Chicago Warriors: Time For Celebration

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Even though my dinner plans got scuttled, I felt like I was on top of the world. I needed to share my joy with someone. On the ride home I planned my day. First a workout and a run at St. Xav's, then over to Susan's to spend time with her and the boys, maybe even take the boys out to Dairy Queen for ice cream. I was much too giddy to eat by myself tonight, but who to call... Marilyn? Why not? We really had not had much opportunity to get to know very much about each other's lives. If we were going to be working together for awhile, it always helps to know what makes each other tick.

I dialed her number as I pulled into my driveway.
"Pete? What's up?"

"I just wanted to share some great news with you partner...Beth and I are back together!"

"Pete that's great! I thought that you were going to break the news to her over dinner tonight."

I got my gear from the trunk and went into the kitchen through the garage. "That was the plan but I called her and found out that she was at the airport about to board a flight to Milwaukee, so I beat feet over there and told her this morning. I'm glad that I did, I don't think that I could have held my feelings inside for a whole week while she was away."

"Well partner, all the prayers were answered," she said. "But I must admit, as much as I wanted you both to resolve your problems for the sake of your marriage, it was somewhat altruistic on my part."
"How so?

"You're a great cop Pete, but I need all of you working with me when we're on the street. There have been a couple of moments lately when your head wasn't completely in the game. That's dangerous for both of us," said Marilyn.

"Sorry Bens. Let me make it up to you by buying you dinner tonight. That way all my plans aren't ruined. Besides, we need to talk about this Rosato brutality beef."

"That sounds great...where and when?"
"How about Palermo's at 95th and Cicero around 6:30?"
"Okay, that's my favorite Italian joint for baked ziti, see you there partner."

"Bye Marilyn."
I hung up the phone and started a pot of coffee brewing, checked my email, then did a quick assessment of the house. Hmm...a little messy and dirty. Beth never let it get out of hand like this. I got busy straightening and cleaning, loaded up the dishwasher, took out the trash, and tidied up the bathrooms. An hour later I had it looking presentable again. Now the trick was to keep it that way while Beth was away; I didn't want to resume our relationship on the wrong foot.

Thirty minutes later I was walking through the front door of the gym at Xav's. I headed for the locker room and saw Father Mike getting ready to leave after his workout.
"Pete, what's up my friend?"

"I'm ready for a tough workout today Father, chest and tri's, then a timed three miler around the campus."
"You're an animal," said the priest. "Any progress on your plans to reconcile with Beth?"

"Tremendous progress! I met with her this morning at the airport and we made our amends. We're back together again. You were right about forgiving her. I had been wrong to allow things to go as far as they had. I feel like a kid waiting for Santa to arrive."

"Remember Pete, the Bible tells us to forgive and we will be forgiven. That means your loved ones and your enemies." Father Mike closed his locker and looked at me straight on... "When you forgive someone, it releases you from anger and allows you to receive the healing that you need. God does not want anything to stand between you and Him; His love is beyond our comprehension. Forgiving others spares us from the consequences of living out of an unforgiving heart. Don't you feel much better since you and Beth have forgiven each other?"

"Father, I feel fantastic!"
"Good, God's truth is at work. I'm off my friend; I have to prepare for Catechism classes tonight. Have a great workout, God bless you."
"Thanks Father."

A couple of hours later after the workout, I was over at Susan's playing soccer in the back yard. Joe's boys seemed a little lost without their Dad around. I sensed that they were clinging to me a bit more than usual.

Later, Susan called us all inside for a great snack of watermelon and popsicles. The boys ate theirs quickly and ran back outside. I stayed inside to talk with Susan.

I told her about my meeting with Beth this morning and how much better I was feeling about things now. "I know this sounds crazy, but after all these years together I didn't think those butterflies in my stomach would ever return, but I felt them this morning. When I saw her at the airport, it was as if we had been apart for years."
Susan's eyes started to tear up... "I'm sorry Susan, how stupid of me to talk like this after what you've been through."

She wiped her eyes, "No Pete, these are tears of joy for you both. Beth has been here comforting me while she herself has been in turmoil. Her unselfishness and love for my family is one of the reasons that I've been able to carry on...I drew a lot of strength from that wife of yours. I've been praying for you both, that you would put your hurt feelings aside and just open your hearts to each other again. You are married to a remarkable woman Pete."

"I know that, and frankly I became a little too comfortable in my marriage and focused too much on what I wanted and what I needed. I'm afraid that I didn't place Beth above my own needs. I'm not going to allow that to happen again."

"Good. Making up is one of the best parts of a marriage. Joe and I didn't have many disagreements, but when it came to the making up part, we thoroughly enjoyed it."

I reached across the table and grabbed her hand... "Joe thought that you and the boys were the best thing that ever happened to him Susan. We'd talk for hours in that squad car we shared, and never once did an unkind word ever come out of his mouth about his family. He adored you. If I ever have children, my goal is to be just half as good at being a father to them as Joe was to your kids."

She wiped her tears again. "Thank you Pete. I know that I was blessed to have a husband like him, and I'm thankful for the time that we had. It will be hard, but we will move on and be happy because Joe would want us to."
I played a while longer with the kids before I had to leave to freshen up for my dinner with Marilyn. On my drive home I thought about Susan and remembered the verse from Jeremiah...

"For I know the plans I have for you," declared the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

I was confident that our Savior was going to take care of her, and that Joe would be standing right by His side.

Palermo's was crowded as usual; it has always been one of the most popular Italian restaurants on the South side of Chicago, and I knew well enough to make a reservation. We placed our orders, and within a few minutes our salads arrived.

"Bens, would you mind if I blessed the meal?"
"Not at all Pete."

We bowed our heads and prayed..."Father, we thank you for this day and all of the blessings that you bring us each day. Thank you for our families and our health, thank you for your wisdom and guidance when we lose our way, and thank you for bringing the two of us together as partners. We pray that you will watch over us as we fight to keep Satan and his kind in check. Now we ask that you bless this meal so that it will make us stronger warriors. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen."

Marilyn dug into her salad. "Pete that was beautiful. I'm learning so many things from you, not only on the street, but how to conduct my private life as well."
I snagged a piece of French bread, and offered the bowl to her.

"Oh no thanks, I'll be eating enough carbs already once the ziti comes, I don't want to make it worse by adding bread to it."

"Wow, you're much more disciplined than I am. And by the way, I'm learning from you as well Marilyn; thank you for the compliment though."

"You're welcome. I guess what I mean to say is that I admire the way that you don't hide the fact that you're a Christian. Blessing the meal...most guys would be too embarrassed to do that, especially with another cop. But to you it comes naturally; it's all part of your character. I'm trying to get where you're at Pete. I've had some rough times in the past, some due to my own reckless lifestyle. I don't want to go back to those times, I want to move forward. I can do that so much easier by following your lead."

I took a drink of water. "I'm humbled that you think so much of me. But know that I struggle too Marilyn, and I've made some bad choices as well. But I recognize that if I walk with Him each day, He'll get me back on the path that leads to eternal salvation. The other ‘ace in the hole' that I play, is my other partner-St. Michael."
"The Archangel," she said.

"Yes, I pray my prayer to him each night that he will be my back up when Satan tries his best to be victorious over me."

We finished our salads just as the main course arrived.
Digging into her pasta dish, Marilyn said, "Pete, I hadn't thought much about him, but he is after all the patron saint for us cops. I think I'll start saying a prayer to him before each shift as well. It couldn't hurt could it?"

We finished our meal amidst some small talk and then walked out to the lot where our vehicles were parked. "Pete, this Rosato beef has got me worried. Not from the standpoint of me being involved, but other than the video from my dash cam, I'm the best witness to The Hammer roughing that guy up."

"I know, but don't let it worry you," I said. "The mere fact that you are working with me, automatically makes you a target in Rosato's book. We'll just have to watch our backs even more until the complaint gets resolved. But something tells me that Sgt. Castro is going to watch this one closely. He's not a member of the ‘Hammer Fan Club,' if you know what I mean. We should get a quick investigation and disposition."

We walked to her car and she opened the door. "Well I wish either we were on another shift, or that he was, but with both of us in school that's not even an option. Working together is going to get more uncomfortable than it already is."

"I know, but given his record down at Internal Affairs, I don't think that they'll cut him any slack on this one. He could be on the way out."
"I hope so," she said.

"Listen, I'll see you Thursday night Marilyn. Get some rest and don't worry about Rosato. We'll watch our backs and let St. Michael handle the rest."
"Okay partner, goodnight."
"Goodnight Bens."

     Next: Hammer's Gun
Previous: The Airport

John Wills spent 2 years in the U.S. Army before serving 12 years with the Chicago Police Department (CPD). He left the CPD to become an FBI Special Agent, working organized crime, violent crime, and drugs.  John Wills is an author of Chicago Warriors: Midnight Battles in the Windy City published by

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