1140 Hours – September 18, 2020

“Slow night?”

“Pretty much,” Sergeant Collins said, as he leaned to the passenger seat to retrieve his hat and what was probably once a full thermos of coffee. “Same old crap over on Elm Street—”

“They at it, again?” said Sergeant Martin, the oncoming shift supervisor. “What’s that, the third time this week?”

“Fourth, actually. He finally put her in the hospital this time, though. Broken arm, probably a fractured cheek, and a concussion.”

“Let me guess. He didn’t mean it and she said it was an accident,” said Martin as he poked his fingers between the rear seat and seat back, a bad practice that he really should stop. Used needles and other nasty things can wreak havoc on bare flesh. But, all was well, this time. A quick look under the seat and he was done. No hidden contraband left behind by any of the bad guys arrested on the previous shift.

“Everything okay?”

“Clean, as always,” Martin said, moving to the driver’s seat to begin the routine—checking the lights, radio, siren, shotgun, and a quick calibration of the radar unit.

“The usuals were out and about in “The Bottom.” Lots of traffic down there too. I stopped a few cars as they were leaving. They make it so easy—running stop signs, speeding, throwing bottles at my police car as they pass by. You know how they are.”

“Find anything good?”

“No, if they were holding, I didn’t see it,” said Collins. He stood beside the patrol car holding his hat and a half-empty gear bag in his right hand, waiting patiently for Martin to finish the mandatory pre-shift vehicle and equipment inspection.

“There was a new guy hanging out with the drug runners on Reynolds Street,” Collins said. “Never seen him before. Tall, really dark skin, long braids, and a gold star on one of his front teeth. I stopped and talked to him. Most of the guys scattered, but he never flinched. Smart mouth on him too. Had an accent that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Sounded a little like that old guy who works at the motor pool. He’s Haitian, right? Anyway, the guy said he was Popcorn Bajolière’s cousin from New York. Claimed his name was Reggie Jackson. He also claimed he lost his ID last week.”

“Think he’s the guy bringing the stuff in?”

“Could be.”

“I’ll head down there in a few minutes to keep the pressure on,” said Martin. “Maybe I’ll get lucky.”

“Maybe so,” Collins said. “Well, if you’re all set, I’m going inside to finish writing up my reports and go over a few notes. I’ve got court in the morning. You?”

“No, but I do have to be at the range at ten for qualifying.”

“Man, is it that time of the year already?”

“Yep. They haven’t let you know when you’ve got to shoot?” Martin asked.

“Not yet, but I’m sure it’ll be on one of my days off, as always.”

“Administration doesn’t know any other way. They want us married to the department.”

“I guess,” Collins said, giving his old friend a pat on the arm, a habit he’d never been able to break. “Well, I’ll see you tomorrow night. Stay safe out there.”

“Always.”

0001 Hours – September 19, 2020

“All south-side units. Shots fired in The Bottom at the corner of Reynolds and Parker. One suspect down, possibly wounded. Caller reports several men fighting in the street. She believes there are numerous guns involved. I heard four shots fired while the caller was on the line. Rescue has been dispatched.”

“10-4,” said Sergeant Martin. “I’m en route. Have the ambulance hold back a few blocks until we have a chance to see what we’ve got. Send a couple of backup units. Going to The Bottom is never a good thing.”

“10-4, 1234.”

0002 Hours – September 19, 2020

“All south-side units. Shots-fired call at Sunset Acres, the mobile home park near the old railroad depot. Caller is advising that it’s her husband and he’s standing in the front yard, totally nude except for a pair of sweat socks, firing his shotgun at passing cars. She states the husband has been off his meds for two days. The caller’s address is 312 Tall Pine Lane. Residence is a white trailer with satellite dish in the front yard. A black Ford pickup truck is parked in the driveway. Suspect is a white male, approximately six-two, reddish-brown hair, and nude.”

“10-4,” said Martin. “See if someone from Precinct Four can take that one for us until we clear from The Bottom. We’re still sorting out this mess. Call out SWAT. We’re gonna need them.”

“Dispatch to 1245, 1263. 1267. Copy?”

“10-4. 1245 and 63 are thirty seconds from the trailer park. I hear gunfire already. I think we’re going to need some additional assistance with this one. Sounds like a war zone down there. Dispatch, ask county and state police if they can spare anyone.”

“67 is en route. ETA five minutes.”

“10-4.”

0348 Hours – September 19, 2020

“Thanks for coming back to help out,” said Martin.

“No problem. You’d have done the same,” said Collins. “Besides, I hate paperwork. And, ten minutes earlier and it could’ve been me instead of you taking that shotgun blast.” Collins reached over to pat Martin’s arm. “The doc says you should be fine in a few weeks, though. Maybe even back to work in a couple of months. Depends on the rehab.”

“Well, this is one way to avoid going to the range on my day off.”

Collins’ lips split in a slight smile. “I think I’d rather spend a few hours at the range than five minutes in this place.”

“Honestly, me too,” said Martin. “Me, too.”

1400 Hours – September 22, 2020

Sergeant Collins sat in the second row, holding his hat in his trembling hands. He was listening, but not hearing the words the chaplain spoke to a standing-room-only congregation. Officers had come from as far away as California to pay their respects.

Collins used his sleeve to wipe a lone tear from his right cheek.

Ten minutes earlier and it could’ve been him.

Cue the bagpipes.

Officer Martin. End of Watch – September 19, 2020


The tale above is fictional, of course. However, the story is based on the reality faced by law enforcement officers every time they sign on for duty.

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