That Seat is Taken


Everyone here but me belongs to NBC, Tom Fontana, Dick Wolf, and those folks. I'm not looking to buy, heck, I'm not even serious about renting.I'm just squatting. Don't sue, I'm poorer than I look.

"Where are you going at this hour?"

"I have to check something."

"It's six thirty in the morning, Frank. It's Sunday. What are you doing up so early anyway?"

"I haven't fallen asleep yet. I'll be back soon. Don't worry."

"I'm going to worry any time you are sneaking out of the house at dawn."

"I love you, Mary."

"I love you, too. Bring back some cream."

____

Dear Frank,

I sat around and waited. I really did. I waited until three in the morning, when I think I fell asleep, and I woke up at 4:42 and it's two minutes later now. I waited just in case you had trouble getting out of the house. Just in case you hit traffic. Just in case you couldn't remember whether it was Building 3, Apartment 4 or Building 4, Apartment 3. Just in case you fell asleep reading to Livvy or Frankie, but really didn't mean to make me wait.

But you didn't. So I'm here. Alone. I'm sorry, Frank. I know you don't want to hear it, but I've got to say whatever I'm going to say now. Just think -- I'm finally going to get the last word in.

I don't know where I went wrong, Frank. I don't even know if I was ever right. Maybe I was always this corrupted soul and you were just so strong that I couldn't help but be kept together while in your presence. Or maybe it happened when I got shot. I wanted Buddhism to take your place as the moral center in my world, but it couldn't. And when I realized it, the hole in the middle just went and swallowed me up.

I wanted to run to you right after I shot Luke Ryland. But I'm not sure what I wanted to hear from you. Forgiveness, absolution, apology... I don't know. I needed someone to wrap their arms around me and warm me up, because at that moment, I had never felt so cold in my life. You had been my sun for so long, Frank, I wanted to count on you.

I drove to your house right after, but the lights were out. You go to bed early now. You used to pace in the living room, winding down from a job that was killing you. But that wasn't your life anymore, so you can sleep. I didn't even turn off the car.

Nine months is long enough to have a baby, but it's not long enough to get rid of whatever it is that's been growing inside of me. It's like a cancer, killing me from within. We all thought Kellerman was so weak for drowning his guilt in Jim Beam and beer. But I understand now how strong he is -- he's going to wake up tomorrow and go to work. I'm never going to wake up again.

I thought I'd be able to handle it. I killed a crazed homeless man because he had his gun on me and I dealt with that. Ryland deserved it even more, so it should have been easier. But it wasn't.

I don't know what I thought you'd say when I told you. I didn't think you'd react the way you did. You always knew me so well, so much better than I knew myself. You knew when to chide at me like my mother and when to stick up for me like the guardian angel I knew you were. But right then, when I told you I killed Luke Ryland, we both knew at that moment that you didn't know me at all. I've changed so much since you left, Frank, and you didn't see it.

You never really got to know the new me. The one capable of standing on his own two feet. The one capable of leading others, even. The one capable of murder.

But I'm not capable of murder. Murderers can live with their guilt. So maybe you were right after all, Frank. I don't have the killer's instinct.

When I was in college, they made me read _Crime and Punishment_. That's what made me want to be a homicide cop. I always wanted to be Porfiry, the wily inspector who uses his wits to catch the killer. But I ended up being Raskolnikov, didn't I?

I'm sorry I didn't turn out like you wanted me to, Frank. I'm sorry your legacy will be tarnished by my name. But most of all, I'm sorry I never got a chance to tell you just how much I love you. Not sexual love, but true love. I know the difference now. I couldn't tell you before, but now I have, and you can't tell me I don't know what I'm talking about. I know.

I don't blame you for not being able to absolve me of my sins. That's an awful lot to ask of someone. I don't blame you for not getting here faster, before I ate my gun. I needed this to end, one way or the other. And, honestly, you picked the more merciful option for me. So, thank you. Thank you for looking out for me one last time, even if you didn't really know you were doing it at the time.

My will is in the desk drawer. You're the executor. Tell Meldrick that I used my backup revolver to kill Ryland and that's sitting in my locker at headquarters. A written confession is in my safe deposit box. Tell Mary that I love her, too, and that I'll keep an eye on Livvy and Frankie from heaven, or wherever I end up. Tell my mom I love her and I'm sorry.

Goodbye, Frank. I'll miss you.

_______

"Homicide, Lewis."

"Do you remember where Bayliss lives?"

"Frank? That you? You sound sick."

"Do you remember where Bayliss lives?"

"Yeah, yeah. Why? Timmy hurt?"

"I thought he'd be okay."

"Frank, what are you talking about? What happened to Bayliss?"

"I thought he'd just do what I told him. He used to do what I told him. Always."

____

"So it's you. I thought it would be you. Didn't I, Steve?"

"Yeah, yeah. You had the kid. Deal."

"That's all you're gonna say about it?"

"Come on Felton, deal and don't forget to ante up this time."

"Gee? What are you... when?"

"Yesterday? Time's a little vague here. Coffee?"

"Is it any better than..."

"Nope."

"Then yeah. That.... that was Adena."

"Yeah. She seems to come around to greet all of us. Happy kid."

"What are you playing?"

"For you? Hearts."

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