Fictional piece by Julie Ann Tunstall
Sergeant Christine Cagney was sitting at her desk in New York's 14th precinct,drinking coffee and contemplating life. The past year had been a tough one, what with missing out on the promotion to Major Cases. Marquette had said they were lucky not to end up back in uniform, Samuels too, the way he had defended his "top team" to the chief of detectives.
Cagney's thoughts were disturbed by the buzzing of her telephone, she picked up the receiver-"hello", then, realizing that she was holding it upside down, turned it around and tried once more-"hello". "Cagney, my office now. Marquette wants to talk to the both of us together,says it's important". Chris put down the receiver and headed for Lieutenant Samuels' office. She'd been so far away in thought that she hadn't even noticed Marquette coming into the squad room. Chris knocked and entered the office. "Inspector",she said in a respectful tone. "Sergeant Cagney, sit down I have some news which I think will interest you, you too Bert". Marquette went on to say how he'd been observing Cagney's work over the past few months, how he'd been impressed and how he thought it was so unfair that she and Mary Beth had missed out on the promotion to Major Cases. Cagney was somewhat confused by this last utterance as it was Marquette who had threatened to put the women and Samuels back in uniform walking the Brooklyn beat. Chris suppressed her desire to mention this and went on to listen to what he had to say. "I'll lay it on the line Cagney,Bert, Lieutenant Davison over at the 7th has put in for retirement. Cagney, the squad is yours if you want it. Effective 9am Monday morning Sergeant Christine Cagney will become Lt Cagney, first in command at the 7th". Cagney's immediate reaction was to jump into the air and shout "alright!!!!". I've done it she thought,I've made Lieutenant. It had been her dream for as long as she could remember. Ever since she was a little girl she'd wanted to be a police officer just like her Pop.
As quickly as the excitement had come upon her it was ripped suddenly away. "Mary Beth she uttered in almost a whisper, "what about Mary Beth?. I'll have to discuss this with her. At this point Marquette jumped in. "Don't worry about Lacey, depending on the results of the recent Sergeant's exam she'll be going with you. Mainwaring the second whip at the 7th is moving out of State, he's put in for a transfer to Chicago. If Lacey gets Sergeant she'll be going with you as your second whip, you can still be partners". To say that Chris was overjoyed at hearing this wonderful, if not somewhat unexpected, news would be an understatement to say the least. She told Marquette that she'd discuss it over with Lacey and that she'd give him an answer by end of shift the following day. It was at this point that Chris's thoughts wandered to Charlie, she wished that he'd been alive to share this with her, he would have been the proudest man on Earth.
As Chris marched out of Samuels' office, head held high, a huge smile lighting her entire face and walked towards the shabby little desk that she shared with her partner, Mary Beth began to feel uneasy. What could Marquette possibly have said that would put her partner on such a high?. She was soon to find out. "Mary Beth I've done it, they made me Lieutenant". To this news Mary Beth jumped into the air, let out a huge scream and hugged her partner until she almost couldn't breathe anymore. "Oh Chris, I'm so proud of you. I knew you'd make it, I always knew.......". "It's not just me", interrupted Chris, it's the both of us,WE'VE made it, you're coming with me ,you're going to be my second whip, we'll still be partners, well at least we will if you pass the Sergeant's exam and I've no doubt that you did". At this point Chris couldn't help but notice the look of discomfort on her partner's face. "Mary Beth is something wrong? I thought you'd be pleased". "Oh Chris I am pleased, pleased for you, and proud. But me?, this is a big step for me. I'll have to go home and discuss it with Harve and the kids. "Speaking of going home", said Chris, "the Lieutenants given us the day off to think it over, make a decision. Why don't we go over to Flannery's and have a celebratory orange juice or something?. C'mon partner waddya say?" "No Chris, not just now", said Mary Beth "I think I'll just go home and break the news to Harve and the kids". "Ok, well I'm going home for a bubble bath and some sparkling grape juice, you know, the kind that looks like champagne. Then I'm going to call Nick and tell him that he can take me out to an expensive restaurant, perhaps Luigi's, and he can be frivolous with his cash for once. See you in the morning partner". "Yeah, see you in the morning", said Mary Beth without very much feeling in her voice at all.
When Mary Beth arrived home she was surprised to find Harvey already there, perched in front of the T.V. tucking into an enormous bowl of potato chips. "Hi babe", he uttered without taking even one eye off the T.V.set. "You come home for a change of clothes or something?". "No Harve,said Mary Beth nervously. "Honey switch off the T.V. we need to talk it's serious". "Woah babe, what is it? Must be pretty important for you to come home in the middle of the afternoon". "Chris has been promoted to Lieutenant", "Oh babe, that's great", said Harvey. "Let's get out the best silver, have her and Nick over for dinner, get some of that sparkling stuff that looks like champagne and gets up your nose just the same, spoil her a little". "Shut up Harve. LISTEN. It's not just her it's me. They've given her the 7th and they want me to go with her as second whip if I pass the Sergeant's exam". "Oh what's up honey?, you don't think you passed right?". "No Harve, that's just it, I'm almost sure I passed. I iced that exam. I just don't know if I want to move on. We've often discussed what it would be like if I quit the force, we could spend more time together, spend more time with Alice . I've been giving it a lot of thought recently honey, quitting the force. Do you think we can afford it Harve? do you?. "Babe, babe you know we can, but there are other people to consider here, it's not just you it's Chris as well, hown do you think she's gonna feel babe? You've been partners a long time".
Meanwhile in a dimly lit, very exclusive restaurant in downtown Manhattan, Nick Amatucci and Chris Cagney were having a little tete a tete about Chris's future career plans. "Lieutenant Cagney, how do you think it sounds Nick?, Lieutenant Christine Cagney". "Hey sounds good Chris, have you seen the prices on this menu? You sure you wouldn't rather go for a pizza or something?" "Would you quit worrying about the price Nick and concentrate on enjoying my success. Charlie would have been so proud of this moment. I can just see him boasting to all his mates at Flannery's ". Chris Cagney lifted her club soda into the air and made a toast "Here's to your Lieutenant officer daughter Pop".
When Chris walked into the squad room the next morning she was greeted with a huge cheer, several cups of coffee and innumerous pats on the back. She may have known she could rely on her partner to share any morsel of good news that she had with the entire squad. She glanced over to where Mary Beth was standing. Her partner was grinning from ear to ear. Chris gave her a knowing look and Mary Beth just shrugged her shoulders saying "what? What?".
The entire squad was so busy congratulating Chris on her success, filling her coffee mug and patting her on the back. Isbecki of course was already addressing her as 'Sir'. Nobody saw the Lieutenant come out of his office grinning and waving a piece of paper in the air. "Ok you lot listen up! I have in my hand the results of the Sergeant's exam. I'm pleased to announce that two of my detectives have done me very proud. Firstly, Mary Beth Lacey who has got the second highest score ever recorded for the Sergeant's exam." Mary Beth glanced over at Chris who was scowling at her knowing that she herself held the third highest score. "Sorry Chris", she uttered, "but I did have three years longer to study". "Don't be silly", Chris said with a huge smile. "I really am pleased for you - just don't do it again that's all!!". She planted a kiss on her partner's cheek and the whole squad room roared with laughter. "Secondly" proceeded Samuels. "This will come as a great shock to you all as it did to me. Effective 9am tomorrow morning Detective Victor Isbecki will be known as Sergeant Isbecki". Everyone laughed and applauded the new Sergeant and even Christine hugged and kissed Victor. "Ok" said Samuels, "due to the fact that Lacey will be leaving us to be second whip to Cagney at the 7th, Victor you'll take over Cagney's duties as second whip here at the 14th". It was then that Mary Beth broke the news that she had been keeping to herself all morning so as not to put a damper on Chris's achievement. "I'm not going to the 7th Sir". There was a moments silence. "Oh, but I thought.. I'm sorry Victor but if Lacey is staying she'll be second whip due to the fact that her result........" Mary Beth broke in "I'm not staying either Sir, I'm quitting the force. I've put in my 20 years. I'm applying for retirement, this way I get to spend more time with my daughter, Alice Christine".
For what seemed like an eternity a silence hung over the 14th. This silence was broken by Chris" So you're not coming with me partner". "I'm so sorry Chris, but you need this, you need to move on. Whereas me,I've put in my 20 years now, it's time for me to move on in my own way, to be with my family. You do understand don't you Chris?" "Oh yes, yes I do. We had some great times together hey partner?. Remember the time we made cannolli in your kitchen? You went mad at me because you said I was trying to rush Alice Christine's first birthday party. Or the time we were staking out that Moqtadi guy, remember? You said if you never saw another pretzel for the rest of your life it would be too soon". "Yeah partner I remember. We have great memories". Mary Beth held out her hand to Chris. "We'll still be friends Chris. We'll see each other often. You are part of my family too Christine Cagney, don't ever forget that". Chris smiled and held onto Mary Beth's hand for a while, then she said "It's time for me to clear my desk". Chris looked pensive as she carefully placed all her belongings into a box. This place had become her home over the past few years and now everything she had, all her memories and souvenirs would fit in one tiny cardboard box. It didn't seem right somehow.
Chris picked up her box and walked towards the squad room door. "I'll have dinner one evening next week Mary Beth, give me a call". Chris took one last glance at the squad room. So many nights she had fallen asleep at her desk, trying desperately to find all the answers to some or other case. "Here's looking at you partner", the words left Mary Beth's lips and echoed chillingly around the emptying squad room. "Call me" shouted Chris as she turned around for the last time and walked out of the door. Mary Beth remained silent, her gaze fixed upon the door, swinging where Chris had just passed through. Abruptly the harsh ringing of the telephone brought her back to her senses. She picked up the receiver "Hello this is Detective Lacey 14th, how may I help you?". The voice on the other side was distant and cold "could I speak to Sergeant Christine Cagney please?". Mary Beth reflected for a moment. "I'm sorry, Sergeant Cagney doesn't work here anymore"..... FREEZE FRAME.
You can send the author commments at: Julie Ann Tunstall
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