Dead bodies and pink deputies

“Hurry, an SUV just jumped the guardrail.”

“Yes, it went airborne. Must’ve flown twenty- or thirty-feet straight up.”

“Uh huh. Hit a tree and then fell down into the ravine.”

“Must’ve been doing ninety or better when it hit the barrier.”

“One of the men is in the top of the tree—”

“No, he’s not moving—”

“That’s right…and I can another one on the riverbank.”

“The car was packed.”

I’d say at least five people were inside.”

“Upside down, now.”

“No, no one is moving.”

“It doesn’t look good.”

“Please hurry.”

A beep, then radio noises in the background.

One-sided conversation.

Then…

“Okay, I’m sending an officer right now.”

Long, slow day.

Four hours, two tickets.

Hot sun.

Hazy.

Cloudless.

Bored.

Radio crackles.

“10-4, running radar, but I’m close. I’ll take the call.”

“Rescue is en route?”

“I’m on the way.”

Tires spin.

Gravel tossed.

Rubber grips pavement.

A squeal.

Engine roars.

Lights flickering and flashing.

Siren screaming.

Scenery a blur.

Traffic backing up.

Pass on shoulder.

People out.

Some looking, some running.

Broken guardrail.

Smashed concrete.

“Stand back!”

A peek over.

Tree top.

Broken branches.

Clothing and papers.

And a body.

“Send me some help!”

One-hundred feet below.

Crumpled metal.

Twisted steel.

And more mangled humans.

More sirens.

Climb down.

Three deputies.

Steep.

Rocky.

Snakes.

Insects.

Thick brush.

Briars and thorns.

Slip.

Slide.

Push through greenery.

Two steps forward.

One back.

Wading against the tide.

Wreckage.

Overturned.

Top flattened.

Glass broken.

One under…dead.

Two to the right…dead.

One inside…dead

Broken and motionless limbs.

All dead.

Souls departed.

The climb out.

Passing rescue workers.

Straight up.

More pushing.

More brambles.

More cuts.

More brush.

A look around.

A very close look around.

All around…

An ocean of…poison ivy.

Neck deep poison ivy.

As far as the eye could see…

POISON IVY!

Three officers.

Three highly allergic officers.

Three bottles of Calamine lotion.

Seven long days…

Itching.

Scratching.

Calamine-painted pink deputies.

From head to toe.

And everywhere in between.

Everywhere…

The fire page 193

10-4, it’s a structure.

Fully involved.

A real hot one too.

Send fire units to my location.

Standby.

Someone’s running toward me.

Please, you’ve got to help him.

Help who, ma’am?

The old man.

He’s in there.

I tried.

But it was too hot.

He’s trapped.

Screaming.

His bedroom.

Heat and flames

A fireplace

Times ten-thousand

Smoke

Thick

Heavy

Choking

Eyes

Burning

Get low!

Crawl

Glass

Flaming carpet

Hot embers

A doorway

So hot

Can’t breathe

A little further

Furniture

Ashes

The heat

Too intense

TV

Melted

Smoke boiling and billowing

Can’t see

Hands burning

Wheelchair

Caught on bed frame

A crutch

Out of reach

A foot

A leg

Trapped!

Pull and tug

Pull

Harder!

Fire

Crackling and popping

Something falls

Two hands

Back down hallway

Dragging

Straining

Pulling

Muscles screaming

Can’t see

Sweating

Burning

Heart pounding

No air

Pulling

Dizzy

Can’t breath

No strength

Can’t breath

Almost there

Can’t breath!

Moonlight

A touch

Strong hands

Gloved hands

Pulling

Dragging

Helping

Cool night air

Deep breaths

Firefighters

Oxygen

Yes, I’m okay

A few burns

Not too bad

Yes

The coroner’s on  the way

I tried

I really did

But he was already gone.

Life in prison:

Never so alone

Ashamed

Depressed

Anxious.

Strip-searched

Man after man

A number now

Prisoner after prisoner.

One by one

For all to see

Arms outstretched

Humiliation.

Men

Many frightened

Pretending

Showing no fear.

Long, dark, damp concrete hallways

Steel bars and doors

Stale air and emotions

Never a ray of sunlight.

Voices

Thunderous voices

Shrieking, howling, shouting

Everywhere.

Never-ending chatter

Never-ending clatter

Never-ending loneliness

Never-ending despair.

Never alone

But always alone

Sitting

Staring.

Thinking

Dreaming

Hoping

Regretting.

Kneeling

Prayers unanswered

Forgiveness

Doubtful.

Never silent

Deafening

The hollering and shouting

The clanging and banging.

Chains rattling

Doors slamming

Whistles and bells

Endlessly.

Time

Stopped

Days become weeks

Weeks become months.

An eternity

A lifetime of agony

Living inside their minds

An endless nightmare.

At least I could go home

At the end of the day.

Unwind

Take off the uniform

The badge

Thinking

Staring

Nightmares

Of bars and concrete

Of broken lives and hearts

Only to awaken

To begin another day

In their world.

Silence and tears

“Help me, please!”

“Yes, he has a gun. My shotgun…”

“Please, he’s all I have.”

“He’s seventeen.”

“Yes, it’s loaded.”

“Please, do something!”

“In the living room, sitting on the floor.”

“The far wall, next to the sofa.”

“Wait here. We’ll work it out.”

“Please…”

“He’s all I have…”

A turn of the doorknob.

Gentle push against wood.

Warm air brushes my cheek.

Quiet.

Soft mechanical hum…refrigerator.

“Mark?”

Nothing.

A step inside.

“Mark?”

Soft sobbing.

Agony.

Turn the corner.

“Mark, it’s me.”

“Leave me alone.”

“Let’s talk for a minute.”

“Go away.”

“You don’t understand.”

“Maybe I do.”

Another step.

Shotgun barrel beneath quivering chin.

Back against wall.

Shells scattered on floor.

Tears.

Another step.

Eyes turn toward me.

I sit beside him.

Backs against the wall.

Waiting, in silence.

Finger trembling against steel trigger.

“Want to talk about it?”

Silence and tears.

Finally…

“You know how he is.”

“Yes…I do.”

“He was my boss for a long time.”

“How’d you stand it?”

“I couldn’t, at first.”

“But I understood it was hard for him, too.”

“When your mom died.”

“But I miss her.”

“He does, too, Mark.”

“You need each other.”

“He hates me.”

“No, he misses his wife.”

“I want her to come home.”

“Mark, I’m really nervous about that gun.”

Silence and tears.

I hold out my hand.

A slow surrender.

A hug.

A long hug.

Emotions spill.

Sky opens.

A flood.

An earthquake.

Torrential rains.

Heartbreak.

Loneliness.

Fear.

Sadness.

A long, gut-wrenching hug.

Storm slowly subsides.

“You ready?”

A nod.

A walk outside.

Father and son together.

Silence and tears.

A family again.

For two short weeks.

No chance to talk.

Not that time.

A father’s silence and tears.

“He was a good son.”

“He missed his mom.”

“I tried, I really did.”

“I know you did.”

“I was a good father.”

“Yes you were.”

“The best.”

A faraway look.

I sit beside him.

Backs against the wall.

Waiting.

Silence and tears.

“Want to talk about it?”

“Not really.”

“You know, I’m really nervous about that gun.”

Silence and tears.

A soft mechanical hum…refrigerator.

“I’m here for you, you know.”

“And I’ve got all day.”

“A lifetime, actually.”

“Whatever it takes.”

“Whatever you need.”

Silence and tears.”

Two weeks…

Four weeks…

Then…

Never-ending silence.

No more tears…

A soft mechanical hum…refrigerator.

A stolen truck.
A dead body.

A knife.
A life.
A wife,
No more.

He?
Calm, indifferent.
Uncaring.
Odd.

Kitchen counter.
Knife block.
Fifteen spaces.
Fourteen knives.

Bloody tile.
Bloody carpet.
Open eyes.
Not seeing.

Stolen truck.
Stolen papers.
Stolen tools.
Useless clues?

Why wasn’t he upset?
Why didn’t he seem to care?
Why did it take so long to call the police?
Why? Why? Why?

Found the truck.
Projects.
Dangerous.
Drugs.
Thief.
Apartment.
Me?
Not afraid.
Drug dealers, not monsters.

Knock knock.
“What?”
“A murder and a stolen truck.”
“So?”
“Why, it’s right outside, the truck.”
“So?”

Eight men stand.
“So I want to talk to the guy who’s driving it.”
“Wrong house.”
“Don’t think so.”
“Why?”
“Oh, he’s here. But I don’t think he stole the truck.”
“I’ll be outside. Tell him I’ll wait.”

Minutes pass.
Hope I’m right.
My gut usually is.
Door opens.

He sits.
“You didn’t steal the truck, did you?”
A head shake.
He paid you to take those things and then drive away, right?”
A nod.
“He killed his wife, right?”
A look down.
“Yes.”
“Did you get rid of the knife?”

“No. Haven’t seen it.”

Then I know where it is.”
“Let’s have a look inside the truck.”

Under the seat, wrapped in paper.
A bloody knife.

Paid to drive the truck.
Pretend it’s stolen.

Five-hundred dollars.
Stopped to buy crack.

Not knowing he’d been set up.

For murder.

* For Diana

– We are experiencing some technical difficulties with the blog. I hope everything will be okay soon. Thanks for your patience.

Search warrant signed.

Entry team in place.

Canine excited.

Ready to go to work.

Bark, bark, barking.

Car rocking.

Ninety pounds of bundled energy

Jumping from side to side.

This is what he lives to do.

To please me.

Door’s kicked.

Shouting.

Scrambling.

“On the floor, now!”

More scuffling.

Then quiet.

Team leader out.

Followed by two masked officers.

Man handcuffed.

Head down.

Long, oily hair.

Dirty jeans.

No shoes.

Sad expression.

Disgusted.

Guilty.

Shame.

Worried eyes.

Team leader approaches.

“You want to let the dog search first?”

“Sure. Let’s go to work, boy.”

More jumping. Barking. Anxious eyes.

Leash taut. Ready to go.

“Find it,” was the command.

The only command needed.

He knew what to do.

He’s the boss.

Off, like a rocket.

Searching. High. Low.

Nose twitching.

So fast.

Kitchen cabinets.

Bedrooms.

Walls.

Dressers.

Closets.

Like a rocket.

A blur with fur.

Under the bed.

On the beds.

Under the covers (his favorite).

Wallowing beneath the sheets.

A dog’s personal jab at a drug dealer?

Finally, an alert on a bookcase.

Scratching, scratching, and barking.

This is it.

Remove books.

E.A. Poe, Dr. Seuss,

And tattered, worn encyclopedias.

Nothing.

A puzzled look at the dog.

He’s sure. Never more sure.

His eyes tell me so.

But nothing.

More scratching.

Looks at me.

Waiting. Watching. Wondering.

Why don’t I do something?

That’s what his eyes say.

Glancing back to the empty bookcase.

The empty bookcase.

Why?

What is it about an empty bookcase?

Has he finally made a mistake?

Take him outside for break.

Puzzled.

So puzzled.

He’s never been wrong.

Never.

Back inside.

Straight to the empty bookcase.

Barking and scratching.

So excited.

Wait.

A heating vent behind the bottom shelf.

Excitement!

“Where’s the furnace?”

“In the basement, I guess.”

“Let’s go, boy!”

Heart pounding.

Now it makes sense.

Down the steps.

Wooden.

Rickety.

Who cares.

Pulling me, hard.

Crazy with excitement.

And there it was…

200 pounds of marijuana.

Right beside the furnace blower.

He looks at me as if to say,

Now who’s stupid?

Can we please go play with my toy?

*In memory of the best partner I ever had. He was always on the smart end of the leash.

 

Wealthy.

Mansion.

Porsche.

Fame.

Money.

Parents.

Away.

Party.

Friends.

Corvettes.

Mercedes.

BMW.

Music.

Laughter.

Food.

Drinks.

Pot.

Cocaine.

Heroin.

LSD.

Mushrooms.

Fun.

Hash.

Speed.

Pipes.

Bongs.

Meth.

PCP.

Smoke.

Snort.

More friends.

More music.

Dancing.

More laughter.

More drugs.

Needles.

High.

Screams.

911.

Police.

Help!

Please!

CPR.

Breaths.

Compressions.

Emotions.

Pretty face.

Young.

More breaths.

Compressions.

Please!

Just one breath.

A single heartbeat.

Something.

Anything.

But, nothing.

Just cold.

Very cold.

Ambulance.

Hospital.

Parents.

Where?

Why?

How?

OD.

Sorry.

I tried.

I really tried.

DOA.

Tears.

Funeral.

Mansion.

Empty.

Parents.

Lonely.

Child.

Only child.

A beautiful daughter, gone.

A memory.

A sad memory.

 

 

walking

 

Sunday patrol.

Country roads. Brown car. Shiny star.

Spring breezes. FM radio.

I Fought The Law But The Law Won. Radar Love. Born To Be Wild.

Dark glasses. Mirrored.

Short sleeves rolled up.

Two tight turns.

Biceps struggle against fabric.

Tattoo.

Toothpick.

Tough guy.

Window down.

ZZ Top.

La Grange.

Love that song.

Crank it up!

Tapping fingers on steering wheel.

“Rumor spreadin’ a ’round…”

Curve.

“That Texas town…”

Overpass.

Man walking.

Long hair.

Sandals.

Backpack.

Hitchhiker.

Filthy hippee.

Drugs I bet.

Filthy hippee.

Stop.

Back up.

“I’ll be out of the car with a pedestrian on Hwy 1313.”

Crackle. “10-4.”

“Where you headed, buddy?”

“If you must know, I’m headed home.”

“Where you been, boy?”

“Excuse me?”

“I said, where you been…BOY.”

“Have I done anything wrong?”

“I’ll ask the questions. Now, where you been?”

“I’ve been on a camping trip with some friends. Now I’m headed home.”

Starts to walk away.

“Come back here. I’m not done with you.”

Exasperation. “I haven’t done anything wrong.”

Temper flares.

Face red.

Veins bulge.

Bad day?

“Sir, please.”

Hikes up gun belt and pants.

Pushes shades high on nose.

Flexes fingers.

“Sir, calm down. I just want to finish my walk.”

Opening and closing fists.

Radio crackles.

“Send an ambulance to this location.”

Crackle. “10-4. Do you need assistance? Are you 10-4?”

“I’m fine, but this guy’s gonna need an ambulance in just about one minute.”

Eyes roll in dozens of patrol cars.

Not again.

Blue lights wink and blink.

Back up’s on the way.

Radio silence.

Then…

“Officer needs assistance!

Officer needs assistance!

10-33! 10-33!

Can’t walk the walk?

Then don’t talk the talk.

“Ah, have mercy…” ~ Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill, and Frank Beard – ZZ Top

Please don't shoot my daddy

“Help me! Please help me.”

“He’s got my kids…And…Oh, God…He’s got a gun! Hel…” BOOM!

Silence.

“All units. Hostage situation. 212 Shady Lane. Weapons involved. Shots fired.”

Three cars. High speed parade.

Blue lights.

Sirens.

Sun behind trees.

Sharp, hairpin curves.

Shadows.

Leaves turning. Rain coming.

There, that’s the driveway.

Long dirt and gravel path.

Park single file.

Weapons drawn.

No cover.

Silence.

Me to the right. One to the left. One in the middle.

Thunder rumbles in distance.

Glass breaks.

A scream.

Front porch.

Door opens.

Three pistols aim.

Boy runs.

Crying.

“He’s got my sister and Mama. And he’s got a gun.”

SWAT. Call for backup.

Tear gas?

Dogs?

BOOM!

Screaming. Lot’s of screaming.

Wood splintering.

Thuds and thumps.

Struggle. Fighting. BOOM!

No time. Prepare to enter.

Place child in car.

Front door opens.

Man, wild-eyed. Shotgun.

Three voices. “Put down the gun! Put it down, now!”

Shotgun waving. Finger in trigger guard.

Three pistols pointed.

Squeezing.

Shotgun to chin.

Take chance.

Sneaking to side.

“I’ll kill myself!”

Closer.

One pleading. Begging. “Put down the gun.”

“I’m not going to jail!”

Woman crying. “Please, no…”

Sobbing.

Children crying. “No, Daddy. Please no.”

Closer.

“Nothing to live for.”

Still closer.

“I want to die.”

Shotgun swaying. Hands trembling.

“Go away.”

Tears.

“I’m taking them with me.”

Turns toward woman and child.

Points shotgun at woman.

Now.

Tackle.

Hit concrete hard.

Kick shotgun to yard.

Fighting.

Strong. Really strong.

Alcohol.

Eyes glassy.

Pupils tiny.

Cursing.

So strong.

Shirt torn.

Elbow bleeding.

Handcuffs click.

Growl like animal.

Still. Finally.

Methamphetamine almost took another one.

Possibly more.

Turn the page.

Another day’s coming.

marijuana

 

Sunrise. Humidity. Owl hoots.

Camouflage. Jump boots.

Careful walking.

No twig snapping.

No leaf crunching.

Dangerous sounds.

Radios. Ear pieces. Shhh…

Walking for miles. Thick brush.

Well worn foot path. Smooth dirt. Bent grass.

Mosquitoes. Bug spray.

Sun rising. Hot.

Sweat. Thirsty.

Ticks.

Poison Ivy. Poison Oak.

Frogs. Snakes. A deer. A rabbit.

Blackberries. Wild. Thorns.

Bleeding.

Walking. Slowly. Carefully.

Measured steps.

Fertilizer packages. Miracle-Gro.

Close. Really close.

Shhh..

Water buckets.

Chicken wire.

Camouflage netting.

Hold up hand.

Stop. Listen. Look.

Point.

Heads nod.

Wire across path. Thin. Almost invisible.

Booby trap.

Danger high.

Heart pounding like drum.

Do others hear it?

Wait! Talking. Where?

Hands and knees.

Crawling.

Peek through small opening in brush and weeds.

Men.

Guns.

Marijuana. Lots of marijuana.

Lots of guns.

Deep breath.

On three.

One finger.

Two fingers.

Go!

On the ground! Police!

Bang.

Bang, bang!

Running.

Yelling.

Scuffle.

Handcuffs.

Two months surveillance, helicopter, hiking, and long hours pay off.

One down, hundreds to go.

*     *     *

Author Terry Odell is giving away a copy of this fine book. Please visit Terry’s website for details.