Copyright© 2011 by Robert McKay
When I got back from the Hawk House I stopped by the secretary's desk. Every executive has a secretary – even I've had one for years in my one-man PI agency, if only because I'm out of the office a lot and sometimes people walk in. I smiled at her. "You're name's Mary, right?" I asked.
"Yes, Mary Gillespie."
"If you don't mind, I'll call you Mary – and if you do mind, then I'll call you Ms. Gillespie. It's just that I'm a lot more comfortable with first names."
"Mary is fine, Chief."
"Cool. And my name's Darvin, if you ever want to use it. But what I wanted was, if you could come in my office for a minute."
"Certainly." She picked up a pad and pen – which didn't surprise me – and followed me in.
I sat down behind my desk, easing my duty belt. With my gun, Maglite, pepper spray, handcuffs, radio, two extra magazines for the pistol, and taser on it, the thing weighed a ton. I pulled the radio off, and set it on the desk.
"The way it is, Mary, I talked to the Chief of Patrol and the lead investigator today, to see what they needed and wanted, to tell them what I want first and foremost, and to make sure we understand each other. They run their operations, and I run the department, but you run the chief's office. I see what you put on my desk, and you dispose of what I put in my out basket, and you've got the ability to make me look good or bad no matter what I do. So I thought I'd better see what you need and want, and make sure we're working together and not against each other."
She didn't hesitate. "I need a better computer. The one I have is adequate. It is not better than that."
I grinned. "Were you an English teacher at one time?"
She smiled back. "No, but my mother was."
"I ask because of your diction. You'll find that I slaughter the language. As for a new computer..." I made a note on my own pad. "What you got?"
"I don't know – I am not a computer technician – but it is slow, and sometimes on a busy day I have to reboot it to restore it to proper function."
I nodded. "I can look at it – I ain't a tech either, but I know how to do some basic checking. An' I'll have to see where I can work it into the budget. It may have to wait, 'cause I'm gonna insist on armor for the officers, an' that ain't gonna be cheap."
She made a note on her pad – I didn't ask what she was noting. If she did her job well I wouldn't need to know, and if she didn't knowing wouldn't help me any. "You need anything else?" I asked.
"Okay, then here's my wish list." I leaned back in my chair, but had to be careful – I was used to my custom built chairs at home, and this one just might fall over backwards if I leaned too much. "First thing, I ain't gonna do like Harry did. I ain't gonna fight with the Chief of Patrol about getting on the patrol schedule. What I want you to do is set aside one day of the week where my schedule is just patrolling. I'd like you to vary it, make it different days. Now I intend to be mostly a Monday-through-Friday chief – this department don't need me looking over everyone's shoulder all the time, and if it does then it needs more than I can give it. But every once in a while you can put me on patrol on the weekend. And occasionally – not too often – you can schedule me for night patrol. And when you make up my week's schedule, make sure that dispatch knows when I'll be in a car."
She looked at me severely. "I understand your desire to avoid micromanaging the department, but could you not spend more time here?"
"I got a family. They come before this town and before this department. I plan to spend time with my wife and my daughter, and if I get to church with 'em every Sunday that I'm here that'll be fine with me."
She nodded, and her expression softened. "That I can understand. When you're on patrol, how reachable shall you be?"
"If it's an emergency, dispatch can reach me. Also, I'll give you my cell phone number." I scribbled it on the pad and tore off the corner of the page for her. "But that's only for emergencies. I'll tell you what I told Dispatch – if that number becomes public knowledge, I'll change it and not tell anyone what the new number is."
"Very well." She tucked the slip of paper into her pad.
"Appointments and meetings and whatnot can happen four days a week, though I don't want to do that kind of stuff any more than I absolutely have to. When I'm out there actually being a cop, I want to actually be a cop." I thought for a second. "Could you take something down, I guess a memo, for Dave? It's so he'll know that when I'm patrolling, I'll serve as my wife's training officer."
She wrote, but her face was very severe now.
"Mary, you got a problem with me, or with something I say or do, spit it out. I won't have any sycophants working for me."
"Very well," she said. "I do not approve of nepotism."