Chapter 33: Hank
Sean called our lunch break in and then pulled into the parking lot of Jimmy's Diner.
We walked in and nodded to Jimmy as we sat down in a booth. Jimmy brought both of
us a mug of coffee.
"Good to see you back, officers," he said with a smile.
Jimmy was always very generous with the guys on the force. Who's gonna turn down
free coffee and half price food? Especially when the food is as good as it is here.
Sean and I quickly looked over the menu. Sean ordered a cheeseburger and fries and
I ordered the grilled chicken breast with a side of rice and a side salad.
Sean and I made small talk for a bit while we waited for our lunch.
I heard a raised voice and I looked up past Sean's head. In the last booth, this
big ugly dude was grumbling. He looked like a typical ex-con. He had a swarthy Mediterranean
look, possibly Italian or Greek. He was clearly pissed off about something and he
was letting his companion have it. I could only see him from behind, but his companion
was much smaller. Short, skinny, brown hair. Head hung down. I could only see the
back of his head, but I'd guess he was younger, maybe early twenties.
"What?" Sean asked and looked back over his shoulder for a second.
I looked at Sean and shrugged.
"Lover's quarrel, you think?" Sean asked with a smirk.
I chuckled. "Who knows?"
Jimmy brought our food and I dug in and started to eat quickly. That was a habit
I picked up in the Marines that was hard to break now that I was out. I set my fork
down and forced myself to chew my food carefully.
A fist slamming on a table brought my attention back to the couple in the last booth.
He had his finger in the boy's face. The boy was trembling in fear. I didn't like
what was going on back there. I fucking hate bullies.
"Leave it alone, Hank," Sean said.
I sighed and returned to the last bite of my chicken, consciously trying to eat
slower. Another slam on the table and I looked up.
"You must think I'm fucking stupid," the thug said. "Let's go. Now!"
He grabbed the boy by the arm and jerked him out of the booth. I thought he was
going to rip his arm out of the socket.
I looked at Sean. "Okay, that's it."
The guy jerked the boy up to his feet and dragged him by the arm. I stood up and
stepped into their path. I spread my legs shoulder width apart, left hand on my
hip and right hand above my service weapon.
"Is there a problem here?" I asked.
I looked the scowling man directly in the eye. When I heard the boy softly gasp,
my eyes focused on him. He was staring at my chest and he lifted his head and looked
up into my eyes.
My mouth fell open in shock. "Tim?"
Tim looked awful. His eyes were red and his cheeks were stained from tears, but
it was more than that. He had dark circles under his eyes and his skin was looking
a little pale. His posture was slumped. The wire frame of his glasses was bent.
The defined arm muscles he had last time I saw him had softened and it looked like
he had lost weight.
"Hank," he whispered.
My stance relaxed slightly, but I prepared myself for a fight.
"Are you okay, Tim?" I asked quietly, looking him right in the eyes.
He nodded. His eyes welled up and his jaw quivered and he looked away from me. He
started to tremble and I had to force myself to look away from him and return my
gaze back to the asshole. He could only be the boyfriend that Jeff doesn't like.
I could see why.
"What's going on here?" I asked the asshole.
"Nothing that concerns you," he scowled.
Sean stood up and joined my side.
"Let's try to keep things civil," Sean said calmly and quietly to the asshole. "People
are trying to enjoy their lunch in here."
The man grunted and pulled Tim past us and out of the diner. I watched him drag
Tim to Jeff's old jeep. The guy roughly pushed Tim towards the driver's door and
Tim rubbed his shoulder where it hit the door. They got in the jeep and headed down
the street. Probably to that big medical building complex they've been building.
My blood was boiling. My heart raced and my fists flexed subconsciously as I stared
at them through the window.
Sean and I left our money on the table, enough to cover our meal plus a very generous
tip. After we thanked Jimmy, we walked out to our cruiser.
"So, you know that kid?" Sean asked.
"Yeah. I know him. He's my best friend's little brother. And, uh, well... We dated
for two years back in school."
"Aw, high school sweethearts. Isn't that cute?" Sean joked.
"Fuck you, man," I laughed.
"I'll bet you took his virginity and then broke his heart," Sean laughed.
I stopped laughing and shifted my weight uncomfortably between my feet. That hit
way too close to home.
"Oops. Sorry, man," Sean offered quietly.
"When I graduated, I left home... Joined the Marines," I explained. "He still had
two years of school left."
Sean nodded in understanding. We got in the car and Sean called in, then took off.
We were quiet for a while as we drove, both of us thinking to ourselves.
Sean finally broke the silence. "You know, I don't know a lot about gay couples,
or if they were even a couple... But I've seen a lot of domestic violence cases.
And if they were a straight couple, I'd lay down good money that the asshole back
there is beating your boy."
The thought made my stomach turn. I don't know who this guy was, but I'll be damned
if I was going to stand by and do nothing while he hurt my Timmy.
When I got home that night, I pulled off my uniform and hung it up and pulled on
a pair of shorts and a tank top. I went out back and sat back on the deck and had
a smoke. I picked up my cell phone and called Jeff.
"Hey, man, what's up?" Jeff answered.
"Hey. Not much. I saw Tim today. Down at Jimmy's."
"How's he been lately?"
"Eh, I don't know. We don't really talk much these days."
"Yeah, I know. I mean, how's he been acting?"
"Same as always. Bitchy and moody. Why are you asking me about Tim?"
"He was with this swarthy looking guy. Big, ugly, black hair, scowl on his face."
"That's his boyfriend, Pete Olivieri."
"You know anything about this Pete guy?"
"He does good tile work, but you gotta watch him like a hawk."
"I'm not looking for a job reference," I said, annoyed. "How does he treat Tim?"
"He's a lazy, good for nothing asshole and a fucking drunk. He uses Tim and treats
him like shit, but Tim won't listen to anything I tell him. 'Mind your own fucking
business' he says. So fuck Pete, and fuck Tim."
I was a little surprised to hear Jeff talk about Tim like that. Jeff may have ragged
on Tim a lot, but he always had his back.
"Jeff, come on. Don't give up on him."
Jeff scoffed. "You're one to talk."
That really hurt. I was silent for a moment, before quietly responding, "That was
below the belt."
"You're right, Hank. I'm sorry."
"Forget about it. You should have seen them, man. This guy had Tim shaking in fear.
He was grabbing and shoving him around. You don't think this guy hurts Tim do you?"
"Tim came to work one day a couple weeks ago with a bruise on his face. He said
he tripped, but I knew he was lying."
"What the fuck, Jeff," I said, raising my voice. "You didn't do anything about it
"Hey, man, back off. I got in Pete's face and tried to defend Tim, but Tim cussed
me out and told me to butt out. I haven't seen anything like that since, but I haven't
really been looking. To be honest, I don't really talk to Tim. He makes me so mad
I can't stand to be around him."
I sighed. "I don't get it. What does Tim see in this guy? He can do so much better."
"I don't know, man. He turns into a raging bitch if you try to bring it up. It's
like he's got zero self-esteem. He doesn't think he can do any better and he settled."
"Jesus. Do you think that it's my fault... Because of what I did to him?"
"Hank, Tim made his own decisions. You can't beat yourself up over it. You'll go
crazy if you try to analyze it."
"Okay, man," I sighed. "I guess you're right. I'm gonna head out and grab a bite
to eat. I'll talk to you later."
"Okay, I'll catch you later. Oh, Hank?"
"Um... Watch out for Tim for me, okay?"
I hung up the phone, grabbed my keys, and headed out. As I drove, I couldn't get
the image of the way Tim looked out of my head. I wasn't sure what I was going to
do, but I knew he needed my help. I wasn't going to give up on him.
I made up my mind right then that I was going to go see him as soon as I could.
And I was going to tell him how I felt about him.