(Superintendent Nathaniel Thompson and Detective Inspector Kai Jensen)
Even The Bad Times Are Good
The office door flew open and the man sitting behind the desk looked up, a frown of frustration creasing his forehead.
"When are you blokes going to learn to knock?" he growled.
"Thereís a call for you, line three. I think you should take it, Thomo."
Superintendent Nathaniel Thompson stared at the uniformed officer for a second before grabbing for his phone.
He sat and listened to the voice at the other end of the phone.
"If you want to see your undercover pig any time soon, I suggest you get your arse down to the street."
Before Nate could speak, the line went dead. He jumped up, his chair smashing into the wall behind him, and pushed his way through his office door, rushing down to the fire stairs.
His men all watched him go, and were following close behind him. Something was upÖand they all had a good idea what it was.
The small crowd of men stood on the pavement outside the office building looking up and down the road. It was early and the morning rush of traffic wouldnít appear for at least another couple of hours. The street was empty.
They all heard the noise together and heads turned as one to watch the approaching vehicle thundering down the road. It was a Ute, and there were a couple of people kneeling in the back. As it got closer to the small crowd, the men seemed to be lifting something from the flatbed. The Ute screeched round the bend on tortured tyres, and as it reached the men on the pavement, a bundle was tossed from it, bouncing off the blacktop and rolling to a stop round a lamppost. The men on the pavement took no notice of the Ute as it raced off into the distance.
Nate rushed to the unmoving bundle and looked down. The colour drained from his face. Lying face up in the gutter was the body of his best officer, and his best friendÖDetective Inspector Kai Jenson, lead undercover officer of the drug and human trafficking division of the Australian Federal Police.
Nate fell to his knees beside his friend, searching frantically for a pulse. "Heís alive! Call for an amboÖFAST!!" he yelled to his men. They were soon rushing around in all directions getting things done.
"Thomo, should we move him?"
"No, mate. His airway is clear. I think weíll do more harm than good if we do anything before the ambos get here."
He looked down at his silent friend and reached out to touch his face. He was burning up, but right now, that seemed to be the better alternative. Nate would rather his friend run a fever than be a lifeless corpse in the road.
The hospital was on high alert. A policeman was in a bad way and they would pull out all the stops to get him through whatever had happened to him.
The ambulance was soon heard approaching the hospital, lights flashing, sirens screaming. The doors to the ER burst open and in they rushed. Nate was close behind, not wanting to lose sight of his friend. He was soon banished to the waiting area though, by a friendly nurse who promised to keep him up to speed.
It wasnít long before the doctor came to sit by him. Nate looked at him, trying to read his expression. "Is heÖ?"
"Iím not going to lie to you, things are looking pretty bad right now. Heís been tortured. His knees look like heís been hit by a car. Heís been shot, and Iím afraidÖ"
"What, Doc. Please, tell me."
"Whatís your relationship to the patient, MrÖ?"
"Thompson, Superintendent Thompson, AFP."
"Ah, is he a prisoner?"
"No way, Doc. Heís my best officer, and my best friend. We grew up together."
Well, apart from all the other injuries, Iím afraid your friend in there has been sexually assaulted."
"Iím sorry, son."
"Is he going to be okay?"
"Itís difficult to tell right now. Weíre going to send him down for x-rays and a scan. He was shot in the head, SupÖ"
"Please, call me Nate."
"Okay, Nate. We need to see how much damage the bullet has done. The entrance was above his right eye, close to the hairline, and thereís an exit wound at the back of his head. We need to see if it damaged the brain at all."
"Can I see him?"
"Of course. Go in while we get ready to move him, then you can walk with him down to x-ray."
"Thanks, DoctorÖ" he paused to read the doctorís name badge, "Mason, for all your help."
"Itís what weíre here for."
X-rays and scans done, Kai was soon back in the ER cubicle. The waiting area was now filling up with police, both city and AFP, uniform and detectives. Kai was a very popular member of the force, and had been missing for over a week. There was a mixture of relief and worry on every face, and they were all determined to stay as long as they could to support their friend.
"Nate, we need to get him into surgery. Thereís a lot of blood in his abdomen. We have to find out just whatís damaged in there."
"What about his scan?"
"Iím afraid thereís some bleeding in his brain, too, although the good news is that the bullet didnít break through his skull, just cracked it in a couple of places on its way through."
Nate slumped down into a chair and put his face in his hands.
"Does he have family? We need a signature."
"Iíll do it, Doc. We have power of attorney for each other for medical matters."
"Well, that makes things easier. You should tell all your colleagues to make themselves comfyÖitís going to be a long wait."
Twelve hours went by, officers came and went, at the end of their shift and before the beginning. The only constant was Nate. He sat stoically waiting, only leaving his seat to rid his body of the build up of fluid from the endless cups of coffee he found handed him throughout the day and into the evening.
He was worn to the bone with worry, and was finally persuaded to stretch out on the couch in the family waiting area to try and get some rest. He had no idea how long his eyes had been closed when he sensed someone close to him. Opening his eyes, he focused on Dr. Mason. He was upright in a flash.
"How is he, Doc?"
"He got through the surgery. Heíll need more later but the surgeons decided he was too shocky to continue. Heís gone up to ICU. As soon as theyíve settled him someone will come down for you. Can you contact his folks, or would you like us to do it?"
Nate rubbed the back of his neck and sighed. "I can give you his oldís details, although I doubt theyíll come. They donít get on too well. His sister and grandparents are on their way. I called them when he went into surgery."
"Leave it with me. Wait here, it shouldnít be too long before you can go and see him."
Nate went into the main waiting area and told the crowd of police officers that Kai had come through the surgery and that they should all go and get some rest. He smiled at the collective sigh that went around the room, and received handshakes and hugs from everyone as they filed out towards the main entrance.
It seemed like forever before a doctor in green scrubs walked towards him.
Nate stood up and held out his hand.
"Iím Dr. Greene, head of ICU. Your friend is settled in now, so if youíd like to follow me up you can sit with him for a while."
"Thanks, Doc," Nate replied, matching him stride for stride towards the lifts.
As the door opened, Dr. Greene turned toward Nate. "I have to warn you that heís not a pretty sight. There are tubes and wires everywhere, and his face is a bit of a mess. Heís alive, though, and the cuts and bruises will heal and fade."
Nate took a deep breath before following the doctor down the corridor and round the corner. It was quite a calm atmosphere all around, and he could clearly hear the beeps of the monitors and the hiss of the ventilators. He touched the doctorís arm to stop him.
"Is he on a ventilator?"
"Yes, he is. You go sit with him for a bit, and then weíll go to my office and talk about his injuries."
He was led to a bay closest to the nursing stationÖa bad sign in his book, and turned to see his lifelong friend lying still and silent, machines breathing for him. He walked slowly to the side of the bed and looked down. He wanted to hold Kaiís hand, let him know he was there, but both hands were wrapped in thick dressings, looking for all the world like snow white boxing gloves.
"Oh, mate! What have they done to you?" he sighed, squeezing Kaiís upper arm gently. "You just concentrate on getting well; me and the boys will get the bastards who did this, I promise."
He pulled up a chair and sat down, resting his elbows on the bed, watching his friend intently.
Dr. Greene came round the corner and spoke quietly. "Would you like to have that chat now?"
Nate nodded, getting up and following the doctor behind the nurses station and into his office. The doctor pointed to the sofa and they both sat down.
"Heís in a coma right now, but the good news is that itís a medically induced one. The bullet didnít get through the skull, but it did crack it in a couple of places. That caused some quite severe bruising to his brain with associated swelling. Weíve had to open his skull to reduce the pressure, and have lowered his core temperature and heavily sedated him to ensure that we can keep him completely still while the swelling settles. Itís good to keep him asleep at this time as well because we donít need him to get distressed. It can only do him more harm than good."
Nate sat silently, listening and nodding.
"Not yet. Carry on, Doc."
"Okay. Both hands were quite badly damaged. It looks like they were pinned down. There are knife wounds going right through."
Nate felt the colour draining from his face, but let the doctor continue.
"Heís been beaten, kicked and burned all over his body. He had a punctured lung, broken ribs, a ruptured spleen and a torn liver. Thatís what caused the internal bleeding. His legs are in quite a state. Both knees are smashed, but it doesnít look like they used a bat or metal pipe. It actually looks like heís been hit by a car. We need to try and work that out."
"What aboutÖthe otherÖtheÖ"
"The assault? We had to do some repairs, but he should be fine. We found no semen, but weíve done an HIV test to be safe. Heíll need another later."
"Oh GodÖIím not sure how heís going to get over that."
"We have excellent counsellors here."
"Iím sure you do, Doc, but heís a very private person. Iím not sure if anyone will be able to get him to talk about it."
"Well, thereís plenty of time for that. We need to get him well first. Do you want to go back to him?"
"Yes, please. His sister and grandparents should be here soon."
"As should his parents. I spoke to them before I came to get you."
Nate frowned at the news but said nothing, just got up and went back to sit by Kaiís bed. "Iím back, mate. Annie, Pops and Nan are on their way."
He settled down to watch over his friend. Thirty minutes later, the last of the coffee demanded to leave his body so he got up to find the bathroom. It was right down the other end of the floor, close to the lifts.
When he walked out of the door he heard the lift stop behind him. He turned when he heard his name, and was instantly engulfed in the arms of a rather beautiful young lady.
Annieka hugged and kissed Nate and then stood to one side as he received hugs from her grandparents. "How is he?"
For the first time, Nate felt tears sting at his eyes. He shook his head and sighed. "They put him in a coma, Annie. He took a shot to the head and his brain swelled."
He held her as she trembled, but soon felt her straighten in his arms. She gave him a squeeze and kissed him on the cheek. "Okay, Iím ready to see him now."
They all held hands as he led them down the long corridor towards the ICU. As they turned the corner they stopped dead. Dr. Greene was talking to Kaiís parents, or rather, he was being spoken at. The quartet walked silently closer to enable them to hear what was being said.
Kaiís mother was standing at the foot of the bed, staring at her son. There was no expression on her face at all. She turned toward her husband as he spoke again.
"All right, letís not waste any more time. Just get me the forms to sign and we can go."
"What forms do you mean, Mr. Jensen?" Dr. Greene asked, genuinely not knowing what was going on.
"The consent forms to allow you to turn off the machine, of course," came the irritated reply.
They all turned on hearing a gasp. Annieka strode up to her father and slapped him before moving back to her grandparents. Dr. Greene quickly recovered from the shock.
"Mr. Jensen, we didnít call you to ask your permission to switch off any machine."
"And in any case, it wouldnít be down to you," Nate spat, walking up to the small group.
"I should have known you would be around. Why donít you keep your nose out of our business for once in your life."
"Because this IS my business. You have no say regarding any and all medical treatment Kai receives. I have his power of attorney on the matter."
"What? Oh, I get it, some strange kind of police code. Well then, if my word is no good, why the hell am I here?"
"Forgive the mistake, Mr. Jensen. I was under the erroneous impression that parents would want to know something bad had happened to their child, no matter how old that child is, and would want to be with them."
"Donít worry, Doc. Under normal circumstances youíd be spot on. I did tell you they didnít get on, didnít I."
"Yes, Nate, you did. I never imagined just how bad things were, though. I think I need to go and get some fresh air."
"No worries, Doc. Iím sure I can show the Jensens the way out."
Nate turned back to the group to see Pops Jensen walk slowly over to his son. "I never thought I would live to see the day that I could be so ashamed to be your father. I know you didnít want Kai to be a policeman, but heís your flesh and blood, and heís in there in a coma. Have you no feelings at all, man?"
"He made his bed. He knew how we both felt. He let us down, went against our wishes for his future. Heís no son of ours."
"Then you are no son of mine, and I only have one thing to say to you. Get out of my sight and away from my grandson."
Pops turned his back on his son and daughter-in-law and walked across to his wife. Nate stood between the bed and Kaiís parents, almost daring them to try and get by him. They turned and walked away, out of the lives of their children, perhaps forever.
Annie sat close to the bed, her hand stroking the left side of her brotherís face. Tears were cascading silently down her face. Her grandmother gave her a hug before pulling a chair closer. "Donít worry, Luv. Heís a fighter, heíll be fine."
"Iím angry, Nan. I knew that they hated the fact Bubs didnít go into the diplomatic corps like they wanted, noÖdemanded, but I never imagined they hated him enough to want to turn off his ventilator."
"Iím ashamed to call him my son. We certainly didnít bring him up to be so wicked. Family has always meant so much to us, and to our parents before us. Iím not sure when he turned to the dark side."
Annie smiled despite how she was feeling. "Oh, Nan, you make it sound like you and Pops escaped from Star Wars or something."
Nan Jensen kissed her granddaughter then turned to smile up at her husband, who was nodding his head in appreciation. He walked round to the other side of the bed and sat next to Nate. "Okie dokie, letís get down to the important job in handÖgetting our boy up and running again."
They kept Kai in a coma for two weeks before deciding that the swelling in his brain was reduced enough to try to wake him up.
ON TO CHAPTER TWO
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