Liam Duster placed both hands on the table before him. “This is an outrage, Your Honor,” he said sternly. “The defense is clearly trying to antagonize the witness.” Duster was a handsome, thirty-four-year-old who had risen quickly through the ranks of the District Attorney’s office. Now an Assistant DA, he spent his days prosecuting criminals to the full extent of the law.

“Sustained,” the judge replied, agreeing, before he scolded the defense attorney. Duster’s phone began to vibrate on his hip, but he ignored it.

“Sorry, Your Honor,” the defense attorney said. “No more questions.”

“Very well. We will break for the day and resume at nine AM tomorrow morning when the defense may call its witnesses. Court adjourned.” The judged hit his gavel on the circular wooden block on his large, ornate desk before the bailiff pronounced, “All rise,” and stood up from his leather chair and went back to his chambers.

Duster began shuffling his various files into his black, leather briefcase. His phone rang again and he answered it.

“Duster.” His face instantly dropped. “What? When?” A few moments went by before he said, “All right, I’m on my way.” He replaced the phone to its place on his belt and apologized to his team. “My dad’s been shot, I gotta go,” he said quickly before rushing out of the courtroom, dodging reporters and cameras.

~ :: ~

LAPD Detective Calvin Duster lay silently and motionlessly on the hospital bed. It had taken nearly an hour for Liam to arrive due to the heavy Los Angeles traffic in the early evening. He had rushed through the hospital, demanding to know where his father was before finally arriving at the room.

A doctor enter the room behind him. “Is he going to be okay?”

“It’s hard to tell just yet. He’s lost a lot of blood, but we were able to extract the bullet without difficulty, and he seems to be recovering well. He’ll need to stay here at least a week to recover.”

Liam snorted. He knew it would be hard keeping his former-USMC-father in the hospital bed for more than a day. Then again, Liam thought to himself, he’s over sixty years-old. Perhaps he’ll finally take life easy, now.

The doctor heard his snort and raised his eyebrows slightly. “Don’t think he’ll stay?”

“Not any longer than he actually needs to, no matter how much he should stay longer, Doc.” Liam paused for a moment, looking at the resting Duster’s face. He seemed troubled. “What happened anyway, Doc?” Liam asked finally.

“I think his Captain will better be able to answer that,” the doctor said. “I told him to give you a few minutes, but I’ll go tell him you want to talk to him.”

“Thanks.” Liam heard the doctor walk out and close the door behind him, but he didn’t look back. He slowly stepped toward his father’s motionless body. He put his hand on his father’s and said a silent prayer.

He looked at the table next to the bed and picked up his father’s wallet. Inside he found a picture of himself when he was only six months old. He pulled it out and smiled, turning it over to see “Little Liam” written on the back in his father’s handwriting. He smiled again, remembering the childhood nickname his parents had given him.

He replaced the picture where it belonged and set the wallet back down on the table. He saw his father’s old USMC dogtags lying next to the other things that were in his pockets at the time of the shooting. There was no one in the world he respected more. Even after all these years, his father still treasured those dogtags more than any other object. Liam picked them up and thought about how his father still had the sense of brotherhood and commitment that he had learned in the Corps, transferring those ideals to his family by always remaining so committed to his wife and children, not letting even his tiring job get in the way.

Liam was pulled out of his reverie when the door opened again. He placed the dogtags back on the table and turned around.

“Captain,” he said.

“Liam, good to see you again, though I wish it was under better circumstances.” Liam nodded his understanding and shook the Captain’s hand. “I know you have a lot of questions, son, and I’ll try to answer them.”

“Let me guess, he was working a case, found a lead, and decided to chase it down without waiting for backup.” He had heard the story before.

“Your father just won’t quit. That said, he’s one of the toughest SOBs I’ve had working for me, and I doubt he’ll retire before he’s forced to in a few years.”

“Yeah, I know.” Liam looked at the floor for a moment before asking, “Did you catch him?”

“We did, and your father was dead-on with his hunch. Thankfully there was another cop nearby when Calvin called it in. By the time he got there it was too late, but he was able to stop your father’s shooter from getting away. Wasn’t too hard, though, considering Calvin shot him in the leg first anyway.”

Liam shook his head. Of course, he thought to himself.

“Your father’s a great man, son.”

“He is. But sometimes I still wish he’d just retire. It doesn’t look like a bullet will even get him into retirement before he has to, though.”

“Probably not. Anyway, I’ll leave you with him. I’ll be down the hall if you need me.”

“Thanks, Captain,” he said as he turned back toward his father and heard the door shut behind him.


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