April Waverly pushed open the heavy glass entrance doors and walked into the
cavernous lobby of Parker Center. She had been inside the Los Angeles Police
Department's headquarters building only once before, but her determination wiped
away her usual self-doubts and stifled any feelings of intimidation.
In the center of the lobby, several uniformed officers stood behind a wooden
counter, which formed a square around them. April approached without hesitation.
"Can I help you?" one of the uniformed officers asked. He didn't appear very
interested in talking to a pregnant Hispanic woman who looked as if she were
going to pop any second.
Knowing she wouldn't be allowed direct access to her destination, April was
ready with a lie. "I was told to come here to have photos taken of my injuries."
She touched the huge sunglasses she was wearing as if she were self-conscious
because of a hidden black eye. Alex had told her about battered women coming to
the building to get their photos taken.
The cop didn't look twice. "You want the photo lab on the fourth floor he told
her in a bored voice. He handed her a paper clip and a small visitor's ID card.
The card was pink and bore the words "Fourth Floor and Below." He pointed to the
floor in front of April. "Follow the red line to the elevators. Get off at the
fourth floor and turn right."
April did as she was told, following the red line as opposed to the green,
yellow, and orange lines, which led in other directions.
At the elevators, April waited until she was able to enter an empty car. When
the doors closed, she pressed the seventh-floor button.
The elevator stopped at the third floor and April felt her mouth go dry. A woman
with an armload of files entered the elevator and smiled at April. She pressed
the sixth-floor button.
April felt her knees getting weak. She hugged her purse to her chest to hide the
fourth-floor pass. The woman, however, looked straight ahead at the elevator
doors. At the sixth floor, she walked out without saying a word. The doors
April let her purse drop to her side. It was a large purse that did not match
the style or color of her long maternity dress. The purse appeared heavy, its
weighty contents pulling the drawstring top tight. Carrying it was making
April's arm throb.
On the seventh floor, April stepped out of the elevator and looked around. A
sign on the wall to her left indicated her destination. She turned right down a
short corridor to follow the arrow on the sign.
She stopped outside a door blocking access to the rest of the corridor. On the
door was a stylized cutout of a hooded figure carrying an assault rifle. The
figure had a thick circle around it with a line crossing the circle at an angle.
The words ANTI-TERRORIST DIVISION ran below the logo.
The obstacle threw April. She had thought she could simply walk right into her
husband's office She hadn't figured there would be other security measures once
she was beyond the front desk.
She almost turned around and walked away. From somewhere inside, however, she
felt her resolve strengthen. Taking a deep breath, she pressed the intercom
button. Somewhere in the distance a buzzer sounded faintly.
"Yes?" a female voice responded through the intercom's speaker box.
"I 'd like to see Alex Waverly," April said. "I'm his wife."
There was a pause before the same voice said, "Just a minute."
April put her hand in her purse and stood waiting.
Inside the ATD office, Mary DeFalco stared at the intercom. She had been the
divisional commanding officer's secretary at ATD through several changes of the
guard, and was well aware that a cop 's wife turning up at the job always
spelled bad news.
She walked through the open door and into the office behind her desk without
"What's up, Mary?" Lieutenant John Dancer asked from his seat behind the
The divisional captain, Ron Harper, had died almost a year earlier. As the
division's second-in-command, Dancer had been appointed acting commanding
officer. However, a promotional freeze guaranteed Dancer would still be "acting"
for the foreseeable future.
"Trouble, I think." Mary stood far enough back from the desk to give Dancer a
good view of her legs, which were encased in black hose and high heels beneath a
shortish skirt. "Alex Waverly's wife is out front. She buzzed the intercom and
asked to see him."
"How the hell did she get up here without an escort? Why didn't the front desk
Mary shrugged. "Beats me."
"Damn it," Dancer said, standing up. "Where's Alex?"
"I'll check," Mary said, quickly leaving the office.
Dancer looked down at the board on his desk where he had been adding to the list
of threat assessments and security details that were a main part of ATD's
The president was due in town, but there was little demand for ATD's assistance,
as the Secret Service handled almost all of the security arrangements.
Two weeks later, Prince Charles would be passing through on a three-day goodwill
junket. The only problem might come when the prince visited the Santa Monica
Area-a bastion of British immigrants, both legal and illegal. Dancer made a
mental note to have the detective team responsible for monitoring the IRA give
him an update on any recent activity.
Next on the list was the Central American Solidarity Conclave. On the surface,
this was also a junket. After making a series of unity speeches in downtown Los
Angeles, a group of ambassadors from Central America would be attending a United
States versus Mexico World Cup qualifying soccer match.
The junket, however, was actually a cover for the ambassadors to meet with
California officials to discuss numerous items of mutual concern, from drug
smuggling to illegal immigration to human rights issues. The meetings could
become confrontational, leading local Latino activists to organize
demonstrations should word leak out.
Dancer sighed and shook his head. Analysis of potential terrorist problems was a
guessing game at best, and at ATD the guessing was often done in the dark while
wearing a blindfold. He tried to clear his mind to deal with the new problem of
Waverly's wife. As far as Dancer was concerned, women comprised the world's
biggest terrorist organization, and he couldn't even begin to guess what this
He was on his way to the front entrance when Mary called out Dancer's name from
the detective squad room. Dancer leaned his head inside and saw Mary holding the
sign-in/sign-out clipboard. There were a couple of detectives working at their
desks, but otherwise the room was deserted.
"Waverly shows signed out to West Los Angeles Division," Mary read from the
"Okay," Dancer said. He headed toward the flimsy front security door, laughingly
nicknamed the Spy Stopper.
April wondered what was taking so long. Her heart was pounding so hard she
thought she was going to faint. As the door began to open, April slowly began
to remove her hand from her bag.
John Dancer stepped into view.
April almost dropped her purse, recovering to remove her empty hand.
"Hello, April," Dancer said. He'd met her once before at a divisional Christmas
party. She had flat, dark, peasant features and a shrill personality. Dancer
wondered what Alex had ever seen in her. Now he saw a look of confusion cross
"John Dancer," he said, explaining, thinking her puzzlement was over his name.
"Is Alex here?" April asked, eyes darting, voice anxious. Dancer could see she
was tense. He could also see she was bursting with pregnancy.
"No. I'm sorry."
"Do you know where he is?"
Dancer looked at her. "Are you all right? Is this something to do with the
April took a deep breath. "I need to see Alex. Please, I really need him now."
Her voice was pleading, on the verge of hysteria.
"He's out at West L.A. Station," Dancer said, his fear for April's obvious
condition overriding his natural caution.
"I bet he is," April said almost nastily.
Dancer wasn't sure what that meant, but put it down to pregnancy stress. "I can
try to get hold of him on the radio and bring him back here."
"No," April said. "I can't wait."
Dancer wasn't sure what to do. "Do you need to go to the hospital?"
"No. I need Alex!"
"Okay," Dancer said. "I'll get somebody to contact Alex and have him wait at
West L.A. I don't think you should be driving, so how about I take you there
April seemed to consider this. "Okay," she said.
Dancer hadn't even known April Waverly was pregnant. Alex had never mentioned
it. That didn't surprise Dancer. Alex Waverly was a gregarious, one-of-the-boys
type of detective who rarely talked about his home life. Usually he was too busy
playing grab-ass with anything resembling a female.
Waverly had applied for a position with ATD after making a spectacular arrest
while assigned to RHD-the elite Robbery Homicide Division. Arresting a team of
carjackers who had been terrorizing the city had been a major coup, so it came
as a surprise that Waverly would want to leave RHD, or that RHD would willingly
let him go.
Still, despite the odd circumstances, Waverly had been snapped up by ATD, and
quickly fit into the strange world of intelligence gathering that his new unit
inhabited. During the last year, he'd been part of several outstanding
On their way to West Los Angeles, Dancer tried making small talk, but when April
answered only in monosyllables, he gave up on conversation.
Dancer could see the woman was in distress, clutching her purse to her chest.
His only hope was that she wouldn't go into labor before he could turn her over
to her husband.
The radio crackled once during the trip. Mary was on the other end telling
Dancer that she had reached Alex Waverly, and that he would meet them in front
of West L.A. Station. Dancer acknowledged the arrangements, and with a quick
look at April, he pressed harder on the accelerator.
In heavy traffic the drive to the west side took almost forty minutes. When the
Santa Monica Boulevard off-ramp came into view, Dancer offered up a silent
prayer of thanks. He brought his new department Monte Carlo to a stop at a
twilight, then turned left under the freeway overpass and traveled the five
blocks to Butler Avenue.
Dancer turned left on Butler. West L.A. Station was a short distance down on the
right side. A familiar, maroon detective sedan was parked at the front curb with
Waverly sitting behind the wheel. Dancer pulled in behind it and tapped his
Almost before it stopped, April Waverly was out of Dancer's car and striding
toward her husband. Still in the car, Dancer was surprised that Alex hadn't
exited his own vehicle to greet them.
Levering himself out of the Monte Carlo, Dancer looked up to see April Waverly
stop at the rear of the maroon sedan. At first he thought she might have been
stopped short with a labor pain, but then he saw her pull a gun out of her
"Holy shit! April!" he screamed, lunging forward.
April Waverly spread her feet apart, took the gun in both hands, just as Alex
had taught her when they were first married, pointed the gun through the maroon
sedan's rear window, and shot her husband twice in the back of the head.
Copyright ©1997 by Paul Bishop