Wednesday, March 13, 2019

A Red Flash by J.B. Stevens

A Red Flash

Catching a bullet was a possibility, but he was old and comfortable with dying. He waited for the sting.
Smitty was tired of moving so he sat on a mossy pile of bricks and sucked air through flared nostrils. It smelled like rotting vegetation.
He flexed his bad knee, the result of a bullet in Kosovo. His best friend died that day. No one remembered the U.S. fought in Kosovo. He was happy for the Iraq vets, they always got a thank you.
The sun was coming up over the Savannah River, everything was silent, and the world was calm.
Smitty was in the jungle that used to be Mulberry Grove Plantation. His Wal-Mart-Special tan slacks and pale yellow dress shirt were no match for the briars. Sweat made polyester cling to skin.
He’d looked for the fugitive all night. If he could just find the little gang-banger he could get to bed. He had to get the job done. Duty mattered.
The bricks were hurting his ass. He was still out of breath when he stood.
Everyone thought he was in shape because he was thin, they were wrong. His ex-spouse was the cook. Ever since they split Smitty didn’t eat enough. The thirty years of unfiltered Lucky Strikes probably didn’t help.
Daylight broke. This was Smitty’s first time at Mulberry Grove. Around here everyone was familiar with the historical marker. The place was home to Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin, but going out to the actual sight… he didn’t know anyone that bothered.
Old shit is all over Savannah, but no one paid attention. They were too busy with their own stuff. Smitty wondered if people still use the old cotton gins? Sometimes the old ways were best.
He began walking to his beat-up Ford Crown Victoria.
The sand fleas got in his mouth, they were chewy. Some voodoo lady from Pin-Point had a bug cure. The guys swore it worked, but he didn’t take up with that trash.
He moved past a dead animal, it looked like a mule. It smelled strongly and he covered his nose.
He rounded the last bend and the modern world returned. His knock-off Rolex said it was almost time for lunch.
He got in the Crown Vic and headed to the meet up spot. Minutes later he pulled into the parking lot.
A group of officers stood idle in the humid air talking about a funeral for a motorcycle cop, heart attack.
Smitty got out and lit a Lucky Strike. He rubbed fatigue out of his light eyes, and shook leaves out of cropped grey hair.
Smitty found Deputy Chief Flynn, “Want a cigarette, Boss-Man?”
Flynn never seemed to like Smitty. Smitty wasn’t sure if it was because of his attitude, or his lifestyle.
“Those things’ll kill you,” Flynn said as he smiled and pulled out his cell-phone.
Everyone was buzzing about last night. It was the first car-chase for a lot of the new guys.
A voice came across the radio. “What’s the fugitive’s alias and what were his priors?”
Flynn pulled up his cell-phone. Smitty reached for a piece of paper.
“Goes by Sonic,” Flynn said.
“Like the fast food place?”
“Like the hedgehog.”
The radio continued. “Priors are aggravated assault, domestic violence, moonshining, counterfeiting, and an accusation of homicide.”
Smitty nodded at Flynn and went to the Crown Vic. “I’m going to do a drive by of the girlfriend’s. Find the hole, find the pole.”
Flynn started calling after him, but Smitty had already closed the car door.
Driving always calmed him. He enjoyed the way the car handled. The thread-bare seats seemed molded to his ass. The motor pool officer wanted to get rid of it. It was the only one left in service.
He pulled over next to Yamacraw Village on the northwest side of Savannah. There was graffiti on the walls and trash on the ground. The girlfriend lived there with her Aunt.
The residents of Yamacraw know a police car when they see one, but his was so old and beat-up they must have assumed it was an out-of-service auction buy. The car had a dark tint job. No one saw that the old man inside.
He watched a couple hand to hand drug buys in the yard. How many foot chases and rough arrests had he had done here… too many to count.
Smitty realized he’d probably locked up some of these kid’s grandfathers. No one cared.
While watching the deals go down his phone rang. It was his ex.
“My half of the home sale equity check didn’t come through… You ok Jim?”
Smitty smiled to himself. His Ex still looked after him.
“I’ll send it out today.”
“I’m doing ok. I’ll drop my retirement paperwork in the spring.”
“That’s good. You deserve a break, do some fishing.”
“I’d die from boredom.”
“I got to go. If you need anything please reach out,”
Things could’ve gone better with Eric. If he’d been home earlier and left the job at the office… maybe they would still be together.
Eric’s new guy, Phil the pharmacist, seemed solid. His record was clean. But damn Phil was boring.
A young man that looked like the fugitive strolled past. Smitty thought about jumping out, old school style, but decided to follow policy, safety first and all that. Reaching for the radio he contacted Flynn.
“Call me on the cell” Flynn said.
Smitty punched up Flynn’s number.
“I see the suspect.”
“Got it. Hold tight.”
Smitty received a group text message.
There was a picture of the bandit, a bio sheet, arrest record, a warrant, and the suspect’s location.
Smitty radioed, “I’m staying here. Keeping eyes on.”
Flynn texted. “Let’s keep off the radio unless it is hot. Keep police business secure as possible. Reporters have frequency scanners.”
The asshole actually signed his text Deputy Chief Flynn.
Smitty watched as the suspect moved towards an old purple Cadillac. The car was more rust then metal. The rims were wire spoke, chrome, and immaculate.
He waited for a drug deal, but it never happened. The target was getting in the car. If the suspect hit the road he was gone.
Smitty responded to the group text. “We’ve got movement, how far out is the team?”
“15 minutes.”
“Moving in to make contact.”
“Hold off and wait for back up.”
“Negative. Time’s up.”
The Crown Vic humped the curb and groaned across the grass.
Smitty turned on the red and blues and opened the door. He took a kneeling position behind the engine block and drew his pistol. The adrenaline helped with the pain in his knees. He loved the rush, looked forward to it ever time. He grabbed the megaphone.
“Put your hands on the headliner of the vehicle. No sudden movements.”
The men in the vehicle raised their arms and stared at him, hard.
“Driver, with your left hand remove the car keys and place them on the roof. Open the trunk.”
Smitty noticed people streaming from buildings.
Cell-phones came out. Someone yelled “Worldstar!” another yelled “Fuck the police!”
Smitty continued. “Driver, with your left hand reach out the window and open your door.”
The driver did as instructed.
“Step out of the car. Walk to the front. Keep your hands up and turn away from me.”
The driver moved.
“Take your shirt off. If you have any weapons tell me.”
“Ain’t got shit.”
“Walk backwards towards me.”
When the man was fifteen feet from the car Smitty continued.
“Get on your knees and interlace your fingers behind your head.”
The driver kneeled. Smitty moved. Three feet from the driver he holstered his weapon and started to pull his cuffs.
The gunshot was deafening.
Smitty’s hearing distorted, like he had cotton in the lobes. Everything in his direct line of sight got brighter and sharper. The edges of his vision blurred. He kicked the kneeling man away.
The next volley of incoming shots sounded muffled.
Smitty dove to his right and drew his .40 caliber Glock 22.
There was a large oak to the front. He shot at the car and sprinted to the tree, diving into a pile of yellow fast food wrappers.
Smitty peaked around the trunk. Two shots flew past his head. He fired back until his Glock was empty and the slide locked back.
“Taking fire, get here right-fucking-now,” he said on the radio.
A shot hit the bark. A bullet splashed into the dirt.
He slapped in his one spare fifteen round magazine.
He looked around and saw the top of the shooter’s head, over the car’s hood.
He focused hard on the front sight, aimed it at the hairline, and controlled his breathing.
Smitty squeezed.
The round fired. The weapon jumped. It caught him by surprise.
Time slowed. He felt recoil. The front sight rose and fell. The suspect’s head snapped back. A flash of red mist.
Smitty moved right. The bandit was in the dirt. The back of the skull was gone and a red pool was forming.
He put on cuffs. There was a pistol next to the body. Smitty removed the magazine.
He noticed it hurt to breathe. It was wet on his right side.
A woman fifty yards in front screamed, “He leakin!”
Sirens filled his ears and everything went black.
Smitty saw a bright white light and hoped he was dead. He heard soft crying. It was Eric.
Smitty wondered if he brought Phil the Pharmacist?
“How you doing, babe?”
“Why do you treat yourself like this?”
“What happened?”
“He almost killed you.”
“But I got him first.”
“No one cared about that criminal. You need to keep yourself safe.”
A smile crossed his face and the morphine hit his system.
Eric held his hand as he passed out.


Bio The Author lives in the southeastern United States with his wife and daughter. He is a former Captain in the U.S. Army Infantry and currently works for the U.S. Marshals Service.

He has been featured in The Deadly Writers Patrol, As You Were Literary Journal, and The Report: O-Dark-Thirty.