Comments on this story can be sent to: ljhall@wscc.edu

Author's Note: FIRSTS was my second novel and third ever story. I was inspired to write when I joined the list sisters on Shfanfic. This is the first chapter, which deals with how the boys met and takes them through the beginning of the academy to graduation. I hope you enjoy this little snippet.

FIRSTS

by

Jackie Hall

CHAPTER ONE: First Decisions

Ken Hutchinson lay awake in his bed. His mind was full of a wide variety of thoughts that seemed to be chasing each other endlessly. He and his wife had been invited to dinner at the Huntley's, their neighbors. The evening had been a late one and Ken was physically tired but his mind was not about to stop. Ken stretched, yawned, and curled over towards his wife who was sleeping soundly. He let his hand stroke her thick brown hair. Then he caressed her shoulder, enjoying the feel of her silky skin. She moved slightly and moaned. He immediately withdrew his hand. He had faced the wrath of waking his sleeping beauty before. Vanessa had made it clear early in their marriage that it was okay to cuddle and touch while they were involved, but once they were ready to go to sleep, he was to remain on his side and she would be on her side. Not that they had been married all that long. Ken had met Vanessa just a little over two years ago, in college, back in Minnesota. He was in the pre-med program there and had done very well academically. After a whirlwind three-month summer romance they had married. A family friend, who was a doctor, had strongly suggested to her and his parents that Ken's best shot at getting a good medical education would be to attend UCLA and then go on to the Medical Center there for Medical School. The decision was made. And before Ken knew what was happening Vanessa was registering him for school at UCLA and the move was made. Although they really didn't want to see their little boy go, his parents had provided all the financial assistance to make the move. Vanessa had recently finished Gemology School and had no trouble landing a position as assistant manager of a very ritzy jewelry store just a few miles from their new Los Angeles apartment.

Ken lay there wide-eyed and unable to sleep. His mind was racing a hundred miles an hour. His mind seemed to want to replay all twenty years of his life. His thoughts were scrambling around from childhood to meeting Vanessa and then darting into the future. (I am so sick of letting everyone else tell me what to do. My life has been planned for me since I was just a kid, ha, probably before I was even conceived. My mother and father always talked about me being a lawyer, doctor, or an engineer. It didn't really matter, as long as I made a lot of money and held a respectable position. Respectable enough that they could brag about their successful prodigy. I remember once when I got a 'C' on my report card You'd of thought I'd committed a major sin!)

"Kenny Hutchinson," Mrs. Ellis, the sixth grade teacher, called from her desk. "Please come up and we will discuss your grade."

Kenny slid out of his desk and walked up to his teacher. His heart sunk as she explained that his history report, which was a major part of his grade, had been turned in late and that he would be receiving a 'C' and not his usual 'A.'

"But . . . I . . . was sick, ma'am," Kenny said trying to be respectful as he knew he had too.

"Yes, and I gave you an extra day to get it in. You should have turned it in the day after you returned to school. You knew about this report for several weeks, Kenny. You had just as much time as the other students. It wouldn't be fair for me to allow you to turn yours in late," Mrs. Ellis said with finality.

Kenny learned long ago that you don't argue with Mrs. Ellis. He talked back to her once when she had wrongly punished him for talking during class. That mistake had earned him a few licks with his father's belt that day after school when Mrs. Ellis called home. He could tell, now, from her tone that arguing would get him nowhere, except in more trouble.

"Yes, ma'am," Kenny dropped his head and returned to his seat. Report cards would be sent home the next day and he knew the routine. At the dinner table that night his sister and him would have to give their father their report cards. Sandra was allowed to get grades other than 'A's', as she was a girl. Kenneth had to have straight 'A's' or he could expect a major lecture and some type of restrictions until the next grades were issued and he had brought the grade up. Actually he'd never gotten a 'C' before. The lectures and restrictions were always for getting 'B's'. He had no idea what his parents would do when they saw this 'C'.

Kenneth placed the report card in his father's hand. His father smiled as he began to open it. "Let's see how well my bright boy did this six weeks!"

Upon unfolding the paper it didn't take long for Richard Hutchinson's face to show what he was looking at. "What?" He exclaimed. "What happened in history?" Mr. Hutchinson said sternly.

"I'm sorry, sir. Mrs. Ellis said my report was late and she took off half credit. I had been sick and . . ."

"Why didn't you hand it in on time?" Mr. Hutchinson stood to his feet.

"I handed it in as soon as I could. I missed school and she didn't give me enough time," Kenny's voice was cracking with fear as he saw his father's large frame rise.

"Don't blame the teacher! I've told you that before! You should have worked on this report while you were home . . . lying around . . . doing nothing. You must not have done well on other assignments as well. A grade isn't based just on one report!"

"But . . ."

"Silence! Get up to your room and prepare for a good whipping."

Kenneth wanted to say more but he knew better. It would only make matters worse. He turned away from his family and went to his room. After the rest of the family had eaten he heard his father's footsteps making their way to his room. The lump in his throat made it almost impossible to swallow. He stood when his father came in the room. His eyes were transfixed on the rod in his father's hand. It was a plastic dowel rod. He knew it was going to sting badly when it hit his bare legs.

"Lower your trousers, young man."

Kenny complied and then bent over the edge of his bed. His father hit him fifteen times with the plastic rod. The pain radiated all the way from his buttocks to his feet. He didn't cry out. He knew he wasn't allowed.

"Stand up."

Kenny was barely able to comply, but managed. Tears were falling from his face.

"Now, we'll have no more 'C's'. Right?"

"Yes . . . s . . . sir," Kenny managed to get out.

"Yes . . . s . . . sir," Kenneth Hutchinson said into his pillow, realizing it was wet with fresh tears.

In his dream it seemed as though he had just relived that whole childhood incident again. He rubbed his eyes to brush the tears away. (I've been under such pressure, ever since I can remember . . . pressure to perform. In my father's eyes I've only been successful if I was perfect. I'm tired of being perfect. I'm tired of satisfying everyone else. I don't want to be a doctor. I don't want to be a lawyer or an engineer. Well then, Ken Hutchinson, what do you want to do?)

Ken's thoughts ran back to the cookout at the Huntley's. He admired how happy the couple seemed together. Luke and Doris made the ideal couple. She treated him with so much respect and he doted over her as though she were a princess. (I remember the first time I met him. It was when Van and I were moving in.) The memory made Ken smile and laugh softly to himself.

"Ken! Ken! I can't hold it!"

"Just set it down then!"

"I can't believe you expect me to lift that heavy piece of furniture!" Vanessa yelled, red faced.

"Sorry! I guess I'll get it on my own," Ken said to her. (To himself he said, You're the one that insisted we bring this monstrosity. I told you it was too heavy, but you never listen to me!)

"Hey, can I be of some assistance?"

Ken looked up from his crouched position to see a man. He was slightly shorter then Ken and appeared to be in his mid-thirties. "You . . . ah . . . look like you could use a hand."

"Yes, sir. I sure could use some help. I'm afraid it's a little more than my wife and I can handle."

The stranger went down to the other end of the sofa and lifted it. "Okay, I've got it!" the stranger shouted.

The two men, still reeling under the weight, began to move the sofa toward the apartment. "Tell me you don't live in the upstairs apartment?" The stranger asked fearfully but with a smile.

"Yes, sir. I'm afraid that's where we have to take it! Are you sure you can handle it," Ken asked, concerned.

"No problem! I got it just fine. I was just hopin', you know?"

"Yeah! I know! My wife didn't want a bottom floor apartment . . . thinks we'll be safer upstairs!"

Managing to get the couch up the steps, they began to round their way into the apartment door. Ken was walking backwards and holding onto the couch with all his might. He swore to himself when they moved again the couch was staying! They managed to get it angled around the doorway and headed almost straight in the apartment. Ken was about two feet into the door when his backward motion was stopped by a small box that Van had left sitting in the way. He fell backwards and the couch came tumbling down on top of his legs.

"Shit!"

Vanessa came running into the front room. "What are you screaming about?"

The stranger set the couch down and came up to the door. "Are you okay?"

"Can you help me get this thing off?" Ken yelled to him.

There was no way to get into the apartment—the couch was blocking the entire doorway and he couldn't walk over it because that would put even more pressure on his new neighbor.

Vanessa was standing there offering worthless suggestions like, "Ken just lift it off yourself . . . it's not that heavy!"

"Can you let me in the window here?" the stranger yelled to Vanessa. She went over to the large front room windows and began to unlatch and take the screens out. Meanwhile Ken was trying to remove the weight from his legs, but he couldn't get any leverage. From the pain he was in, he could tell at least his foot was broken.

Vanessa and the stranger-turned-Samaritan managed to get the window open. He climbed through and ran to lift the couch off of the young man. Once the weight was gone, Ken used his arms to pull his body out from under the weight. After setting the couch back on the floor the man yelled to Vanessa to call an ambulance. He could tell that the young man had a major injury to his foot. The swelling was bad and he needed to get ice on it right away.

Vanessa went to use the phone and then it dawned on her that it hadn't been connected yet. "We don't have phone service yet."

"Do you have any ice?'

"No. We haven't moved the refrigerator in yet."

"Look," the man said to Ken, "I'm going to run over to my house. I'll call you an ambulance and get some ice."

"Thanks," Ken said grimacing from the pain.

As the man climbed back through the window Vanessa asked, "Excuse me, but are you sure we need to call an ambulance?"

"Yes, his foot is swelling up fast. With the pain he's in I think it's probably broken. I don't think we can get him out of here without some help."

Vanessa began to protest again, but the man was quickly gone.

"Are you really hurt?" Vanessa asked as she knelt down beside her husband.

Ken rolled his eyes as he thought about how stupid the question was. Can't she see my foot is already swelled tight in the shoe? I have to get that off!

"I wish you would be more careful," Vanessa said, "we'll never get everything moved in now!"

Ken looked at her, astonished. "You wish I'd have been more careful!" And then a little louder, "You wish I'D OF BEEN MORE CAREFUL! Who left that damn box in the doorway!" Ken reached down to untie his tennis shoes.

"I set it there. I didn't know you would trip over it!"

"Okay. Okay. Just forget it," Ken said. He could hear a major argument coming on and was in too much pain to defend his position with his wife. "Will you help me get this shoe off?"

Vanessa helped her husband remove the shoe. Then she took off the sock.

The stranger and a woman appeared back at the window. She climbed through, with his help, carrying a large bowl of ice. The man climbed through after her carrying some towels.

"Oh, you poor thing," the woman said full of pity as she knelt down beside Ken. "What's your name, dear?" The lady asked.

"Ken, ma'am. What's yours?"

"Oh, I'm Doris."

The stranger jumped in and said, "My name is Luke . . . Luke Huntley. This is my wife. We live just across the Street in the yellow house. Some day . . . huh? The ambulance will be here soon. You just relax."

The couple worked together to cover Ken's foot with ice. The ambulance did arrive soon, just as Luke had promised. Ken was surprised by how the ambulance workers and a police officer seemed to be familiar with Luke. The paramedics immobilized Ken's foot and leg and lifted him over the couch to the walkway and onto a stretcher.

"What am I going to do with this couch in my doorway?" Vanessa asked, almost in tears. That was the last thing Ken heard as he was rolled away on the stretcher.

"Don't worry about it, sweetie," Luke said. "I'll get Officer Quinton here to help me move it. Come on, Joe help me get this couch inside."

"Sure thing, Sergeant." the police officer said.

"Sergeant?" Vanessa asked.

"Yeah, I guess we haven't had a chance to get to know each other yet. I'm Sergeant 1st Class Luke Huntley, Los Angeles Police."

"Pleased to meet you," Vanessa said, surprised.

"Darlin', would you like me to drive you to the hospital to be with your husband?" Doris asked.

"Oh, no. I can take a cab. Thank you."

The two men moved the couch into the apartment and placed it right where Vanessa instructed them. Vanessa left about an hour later in a cab to see how her husband was doing.

When Ken and Vanessa returned from the hospital Luke and a few of his buddies from the local precinct had moved all of the furniture from the moving van inside the apartment. They were both speechless.

(Luke. Luke Huntley. He is quite a guy.) As he lay there thinking, Ken stretched his foot out. Every now and again it stiffened up on him, but it was completely healed. He laughed again as he remembered the unlucky way in which he and Vanessa started their lives in Los Angeles. Even though it was a traumatic beginning, the people he had met and the friends he had made, somehow made the memory a good one. He and Vanessa had been invited to the Huntley's on several occasions. Ken had gotten to know some of Luke's friends on the force and had been duly impressed with their courage and camaraderie. He envied them and the job they had.

(Maybe that's what I want to do. Maybe I want to be a cop. Luke keeps telling me I'd be a good one. I wonder what Vanessa would say if she knew what I was thinking? I'm sure I'd be in for one royal lecture! I suppose I could take the civil service test and she wouldn't have to know. Yeah! I'll just not tell her. After all, I might not even be accepted) With the decision made Ken felt a peace he hadn't had in a long time. Picturing himself in a blue uniform, he quickly drifted off to sleep.

~1999~