It had been a long time since he had been to San Francisco. It had been long overdue. He brought Mary for a well deserved vacation. He had taken her to see the beauty that was Muir Woods, the starkness that was Alcatraz and the statue of Father Junipero Serra. They had gone to numerous wineries, seen the San Francisco Giants, and had the decadence that went with Ghiradelli's.
She had been amazed at his knowledge of the area. He told her that he had relatives that had lived through the 1906 earthquake. That was one of the reasons they had moved to Billings.
He entranced her with the knowledge of the city. One of the reasons he was drawn to it was because of Clint Eastwood. His portrayal of a cop in Dirty Harry had led him in part to his chosen career. He soon realized that what was portrayed on screen did not show all the grunt work. It seldom showed the tedium, but to save lives? If it was once in a lifetime, then it was worth it. He had more than his share of managing to save the lives of others.
One of those lives was this woman he was with. The feeling was mutual. When he got all consumed with work; when he lost his focus, she was there to help him find his way back.
That was why he had taken her to the quiet places both in and just outside the city. He allowed himself the luxury of standing on a balcony with a cup of coffee. She stroked his bare back and took a sip from his cup as the sun set. The feel of her skin was almost more than he could bear. He breathed in her scent and saw the reaction he was causing.
He was glad that he had the time to spend. Unfortunately his job would not allow much more time to share with her. He had given her the ring once before. Now, in the sparkling splendor of the city, he felt the time was right.
He was more afraid of losing her than of someone taking her from him. He was tired of giving himself the excuse that he was doing it to protect her. He wanted to have her to come home to. They had learned to work well together both professionally and privately. He wanted the dates to continue, but the want had gradually become a need. The need was mutual.
They stepped off the trolley car. From this viewpoint they could see the lights of the city and the water of the bay. He pulled the box out of his dark grey suit and placed his arm around her. She glanced into his eyes. He was surprised to see the look of fear. He glanced to where she focused. He noticed the man before them with a gun. It was pointed straight at her.
The gun went off. The bullet spiraled toward its target. There was no time to react, but just enough time to act.
Actions were suspended in slow motion. No time for words as the box slipped from his hand. No time to hear her scream as he charged in front of her, knocking her back to the sidewalk.
He felt the force of the projectile as it went through his clothing and the heat penetrated his chest. He fell on top of her searching for the assailant. He noticed the crowd forming as she grasped for him. He felt a tear drop from his closing eye. The last image he saw was a glimpse of her hair as his hand went to her face in the fading twilight.