The Posture of Innocence, day 28.5

in #writing3 months ago (edited)

Just when Commissioner Scott thought that things could not get any worse for the Big Loft Police Department ... but Ms. Thornton is there to give him the spiritual insight and the practical help to get to the next move to recover what can be recovered ...

To get totally caught up on The Posture of Innocence, here are the prologue, day 1, day 2, day 3, day 3.5, day 4, day 4.5, day 5, day 5.5, day 6, day 7, day 7.5, day 8, day 9, day 9.5, day 10, day 10.5, day 11, day 11.5, day 12, day 12.5, day 13, day 13.5, day 14, day 15, day 16, day 16.5, day 17, day 18, day 19, day 19.5, day 20, day 20.5, day 21, day 22, day 22.5, day 23, day 23.5, day 24, day 24.5, day 25, day 25.5, day 26, day 26.5, day 27, day 27.5, and day 28!

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It meant a lot to Commissioner Scott that Mrs. Thornton had stayed to help him get his feet on the ground. He had been brought in as chief the year before, specifically to deal with the one sign that the department was in deep trouble: its massive turnover. He had been put in charge of recruiting new officers, but in that work found out more than he wanted about why so many people were leaving: good people simply did not want to be in that environment of corruption. But how bad it was he didn't realize until Commissioner Thomas, his four deputies and two secretaries, and dozens of officers had gotten caught up around the Gilligan House Burning, and gotten the reasons put out every day, front and center, by the Lofton County Free Voice.

Chief Scott had survived because he was still relatively new and unknown, and because there was just no one else available who had a chance to take over that commissioner's office and run it. Nobody had wanted him among the bigshots, and, they wanted to replace him as both chief and commissioner, but no one was signing up for the job in the middle of the firestorm.

Only Ms. Thornton, every day, made him feel welcome, and dealt firmly and reasonably with all the people and situations he had to interact with every day. Her efficiency kept things going, let him balance his two roles as chief and commissioner reasonably well, although, as on this particular day, the fires sometimes jumped up so high that just managing the flames was all that could be done.

9:15am: Ms. Thornton's favorite person walked through the office.

“Good morning, Ms. Thornton,” said Captain Lee.

“Good morning, Captain Lee,” she answered, and just basked in the warmth of one of his rare smiles. “The commissioner is waiting on you.”

Indeed. Captain Lee showed him warrants for the arrests of seven men in Internal Affairs, based on the information given up by Captain Calvert.

Commissioner Scott, not knowing the day was going to get ten times worse before it got any better, sighed heavily.

“Go to it, Captain Lee. Take them all alive if you can. Take at least three officers with you.”

“Yes, sir – Anderson, Carter, and Lightfoot are ready.”

“Fancy yourself running the cold case division and adding IA? You're already doing half the workload.”

“About as much as I fancy a root canal, sir.”

“My head hurts now, Captain Lee, so I understand. Call me when you get back.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good morning, Ms. Thornton,” Captain Lee said as he passed the other way.

“Good morning, Captain Lee. Be careful out there.”

“Yes, ma'am, I will.”

Quiet returned until 11am, when Ms. Thornton put a call through from Captain Ghent over at the Blue Ridge Station. About ten minutes later, the commissioner roared: “Ms. Thornton!”

“Yes, sir?” she said as she ran in.

“I need your help, right now,” he said, his voice dropping for a few words but quickly rising back to a yell. “I've got Captain Ghent on hold, because I'm a Christian now – I need to cuss an entire station worth of police officers out, and I can't do it! What do I do as a Christian?”

Ms. Thornton thought fast.

“Go to the bathroom. Lock the door. Tell God how you feel and why, confess the corrupt communication that is going to slip out, and ask the Holy Spirit to help you not say any of that to Captain Ghent and whoever else.”

“OK. Get out of here, Ms. Thornton. Lock all the office doors behind you. Go downstairs and don't come back for half an hour. Here's $5. Get a doughnut and coffee on me.”

Ms. Thornton went without a word as the commissioner headed for his private bathroom, and instead of waiting for the elevator she went at once down all four flights of stairs to the cafeteria, and got her coffee and a big doughnut that she shared with another clerical worker on break. After half an hour, she returned and saw Commissioner Scott sitting, pale and quiet, at his desk.

“It worked,” he said dully to Ms. Thornton. “I am used to my wife saying that God has keeping power, but now I understand – He kept me from taking out my rage on Captain Ghent, since it wasn't his fault. He did the right thing, but dispatch and his officers …

“Yesterday evening, the Blue Ridge Station got a call – Black man with a large notepad going from house to house in the Lower Blue Ridge neighborhood, supposedly casing the gorgeous houses there. Dispatch had no idea – must have missed every piece of news since the Gilligan House Burning – that maybe that should have been routed to a captain. Dispatch also didn't read my dispatch about that very protocol. Oh, no – they panicked and sent the call to the nearest car, who raced over to the scene and and found a touring group of art students, studying the architecture of those old manses. Three of the students were Black; all of them had sketchpads and pencils. All hands full with non-threatening objects.

“What do the two officers at the scene do but run up into the middle of all those students, grab the Black ones, throw them to the ground, and pull out their guns and cover them until four cars and a total of eight officers show up? What was in the notebooks? Art sketches of the houses.”

“That was the moment,” Ms. Thornton said, “that those eight officers knew: they had messed up.”

“Yes, ma'am,” Commissioner Scott said. “Of course, now they have to find a way to try to justify their behavior, so they start illegally searching the Black students belongings' while the White students are doing videos and calling one of those young men's uncles who works at the Lofton County Free Voice.

“Oh, no,” said Ms. Thornton, as she took the seat across from the commissioner.

“Oh, yes,” said the commissioner. “Captain Ghent just found out this morning when he was presented with a copy of the paper and a copy of the legal papers: all three students are suing the city and the department for huge sums of money.”

“Oh, no.”

“Oh, yes, my dear and faithful secretary. The only chance the department has to survive is that Captain Lee continues to cull the biggest leeches on the payroll … we have to keep you paid, because if this continues, it will be me, Captain Lee, and thee left, because that's all we will be able to afford.”

Commissioner Scott looked at the new sign on his desk.

“God does have keeping power,” he said. “I have to trust God right now, as my whole project of rebuilding the department has just been robbed of any of the hope of the funding to do that, while the old department continues to collapse all around us. He is keeping me from jumping right through that window over there.”

Ms. Thornton reached across the desk and took her boss's hands.

“Let's call Mrs. Scott, and let's pray together,” she suggested.

So, they did that, and that gave Commissioner Scott the relief he needed to get ready for what he knew was coming next.

“Tell all the press people that are going to call: press conference at 5,” he said. “Give no other comment. We've got to get some things and people in order and on message before we speak. We are already 18 hours behind the Lofton County Free Voice, and right with our legal department that is already overwhelmed and about to be more overwhelmed when Captain Lee finishes the day's work. Get me the head of HR on the phone before lunch – and we're going to need to take a working lunch, so please order out for whatever you like.”

“Yes, sir, will do, now.”

“I don't thank you enough, so, thank you.”

“You're always welcome,” said Ms. Thornton.

Day 29 is up