AS I LIKE IT!
NOVEMBER 9, 2016
“A CALL FOR BACKUP”
Stella Stone glanced at the clock on the dash and saw that she was near the end of her shift. Today she’d drawn the second shift from 4:00 pm ‘til midnight, and she was ready to call it a day. She decided to pull into the Krystal and take a bag of the little devils home; she’d missed her break working a fender bender, so she gave in to the hunger pangs.
She was waiting for her cheeseburgers, when Betty called her unit. She picked up the mic and said,
“Hi, Betty, Stella here. What’s up?”
She could hear Betty’s low groan as she said,
“Stella, you know what a fanatic Willard is about radio procedure and you know he listens to the tapes. Just try not to get us both in trouble.”
“That’s a big ole 10-4, momma bear. What can we do for you?”
“Stella, this is a sheriff’s office, not a truck stop. I think you’ve gotten worse since you started running around with Bubba Lovejoy.”
“Hey, Betty. Did you call to fuss, or is there something I need to do?”
“Yes, there is; the silent alarm is going off at the Davis Gin. You need to get over there and check it out.”
Stella signed off, paid for her burgers, and pulled back onto US 45. She lit up her light bar and turned on her siren. It wasn’t so much that she was worried about traffic, as she wanted to let anyone sneaking around the gin to know that the heat was on the way. Stella hated the thought of spooking a couple of kids in a dark building with a gun in her hand; it’d be much better to give them a chance to haul ass.
She pulled into the gin’s parking lot with lights ablaze and siren wailing, then cut them off to give her night vision a chance to return. She pulled on her Kevlar vest and grabbed the Winchester Model 12 from the rack behind her seat, and set out across the empty parking lot toward the darkened gin office. She jacked a shell into the Winchester’s chamber and stuck another in the magazine. She wanted all five of the 00 buckshot if she needed it.
There were only two situations that scared her; clearing an empty building and walking up to a parked car. Every year dozens of peace officers died in those two situations. Stella had handled some scary stuff in Iraq, but tonight all of her animal instincts made her gut clench.
She approached the office door and flipped on the flashlight she’d taped under the shotguns magazine. There was a broken pane of glass just above the door’s lock, a sure sign that someone had broken in. She cut off the flashlight and tested the door. It swung open, and broken glass crunched under her boots as she entered the office’s reception area. Stella paused and thought for a moment, then decided to announce her presence. She turned on the go-pro camera on her shoulder and eased toward the door leading to the back of the office while shouting,
“I know you are in here. This is the sheriff’s department. Come out with your hands where I can see them.”
This had two effects; it satisfied the need for a police officer to identify themselves, and it gave the bad guys a heads up. It seldom resulted in anyone giving up, but it gave the cops some cover in the event things went badly, and frankly, it gave a perp a chance to get out of Dodge. Stella listened carefully but heard nothing moving, so she pushed the door to the gin floor open with the Winchester’s muzzle.
The gin was in total darkness, and the only light drifted down from the skylights, 75 feet above. All of her senses were operating at warp speed, and nothing moved or made a sound, but she caught the unmistakable aroma of pot. She was surprised to feel a small sense of relief; professional thieves seldom smoked pot on the job, so this was probably some teenagers or some druggie needing a fix. Neither posed a serious threat to a deputy with a shotgun. Now she had to be careful not to shoot some poor guy trying to cop a toke. She decided to call out again, when the lights in the gin popped on and momentarily blinded her. Before she could see again, a shot rang out, and she felt the round impact her vest.
Stella had been shot before, and she knew that this one came from a small, low-velocity weapon—probably a .22 or .32 Saturday night special. All of this ran through her mind, as she rolled to the gin floor and scrambled between two pieces of equipment. She heard someone running across the overhead walkway, so she rolled onto her back and looked up.
She could see a hooded figure about twenty feet over her head, running toward the back of the building. Stella was no longer concerned about anyone’s safety but her own, so she snapped off a round of buckshot in the runner’s general direction. The scampering figure ducked its head and kept on running, and by the time she got to her feet, it was out of sight, and all was quiet again.
Stella decided that backup was in order, so she touched her shoulder mic and whispered,
“Betty, this is Stella; do you read me?”
“10-4 unit six; what’s your 10-20?”
“Damn, Betty; I’m at Davis’s gin just where you sent me, and some asshole is shooting at me. Send backup.”
“Unit six, are you declaring an 1100?”
“Betty, unless you want that microphone stuffed up your ass when I get back, you better get me some backup.”
“10-4 six; backup is on the way.”
Knowing that the cavalry was coming, made any attempt to root this guy out on her own a stupid move. Stella decided to hold her position. She watched and listened but saw and heard nothing, until a low moan came from the area over her head. Stella listened, and there it was again,
“Help. Please, help me.”
Stella made a snap decision and leaped to her feet and headed toward the gin’s second level staircase. Two shots rang out, and she heard them hit the stairs under her feet. Taking the steps two at a time, she reached the overhead walkway, dropped to the grating, and looked toward the back of the building. She could see that the only other set of stairs going down were between her and the shooter. She was plenty pissed at being shot at by some asshole, and her killer instincts took over.
She sprang to her feet and charged toward the back of the building, ducking her head and holding the shotgun at port arms. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the tell-tale flash of a gunshot and heard the round ping off the scaffolding. The shooter stood up and took careful aim, and the next round hit her in the vest, just under her left arm. She stopped running and brought the Winchester to her shoulder, and emptied the magazine.
She jacked three more shells into the shotgun and ran to the end of the walkway, where the crumpled body of a man was lying in a spreading pool of blood. She lifted the hood and saw the unshaven face of a man well into his forties. She felt for a pulse, but found none. She hit the send button on her radio and shouted,
“Betty, get me some help out here! Now! There’s a perp down!”
“10-4 six; they’re on their way.”
Stella kicked the gun over the scaffolding and raced back toward the voice she’d heard earlier. She stopped at the other end and listened, and picked up a low whimper to her left. Behind an equipment locker, she found a young girl crouched in the shadows. She put her arms up to protect her face, and Stella whispered,
“It’s going to be OK honey; I’m a police officer, and you’re safe now.”
The girl looked up and saw Stella’s uniform and began to cry uncontrollably. Just then Stella heard cars squealing to a stop in the parking lot, and red and blue lights reflected across the gin ceiling. Stella picked up the young girl and carried her down to the gin floor just as Willard Diddley, Stella’s boss came rushing through the office door, followed by a Mississippi Highway Patrolman.
The MHP officer took the young girl from Stella, and Willard looked at the hole in her vest and asked,
“Stella, are you okay?”
“Yeah, caught a couple of rounds in my vest, but I’ll just have some bruising.”
“You called in that a perp was down. Where is he?”
“He’s lying dead on the level above. I damn near blew him to pieces with buckshot. I guess that’ll cause a shit-storm of paperwork.”
“We’ll worry about the paperwork later; now you’re going to get in that ambulance outside and go to the hospital.”
“Shit, Willard, I’m okay; I need to check on that girl.”
“Harland is on his way to the hospital to have her checked out; you can see her there. Now get in that ambulance.”
Stella passed two firefighters pushing a gurney toward her, and snapped,
“I don’t need a stretcher; I can walk just fine.”
One of the firemen grinned and said,
“It ain’t for you Deputy; it’s for whatever you left upstairs.”
“Oh,” Stella exclaimed, “no need to hurry; he ain’t going anywhere but the morgue.”
The ambulance delivered Stella to the ER, where the doc on duty agreed that there was no penetration or broken bones. But her diagnoses of bruising was going to come true, so he suggested Advil might help. When he released her, she asked where they had taken the young girl that the Highway Patrol brought in. She was directed to the pediatric ward where she found Harland Boykin, the patrolman, sitting in the waiting area. She walked up and asked,
“Have you heard anything?”
“I talked to the intern just a moment ago. The child has been sexually abused and is still in with the doctor.”
“Do we have any idea about an ID on the guy I shot?”
Before he could answer, Willard came walking up, along with a young man in a dark suit. He said,
“Stella, this is Agent Alan Bruce from the FBI’s Tupelo office. He has some info on this situation. Alan, this is my deputy, Stella Stone, and Harland Boykin, from the Mississippi Highway Patrol.”
Alan Jones reached out his hand and said,
“Good to meet you, Miss Stone. Your reputation precedes you. Looks like another job well done. I know Harland; we’ve worked together before.”
He shook both of their hands and continued,
“We received an amber alert this afternoon concerning the kidnapping of a ten-year-old girl in Pensacola, Florida. The Florida authorities suspected that the man who took her was a repeat offender from Kentucky and that they might be headed our way. We now know that this is the girl in the alert and that the man that you shot was her kidnapper. I suspect you saved that little girl’s life.”
Stella thought for a moment then replied,
“Well, one thing’s for sure; his repeat offender days are over.”
Willard took her by the arm and said,
“I think you need to go home and get some rest, and by the way, there’s a fellow outside looking for you. Let me handle the rest of this, but I do want to talk to you about radio procedure when you feel up to it.”
Stella grinned and said,
“Thanks, Willard, I’ll be in sometime this afternoon.”
She walked to the front door of the ER and saw Bubba Lovejoy leaning against his pickup. He broke into a wide grin and said,
“We got a call to come tow your cruiser back to town, and I thought you might need a ride home.”
He reached out and took her into his arms and said,
“At least you didn’t destroy your cruiser this time.”
Dockery Plantation gin image is licensed under CC By 4.0 — linked to www.mississippibluestravellers.com
Categories: As I Like It!