Friday, June 6, 2008

True Blue

He reached up and adjusted the brim of his Dodger ball cap so it tilted slightly downward. The flimsy shield made of fabric did little to thwart the rain. This particular May shower had combined forces with a gusty northerly wind, which transformed a gentle rain into horizontal sheets that tested his will. Each of the determined drops slashed at his face causing his patience to wear thin. Mike Cadiz, a nineteen year veteran of the L.A.P.D, was no stranger to the elements, but tonight he wore no uniform. The oath he had taken to serve and protect didn’t stop when he clocked out. The obvious odor of alcohol emanating from the occupant explained the man’s struggle to produce his driver’s license. Many things had worked to bring these two men together, but mostly luck. Good on Mike’s part and misfortunate concerning the inebriated man.

Mike had exited the convenience store when he spotted the car in the parking lot. A black 2004 Chevy Cavalier that matched the description given by the witness two days earlier. The fact that the owner had made no attempt to conceal the heavy damage to the front driver-side quarter panel surprised him. Mike knew it would be best if he called one of his buddies on patrol, but instead returned to his car to wait.

A rail-thin middle aged man emerged around the corner of the mart. His spindly arms appeared taxed just carrying the brown paper bag. The glimmering of brown glass just visible left no doubt as to his purchase. Mike couldn’t fault him; he too preferred longnecks. Mike lit another Camel light while he watched the man enter the car and promptly retrieve a bottle. He took several hurried swallows before setting the beer aside and reaching for the ignition.

Mike’s reliable Seiko indicated the time, one thirty-two a.m. Few if any of the fifteen minutes he promised his wife remained. Fifteen minutes would have sufficed to run out and purchase a pack of smokes, but then this opportunity came along. Although she needed him there with her, he knew his wife would understand. Only a few minutes of effort could prevent a serious accident.

He allowed the black Cavalier to exit the parking lot and followed at a safe distance. The driver continued to utilize his entire lane and occasionally a portion of the opposing one. Perhaps an indication this wasn’t his first twelve-pack this evening. After the man made an exceedingly wide right turn onto a side street, Mike placed the lights on the dash and activated them.

Standing in the elements, Mike adjusted his cap again. The soaked ball cap had given up what little protection it had provided just a few minutes earlier.

“Sir, this weather is nasty. You think you could hurry a little?”

Mike’s request seemed to frazzle the already nervous man. Document after document fell in his lap as he rifled through his wallet. The beam of Mike’s flashlight focused on the center console.

“Is that an open container in your cup holder?”

“Um—yeah officer, sorry about that, been a long day at work. You know how it is.”

Mike then guided the flashlight to the exterior of the car and examined the damage closer. The crumpled metal did seem consistent with what he assumed had transpired.

“Don’t suppose you can tell me what happened to your car, can you?”

“Well—officer, funny thing, my wife ran into the garage a couple of days ago.”

Hummmm, I see. I swear the insurance companies would go broke if it wasn’t for the female species.”

The man laughed nervously as if Mike believed his story and eventually if given enough time he could produce a valid license.

“You know what? I changed my mind. Don’t bother with the license; I think I’ve seen enough.”

Three empty casings clinked consecutively as they rebounded on the pavement and found rest in a puddle. The minuscule noise they produced paled in comparison to the actual muzzle blast but it was the clinking that caused a satisfied grin on his face. The first round smashed into the unsuspecting man’s temple, predictably expanded before exploding on the far side, carrying with it the man’s last milliseconds of life. Logic would have prevented the second and third rounds from being fired, but this had never been about logic.

Mike returned the model 1911 back to its resting place, tucked beneath his shirt, hiding in the small of his back. He grinned as he realized his preference for his own weapon opposed to standard issue. Certainly there were dozens of reasons he could cite. The silky smooth action and the immediate response the trigger provided were astounding when compared to the overpriced Glock. But on this particular early morning it was the origin of the weapon that gave cause to smile. The .45 had come from the evidence locker. On an off change that a ballistics test be performed the authorities would show up at the last registered owner’s home looking for answers. Mike knew the drug dealer from which the gun had been confiscated and had a pretty good idea he had not rushed out to register it.

Adjusting the beam of his flashlight he carefully collected the spent casings. After inserting the brass into the front pocket of his jeans he reached inside the Cavalier. The beer remained cold, a testament to justice dispensed quickly. Mike guzzled several swallows before pausing and wiping his lips with the back of his hand.

Aaaaahhh! You’re certainly welcome Mr. Kowalski. I had supposed the second D.U.I. and suspended license would keep you off the street. Regretfully I was incorrect. Oh, it’s no problem at all. Even I realize what a burden a heavy conscience can be. Hope you rest easier now, I know I will. No, no, thank you for the frosty beverage.”

Mike waited until he reached a busier thoroughfare before flipping on the headlights. As the light turned green his foot pushed heavily against the accelerator, hoping to make up a few of the lost minutes. With only a few blocks separating him and his destination he met with delay. Swirling blue and red lights swallowed his rearview mirror. For a moment he experienced a quickening of his pulse; the results for which he was responsible for inflicting on a daily basis. He rolled down his window as the officer approached.

“Sir, I need to see your driver’s license and proof of……”

“Jose, Jose Martinez, it’s me, Mike.”

“Hey Mike, almost didn’t recognize you. You’re lookin’ a little rough, but that’s certainly understandable. Hey, how’s your son doing?”

“I’m headed back to the hospital now, just had to run for a pack of smokes. After two days he’s still in a coma. The doctor says he could wake up any minute, in a week or a month from now, or never.”

“All of us guys at the station feel terrible about what happened. I assure you, if there’s one bit of justice left in this world we’ll catch that drunk that ran your son over!”

“I know everyone is doing their best and we really do appreciate your dedication. ‘Stay true to the blue’, isn’t that what they always tell us? Well, I better get back up there. My wife’s waiting and I’m already late. You be careful, man, plenty of freaks and misguided souls roaming the streets at this hour!”


paisley said...

oh that was good.. you had me with you the whole way thru.. not a skimmer here!!!! wunderful!!

Jo Janoski said...

Oh yes!Good, thick, solid story-telling.

Stacey said...

You kept me fully engrossed throughout, brilliant ;-D

Dan said...

Thanks ladies. Sometimes decent ideas come to me when I'm mowing the grass, and more often I just get sunburnt.