Written by Beth
It's late on a Saturday night and it's so hot that car tires are practically melting on the road as they drive by. I've stepped out of the squad room to get an iced coffee at the Daily Grind. [Clue 1 that this is a dream: me?! iced coffee??] The coffee shop is pretty much empty and I'm glad, because I don't really feel like talking. I just want to get in and out and then back to my shift.
As I leave, I groan, because heading toward me is Roger Gaffney, in all his pig-like glory. I'm searching my mind for appropriate insults, but the look on his face stops me.
"You *reaaallly* fucked up this time, Giardello," he says viciously, relishing the moment.
"What the hell do you mean?" I fiercely ask.
He shrugs, looks down, then begins to chuckle.
And then the chuckle swells into a guffaw that gets louder still until the entire street is echoing with the ugly sound of Gaffney's mirth.
Rank be damned, policy be damned. I drop my drink in the street, grab him by the shoulders, and shake him hard, trying to get him to shut the hell up and give me some answers.
"*What* *the* *hell* *are* *you* *talking* *about*?" I demand, punctuating each word with a violent shake and trying to look as mean as I can.
He wipes tears from his eyes and says, "Go check your unit, Giardello. Go see what just happened to the elite, the best of the best. Go see what a damned fine lieutenant you are."
I push him hard one more time, and then begin to run across the street to the station house. I'm too old for this, I think as I step inside, breathing hard, and start to climb the stairs.
When I'm about halfway up, I hear it. Shots, and breaking glass, and then screaming. Oh no. It can't be happening--not again. No more shootouts in the squad room. The redecorating job was supposed to have taken care of that. I vault up the stairs and head for the door to the homicide unit, and . . . it's not there. It's not there.
I stand by the blank wall, panting, trying to remember the flurry of memos that I've gotten from the brass in the past week. Was there anything about the relocation of the homicide unit? Guilt floods me as I realize that, as usual, I haven't read the memos carefully, that I never do. They very well *could* have moved the unit, and I wouldn't know about it because I'm too damned lazy and cynical to do the job right. And now my people are getting shot and I can't help them.
I head down a twisted hallway--the building is no longer familiar to me--in search of someone who could help me. I can still hear gunshots, and now bits of speech--and the screaming. Something that sounds like Frank, another voice that's got to be Munch's.
Finally I see a door, and I reach out to push it open, but as I do so, I fall to the ground with a heavy whump. And while I'm on the floor scrambling to get up, scrambling to save my pride, Kay Howard steps out.
"Howard," I say, trying to sound in control and authoritative. "Tell me where the hell the homicide unit is."
Kay looks calmly down at me for a minute, and then she smiles to herself a little, that secret and infuriating grin that I've never been quite able to interpret.
"You can't find your unit," she says as if it disappoints but doesn't really surprise her. "Guess you didn't read the memos again, did you?"
"Dammit, Kay! I don't care about the fucking memos! I just need to get to my men!"
"And women," she pointedly says. " I mean, we're still allowed in homicide, right? Even after what happened to me?"
I'm finally on my feet. "Kay, please," I plead. "Just do me this one favor."
I'm expecting that she'll lead me down the hall to where I need to go, but she doesn't--she steps back into the room she came from and then returns with a stack of papers.
"Here's the new map. Follow it carefully and you'll end up in the right place."
"No--I need *you*--" I'm saying, and she gives me a look of contempt.
"You don't need *me,* Gee. Remember? It's best that I just stay out of the homicide unit."
She walks away from me, then, heading down the hallway and going through another doorway. I swear as I look at the map she's handed me. It's in impossibly tiny print and my reading glasses are in my office. I squint, then try holding it close to my face. No luck.
Now I'm hearing sirens. I frantically try to read the damn map again, and find that somehow that the lettering has gotten even smaller. Kay's given me a whole stack of paper, though--maybe there are larger versions of the map underneath.
I head back to the stairway and sit down on the top step. With shaking hands, I turn to the next page, and then the next, and the next. They're all identical, and this one I can read:
From: Al Giardello
To: Detectives in the Homicide Unit
Re: New Firearms Policy
In order to reduce the possibility of further violence in the squad room, all detectives will now give their weapons to me for safekeeping when they are on duty. Firearms will be placed in a safe in my office; I and only I will be in possession of the key.
I didn't write that--did I? I *couldn't* have--it's too damned stupid. I try to remember the memos I *did* write yesterday, and the day before. I draw a blank.
Okay--if I *did* write it, then I've got the damn key, right? I stand up, letting all of the papers cascade down the stairs, and search my pockets. My heart sinks as I pull out a single key attached to an extra- large key chain. "Weapons" is carefully lettered onto it.
And now I'm crying. I've left my detectives completely helpless and they're dying in there-- somewhere.
Just then a small army of medical personnel enter the building, running up the stairs as fast as they can. I follow.
And of course, to my horror, the homicide unit is exactly where it should be. The visit to Kay, the map she gave me, all useless--all a waste of time.
The weapons key is heavy in my pocket. Maybe I can get to the firearms--maybe it isn't too late.
"Oh my god," a medic blurts out as he steps into the squad room. They don't usually say that, or anything, when arriving at a scene, and so I know it's bad.
I put my head down for a moment, then enter the room. Blood spatters the walls, pools on the floor, clings to the sides of desks, and the only sound in the room is my heavy breathing. I step gingerly over Naomi's body, and Judy's.
"Where the hell are my detectives?" I yell. No one answers.
I head for my office. Outside, on the floor, is Lewis, a huge section of his chest blown away. In his left hand is a night stick--the only weapon he'd had access to. Munch is beside him, also dead.
More bodies litter the inside of the office. Bayliss is bent over the desk, the expression on his face strangely calm despite the fact that part of his head is missing.
In the corner of the room is the safe. I find Ballard, Stivers, and Gharty beside it--they'd obviously been trying to jimmy it open. I see the desperate scratches in the metal, now mixed with human blood.
How they all must have cursed me.
I step out of the office, my hand over my eyes.
Frank--I don't see Frank. Frank, the one I confide in, the center of my squad. Maybe he made it-- maybe he survived this madness somehow.
"I got a live one in here!" I hear a medic call.
He's in the coffee room. I head out, pushing medics, chairs, desks, anything in my way as I try to get to Frank. Please be okay, I'm thinking. Please be okay.
He's not. Frank's drowning in his own blood--it soaks his clothes, spreads out across the floor. So much blood for one man.
"Frank!" I say. His eyes are open but he's gasping desperately for breath. "What happened in here?
Who did this to you?"
He turns his head, his eyes narrowing. "Tell me, Gee. How does it feel knowing that you just killed your whole squad?"
"I--I didn't write that memo!" I splutter. "I--I've done my best--I've always done my best for you!
We--we're gonna get you out of here, and we're gonna find the bastard who did this and it's gonna be okay. Do you hear me?"
"Fuck you, Giardello," he says weakly, then starts to convulse. The medics push me away and start working on him, but I can tell that what I'm seeing are death throes.
I feel a hand on my shoulder and I turn around to see Barnfather.
"Give me your gun and your badge," he says flatly.
"And the key to the weapons."
I don't even bother to argue.