The unofficial ending suggested by the Fraser Performance Review in the Round Robin Section as Okayed by Melanie.
The Board Disbands
by The Moo
"I think we're overlooking the obvious here," said Mitchell "If we've learned anything about Constable Fraser, certainly we've learned he's a man who knows his own mind. That being the case, I wonder if we shouldn't ask for the Constable's input. The man deserves a chance to be heard."
Nods around the table, and some murmurs, showed the board agreed with this assessment.
"Then Corporal Katz will draft an email to Constable Fraser, cc his commanding officer, for me to have a look at. I think we can adjourn early and meet back after lunch, say, one."
It was only ten in the morning, and Turnbull was had just finished laying out their refereshments for coffee break. The committee milled about, drinking and eating, and drifted off to go about their own business.
Corporal Katz sat down at the computer terminal that Turnbull had set up in Inspector Thatcher's old office for the committee members' use. Before starting the draft to Fraser, she thought she would check her emails first, the consulate being on the same intranet as her own office.
She clicked her way through the messages that had accumulated since yesterday. Vacancy notices from Human Resources. Click. Click. All gone. Volleyball games in Shawinigan. Nope. Another directive on how to fill out expense reports. Look at it later.
Then she opened one message and sat bolt upright in her chair. It addressed to Mitchell and cc to her. Dear God! Leaving the message open on the screen Katz dashed out to find Mitchell, hoping he was still in the building. She found him eating marble cake and drinking espresso. She grabbed his arm unceremoniously. "Sir! There's something you have to see!" She fairly dragged him into the Inspector's office.
They got there to find Turnbull standing behind the chair staring at the screen. He didn't look at Katz and Mitchell when they came in; he just stood there, staring and blinking.
"I'm sorry, Constable," said Katz.
Turnbull came back to reality and turned from the screen. He seemed a different man. Gone was the look of imbecilic servility. He no longer looked, as he seemed to always look, like either a puppy dog or a toddler. He looked, for the first time since she'd met him, like a man. A very sad man.
Turnbull nodded, briefly, to Mitchell and left the room. Katz resolved to find him later, after he'd had a chance to have a good cry in private, and talk to him.
Mitchell read the relevent passage from the message aloud. It wasn't necessary, of course. They could both read. It just seemed to Mitchell that this was something that should be said aloud.
‘Have some unfortunate news. Constable Fraser has been reported killed in an avalanche. Will forward you the accident report to attach to the file when we get it. We'll be using his last pay level for insurance, pension and other benefit calculations. Under the circumstances, please disband the review board at once.'
"Katz. Print that off and make a copy for each committee member. We'll wind everything up when everyone comes back from lunch."
One by one the board members trickled in after lunch to find the single sheet of paper at his or her place. Very little was said, as they waited for everyone to arrive. Mitchell gave them just long enough to register what had happened before starting.
"I guess this speaks for itself. I..." He hesitated. They had been ripping a man apart, delving into his life, preparing to decide his destiny. Meanwhile another force had made that decision for them and there was nothing more for them to do. Mixed with the feelings of sadness over any unnecessary death was the feeling of being let down suddenly.
Nothing they had read or discussed would affect this strange man, after all. Instead, he had affected them all just by being a strange man and leaving a trail of reactions behind him.
"I never met the man," Mitchell continued, "but I feel like I've lost... not a friend, exactly... somebody I know well."
"I'd say a friend." said Dr. Walnut. "At least someone I wish could have been a friend."
The first shock was beginning to wear off. The committee members all expressed their own regrets: "Damn shame." "Poor guy." "What a shock." "You never know, do you?"
The comments died off eventually. Mitchell said: "Well, we all have travel arrangements to make. Let's get that Turnbull fellow in here and put him to work."
Corporal Katz spoke up. "Sir, I'd leave Constable Turnbull alone. He and Constable Fraser worked closely together."
Mitchell agreed. It seemed reasonable.
"And I'd like to notify the Chicago PD, too, if that's all right, sir?"
"Oh course. And get me a flight back tonight if that's possible."
Katz left the boardroom. She wondered if she should go to Turnbull now or let him have some more time alone. She decided to look for him now, not because he would want the company but because she knew she'd be too busy later. She found him in his own tiny office, his eyes still red, but his expression peaceful. She stood in the doorway of his office waiting until he noticed her.
"I've already been missing him for some time. You know, I've almost got used to him being gone." said Turnbull. "Except, I always thought maybe..."
"...maybe you'd see him again. I'm sorry. It must be hard."
"I called Miss Vecchio. She's on her way over."
"I'm glad." And she was. He could use that plucky little woman's strength right now. "If there's anything I can do?" she ventured.
"I don't think so, but thank you kindly."
He still looked like he wanted to be alone. She left him that way.