“I call dibs on MarshiMonsters!”, cried Connor as he burst through the door ahead of Monica. The seven year old boy raced down the condo’s hallway into to the family room.
“No fair! Moooommmmm!”, wailed Ashley, standing at the door. The nine year old knew better than to run into their home without taking off her boots and hanging up her raincoat, but she would still whine about anything Connor did.
Monica sighed to herself, juggling three parcels and trying to remember why she didn’t wring their necks every other day. “Don’t whine at me, Ash”, she replied. “You and Connor have to work out for yourselves who gets to play first. Thank you for hanging up your coat. CONNOR! GET BACK HERE RIGHT NOW AND HANG UP THIS COAT!”
The older girl stuck her tongue out at her brother and ran into the family room as Connor slunk into the hallway to put his coat back. He kept looking over his shoulder to where Ashley was starting up the PlayBox-980VR already. He quickly threw his coat at a hook and kicked off his boots and was halfway down the hallway before Monica’s voice stopped him again.
“Hold it right there mister! Go get a cloth and wipe up the water you tracked down the hall. Now, or no trideo games for the rest of the day.”
“But Mom, the cleaning drone with get it soon.”
“I said ”, the stern look she gave the boy finally got him moving, and the floor cleaned up.
Dwayne poked his head out of their bedroom, looking sleepy. “Hi Mon. Hi Connor.”
“Hi Dad”, Connor moped back. He knew better than to complain to his father about having to clean the floor. Besides, Ashley was already halfway into the first level and he’d never catch up at this rate.
Monica fixed her husband with a suspicious look. “What are you doing home so early?”, she asked.
Dwayne shrugged, “Transferred me today, going to work in Vice. Did the paperwork and Carlisle sent me home to do some studying. Must have dozed off.”
She almost dropped the packages in her surprise. “Transferred!?! Where the hell did that come from? Wait…is that little psycho moving to Vice too?”
Dwayne sighed and avoided the obvious retort that sprang to mind. “Dunno. Carlisle says they need more people on this tempo problem. Something about losing some undercover guys recently. It’s part of the stuff I’m supposed to be studying.” He turned to go back into the bedroom.
Monica put the packages down and followed him, unwilling to let the issue go. “You didn’t answer my question. Is Mazula being transferred to Vice too?”
Dwayne could hear the venom rising in her voice, and fought down the instinct to match it. “No. Maz resigned.”
That took her by surprise. She stared at her husband for a long moment. “What do you mean, ‘resigned’. I thought that nutjob loved strutting around and playing ‘look at me, I’ve got a big gun to make up for my small…’”
“Dammit, Mon!”, interrupted Dwayne. “He just left. He didn’t give me a big sob story about why. Besides, you should be happy. You never wanted him to be my partner or my friend.” Despite himself, Dwayne could feel the old frustration rising.
“Yeah, great. So instead of a gun-happy, oversexed, narcissistic wacko in a uniform, we’ve got a gun-happy, oversexed, narcissistic wacko with no rules at all. .”
“What the fuck do you want, then?!? He’s not my partner anymore, and I don’t have a damn thing to say about what he does beyond that. In case you haven’t noticed, Mazula wasn’t the only guy in Lone Star with…issues.”
“Maybe one of his jackass friends will blow out what he has in place of brains. At least he’d be useful as fertilizer.”
Dwayne could feel his temper slipping when a high pitched wail from the family room interrupted them. That noise could only mean that Connor had resorted to physical interventions to beat his big sister at their game. Monica glared at him and turned to deal with the pending pre-teen explosion.
He stood in the bedroom for a few seconds, fists clenched and head pounding. The arguing in the family room grew in volume until he just couldn’t take it any longer. He smashed his fist into the door frame and stalked out to the front hallway, jamming his feet into his boots and grabbing his slicker.
As the door slammed shut behind him, Monica, Ashley and Connor stared after him, two with expressions of confusion and fear, and the other with a mixture of anger and regret.