Images de pluie, dans l’ombre

rain and shadow

So, here’s the third set of images. I’ll do one more, then I’m taking a break from all these ghosts for a while.

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Images de pluie, dans l’ombre

Lost in their eyes as you hurry by

Counting the broken ties they decide

Love comes to you and then after

Dream on on to the heart of the sunrise

Lost on a wave that you’re dreaming

Dream on on to the heart of the sunrise

Sharp distance

How can the wind with its arms all around me

Sharp distance

How can the wind with so many around me

I feel lost in the city

Heart Of The Sunrise   Yes

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“2141, show me in-service with an accident report, and I’ll need a second service number the a Signal 60 supplemental report, with 95 JCID.”

“2141, clear at 1845 hours, second service number 8521197.”

“1197, received.”

It was close to dinner time and he looked at his watch, figured he was close enough so he might as well run home, maybe grab some dinner and get out of the heat for a few minutes. He started the Harley and checked traffic, then u-turned in the street and started for the highway. The neighborhood was hilly, full of dense brush and tall trees between widely spaced houses, and the afternoon sun was slanting through the trees, casting long shadows in the stillness. A father and son tossing the football in their yard waved as he passed, and he waved back, smiled at memories of his father on autumn mornings, then he thought of the kid back there in the road. No more football, that much was certain.

Running wide open with his girlfriend on the back of his dirt bike, he’d lost it in a corner and tried to brake but high-sided – and they’d been launched as the bike flipped sideways.

His trajectory took his right thigh through a stop sign – and severed it completely. His body landed in a bleeding heap and tumbled, his outstretched arms impacting the curb and shattering both in several places, with the remainder of his leg vaulting into a vacant lot, almost lost among tall weeds and scraps of litter.

The girlfriend landed in the street, and a kid speeding through the neighborhood in a pickup truck didn’t see her until it was too late to stop.

People in their homes ran out and stopped the boy from bleeding out, but the girl was dead. Mothers hid children’s eyes from the sight – but for too many it was too little too late, the damage done. But now the damage done to three lives was irreparable, and for the girl, final. There were open beers in the kid’s pickup, alcohol on his breath, and at fifteen his life was now little more than wreckage, just as surely as the other boy’s dirt bike was scrap.

And it was his job to make sense of it all.

To make sense of the senseless.

Pointless, too, he thought. Physicians would try to put one life back together, and maybe psychiatrists could fix the other life, but what of the girl? Lawyers and insurance companies would slug it out, he knew, and they’d rely on his report to get to some kind of arrangement, some sense of closure, but she was gone and her death would never be anything more or less than senseless.

Once the road was closed he’d gone about the scene making his measurements, taking photographs and talking to witnesses, and when he, in the end, knew what had happened he just shook his head, put his stuff away and wanted to disappear down a deep hole. What were fifteen year olds doing out on the streets in cars and motorcycles? Playing? Playing their parts in a vast mechanism of automobile manufacturers, car dealerships and insurance companies, all orchestrated by oil companies and big government. Profit and loss statements to some, the shattered lives of all the others: parents called from homes to scene after scene, day after day.

Freedom. Free to be irresponsible.

Free, to look like a pizza smeared down seventy three feet of asphalt. Free, for the stump of your thigh to look like a spiral sliced ham. That’s freedom, alright.

He stopped at a stop sign and sighed. “How many this month?” he wondered. Fifteen by last weekend, and five more this week, so far. Twenty dead, and those were just the wrecks he’d worked. Day in and day out, no time off for holidays, people were simply out there killing themselves in record numbers and nobody gave a damn. Killing more in a year than in ten years of war in Vietnam, and where was the outcry, the outrage.

Just the price you pay for freedom, right? Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose, or so goes the song…

He thought of the TriStar tumbling through the grass, smoldering bodies in wet grass. He’d walked up to the first water tower, where the cockpit impacted and he couldn’t recognize anything human. And yesterday, an NTSB investigator told him the cockpit was found there, where he’d been looking, and everything, the entire cockpit – man and machine – had been compacted in the impact to a lump about the size of a shoe box.

He heard a car pulling up behind his Harley and saw people sitting there, looking at him, waiting, and he shook his head, waved them to pass him, then he paddled over to the side of the road.

Two girls, teenagers, pulled up alongside.

“Are you okay?” the girl closest to him asked.

And he nodded his head. “Yeah. Thanks for asking.”

“You were at the wreck, weren’t you? Stacy…she was our friend.”

“I’m sorry,” he said, but he turned away, didn’t know what to say to their grief.

He heard doors opening and closing, felt them standing by his side, putting their arms around him and he realized he was crying. He’d been crying for weeks, ever since the moment –

The spinning hulk coming to a rest. Running through fields of gold, running through bodies falling like rain, then through the smoke a man, walking. He’s running towards the man, his white skin black now, black and peeling, his business suit smoking, and the man walked up to him.

“Excuse me,” the man said – and he remembered the voice, “but I seem to be lost. Do you know the way to the baggage claim?”

And then the man fell into his arms.

Dead.

He put the side-stand down and climbed off the bike, went and sat on the side of the road, the girls crying now as they held him up.

Another car stopped – Stacy’s mother, it turned out – and she came up to see what was the matter, what was wrong, and soon she was holding the girls, and him, crying as the sun slipped behind trees far, far away.

II

‘Desjardins fourth week of training,’ he wrote in his training log, ‘and she’s made progress but it’s a struggle for her to let go of old ways of seeing the world…’

He looked at her across the briefing room table, thought of her those first few days…so self-centered, almost narcissistic. Always questioning, never listening for an answer, never watching things take shape right in front of her face – to blind to see – seeing so much she was blind to everything going on around her.

But she was changing. The chase, losing her friend, shooting a man who was getting ready to shoot her. She was starting to listen. Just. She would make it, he knew, but only if she could keep on listening.

They walked out to the patrol car in a light rain, and she checked out the car while he put his gear in the trunk. She got behind the wheel and checked them into service while he settled-in and put on his seat belt.

“Where to?” she asked, but he just turned her way and shrugged.

“You listen during briefing? Even maybe just a little bit?”

She picked up her notepad and he snorted, shook his head. “Goddamnit all to hell,” he grumbled – and she put her pad down and sighed.

“Sorry,” she said, looking down.

“Concentrate! Commit to memory! Recall! CCR – got it! Now think…what happened in our district today?”

“Two burglaries…?”

“Suspect information?”

“Male black in an old Datsun pickup, light blue, maybe a lawn mower in the back?”

“Anything on Camp Wisdom this morning?”

“Armed robbery, gas station at Cockrell Hill, in Duncanville.”

“And the suspect did what?”

“Came into Dallas, east on Camp Wisdom.”

“Vehicle description?”

“Red Firebird, first three on LP are 277.”

“Good. Damn good. So, based on that, where should we go?”

“Camp Wisdom to Red Bird, neighborhoods first, before people start coming home from work.”

“Okay? So, what are you waiting for?”

She smiled, turned on the windshield wipers and into traffic, then made for Highway 67.

“You still flying? Doing lessons and all that?”

“Yup.”

“Could you take me up sometime?”

He turned and looked at her, then resumed scanning.

“It’s just, you know, I’d kind of like to learn how to fly.”

He looked at her, didn’t say a word – yet.

“It looks like it would be fun, I guess. Up there. Free as a bird.”

He sighed. “Yeah. When we finish up together, if you still want to give me a call.”

“Who was your favorite FTO?” she asked, out of the blue.

“Guy named Ed MacCarley. Worked deep nights, downtown, out of Central.”

“Worked?”

“Retired a few years ago, went sailing.”

“Sailing.”

“Yup.”

“Alone?”

“No.”

“Have you heard from him? Since he left?”

“No. Don’t imagine I will, either.”

“Oh?”

He pointed ahead. “Focus on the road. Three cars in front of us. What do you see?”

“Red Firebird.”

“And?”

She sped up, pulled close enough to read the license plates then slowed down, pulled back into the right lane.

“Don’t get caught up day dreaming, Deb. Did you see the light blue Datsun pickup headed north?”

“What? No…”

“You were talking about flying just then.”

“Shit.”

He sighed. “No lawn mower, driver was white.”

“Shit.”

“None so blind as those who will not see. You can’t talk and think about this shit at the same time, so don’t try.”

“Shit.”

“You know, we need to work on your vocab.”

“Right.”

“Yeah, take a right – on Red Bird, let’s take the back way in, by Westmoreland.”

“Reason?”

“My ass is twitching.”

She took the Red Bird exit, drove down to Westmoreland and turned left there – and a moment later he said “Stop, now.”

He was looking out the right side of the car into a thick stand of trees and he picked up the radio before she managed to stop. “2141, show us out on a 54, Red Bird at Westmoreland.”

“2141 at 1615.”

He was out the door, running, and she still hadn’t seen a thing, let alone a ‘welfare concern,’ but she got out and started running after him – then she saw it. Him. A kid, young boy, naked, holding onto a tree, crying. When she got to the kid he was already kneeling there, talking to him.

“Hey buddy,” she heard him say, “what’s going on?”

The kid was in shock, taking deep breaths between vacant sobs, and she guessed he was eight or nine – and there were bruises all over his torso and legs. Wide bruises, straight edges.

He took out his hand unit and called in: “2141, need an ambulance, code 2 this location.”

“1617.”

“Can you tell me your name, buddy?”

The kid was shivering in the rain, looked up and saw the badge, the uniform, then fell into his arms, suddenly hyperventilating.

He held the kid close, and as he stood she watched the kid wrap his arms around her partners neck, legs around his waist. He cradled the kid and walked through the trees back to car, telling the kid it was all over now, that everything would be okay now. That he was safe now.

And she knew he was telling the kid the absolute truth. She could feel it in his voice, in the strength of his words, and the kid felt it too and he let loose, started crying – and then she saw feces, runny diarrhea running down the kids legs, urine flowing down her partners shirt and pants – but still he held on to the kid – and he held on tight until the ambulance and a fire truck arrived, ten minutes later.

Paramedics took the kid and put him in the back of the ambulance, and he got his duffel out and took out his change of clothes, had firemen hose him down. He toweled himself dry and changed in the street, then went to the back of the ambulance. A paramedic saw him and stepped outside.

“Kid’s been raped. No telling how many times, but a bunch. I’d say he was strapped down for an extended period of time, maybe days. He’s dehydrated and…”

“Okay, I got it. Is he stable?”

“Yup.”

“Hold off on transport for now. I need to talk to him first.” He turned, called the watch commander. “2141 to 2102, need you to 25 my location, and 2141, need someone from CID this location, code 2.”

“2141 at 1625.”

“2102, code 2.”

He turned to Desjardins. “Take a fireman, go back and see if you can pick up a trail, but don’t let anyone see you. There are house about a quarter mile in…”

“Right.”

He went back to the ambulance, stepped inside and closed the door. The boy was wrapped in blankets, an IV running wide open into his right arm. The boy was staring ahead, wide eyed, almost catatonic – and he sat next to him, ran his fingers through the boy’s hair.

“Look at me,” he said, and the boy turned to the voice. “I need your help now, and you’re the only one that can help me. Understand?”

The boy nodded his head.

“Do you know the man, the – who did this to you?”

The boy shook his head, but he didn’t break eye contact.

“Do you know where you were when this happened?”

“No,” the boy said, his voice far away and tiny.

“If I drove you by the place, do you think you would recognize it?”

“Maybe. I’m not sure.”

“Did you see the man who did this to you?”

“There are a lot of them. They keep us in cages, then they take us out and take pictures of us while they do things…”

“How many boys? In cages?”

“I don’t know. Five or six in the room I was in. I think there are more, in other rooms.”

“How did you get out?”

“The lock on my cage wasn’t shut right and I snuck out, crawled out through a window where they do the laundry.”

“How long ago? Did you crawl out the window, I mean?”

“Not long, but I’m not sure. Maybe an hour?”

“Could you tell me your name?”

“Jason.”

“What about your mommy and daddy…”

“Don’t call them,” he cried, suddenly very frightened. “Please, don’t…”

“Okay, Jason. I won’t, but can you tell me why?”

“They took me there, left me…”

“They took you there? Why?”

“It’s a secret. I can’t tell.”

“Okay Jason. No problem. I want you to just stay here and rest, okay? I’ll be right back – in a minute.”

He stepped outside, the hot air wrapping it’s arms all around him and he shook himself back into the present, tried to keep his anger in check – saw the watch commander’s car pulling up behind the fire truck – followed by a gray Ford Fairmont – and he walked to them as the lieutenant and the detective got out of their cars.

“Saw a kid over there in the trees,” he said, pointing, when they were standing together in the rain, “naked, in shock, semen around his anus. I just finished talking to him, says he’s been locked in a cage for a long time, along with several other kids in cages, raped and photographed during the act. And here’s the thing. His parents dropped him off there, left him…”

“What the hell…?” the lieutenant said.

“My rookie and a fireman are looking for a trail, but he said he escaped recently, like and hour, so I’m thinking we may be able to find the place. Put him your car, Andy,” he said to the detective, “drive him around, see if he can point out the place…”

But he saw Desjardins running through the woods, the fireman just behind, and she saw him and altered her course, came to him and joined up, the fireman as well.

“Other side of the woods, street,” she said, gasping in the hot air. “Men looking, calling out a name…”

“Jason?”

“Uh-huh. Yup.”

“One of them is a pastor of some sort, has the collar, anyway” the fireman added – and the lieutenant sighed, looked away.

“How many houses in the area?” the detective asked.

“I don’t know,” she said, wheezing, “Long street – maybe fifty?”

“Front door open at one near the end. Pale orange brick, white asphalt shingles.”

“Let me have your hand unit,” the lieutenant said to Desjardins, then he took it, lifted it to his face. “2102.”

“2102?”

“Get a TAC team rolling this way, and about ten patrol units – and notify 100.”

“10-4, at 1633.”

“Okay,” the lieutenant began, “we’ll need to block off American Way, both ends of Cedar Circle, and, well, probably Corral, too.” He turned to the fireman: “Get onto your chief, tell them to standby for a big pediatric emergency, better notify Parkland, too.” He thought for a moment, then shook his head. “Better use a land line, keep as much of this shit off the air as possible.”

He walked back to the ambulance, stepped into the air conditioned space and wanted to sigh, and he leaned over the boy. He was woozy now, coming out of shock as his body rehydrated, but the kid smiled when he saw the cop.

“You feeling better?” he asked the boy.

“Yup.”

“The house? Orange brick?”

The boy nodded his head.

“Do you know what color the front door is?”

“White, and there are white shutters, too.”

“The roof?”

“White.”

“Okay.”

He stepped outside, went back to the group. “Kid says white door and shutters on the house, white roof, too.”

“That’s the one,” Desjardins said.

“We’re gonna need a warrant, lieutenant,” the detective said. “This is too thin.”

“Exigent circumstances. They know the kid is gone, they’ll be cleaning up their act right now.”

“So? We let them alone, let things settle down, hit them in a few days?”

“And what if they decide to get rid of a bunch of witnesses? What happens then, detective?”

The detective shook his head, knew how this was going to end. “I’m going, gonna try to get the house under surveillance.”

The lieutenant nodded his head, looked at his watch. “Goddamn! What’s taking them so long…”

“I can take Desjardins, we can work our way behind the house,” he said…

“Go!”

“Come on,” he said, grinning. “Up for a little run. Again?”

He took off, she followed, and he heard her swearing under her breath and he slowed, let her catch up. “This is why you ran and ran and ran all during academy,” he said, trying not to laugh. “And the reason why you’re about to drop right now is you haven’t run since you got out of academy. Right?”

“Right, you fucking asshole.”

He laughed. “And no more Dairy Queen. Got it?”

“Fuck you.”

“God damn you’re slow,” he said, picking up into a near sprint. The cursing got louder, but a few minute later he slowed, held up a fist and stopped, and she stopped beside him, knelt when he knelt.

“That’s it, down there,” she said, pointing through thick brush at the orange brick house. There was no activity now, either in the yard or along the street, but he saw the gray Fairmont pulling up several houses further down – under a shade tree, of course, and he laughed, then picked a way through the woods so they could get around behind the house without being seen.

And she cursed when he took off at a dead sprint, followed him around the back of the neighborhood and into deeper woods. She saw him leap through the air and slowed, then detoured around the coiled up copperhead, trying to keep up with him while keeping an eye on the ground now – but he had stopped, had a fist raised again, then he was almost tip-toeing through dead leaves and broken branches, moving noiselessly now, and she tried to mimic him.

He was kneeling behind a tree when she caught up to him, and she could feel a shuddering pulse hammering away inside her skull – yet she tried to breathe soundlessly – because he was.

“2141, 102, we’re behind the house, maybe twenty yards, lots of activity inside, screaming, crying.”

“Any reason you shouldn’t go in now?”

He heard a man’s voice inside – “No, we have time…I’m not going to do that!” then a physical altercation started.

“2141, we’re going in, need code 3 backup!” He started for the back porch, picked up a wrought iron lawn chair and threw it against a sliding glass door, and she followed him through cascades of falling glass…

III

They drove by her apartment a little before seven, and she was waiting for them – dressed a little too well, he thought. Nice dress, high heels and makeup, and he hardly recognized his rookie. She seemed nervous, a little self conscious as they drove across down to his father’s place, but it had been a hard couple of days. The shooting review board, hours of questioning by Internal Affairs and a routine interview at the DAs office – but no verdict yet. No decision whether her first shooting had been justified or not.

Neither would be allowed back on the street until there was one.

He wasn’t worried.

She was.

“You look nice,” his wife said to Desjardins. “Has he told you much about his father yet?”

She looked at his eyes in the rear view mirror, then looked at his wife. Much taller than expected, she thought. Kind eyes, but kind of sad, too. Like she’d seen enough, knew enough about people to remain curious.

“Just that he’s a heart doctor of some kind,” Deb said.

“Well, he’s brittle,” his wife said. “Like: push him hard and he’ll break. Don’t talk about June, his wife, unless you want to see him break.”

“Okay.”

“For that matter, don’t talk about June around this guy…”

“Alright,” he said, “that’s enough.”

She watched the exchange, sensed friction in the action and reaction. Like both had been worn down by such back and forth over the years. Like she had had enough hushed reprimands over the years, and now she turned away, looked out the window as the drove south on Preston Road past the country club. A few more blocks and he turned down Willow Wood Circle and drove down to the very end. He pulled up to the curb and stopped, went around and helped his wife out of the car, then came around and got her door.

“Thanks,” she said, but she saw he looked distracted, careworn, and wished she’d ducked the invitation, but he led them down to the walkway and then up to the door. It was a two story affair, pinkish brick that seemed darker in the shade of so many trees, and the steep roof was vaguely French, she thought, and it was sheathed in what looked like slate and copper. He rang the bell and a maid opened the door, told them “everyone is out back, just awaitin’ for y’all…’ and he led them through the house to the backyard.

And it was like a forest back there, she thought. A solid canopy of dense foliage, not a shred of sunshine making it down to the ground. And no grass, either. Nothing but plants and monkey grass, until she saw the pool. Small, multi-level tiers, and the walls and bottom of the pool seems to be made of black slate – and the net effect was of being in a grotto of some sort. Like the world outside this house was a world apart, held away by the illusions created within these walls.

“I heard you’ve had a rough few days,” she heard, and she turned to the voice, saw the man from the maroon Jaguar – and she looked down, saw his outstretched hand. She took his hand and he held it for a moment, looking into her eyes, then he seemed to sigh a little, and draw inward. “Could I get you something to drink?”

She looked around, saw that a cluster of kids had formed around her FTO, and she desperately wanted to get back to him, back to something familiar – because suddenly she felt very out of place. The women were diamond encrusted and well-coifed, the men looked like fashion models just in from a catalogue shoot – and she felt like someone her partner’d just dragged in from the boondocks.

“You know, I really don’t know what…”

And he smiled. “Come with me,” he said, and the old man led her into the house, to the bar, and he went inside the little room and picked up a glass and filled it with shaved ice, poured a little dark rum, then a little light rum, and finally, something she didn’t recognize. He stirred the contents then added pineapple juice and a splash of orange juice, poured everything into a blender and added more ice. He hit the switch for a second and poured the contents into a chilled martini glass, looking at the color before he handed the drink to her.

“Try this,” he said, smiling – and she did.

“Oh my God,” she breathed. “That’s so smooth!”

He beamed. “It’s strong, so not too fast – or you’ll be sorry.”

“Sorry?”

“You might do something you’ll want to forget later.”

“Such as?” she said, a little suggestively.

And he looked at her just then, looked into her eyes again. “You never can tell, Miss Desjardins.”

He even pronounced her name correctly, and that, for some reason, thrilled her. She watched him come around for her, and he held out his hand, led her back out into the yard. “Now, why don’t you come over and tell me what in heaven’s name convinced you to become a police officer?”

He was so unlike his son, so easy to talk to, so attentive, so unwilling to criticize. When her glass was empty he went in and made her another, and another, and she found it easier and easier to talk to him, told him things she’d never told anyone before – and pretty soon he didn’t look like a man in his fifties. Didn’t look even a little like her own father.

No, he looked like a man, an attractive man who was paying serious attention to her.

“Look,” she said after an hour of increasingly intimate questions, “I’ll never find my way to the restroom, so could you take me, please?”

He looked at her and smiled, then stood and offered his hand, again, and led her inside – to his bedroom, then he stood with her outside his bathroom and he looked at her.

“I’m curious,” she said. “Do you want me to fall in love with you, or am I reading this all wrong?”

He smiled, looked away, looked around his room. “Do you know, you’re the first woman who’s been in this room since my wife passed away.”

“No one in the bed?”

“Not a soul.”

“Why me?”

“I’m not sure I know how to answer that. Not yet, anyway.”

“You’d better lock that door,” she said, “and turn out the lights.”

IV

He looked at the name on the post-it note and searched memory for a moment, then recalled the face. Ewan Biltmore, the pastor from the bus wreck, all those kids. He looked at the number and went to the briefing room, dialed the number and sat at the sergeant’s desk with a notepad out, at the ready.

“Reverend Biltmore’s office, this is Barbara speaking. How may I help you?”

He told the girl who he was, and that he was returning the ‘reverend’s’ call.

“One moment, please.”

The man’s voice came on, rich and sonorous. “Yes, son,” the man said, “I just wanted to know how you’re doing?”

“I’m fine, sir.”

“I see. I ask because you seemed a bit distraught the other day.”

“Yessir, it’s been a rough few weeks.”

“Do you attend services, son?”

“No sir. Not in years.”

“What happened, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“After my mother passed away, I just…well…”

“I understand. Look, I don’t want to keep you, but I wanted to invite you to services this Sunday. We serve lunch after, so bring an appetite, would you?”

“I’m working Sunday, sir, but if I’m free I’ll try to stop by.”

“Yes, I’d like that. Hope to see you then.”

“Goodbye, sir.”

“Yes, good day to you.”

He looked at the clock on the wall: 11:23 – not quite time to check in service. He went over the hit list, the speeding-related accidents over the past week that Traffic Division used to set radar enforcement schedules, and the L-T had circled Kiest and Westmoreland, between noon and three, and put that in his box. He dropped off a supplemental report and headed to the parking lot, checked out the Harley and put on his helmet, then checked into service.

Out onto Illinois then south on Cockrell Hill Road to Kiest, just like yesterday. Just like the day before yesterday. Just like tomorrow would almost certainly be.

Yet…what was waiting for him out here today, he wondered. What shit-storm was waiting to break open and fall from the clouds. “And who’s gonna die,” he asked no one in particular.

Certainly not God.

He thought of Biltmore as he pulled off the road a few hundred yards south of Kiest, thought of the locomotive engineer’s words: “I see that guy lookin’ at me, his face all blank like, then he pulls right up on the tracks…and stops, and he never stopped lookin’ at me…not once, the whole time.”

Why? Why such despair? Why would someone be willing to kill himself – and dozens of children, too? A church employee, no less?

He pulled out the radar gun and flipped in the power and ran the ‘TEST’ circuit, then pulled out his tuning forks and knocked them on his knee, one by one, holding the vibrating rods up to the radar aperture and hitting the trigger. When all three checked out he put the forks back in his shirt pocket and looked at a car – headed his way – at, he guessed, 38 miles per hour. He held up the radar and triggered it, saw the car’s speed at 37 and falling – rapidly now – and with his visual estimate verified he sat on the bike with the radar balanced on his thigh, waiting for his first customer of the day.

It didn’t take long.

Bright orange corvette. Heavy acceleration from the light at Kiest – a manual transmission, convertible. Visual estimate 55 and climbing, in a 35 zone, and he dropped the radar in the left saddlebag and toggled the starter, pulled out into traffic as the Corvette passed. Strobes on, siren next, get in close, read the plate. She’s signaling now, got religion real bad now…

“2141, traffic.”

“41.”

“Out at Westmoreland and Silverwood on Texas personalized Henry Oscar Tom, Lincoln Edward George Zebra.”

“11:55 hours.”

He got off the Harley and looked over the car, slowly, then walked up to the drivers door. Blond hair – long, face – sunburned. He moved closer: white gym shorts, orange halter top, bare feet. Inspection sticker expired, no seat belt. Fingernails? Long and black, with little red spots on them. Perfect, he thought. A black widow…

“Morning ma’am,” he said, running through the department’s mandated ‘seven step approach’ for initiating a traffic stop: “Hello, my name is officer ‘insert your name here’, and you were observed having sex with a donkey, in violation of the Laws of the Great State of Texas…”

“…And I’ll need to see your driver’s license and proof of financial responsibility.”

“My what?”

“Proof of insurance, ma’am.”

“Oh.” She rummaged around in seat, then the car’s glove box – then turned to him. “Sorry…I must’ve left them at home,” she said, batting her eyes. “Was I really going fifty five?”

“Ma’am, I’ll need you full name and date of birth, please.”

“Mindy Haskell, March third, fifty nine.”

“Keys, on the dash, please?”

“What?”

“Car keys, up there on the dash now.” He walked back to the Harley and picked up the mic: “41, need a 27, 28 and 29 on Haskell, Mindy, female white, three, three, fifty nine.”

“11:59 hours.”

“Ma’am, please keep your hands where I can see them.”

“2141, stand by to copy 29 information.”

“Oh, great,” he said, reaching for the mic. “41, go ahead.”

“Multiple 29s signals five, twenty three, and that D-L comes back suspended for signal 40 times three.”

“41, confirm warrants, and I’ll need a unit for transport, dispatch wrecker this location.”

“1200 hours.”

“Ma’am, hands where I can see them. Now.”

His hands go to the Sig226 on his hip – but her hands aren’t coming up. She’s looking at him in the door mounted sideview mirror, and he can see her eyes.

‘Not scared,’ he says to no one in particular, ‘and that ain’t right.’

The Sig comes out and he steps out of her line of sight, moves to the right, and he sees her turn, sees the pistol in her right hand as she lifts up in the seat, then the pistol is coming up and everything slows down.

It sounds like a loud ‘SNAP’ and he feels the bullet slam into his vest – but two rounds have left his Sig by then. The first round hits her left eye, the second goes through the right side of her neck, exits after going through her spine.

He hears “2230 out with 2141 – signal 33, shots fired!” on the radio and he wonders who 2230 is, then sees a patrol car across the street, sliding to a stop. “2230, ambulance code 3 and 41 looks okay, one suspect down.”

“1203 hours.”

His chest is on fire and his breathing feels constricted – and he’s stumbling backwards, then sitting on the pavement, pulling off his shirt then pulling the velcro straps on his vest, throwing it off.

He sees Desjardins running his way and he’s pulling off his t-shirt, clawing at his chest. “I can’t breathe,” he hears a voice say, then he thinks ‘I’m falling – backwards – slowly’ – and he hopes she catches his head before it hits the pavement, because that might hurt.

V

He’s sitting outside in the twilight, on the grassy lawn, the orange brick house behind him now. News helicopters circle overhead, trying to get the shot they’ll lead with for the ten o’clock news, and the watch commander and the chief are talking with reporters down the street, the camera’s bright lights attracting a million insects. Desjardins has been in an ambulance with one of the last kids they found, maybe six years old, hiding under a bed. She heard his cries, found him – and the kid wouldn’t let go of her. He’d counted sixty cigarette burns on his thighs and torso, then gave up and walked back into the living room.

The cages had been moved into the garage by the time they stormed in, and the men were busily setting up rooms to look like this was an ongoing church school, that everything was peachy keen and hunky dory. “No, no problems here, officer, and sure, you can come in and look around. See all our happy, smiling children?”

A detective walked over and sat down on the grass next to him, pulled out a steno pad and flipped to a page he’d written on earlier that evening. “Okay, let me run down what you told me, see if anything else comes to mind.”

“Sure, fire away.”

“You were out back, behind the tree you marked, and you heard someone yell ”No, I’m not going to do that!”

“Yup.”

“And you put the 33 out, ran for the back porch, the sliding glass door, and you picked up the chair on the way, threw it into the glass and you and Desjardins entered the residence that way.”

“Yessirree–Bob.”

He chuckled at that. “I’m curious…why not just try the door?”

“I was kind of in a hurry. Anyway, I was thinking, ‘What would Steven Seagal do, you know?’ Would Seagal just try the door? Fuck no. He would pick up that very same chair, throw it just exactly the same way I did.”

“I can quote you on that?”

“Fuckin-A.”

“Okay. So, first thing you see is a kid, throat cut, on the floor, and at least one other body halfway in a large, black garbage bag.”

“That’s a big ten four, good buddy.”

“You alright, man?”

“No, I am not alright, man. I’m very seriously not alright. Make sure you put that down in your fuckin’ report, too, wouldya?”

“Yeah. Got it. So the next thing you saw was the reverend. Ewan Biltmore. And you say you saw him last once before?”

“He invited me to services once, then lunch.”

“And you went?”

“To lunch, yes.”

“I’m curious. Why?”

“Couple of weeks after I worked a bad wreck, the accident with the bus from his church and the train…”

“Oh, shit. Didn’t know that was you, man.”

“Yeah, well, he called me, wanted to see how I was doing.”

“How you were doing?”

“It was a bad’ wreck, Sherlock.”

“I know. So, Biltmore has a gun, a Smith 629. He sees Ainsworth coming in through the front door and he was getting ready to shoot, and you take him out. A double tap? That right?”

“Yup, once in the chest, the next right between the eyes.”

“You’re still on the pistol team, aren’t you?”

“Yup.”

“Okay, that accounts for the head shot. So, you run to Biltmore, Desjardins takes off for the sound of someone crying in a bedroom, and that’s when you hear more shots, run to the bedroom where you think Desjardins is, and you say she drilled that Pridemoor fella, twice.”

“Yup, and that’s when she heard that kid, got him out from under the bed.”

“Right, got that. So, you hear two shots next, you think Ainsworth’s, that right?”

“I think, yes, but I couldn’t see that part of the house from where I was then.”

“Okay. Then the shotgun, what sounded like a shotgun, and by the time you got to the garage Ainsworth was down, and you hear the garage door opening. You see two men running, both with what you say were rifles, and one turned on you, and that’s when you fired shots three and four?”

“Yup. Two head shots.”

“Why not double taps?”

“I was angry. I thought, gee, maybe I should shoot them in the nuts, but no, I had to do it the hard way.”

“I see. And after that?”

“I started looking for survivors.”

“Anything you want to add?”

“No.”

“If you think of anything…”

“I’ll call you, slick.”

“You need anything?”

He coughed once, then looked up and laughed –  shook his head and turned away before he said what he wanted to say. What he needed so say.

He felt her by his side a few minutes later, sitting there on the grass. She was looking at his hands and he looked down, saw blood all over them and he wondered when that had happened.

“Damn,” he said. “I don’t remember how I got blood on…”

“Ainsworth,” one of the paramedics said as he walked by. “You were doing CPR on him.”

“Hmm,” he said. “Weird, ya know? I don’t remember doing that.” He turned and looked at her, saw the expression on her face, in her eyes. “You know, there are guys that have been here twenty years and never drawn a gun. Now there’s you. Two weeks and two down. If you’re not careful, you’re going to develop a reputation.”

“I was thinkin’, you know. I wanted to…I think I got into this because…”

“I know.”

“I think I’m going to turn in my letter. Go back to teaching.”

He shook his head. “No. No, you’re not.”

“Oh?”

“You’re not, because I’m not going to let you.”

“You won’t let me?”

“Yup.”

“And why not?”

He turned and looked her in the eye: “Because, you’re too good a cop.”

She looked at him, let his words roll around in her mind for a while. “You know,” she said, “I hope I never meet your wife.”

“Oh?”

“It’ll be a bitch telling her how much I love you.”

He nodded his head, looked down and laughed. “Wait’ll you meet my old man.”

© 2017 Adrian Leverkühn | abw | adrianleverkuhnwrites.com

4 thoughts on “Images de pluie, dans l’ombre

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