Black and White
Fictional piece by Joanne Siderius
Cagney and Lacey fanfic meant for the enjoyment of those who miss these characters (or any like them) on TV. I have used characters and situations created by Barbara Avedon and Barbara Corday. If you read this, please let me know. I'd love feedback. firstname.lastname@example.org
Cagney and Lacey: Black and White
Chris and Mary Beth are detectives on major case squad. Both have been promoted. The time is 1999 with flashbacks to 1979.
One Police Plaza - 1999
The black and white 8x10 photo showed two young cops with their arms thrown over each other's shoulders, silly grins on their faces. Neither was wearing their cap and both were dripping wet. But both were smiling broadly for the camera.
"Charlie tracked down the photographer and had a copy made for each of us. I always meant to give you your copy, Mary Beth, but time just slipped away, I guess."
"Oh Chris!" (Mary Beth holds the photo out, her other hand on her heart) We look so young!"
"We were so young!"
Cagney leans on the back of Lacey's chair, looking at the photo over Mary Beth's shoulder.
"Remember traffic detail? Oh God how I hated traffic detail!"
"You've always been happier chasing the bad guys, Lieutenant - You never did have much patience for the "serving and protecting" part of the job description."
"What? Are you saying you liked cold, wet, feet and having ice-water drip down your neck, Sergeant?
Mary Beth laughs.
The past: 20 years ago
14th precinct - 1979
Sergeant Harris looked over the top of his glasses at Officer Cagney. He would have smiled had he dared. Soggy snow had built up on the top of her cap and water dripped from her visor and her nose. More water was dripping from her service cape, adding to the puddle of snow-water growing around her soaked feet. It was hard to see her face beneath the visor but he had no trouble seeing that her glare could have melted all the snow in New York.
"Sergeant Harris! I have been on traffic duty for two solid months now. Longer than any other officer in the precinct." She paused to let that fact sink in. Getting no response, she continued: "I request patrol duty, Sergeant".
Harris, a cop in his late 50's liked Cagney. He really did. He just didn't think a woman could ever make a good cop. He hated the 70's. He liked knowing who the cops were: big bruisers nobody would think of messing with. He would be happier if Cagney would just marry some young cop and have kids. Not that he would ever suggest such a thing to her. Attitude. That was her problem. He had to admit that if she were a man she'd have made a good cop. She had potential - just like Charlie before he hit the bottle. But that attitude! No one likes a woman with an attitude like a man.
"Need I remind you? You need a partner for patrol duty, Officer. And I need to free up a patrol car."
"And? (after a pause)… Sergeant?
There it was again. Attitude. Harris caught himself. Fine. Not tonight. Tonight he was not going to lose his temper. He wasn't going to let her goad him. Fine. Put her and Lacey together. Normally he put the few women cops he had to deal with on patrol with a man. Kept the woman out of trouble. But Cagney had such a mouth on her and was such a damn hotshot that most of the guys would rather chew nails than ride in a cruiser with her. Lacey was a different matter. Most of the guys got along with Lacey. But she had this women's libber streak. What the hell - put the two of them together.
"Which I will do tomorrow, Officer. I want you and Officer Lacey on patrol on 6th and Lexington quadrant. We need more patrol coverage in the area - a string of convenience robberies. Go talk to Jenkins in the garage about a car for tomorrow - "
as Cagney headed for the door
"and Cagney, try not to antagonize Lacey - You want a partner?- Then you got to treat 'em like a partner! Got that Cagney?" He raised his voice to Cagney's retreating back.
(over her shoulder).
That night in the Lacey household.
Mary Beth and Harvey are in bed. Mary Beth is almost asleep: exhausted after a day of slogging through slushy streets. Harvey may be tired after a day high on the girders, but he is not ready for sleep.
"That's great, Babe. You get to spend a warm day in the cruiser. I hate you coming home so wet, cold and tired. So, what about this woman you're working with tomorrow. You've never mentioned her before."
"I don't really know her, Harv. She's been in the precinct for about 6 months, but she's not very chatty, ya know. A bit of a hotshot. She's very uptown and very pretty. Really into be'in a cop, ya know. (Mary Beth is drifting off) Won't be much chatting. At least she doesn't smoke a pipe like Morrissey."
Harvey leans over and gives Mary Beth a kiss as he turns out the light.
Same night in Flannery's. Christine and Charlie are playing pool and drinking beer.
"That's great Chrissy. Want my advice? Keep your head down, your mouth shut and your eyes open. That's what my old sergeant used to say and he lived to a ripe old age."
"Sure Pop. But you're not listening to me. I've been a cop for eight years now. I've made my share of busts! I know I'm a damn good cop. Two months on traffic duty! Com'on! What do I have to do to get a decent assignment! At least I get a squad car for the next couple of weeks. And Harris finally saw his way clear to assign me a partner. Even if she is a woman."
"Geez Chrissy, that's quite a chip on your shoulder. I worked for years as a beat cop - a damned good one too, I might add - and I was just happy to be a cop. You know your trouble? You're never satisfied. Always mouthing off to the brass, too. Ya can't fight the brass and win. Take it from me, officer daughter. Your old dad knows what he's talking about."
Chris has her jaw set and her mouth closed. She makes a great shot, leaving Charlie time to drink the rest of his beer and continue his train of thought:
"So, OK, your new partner's a woman. Can't be helped nowadays. What's she like?"
"Don't really know her. Very chatty. Housewife. Talks a lot about her family. Usually gone by five. (misses a shot and stands back to let Charlie get to the table). Damn. Ya know Charlie, with the right partner, I'd have my gold shield in no time. Well, at least she won't be calling me honey or sweetheart, like most of my other partners."
Next morning at the precinct. After roll call and at the cruiser.
Mary Beth was late and still looks a bit harried and rushed. She has a three year old, a six year old and a husband to deal with before she can leave for work. Chris has a hang over. The two women have met before, but are a bit awkward with each other this first morning.
"You wouldn't believe the subway this morning. Once there's any snow, the tube is just packed." She laughs a little. " at least it was warmer in there with all those people packed in."
Chris doesn't laugh. "Ya know, once this convenience store robbery detail is over, we should try to get here early. The first one in gets the better detail. You wanna drive, or should I?"
It is quite obvious that Chris wants to drive. Mary Beth hands her the keys. Chris pulls the squad car out of the garage as Mary Beth juggles her take out coffee and donut. Mary Beth is chatting cheerfully and Chris is driving with one hand, staring straight ahead.
The shift begins.
Two weeks later in the squad car.
Chris and Mary Beth are carrying on a conversation started the night before at the Lacey dinner table. Or rather, Mary Beth is carrying on the conversation. Chris is cursing herself for bringing the subject up. She had opened up to Harv and Mary Beth last night. Maybe it was the wine. More likely it was because she felt comfortable in their home. She usually felt suffocated in family situations - but she hadn't last night. Now she just felt ambushed.
Mary Beth is driving. They both have take out coffees and are munching away on donuts and bagels.
"Let me get this straight. You chose not to play ball in college at all because you couldn't play on the boy's team?!"
(rolling her eyes) "No, I didn't say that. I could have played on the boy's team, but they wouldn't let me."
"You gave up a game you loved rather than play on the girl's team!"
(in a tone that implied infinite patience) "What was the point? If you can't play with the best - why play at all?"
(honestly not understanding) "The point is fun, Chris. How do you know how good the girls' game was? I bet you never even went to see a game, let alone try out for the team!"
(losing patience) "Com'on Mary Beth! Of course the point is winning! And everyone knows men play better than women!"
"In case you haven't noticed, you're a woman! And you play a mean game of ball, Christine! I saw you out there last summer. And what does that mean about being a cop? Just because men have always been the cops and women are mostly rookies does that mean men make better cops?"
(in her best "give me a break" tone) "That's different."
"Look Mary Beth, I've watched ball since I was a kid. And Charlie taught me what good ball was before I could swing a full-sized bat - I know a good ball game when I see it! And I've played with the guys since I was a kid. (proudly) I happen to play ball like a man."
"Maybe you just play good ball Chris! And I'll just bet Charlie never watched a woman's game either, eh Chris?"
No response from Chris. Mary Beth takes this as an admission that she is right - and Chris has chosen not to admit it.
Mary Beth continues triumphantly
"You missed out playing ball in college because Charlie taught you to have no respect for women or their abilities!"
"Lay off Mary Beth - You've met Charlie once - you hardly know my dad!"
…and what does that mean about women cops, Cagney!
Mary Beth looks over at her partner and suspects this is all to change the subject. Christine doesn't like to examine issues once her mind is made up. But Mary Beth pulls the cruiser over.
"I'm going to clear the wipers. I can't see. You'd think the department would keep decent wipers on these cars. I've got to knock the ice off again - be right back.
Chris is banging away at the wipers when she hears a gun shot. She ducks behind the cruiser, gun in hand. Mary Beth hears the shot and cuts the cruiser engine. The shots are coming from the convenience store where they've parked. Mary Beth ducks behind the dash as she reports the shots on the radio and turns on the cruiser red and blue lights. She joins Chris on the other side of the cruiser. Both cops have their guns drawn.
They hear crying. The door of the shop is flung open.
(Softly) "Someone's coming out!"
Shouting: "Hold it! Police!"
The two cops can make out a figure just inside the door. The convenience store is an old shop that has a glass door and two smaller windows on either side of the door. The door is now open only a crack. Someone is holding a gun out the door.
"I've got a woman and three kids in here and I'll shoot unless you let us leave! Ya hear me?"
"Now just calm down mister. No one is going to shoot unless you shoot first. No one needs to get hurt here."
Gunshots are heard and kids crying.
"I'm going in Mary Beth. I'll talk him into letting them go. I…"
"Chris! No! Just wait until backup comes! Who knows what's going on in there? Follow procedure. Just wait for backup."
"I'm not trying to be a hero Mary Beth. We have to do something. It's our job. We have to get those kids out of there. Can you live with yourself if we just sit here and follow procedure? and do nothing? (a beat of silence) Take care of them when they come out, will ya?. "
"Chris! You don't have to do this. (sigh) Fine. Go ahead. I'm right here. Be careful. I'll be right here.
(she puts her hand on Lacey's shoulder) "I know, Mary Beth."
(shouting)"Hey! You in there! I have a deal for you!
Ya hear me?
I'm going to stand up, leave my gun behind and come and talk to you. Just talk. OK? You shoot me and my partner here will shoot you! Got it?"
Silence. There is no response for a minute or two.
"Got it! Keep your hands where I can see them!"
Chris stands up, holding her hands out showing her gun. She places her gun on the hood of the squad car. She walks towards the store. The children are still crying.
"You in there! I'm Officer Cagney. My partner is Officer Lacey. It's our job to make sure no one here gets hurt. Now I have a deal for you. You let those people that are in there with you go and I will come in. Let the kids out. Officer Lacey takes the kids and I come in. You can count on me to keep my head. Not like those kids. You really want those kids in there with you? No tricks. I stay with you until this gets resolved. No one gets hurt. OK?"
Silence. The hand holding the gun doesn't move.
Chris is still standing with her hands out, wet sloppy snow piling up on her shoulders and cap. Mary Beth is crouched behind the cruiser, gun trained on the door. Both women are holding their breath. Dusk is falling. The cruiser lights throw red and blue lights over the scene.
"OK. No tricks or I shoot!"
"No tricks. Right Officer Lacey?"
Chris moves towards the store. Stops.
"OK. Let the kids out. Lacey comes out and takes them. I come in once they're out. Not until. You can see me. You can see I'll pull no tricks. Let them out. No one wants these kids hurt. OK?"
"Stay right there where I can see you!"
"You got it. Now let them out!"
The door opens and two sobbing children come running out followed by a woman holding a baby in her arms.
"Get in here now or I shoot - you hear me?"
Chris moves towards the door. It opens wider and a large man grabs her by the arm and hurls her into the store.
Mary Beth has moved out from behind the cruiser - all the time keeping her gun trained on the door.
"Over here! That's right kids. Behind the car. Keep your heads down. You OK? Anyone hurt? Just hang tight. Help is on the way."
Mary Beth is back with the woman and kids, still keeping her eyes and her gun trained on the door.
"Ma'am what happened? How many are in there?"
Sobbing and shivering: "They shot him! It was a robbery, he was getting the cash and they shot him. I think he's dead. "
"How many were there, Ma'am?"
"Two. Two men. They have ski hoods over their faces. My God. They killed him." The woman begins to sob. " One of them kind of went crazy. Didn't stop shooting. There was no need!"
Mary Beth is rubbing the woman's back with her free hand. My God. The men were killers. She prayed that back up would be here soon. Thank God they'd got the kids out. Chris would see to the store owner. Mary Beth could do nothing but wait and keep everyone safe. Everyone but Chris.
In the store
There are four people in the shop. A man lies face down on the ground, bleeding. Another man in a ski mask with a gun is sitting on a chair near the man, rocking back and forth. Chris is sitting on the floor where she was thrown after being grabbed at the door. A third man in a ski mask holds a gun in her face. Chris again holds her hands out.
Chris speaks calmly. She can see the signs of shock in the man's shaking hands.
"Like I said. No tricks. Now let me go check on the guy on the floor"
(Freaked out) "Don't move cop! I warn you, I'll shoot!"
(still rocking on the chair) "Maybe he's dead, Frank. Maybe he's dead. I didn't mean to, Frank. Maybe he's dead. Maybe he's dead, Frank".
"Shut up Billy, just shut up!"
"Frank, Billy, my name is Chris. Like I said, it's my job to make sure no one gets hurt. I'm going to do nothing to get shot. Let me look at him. I know some first aid and CPR. You don't want him to die, do you? Just let me look at him, Frank".
Chris had figured out that Frank was in charge. Billy was obviously not capable of planning this robbery, let alone negotiating an end to it. She slowly started to get up, moving towards the bleeding store owner. All her movements were slow, and matter of fact. She remembered an academy instructor's advice: "Like you deal with a barking dog. Don't show fear. Act as if you know what you're doing. Like dogs, most perps won't bite". But then she thought, most dogs weren't killers, either. Frank watched her as she knelt beside the bleeding man and checked his pulse.
Billy starts to wail, rocking back and forth, sobbing and holding his hands to his head.
"Get away from him. Give your hand cuffs to my brother. Billie, stop crying. Get over there and put the cuffs on her. Billie, I'll make it OK. Just do as I say"
(still kneeling by the dead man. Her hands are in plain view, in a non-threatening position. She is still speaking slowly and calmly)
"Look. I can only guess what happened here. But you need my help if either of you is going to get out of here. Don't add kidnapping to the charges - especially kidnapping and forcible confinement of a cop. Right now I am here voluntarily. Put cuffs on me and the whole situation changes. Give yourselves up right now and I will go to bat for you with the DA. What do you say? Come on Frank, you can't want things to get any worse - especially for your brother. (she pauses) Do you?"
Frank looked at her. His gun hand dropped to his side. Billy was still rocking on his chair, pleading to no one in particular.
"I didn't mean it. I didn't mean it". The windows were lit by the cruiser lights - lights distorted by the melting snow streaming down the windows. There was only Billy's sobbing and the sirens of the arriving cruisers to break the silence in the shop.
Outside the shop as back up and an ambulance arrive.
Uniformed officers are crouched behind several cruisers with guns at the ready. Mary Beth is still behind her cruiser talking to Sergeant Harris. The children and mother are safely stowed away with warm blankets in the cruisers.
"As I said, sir, there are two perps, both armed. There's a wounded civilian in there too. His status is unknown. (Harris is still staring at her, waiting for her justification for what he sees as a fiasco) Cagney went in in exchange for the hostages. Yes, she left her gun behind, but we got the hostages out safely sir.
To himself: this is what I get for sticking two women together. The inspector is going to love this. Out loud: "This had better end well, Lacey. If not, I hope you like horses. Cleaning up after the mounted patrol is what I had in mind."
Both officers fall silent. Everyone settles in to wait.
Back in the shop
(softly) "Frank. You can't win. Give me the gun. There's been enough killing."
Frank was still in shock. He'd never killed anyone before- he hadn't meant to kill this guy. He'd always looked out for his brother. Now he'd walked him so deep into trouble that neither of them would ever get out. He still had a choice. He raised the gun. He could take Billy with him. No prison. No injections.
"That's not the answer Frank. No one wins when they are dead. Give me your gun."
She got slowly to her feet and held her hand out to Frank. Billy continued crying. Frank looked at her. Tears welled up in his eyes. He slowly handed the gun over. He went to his brother, took his gun, handed it to Cagney. He then rocked his brother in his arms. Christine took both guns. She walked to the door, opened it slowly and tossed the guns outside.
(Shouting out the door, still staying behind cover) "This is officer Cagney. The two men have surrendered. They're coming out now with their hands up".
Chris directed the men to put their hands on their head. She waited briefly before following the two men who moved so slowly out into the night.
The incident was over. The robbers had been taken into custody and read their rights. The police and the press had left. All but Officers Cagney and Lacey who were standing at attention before Sergeant Harris. It was cold in the wet falling snow. This could have waited until tomorrow, Chris thought.
"Procedure! First - never leave your gun behind. Second - never put yourself or your partner in danger. Third - wait for backup. (sarcastically) You did call for back up didn't you?"
"Do you understand what I am saying?
"Officer Cagney? I can't hear you!"
"Fine. It's over. I'm glad it ended well. But you two are this far from cleaning up after the horse brigade."
He paused. He hated to say what he had to say next.
"Report to the Captain tomorrow morning. Apparently he feels it necessary to congratulate the two of you himself. Finds it necessary to give you both a commendation. Dress Blues. Think you can manage that?"
"Yes Sergeant Harris"
(sighing) "Good Work"
Harris shakes hands with the two cops, turns on his heel and gets into his cruiser. Maybe it was time to retire. God he hated the 70's. Looked like the 80's were going to be worse.
Mary Beth and Chris stay at attention until his squad car has left. They turn to look at each other. Chris yells with glee and grabs Mary Beth.
"God, It must have near killed him to tell us that and then - shake our hands!"
They dance around in a circle and then give each other a joyful high five - almost collapsing with laughter. The scene ends with the two women hugging each other -still laughing with joy - and relief.
Lacey Household - 1999
Everyone is at the dinner table. Alice is sleeping over at a friend's house. Chris, Mary Beth and Harvey are sitting over desert. Tomorrow Billy will die by injection. The conversation around the table is heated.
"You know Harvey has a point, Christine. Spending twenty years in prison, waiting to be executed is cruel and unusual punishment."
"Twenty years that that shop keeper never had - and that those kids and their mom may not have had."
"Com'on Christine, we all know that if those boys had been rich white boys, they would never be facing lethal injection. At most they would spend life in prison - at best they'd be out on parole by now. The system punishes the poor and the minorities - not the affluent white segment of society"
(rolling her eyes) "Harvey, spare me. There was a trial. They had lawyers. Good lawyers, once the ACLU got involved. They killed the shopkeeper. There were three witnesses. The law says they should die."
"You and Mary Beth were there, Chris. I remember how that incident affected Mary Beth. You can't tell me you felt nothing for those boys - no matter how guilty the law says they were."
(taking this personally) "Me? I was doing my job Harvey. Keeping bleeding heart liberals like you from seeing the big bad guns that kill people. I don't sentence people to death. I catch the bad guys. You don't like the death sentence, you vote to change it."
(really incensed now) "Christine, get real. Forget the law for one moment. How do you feel about Billy dying tomorrow?"
How do I feel? I'll tell you how I feel. I see children torn apart alive; women viciously beaten to death; old people shot for their pension checks - How do I feel, Harvey? You're married to a cop and you can ask me that?
Pauses for breath. "The truth Harvey? You know that I testified on behalf of Billy at his sentencing trial. I took a big chance. People in the department still remember that I testified on his behalf. I don't think Billy was responsible for his actions. Billy has the mentality of a 10 year old and he was legally a child when he killed the shopkeeper. He was truly remorseful. No, I don't think he deserves to die. He could be helped and kept from hurting other people. I feel bad for him because the system made no exceptions for him -for anyone not responsible for their actions.
But I do believe in the death penalty Harvey. I just don't feel good about Billy dying. I didn't feel good when Frank died either- but it was the law - it's my job, Harv.
"Everything is political, Chris. No one has the luxury of saying "I was just following orders." You supported the system when you arrested those guys"
"And we supported the system when those kids and their mom were released. When Chris risked her life to talk those guys out, Harv. Everything may be political, Harv. But all any of us can do is the best we can. I'd rather be out there trying to make a difference Harv, than sitting and boo-hooing that society is going to the dogs."
"OK, OK. I know you two are trying to make a difference - I know you're the good guys here. But Billy will still be executed tomorrow and I think it's wrong. There is no compassion in a society that kills it's children, it's mentally deficient it's disadvantaged - yes, even it's guilty. I prefer a society that tries to reform people and that permanently jails those that can't be reformed - than to take the chance of killing innocent people. And murder is murder, by the state or by a criminal. "
"We're cops Harvey. You were a soldier. We have all been prepared to kill to protect people."
"In self defense or to defend others Babe. Who are we defending in killing Billy? Who did we protect when Frank died? It was revenge - retribution. Compassion Babe. How do we teach our children compassion when we have none?"
There is silence at the table. The debate has left everyone emotionally drained. Three good friends - all very different people - feel the weight of the injustice. For the killers and for their victims.
"Great spaghetti Harv."
One police plaza - next morning.
Mary Beth is looking at the black and white photo that Chris gave her last week when Chris comes in for the morning. Chris throws her purse on her desk and goes to get coffee.
(pouring her coffee) "Morning Mary Beth"
(taking a sip from her coffee cup) "Morning Chris. You look tired. Harvey's spaghetti sauce not agree with you last night?"
(smiles) "No, the sauce was great. I didn't sleep well."
She pauses, stirring the sugar into her coffee.
"I still haven't decided whether I'm going to be a witness at Billy's execution. It's a hard decision. "
"You did everything you could to make sure that kid got a fair break, Chris. You don't have to break your heart over this. Why go to the execution?"
"Something in me wants to be there for Billy. No one else there will know him or know anything of the story. And. (she pauses) I guess if I support the death penalty I should be able to see what it really means. We've both seen people die, Mary Beth, but this is different."
"I understand, Chris. But you couldn't have changed anything, you know that, right?"
"Yeah, I know that."
Chris comes over to look at the photo with Mary Beth. She takes it from Mary Beth and takes a closer look.
"Charlie would have had no problem with this. It's a job and you keep your head down and your mouth shut. I'm telling you Mary Beth - this owning your own feelings and being honest can be a real pain. It's been 20 years since this photo was taken. In all that time nothing much has changed. Before we broke up, Jimmy accused me of wanting to play cops and robbers forever. If anyone asked me today, I'd say he was wrong."
She smiles and hands the photo back to Mary Beth.
(looking fondly at the photo) "We were so young then, Chris. But we were good cops. We did the best we could. Still do. We're good cops and we have made a difference. On days like today it's just easier to see how much we can't do. Remember those kids and their mom Chris. Go easy on yourself. Nothing is black and white."
"We are good cops, Mary Beth. And one hell of a team! Here's to us, partner!"
Chris raises her coffee cup in salute to Mary Beth.
Mary Beth raises hers in response.
"to us - to one hell of a team!"
Chris moves over to look over Mary Beth's shoulder at the photo.
The cameras pull back on the scene capturing the two middle-aged women looking at a photo of two young women celebrating life and partnership.
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