Images Of The Past

STORY IS UNDER MASSIVE CONSTRUCTION, NOT IN ORDER, AND GENERALLY A BIG MESS. YOU REALLY SHOULD GO NOW, AND CHECK BACK WHEN THE STORY IS DONE.....THENK YEW.

********

Tiffany Chambers stared out the window of her hospital room and sighed as she watched a group of children play on the grounds below. It had been four days since she was rushed into the hospital, along with her partner, suffering from gunshot wounds.

Tiffany closed her eyes and the scenes from the parking lot came back…like they always did. This time though, instead of fighting it, she went with the memory. What had they done wrong? How could they have prevented this? She concentrated harder as the medication started to take hold of her mind. No. She had to remember…had to think of who it was that she had recognized on the roof of the building next door…had to remember, so she could stop him from trying this again.

She opened her eyes and smiled slightly. Well, at least she had remembered that the shooter had been a him…that was something. Now, if she could only remember the other parts of what had happened that day.

Tiffany walked slowly back to her bed, laid down, and closed her eyes. She was determined to remember everything that had happened…regardless how much she wanted to forget it.

She opened her eyes and stared at the ceiling for a long time. The images were coming, but it had always been the same thing. She remembered nothing that would be useful in finding this man.

Tiffany sat on her hospital bed and wrapped her good arm around her knees. Her shoulder still hurt, but she tried to ignore the pain. She laid back on the bed again, wiped a tear away, and closed her eyes.

“Why can’t I remember?” she whispered into the dark.

*********

(Four Days Earlier)

“Will you watch it!” Gabriel Paulson said as he closed his eyes against the traffic.

Tiffany Chambers looked at him with an amused smile. “Oh, come on, Gabe. Don’t be such a sissy.” She turned the wheel quickly, just narrowly missing a parked truck.

“I’m not a sissy,” Gabe said. “Hell, anyone would be scared with you driving!” He inhaled as Tiffany turned into the parking lot, and skidded to a stop. “Ye-gads! Next time, I drive!”

“Really?” Tiffany smiled. “That was my plan all along.”

Gabe looked shocked, then started to laugh. “You wench!” He got out of the car and made his way to a picnic table. “You buy today,” he said over his shoulder.

“Sure,” Tiffany said. “Hamburger with the works, right?” She laughed at the look on Gabe’s face.

“Hi, Detective Tiffany,” a small voice said from behind the counter.

Tiffany looked from the tall woman taking the orders, to the child beside her. “Well, hello there Becky. How are you today?”

“I’m five today!” Becky squealed as she held all the fingers on her right hand up.

“You are?!” Tiffany looked shocked. “Happy birthday, sweetie!” She watched as Becky smiled, then scurried off to play.

The woman behind the counter smiled. “Thanks…The usual?”

Tiffany nodded. “But make mine a coffee instead of a Coke.”

The woman smiled as she called the order back to the cook.

******

Tiffany sat at the opposite side of the table from her partner. “I ordered you a steak…blood rare.”

Gabe, a life-long vegetarian, made a disgusted face and laughed. “You better hope you didn’t.”

“Hey, did you know that that today’s Becky’s birthday?” Tiffany said. “How about we drive her around the parking lot, and let her play with the siren?”

“Sounds okay to me,” Gabe said. He looked across the take-outs parking lot and nodded. “Here comes the rest of the gang.”

Tiffany looked up, smiling as an unmarked police car drove into the lot. It had been a weekly ritual, the four of them getting together at “Mahoney’s Grill And Take-Out” every Tuesday for lunch.

******

The man sat on the roof next to the parking lot and watched as the four law officers had their lunch. He had been following two of them for the past three weeks, and knew that they always came here on Tuesdays. Now, he would have his revenge on one of them. He knew that the others would be caught in the crossfire, but he considered them merely casualties of his war.

The man unlocked the case he had with him, unpacked the contents, and patiently put together the rifle. He knew that they would be here for at least forty minutes, so he had plenty of time to enact his brand of justice.

*******

Detective Frank Handson leaned back from the picnic table and sighed. “That was good food.”

Detective Mike Anderson nodded. “As usual, the best Dallas has to offer.” He looked at his watch. “Time to get back to protecting the fine folks of said city.” He stood, picked up his tray, and started for the garbage bin.

Gabe glanced at him, then stopped. A little red dot was on Mike’s shoulder, and it took a moment for Gabe’s mind to register what he was seeing. “Gun!” he yelled. “Mike, cover!”

Detective Anderson didn’t stop to ask questions as he dropped his tray and dove towards the protection of the garbage bin. His body jerked slightly, and slammed into the hard metal container.

“Shit!” Gabe yelled as he dove for cover. He pulled Tiffany to his side of the table, then tipped it on its side. He noticed the woman behind the counter as she started to come out of the takeout. “Stay there!” he yelled. “Call 911…tell them officer down!”

The woman nodded and made her way back to the safety of the building.

Frank Handson looked at Mike briefly, then scanned the surroundings as he crouched beside the table. “Damn it!” he yelled as he tried to find the source. “I can’t see him!”

Tiffany looked up from her spot. “Gotta be somewhere high.” She glanced at the still body of Mike. “We have to get him out of the line of fire.”

Gabe shook his head. “Not until we know where the shot came from.”

“Maybe he’s gone,” Frank said slowly, then shook his head. “No…whoever this is, is professional. Silencer…out of the way spot.” He stopped as a whizzing sound went by him, and hit the body of the downed detective. “There.” He pointed to a rooftop. “That’s gotta be it. Look, I’ve got my vest on…you and Tiff lay down some cover…I’ll get Mike behind the bin, and then cover you.”

Gabe nodded, and drew his gaze away from his downed friend. “Okay.”

Frank nodded. “On three.” He slowly got up. “One…two…three!” He sprinted away from the table as gunshots erupted behind him. He made it to the body of his partner, grabbed him by the jacket, and started to pull him to the safety of the garbage bins.

Gabe ducked as he heard the now familiar sound of a bullet go by, and jerked around as he heard Frank yell out in pain. Wha? How? The reality of the situation hit him like a roundhouse.

“Cop killers,” he said slowly as he watched another one of his friends lying on the ground, the life oozing out of a gunshot in his back.

“Where’s the back up!?” Tiffany demanded as she leaned against the table. “I say we make a run for it.”

Gabe looked at her. “Are you crazy?!?”

“He’s got cop killer bullets, Gabe,” Tiffany pointed out. “He’ll get us either way.”

Gabe sighed. “Yeah, I guess you’re…” He never finished the sentence as his body was thrown back against the ground. Tiffany stared at the hole in the picnic table, then at Gabe’s body.

Gabe looked at her, pain filling his eyes. “Tiff…”

“God damn it!” Tiffany yelled. She looked over the top of the table and straight at the figure that was now standing on the roof of the three story building.

She recognized him immediately.

They bought their weapons up at the same time, pulling the triggers. Tiffany saw the shooter stumble back as her bullet hit him, then she yelled out in pain as his tore through her shoulder. She fell to the ground, expecting another bullet to hit her. He finally gets his revenge she thought numbly as she fought the darkness. She could hear the sirens in the distance, and struggled to stay conscious. Pain ran in waves through her at every breath. She concentrated on that pain…knowing that she had to stay awake. “There’s the back up,” a voice whispered. Tiffany tried to nod in agreement, but could not. “Tiff? Tiff!”

“Yeah?”

Gabe sighed in relief. “You hang in there, kid. You’re gonna be fine.”

Tiffany forced herself to look at her partner. He was lying on the ground, blood running from a similar shoulder wound. Tiffany closed her eyes briefly, then opened them in panic as someone touched her arm.

She stared in shock at the paramedic who knelt beside her. “Take it easy,” he said in a kind voice. “You’ll be okay.”

Tiffany stared at him. “Gabe…” The paramedic started to blur. “I know who it was,” she whispered. “I know who it was.”

Another person came into her hazy line of sight. “Who was it?” a voice asked. Tiffany thought she recognized the voice, but she could not place it. Detective Ryan knelt beside her. “Who was it?” he asked again.

“I know who it was…I know…”

The paramedic glanced at Detective Ryan. “She’s in shock, Detective.”

******

Trent Malloy was already in the waiting room when his best friend, Carlos Sandoval, came running in.

“Where is she!” Carlos demanded in a pleading voice. He was as close to panic as Trent had ever seen.

“She’s in surgery,” Trent said in a soft voice. He took Carlos’ arm and led him to a couch. “Tiffany was conscious when they bought her in.”

Carlos looked at him. “She was?” he sighed in relief. “What happened?”

Trent shrugged lightly. “I really don’t know. I was visiting Kim, and heard that they were bringing in cops that had been shot.” He ran a hand through his blonde hair. “I didn’t really think much about it…but when I was leaving, the ambulances got here…” He paused. “Somehow, I knew it was Tiffany.”

Carlos leaned back on the couch and fought the images that were running through his mind. He looked up at a sound.

“Any word?” Kim, their receptionist at Thunder Investigation, asked. She was dressed in a hospital gown and robe, and had a portable I.V. bag with her.

“What are you doing out of bed?” Carlos asked.

“I only had my appendix out, Carlos,” she told him. “I’ll be fine.” She sat down slowly beside him. “I wanted to be here with you.”

“Thanks,” Carlos said. He let her take his hand, and sat there for a few minutes in silence. She has to be all right. She has to be. Here’s the deal, God…let Tiff live, and I will do anything…anything! Carlos sighed deeply and leaned further into the couch.

“Carlos?” a quiet voice said from the hallway.

Carlos looked, then stood. “Amanda.” He walked to her, and put his arms around her. Kim looked at Trent in question, only to get a shrug in response. Carlos led the woman to the couch. “This is Amanda Paulson…Gabe’s wife.”

Trent said hello, then leaned to Kim. “Gabe is Tiff’s partner,” he whispered.

“Ahhhh.”

“Have you heard anything?” Amanda asked.

Carlos shook his head. “I just got here…have you?”

“Only that Gabe is in surgery,” Amanda answered. “Beyond that, they don’t know.” She wiped away a teat that threatened to fall.

Carlos took her hand in his. “He’ll be fine.” He tried to smile, but he knew how tricky a gun shot could be.

********

Carlos paced from the couch, to the hallway, and back again. He leaned against the wall for a few moments, then walked back to the hallway. He started toward the nurse’s station.

“Carlos?” Trent said from the waiting room. He poked his head out into the hallway.

“I’m just going to see if there’s any information,” Carlos explained.

Trent walked out to the hall and joined his friend. “Carlos…” He stopped, knowing that there was nothing he could say to make the other man not worry. “I know you need to stay active, but…”

Anger flashed briefly in Carlos’ eyes. “What I need is for her to be out surgery! The longer she stays in there…” He stopped and blinked. “Sorry,” he mumbled and leaned against the wall.

Trent leaned beside him. “It’s okay…you’re worried about Tiffany.” He looked down the hall and stood quickly.

Carlos followed his gaze, then set off towards the doctor that had stepped out of the elevator.

“Tiffany Sanders,” Carlos asked. “How is she?”

“If you will come with me to the waiting room, I will explain all.”

Carlos felt his legs grow weak. “You tell me now!” he demanded in a loud voice.

Trent put a hand on his arm, but Carlos jerked away. “Carlos,” Trent said softly. “Carlos?”

Carlos inhaled and tried to mentally calm himself…it wasn’t working. All he could think about was the possibility of not being able to see Tiffany again. Not being able to tell her how much she meant to him…not being able to hold her again…not be able to apologize about the argument they had gotten into last night.

That last thought stuck in his mind.

Trent watched the emotions play over his friend’s face. “Come on,” he said as he took Carlos’ arm and led him back to the waiting room.

Carlos walked, his mind still berating him for the things he had said during that argument. He didn’t notice that they had re-entered the waiting room, and he went automatically to the couch.

The doctor faced the group and began to talk. “Both Detective Chambers and Detective Paulson are out of surgery, and in recovery.”

Amanda Paulson put her hands over her face and cried in relief. Carlos leaned back in to the couch and closed his eyes.

“How are they?” Kim asked.

“Both are suffering from blood loss.” The doctor paused. “The rest, I’m afraid, is for next of kin only.”

“Why?” Carlos asked. “If they’re okay…”

“This is only hospital policy,” the doctor explained.

*******

Carlos walked slowly into the room and looked at the figure on the bed. His gaze went to the machines at her beside, then back to her face. He went to the bed and sat in the chair beside it. Carlos gently touched the bandage on her shoulder, then the one on her forehead.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered. He closed his eyes and sighed. This was too close he thought. “I’m sorry.”

Carlos glanced at his watch, then went back to watching the football game on the screen above the bar. He stopped, looked at his watch again, and stood so quickly that he nearly knocked the stool over.

“Easy on the stools,” Butch McMann said.

Carlos grabbed his jacket and headed for the door.

“Where are you going?” Trent asked. “The games tied.” He motioned to the screen.

“I was suppose to be at Tiff’s an hour ago,” Carlos explained as he hurried out the door.

Trent and Butch exchanged amused looks.

“Uh-oh”, Trent said. “He’s in trouble now.”

******

Carlos exhaled as he knocked on the door. He waited, and knocked again. The door opened.

“Sorry,” he said.

Tiffany smiled sweetly at him…too sweetly. Carlos swallowed nervously as she left the door opened and walked to the couch.

“I lost track of the time,” Carlos tried to explain as he entered and closed the door behind him. “We were at Uppercuts…watching the football game…Aren’t you going to say anything?”

“I was just waiting for you to finish your excuse,” Tiffany said easily.

Carlos stopped. “It’s not an excuse.”

“And there are no phones at Uppercuts?”

“I told you I lost track of the time,” Carlos said, not really liking the tone of her voice.

Tiffany stood. “Hungry? Or did you remember to eat?” Carlos blushed in guilt. “Well, I guess that’s it.” Tiffany walked to the door. “Thanks for stopping by.”

Carlos stared at her. “Huh?”

“Thanks for stopping by,” she repeated. She sighed as he just stood there, staring. She gave him a small smile and walked into the kitchen.

What the hell? Carlos thought as he watched the door swing. He went to it and pushed it open.

“Why are you acting this way?” he demanded. “I said I was sorry.”

“You always are.” She started to take the dinner off the table that had been waiting for the past hour for Carlos to appear.

Carlos glared at her. “What the hell is that suppose to mean?!” He paused. “Are you P.M.S.ing or something?”

Tiffany walked up to him and poked him in the chest with her finger. “No, I am not P.M.S.ing. What I am however, is sick of being stood up!”

“I already explained that!” Carlos said loudly.

“I heard you the first two times!” Tiffany whirled and went back to the table. “You just don’t get it, do you?” She shook her head. “God…sometimes you are so dense.”

Carlos bit his lip to try to stop another comment, but it didn’t work. “You are such a bitch.”

Tiffany stepped back from the table. “Like I said, thanks for dropping by.”

“I don’t even know why I bothered!”

“Why did you bother?” Tiffany asked with a glare. “One phone call, and you could have been off the hook.”

“Off the hook?” Carlos repeated. “What a wonderful idea!” He turned and walked out of the kitchen and headed for the door. “Hasta lavista…baby!”

Carlos was pulled out of his memories as Tiffany moved slightly in the bed. He squeezed her hand in reassurance…whether for his sake, or hers, he wasn’t sure. “You need to get better,” he whispered in a choked voice. “I don’t want our last conversation to have been that argument.”

Carlos wiped his eyes quickly as the door opened. “It’s time to go,” a nurse said quietly.

“Yeah.” Carlos leaned to Tiffany, kissed her on the cheek, and stood. “I’ll be back first thing in the morning,” he promised.

******

Detective Ryan was standing at the end of the hall when Carlos walked out of the room.

“How is she?” he asked, his voice coming as close to resembling concern as Carlos had ever heard.

“She’s still asleep,” Carlos said as he stopped in front of him. “Any leads on the shooter?”

Ryan looked at him, all traces of the earlier concern gone. “You know I can’t divulge anything to you.”

“Of course not,” Carlos mumbled. “What about the others?”

Ryan sighed slightly. “Gabe’s gonna be okay. Frank Handson…he’s touchy right now.” He paused. “Mike Anderson was DOA.”

Carlos stared at him. He had known Mike Anderson. “Damn.”

“Tiffany said she knew who the shooter was,” Ryan said in a slightly accusing voice.

Carlos picked up on it immediately. “If you’re thinking that they were all shot to get at her…you better have proof.” He took a step closer to Ryan. “Cause, man,…you even think of following that path, you’ll have me to deal with.”

Ryan stood his ground as the two old adversaries glared at each other. “Don’t threaten me, Sandoval,” Ryan warned. “I’ll have your ass in holding so fast it’ll make your head spin.”

Carlos closed his eyes and silently cursed himself. He needed to try to stay on Ryan's good side so that he could get information out of him. “This is gonna kill me to say, but…Sorry…I shouldn’t have taken my anger out on you.” I think I’m gonna be sick.

Ryan looked shocked, then suspicious, then smiled slightly. “Now, was that so hard?”

“Ryan,” Carlos warned. He stared at him for a moment. “Forget it! Just forget it! You’re still the same pri-- …asshole you’ve always been!” He turned and stormed away.

“You’re lucky your lady’s in ICU,” Ryan called after him. “Or I’d haul your ass in!”

Carlos briefly closed his eyes as he walked, and sighed. “One of these days, Ryan,” he muttered to himself.

*******

Tiffany tried to move as she lay in the bed, but the pain made her think otherwise. She moaned softly, and tried to remember how it was that she ended up here. She heard the door open, and turned to it slowly. A man was standing in the opening.

She knew him…but she couldn’t place the name. Her mind worked furiously as he entered and walked over to her.

The man bent down and kissed her on the cheek. “Hi,” he said softly. “How are you feeling?”

Tiffany stared at him. “I’m sorry, I don’t…”

The man smiled…or at least tried to. “It’s okay. The doctor explained that you’re going to have memory lapses for the next few days.” He took her hand and held it.

Tiffany squeezed his hand lightly. She knew this man…trusted this man…maybe even loved this man. She knew she was safe.

“What…happened to me?” she asked in a quiet voice. “I don’t remember.”

“You were shot.”

“Oh.” Tiffany closed her eyes. “No wonder it hurts like hell.” She fought the fatigue that tried to claim her. “Why was I shot?” She opened her eyes. “I’m a cop.”

The man smiled. “Yes, you are.”

The man had a wonderful smile, and Tiffany found herself smiling back. “Carlos,” she said suddenly.

The smile grew bigger. “That’s me.” He squeezed her hand. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Tiffany tried to sit up higher on the bed. “I’m getting a few things back,” she said and smiled wryly. “You here to apologize for last night?”

Carlos stared at her, and didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

*******

(Present Day)

Tiffany felt someone enter the room, and opened her eyes. She smiled at Carlos as he stood just inside the doorway.

“You up for visitors?” he asked.

“That depends,” Tiffany replied. “Ya got any chocolate with ya?”

Carlos held out his hand, showing her the box of chocolate covered cherries. He smiled when she motioned him in. Tiffany took the box, and smiled at the others behind Carlos.

“Hi,” Kim said as she sat in the chair.

“How are you feeling?” Tiffany asked.

“Better…you?”

“Still sore.” Tiffany smiled up at Trent. “What? No candies?”

Trent laughed, pulled a bag of jujubes from his pocket, and tossed them to her. “You have the biggest sweet tooth that I have ever seen.”

“What brings you all here?” Tiffany asked. “Find out anything from Ryan?”

Carlos sat on the side of the bed and took Tiffany’s hand. “Not really. He doesn’t really like me that much, so he’s been rather tight with the information.”

Tiffany sighed. “Next visit, I want you to bring me my lap top. I need to check some of my old files.”

“Still can’t place the shooter?”

“Not yet.” Tiffany turned and stared out the window. “I can’t even see his face.” The tree outside caught her attention, and she stared at it in fascination. Something clicked in her mind. “Fall.”

“Pardon?” Trent asked.

Tiffany looked at them. “Huh?”

“You said ‘fall’,” Trent said.

“I did?” Tiffany looked confused. She closed her eyes and concentrated. This was becoming a common occurrence lately. She would say things, and not realize that she had spoken. “Something to do with the fall,” she whispered. “A name…no…a place.”

She opened her eyes and looked at their worried faces. “I saw his picture in the fall.”

“Picture?” Carlos asked. “Not the person?”

Tiffany shook her head. “I don’t think so,” she whispered in a confused voice. “No…it wasn’t his picture…it was a picture that I saw.” She nodded her head. “Yes…a picture of something this man had done.”

“Like a crime scene picture?” Carlos put in.

“That’s it!’ Tiffany almost yelled. “Oh, God! I know what picture too!” She tried to get out of the bed, but Carlos put a hand on her arm. “Lemme up, Carlos…I have to go see Gabe.”

*******

Gabe Paulson looked at her in amazement. “Are you sure?”

Tiffany nodded from her wheelchair. “Do you remember what that case was about?”

Gabe sat up and reached for a note pad. “I know the basics.” He started to write a few things down. “Okay…what do you remember about it.”

Trent and Carlos watched from the doorway as the two Detectives compared notes and memories.




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