Thursday, August 16, 2012
Compassion for the Protector
Ernie Cruz's meeting at the ranch with Dan Bellardi had been brief and surprisingly positive. Without giving his old friend a chance to explain, Bellardi said, "Ernie, I don't blame you for this. I know you did everything humanly possible to prevent it. We're dealing with ruthless, hardened criminals. But they won't get the better of us. Rest assured, we'll find them and punish them to the full extent of the law." Then he was off to meet with the police before being ferried back to Susanville by helicopter.
It was consolation and absolution Ernie neither expected nor felt he deserved. Wes's baffling disappearance had occurred during his watch, and that meant he was responsible whether the senator believed it or not. Ernie knew of only one course of action: Work more diligently to find Wes than he had worked in protecting him. Even if the search eventually failed, even if the kid turned up dead somewhere, Ernie could not live with himself if he did not make every effort to reunite his friend with his only child.