The Big Hush

(A Dragnet Fan Fiction Story)

By: Kristi N. Zanker

Disclaimer: All publicly recognized characters, settings, etc. are the property of Mark VII Limited and Universal. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. I, in no way am associated with the owners, creators, or producers of Dragnet. No copyright infringement is intended.

Warning: This story contains strong language, adult themes, sexual situations, and a disturbing subject matter.

 

Chapter Two

 

“Where the hell is my pistol?” asked Joe, to no one in particular, as he dashed around the apartment for the third time. He checked the usual drawer on the wet bar—it wasn’t there.

So far the day had been off for him ever since he woke up. Like clockwork, he began his morning preparation for the office. He had immediately forgotten about the middle-of-the-night rendezvous when the Big Ben alarm clock sounded. He was puzzled as to why he had nothing on, but then remembered the early hours, and peered over at Gracie to confirm the memory.

Like a washing machine, with its particular dials, and certain stages of cycles, when it came to getting ready in the morning, you did not bother Joe Friday. The carpet, for all he knew, could’ve been run-down in the same exact spots as he made his way to the bathroom. He could probably do his routine in the dark, if he wanted to. He had it timed perfectly, so that even if traffic was heavier on the way to the office, he would not be late. He couldn’t stand being late and despised it when others were late for appointments—whether it was Bill or even a suspect for an interview.

It was a stroke of luck after he and Gracie first woke up together nearly three weeks ago now. She learned swiftly of the sergeant’s habits and caught on very fast that he detested lateness of any kind.

So, when Joe couldn’t find his regulation .38 caliber pistol, he felt the seconds draining into him, as they turned into minutes.

“Are you sure you put it in that drawer?” asked Gracie, who sat on the couch, waiting for him.

“Yes, I always put it in here. Where could it be?” he said, slamming the drawer for the fourth time. Somehow, he thought if he had opened the drawer again, the handgun would appear. When it hadn’t, anger started to mount inside of him.

“I have to find it soon or I’m going to be late! And I’m never late!” He ran into the bedroom again, giving the area another sweep. Did I leave it in here?

“Do you have your badge?” Gracie called from the living room again.

“Yes!” he called back, for that had been on the nightstand.

As if he had been struck by lightening, he remembered where it was. He rushed to the nightstand, threw open the top drawer and his pistol still in the holster, along with the handcuffs, lie there, waiting. “Oh, of course!” he muttered to himself as he snapped the holster around his waist. Joe had been so tired yesterday; he had forgotten even dropping it in that drawer. Walking out into the living room, he announced his success. When he brushed the pockets of his trousers and fished through the pocket of his gray blazer, the lightning struck again.

Goddammit! Where the hell are my keys!” He turned around and went back into the bedroom. “Shit!” he muttered to himself as he opened the nightstand drawer again, hoping for the keys to emerge.

Slamming the drawer, he hurried into the living room and yanked open the drawer where the pistol was originally supposed to be.

“Oh, for Christ’s sake!” he said, grabbing them as the last drawer slammed. Now, he remembered. With him being so tired and the surprise of finding Gracie at his place at that hour, he had must’ve mixed up where he laid the two most precious items he needed for work. He also couldn’t believe he didn’t see them in the drawer the other times it was rifled through. Joe let out a sigh of relief

“I take it that you found them,” Gracie said.

“Yeah…I can’t believe I did that, but I must’ve been so tired,” he chattered while opening the door for Gracie, then closing and locking it behind him. He took quick steps as she followed him to the stairwell. When they got to the bottom landing, Joe groaned.

“It’s raining! No wonder I had such a bad morning,” he said.

“Let me take one more look at you,” Gracie said, placing her hands on his smoothly shaven face. “You’re not bleeding any more.”

“Well, that’s a relief,” said Joe, taking her hands off of his face and holding them tightly. Nicking himself twice while shaving had been the first instance of possibly being late. When the pistol and keys couldn’t be found, it was too much. Joe peeked at his watch. Time was his side for only another minute. His luck may be beginning after all! He bent to kiss her goodbye, as both of them would brave the downpour as they ran outside to their respective cars.

He saw Gracie’s lights turn on and she careened out of the space. Joe eased out of his parking space and when he passed her on the street, he waved and smiled at her, while she, in turn, did the same.

Joe sighed again, and got out a cigarette at the first stoplight. In the frenzy of getting ready, he hadn’t had time to have a smoke along with his breakfast and coffee. He could feel his irritation begin to soothe itself as he took another drag.

He had to admit to himself though. He really enjoyed last night, even if those desirable events began the domino effect of the lousy morning. Gracie was so sweet, trying to make him comfortable, when he fell asleep in his clothes. But ever since they had crossed over into the cloud of bliss, his body kept yearning for her—everyday! He’d find himself thinking about Gracie and at once his insides would respond. It happened everywhere, at the office, in the car, while going out to lunch, on a call—it was getting complicated to focus during the day. In his mind, he’d see concise images of their time together and they left nothing to the imagination. Even the slightest thought of Gracie sent his loins into a fit of eagerness, screaming for action—that wasn’t available at these delicate moments. Here we go again! He thought as his middle reacted to the erotic thoughts of last night. I’m worse than a goddamned teenager! That thought had been swarming around his head all week.

The rain came down steadily, as he merged onto the freeway. The swish-swish of the windshield wipers were like the second hand ticking on a clock. Glancing at the hands of the clock in the car, he still had enough time to get to work without being late. That is, if the rain cooperated and stayed at the same pace as it was now. In all of the consistent braking and accelerating, Joe’s mind whirled.

First, he tried to rationalize his behavior by saying his body was working overtime to make up for the years he’d missed out on being with a woman. Did this always happen? He wondered to himself. Every time you love someone? Was it because he had never loved anyone in a long time to go this far in a relationship?

Since the brief encounter with Peggy Sanders at sixteen, there were others he went to bed with. However, Joe soon realized he didn’t really care enough for them to continue going this route. He looked at his then seventeen-year-old self in the mirror one day, and decided that he didn’t like the fraction of himself that didn’t care. He had been stung when Peggy wouldn’t see him anymore. For awhile, as his memory drifted back, he had been angry and decided he would go out with any girl he wanted to and hoped that they would react to his advances. Not all of the girls he took out wanted to and he respected that. He never forced himself on a girl. That was out-and-out wrong.

But to the few girls who did respond, he’d feel great for a little while and then the feeling would wear off. It was then, all those years ago, standing in front of the bathroom mirror, that Joe decided he wasn’t going to bed anyone until he absolutely felt love, respect, and really cared for them. When it reached that point, marriage wouldn’t be too far in the future, so waiting a few more months wouldn’t hurt.

As Joe grew older, he went on dates, but still kept that promise to himself. From his teenage experiences, he learned that sex wasn’t everything. He was glad he realized it then because he knew that many a girl would be hurt and so would he, had they taken that enormous step.

And now, with Gracie, he was elated that he listened to his conscience and brain, instead of the urges. He was learning about himself as well and he came to a decision. With these long nights and then going to work the next day it was just too much! He’d have to find a way to let Gracie know that it would be better if they made it on the weekends instead of during the week. Oh, he enjoyed it for sure, but it was wearing him down and he hated to own up to that.

For now, it was an overwhelming feeling, but he knew better than to discuss it with anyone. What he did know was that too many rely on their urges, especially today. Men, these days, seemed to have lost the ability to think with their correct head. And with the advent of the Pill a few years back, suddenly that seemed to give many women the green light. He’d seen in more times that he’d like to admit at how the act of sex ruined, harmed or even killed people. That thought in mind brought him to the present as he remembered Larry Watson yesterday.

Did Larry feel the same way he did right now? Maybe…he thought. But Joe also knew that he would never forget the hurt in the young boy’s eyes, when the girl he loved didn’t even confide in him that she was pregnant and ended up murdered by some butcher.

Once settled into a parking space, Joe turned off the ignition and got out of the car. The rain had eased a bit, but he still ran to the building. When the elevator door opened to the third floor, he could hear the office humming with activity. Bill was on the phone, as he went to check his mail slot. He pulled out the envelope which concealed his paycheck.

“Joe, we have another one,” said Bill, after hanging up the phone.

He shoved the envelope back into the slot and turned to Bill. His partner had just received a phone call from a Resident Assistant in the one of the girls’ dormitories at the nearby university. A girl on the floor came running and crying to the RA’s room, thinking her roommate was dead. The RA had called for an ambulance, after taking one look at the other girl. She had called the police as well. Bill tore off the sheet of paper that contained the name of the RA and dormitory address.

As they entered the front doors of the girls’ dormitory, a wooden plaque with a gold-engraving read Wicker Hall, Est. 1950. They wiped their feet on the thin carpet and then strode onto the cracked linoleum floor. A large sitting area loomed in front of them.

Two faded flower-patterned couches stood across the other, while a dark wood coffee table sat in the middle of them. Two matching chairs were positioned at each end of the couches. The walls were a chipped and lightened cream color. Several large pictures of the campus from decades ago and a serene painting of a waterfall dotted the plain walls. The only lively look in the quiet room was two girls who sat on one of the couches chatting away about classes, the music scene and such.

Both looked up at the two men as they walked past to the empty front desk. Bill rang the silver bell that was placed next to the telephone. Mailbox slots stood inside the desk area on each side. Both could see that some boxes were empty whereas quite a few had unclaimed mail piling up. They heard a lull in the distance of people talking for they both guessed that that was where the cafeteria must have been. The clattering of silverware on plates and trays being dropped onto the tables confirmed their assumption.

“Who are you here to see?” asked one of the girls behind them. Both turned toward the voice. The girl wore a paisley pink dress with a matching headband.

“We need to speak with the person who should be running this desk,” said Joe. His impatience grew by the minute. If something was terribly wrong, well, it wouldn’t be their fault for not getting there in time. A bulky white sign in large block lettering announced “No Males Allowed Beyond This Sitting Area.”

“Are you professors?” the other girl wondered whose hair was tied back with a gold clip and wore a green cotton dress. Before either of them could answer, she leaned over to the girl in the paisley dress, who sat next to her, and said rather loudly at how old they looked and how awkward it was to see men of their age in the lobby of the girls’ dormitory.

The same girl asked, “Are you someone’s parents? We haven’t seen anyone’s parents since the new semester began in January.”

“Do either of you run the front desk here?” asked Bill.

“No, I think Millie went to get some coffee in the cafeteria. She should be back in a minute,” the paisley-dress girl replied. .

The only noise in the area now was the rain tapping on the windows and the two girl’s chattiness. Their conversation switched from talking about the two men, to The Beatles and their new look.

“I don’t like their moustaches,” the one with the headband said. “I liked it better when they first came on the scene. But I like their new song ‘Penny Lane.’ It’s very catchy.”

“Oh, I think they look older, more mature,” her friend in the green dress replied. “Besides, you can tell them apart better now, ever since John got those glasses.”

“You would! You always like older fellows,” the girl in paisley laughed. “Why don’t you speak with one of them.” She pointed to Bill and Joe. “Maybe you’ll find out that one of them is free tonight!” A burst of giggles sounded.

“Where is that girl!” muttered Bill with his back to the laughter.

“They’re just kids, Bill. Take it easy,” said Joe, who stood beside him.

“She’d probably pick you,” Bill replied. “She’d probably think I was someone’s grandfather.”

“Are you kidding? I’d never go out with a young, immature girl like that!”

“Can I help you gentlemen?” asked a girl who now stood behind the counter. Her brown hair was done into a flip. A barrette held the sides of hair away form her face.

“Is your name Millie?” asked Joe and the girl in front of them nodded.

“We’re police officers, Ma’am,” continued Joe showing his badge and I.D. “I’m Sergeant Joe Friday and this is my partner, Office Bill Gannon. We received a call not too long ago from—“

“Carrie Darling. She’s a Resident Assistant on the fourth floor here,” interrupted Bill reading from the piece of paper.

They heard commotion behind them. As Joe and Bill turned around, the two girls now stood up, mouths open wide in surprise.

“What’s the fuzz doing here?” The girl in the green dress asked.

“It’s never good when they arrive,” the other girl chided, as they went around the corridor. Ignoring the rude comments, they looked at Millie behind the desk.

“Oh yes, I’ll have Carrie come out and speak with you,” the girl said as she held the receiver in her hand and dialed.

“Look, Ma’am. We received a call about a—“ Joe was interrupted again.

“Carrie? There’s two men here to—“ and she set the receiver back into its cradle. “She’ll be right down.”

About a minute later, a door to the left of them flew open and a girl in a blue blouse and beige skirt ran toward them.

“I'm Carrie...she’s upstairs! She’s upstairs,” the girl said. “Please hurry!”

The two men followed her up the stairs to the fourth floor. As they briskly walked down the hallway, a small cluster of girls, some still clad in pajamas and curlers while others were dressed for classes, had gathered outside one of the rooms. Someone in the group was crying and one other proclaimed that she was going to be sick and dashed through a door that Joe and Bill presumed was the bathroom. As they neared the huddle, Joe fished out his badge and I.D. again, explaining that they were police officers and needed them to step aside. Within seconds, the girls parted, creating a tiny space for the men to enter the room.

Two yellow birds cut out of construction paper and taped to the door read each girl’s name of who was in the room. One gave the name of Dorothy, whereas the other bird announced the name of Donna in black ink pen. A blonde girl with her hair pulled into a ponytail and still in her nightgown knelt on an oval green and white braided rug that was situated next to each bed in the middle of the room. She looked up, away from the apparently dead roommate, as they came into the room. The Resident Assistant, Carrie, stood behind them.

“Donna,” said Carrie. “These men are police officers. They want to look at Dorothy.” The girl, Donna, who had been kneeling on the rug beside the bed, stood up and sat on the bed across from Dorothy. Her hands were folded into her lap, as if she were praying.

The red-headed girl lay still. The blanket had been pulled back revealing that the pink flowery nightgown she wore was heavily stained toward her middle.

Carrie stepped forward and said that she had already called for an ambulance and that they should be here in any minute. Just then they heard several footsteps down the hall and the wheels of a gurney scraping across the fractured tile linoleum floor.

Joe and Bill stood aside as the attendants carefully lifted Dorothy onto the gurney. A massive pool of blood on the sheets became more visible as Dorothy was placed onto the gurney. They strapped her in tightly and then each of them grabbed a string at the end and pulled her out of the room.

During this entire process, Dorothy’s roommate Donna sat silently on her bed, with tears streaming down her face. As the girl was being wheeled out, she spoke.

“Where are you taking her?” she wailed.

“To Central Receiving, Miss,” said Joe. “We’d like you to come with us…we need to ask you some questions.”

“Why do you want to talk to me for?” she whimpered.

“Don’t worry, it’s just routine questioning. I’d like your Resident Assistant, Carrie, to come along too,” Joe said as he patted her shoulder and then looked over at Carrie.

“I’ll be right back. Just let me get my purse,” Carrie said and dashed out the door, trying not to bump into the lingering horde in the hallway.

“I have a class in ten minutes!” Donna said with uncontrollable hiccups.

“We’ll let your professors know what’s happening,” said Bill.

Donna nodded, her ponytail bobbing up and down as Carrie came back into the room.

“I’ll have to get dressed,” said Donna, half whispering. She still sat on the bed, as Carrie shut the door. Then, they heard the sound of wire hangers being pushed aside. Joe told the remaining onlookers that there was nothing more to see and to head back to what they were doing. Some slowly shuffled back to their rooms, while a few others went downstairs.

Donna emerged from her room in a blue and white striped dress.

“Wait,” said Carrie. “Let me fix your dress for you.” She noticed that Donna’s dress wasn’t buttoned up all the way in the back and fastened each remaining one. She then took both ends of the ribbon that hung at each side and tied them into an elegant bow which sat below the buttons. Strands of hair stuck to her tear-stained face.

“I’ll fix your hair on the way there,” Carrie said, resting her hand on Donna’s shoulder. “I know how you must feel right now, but I think everything’s going to be okay.”

It was a pleasant gesture of comfort, but both men could see that dread along with uncertainty clouded her eyes. The girls were obedient when Joe and Bill took their arms to escort them down the hallway.

As the four of them walked toward the stairwell entrance, the girls sometimes peered into the other rooms that had doors open. They saw someone at their desk, probably doing homework or studying for an upcoming exam, while passing the next room, a girl sat on her bed reading a book.

All of the rooms looked the same—with the cream-colored paint on the walls, only splashed with posters or pictures of friends and family. As they went by an additional room, a record player softly spun The Critters’ "Mr. Dieingly Sad." The lead singer sang the title of the song, repeating the three same words over and over until they faded.

How appropriate at this particular momen, Joe thought to himself, as the door to the stairwell closed behind them. One by one, they descended the staircase. Too many people were going to be sad and are already heartbroken. An image of Larry Watson’s scrunched up face appeared in Joe’s mind for the second time that morning. How many more will continue to be hurt and sad…?

Copyright © 2011 by Kristi N. Zanker

 

Continue to Chapter Three

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Copyright © 2014 by Kristi N. Zanker

 

 

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