Blauer - Tactical Clothing & Equipment

Chesley and Schmidt - By Lt. Tim Cotton

She couldn’t believe she was here. Four years of college, a really good marriage, a blown chance at a full-time teaching position, and yet here she was. Tomorrow night she would not be riding with Schmidt anymore.

Released from her field training program a little early, she was finally going to be in her own cruiser. Grouchy Officer Schmidt would no longer complain about the odor of vanilla in his cruiser. She learned quickly that smelling like a vanilla bean would bring the wrath of the midnight crew upon her and it would elicit compliments from every drunk moron in Bangor.

A new, neutral scented body wash was supposed to have taken care of this.

“You smell sooooooo goooooood” was his best line. The man reeked of peppermint, Pabst, Polo, and pine tree air fresheners. He wore an expensive looking watch, had too much “product” in his thinning hair, and he hit on her all the way to the jail.

Schmidt just smirked as he drove; he would have stepped in sooner but he wanted her to feel the pressure. It would be far worse when he was not in the car, so he pretended he wasn’t.

Other than driving and taking care of the increasing radio traffic from the squawking Motorola, he was a ghost who was only observing how she handled the idiot behind their seats. The cage kept the commentary muffled, but the man -struggling with his impending 50s- was one loud piece of work.

Drunks hear themselves differently than the sober do. It’s very unfortunate…for the sober.

Schmidt wanted to tell the guy to shut-up, but he didn’t. His chivalry needed to be dead for the fifteen minute trip to the jail.

Schmidt made sure that the in-car recorder was still running. It was Chesley’s last night with an FTO and he felt that a recording of the trip would be just the kind of parting gift that she could use as a keepsake of their time together.

He also planned to buy her a small coffee because he was notoriously cheap. Coffee and a keepsake. Like coffee with a cop, only with a video-tape that was worthy of many viewings over her next 25 years here in the Queen City.

She had held her own over the last six months. She had her index finger broken by an angry biker, lost her radio at least three times, and inquired only twice about where the third floor swimming pool was after an evil prankster in the ladies locker room put her up to it. She caught on quicker than most.

The kid they released three weeks ago had actually brought fins and a diving mask to roll call. That was the beginning of the end; actually it was the end of the end. Frost was not cut out for the job. He would do well in his father’s business, but not here.

Chesley hoped that her face was not showing the embarrassment she felt inside. No one had talked to her like that at school or even during college. This was a new level of obnoxious, but she had been trained well and was determined to just let it bounce off the dirty spit shield and drop on the rear floor pan of the Explorer. They guy was an idiot and would regret all of this in the morning.

She looked over at Schmidt. Bathed in the green light of the dashboard, his smirk was showing. He never even looked over at her. He had been annoying, tough, kind when needed, but mostly tough on her.

He made her drive to the E.R. the night she broke her finger. “I won’t always be here, kid.” He just looked out the passenger side window as they rolled up to the hospital.

She was genuinely pissed when he told her he would be in the cafeteria having a coffee while they set her finger. He was a jerk. She understood though. He did call her when she was out on light duty for three weeks. He told her that he was wondering when she would be back because she owed him three cups of coffee and he was sick of driving. He added that he did enjoy listening to real music where he could fully understand the lyrics.

She smiled to herself; the drunk man’s words had become like Nerf darts. She felt them, but they didn’t hurt at all. Not even a little bit.

As they walked the man into the jail, she noted that he had relieved himself of his over-hydration. His khakis told a story that he didn’t realize was being broadcast to all he passed by on his singular perp-walk to the holding pen.

She waited until she had his booking sheet completely filled out. She explained his court date and he once again offered her his phone number.

She saw that the eyes of all the other future bunkmates were watching intently. Chelsey looked down at his dampened drawers and said, at a perfect volume, “Oh, and all this time I thought you were only wearing Polo.”

The room fell silent, but only for a moment. The laughter of the others didn’t fade until the door shut hard behind her. Schmidt’s smile was infectious when it was in full bloom like that.

Schmidt sprung for a large coffee and a chocolate cruller that he insisted that they split as long as he got the larger half. As they drove toward the station she could hear him mutter under his breath, “Only wearing Polo, very funny.”

Tomorrow night, she would be Schmidt’s back up and they were both feeling okay about it.

She slipped into bed at 03:17 a.m. and she reached over to feel her husband's arm. She hoped he was awake so she could tell him about her conquest of idiocy. He wasn't.

Our stories are sometimes better told by someone else. She hoped she would someday hear Schmidt tell it. Our shared experiences help us cope, fit in, and thrive. She would thrive.

Keep your hands to yourself, leave other people’s things alone, and be kind to one another.


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