Kansas City Cop(4)

By: Julie Miller

She’d barely been a teenager herself when her mother had passed away and their long-absent father had willingly signed away his parental rights, leaving the three Galvans orphans in No-Man’s Land, one of the toughest neighborhoods in downtown Kansas City. They’d moved out of their cramped apartment into a slightly less cramped house. Instead of prostitutes, drug dealers and gangbangers doing business beneath Gina’s bedroom window, they’d graduated to the vicinity of a meth lab, which KCPD had eventually closed down, at the end of the block. Naturalized citizens who were proud to call themselves Americans, her great-aunt and -uncle had stressed the values of education and hard work, and they’d grown up proud but poor. With her diminutive stature, Gina had quickly learned how to handle herself in a fight and project an attitude so that no one would mess with her family or take advantage of her. That hardwired drive to protect her loved ones had morphed into a desire to protect any innocent who needed her help, including this neighborhood and her entire city. But she couldn’t forget which side of the tracks the Galvans and Molinas had come from—and just how far she had to go to secure something better for them.

“Hey, don’t jinx the SWAT thing for me, okay?” A little bit of her great-aunt and -uncle’s superstitious nature buzzed through her thoughts like an annoying gnat she thought she’d gotten rid of. If she made Special Weapons and Tactics, the rise in status with the department and subsequent raise in pay would finally allow her to move her whole family into a house with a real yard in a safer suburb. She wasn’t afraid of setting goals and working hard to achieve them, but it was rare that she allowed anything so personal as wanting some open space to plant a proper garden or get a dog or owning a bathroom she didn’t have to share with four other people to motivate her. “I’m not the only recruit on Captain Cutler’s list of candidates for the new SWAT team he’s forming. There are ten people on a list for five spots. Including you.”

“Yeah, but you’re the toughest.”

“Jinxing, remember?” Gina crossed her fingers and kissed her knuckles before touching them to her heart, a throwback from her childhood to cootie shots and negating bad karma. “We all have our talents.”

“I’m just repeating what Cutler said at the last training meeting. McBride scored the highest at the shooting range. And you, my kickass little partner, are the one he said he’d least like to face one-on-one in a fight. Take the compliment.”

It was on the tip of her tongue to remind Derek that she wasn’t his little anything, but she was dealing with enough conflict already today. “You’re doing well, too, or you’d have been eliminated already. Captain Cutler announces things like that so we stay competitive.”

“Hey, I’m not quittin’ anything until those new promotions are posted. I only have to be fifth best and I’ll still make the team.”

“Fifth best?” Gina laughed. “Way to aim high, Johnson.”

“It’s too bad about Cho, though. He’s been acing all the written tests and procedure evaluations.”

Gina agreed. Colin Cho was a fellow SWAT candidate who’d suffered three cracked ribs when he’d been shot twice while directing traffic around a stalled car on the North Broadway Freeway in the middle of the night two weeks ago. Only his body armor had prevented the incident from becoming a fatality. “Any idea how he’s doing?”

“I heard he’s up and around, but he won’t be running any races soon. He’s restricted to desk duty for the time being. I wonder if they’ll replace him on the candidate list or just shorten it to nine potential SWAT officers.”

“Cho’s too good an officer to remove from contention,” Gina reasoned, hitting the phone icon on the screen to connect the call.

“But there is a deadline,” Derek reminded her. “If he can’t pass the physical…”

The number rang several times before her sister finally picked up. “Sylvie Galvan’s phone,” a man answered.

Not her sister but that slimy lothario who struck Gina as a mobster wannabe—if he wasn’t already running errands and doing small jobs for some of the bigger criminals in town. Gina swallowed the curse on her tongue. She needed to keep this civil if she wanted to get her great-aunt and -uncle the help they needed. “Bobby, put Sylvie on.”

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