Fiction Home Freestanding Stories Alone Trilogy Legacy Series In Progress

By Amanda Berendt
Copyright August 2003

    Detective Nick Knight sat at his desk watching his partner talking animatedly on the telephone. Detective Donald Schanke had been on the phone for nearly twenty minutes.
    “What did it look like? Well, I know that, but how big was it?” After several more minutes of similar questions, he hung up the phone. “Man, oh, man what we do for our kids.”
    When Nick gave him a questioning look, he continued. “Jenny’s goldfish died this morning, and Myra wants me to replace it with one the same size before she gets home from her sleepover tonight.” Nick laughed at his partner’s exasperation.
    Since they had just finished a major case, the two men got down to business completing all the necessary forms and writing up their reports. Several times during the evening, some of their fellow detectives and even a few uniforms came over to congratulate Nick on catching the perp. After each interruption, Nick found himself looking over the desks at his partner to see his reaction. If all the attention Nick was getting was bothering Schanke, he wasn’t showing it.

It must have been cold there in my shadow
To never have sunlight on your face
You were content to let me shine
That’s your way
You always walked a step behind

    As their shift dragged on, Nick began to straighten out the piles of paperwork covering his desk. He put what still needed to be done into his IN box and the completed forms into an interoffice envelope to be given to the captain. He needed a break.
    A voice came from across the desks, “Hey Nick. I know you’re really into this paperwork and stuff, but would you be able to drive me over to the pet store then drop me off at home? My car’s in the shop and Myra wants to be home in case Jenny calls.”
    Nick smiled. “Sure, Schank. I need a break. This stuff is almost done. Why don’t we just book of early?” he said, eager to get away from the monotony of desk work.
    On the way down to the parking lot, they encountered a few more of Nick’s ‘fans.’ They wanted to know how Nick had been able to get there ahead of everyone else and how he had been able to subdue the suspect by himself. Embarrassed by this attention, Nick looked past the officers and saw Schanke waiting for him, smiling sheepishly when he met Nick’s gaze, as if he were sympathizing with Nick’s embarrassment.

So I was the one with all the glory
And you were the one with all the strain
A beautiful face without a name
For so long
A beautiful smile to hide the pain

    Finally reaching the parking lot, they climbed into the caddy. As Nick pulled out onto the street, Schanke said "I hope the department pays for all of your gas." Nick laughed and they joked back and forth until Nick pulled the car up outside the pet store.
    Schanke got out, closed the door and leaned back into the car window. "I'll be right back. Gotta get a fish with the right measurements."
    Nick watched him enter the store. The issue of replacing Jenny's dead goldfish with an identical one seemed to be such a trivial problem, but Schanke was putting so much effort into it despite all of his complaining. That was something Nick envied about his partner.
    He thought back to the praise he had gotten at the precinct. Yes, he was a good cop and he had brought in the suspect single handedly, but that was nothing compared to the joy Schanke would experience from his family. He would return home, saving the day by averting the heartbreak Jenny would experience if she discovered her dead pet. Nick would gladly trade all of his commendations to be able to protect a child from such a sadness. Although he would never admit it to anyone, the life Schanke had was what Nick was striving for.

Did you ever know that you're my hero
You're everything that I'd like to be
And I can fly higher than an eagle
For you are the wind beneath my wings

    Fifteen minutes later, Schanke came out of the pet store carrying a clear plastic bag containing a bright orange goldfish. "Man, all of these things look alike to me." He complained as he got into the caddy. "But Jenny would notice if one of the fins was a millimeter shorter."
    Nick laughed again as he put the car in gear and pulled out into the evening traffic. They soon left downtown behind as the car moved into the tree lined streets of the suburbs. This is what Schanke came home to every day. *He has so much to lose,* Nick thought. *He goes out every night, puts his life on the line and gets no recognition.* Nick wanted to say something to his partner, but it was as if all the commendations didn't really matter. When he looked over, there was Schanke in the passenger seat poking at the plastic bag and wondering out loud if there was enough air inside for the fish. Nick filed this moment with the others like it in his heart. Schanke was stronger than anyone could see on the outside.

It might have appeared to go unnoticed
But I've got it all here in my heart
I want you to know I know the truth
Of course I know it
I would be nothing without you

    As they pulled up to the Schanke residence, Myra came down the front steps in her pajamas and robe. She waved a hello to Nick through the car window and hugged Schanke as he got out of the car.
    "You're home early?" She said, then added in a whisper. "Did you get it?"
    "Yeah," answered her husband. "We were just doing some paperwork, so we booked off early when I asked Nick for a ride. What's with the whispering?"
    Myra answered in a low voice. "Jenny came home about an hour ago. She got homesick so Katie's dad drove her home."
    "So how am I supposed to get this inside?" Schanke asked, pointing to the baggie containing the fish.
    "She's in the living room. I've been keeping her busy so she wouldn't go upstairs."
    Myra and Schanke said good night to Nick and turned to go inside. Nick eased the caddy out of the driveway, pausing when he reached the street to see the couple safely inside. He could picture his partner sneaking upstairs to replace the deceased pet. The returning to the living room to greet his young daughter. She would be excited her daddy had taken the evening off to be with her.
    Reluctantly, Nick pulled away from the curb and headed back towards the city. Gazing out at the green lawns littered with balls and bikes and the other trappings of family life, the flickering glow of televisions behind curtains, he thought how luck Schanke was to be a part of this life. This is what his partner risked everytime he came into work. That took more courage than anything Nick had done, and his partner would never get a commendation for it.

Did you ever know that you're my hero
You're everything I wish I could be
And I could fly higher than an eagle
For you are the wind beneath my wings

    Several nights later Nick and Schanke were called into Captain Amanda Cohen's office.
    "Detective Knight," she said with her usual stoicism. "The crown is requesting that you and I escort Dollard to his hearing in Edmonton."
    Nick shook his head, "Captain, I can't go to that hearing. My condition..." Thinking a moment, he added "Schanke knows all about the case. He did all the legwork, all I did was actually grab the guy. He should go with you." He could see that this had grabbed his partner's attention.
    Cohen nodded. "OK, Knight. I'll put through the paperwork to get the name changed on the plane tickets. That is, if Detective Schanke wants to go."
    Schanke beamed. "Yeah, sure. How could I pass up an all-expense paid trip to Alberta."
    "Detective, this is official police business." Cohen admonished. "Yeah, I know, but we're going to have some free time after we drop this guy off."
    Nick smiled as he watched the captain and his partner work out exactly what a business trip was. Finally, he thought, he would be in the background as Schanke got the glory.