-Accepting Medical Aid(Thinks it’s a waste on him)
-Attitudes & Disrespect
-a Glock 19
-Usually wears worn cowboy boots, faded jeans, a white undershirt with a brown hunting jacket, and a cowboy hat.
-Has a Sam Browne Duty Belt that carries his pistol holster, additional pistol mag pouches, radio keeper loop, handcuff pouch, and the clip loop for his telescopic ASP baton
-Various rifles, prefers medium to long range.
-Underlying symptoms of PTSD
John sits on the chair at the bow of the small sailboat, the wind blowing his hair back as they gently cast through the waved. The two kids of the family they were sailing with sat cross legged at his feet, with their mother sitting next to Diane on the wraparound bench at the bow. He looks out over the water, a smile on his face.
“The past is a statement-The future is a question.”
He ran a hand through his hair, his eyes tracing the silhouette of land visible just a few hundred meters away. It was a nice, blue, sunny day on the Black Sea, and it felt just as nice.
“My mother used to tell me that. Near every day when it seemed like I was getting fed up with the way things were. She was… a very strong woman.
“This is a long story, you guys… you sure you want to hear it?” John asked apprehensively.
The girl of the pair looked on in admiration and excitement, nodded vigorously. “Yeah! We’re sure!”
John pursed his lips, settling back. “Okay, then. I guess… the story starts in Las Vegas, quite a few years ago, I got out of the military. I-”
“No!” The older son called out, giggling. “That’s not the start! I want to hear everything!”
John grinned. “Oh, you want to hear from my childhood, don’t you?” He asked, earning yet another vigorous nod from the pair of them. John hesitated for a while, a troubled look on his face as he thought back. He looked uncomfortably at Diane, who gave him a smile and a nod. Her face absolutely glowed to him, and he couldn’t resist but to perk up a bit. “Alright, then…”
“I was born in 1976 to my parents, Frank and Joy Waters, in a small Nevada county hospital. My sister, Jenn, she was born in 1980. We grew up on the outskirts of Las Vegas, just where the desert meets the city. My dear old dad was an Army vet, fought in Vietnam. He wasn’t ever a very nice person that I remembered, and my mom always defended him. Said he wasn’t always like that, that the war did things to him. He came back from the end of the war with a few missing fingers on his left hand, got shot through the handguard of his M16 if memory serves. Mom said he was always bitter about it.”
“If I had to guess, I think the only thing I inherited from the old grouch was his looks and his temper… And an aptitude for fighting, I suppose. Had to, back then. Him and my mom were constantly at odds, and he was known to strike both my sister and I, but mostly our mom. That changed around when I was your age… roughly. I was raised more abouts from my grandfather, I worked for him and my grandmother on their cattle ranch out in Southern Nevada during the summertime, and some weekends. They knew of my fathers… of Frank’s abusive tendencies. When I was sixteen, my grandad gave me my first handgun, taught me how to use it, made me get good with it. But that gift came with a required promise. That if it came to it one day, I would protect my mother-his daughter-from my father… By any means…”
“Luckily, it never came to that. Frank and I got into a lot of fights, mostly verbal, but a lot of them turned physical. He was by no means a weak man, and I’ll admit my hide got tanned more than once, but I only got better at it as time went on… And anytime he raised his hand against my mom or against Jenn, I was there to give it back and more.”
“Beyond being a name on my birth certificate, the man was pretty useless for anything except toughening me up. He hardly worked, not legitimately anyway. He pulled a lot of cons back in my highschool days, most of which never worked as well as he claimed. I tried to distance myself from these… Best I could, anyway, which wasn’t enough. So I supported my family the best I could. We weren’t what you’d call well off. Siphoned little bits of gas from cars here and there from adjacent neighborhoods, enough that it helped but wouldn’t be noticed by the owner. Mowed lawns, worked on a road crew when I was seventeen for a year. That same year, men came to our house, looking for Frank… Said they were there for money. He wasn’t there, so they said they’d have to deliver the message to Frank through his family. Through us. Hit my sister with a baseball bat, broke her arm. I don’t remember those moments very well, but according to the report, I took the bat from them after they hit me in the face with it, and beat both men down in some sort of rage before hitting the ground myself. We were all admitted to the hospital, them with a variation of broken bones, myself with a fractured orbital socket-where my eyeball is…”
He paused for a moment, clearing his throat. He wiped at his mouth with a rough, weathered hand.
“High school was… Normal, I suppose? Started playing football in my sophomore year, Wide Receiver, I played first string with the second fastest mile of anybody that had ever played in my district in that last decade. Pretty sure I’ve been bumped down the list by now, though. Dated a Cheerleader around that time about halfway through that year, we were on again off again. A few in between. No, she wasn’t the cheer captain. Yes, she was the one I took to prom, and no, we didn’t win King and Queen. I wasn’t one of the ‘popular’ kids per se, but I was in that circle, I guess. You just kind of get lumped in there if you like it or not when you play first string varsity. Really, the main reason I did it was as motivation to work out and bulk up. Any excuse I could use to become bigger and scarier than my father was. A few months after graduation, I enlisted with the Marine Corps to escape my home life… Probably the most selfish thing I’ve ever done in my life, leaving my mother and sister to that monster. Things broke off with the girlfriend, who said she couldn’t do the distance of me being at Basic Training… Found out a year later she was knocked up by some kid that likely had no future for himself. Kinda felt sorry for her…”
“Dear old dad got himself locked up a few weeks after I enlisted in ‘94, don’t really remember when, but I know it was before I graduated. Fraud, Tax Evasion, some other stuff. He wasn’t there in San Francisco to see me graduate Basic. Or any of my other courses. I went on to Fort Leonardwood to finish training as a Military Police Officer, M-O-S Fifty-Eight-Eleven. Finished that in… ‘95.”
“My time in the Corps was a whole different world… a real eye opener. Tore me down, built me back up. They made me see that I wasn’t the toughest dog in the yard… then showed me how to be. And boy, did I grab onto it. Soaked up everything like a god-damn sponge. For my first couple years, I was like a damn robot, but after that I started learning to loosen up, right around my deployment to Turkey overseas. When the time came to re-enlist in ‘99, I chose not to. I’d been taking classes in Criminal Justice while I was in, and decided to finish my degree in the civilian world.”
“I worked as a firearms instructor at a local gun range in Las Vegas after moving back home to my family. My mom was happy to have me back, and while she’d never quite agreed with my choice to enlist, she’d accepted it because she knew it was a positive thing. Met this guy my sister had been seeing, after she’d graduated high school a year prior and was going to college for a degree in History, wanted to be a teacher. Never can remember the guys name, always get it mixed up with others, but she went on to marry the ass, have two kids with him, then divorce him after he was caught cheating on her with someone half his age. This is a decade later, mind you…”
“I got my degree in early 2001, and I’d been applying to a few big and small departments in the area. Police departments, that is. I got hired on with Las Vegas Metropolitan, they were hurting for numbers at the time, and Veterans were always their top picks. Was going through the Academy whenever September 11th came along… even all the way on the other side of the country, we were mentally rocked that day. Everything was suspended, took days to get normal schedules going again… everyone looking at their phones, waiting for a call or looking at the TV, waiting for… something. We were on the track at the time, doing time trial training when one of our training officers called everyone over and told us the news. Everyone knelt and gave a little prayer… I’ve never been much of a religious person, but… 3,000 people… I could take a few minutes for that, at least. It made me proud to be doing what I was doing… I couldn’t help on that day, but after I graduated… I could serve and help my community in the future of anything else that came in its path like that.”
“I was a patrol officer for four years. Mostly ran in a UBoat-That’s what we called a single manned car- But sometimes we ran with partners, especially after 8 in the evening, but I was mostly dayshift. I was in my mid 20’s around this time, so I was still a little crazy. Had a motorcycle back then, a 2002 Harley Davidson Fat Boy. A cruiser, not one of those… plastic crotch rocket pieces of crap. Really, those race bikes are so uncomfortable, dunno why anyone would want one other than having a death wish…”
“About my third year, a friend of mine I’d made in my first year on the job had landed a job with the FBI. We talked about his job over drinks. I was going through some financial issues at the time, the pay for a city cop wasn’t the best and I’d kind of overextended myself by buying a house. He suggested I try to go Federal, and I agreed to give it a try. I put in applications to the FBI and the BATF, and a few days later I applied to the Marshal Service as kind of an afterthought when their recruitment opened up for the first time in a year or so. They happened to be the first ones to get back to me… and six months later, I was in Virginia at the Glenco training facility. 2005 was a busy year, adapting to that… Did a year working in Texas in one of the large offices, working as protective detail for WitSec. Witness Protection, they keep people safe that saw bad people do bad things… After that, they pulled me back to Glenco to teach firearms to new recruits for almost two years with a handful of other instructors… well, actually, more like 18 months I think… I don’t really recall exactly. The first 8 months I was there, I worked alongside a man named Alexander Burry. He was actually on the track out, headed to Las Vegas to run things at the smaller Vegas field office in the Regional court house. He and I became good friends while we taught together, and later on, this man would eventually become my boss when I’d go back out to Las Vegas in 2008. He was the closest thing I had to a mentor and a role model. He was in his fifties, so he had a good amount of experience on my. I was… 32 at the time, so he was a good amount older…”
He pauses, chewing lightly on his bottom lip, reminiscing momentarily on a memory attained long ago.
“I had a hard time adjusting once I was back in Vegas. I’d been moving around a lot the last few years, nothing had really felt permanent, but working under Burry, he made sure my post was fixed there so I’d be able to root down. I hadn’t really grasped that concept for a long time, and it took me a year or so to actually allow myself to settle down. I’d gotten a loft apartment a few miles from the office, not really much space. After my bad experience with home ownership, even though I made a good amount more now a year, I was reluctant to submit to that again. I was constantly working, having been assigned to the Fugitive Task Force. Our job was to track down fugitives, bad people wanted for crimes they committed. I was pretty good at what I did… but I was what you’d call a workaholic. Not in general, but this sort of work had grabbed me, and… I didn’t really know where the off switch was. Tore through a few relationships that usually only lasted a few weeks at a time. One stuck with me for a few months, told me I needed a hobby that was away from my job… So I bought a dirt bike and took to the tracks most weekends… Which I guess wasn’t what she wanted, she’d been talking about carpentry or something… Which I’m not foreign to, but it’s more out of necessity… But yeah, I was big into that for awhile, mostly recreational, had a 400cc Yamaha. That's a REALLY powerful bike, by the way. Did a lot of track runs, lots of jumps, until later on in early 2012 I wiped out on a long jump, wrecked the bike, separated my clavicle, and that was pretty much that. Jackie, my girlfriend at the time, she convinced me to give it up. But hell… I think enduring the light duty at work was motivation enough, I was bored out of my mind...”
“In late 2008, the man that I’d been working alongside as my partner, Jason Kearns, was forced to medically retire after being paralyzed from the waist down by a gunshot wound during a raid, took one to the spine... He’d been holding on for a few weeks, confident he could be good as new and get back to the job, but… that wasn’t the case. Good man, He was a sixteen year veteran of the service. Another former Marine, we always got along. But with him gone, I was on to working on my own until November or… maybe it was October… Diane might remember better than I, I was always horrible with dates. Anyway, this day would be the first time I met Diane Thomas. First time I saw her, I figured she was some new blood from the District Attorney’s Office sent over to get some statement or another. She just LOOKED like a lawyer, from her expression to her clothes. When I found out she was actually a new hire to the service, I almost couldn’t take her seriously. At the time, she looked like a girl scout trying to fit in with the wall street crowd. THEN… I found out who she was being assigned to.”
John’s facial expression softens as he speaks about Diane, a small smile spreading subtly as memories of the two come over him. He looks at the woman in question, who smiles back at him.
“We didn’t really get along at first. I saw her as… shallow, naive, and more book smart than any other sort of intelligent. She loved to talk, but was reluctant to act. I was convinced she was going to get somebody killed someday… It wasn’t until maybe five months into the partnership that I truly accepted her as my partner and a fellow Marshal. That moment that I knew I could trust her to have my back… from then on. We’d been trying to find this one guy for the last several weeks, he’d skipped out on bail, government conspiracy nut being brought up on gun charges. We got an anonymous tip to some desolate desert location outside the city, some run down trailer. It seemed to be quiet and abandoned. No sign of a vehicle or of anyone having come or gone recently in the immediate area. As we approached the trailer it… just didn’t feel right. My gut wrenched suddenly. So when I saw the sudden motion of a curtain being moved aside, it didn’t take much more than that to cause me to grab Diane about the waist and throw the both of us sideways into a drainage ditch adjacent to where we parked the Yukon down the drive. Two shots rang out from a rifle, kicking up dirt just behind where we’d both been walking. I took most of the impact myself, she landed on top of me. We heard someone burst out of the trailer, firing wildly over our heads as they tried to move up on us. Diane started shooting back, not really able to see much with all the dust kicking up, but she did so without any direction from me. Good instincts. She didn’t cower away like most others would.”
“With her covering, I made the dash for the Yukon, trying to get to our radio to call in the shots fired and get our Carbine rifle. My hands were empty, my gun holstered, so I had full use of them. I made it to the side of the vehicle when the shots started punching holes in it all around me. I whipped around, pulling my Glock, a quick draw from the holster that I'd practiced for years thousands of times before, firing two shots at the large shape in the dust that was approaching with the rifle… I was struck in the left shoulder by a rifle round. It spun me around into the side of the SUV, put me out of it a little. I’d never been shot before, and that was really all that my brain could process… ‘Hey, you just got shot.’... The adrenalin kinda took care of the rest. Next thing I knew, Diane was flinging open the back door, dragging me in by my armpits, yelling at the exertion of pulling something almost twice her weight.”
He flexed his shoulders, rolling his left in mild discomfort at the memory of the phantom pain that sometimes still crept back from that day.
“Turns out I hit the guy. Diane left him there to die with a hole in his neck from one of my shots while she raced me to the hospital 20 minutes away. It wasn’t as serious as she thought, but I had gone into shock so I don’t blame her. Seemed worse than it was. On to another several weeks/months of light duty… And suddenly things opened up with hers and my partnership. Like there was some sort of clarity and understanding between us. We became more productive, worked together easier, she opened up with more of her insights into what she was thinking about some of our cases and it turned out I was wrong about her just being book smart. She had a real knack for predicting human nature of most people, especially guessing where people would run in foot chases.”
“We had this thing, while we were caseing out a house where we suspected someone would be hiding, she would tell me where someone was likely to try to escape, and that’s where I would set up while she’d go up to the front door, making all sorts of noise, banging on the door, announcing ‘U.S. Marshals’... And nine times out of ten, our charge would run right into my waiting arms… or, more likely my waiting armbar. We became one of the top people for fugitive retrievals in our office, and in the top ten percent of productivity in the region. We weren't the BEST, but we were damn good.”
“We opened up as partners from this point on. She started inviting me out to these social events she attended, mostly charities and fundraisers, fancy stuff that… I wasn’t used to. She was good at convincing me to go to these… Either her plus one cancelled, or didn’t want to go, or… she had a friend that asked her to bring me…”
He looked sideways, saying that last line a little lowly, hoping it wouldn’t be noticed.
“With this new openness, though, came something that I already had enough of in my life. She, just like my sister, was always trying to set me up on dates with friends of hers, claiming she had the perfect match for me. I don’t know how she picked them, but that was likely never the case. Most of them were quirky, one became so obsessed with me that she became a stalker essentially. The reception desk actually learned to phone ahead to the office area with a code word when she was on the approach down the hall. I’d usually take that time to go to the evidence lockup, where civilians couldn’t go. She… eventually gave up. Eventually.”
“On that note though, Diane did get one right. A lot of these women that she’d been setting me up with were ones she’d deemed ‘interesting’, but one… Her name was Jackie. I mentioned her once already. She worked for a museum, she was good at finding things that went well with the exhibits, and that was her job. Out of every woman I’d spent any sort of relationship with, she stuck around the longest… Often time I told myself she was THE one. She came about in 2011, around… September. Four months into dating, her building she lived in got bought out and she was evicted since the property was getting demolished, so… She moved in with me. Suddenly, my apartment had decorations and style. A few things that were styled after wolves, metalworking art pieces in the shape of howling heads and the like, because she said that was what best represented me… In her eyes, at least. I could see it, but I never really tried comparing myself to some majestic animal.”
“Sometime in April, she talked to me about getting a dog. Said she got lonely sometimes when I was working late or out of town on work. So I surprised her, had a old buddy that worked with this company that trained military and civilian service animals. This one pup, a four year old German Shepherd, had been to Afghanistan a few times, and she got real skittish after going through an IED detonation. She was seen as unfit for service and put up for adoption, the handler couldn’t take her, so I got her through my pal. Her name was Kira. Took her a bit to become accustomed, but she just… made it her home after a few weeks. Best damn dog I’d ever seen, funny too. If you had ANYTHING in your hands around her, she’d gently try to take it from your grasp, walk it about ten feet away, set it down, then come back and look at you expectantly. Didn’t matter what it was, or how big it was. Grocery bags, milk jugs, gun cases, travel bags. And if you told her no, she just got all offended and would be real noisy and vocal about it, almost like she was arguing. Her and Jackie had this full blown argument it seemed one day with her trying to take her hair dryer, Jackie was telling her no, Kira was whining and barking at her, Jackie started blowing air on the pup with the blowdryer and that dog freaked. Out.”
He grins at the thought, pausing for a moment, then the smile is lost and he shrugs.
“She got a job offer she couldn’t refuse in the end of May… And that was that. I wouldn’t have dreamed of holding her back, I encouraged her to go, but I couldn’t follow. So we parted ways as a couple, and I was back to having an apartment to myself. Well, myself and Kira. We stayed in touch, but as the months went on we talked less and less.”
“Around October I made what I thought was a mistake. Diane and I went out for a few drinks, celebrating the close of one of our felony evasion cases that had dragged on for two weeks, and when I walked her outside… well, granted we’d both had a good amount… I flagged down a taxi for her, and we… well, we shared a kiss.”
He paused as the children giggled, one going ‘ewww’. It brought a smile to his face somewhat.
“She pulled away, and we acted like it never happened… I hadn’t told her I wished it had continued. But, it wasn’t something we could have, because if we did ever become something like that, we couldn’t work together… and we LIKED working together. One of us would have had to transfer, and we couldn’t ask the other to do that.”
“Fast forward some time, business as usual, October of 2014. We’d just pegged a case and were working with Interpol on retrieving a man that had fled the country to France, some low life white collar guy that embezzled a few hundred thousand from his client accounts and skipped. Air Marshals-Not us, there’s a difference, they work for Homeland Security-were SUPPOSED to pick them up, but they wouldn’t touch the case for some reason and the DA’s office tried to make us do their job for them and we just wouldn’t have it. I refused the assignment based on principle, I hate being pushed around by the lawyers anyway. Got some diciplinary action, and I had to listen to Diane talk about how cool it would have been to go to Paris for a day on and on for weeks."