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“It’s five o’clock somewhere.”
It took a little over two hours, and he was dead tired, but Mac gave Heather Foxx everything, or just about everything.
He looked like hell, like death warmed over he said later. Sally, watching from behind the camera, remarked that he looked ten years older.
“But that’s fine,” Heather said. “It makes the story that much more dramatic. People will see what you put into it, how hard you went after it. The big scar on your face. The whole ‘never say die’ and ‘against all odds’ thing. It’ll be great.”
“If you say so.” Mac hated interviews. But in this case, it was the least he could do. Heather had saved the chief and kept her word, kept the story close until it was done. She had lost the story of the girls’ rescue to another station – that broke while she was interviewing Mac. But she was the first with the whole story, and she had it in time for the morning news program. By the end of the day, her face – and Mac’s – would be on stations across the country, she predicted.
“Sorry Mac, the story is just that good.”
“Great,” was his wry reply. “But I’m done, right? I don’t have to do any more of this?”
“Not with me. I imagine many of my brethren will be seeking your time.”
“Not if I can help it,” Mac answered, yawning. He could barely stay awake; his body was shutting down.
The bureau was none too happy, not that he cared at this point. They weren’t happy that one of their men had been the mole, although that wasn’t out as of yet. Heather held back that element of the story, at least for now. The FBI seemed even more aggravated about the interrogation technique used on Burton. The director was flying in to town to personally meet with the mayor, as well as the chief and Peters, blustering about an explanation and investigation. Peters said he and the chief weren’t worried about it.
“Fuck the FBI,” Peters snorted. “Besides,” he added. “If the almighty director makes a big stink, we’ll have Heather go with the whole story.”
“She’ll play ball?” Mac asked.
“Hell yes,” Peters responded smiling. “She feels like she’s one of us now, a ‘copper.’ She’d like nothing more than to go with it, but we’re willing to work with the bureau on it. But if the Fibbies make a lot of noise and don’t play ball, we’ll cut Heather loose. She’ll have a field day.”
“How’s Duffy doing?”
“We’re covering for him. The company line is, he had no idea what we were doing.” Peters whistled. “Man, he is pissed about Burton. Ed Duffy is a company man. He believes in the bureau. He’d have joined in on Riles and Rock’s fun with Burton if he could have.”
Mac needed sleep and he had a hospital bed at North Memorial. The hospital bed wasn’t provided as a courtesy. To get to Smith Brown he had run through thick woods, low branches, and thorny bushes. As a result, he was full of deep scrapes and bruises. He required stitches in five places, particularly for the fleshy rip in his left thigh and a gash along his left cheek. The cheek scar, depending upon how it healed, might require some plastic surgery. The thigh wound was thick enough that the emergency room doctor was worried about infection. He wanted Mac to stay in the hospital for a few hours to monitor his recovery. Until the leg wound healed, he would have to walk with a cane.
The emergency room doctors also checked for wood ticks. He’d been in the woods a lot, and the last thing he wanted was Lyme disease. However, a little bull’s-eye bite was nowhere to be found on his body.
Mac cleaned up, put on some clean clothes, and jumped into bed and crashed. Sally woke him with a kiss a little after 10:00 AM. It took a few minutes to shake the cobwebs loose, but the smell of eggs, bacon, and toast, even if it was hospital eggs, bacon, and toast, brought him back to life. He skipped the coffee – he had lived on it for the last four days – and instead gulped down refreshing glasses of ice water and orange juice.
Half-way through his breakfast, the doctor checked in. There was no sign of infection in the thigh wound. However, the face wound was another story.
“You’ll have to give that one a week or so to see how it heals. Ten stitches tend to leave a mark. You might need a little clean up on that.”
The doc left and Mac resumed eating his hospital breakfast. As he finished the last of the eggs, there was another knock on the door. Mayor Olson stuck his head in.
“Detective McRyan was wondering if I might have a moment with you and Ms. Kennedy?” he asked politely. He was by himself. No staff.
Mac looked at Sally who shrugged her shoulders.
“Sure. Why not.”
The mayor slowly walked over to the bed. The smugness and arrogance of the past few days, in reality the past several months, was gone. The man looked tired, with razor stubble and dark circles around his eyes. Not only that, he looked a way Mac had never seen him look – humble. Hizzoner stuck out his hand.
“Well done, Detective, well done. Thank you.”
Mac was surprised, and it must have showed. He slowly extended his hand to the mayor’s.
“I suspected you might feel that way,” the mayor said, giving Mac a firm handshake. “Given how I’ve treated you and your cohorts the last while here, I owe you an apology.”
“Thank you, Sir,” Mac replied, stunned at what he was hearing. “Why the change of heart?”
“Lots of reasons,” the mayor said as he sat down in a chair by the bed. “You certainly bailed me out. I put Burton in charge of the investigation. I walked the chief and Hisle right into the trap. I would have had their blood on my hands. You saved my ass.”
“Bailing you out is not why we did what we did.”
“Oh, I know that. It was just a byproduct,” the mayor replied. “I’m probably the last person you were worried about. However, what I realized is that by putting Burton in charge and creating this level of distrust between the department and me, that made what you had to do that much harder. I’m sure that if we trusted one another, that if we had a better working relationship, I wouldn’t have been putting up road blocks to prevent you from doing what you do so well. Instead of keeping things from me, you could have come to me with your concerns about someone working this thing from the inside. I could have helped. I could have provided resources. But you didn’t trust me, did you?”
Mac shook his head.
“Well that’s on me,” the mayor said quietly. “That’s all on me.”
“You can understand I’m a little surprised to be hearing this,” Mac said.
“I imagine you are. Unfortunately, it took something like this to happen to make me see the light. It didn’t hurt that the chief and I had a good heart to heart a couple of hours ago. He lit me up pretty good about my office’s relations with the force, and he was one-hundred percent right. I haven’t been supportive. I’ve been anything but. Well, that’s going to change. It’ll start at a press conference in a couple of hours. Peters and I will be handling it. I will be offering my praise and thanks for a job well done.”
“I think I can speak for Riles, Rock, Lich, and everyone else. We will appreciate it.”
“Good,” the mayor said. “Of course, once all the euphoria from this dies down, we’re going to have to deal with some stuff.”
“Such as?” Mac asked, a little wearily.
“Burton and the FBI for all the obvious reasons. Burton has already hired a lawyer, and the bureau is squawking about how we accessed various records.”
“I’ve got some ideas on how to deal with all that,” Mac responded.
“The chief thought you might and I was hoping you would,” the mayor answered with a tired smile. “I’m all ears.”
“I wouldn’t worry too much,” Mac said confidently. “We have Burton and the bureau by the short hairs. I think we’ll be able to make them see that.”
The mayor smiled. “Good. We’ve been on opposite sides long enough. I’d like to see us on the same side.”
“Let’s get together in the next day or two and talk that through.”
“Fair enough, the mayor answered, pushing himself out of the chair. Once again he extended his hand, which Mac took without hesitation. He walked over to Sally and extended a hand to her as well. “Ms. Kennedy, I know you helped out quite a bit as well. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome, sir.”
“Help this guy get better,” the mayor said, pointing at Mac. “We’re going to need him.”
“I will. Thank you.”
The mayor looked back at Mac, smiled one more time and walked out of the room.
“Well, how about that?” Sally said, shocked. “Do you think he meant it?”
“We’ll see,” Mac answered, always more interested in action than words. “He’s a politician, so I take anything a politician says with a grain of salt. But he seemed genuinely contrite and his apology seemed heartfelt. Time will tell.”
Sally came over to the side of his bed and sat down and looked him in the eye.
“I want to say something,” Sally said smiling and then she pecked him on the lips.
“I loved watching you in action the last twenty-four hours. You’re gifted, honey. You really are. You would have been a great attorney, the way you see and perceive things. You’d have been a great trial lawyer. But as a cop, as a detective, you’re doing what you were born to do. You’re doing what you should be doing. I wouldn’t want you to do anything else.”
Mac returned the smile now. It always hurt him that his ex-wife thought what he did was beneath him and most certainly her. She never appreciated the sacrifice of the job or the ability required to do it. But now he was with someone who loved him and was proud of him. It felt good, as good as anything he’d done over the last four days. He pushed himself up and kissed her on the lips and hugged her.
“God, I need a vacation.”
“Now would be a good time,” she answered quietly, her head buried in his chest.
The door to his hospital room blew open and the boys, Uncle Shamus, Peters, Summer Plantagenate, the chief, and Lyman all came barreling in. Lich, of course, didn’t miss a beat.
“God, it looks like the fuckin’ Hallmark Channel in here. You two arm in arm, looking deeply into each other’s eyes. I think I’m going to get all teary eyed,” his partner said as he pulled out a hankie and mockingly dabbed at his eyes.
Mac pushed himself out of bed. The chief came up and gave Mac a big bear hug, “Well done, boyo. Well done.”
“I’ve told this to all of these guys,” Lyman said, waving his cane toward Lich, Riles, and Rock. “Anything you ever need. Anything, you just tell me. It’s yours.” The lawyer pumped Mac’s arm vehemently in a handshake. “I meant it. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Michael.”
“Well Lyman, let me tell you about my boat.” Everyone burst out in laughter.
“Done!” Lyman exclaimed.
Mac turned serious. “How’s Shannon doing?”
“I think she’ll be okay. You boys got to her just in time.”
“Can she have visitors?” Lich asked.
“She’s pretty beat. I think she’ll be able to handle visitors tomorrow, and I want all you boys here. I know she’ll want to thank you.”
“How’s Carrie, Chief?” Mac asked.
“Fine, just fine Mac. She asked me to bring you up, all of you up.”
“Let’s go then.”
Carrie Flanagan indeed looked fine, at least physically. It would be the mental part that would be the problem. No doubt she’d have nightmares for awhile. Two days in the coffin – the term she used for it – would do that. She was already talking about the need for counseling as if she was looking forward to it, ready to put the whole thing behind her. After half an hour, she started to look tired, so everyone began to file out. She asked Mac to stay behind.
“I told Shannon you’d be coming,” Carrie said.
Mac just nodded.
“I told her you and the boys would never give up. You’d keep looking until you found us, that you would do anything to find us.”
“And you did.”
“We all did.”
“Will there be trouble? I heard something about the FBI guy.”
That’s nothing for you to worry about, honey,” Mac said, smiling, and then converting it to an evil grin. “We’ve got the bureau by the short hairs.”
“Thanks,” Carrie said, sitting up to give him a hug and a kiss on the cheek. “Thanks.”
Mac smiled as she lay back down. He pushed her hair away from her eyes. “You get some rest. I’ll come by and see you again tomorrow.”
Carrie nodded and rested her head back on her pillow.
Mac grabbed his cane and limped out of the room to find the whole crew waiting in the hallway. “So, what’s next?” he asked, a huge grin on his face.
“Is it too early to celebrate?” Lich asked.
“I tell you what it’s too early for!” Riles answered.
“Stupid questions,” Riles answered as he smacked Lich in the back of the head. “Is it too early to celebrate? Cripes, what’s a matter with you?”
“It’s five o’clock somewhere,” Mac exclaimed. “I say we go to the Pub.”
“Who’s buying?” Rock asked.
“Lyman,” Mac answered smiling, putting his arm around Hisle. “You just said anything we need right?”
“Well right now, my friend, I need a bloody mary.”
Other books by Roger Stelljes:
The St. Paul Conspiracy
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