Purple Hearts

By Beth

FBI Files (Buck & Ezra)

Notes: In answer to March’s challenge (the Keepsake Challenge): offered by Celesta SunStar
One of the Seven has a new keepsake, (such as a key chain or a good luck charm they keep in their pocket.)  What is the keepsake, and the story behind it.  At least one of the remaining Seven needs to know/hear the story.  Random Bonus Words (any/all): Green, Gold, Rabbit, George, Bagpipes, Scotland, Clover, Heritage

Please send comments and suggestions to artwriter@operamail.com


Buck tossed the washcloth into the bathroom sink and moved to answer the door. It was late, and his inability to sleep only added to his already volatile temperament. He wasn’t in the mood for company…from anyone.

He answered the door and leaned against the doorframe, trying to decide how to react.

Ezra stood before him, wearing comfortable blue jeans, a black tee shirt, and a light jacket. He looked just as tired, with dark circles under his eyes and two days worth of stubble on his chin.

“I don’t want any company right now, Ezra,” Buck said, running his fingers through his dark brown hair.

“I didn’t ask if you did,” came the brash reply. Ezra held up a six pack of beer and moved past Buck.

The apartment was small, perfect for a bachelor without a life. An old plaid sofa sat covered with laundry in the main sitting area, a coffee table littered with papers and pens rested in the center of the room. A large screen TV sat undisturbed against the far wall.

“I can recommend a maid service, Buck.” Ezra sat the beer on the counter in the kitchen. Dirty dishes rested in the sink. The garbage can was overflowing, and weeks worth of newspapers were piled on the counter next to the refrigerator.

“Don’t need one,” he snapped, sitting in his stuffed chair positioned in the corner of the room.

“That’s debatable.”

“Why in the hell are you here?” Buck asked, leaning back in his chair.

Ezra removed a bottle of beer and stepped into the main room. He leaned his shoulder against the wall. “What is it about me that you don’t like?” He was blunt, and for obvious reasons, justified in his question.

Buck pressed his lips together. “You want a list?”

“Preferably a short one,” Ezra answered.

Buck leaned forward and rubbed his forehead with his hand. “You scare me,” his answer was honest.

Ezra sighed, and nodded in acceptance. “Scare myself at times,” he admitted softly.

Buck looked up and nodded in understanding. “I’m a good cop, Ezra,” he said painfully. “I’ve never lost anyone on my shift before…she was 23.”

Ezra pressed his back to the wall and slid down to the floor. He rested his elbows on his knees and let the bottle of beer hang limply between his legs.

“I should have been there.” Buck ran his fingers through his hair while staring at a picture on the wall that was drooping slightly to the right

“It wouldn’t have mattered.”

Buck frowned: “If I’d been there she’d still be alive.”

“And someone else would have died. You’re arguing yourself into a hole. You don’t have a choice in this situation.”

“You’re a cold hearted son-of-a-bitch!” Buck snapped, getting to his feet.

Ezra shrugged. “By tomorrow night at this time,  16 of women will have been murdered, 678.7 will have been raped or sexually assaulted—and that’s not considering that only 1 in 10 rapes are reported, and I’m not going to even start with crimes against children, you can’t stop any of it from happening.” He looked up and met Buck’s eyes. “You’re a damn good cop, and you did a damn good job.”

“It wasn’t enough,” Buck sighed, retaking his seat in the old chair.

“It’s never enough,” Ezra replied, taking a pull from his beer. He shrugged his shoulders and took a deep breath. “You’re always going to be a day late and a dollar short when it comes to solving crime. You can’t live your life as an oxymoron.” He smiled and rolled his eyes, tipping his beer in toast.

Buck nodded and reached into his pocket and pulled out a small brass medal. “When you get inside their heads…” he paused, looking at the worn metal, “…do you see the crimes?” It was an honest question.

Ezra shook his head. He hated this part…trying to make others understand what he did…what he could do. “I understand why they did it…what drove them to it. I empathize with their immorality.”

Buck clenched his jaw, allowing the muscles to clench. “Do you like it?” Anger seeped through his eyes like fog enclosing a lake.

Ezra lowered his right leg and leaned his head back against the wall. “No,” he responded flatly. “They’re men, Buck…just like me…just like you.”

“Why do they do it?”

“Because they can…and, because they like it.” Ezra watched as Buck looked at the brass object in his hand, knowing it was symbolic of someone or something.

“Would you ever kill for pleasure?” Buck knew the answer, but he needed to hear it.

Ezra wasn’t surprised by the question, and he took it in stride. “No.” He looked up and noticed a few pictures on the bookshelves. He smiled to himself when he finally received the full picture of who Buck Wilmington was. “Your mother was a nurse?”

Buck nodded: “Spent two years in Vietnam.” He stood and grabbed the photograph that had captured Ezra’s eye. “I was born 6 months after she got home—always figured my father was one of the men she helped save…at least I’d like to think that.” He set it back down and looked out the window. “She never could talk about it though, and I never asked.”

“What happened?”

Buck shrugged and headed into the kitchen and grabbed a beer. He stepped out and leaned against the kitchen entry that faced the main room. “Morphine,” he answered, and then moved back to his chair. “Mom loved morphine and men as much as I love the ladies…probably more.” There was a smile on his face when he spoke of her, like fond memories coming to surface. “I was at the academy when she died, so I don’t know what really happened, but the autopsy report stated that she overdosed.”

Ezra listened, knowing Buck was fighting more than just his own failures as a cop…but as a son.

“Her friends kept saying she’d changed after she got home from Vietnam, but I’d only known her as Mom…hell, I wasn’t born until after she got home. I know she drank a lot, and I figured she was usin’ after I’d entered collage, but I never wanted to push her.” He flattened his hand out and looked at the small medal. “She got this after she’d been wounded when a bomb went off outside the hospital she was workin’ in…a place called Chu Lai.” He chuckled softly. “Said she didn’t deserve it…a piece of debris had only sliced the palm of her hand. She got seven stitches for it.” He squeezed his hand around the brass. “When I was a kid I found this in her Chester drawers.” He held it up between his forefinger and his thumb. “Purple heart… Thought it was the coolest thing in the world when I found it…must have been, 12 maybe 13. When I asked her about it, she told me my ‘real’ father had won it for his service in the war, but I later found out she was the one who was there.” He stood and opened a small chest that sat in the middle of a bookshelf. He handed Ezra the forms and the official medal she’d won. Had some friends do some research for me…they found out where she served and for how long…even who she served with.” He went back to his chair and took his seat, leaving Ezra to read through the information. “She was a real trooper.” He smiled and looked at the medal in his hand again. “I’ve kept this in my pocket for the last 24 years.” He shrugged.


“How many patients did she lose?” Ezra looked up, finding the uncanny resemblance between mother and son.

Buck’s eyes shot across the room and met Ezra’s. “Think maybe she’s tryin’ to tell me somethin’?” he tried to make light of the subject by smiling…but the smile was only for looks, not convincing Ezra of his true feelings.

Ezra raised his eyebrows in question and then took another pull from his bottle of beer. “I think your mother was a damn good nurse. I think she saved more lives than she thinks she did.” He met Buck’s eyes again. “I’d gamble on the fact that she’d be proud of you.”

Buck nodded in appreciation. “You talk a good game, Standish.”

“It’s what I’m paid to do,” Ezra replied with an infectious grin.

“There’s a bar down the road…want to go have a few drinks?”

“Pool tables…poker games…?”

“You want to lose your money?” Buck asked, slipping the medal back into his pocket where it would remain.

Ezra shook his head and got to his feet. “I win it—don’t lose it.”

Buck grabbed his jacket and house keys. “Maybe Julie’s workin’.” He stepped out of his apartment and turned to lock the door as Ezra passed him.

“She a friend of yours?”

“Not yet,” Buck answered. He stopped suddenly and turned toward Standish. “While we’re playin’ in there, don’t go psychoanalyzin’ everyone. I’m not a half bad poker player and I can use some extra cash.”

Ezra grinned: “There’s a reason I own a condo in Barbados, Buck…and it’s not due to government pay.” He continued down the steps toward the street.

“Barbados,” Buck whispered. “Really?” he challenged.

“It’s inherent that I don’t joke about such things.”

Buck paused: “I’ve got a vacation comin’ up…”

The end!!

FBI Files Index