Twink asked for something with Ray K and Turnbull. Be assured: this ISN'T a death fic. The Moo would only put snuff in a birthday ficlet if specifically asked to do so. But this is on the serious side.

------------

 

Ray listened to the news on the radio on his way to work this morning as he always did.

 

"This just in: A Canadian Mountie has been killed in a bizarre drive-by shooting outside the Canadian consulate . . . "

 

The GTO swerved and Ray was barely able to pull over before every muscle in his body, starting from his hands on the steering wheel, tightened into a knot. He listened, motionless, while the announcer interviewed a "Canadian official". He heard the voice of the Ice Queen on the radio, explaining to a reporter. One of her staff had been standing guard outside the door of the Canadian consulate when persons unknown opened fire from a passing car. June 24th was a politically charged day in Quebec, but it had been years since there had been any violence. She suspected some militant was making a random attack against a federal police officer, but she had no explanation of why this might happen in Chicago.

 

Ray waited for the inevitable reporter's formula, and it soon came, "Dead is . . . (Today was Tuesday. Fraser's stood guard on Tuesday mornings.) . . . Constable Renfield Turnbull."

 

The breath that Ray had been holding rushed out of his body. All the tense muscles sagged. Not Fraser. Fraser is OK. Fraser's not dead. Ray had to sit several more minutes while relief washed over him, before being able to drive on to the station.

 

He knew better than to call the consulate for details. Fraser and the Ice Queen would have their hands full, so he went to Francesca to see if there was any official news.

 

"Oh Ray, here you are!" Francesca grabbed his arm as soon as he came to near enough. "I gotta tell you, it's a mistake! Turnbull's alive!" She told Ray the name of a hospital, and that Turnbull's condition was listed as serious.

 

Francesca went on, "Serious, not critical. Thank God. I like Turnbull. He's nice. A little dim, but nice. Fraszh is there with him now. He's gonna keep us informed."

 

Ray thanked her and went back to his desk, feeling guilty. What kind of monster was he? He liked Turnbull too, and only a little while ago he had been happy to hear the poor man was dead. Turnbull had always been kind to him. Hell, Turnbull was always kind to everybody. A fellow policeman. He deserved better at Ray's hands. OK, Ray, realized, not exactly hands, but Turnbull deserved better in Ray's thoughts.

 

Throughout the day Fraser called with updates on Turnbull's condition. He improved steadily and by the time Ray was ready to leave the 27th, Fraser reported that Turnbull was sitting up and talking.

 

--------------

 

Ray arrived at the hospital loaded with enough flowers and candy to gladden the hearts and rot the teeth of a whole ward of wounded Mounties. Fraser was still with him in the room. No surprise there.

 

The report that Turnbull was sitting up was apparently Fraser's optimistic exaggeration. Turnbull was in fact leaning against the raised head of the bed, propped on several more pillows than hospitals usually provide. He had on flannel pajamas, not a hospital nightgown. On his bed table was a bottle of mineral water, chilling in a bucket of ice. The ice was hardly melted, someone must have just refreshed it. There was already a TV hanging over Turnbull's bed and several vases of red and white flowers scattered about. Somebody was taking very good care of Turnbull and Ray suspected that particular somebody wore the same kind of uniform as Turnbull did.

 

Ray and Fraser glanced greetings at each other first. Fraser relieved Ray of all his packages and got busy arranging the flowers about the room and piling the candy neatly on Turnbull's meal-tray.

 

"Hey Turnbull, way to get time off work, man." What do you say to a man you feel you've wronged, and he doesn't know you have wronged him, Ray wondered. Probably not this. Boy, do I suck. "How you feeling?"

 

"Fine, thank you, Detective." It seemed to be an effort for him to talk.

 

"So, Fraser's taking good care of you, looks like." Oh, brilliant conversation, Kowalski.

 

Turnbull turned his head to look with gratitude at his fellow Mountie, making Ray feel all the more guilty. "Constable Fraser's been very attentive. I'm in his debt."

 

"That's nonsense." These were Fraser's first words since Ray had entered the hospital room. "Turnbull, I'd like you to get some rest and when you wake up I'll let you have some of that candy." Fraser adjusted the bed to a flat position. Turnbull remained wide-eyed, watching his visitors.

 

Fraser took Ray's arm and led him out of the room. "We'll go now and let you sleep. Come on, Ray, let's get some fresh air." The Mountie took his friend to the elevator, down to the ground floor and towards the door leading outside. Since Ray had just come in from the fresh air, Fraser obviously wanted to go out for some other reason.

 

They got out onto the sidewalk. There, Fraser let out a heavy sigh, and Ray saw the beginnings of tears.

 

"It's all my fault," Fraser said through pursed lips, trying not to cry. "That was my shift, I should have been out there. I asked Turnbull to trade so I could go see a flower show. Now look what has happened."

 

It was only when Fraser ran his hands over his own hair that Ray realized Fraser was still in his red serge but had left his hat up in Turnbull's room. To have forgotten his Stetson and gone out bare-headed was more evidence of his friend's distress than any words or tears.

 

"It's not your fault, Fraser."

 

"Oh Ray, I just feel so guilty." Fraser lost his fight, and fell weeping against Ray's shoulder.

 

Ray patted his back and kept repeating, "There, there. He's gonna be okay." It wasn't an activity that required a great deal of thought, so Ray's mind wandered, as he patted and murmured, to the sight of Turnbull in bed and the expression on his face.

 

Now, a man wasn't going to look the way he normally did when recovering from being shot, obviously. It made sense that Turnbull was going to look different than usual. But the difference, it seemed to Ray, was more than his just being weak and in pain. Something else in the face, something odd. For what seemed like no good reason, Ray started thinking about Harpo Marx.

 

Ray loved the old Marx brothers movies. He used to watch them on TV with his father. Dad used to make him notice how Harpo's face changed when he sat down to play his instrument. He dropped the idiotic grin and became a completely different man: composed, intent, focused. Then, in the next scene, he would silly again.

 

Ray figured Turnbull's quiet air upstairs was from injury, not buried genius. Still, it started him thinking. There was probably a lot more to Turnbull than he had ever stopped to consider. He was Ray's own best friend's close associate, but Ray had never made any attempt to get to know him. Turnbull deserved better. Any decent man did, and Turnbull was nothing if not a decent man.

 

Fraser seemed to be winding down. He sniffed back his remaining tears and ran his sleeve across first his eyes and then unbelievably his nose. Ray had seen Fraser cry before, but he had never seen him soil his uniform. The two friends walked back to the hospital entrance together.

 

"You know what, Fraser? When Turnbull gets out, let's take him with us, next time we go someplace. Maybe a restaurant or a show or something."

 

Fraser reached over and chucked Ray's arm in appreciation. "That's a good idea. Maybe we'll go hear some music. Turnbull likes country."

 

"So do I," Ray admitted.

 

LL&P

The Moo

Back to Birthday Menu
1