Furthest Right

Dying In Vain


My partner Shank and I shot the breeze a bit while gearing up. It was like that after Watch Assembly at precinct. Shank and I talked family, then bitched about our evening’s assignment. It was proper social grooming. It got us into work mode and ready to roll and pull our shift out as partners.

“Hey Reg, they seriously named it Playn Street? That’s a misprint if I ever saw one.” Shank informed me.

“Nope, it’s pretty much just a cul-de-sac off Hull Street Road. Fun place. It’s near the biker place SWAT got called over to last Thursday. That’s why Coop told us to go park there all night and keep an eye on things.”

“You say so, man.” Shank shrugged and put another wooden toothpick between his teeth as he adjusted his tac-gear. “I guess that curve in the road keeps both them and us from having LOS. Do we just listen for about twenty bike motors and send up the Bat-signal if we hear them?”

“Pretty much. I think that’s what SGT Cooper wants from us.” I responded as I got my stuff squared away and picked up the keys and vehicle log from the Motor Sergeant. We always rode Alpha One-Fower_Zeerow. After being partnered with Shank in the same ride for six months, it had the familiar feel of a car we actually owned. On those rare occasions we drew someone else’s ride for some reason, the cars didn’t smell right and it bothered us. It was like every partnership in the precinct marked their car as a territory of sorts.

So we drove out of the precinct garage, across Redneck Road as we referred to Jefferson Davis Highway. We rolled slow and easy down Hull Street Road, past the facades of dying small businesses. The pawnshops, payday loan sharks and laundromats teemed with a verminous underclass. I remembered riding this stretch and recognizing a fourteen year-old girl I’d run in for blowing domes over in the industrial park the previous week. Hull Street Road ran through the worst of HUD City.

We reached our spot and settled in. We found a spot to parallel-park with a good, clear run for rapid egress. We settled in for the night. Shank, formally known as Patrol Officer Igor Larianov Shanskirov, got out a bottled water and his empty Planters Peanuts jar. We were there from 7:30 to 5:00 AM. Coffee after 6 PM was something you’d come to regret on an assignment like this one.

“This sh!t gets old, Man. Even with a special partner like you. They should take those bikers.” I offered after an hour and 30 minutes of boredom.

“Did you forget your porn, Young Reginald?” Shank asked.

“Yeah, I deleted every one of those videos of your mom off my cellphone. Just like you asked. But they should seriously send in the fvcking armored cav the next time they hold the Texas No-Look Hold ‘Em game and cut their product. If even *I* know this sh!t goes down Sunday Night after the last NFL game, Vice has to be on to it.”

“You just say that because they’re the only whites on the whole stretch and it pisses off the natives. More calls, more ambulances, that sort of sh!t.”

“Wouldn’t so bad if they were just whites like us. They’re fvcking Vikings on meth and they deliberately stir sh!t up. The place is on edge every time The Eastern Shore Pagans roll in.”

“Gotta’ love the fvcking overtime.” Shank quipped. “Diversity is Southside Richmond’s strength.”

Another four hours passed. Shank whistled lullabies as he idly scratched his crotch. “I went to the Suicide Prevention Training the other day. Sitting through that class was the hardest part.”

“You’re still with us. I’m happy it worked. I went to Substance Abuse Training two weeks ago. They taught me I’m not supposed to hang by my knees from the chandelier while I drink. It might not go down quite right.”
Shank sat up straight. “The fvck? You see that old Buick, Peters?”

“Yeah. Been there five minutes. What’s that kid doing tossing something in the window?”

The Buick fired up and started to roll. Not really fast. Not like he knew we were a police cruiser. We had sat dark since early evening and were under a pretty big shade tree. An oblivious fool wouldn’t have made us five minutes ago.

Shank had the mic and talked quietly. “Quarterback, this is Alpha One-Fower-Zeerow. The dog is off the leash. Out.”

“Nice of you to consult me, partner.” I said as I started the cruiser and prepared to follow the Buick off of Playn Street. Once we’d called in about the dog being off the leash, dispatch would know a required stakeout just went uncovered. I fully expected Cooper to call us up and read us the Roberts Rules. This didn’t happen. I rolled in blackout mode, slowly behind a Buick as it approached the T Playn made at Hull Street Road.

The Buick didn’t signal by design or neglect, but the vehicle bore rightward and would have risked a Darwin Award to whip around for a sudden Louie. I went headlights, but no sirens. The Buick had a driver and no passengers. The right side rear window was about two and a half inches ajar. He rolled out to the right, about five or so miles above the speed limit. I held back for a count of five and let one car intercede between us before I followed.

The Buick would roll a block or two and hang a right. We’d skulk back a car or two behind. He’d keep making rights on side streets. He’d turn around and stop for a couple of minutes. People would drop things through his window. It looked like plastic bags. Product or money. Shank wondered aloud. “Where the fvck is his security?”

His license was dirty and missing some paint. Perhaps it was deliberately as opaque as could be and still pass as legal. Shank had called in. “Bravo, Two-Niner-Fife. Um, ah, Mike or November. Unsure which. Tree-One-ah,..Papa or Foxtrot, again unclear on that last digit.” The Buick’s driver had taken five of these bags through his window and we were waiting for the ID to come back.

Shank called in a phase line and notified Alpha Fife-Zeerow-Fife we were crossing their patrol territory and were tailing a suspicious brown Buick. Still no notification on the plates. The Buick then turned right and took an abrupt left into a grass-invaded driveway next to a rundown old rambler. I slowed and looked for the address on the mailbox. “One-Tree Hoover Avenue, Shank.” Shank called Quarterback for permission to interrogate. The hand-to-hands were probable cause with an Oak Leaf Cluster.

“Let’s ring the doorbell and tell him Amway sent us.” I remarked. The radio had just come back with a list of possibles on the tags. One was a City Councilman’s son named Brock Handlemann. It was the only one who matched a Brown Buick. The Sonovabeach giving us PC was the enfant terrible of one of the most powerful men in Richmond’s Municipal Government.

Alpha Five-Zeerow-Fife drove up. A tall, almost Zulu-dark Officer named Hopkins approached our cruiser. “What’s the poop?” He asked.

“Single, Caucasian, male. Five hand-to-hands with the locals down Hull Street Road.” Shank explained pointing to the old house. “Dispatch tells us to check it out. We’ll do standard front and back. I’ll knock and ask to speak to the owner of this Gentleman’s Establishment. Oh, and its Councilman Handlemann’s adorable son Brock doing the trappin’.”

“Fvck me.” Hopkins sucked air through his teeth and responded with his countenance grave. “McCourty and I have got your Six. You heard any dogs on the property? How many are in the house?”

“We think just the Handlemann Spawn.” I answered.

“If you lyin’, you dyin’.” Hopkins riposted.

I was not happy camper, but I had my role to play in this takedown. I oozed myself against the side of the house, working myself around back and hoping Hopkins hadn’t prophesied anything by asking about dogs. It would be a nice night to die, except that dying, like, you know, sucked.

Shank approached the front of the house the way a calm and fearless warrior approached the possibility of final fate. He knocked on the door. “Police. Ope…”

BLAM!BLAM!BLAM! “Arrghhh…oh, God, arragghhh,,,”

“Flash! Flash! Flash! Quarterback, this is Alpha Fife-Zeerow-Fife. McCourty speaking. Officer down. Code Tree. One-Tree Hoover Avenue. Shots fired. Backup requested. Over.”

Around back I heard the blast. I felt like we had been left for dead. My immediate instinct was to run to where my partner was. I also knew I couldn’t leave the back open or the perp/perps would escape. It had started happening before I had a good angle on the back entrance. It consisted of a wooden door, a screen door, a stoop and three small steps. The doors flew open.

I saw the shotgun before the perp. I got low, drew down and shot. The round was just rear of center mass and the person who it hit went rolling with a cry of great pain. Sirens began to resound in the distance. Dogs took up a cacophony throughout many of the neighboring yards. Lights went on. The downed perp rolled to his weapon and tried to maneuver it in my direction. I fired again. He was finished.

While I had dispatched Thing #1, another individual crashed through the door and fired a handgun in my general vicinity. One round kicked dirt on top of my head. Another ricocheted off one of my pouches and ruined a portion of my gear belt. I turned to address him with my service weapon and this exposed me to the door.

Thing #3 emerged. His weapon discharged in fiery anger. The sirens faded. Light disappeared. The pain was awful, but blissfully fleeting. It became quiet and peace overrode all….

EPILOGUE: after investigation of the tragic incidents occurring on the night of October 19th, 2016: It was determined Officers Reginald Kalb Peters and Igor Larianov Shanskirov had violated numerous tactical protocols and had no permission or probable cause to be on the property located at 13 Hoover Street. Furthermore, they had abandoned a stakeout against the orders of Watch Sergeant Nathaniel Brainard Hoover without any notification. Proper dispatch logs were surprisingly illegible and poorly kept. What was learned came from the testimonies of Officers McCourty and Hopkins. The case was moved expeditiously and wrapped up in record time under the intense pressure and guidance of Council Algernon K. Handlemann.

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