Bob Franklin was heading into the station pissed. He'd had it out with his next-door neighbor the night before, and was still stewing over the incident.
He and Steve used to go to games a lot, and they'd spent plenty of time in fields upstate hunting over the years. That was all history, now.
Steve had gotten pulled over for a minor traffic beef the previous morning, and was unexpectedly told that he had dozens of unpaid parking tickets. The officers couldn't let him go until they got it all straightened out. Steve reluctantly agreed to ride downtown with them, knowing that it was some bullshit glitch.
He sat around on his ass for a couple of hours, but finally, after they'd run his information through the system eight or nine ways, they admitted that they had the wrong guy. Same first and last name, same middle initial, etc. They apologized for the foulup, and drove him back to his car.
He went straight to work, and stayed over to make up for the wasted time.
When he got home, he found that his side door had been bashed-in. Fearing the worst until he found a note from his wife, he then raced downstairs to check out his gun safe. It was ruined. And his prized pair of over-and-unders, the Perazzi and the Browning, were gone.
On the front of what remained of the safe's door was a summons to appear in court. The firearms had been confiscated because he'd failed to re-register them as required under a new law passed a few months before.
So he charged over and confronted Franklin, and the screaming went on for almost an hour. Bob took it stoically, like the professional he prided himself on being. Over and over again, Bob emphasized that Steve should be thanking his lucky stars that the seizure took place under the new rules set down by the embattled Mayor, who wanted to cut down on negative headlines by reducing direct confrontations between the police and voters. Seriously, would Steve have preferred a night raid, with his wife and daughter at home? The Misdirection Detainment program was a perfect way to get at grow lamps, computer hard drives, guns, and the rest without the risk of generating unfortunate accidents. (Bob did not add, "or embarassing video," but WebCams were becoming extremely popular home appliances, and you never knew where they could be hidden.) Finally, exhausted and shaky, his neighbor went home.
Bob had gone on his share of raids in the old days, and still had nightmares about the old hillbilly bat who thought that she should've been able to keep her beat Remington slide-action .22 in her kitchen cabinet because her Daddy had always done it that way back on the farm. Bob froze on the trigger when she started yanking the rifle out, but Phillips dumped half a magazine from his MP5 into her, knocking her out of her wig.
After four or five shots of bourbon at the cop bar by the precinct house, after the back-slappers finished sharing in his new celebrity and went away, Bob got the chance to ask Phillips why he'd been so cool under stress.
"Well, Linda's coming up due with another boy, and my first kid is already seeing the orthodontist. You're a single guy, so you probably stopped listening after hearing that Compliance Patrol gets you a fatter paycheck -- but they also bump the caps on your Health bennies way up.
"I guess I can kinda feel a little sorry for the bitch, 'cause maybe she didn't know the drill. But I can't afford to get put back on wuss duty.
"If we'd left her standing after she pointed a gun at us, there woulda been hell to pay. Like they keep saying, the Patrol can't work if we let perps fuck with us." Bob nodded, and had another drink.
At least all that was behind him now. Eighteen months back during a porn sweep, which were conducted hot and heavy for a while after Hatch got elected in '04, one of his fellow officers caught a glimpse of him down through the banister on a staircase. Mistaking Franklin's black Nomex balaclava for nappy hair, the guy let off a 12-gauge slug which wrecked Bob's left shoulder and clavicle without even penetrating his Kevlar vest. Two inches or so to the right and he would have been cored like an apple.
When he got out of the hospital, the department found him a new assignment. The chief always joked that Bob was built like a gorilla -- from the massive shoulders to hands that looked like bunches of bananas to the stumpy legs -- so they had him help keep prisoners in line. Brief but convincing physical intimidation right up front really cut down on doubletalk and acting-out.
After checking with the guy at the front desk, Bob walked to the back of the building, negotiated three pairs of gates, pushed through the big swinging doors, and looked around. It was going to be a long one. Small rolling protests over the Colombian War had been flaring up again, and several vanloads of college kids and Presbyterians and old hippies had to be inspected for contraband as the last step in their processing. Dozens of 'em were cable-tied face down on gurneys, half-naked.
Bob "Fickle Finger" Franklin slipped the first of what would be many latex gloves over his right hand, and bent down to his work.