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Sidewalk

The morning sun shone down through a rather thin layer of haze, glinting off the buildings and warming Finch’s body even better than the tea in his hand. He sipped the hot drink as he limped along, not even minding the constant ache in his hip on such a rare nice day this early in the spring. The trees in Central Park hadn’t even started putting on leaves yet, but the birds in their branches warbled as though it were almost summer, loud enough to be heard over the rumble of traffic on the street beside him.

“No, I need that meeting pushed back to two o’clock, damn it.”

Finch glanced at the man walking toward him, annoyed. He was tall, middle-aged, but with deep frown lines, talking loudly on his cell phone as he strode purposefully along as though oblivious to everything else around him. People like that tended to walk out into traffic and get hit by cars. His lips quirked and he chided himself, quickly raising his cup of tea and taking a sip to mask his amusement at the thought.

A young blonde woman heading the same direction as Finch walked past him, her heels clicking on the sidewalk as she hurried by. The loud man twisted his upper body around to watch her walk past, but he never slowed his own pace. Finch stepped aside to avoid him, just as the man turned back, the movement sending him veering off course. The tall man’s arm slammed into Finch’s shoulder, knocking him back a step and splashing the tea all over his face and down the front of his shirt.

“Excuse me,” Finch said, biting back the angry retort that first came to mind. The tea had cooled enough that he hadn’t been scalded, and he didn’t want to cause a scene on a public sidewalk. Bad enough that people were staring at him, green tea dripping from his nose and chin, drops of the liquid clinging to the lenses of his glasses.

The man with the phone glanced down at the sleeve of his suit jacket, a couple of small, dark spots on the pale gray fabric, and turned back, a scowl on his face. “Watch where you’re going, damned gimp.” Finch just stared at him as he walked away. “No, some fucking cripple staggered into me,” he said into his phone. Finch felt his face turn red as he dug into his pocket for his handkerchief. He glanced after the man again, just as a dark blur came flying out of the park.

Reese grabbed the man by the back of his jacket and slammed him face down on the hood of a parked car, the cell flying out of his hand and bouncing into the street. “The hell!” the man shouted, but Reese pulled the badge from that dead detective out of his pocket and shoved it into the man’s face.

“Were you aware that verbally abusing the disabled is considered a hate crime in New York? That makes it a felony with a minimum five year sentence.”

“I- I had no idea,” the man stuttered. “I’m sorry-”

“Don’t tell me, tell him,” Reese said, jerking the man up off the car and shoving him down to his knees on the sidewalk. Finch stood, frozen in shock.

“I’m sorry,” the man said again. “I’m so sorry. It was all my fault; I wasn’t watching where I was going.”

“That’s all right,” Finch said, recovering enough to give Reese a stern look. This was worse than the scene he’d been trying to avoid, a crowd starting to gather around them. But Reese wasn’t finished yet.

“Now apologize for calling him a gimp and a cripple or I’ll give you a matching limp.”

“Really, officer, that’s not necessary,” Finch said, hurrying over while the man still had both his kneecaps.

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that,” the man said.

“Damn right,” Reese said, letting him go and stepping away. “Now get out of here while I’m still in a forgiving mood.” The man scrambled to his feet and rushed off, leaving his phone to lie in the street beside the parked car. “Are you all right?” Reese asked, stepping over to Finch and taking the handkerchief out of his hand.

“Fine, Mr. Reese,” Finch said, stiffening as Reese wiped the tea from his face and neck. “That was completely unnecessary, you know.”

“I disagree,” Reese replied, taking his glasses and drying them on a corner of the handkerchief. “No one has the right to treat anyone like that, and especially not you, not as long as I’m around.”

“Good thing you were conveniently taking a walk in the park this morning, then.”

“Okay, so I was following you,” Reese said with a shrug, handing Finch his glasses back. “Sue me. Now, let’s get to the library so you can change-”

“It’ll dry,” Finch said, tossing the nearly empty paper cup in his hand into a nearby trash can. “I’m going to finish my walk. You can either return to skulking in the bushes, or you can walk with me. It’s up to you.” He continued on his way, smiling softly to himself as Reese fell into step beside him a moment later.

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2 Comments
  1. Anonymous permalink

    I love this piece. I hate uptight, ugly people. I love protective Reese!!

  2. I’m a sucker for Reese protecting Finch

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