Callie stopped by the foster home to see Colby West alone. He was delighted to see her. They had talked for
nearly an hour before she had to go. She had wanted Rus and Ricky to come along with her, but after Rus’s departure
last night, she was not sure it was a good idea to show up on his doorstep unannounced.
From what Colby had said, locating his uncle was becoming a difficult task. His apartment had been abandoned
and the landlord had not seen him in over three months. He stilled owed a month’s rent on the property.
This did not sound good for Colby. He had voiced his displeasure with the foster home. Though the people
there seemed nice and respectable, Callie could understand where it would seem a bit impersonal for a young boy like Colby.
After Callie had said good-bye to Colby, she left there feeling bleak. She tried to push thoughts about Colby
from her mind, but the more she did the more he kept coming back into her mind. But with thoughts of him came thoughts of
Rus and Ricky.
Callie sensed she was on the edge of depression. She had to keep busy so she went to the office to do a little
paperwork. It did little to relieve her anxiety or her melancholy mood. She stayed less than hour, then tried to do some window
shopping at one of the malls.
In Wyoming, she always loved going to one of the finer malls and buying her a new suit. Instead, today, she
could not find the joy in such a task. She drove around for hours, searching out peace within herself. After three hours,
she realized it was hopeless. She was hopelessly in love with Rus, but he was not in love with her.
She didn’t know when or how it had happened, but now that it had, she didn’t know what to do.
Falling in love had been the last thing on her mind when she came to Florida. Love. She whirled the word around in her head.
She wasn’t ready to fall in love again. She wasn’t sure she would ever be ready for love.
Callie was on the phone when Rus walked into the office the next morning. Her mood was somber, and her actions
seemed intense. She barely noticed him as he took his seat across the room. It was for the better, he thought dismally. After
the way he had treated Callie on Saturday, he didn’t blame her if she never spoke to him again.
Callie’s voice began a casual ascent of its own. She clamped her lips together, trying to stem her
anger. This was a side of Callie that Rus had never seen before.
"You don’t understand," she was saying into the receiver, "Colby West is important to me. He isn’t
a charity case."
She was quiet, but in her eyes simmered a rage that threatened to spill out.
Suddenly Rus remember that he and Ricky were suppose to go and visit Colby West. This simple thought brought
him a measure of guilt and shame. He’d forgotten all about it. In all his effort to take care of Callie and protect
her, he’d forgotten about Colby West.
"Well, I will start the petition now, to become his legal guardian. By then, hopefully you will have found
his uncle. I suggest," she said gravely, with just a hint of sarcasm, "that you start doing you job and locate his uncle."
She slammed the phone down. Callie almost shed a bucket of tears. Instead, she wiped her eyes with a tissue
and walked away. Rus wanted to go after her, but he knew it was best to keep his distance. He was probably the last person
she wanted to see.
When she returned to her desk, Callie was quiet and withdrawn. Rus could tell a difference in her immediately.
"Callie," Rus asked, "are you okay?"
"Yes, I’m fine," is all she would say to him. She wouldn’t even look at him. He felt like such
"If there’s anything that I can do . . ."
Rus was unable to finish his sentence when a loud commotion took place at the front of the building. Joe
Hines was bringing in a young teenage boy about seventeen. He was rowdy and hot-headed. He was shouting obscenities at everyone.
It seemed as though Joe was having a bit of trouble maintaining control over the boy.
Rus’s instinct as a cop told him he should go over and give him some assistance. But he knew he couldn’t
do that. Joe Hines was being investigated for Rus’s shooting. It was best if the two of them kept their distance from
Callie glanced from Rus to the officer near the front of the building. The officer was rather thin, he had
blond hair cut short against the collar. For a moment Callie thought the police officer could have been the one to run into
her the week before. This thought gave her a cold chill. He was, if she remembered correctly, the police officer that had
let her pass through the police barricade. But that day seemed so long ago. And she’d been tired and weary from days
of travel. She wasn’t exactly sure if this man and that man were one in the same. She’d have to keep her eyes
open and a good watch on him. Then when she knew for sure, she’d tell the captain what she knew. If she knew anything
The chill inside her ran deeper and she shivered.
When Rus looked at her, it was in puzzlement. He saw the ashen color of her face. Was she on to something?
Had she realized something important? Did she know Joe Hines? Had he been the one to let her through the barricade in order
to sidetrack him and cause him to nearly lose his life.
Rus wouldn’t put it past Callie for making any assumptions. She was bright and intelligent. It would
be so easy for her to put two and two together and realize this was potentially the man they were looking for. The one after
Rus’s own life.
For a moment Rus felt sick to his stomach.
Eventually, Callie turned away from the scene in front of her, ignoring him in the process. She returned
back to her job forgetting Rus, the officer and everything else that went along with it. Outwardly, Rus thought Callie was
doing a fine job of masking her feelings, except for the occasional tremor in her hands that gave her away.
An hour later, the delinquent was put in front of Callie’s desk against his will. He was still shouting
and carrying on like a kid who was high on something. His eyes were red and glazed over. His speech was slurred.
Callie remained calm as she began asking him a series of questions. She had to be careful what she said.
She did not want to provoke the kid into doing anything that might harm her. She was thankful that Rus was nearby. In a way,
Callie felt that he was her protector. This gave her the ability to concentrate on her job and not her fears.
The juvenile was being difficult. He spat at Callie and swore at her. He made undo threats which she ignored.
Rus, however, was growing edgy and Callie could tell that he was wanting to come over to her desk and pummel the boy.
Rus could not understand how poised and relaxed Callie was. Couldn’t she understand the significance
of what she was doing, how dangerous her job was at the moment?
Callie bent over to retrieve something from a lower drawer in her desk. When she came back up, she heard
a clicking and a barrel of a small hand gun was staring her in the face.
Suddenly all noise in the place was gone. It was replaced by a deathly still silence. Callie was sure her
rapid heart beat could be heard by everyone. She tried to remain calm, not to panic. But it was hard.
She pleaded with Rus to do something. Slowly he moved around his desk toward Callie. He held his hands in
the air and away from his body. Rus made a point not to make any sudden moves that would make the boy nervous and allow him
to pull the trigger prematurely.
Rus was frantic. He didn’t have a gun on him. The captain had taken it away from him when he’d
taken over this desk job. They told him he didn’t need a gun for his job. Like heck he didn’t. If he had a gun,
he would have used it by now and Callie would be safe.
"Look, young man," Rus said softly, "you don’t want to use that thing. Why don’t you hand it
over to me."
The boy aimed the gun at Rus. He was of Spanish descent and Rus could smell the hint of alcohol on his breath.
The boy was enraged. "Look, man, I don’t need no advice from a has-been cop."
Rus had never felt like a has-been cop. But maybe that’s what he was. At the moment though, he couldn’t
let his feelings override his experience. Callie was in trouble and she needed him. In the most desperate way.
"What makes you think I’m a has-been cop," Rus asked calmly. He waited for the boys response.
"Why else would you be sitting behind a desk."
"Very good," Rus commented. "So why would you want to hurt this woman for?"
After the question was asked Rus knew it had been the wrong thing to say. The gun swung around and now faced
her again. Rus swiftly took a look around the room. There was no sign of Joe Hines any where. He thought this was peculiar.
He saw other interested faces, but not Joe Hines.
Callie’s lips trembled. She began to pray for her safety as well as Rus’s. She’d never
been put in a position like this. She didn’t know what to say or do. Rus was the one with all the knowledge. She trusted
him enough to allow him to do what it was he needed to do.
Everyone began to clear out of the building, slowly and quietly. Soon there were only four people in the
building. Callie, Rus, the gun man, and Captain Lee. He was not about to leave his two employees. If they were going down,
he was going down with them.
"Look," Rus was saying, "why don’t we have a seat over here and talk a minute."
This angered the young boy. He grabbed a handful of Callie’s hair. He practically drug her over her
desk until she stood in front of him. The barrel of the gun was cold when it first touched the base of her throat.
Callie groaned in desperation now, tears welling rapidly in her eyes. She faced Rus and he faced her. Now
she began to pray in earnest.
Lord, please help this young boy. He needs you Lord. You know he has a gun on me Lord. I hope its empty,
but if it isn’t, please protect me and keep me safe. And please help Rus and the Captain. Please don’t let them
get hurt either. Lord we all need you.
Rus took a slight step forward, but the boy’s grip tightened around Callie’s neck, squeezing
off her air. Rus backed off to give them space like a smart cop would do. This seemed to please the boy.
"Can we talk," Rus pleaded with the boy. "You really don’t want to hurt anybody, I’m sure of
"What makes you so sure."
Rus didn’t want to antagonize the boy, but he had to be honest. "Because if you had, you would have
already shot Callie. Now why don’t we talk."
The boy peered at Rus without saying a word.
"What kind of drugs are you on?" Rus asked.
"It ain’t none of your business," the boy shouted. "It don’t concern you."
"Who’d you get them from?"
The boy wasn’t speaking. Rus was trying his best, but he couldn’t get through to the kid. Callie
admired his composure and his attempts to get the boy to talk. But something had to happen and soon. She was afraid the boy
would lose control at any moment. He was a live wire. A ticking bomb. And when the drugs began to wear off the withdrawal
symptoms would be horrible. He might do anything then.
She prayed again. Lord, I’ve never dealt with this sort of thing and I don’t know what I need
to do here. But I know what I’m about to do. I ask that you spread your wings over each of us. Protect us, keep us safe.
Callie broke away from the boy and faced him squarely. She showed no signs of fear even though every
muscle in her body quivered. Rus was stunned and stared at her speechless.
"I know you have problems," Callie started to stay. "We all have our problems. We just have to work them
The young boy was not handsome, Callie noted. His face was hard and rough, and his eyes seemed cold and heartless.
But Callie kept her eyes on his, never wavering in her decision.
"Well lady," the young boy said dramatically, "I can’t see that you have any problems. You have a nice
job, nice clothes, nice hair. . . what do you have to worry about except looking good."
Callie thought about what the boy had said. "I have a lot to worry about," Callie admitted. "But I pray about
them and hand them over to the Lord."
The boy laughed then. It was a sarcastic laugh, but Callie would not be intimidated.
"God doesn’t care about me," the boy said shamelessly.
Callie felt a sadness overwhelm her. "May I ask what your name is?" Callie couldn’t remember asking
him that before she started her paper work. That was unusual because that was usually her first question. But today she hadn’t
been herself. She had been preoccupied and her mind wasn’t focused on her job. If it had been, she would have searched
the boy again and found the gun. But she had failed to do that and now here she was, wondering if she would live or be shot.
"My name is Paul Dannon. What’s it to you?"
"I like to know all my clients by name. It puts me on a one on one basis with them. You are no different.
And God is much the same way. He knows each one of us by name and even knows the number of hairs we have on our head."
"And you think he cares about me."
"Of course he does. He cares about all of us."
"Why should he care about me?" the young boy asked at last. "What have I done that would make him care about
"God made you, son," Rus was now saying. "He knew you before you were even in your mother’s womb. If
he didn’t think you were worthy, he never would have brought you into this world."
There was a long pause. Rus wanted to the boy to think about what he was saying. They had to reach this boy.
They just had to. Rus knew he was just on the edge, that the boys mind was on the Lord. He just didn’t know how to believe.
At last the boy sat down in his chair again. The gun fell out of his hand and hit with a thud. Callie stood
stock still, afraid to breath or move at all. Before she knew it, Rus was around her, thrusting the gun off the floor and
emptying its chamber onto her desk.
She watched in silence as each bullet hit with a small hollow sound. Callie wanted to cry then, but she couldn’t.
She had to be strong and brave and courageous.
The captain led the boy away in handcuffs leaving Callie and Rus alone. It was only then that she finally
fell apart and began to weep. She fell into Rus’s arms, without apology, and allowed him to console her. He felt the
shaking of her body, the quiver of her muscles. He held her for a long time, just listening to the torment in her tears.
When everyone begin to file back into the building, Rus and Callie made their way out of the building. Rus
led them to a small coffee shop just around the corner. He ordered Callie a cup of strong tea while he ordered himself a black
They said nothing to one another. Callie was grateful for Rus’s presence and his strength. She clung
to him as if she would never let him go again.
It was hours before she regained her composure once again. She was embarrassed and ashamed for her show of
"Please don’t let Captain Lee know that I fell apart."
Rus laughed ominously. "Fell apart. What do you mean? You were wonderful, woman. You were calm at all times.
You knew just what to do. I am very proud of you."
"I want to thank you for trying to help out."
Rus was now the one who was embarrassed. "I have to admit that I am a little Rusty. I also have to admit,
I’m not very good without my gun."
"Where is your gun?"
Rus blinked hard. "They took it away from me when I took the desk job. I suppose now, they will be forced
to give it back to me."
Callie was just now seeing what a difference the two jobs were for Rus. "I’m sorry Rus," she said softly,
not looking at him, but looking directly at her tea.
"Hey," he said cheerfully, touching her hand gently. "You just made my day. You made me remember what it
was like to be a police officer out on the streets again."
"I bet you can’t wait to get back out there."
"I don’t know about that," Rus said honestly. "One could get used to this after awhile."
"Yea, Right." Callie’s words held sarcasm. It was almost as if she didn’believe him. But it was
also as if she knew it was predestined that she would lose him to the streets and nothing she could say or do would change
his mind about going back out there again.
Finally Callie got up from her seat. "Thank you for the tea. I really appreciate it."
Rus came to his feet. He noticed how vulnerable Callie looked. "There’s no need for you to come into
the office tomorrow. Why don’t you take the day off and I’ll cover for you."
Callie was tempted to do just that. Instead she said, "I’ll see you tomorrow anyway. I can’t
get scared off, Rus. This is my job now."
He knew she was right. He had been wrong in asking her to take the day off. He just cared about her was all.
"I’m sorry Callie. I just worry about you."
"Well I’m fine now. Make sure the captain knows I’ll be in tomorrow."
As she turned to leave Rus had one more thing to say. "The captain is proud of you, Callie."
"Did he say that?" was all she said in return as she made her way out the door. Rus felt empty and alone when she was gone.
He couldn’t wait to see her again. Tomorrow was not soon enough. He’d have to see her again before that or he
would go crazy.