Disclaimer: The Equalizer and all its characters are property of Universal and are used here without permission. No copyright infringement is intended.
Dreams Can Become Reality
Robert McCall woke sluggishly that morning, hanging on to the shreds of one of the most erotic dreams he'd had in years. There had been similar dreams over these last two weeks, but this one was the most definitive…and the most exciting. She was like a ghost, he thought, gliding over my body. Her touch was the velvet softness of excitingly warm and silky skin. Her kisses on his face, neck, and chest made his blood race and his heart pound. Her caresses on the most intimate parts of his body took his breath away. He had tried to hold on to a picture of her, but only her eyes were clear in his memory. Beautiful, almond shaped eyes, upturned at the corners, with dark brown irises and long lashes. He couldn't see the rest of her, only an impression of dark unruly hair and gently slender limbs. What does this mean; Robert thought as threw off the blankets and sat on the edge of the bed, rubbing his eyes. Is this a premonition, or merely my imagination? Had he seen her somewhere before by coincidence? Robert shook his head and standing, surveyed the bedroom for a moment before he headed toward the bathroom. My empty, lonely bedroom, he thought, my empty, lonely life. Well, standing here will get nothing done.
Twenty minutes or so later, the phone rang. Just dressed, Robert picked up the phone from the bedroom.
"Robert, this is Janet Bishop, NYPD."
"Yes, Janet, nice to hear from you. How can I help you?"
"The lead you gave me on the drug dealer who's been working that middle school on 59th street was perfect. I have surveillance set up there. Would you consider meeting one of my detectives there to see if you recognize any of the players?"
"Of course, Janet, anything I can do."
"The detective's name is Angeline Quinn. They have a tan Step-van parked on the street on the north side of the school. It's got the name of a plumber on it. Just knock on the back door and tell them I sent you and they'll let you in."
"Fine, Janet, I'll be there within the hour." Robert hung up the phone and quickly assembled some breakfast before getting ready to leave. He finished eating quickly and for just a moment, closed his eyes to relax and mentally prepare himself for the morning ahead of him. As he closed his eyes, a fleeting glimpse of those beautiful eyes from his dream crept into his awareness. He wondered again if this was a premonition. Well, no time to ponder the situation now, it was at least a half hour's drive to the middle school and he had to get moving.
Forty minutes later, McCall parked his car a block away from the middle school and walked to the van he saw parked under a large bare elm tree whose leaves were falling to the ground like rain. The morning was warm for the middle of October, a bit breezy, and bright. He approached the back doors and knocked quietly on one of them. In seconds, the door opened and a man's head cautiously peered from inside.
"My name is Robert McCall," he announced. "Detective Bishop sent me. She said to ask for Angeline Quinn."
"Oh, sure, come on in," the man said, opening the door wider and gesturing with his other hand. Robert climbed into the van and paused by the door, looking over the inside of the vehicle. There was a bank of video screens to the left and at least two radio sets and tape recorders on the bench to the right. In the center isle was the chair vacated by the man who had answered McCall's knock, a detective in plain clothes seated in another chair, and a woman who leaned against the counter, watching the screens from behind him. As McCall entered the van, the first man spoke.
"Quinn, you have company."
McCall watched the woman turn to look at him and suddenly caught his breath as the familiar eyes of his dream focused on him. She stood and extended her hand.
"Hi, I'm Angeline Quinn. You are…"
"Robert McCall," he said and took her hand. "Detective Bishop asked me to participate in your surveillance to see if I recognized any of the players selling drugs to the students." McCall assessed the woman as he spoke. She was tall, likely as tall as he was, and he guessed her age at about forty. There was a slight Irish lilt to her voice. She was very slender, but her handshake had been quite firm. Her wavy dark hair curled away from her face and hung to just above her shoulders. Her complexion was very pale and as he returned her handshake, he could see the blue veins clearly under the skin of her hand. She was dressed in jeans, a bulletproof vest over an NYPD t-shirt, and laced-up boots. Her weapon was stuck casually into the back of her waistband. But those eyes, set above finely chiseled cheekbones, a small delicate nose, and a small thin-lipped mouth, burned into his soul. I was right, he thought, it was a premonition. But, what kind? What will she come to mean to me?
"We're still trying to get all of our eyes working," she said, looking away from him and pointedly at the technician who had taken his seat again and was fervently typing at a computer keyboard. McCall had noticed a few of the screens were darkly blank. "Come on, why don't we leave the 'expert' to his machines and take an unobtrusive stroll around the school. The lunch break will start in about an hour and I haven't really looked much around the building." She grabbed a plain dark blue jacket and pulled it on as she picked up a handheld radio. "Call me if something comes up or when you get everything working. Murph, you're the gopher. If he needs anything moved outside the van, you're the one to do it. Thank goodness the cameras on the school's roof are working."
McCall turned and opened the van's doors and descended down the steps to the street. Quinn jumped to the street from the van's floor and took a couple of quick strides toward the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street from the school. She motioned for McCall to join her.
"I though we'd circle the block on this side once, and then again on the school side. Okay?" Then as she saw his nod of compliance, "Come on, we'll look less conspicuous if we appear to be a couple." She threaded her left hand under his arm as they started walking side by side. Robert felt his heart pound at her touch and wondered if he would be able to speak with a steady voice. Control yourself, he commanded silently.
"So, we're looking for a black Toyota Camry with gold trim, lowered and set up with tinted windows; New York vanity tags? What do they say?"
"BRKR…broker, I think," Quinn said. McCall took a quick look at her face. She was studying the cars on the opposite side of the street with an intense look on her face. God, she's beautiful, he thought. And those eyes! She's so very slender. She was every bit as tall as he was and Robert estimated she was not much more than a hundred and thirty pounds. He pulled his gaze away from her with a deep breath and concentrated on cataloging the cars along the street. There was no one in sight around the school building.
"How long have you been a detective?" McCall asked conversationally.
"About ten years, I guess," Quinn answered. "But I transferred to this borough only a few months ago. I spent most of my career in Buffalo." She turned to him with a tight smile. "I decided to come south for better weather. There was too much snow up that way for my aging joints and that half century mark is on the horizon." McCall chuckled appreciatively at her humor.
They circled the block the first time, not finding anything noteworthy, and carrying on casual small talk. McCall explained about his Equalizer activities and how he got involved in today's surveillance. As they crossed the street and began their second circle around the building, Quinn's radio crackled with sound. She pulled it from her pocket and listened intently for a moment before returning it to its place.
"Our computer genius finally has all the cameras and the monitors working. It's about twenty minutes before they start letting the kids out for lunch, so why don't we finish our walk before returning to the van?" McCall nodded his agreement as he heard the deep stereo bass of a car behind them. They both glanced to their right as the car they were looking for slowly cruised the street, looking for a parking place. After pulling a u-turn, it parked in an open space not far from the far edge of the school's grounds. Two black men, dressed in baggy jeans and loud colored shirts emerged from the car and leaned against the doors. The music continued from inside.
"It looks like our players have arrived. I think I recognize the one by the rear passenger door," McCall whispered and put his hand over Quinn's hand on his arm. "Why don't we get back to the van?" They crossed the street and casually made their way back to the surveillance van. Once inside, Quinn studied the screens. McCall moved alongside her and pointed to a figure.
"That's definitely the man that I saw selling to one of my clients," he said, pointing to a figure on the screen.
"Right, then. At least we know it's all the same bunch." She turned toward the technician. "Make sure you record every sale," she said quietly, glancing from screen to screen. "We don't want to have to do this all over again."
"You don't have to tell me how to do my job," the technician complained. McCall watched Quinn move her gaze from the monitors and fix it on the technician. Her eyes narrowed and her jaw tensed. All three men vehicle could feel the fury that emanated from her. McCall chuckled quietly to himself as the technician, visibly cowed, returned to his computer monitor and keyboard. He glanced at Murphy, the other detective, who was openly enjoying the technician's discomfort. McCall struggled to keep a straight face when Quinn glanced up and motioned them toward the doors.
"Come one, let's get outside," she said quietly, giving the technician one more acid glare.
McCall led the way out of the van and stood silently on the street, waiting for the other two to join him. Murphy emerged next and stood beside him, facing the school.
"That Quinn will chew old George up into little pieces and spit him out all over the ground if he's not careful." He laughed caustically and moved back toward the van. Quinn had jumped cleared of the doors again and stood still for a moment, surveying the school's grounds.
"So we have a transaction on tape. Then what?" he asked as Murphy closed the van's doors.
"We have a DEA team ready to respond to our call," Murphy answered. "Detective Bishop has some friends that were able to pull some strings and has a team ready to swoop down on these dogs right after they leave the school area. The taping will be evidence in their individual or group trials."
"Let's just take it step by step," Quinn remarked as she turned to face them. "Murph, you go on down to that corner and I'll head this way. Mr. McCall, you can position yourself wherever you are comfortable. What we want is to be sure no violence erupts until all the sales are complete and we've called in the DEA team. They're just around the block inside a garage and will be here within thirty seconds to a minute. I'll let them know when it looks like they're starting to wrap up business." She started across the street toward the east end of the building and McCall watched Murphy jog toward the other end. He decided to stay close to the middle, choosing a tree to lean against almost directly across the street from the school’s main entrance.
Predictably, a bell rang from inside the building and a hoard of children spilled from the entrance and out onto the grass surrounding the building. Most of them ignored the cars and incidental people on the street and ran directly to join groups of friends playing tag and grab-ass. A few, however, noticed the black Toyota immediately and drifted toward it, looking over their shoulders. Within minutes, approximately ten teenagers were clustered around the two men leaning against the car. The two dealers were talking animatedly, gesturing and laughing, grabbing the occasional teen and either pushing them away or putting their arms around their shoulders like an older brother. Money and small plastic packets passed back and forth. McCall looked at the edge of the school's roof, where Murphy had supposedly positioned one of the remote cameras. He fervently hoped it would record enough details of the inevitable sales to rid the streets of this particular brand of scum.
Suddenly, there was silence among the teenagers grouped around the dealers and they turned to watch the school's principal striding quickly toward the group, gesturing and shouting for them to get back on school grounds. McCall saw Quinn move back into the street and crouching, run along the sides of the parked cars, using them to hide her progress toward the group. As she neared the group, one of the dealers decided he'd had enough of the principle's haranguing and opened the front passenger door of the vehicle. He pulled an Uzi machine pistol from the seat and pointed it at the principal. The teens scattered as the principal stood frozen, his eyes wide and his mouth open in shock. Quinn emerged from between the cars parked in front of the dealer's car and quickly walked up to the pair. She ignored the dealer with the Uzi and put her hands on the principal's shoulders, speaking quietly and directly to him. The man tore his gaze from the dealer and stared in shocked surprise at her. Quinn positioned her body between the two men and physically pushed the principal back toward the school building. McCall saw the man with the machine pistol turn to the occupant in the car and smirk. But the one inside must have said something because both of the dealers standing outside suddenly jumped inside the car and it pulled quickly away from the curb and sped down the street. McCall crossed the street toward Quinn's position. She had turned to watch the car speed away and was talking to the DEA team on her radio as McCall reached her side. Murphy ran to a car parked on the street and started the engine. Quinn grabbed McCall's coat sleeve.
"Are you coming, or not? It's up to you." McCall nodded his compliance and opened the rear passenger door as Quinn jumped into the front seat. The car's tires squealed as the doors shut and they were in fast pursuit of the drug dealers. Before long, they could see the black Toyota two blocks ahead, speeding toward a series of shopping centers and stores. As they crossed intersections, McCall noticed police cars on both sides, one block over, all headed the same way. Quinn was giving instructions and updates on the radio as they followed. Ahead, the black Toyota screamed into a right turn and attempted to turn left into a crowded grocery store parking lot, but a police cruiser pulled into the driveway ahead of the car. The driver's side of the black Toyota slammed into the side of the cruiser. The black car's driver attempted to pull away, but another police cruiser pulled in front of the car and the officers jumped out, keeping the car between them and the occupants of the black car. Murphy brought their car to a screeching stop not far from the black Toyota's rear end. They all bailed out the driver's side as a DEA agent approached the dealers’ car. The DEA agent opened the front passenger door and found the passenger evidently unconscious, blood streaming down his face. The driver held his hands high above his head. The passengers in the rear also appeared unconscious, but when he opened the rear passenger door, the agent was cut down in a hail of gunfire and the two men leaped from the car, spraying the area with bullets as they moved. The officers crouched down as the men ran between the black car and the car Murphy, Quinn, and McCall had just vacated. McCall watched with awe as Quinn leaped from behind the car, tackling the leader of the two before he could fire any more rounds. His weapon flew from his hand as they hit the ground. Murphy followed only a second later, bringing down the second one. The second man pulled the trigger of his automatic weapon as he fell, spraying the ground toward Quinn's position in front of them. Quinn savagely delivered an elbow into the back of the leader's head, stunning him long enough to grab his arms, pinion them behind his back, and apply the handcuffs. This was all done before any of the accompanying officers got close enough to help. Murphy was not too far behind in subduing his prisoner. Then Quinn rolled off her prisoner, clutching the calf of her right leg and grimacing. McCall ran to see what was wrong.
"I caught a bullet when Murphy brought that guy down," Quinn grated between clenched teeth. "There's a first aid kit in the trunk of the car. Will you get it and help me get this bleeding stopped?" McCall ran to the car and retrieved the box holding the first aid supplies. He knelt by her side and pulled up the leg of her jeans to look at the wound. The bullet had entered and exited through the largest part of her calf muscle and was bleeding profusely. He placed her heel on his knee to suspend the leg in the air as he placed several gauze pads on the entry and exit wounds. He then wound a roll of gauze tightly around her leg to hold the pads in place and slow the bleeding. It had looked like the bullet missed the artery, because the blood was seeping, not spurting. It didn't look like it had hit the bone, either.
McCall placed her foot carefully back on the ground and surveyed his handiwork. The blood hadn't seeped through the gauze yet, so it must be slowing. He checked Quinn's face and eyes to see if she was going into shock. No, it looked like she was doing okay. He heard the wailing of sirens blocks away, headed their way. Murphy came up to kneel beside him and speak to Quinn.
"Angeline, I'm so sorry! If I could have done anything to stop him from firing, I would have!" Murphy's voice was choked with misery.
"It's not your fault, Murph. Some of these things are unavoidable." She reached to give Murphy a quick squeeze on his arm and then turned to face McCall. "Thank you, Mr. McCall, for your help. It looks like you've done this type of thing before."
"A couple of times," McCall conceded with a smile. He was impressed; Quinn was a real trooper.
An EMT came up and checked McCall's bandaging of Quinn's wound and asked if she was ready to go to the hospital. Quinn nodded and McCall helped the EMT raise her to her feet and support her as she hobbled to the ambulance. She addressed McCall as she was being loaded into the vehicle.
"I hope to come across you again sometime soon, Mr. McCall. Thank you for all your help. I'm sure Murphy can give you a ride back to where your car is." Quinn gave him a smile that McCall felt he would remember forever. The ambulance driver shut the doors and the vehicle quickly left.
The radiance of Quinn's smile hadn't been lost on Murphy. He stood next to McCall.
"She's quite a lady, our Angeline, isn't she?" Murphy turned to study McCall's face, waiting for his answer. McCall stared after the ambulance as he spoke.
"Yes, she is." Then, as he turned to look at Murphy, "Our Angeline, you said. Is there anything between the two of you? Do you have something other than a working relationship?"
"No, Mr. McCall." Murphy grimaced and shook his head. "Angeline would never consider it. She's by the book, this one, one hundred percent. No fraternizing with fellow employees. It's a shame, though. She's someone I could get very close to." He shook his head again. "Well… let's get you back to your car."
Several hours later, McCall finally reached Detective Janet Bishop on the phone. After accepting her thanks for his participation in the surveillance and the ensuing arrest, McCall asked about Quinn. It seemed she was doing well, having received a few stitches and a generous dose of morphine. Murphy had taken her home and also had the prescriptions filled.
"I would like to stop in and check on her myself, if you think she wouldn't mind," McCall said to Detective Bishop.
"I think she'd be okay with that. She lives with her aunt not far from the station. She hasn't been here long enough to find her own apartment. Actually she might be happy to have someone else there. Her aunt is a little overbearing and has already hit the panic button several times, I imagine. I'll get her address, just a minute."
McCall found himself smiling as he walked up the steps to the small house at about six o'clock in the evening. Anticipation of seeing Angeline again was making him feel almost giddy. He had stopped to pick up a small bouquet of flowers and a card. He hoped she would welcome his visit. McCall knocked on the front door, which was immediately answered by an elderly woman.
"Yes," she said suspiciously, looking him over from top to bottom. McCall put on his most sincere professional smile and turned on the charm.
"Good evening, ma'am, my name is Robert McCall. I was hoping I could call on your niece, Angeline. Is she doing okay?"
"Oh, my, I don't know. The poor dear just doesn't know how to look out for herself, always getting hurt. I guess we can ask her, I think, if she is up to company. Why don't you come in."? The woman opened the door wider and motioned him inside. McCall looked around the heavily decorated living room as he waited for the woman to close the door and lead the way to Angeline's bedroom, which opened into the living room. She knocked on the door and quickly slipped inside, leaving him standing alone. He decided to take a seat when he heard a commotion begin from behind the door. If what Janet Bishop had said were true, it probably would take several minutes before he would be admitted to Angeline's room.
When Angeline's aunt finally opened the door and motioned McCall inside, he found her sitting in a recliner with her leg propped up on pillows. Her face was pale with red spots on her cheeks and her eyes were narrowed in frustration.
"I'll be fine, Aunt Ellen," she was saying as he entered. "Go ahead and go do your shopping. Don't worry. I've been worse than this before and survived!"
"Well, if you think you'll be alright, dear. I'll be as quick as I can. First, let me get a vase for the flowers Mr. McCall brought you. Don't they look gorgeous?" McCall watched with amusement as the lady bustled out of the room and into the kitchen. He looked back at Angeline. She rolled her eyes and shook her head.
"I might survive this if I can get away from my aunt. Take me away from this, please!" she said laughingly. McCall laughed with her as he placed the card and flowers in her lap and took a seat on the chair she waved him to.
"I had an aunt like that too, when I was a boy," he said as she opened the card. "Lovely, caring and giving lady, if you could stand to be with her for more than five minutes at a time. She died in the war, though, so I didn't get a chance to know her very well. I understand your frustration. But, how are you doing? How bad is the wound?"
"It's okay. They said it didn't hit the artery and was pretty clean. I should be able to use just a cane fairly soon. It's this first week that will be pretty uncomfortable." McCall's heart swelled as she gave him that radiant smile again. "Thank you for the flowers and the card. They're very nice. So…Mr. McCall, how did you happen to be in my part of the city?"
"It's Robert, please. I called Janet Bishop to ask how you were and she told me where to find you. She was the one who suggested you might need company. Was she right?"
"Janet is usually right about a lot of things, as you probably would already know if you have had any experience with her. She's become a good friend, or as much as she can be for also being my boss." Angeline rolled her eyes again as her aunt bustled back into the room again with a water-filled vase. She took the flowers from Angeline's lap and carefully inserted them into the vase, cooing and murmuring to herself as she arranged the blossoms. McCall held down chuckles watching the older woman fuss over the flowers and Angeline's exasperation at the time she was taking.
"Well, dear, I'd best be on my way. I promise I won't take any more time than is absolutely necessary!" Aunt Ellen waved goodbye and was soon out the door. They both listened with satisfaction to the door's solid thump.
"Oh, finally! Hey, I wasn't kidding when I said take me away from this. Would you like to find a diner or a coffee house where you can deliver me from this hell hole?" Angeline said, sitting up and grabbing her crutches.
"Look, I've been shot several times and I know there's no way you're going to be able to get up and get out of this house for at least a couple of days. Please be reasonable!" Robert frowned in concern and put his hand on her arm. Angeline leaned back in her chair, shoved the crutches back into the corner, and took a deep breath.
"You're right, I'm carrying on too much. I hate being held down like this." She thumped the arms of the recliner with both hands. Robert smiled and turned his chair to face her directly.
"What a fireball you are!" he said, laughing softly. "But it's okay, you can stop the 'tough as nails' act. I'm already impressed." Angeline's eyes dropped to her lap for a moment, then she lifted them to meet his gaze.
"You're pretty wise, then, if you can see that. How did you get so smart?" Robert reached out and placed her hand in his palm. He placed his other hand on top.
"A lot of experience, dear, a lot of experience."
For the next two hours, Robert found himself opening up to Angeline, telling her things about himself he would never have told anyone else whom he'd known for such a short time. He knew instinctively he could trust her. Of course, he didn't say much about the Company, only referring to it as 'government service.' Angeline listened intently with shining eyes as he told her about his adventures in Egypt, and then with sympathy as he told her about the death of his father, and finally confronting his father's killer. Angeline told him about what was left of her family in Buffalo, how her parents died when she was young, her life as an orphan, and how she had eventually become a police officer. Then Robert noticed the time.
"Isn't about time for your aunt to be back?" he asked with concern and turned to look at the front door.
"Oh, I wouldn't worry about Aunt Ellen. It's very unusual for her to get out of a store in under an hour. I know she had at least two stops to make. She should be back in the next half hour, or so. If you're supposed to be somewhere or it's getting late for you, please don't let me hold you. I'll be fine until she gets back."
"No…no, I have no problem with the time," Robert said as he turned back to face Angeline. "I was just thinking it is just a bit late for an elderly woman to be out by herself after dark."
"Ah, you don't know Aunt Ellen. She has handicapped parking pass and parks as closely as possible to the store entrances. And, the stores she's going to are only a few blocks away. This neighborhood is really quite safe. The local rowdies know a cop lives in the area. Not that I could do much now, but we won't let the word out. I'll have to keep it a secret until I'm up and around." She winked conspiratorially. Then as if on cue, Aunt Ellen opened the front door.
"Oh, how nice to see you're still here, Mr. McCall! I'm grateful you stayed to keep Angeline company. Can I get you any coffee, or something?" the old lady exclaimed as she came in with several plastic shopping bags in her hands.
"Thank you, but no, I do have to get going soon," Robert said, rising as he spoke to glance at Aunt Ellen. He laughed silently at Angeline's whisper of 'Traitor!' He turned back to face Angeline, "But I'd love to have the pleasure of visiting again, if it's not too much trouble?"
"That would be lovely," Aunt Ellen responded, her voice fluttering as if it were she Robert would be coming to see. Robert stifled a laugh and turned back to Angeline. He leaned down and placed a light kiss on her cheek.
"Take care, fireball. I'll see you again soon.
"Thank you for coming, Robert. I look forward to your next visit." Robert took her and hand squeezed it gently.
"Good night," he said as he left and walked with a light step to his car. He knew it would be hard getting to sleep tonight.