What I Do

Entry by: QueenC

8th September 2022
What I do and who I am
Twenty-one was thinking about how she could quit the undercover team. Having a clandestine affair with a cricketer meant contact inside and outside his arms 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The final straw was negative feedback on her performance when she charged him at the bat and ball hotel. Of course, after first refusing to accept that she was a cop, his face wobbled like jelly. She knew he had kids and a wife. Sorry, she said as he was taken, 'It's what I do".
And as far as the police ethics committee, well! How could they justify her life being so swallowed up by this guy? Years of being unable to say what she really did to her mother. Years of lying and being lied to again in return. Why should I stay in this deadbeat role for every detective's dream sting? She hissed to Barney in the 'project coat tail' meeting. 'Speak with someone, he hissed back at her. 'who?' 'your superviser'. Jim Anderson, her Inspector superviser, had worked in the back blocks of the city since 1985. He was crusted with cynicism, and she knew he wouldn't know how to talk about her feelings. Besides her best friend in the force, Francis was getting over an affair with him. Messy.
She knew she was second to none in covert work, but recently, even her nickname bugged her. Yeah, it's what I do but not what I AM.
"Twenty-one, you and Barney intercept the two Grafton jail escapees. They're driving a cream van towards the border, and reports say they will stop in parks. You are a couple on a road trip holiday. Fly up today and start. An always pretending never for real couple she thought.
Barney stopped at a pocket park with swings close to the Queensland border and took a radio update. "Fourteen-year-old girl found dead at Jacky's landing. Ledbetter, Russell and Fox were identified in a van leaving the town. Local pub owner says they told him they're headed towards Kangai homestead. Ledbetter heavily armed— approach with caution. Tactical team on alert over.'
When the cream van with a green tarp on the top pulled up, Twenty-one approached Ledbetter, who gave her a wink. 'Any chance I could get some water? Desperate for a cuppa tea.' Barney covered as he read travel maps. Ledbetter opened the boot. She saw blankets just covering guns, and he caught her gaze. 'kangaroo hunting with the mates'. Another wink.' Where ya headed.'
' Bordertown. Hubby likes to take the four-wheeler for a run every now and then.' Giving her the water, Ledbetter brushed her arm and said, 'catch you later. She smiled. 'Yeah yeah, love your van… looks like you've got everything.' Barney boiled the water and made a cup of tea. The cream van screeched off, and suddenly two children put their faces to the back seat window. Children are what every cop dreads at a crime scene. Children's suffering is the stuff of years of Trauma. Seeing her pale face, Barney barked 'get a grip. It's what you do'. He showed her the fire trails to the Kangai homestead. They would avoid the road.
Playing Dolly Parton and driving like an ambulance, they took the fire trail towards the homestead. Pink Galahs jumped out of the way on the basalt rock trail. Amidst clangs on the underbelly, they made out a news report. 'Channel 9 newsman Mike Brown is broadcasting a conversation he's having with Ledbetter, who is holding two children hostage at Kangai homestead.' Barney nearly lost his grip on the wheel. 'Jesus, Mike Brown, a bloody journalist, thinks he is a siege negotiator.'
Pulling in at twilight, they could see tactical officers setting up flood lights, with Jim Fuller, chief negotiator calling on a loudspeaker. Twenty-one grasped the scene immediately. Ledbetter was now up for sexual assault, five murders and a host of other charges. None of Jim's bargains made sense to Ledbetter. Only more hours in life outside after the shrunken world of jail meant anything to him. And Jim could not offer this to him. Ledbetter's way out would be to kill everyone, including himself.
'I'm going in', 'No, Lydia! Barney had not called her that for years. On her second walk beside back rooms, she stopped and moved closer to what sounded like crying. She saw two children sprawled on an old mattress through a window with Fox, one of Ledbetter's pals in charge. The children ran out to Barney, when Lydia Farragio walked in the door, her badge and gun out and shot Fox in the leg.
A channel nine helicopter landed in front of the homestead, defying the exclusion zone. Not wanting to die in Ledbetter's suicide pact, his pals ran out in the glare of floodlights. Finally, when Mike Brown, the journalist, tried to talk to him through the loudspeaker, Ledbetter shot himself in the head.
Watching TV, her mother saw Lydia and had to sit down.
'I'm speaking to Senior Sergeant Lydia Farragio, who has just saved two children from this murderous spree.' The screen panned the homestead.
'Lydia, Jim Fuller, the negotiator, is complaining about the lack of discipline at this crime scene. He's demanding I leave immediately and says you acted outside of command orders. What do you say to that?
'Well, Mike, at the end of the day, protecting children is what I do and passionately believe in'.