no way in hell I'm going to let this situation end the Task Force. It has helped a lot of people in the LGBT community since its inception and I firmly believe it will continue to be a vital part of the community and this department."
"That's great, Commissioner, but what's going to happen if my blindness is permanent?"
"You still have your ears, mouth and fingers, don't you Greg?"
"Yeah," he responded slowly, not knowing where the commissioner was going with this.
"With the possible exception of your eyesight you're going to make a full recovery, correct?"
"I'm not going to lose you, Greg. You can still be a valuable asset to the Task Force."
"How?" Greg questioned.
"There are a lot of ways. Gwen has told me how during an investigation you all brainstorm how to best conduct the investigation. You can still do that. In addition, you can provide valuable input in new procedures, programs and planning, and advising junior members of the Task Force. So, as you can see, we still need you. Besides, something tells me, call it a gut feeling, that your blindness is only temporary. Like I said before, and I'm saying it again for emphasis I am not letting you go until you're ready to retire. When you reach normal retirement age, that is."
Greg was full-on crying now. Even though he'll be serving in a diminished capacity, he still had a job doing what he loves. Of course, being blind, he never saw Andy leave the room and return with Gwen in a wheelchair. Andy had motioned everyone to keep quiet until the commissioner finished speaking. "That's incredible news, Greg," Gwen cried tears of happiness. "I couldn't imagine, and didn't want to run the Task Force without you.
"You've kept me grounded and focused whenever I got down or frustrated. I don't want to lose you, and I think what the commissioner just laid out is an awesome idea. There's still so much you can contribute."
"You mean, you're not blaming me for what happened at the center?"
"Absolutely not. Nor is Kevin. I'm glad to see those two asswipes get what's coming to them. Multiple death sentences for both of them. There's no way in hell the Governor is going to commute those sentences."
"I honestly don't know what to say. I thought you guys would be calling for my head on a silver platter."
"Greg, The commissioner has probably told you, and I'm willing to bet many times over, that you were not responsible for the actions of those two dickwads. If I had a dollar for every mess we've had to clean up after Kenson, I'd be a multi-millionaire."
Dave guffawed and Greg looked sheepish. "How's your brother doing, Gwen?" Dave inquired.
"As well as can be expected. He has a physical therapist working with him several times a week to make sure his leg muscles don't atrophy. He can piss and shit normally which the therapist said was encouraging. To be completely honest, Greg, he looks up to you. We all know what happened to you in Boston. His thinks that if you can learn to walk again, so can he. You're a role model for him."
"But Gwen, there's a huge difference between him and me. My spinal cord wasn't damaged. His was."
"It doesn't matter to him. He's determined to get his legs back."
"And heaven forbid it doesn't happen?"
"I'm not letting him go either, nor any of the surviving members, regardless of their medical condition. Psychological counselling will be available free of charge to anyone who wants or needs it. Those cock-sucking bastards aren't going to win. They're not going to destroy what the two of you worked so hard to create and sustain. No fucking way!" This statement drew looks of shock from everyone. Nobody had ever heard the commissioner swear like that."
"So, Greg, if you're willing, and I really hope you are, we have a lot of work ahead of us."
"As long as you're sure, I'm in. I'd still like to talk with Kevin, though."
"He really wants to talk to you as well. Here's his room phone number." She rattled off his number, which Dave started to dial."
"Before you talk to him Greg," the commissioner signaled Dave to hang up the phone. There's one more important matter I need to discuss with the two of you. Kevin already knows about this. I've decided that the Task Force needs a slight change in leadership..."
"What?" the 'G Twins', as Greg and Gwen were affectionately referred to by the other members of the Task Force, chorused.
"Yes, but I have no intention of replacing either of you. Gwen, I want you to study for the Captain's exam. I want you, Greg to study for the lieutenant's exam both coming up in two months. Greg, we have it on audiobook, should the need arise. Kevin is doing the same for the sergeant's exam. As long as you pass the exam, even if it's marginally, you will be promoted. I wish I could give you a promotion to captain as well, Greg, but you haven't been with us for as long as Gwen has. Will this be a problem for either of you?" Both replied in the negative. "Gwen, with you as captain, it will make it easier to recruit from other precincts. With you as captain and Greg as lieutenant, you will both be able to commandeer anyone you need in case of an emergency. This can make an already effective task force into an even more effective task force. This is not in any way taking anything away.
"You guys, and by that I mean the entire Task Force, has made a tremendous difference, and even has gone a long way in improving the LGBT community's perception of the police department. Indeed, while you may not realize it, you all have made great strides in repairing the damage those two asswipes have done. I'm very proud of all of you, and once the Mayor has signed off on it, you will all have letters of commendation placed in your personnel files." That statement invoked sentiments of gratitude from Greg and Gwen. The commissioner held up his hand for silence. "There's more. When everyone is out of the hospital, there will be a formal ceremony where you will all be awarded a commendation medal." Well, you could hear a pin drop in that room.
"I can't believe it," Greg whispered.
30 years of law enforcement gave the commissioner very sharp hearing. "Believe it, Greg. It's a done deal."
Dave followed that statement with a wide-eyed "wow."
"Wow's not the word I would use," Gwen argued, "more like holy shit!" Everyone snickered.
Greg's bedside phone chose that particular time to ring. Andy grabbed it and handed it to him. "Hello?"
"Hey Greg. It's Kevin. How're you doing?"
"I'm doing okay. You?" Greg responded in a guilt-ridden voice.
"Okay. Listen. Got a few minutes? I'd like to talk with you for a few minutes about what happened."