After a fight for his life in a dirty alley, behind an even dirtier bar, a series of events are set in motion that cause him to question just how rough things have actually been. Show Less
Amos dropped to his knees and then carefully lowered himself till he lay prone. “Hurry up. It smells like piss down here.”
“Damn. Go easy,” Amos winced. His wrist looked like a sausage about to burst. The bracelet wasn’t going to fit around it. And goddamn it if Amos was right, it does smell like piss down here.
“I’m going to stand up. I want you to stay flat on the ground till I tell you to get up.” Crowdog rose back to his feet and moved a couple feet back. Best to be careful, a little bit of space between them would grant less opportunities. “Alright, get up!”
Crowdog grabbed his upper arm and helped him to his feet. Probably shock. Amos looked all shaky and white. He saw movement in the periphery of his vision. And then an explosion of white sparkling stars obscured his vision.
Instinctively, Crowdog raised his arms and deflected the second blow. He felt the sticky warm blood congealing in his ear as he came back to reality.
A deep breath. And he faced his attackers. They were blurry triplets.
Crowdog felt nauseous, the world spun. The force of the blow to his arm drove him backwards.
He pulled his sidearm from his belt and fired three times. One bullet aimed at the centre mass of each figure. He lost consciousness before the last bullet passed through it’s target.
Day One, 10:00:00 AM
Crowdog awoke with a splitting headache. He squinted as the morning sun invaded his hospital room. A large figure stood by the window, the bright yellow light made its image a silhouette.
He recognized the voice immediately. “Yeah, Sarge. Par for the course for me lately.” His head was bandaged with thick white gauze. And it was itchy. Healing. He had to resist the temptation to scratch.
“Goddamn lucky, I say. This isn’t the first time you’ve woke up to my ugly mug.” He pointed at his face and scowled. “Only my wife should have that privilege.”
Leo chuckled. Sergeant Donovan was quite the looker. The years had hardened his face to stone; Crows feet like cracks in granite around his gray eyes. He was a man that frowned a lot.
“Don’t fucking laugh. I’ve got a meeting about you this morning. And let me tell you, management is pissed! This is looking like a bad shooting.”
Leo didn’t know how to respond. How could they think it was a bad shooting? Appropriate force was used. Would they be having this conversation had he wound up a headline?
Another name on the City’s memorial for fallen officers.
Donovan sat in the chair by the window. “You tagged one of the Amos boys last night, the older brother. In fact, we got him right down the hall. A goddamn vegetable now.”
“Where the hell did he even come from? I just remember getting smashed in the head with something.”
“It was a two-by-four.”
“It felt like a two-by-four. One second I was helping Joe Amos up and then next I’m staggering around like a drunk. He bolts off and his goddamn brother keeps hitting me. I
got the shots off before I passed out.”
“Like I said, you were lucky again. One of those bullets smashed into his chin and pretty much blew his jaw clean off.” He put a fist in front of his face and spread his fingers out like an explosion. ”Little pieces of bone and hot metal got up in his brain pan. Could only imagine what he would have done to you had you missed.”
Leo pondered that for a moment. It could have been him that was left in a cruel purgatory of tubes and pumps. Each autonomic action controlled by a machine. How many times would that fucker have struck his skull with that piece of wood? “Well, better him than me. That’s for sure.”
“You best keep that attitude to yourself. The union will get a lawyer assigned to you at some point, until then, just be quiet.”
“What about Joe?”
“He’s into the wind. Not sure where, but it’s probably far away from here by now. We’ve reviewed the tapes from behind the bar. Most of the action happens out of frame. The bar owner was only concerned with the dumpsters so the camera is in a fixed position. ”
“I don’t get it. Joe was always a petty criminal. We’ve tussled a bunch of times in the past and he always kept it fair. He knew not to cross the line like this.”
“Well, what brought you back to the alley to begin with?”
Leo wasn’t sure. The reason was on the tip of his tongue but the memory was obscured. He knew it wasn’t a call. There wouldn’t be a radio record giving them a reason. It was an instinct that pulled him down the alley last night. He remembered driving down the alley but nothing in between then and the moment he started fighting. “I followed him out back… I went to frisk him…” His head started to ache. The strain of trying to dig the memories from the dirt of his brain was too much; Too many layers of sediment crushed them.
A fat nurse entered the room with a tray full of jello. Leo and Donovan stared at her as she bounced over to them. “Would you gentleman like a jello cup?” Her large breasts undulated like the desert she carried with each step.
“You give him as many as he wants,” Donovan rose from his seat from the window and quickly walked to the door. “Leo, you rest and I will call you later today. After the meeting.”
Leo picked two cups out from her tray, red and green. The nurse handed him a large metal spoon. He ate his jello and pondered why Joe Amos wanted to kill him. He remembered a feral look in Joe’s eyes, like a cornered cat. There was a clarity as well. He didn’t have the gloss of alcohol or meth making his eyes shiny. He knew exactly what he was doing.
Day One, 23:50:00 PM
The day drug on and night came. Leo spent most of it in and out of sleep. Doctors came by to check him out periodically. Sit up. Follow the light. His headache had gotten better over the course of the day though. Now it was just a dull pain behind his eyes. The ibuprofen was working.
He was suspended. No Pay.
Hospital wards were the noisiest places in the world at midnight. He heard snoring, various medical devices beeping, and footsteps as the nurses did their rounds. The noise was a welcome distraction that kept him from dwelling on what he would do next.
Being booted from the force was the worst possible scenario. A huge setback. First the military. Now the police. He knew the shooting was just, but with his record in mind, a review board could see a pattern of violence. It’s only chaos. Not pattern. But it was there.
The older brother. What was his name? Jesse James… JJ… Something like that. Close enough. He felt ashamed for not knowing the man’s name. He hadn’t killed him yet though; He’d done something much worse.
Part of him was glad that someone had chosen to keep JJ alive, or whatever states he exists in now. Taking a man’s life was a burden. And it was something that you could never hide either. People were unsettled by him and though they could never place their finger on why, he knew it was because he had seen men die, by his hands sometimes.
Crowdog got out of bed and walked barefoot across to the door. He felt a little shaky. This was his third concussion and he was familiar with the after effects. It would fuzz his interaction with the world for a few days.
Donovan said that JJ was down the hall. He wanted to apologize to the man. He wanted to tell him he was sorry that he didn’t know his name. The only memory he had of the man was vague shape. No face. Just black fury pummeling at his head. What choice did he have.
Better him than me.
His ass hung out of his johnny shirt and he felt the cold chill up his spine. No time for modesty now. He had to move quickly while the nurses were between rounds. In another five minutes or so the fat one would peeking in doors like a chubby-faced cuckcoo.
He quickly shuffled down the hall. The nurses paid no attention to him and their backs stayed turned. The laughter continued.
Most of the hall lights had been shut off, leaving the occasional fluorescent tube lit. The semi-darkness was a cloak and as long as Crowdog hung close the walls, he would remain unseen.
He peeked in and out of each door he passed. Empty. Empty. Old man. Empty.
“Nurse,” the old man queried from the darkness. Crowdog did not answer him and continued his search.
At the end of the hall, he came to the right room.
He knew it was the right place because a man held a pillow to JJ‘s face. His right arm was in a homemade splint.