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Archive for April, 2011

Cops Never Listen

By William Currens Devol

Copyright 2009

Cops think they know everything. Trust me, I’m a cop, well I am a cop now, but I can’t see that lasting much longer. Two different dash cams back my story up, but that video will never see the light of day. They are going to blame me for what happened to Eddie; I just know they are.

Eddie Roth and I were the two least likely guys to be Deputies on the Geauga County Sherriff’s Department. I was tall dark and Italian from Murray Hill. Eddie was tall dark and Jewish from Lyndhurst, but we looked like brothers.

The other Deputies called us the Goomba Boys because they are culturally sensitive like that. Eddie and I called the other guys hayseed shit kickers, so it was even, I guess.

Eddie had been an MP in the Marines. He went to Afghanistan three times before they finally let him out. I had gone through the Cleveland Police Academy thinking I would be a Cleveland cop, but not one guy from my class got a job in Cleveland. City Council funded an Academy class, but they never appropriated the funds to hire any of us.

Eddie answered an ad in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and I got a tip from the Police Union. It was the least they could do, as they had started taking dues out of my Cadet pay. I landed on the force three months after Eddie did, but he was nearly 30 and I was barely 25.

Geauga County Sherriff Red Carpenter hired both of us. Eddie and I hit it off right away. Eddie was a scream off duty and all business on duty. I used him as a role model. I turned out to be a pretty good cop, but Eddie had seven years on me, as far as police work went. It was probably that experience that got him killed.

When Eddie saw the schedule for September, he saw we both worked 11 to 7 on Friday the 12th and that we both had a rare weekend off.

“We don’t work again until Monday morning, Pete,” he had said. “What say we grab our stuff and head out to Pymatuning, pitch our tents, and sleep till noon or so before we start killing fish.”

The 12th of September had arrived. Eddie and I had all our stuff packed into the back of his Chevy pickup at the Sherriff’s Department. We should have been able to get on the road by 8:00 a.m., but the trip never happened.

I was sitting at the stop light at Route 528 and Route 87 just east of Middlefield when I heard Eddie call in a license plate for a car that had run the red light at the Burger King across from Giant Eagle.

The dispatcher sounded breathless when he called back, “It’s hot Eddie, I repeat, you have a stolen vehicle. Do not stop the vehicle until I get you backup.”

Department policy requires two cruisers make a hot car stop. Before the dispatcher could make the call for backup, I radioed in and told the dispatcher where I was. Eddie acknowledged, and turned left towards town and I pulled my cruiser to a stop across both lanes of Route 87.

When I saw the Lumina, I turned my lights on, and Eddie turned his on at the same time. We were about 200 yards apart with a battered, red Chevy Lumina between us. The driver of the Lumina slammed on the brakes and then pulled the car off the road, turned his car off, and dowsed his headlights. I pulled nose-to-nose with the Lumina, and Eddie pulled in behind the stopped car.

I turned on my spot light and shined it into the eyes of the trapped driver. I opened my cruiser door and knelt behind it. I pulled my weapon out of the holster and flicked the safety off. I radioed Eddie that I was in position. Eddie thumbed his PA speaker button.

“Deputy Manelli is in the car in front of you; he has his weapon drawn. I will be walking up to your car with my hand on my weapon. Please place both of your hands on the wheel and leave them there. If you understand me, nod your head vigorously.”

The driver already had both hands on the wheel. His head started bobbing up and down. I radioed Eddie that the driver was complying.

Eddie slipped out of his cruiser and put his campaign hat on top of his head. He left his door open in case he needed cover. He unsnapped the safety strap on his weapon, flicked his safety off, and placed his hand on the gun butt. Eddie slid out about five feet from the bumper of the Lumina and started angling to the driver’s door.

When Eddie signaled me, I holstered my weapon. I did leave my hand on the butt as I walked over to take a position at the driver side front fender of the Lumina.

“Sir,” Eddie addressed the driver. “I am going to open your door. Leave your hands on the wheel until I tell you to exit the vehicle.”

Eddie opened the driver door and leaned forward to grasp the driver’s elbow, “Please step out of the car, then face the car, put your hands on the roof of the car, and freeze.”

When the driver cleared the door, I moved to close it. You wouldn’t want a suspect to panic and dive back in for a weapon hidden under the seat.

I watched and Eddie patted the driver down. I didn’t take long. The driver was a little man with shoulder length white hair and a flowing white beard. His nose was sharp and stuck out of his moustache like a bird’s beak. His darting, dark eyes stared into the night on the other side of the Lumina. His hands were shaking on the roof of the car; the sleeve buttons on his black suit coat tapped a nervous rhythm.

“Deputy Manelli,” Eddie said. “Do you know what this gentleman is wearing on his head?”

I looked and saw a round black beanie about six inches across affixed to the hair at the crown of the man’s head with three Bobbie pins. I had no idea what it was. For all I knew it was for covering a bald spot.

“I have no idea, Deputy Roth,” I said. When I said, “Roth,” the little old man focused on Eddie’s face and a brief smile showed under the white whiskers.

Eddie had removed the wallet from the driver’s inside jacket pocket and was reading the license visible through a plastic window.

“It’s a Yamika,” Eddie said smiling. “This is Mr. Leopold Szpiegel. He is a Rabbi.”

“I know what a Rabbi is, but what’s a Yamika,” I said.

Eddie smiled his biggest smile and said, “It is a traditional head covering worn by Jews. Correct me if I’m wrong, Rabbi, but the Talmud says cover the child’s head so that he will have the fear of heaven. Turn around, Rabbi.”

Mr. Szpiegel turned to Eddie and laughed, “Your mother would be proud to know you paid good attention in Hebrew School.”

Eddie handed the Rabbi his wallet. “What are you doing out in the heart of Amish country in a stolen car, sir?”

The Rabbi looked down at his shoes like a child being caught trying to steal a cookie.

“I am sorry, Deputy Roth,” the Rabbi mumbled. “I would never have taken this car if it weren’t a matter of life and death. I assure you that if you allow me to continue on my way, that I will present myself at your headquarters tomorrow to face the music for stealing this car.”

“Rabbi Szpiegel,” Eddie said. “Even if you had the perfect excuse for taking this car, I couldn’t let you go. Deputy Manelli and I have called this in by radio. Right now, the fact that we have located this stolen car has been communicated to the police department where the complaint was filed. Do you understand?”

“Yes, yes, of course, but if I could tell you my story, you might acquiesce and allow me to dispose of the problem in the trunk of this car before you arrest me,” Rabbi Szpiegel said. “I am afraid I have made a horrible mistake, but I should be the only one to pay for it.”

“What mistake did you make,” I asked.

The old man glanced at the rear of the Lumina. Eddie saw it too.

“What’s in the trunk, Rabbi Szpiegel,” Eddie asked.

Rabbi Szpiegel’s eyes were wide with fear when he uttered one word, “Golem.”

Eddie threw back his head and laughed so hard he nearly lost his campaign hat. I was about as confused as I have ever been right then. The Rabbi looked like he had seen a ghost and Eddie was laughing so hard he could barely catch his breath.

Talk about mixed signals.

“Do you have Santa and the Easter Bunny in there, as well? Perhaps the Boogie Man and the Loch Ness monster too,” Eddie asked as he got his breathing under control and wiped tears out of his eyes.

“What the fuck,” I said.

Eddie looked at me with a huge grin on his face, “A Golem,” he said with a wink, “is an evil creature formed from clay or dirt into the shape of a man. My Zeidy, excuse me, my grandfather, used to scare the crap out of us with Golem stories. It’s the Jewish Boogie Man.”

“What the fuck,” I repeated.

“Please, Officer Roth,” the Rabbi pleaded. “This is serious. I have a Golem in the trunk of this car and I need to deliver it to the man that forced me to create it or he will hurt my Sadie.”

“Who is Sadie, your wife,” Eddie asked.

“My cat,” said Rabbi Szpiegel. “He took my cat Sadie and he will hurt her if I don’t give him this Golem.”

“Who took your cat,” Eddie asked.

“What the fuck,” I said again.

“Rabbi Cohen in Youngstown,” our Rabbi said. “He took Sadie when he visited me last week. He sent a picture in the email.”

“Oh,” Eddie said in a very calm voice. “I’ve got it now. Rabbi Cohen visited you from Youngstown. He kidnapped your cat, Sadie, and promised not to hurt her if you would just make him a Golem and deliver it. You didn’t know how you were going to get the Golem to the other Rabbi until you decided to steal a car. Is that about right?”

“Exactly,” said Rabbi Szpiegel missing the twinkle of mischief in Eddie’s eyes. “I have studied Kabbalistic lore for nearly my whole life. I made the mistake of telling Rabbi Cohen that I thought I could even make a Golem if I had to. I was bragging; oh, dear, pride goeth before the fall, I’m afraid.”

“Deputy Manelli,” Eddie said in the same calm voice. “Would you get Rabbi Cohen’s contact information from Rabbi Szpiegel while I call this in?”

As Rabbi Szpiegel turned to me in horror, Eddie made the twirling finger sign for crazy and went to call our situation in.

“You can’t contact Rabbi Cohen,” he said. “He’ll hurt my Sadie. Please don’t…”

“We will use the information to go and save Sadie,” I said. “We would never tip him off beforehand.”

Rabbi Szpiegel visibly calmed down and gave me a phone number and an address for Rabbi Cohen.

“Deputy Roth,” I said over the old man’s head as Eddie walked back to the Lumina. “What did the dispatcher tell you?”

“We are to hold Rabbi Szpiegel here until Deputy Windsor arrives,” Eddie said. “He will transport the Rabbi to where he needs to be.”

Deputy Windsor meant that another Deputy would come to take Rabbi Szpiegel in for a psych evaluation at the Chardon Mental Health Center. There used to be a mental hospital called Windsor in Chagrin Falls. The hospital is gone but Deputy Windsor stuck.

“Ok by me,” I said. “I’ll help Rabbi Szpiegel to a seat in the back of my cruiser. Right this way.” He looked so forlorn. I felt sorry for the crazy old guy.

“Hey Deputy Manelli,” Eddie said as he broke into an evil grin. “Do you want to see what a Golem looks like?”

“Sure,” I said. “I always wanted to see an evil clay man.”

Eddie reached inside the Lumina and pushed the trunk release button. I heard the clunk and the trunk opened a couple of inches.

“Something’s in that trunk,” Eddie whispered to me. “Did you see how low it is sitting on the springs?”

“Yes, I did,” I said. “It better not be dope or a dead body. We’ll never get to the lake.”

We didn’t.

We both stepped behind the Lumina and Eddie flipped the trunk open. A statute of a man carved out of what looked like terra cotta was curled in the fetal position in the trunk of the Lumina.

“Holy shit,” Eddie said. “This Rabbi is talented and crazy. That thing looks like it could sit up and talk to us.”

“Do you think he made it,” I said. “I bet he saw it at some art gallery and decided he had found a Golem. How in the hell did stories of a statue scare the crap out of you, anyway?”

“A Golem isn’t just a statue,” Eddie said. “My grandfather said you could animate a Golem to do your bidding by writing the true name of god on a piece of paper and putting it into the ear of a Golem.”

“Your grandfather knew the true name of God,” I said. “I suppose they were on a first name basis.”

“Naw, only Jewish mystics and Rabbis that studied Kabbalah know the real name of God,” Eddie said.

“Kabbalah, what the hell is Kabbalah,” I said.

Eddie never answered me.

“What’s this,” Eddie said reaching into the trunk to grab a small roll of what looked like parchment. He unrolled the paper and broke into a grin.

“What,” I said.

“It looks suitably mystical to me,” Eddie said. “I bet it’s the true name of God.”

With that, Eddie rolled up the paper and slid it into a small hole in the exposed ear of the statue.

On the dash cam tape from my cruiser, you see me apparently leap into the air backwards and sail over Eddie’s cruiser. You can hear the Rabbi in my back seat screaming his brains out.

From Eddie’s dash cam, you see me disappear up over the cruiser and you see the terra cotta arm that threw me like a rag doll grab Eddie by the throat. Eddie had turned to see me go flying over his cruiser, so you see the look of confusion and then shock on his face as the Golem’s fingers close on Eddie’s windpipe.

Eddie gurgled once and got his hand to the butt of his weapon before you hear a great snap and you see Eddie go limp. The Golem didn’t let go of Eddie’s body until he had climbed out of the trunk. I only know this because I’ve seen the dash cam tapes. I was out cold behind Eddie’s cruiser until I heard the glass shatter.

From my dash cam, you see the Golem come out from behind the Lumina and drop Eddie like a bag of corn. Eddie’s forehead cracks the pavement, but he never felt it.

The Golem seems to notice the Rabbi screaming himself hoarse in my cruiser and marches straight for him.

Eddie’s footage shows the Golem bashing at the rear door of my cruiser once, twice, and bouncing it open on the third smash. That’s when the glass shattered. That’s when I came to.

I stagger out from behind Eddie’s cruiser and steady myself on the driver-side front fender. I shake my head once and then twice. You can see that I am bleeding from a cut just below my right eye. It’s where my face kissed the road.

Just then the Golem drags a very limp Rabbi out of my cruiser. I pull my weapon and order the Golem to put the Rabbi down. The Golem ignores me and begins shaking the Rabbi violently.

You hear me warn the Golem one more time, and then I fire two rounds. Both rounds hit the Golem in the back where they kick up orange clouds of dust, but the Golem keeps shaking the Rabbi. By this time, it is obvious that the Rabbi is as dead as Eddie.

I open fire again and empty my piece. All of the shots hit the Golem, but the last shot goes wide and strikes the Golem in the left side of his head. That’s when you see the Golem stiffen and fall over onto the road. He shatters into a dozen pieces.

My last shot blew the roll of parchment out of the Golem’s ear.

Eddie’s dash cam shows me walking to Eddie and checking his pulse before I reload. I walk over to the Rabbi, but I don’t check his pulse because his head has worked itself backward on his shoulders.

I walk into the pile of terra cotta pieces and reach down. I pick up a small roll of parchment. I reach into a pocket on my Sam Houston belt and pull out a Bic lighter.

They are trying to say I destroyed evidence, but, since they have no idea what was on that piece of paper, they can’t make that charge stick. I just bet my ass that they try to pin Eddie and Rabbi Szpiegel on me.

I saw that dash cam footage about thirty minutes ago in Sherriff Red’s office. He was there and his Chief Deputy was there, and neither of them said a word. They just stared at the monitor and wouldn’t look at me. Sherriff Red told me to go sit in the day room and not say a word to a soul.

That’s what I did.

The next day, they got around to checking up on Rabbi Cohen. Sadie was there, and the ransom email was on his computer. That should be enough to just let me retire and go away, but a cop is dead and I’m afraid they will pin Eddie and the Rabbi on me.

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Stupid Cross

By William Currens Devol

When Denny rented his apartment on the top floor of the house on East Franklin near Kontner Street in Nelsonville, he thought the rent was too good to be true, but he signed the lease anyway.

The apartment was awesome. The house was sound and dry, and his apartment had a tiny kitchen and its own bathroom. Denny Marshall couldn’t believe he didn’t see that stupid cross up on Kontner Hill when he first looked at the apartment. How could he miss a sixty-five-foot-high cross less than a quarter of a mile from where he lived?

Day time wasn’t so bad, but after dark he didn’t need to turn on any lights. Denny could do his homework by the light reflected light from that stupid cross. The cross reflected the light from what seemed like a thousand spotlights right into his apartment. It was as if the cross was on the window ledge.

Denny had wanted to be a cop since he saw his first episode of Law and Order. In those days, it was Logan and Lenny as partners. Denny liked it when Logan leaned just a little too much on some perp.

In Denny’s hometown of Delaware, Ohio, none of his friends wanted to be cops. By the time Denny was in Junior High, all his friends wanted to do was get high, ride their skateboards, and skip school to get high and ride their skateboards.

He would have had no friends at all if he hadn’t been able to run fast and hang on to a football. Everyone thought he should play college football, but his SAT scores were lower than his height. At just over five feet four inches tall and 150 pounds in full helmet and pads, Denny had been under sized for a high school running back.

When he actually looked into becoming a police officer, Denny was shocked to find out he should go to college. The Delaware Chief of Police told Denny that most big city departments wanted their candidates to have a criminal justice degree or military police experience.

It took Denny most of the summer after graduation to talk his parents into financing his dream for himself and not theirs.

Denny’s late start meant that all the criminal justice spots were filled in the Ohio schools Denny’s parents could afford. Denny put his name on waiting lists and his hopes were dwindling when he got a call from Hocking College in late August. Two recent cancellations had opened up in the criminal justice program, and if Denny could be ready in time, classes began in two weeks.

Denny was in Nelsonville and rented his apartment two days later. Denny’s parents were paying for school and his apartment. His place was clean and cheap; Denny’s Mom approved of the former and his Dad approved of the latter. He moved in four days before classes started.

If it had just been the light, Denny could keep the curtains shut, but the stupid giant cross was a stone cold sexual buzz kill. No woman wanted to bounce about the mattress with a 65-foot cross blazing just outside the window.

He would sometimes sit at his desk under one window and stare at the cross. Some guy built the stupid thing as a memorial to his wife. Denny would sit and run one hand back and forth across top of his black buzz cut and try to imagine what kind of an idiot dumped his money into a stupid cross for a dead wife.

The first night Denny saw the figure land on the cross he was contemplating having enough money so that dropping a fortune into something to impress a dead wife wouldn’t bother him.

Denny said, ”Holy shit,” and jumped to his feet when he saw what looked like a man in a white suit drop from above the halo of cross illumination to land on the right crossbar. Denny’s first reaction was right out of an old Tom and Jerry cartoon.

His eyes bulged, then he rubbed his eyes, and, when he looked again his lower jaw gaped open. The figure in white was still there. Denny ran to his closet and dug under some shoes until he found the case for his .22 target rifle. He opened the case and grabbed the rifle’s telescopic sight.

When Denny got back to the window, nothing was on the cross except millions of watts. That stupid cross was playing tricks on his eyes. Stare at that stupid cross long enough and you could start to see things. That’s what Denny tried to tell himself, but he knew he was a reliable witness. He was sober and well rested when he saw a man in a white suit land on a steel and porcelain cross that was 65 feet tall.

From that first sighting on, Denny kept his telescopic sight in the middle drawer of his desk.

A week later, Denny was reviewing the proper finger printing procedure in prelude to finger printing one of his classmates in class the next day when he heard a loud thump and twang like you’d hear if someone smacked the bottom of a steel wash tub.

Denny looked up and saw his man in white back on the cross. Denny opened the middle drawer and grabbed the telescopic sight without looking. He put the sight in front of his right eye and then searched for the cross in the magnified world he saw through the scope.

Then Denny was looking at the back of a head bathed in light. Mr. White had dark hair that fluttered at his suit collar. As Denny watched Mr. White’s head began to rotate.

If you looked real close in “The Exorcist,” you could tell they used a dummy for the head spinning scene. Denny saw the man’s neck skin as it began to resemble a chunk of taffy being twisted at a carnival. That was no dummy.

Denny made an inarticulate whining sound and dropped the scope into his lap…right on his balls. As freaked as he was from seeing that head begin to rotate, a good shot to the balls changed his attention priorities. Denny clutched his balls and hyperventilated briefly.

When Denny’s balls gave control back to Denny’s brain, the first thought in his mind was, “Call 911.”

“Right,” Denny thought. “I’m going to be a cop, and I know what the cops will think. They’d think I was some stoner that was way too high for his own good. Denny knew the cops would think he was busting their balls.

Denny fished the scope off of the floor, but the cross had no one on it. “This is someone somehow fucking around on that stupid cross who just wants to freak people out,” Denny said out loud to the room. “Well, it’s working,” Denny thought to himself.

He drew down the blinds on both windows, and decided that what he didn’t see couldn’t bother him. He tried to get back into the chapter on fingerprints, but he couldn’t make his eyes move over the words and the diagrams. He kept looking up at his windows like he was expecting company.

Sleep was quicker to come than Denny thought it would be that night. He fell asleep fast, and his subconscious ran wild inside his head.

In the dream that came on quickly, Denny was watching Mr. White through a telescope. The back of Mr. White’s head filled the eye piece through which Denny peered. At the magnification of the dream telescope, Denny could see individual hairs move and knew a very soft wind was blowing up on the cross.

Mr. White’s head started to rotate counterclockwise. Denny wanted to look away, but he was frozen in place. He tried to close his eyes, but his lids would not respond. Mr. White’s head made a full 180 degree turn, and hazel eyes rimmed in red stared straight into the lens of the telescope.

Denny knew he had been spotted; he tried to back away from the telescope but he was rooted in place. Mr. White smiled to reveal two rows of needle-sharp teeth. Mr. White’s body spun to match up with his head and he floated back from the telescope until Denny could see Mr. White’s whole body.

Mr. White lifted his left arm and pointed straight into the lens. He made the gun gesture with his index finger and he dropped and raised his thumb twice miming the hammer dropping on a round in the chamber.

In Denny’s dream, Mr. White fell from the view in the telescope, but Denny still could not move. A dark blemish appeared in the white porcelain that covered the stainless steel cross a split second before Denny heard the crack of a shot an then the metallic twang of a ricochet. Another blemish blossomed on the cross. It was followed by another delayed gunshot and then a twang ricochet. Mr. White leaned back into Denny’s field of vision in the telescope, waved, and flew backwards and out of sight.

In the dream, Denny could finally move, and when he did, he woke up to find he was standing in front of his now uncovered, open window. Three police cars were heading up East Franklin with their sirens whooping and lights flashing.

Denny looked back at the cross and saw a bald, gray-bearded shirtless man in bib overalls standing at the base of the cross with hands high above his head. The man dangled a pistol on the index finger of his left hand. He was turned in the direction of the police.

The man in the bib overalls looked up at the gun in his hand and let it drop to the ground. The bald man then backed away from the gun, turned his back to the police and lay down on his stomach with his arms and legs splayed out…then, the police swarmed him.

When Denny got to his first class at Hocking College the next day, a blond kid in a Bengals’ ball cap was talking about the crazy old guy that shot up the cross. His roommate, he said, interned at the Nelsonville Police Department.

“The guy kept telling the cops that he was trying to kill a demon in a white suit who had been visiting the cross off and on for more than a month,” Bengal’s hat said. Then the old guy said that owls would bring this demon small animals which the demon would eat.”

“My roommate said the old guy smelled like a brewery and was ranting about blaspheming and repenting,” Bengals’ hat said.”It was a real horror show. When the guy settled down, they locked him naked in a psych cell under a suicide watch…it was real rubber room stuff. The guy will get moved to the nut ward in Oblenness Hospital in Athens some time today.”

The professor, a retired FBI Agent, walked into class right then, and everybody shut up. Professor Mayer didn’t take any crap.

After class, Denny approached Bengals’ hat just outside the classroom. Bengal’s hat was thumbing through a menu on his cell phone when Denny introduced himself. Bengals’ hat, Mike actually, looked up and introduced himself. The two young men shook hands.

Denny pretended to apologize for eavesdropping on the story of the crazy old guy, but he was really fishing for more information, “I’m sorry I was so nosy but they arrested the guy right outside by apartment.”

“Don’t worry about it, dude,” Mike said. Just then, Mike’s cell phone began to play something with way more bass than a cell phone speaker should endutre.

Mike looked at his phone. “Hey, it’s my roommate. He sent me a text and a picture.”

Denny watched Mike retrieve the text message. Mike’s eyes got huge.

“Fuckin’ A, no way,” Mike said. “Look at this, Denny.”

Denny took the phone and read the message. He began to shake. The text message said this;

“ur not gnna beliv this…the crazy man is ded. The sewicide wtch cop fell asleep…whn the cop was sleeping somebody wasted the crzy guy…check out the picture I snuck with my fone…J.”

Denny handed the phone back to Mike and didn’t say anything. He tried to stop shaking.

Mike didn’t notice Denny’s problem and thumbed through menus to open the picture file. When he got the file open he said, “That’s just wrong. That’s just wrong.”

He handed the phone to Denny.

Denny took it with trembling fingers and looked at the picture. It looked for all the world like someone butchered a cow in a padded room and left all the pieces.

Denny squeaked out a moan and handed the phone back to Mike. The edges of everything started to turn gray and black spots flew across his vision like a cloud of gnats.

Denny sagged, and, just before he tumbled forward onto the hall floor, Mike grabbed him and lowered him to the carpet.

Mike checked to make sure Denny was breathing and called 911.

As Denny slipped over into a dead faint, he saw Mr. White shooting him twice with his finger.

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Copyright 2009
By William Currens Devol

Hank Stafford’s bad day had already been one for the record books when the lights on Athens Municipal Airport’s Runway 11-29 blinked out seconds after Hank had broadcast the VHF signal to turn them on.

“Shit,” Hank muttered and pushed the throttle forward and banked his Cessna 350 to the right to gain altitude and come around for another pass at a landing.

“Celeste is going to chew my ass as it is,” Hank thought.

Hank’s two-day business run to Cleveland turned into a three-day trip when his single largest customer, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, challenged Hank and his company Vector Rolled Paper Products to come up with a 10 percent price cut for newsprint.

In the end, Hank gave up. The Plain Dealer was set to publish a series of community shopper newspapers later in the year. He’d have to eat a crap sandwich in the short term, but he’d get to stay for the prime rib.

“Celeste won’t give a damn one way or the other,” Hank said out loud as he lined the Cessna up to the left of and parallel with East State Street and rebroadcast the VHF signal to turn on 11 two niner’s lights. When the lights came on, Hank made final course corrections and busied himself with landing.

The Davis boy, Tim…Thomas…Tony! Tony Davis was rubbing the back of his dark brush cut and looking sheepish when Hank stepped down from the cockpit.

“When is the city going to buy a new Pilot Controlled Lighting unit, Tony? We could have us a spectacular crash some day,” Hank said with mock sternness.

“Hey, Mr. Stafford,” Tony said. “They don’t even buy me my coveralls to work here; they’ll buy a new PCL when pigs fly, besides, in about half an hour the Moon will be up and folks can land by the light of the full Moon. Want some help tying her down?”

When Hank and Tony finished the post-flight checklist and tied the Cessna to huge rings set deep in the tarmac, Hank pressed a $20 into Tony’s hand.

“Holy shit,” Tony said. He blushed bright pink and added, “I mean, thank you Mr. Stafford.”

“Don’t mention it,” Hank called over his shoulder as he carried his bags to his black Porsche Cayenne parked next to the white clapboard house that served as the terminal. Hank pointed his key at the Porsche and clicked the button that opened the rear hatch.

“Full Moon in 27 minutes,” Hank said out loud as he tossed his things in the back of the Porsche.

Hank fished in his left pants pocket and pulled out a small brass key. He used the key to open a panel in the floor of the SUV. After looking both ways, Hank took off his denim jacket and pulled a double shoulder holster from the floor safe.

Hank slipped the rig on, shrugged his shoulders to make a few adjustments to the fit, and put his jacket back on.

Hank reached back into the safe and extracted a TeleDart RD406 tranquilizer pistol. He turned a dial on the side of the weapon and saw the pressure gauge turn red when the pistol was fully charged. Hank loaded a tranq dart into the breech, flipped the breech shut, loaded five more tranq darts into a clip on the front of the right shoulder holster, and jammed the TeleDart into its spot.

“No safety, no safety, don’t shoot yourself in the balls if you have to use it,” Hank said to himself as he pulled a Desert Eagle Mark XIX .50 caliber automatic out of the gun safe in the floor of the Porsche. Hank slapped a clip into the butt end of the hand cannon and put the pistol into the left holster. He put three extra ammunition clips into the pockets of his denim jacket, relocked the safe, buttoned the bottom two buttons of the jacket, and looked at his watch.

“Shit,” Hank hissed. He had less than 25 minutes until Moon rise and he had to do his best to get home to Chauncey in about 20 minutes or there could be hell to pay.

Hank knew there was no way to get over Peach Ridge on Route 33 and take Route 13 to Route 293 and get up Utah Ridge Road to his compound before the Moon popped over the ridge top. He knew it, but he drove like he could make it…he wasn’t even close.

“If the FAA let me put in my own landing strip, I’d have been home 30 minutes ago,” Hank thought as he slid around curves on Route 13. What good was money if you couldn’t do what you wanted with it?

He had to stand the Porsche on its nose when a good old boy in a late 60s Chevy pickup pulled out in front of him about a mile from beautiful downtown Chauncey.

“Move your ass, you old fuck,” Hank screamed at the old man in the Chevy. Hank wondered for the thousandth time why he agreed to move to the wilds of Athens County, Ohio.

The answer was, of course, he loved Celeste. He would do anything for her. When she agreed to marry him, Hank had promised to make sure nothing bad ever happened to her. He hoped tonight wasn’t the night he’d break that promise. Most of the time, Celeste was the most beautiful woman Hank had ever met, and she was sweeter than she was beautiful. It was hard to believe she had come from such a weird family.

The Moon was up before Hank turned on to Utah Ridge Road. He knew he was too late, but he didn’t take his foot off of the gas peddle until he slammed it on the brake peddle at the gate to the compound. He slid to a stop sideways in the driveway.

Hank pushed a button on the dashboard, and the two halves of the gate opened slowly at him. He drove quickly through the gate and pushed the dash button again: the gates closed behind him.

He drove the Porsche around the first bend in the tree-lined driveway before he put the car into Park. He pushed the button that slid the window down, turned off the ignition, and listened. There was nothing to hear at first except the tick of the cooling engine and the breeze in the trees.

The first howl rose up from somewhere on the south side of Hank’s 50-acre property.

“Shit, the pine trees,” Hank said out loud. If she was in the pine trees, she was closer than he liked. He wasn’t going to make it up to the house without running into her.

Hank put his right hand on the butt of the Desert Eagle and opened his door with his left. After he slid to the ground, he eased the door shut with barely a click. That’s when he heard the second howl.

She had heard him. Her ears were like directional microphones. He could picture her turning her head at the sound of the car door closing. She would have thrown her head back and howled a warning. She wanted her prey to know she was hunting. Spooking the prey into a mistake was just the thing she loved to do.

The good news was she was coming to him. The bad news was she was coming to him. Without hesitation, Hank sprinted off the driveway and into a small knot of brush off to his left. He had the Porsche and the open road between himself and Celeste.

Hank reached into his pants pocket with his right hand and pulled out the Porsche key. He stuck the button end of the key between his teeth where he could bite down on the trunk-release button and keep both hands free.

Without making a sound and with deliberate slowness that belied his hammering heart, Hank transferred the Desert Eagle to his left hand and drew the tranq dart pistol with his right.

Celeste would be on his scent now that she was coming. She would follow his scent right across the road and into his hideout if the trunk release trick didn’t work. Hank was going to have to be at least 30 feet away from Celeste when the dart hit her, or she’d still be able to get a paw or two on him before she went to sleep.

Hank shuddered thinking about the damage Celeste could do.

Since Celeste wanted him to know she was coming, she wasn’t shy about letting out excited yips and barks as she came across the property on the dead run. She was heading directly for Hank and she was already tasting him with her mind.

The light-brown werewolf broke from cover about 20 yards in front of the Porsche. She froze for a moment to sniff the air. She could smell his fear; Hank was sure of it.

She growled deep in her throat and started slowing loping toward the Porsche. She leapt from the road to the roof of the Porsche and rose on her hind legs and surveyed her surroundings.

Celeste’s muzzle was long and slender. Hank could see the breeze flutter the soft fur at the nape of her neck. Her ears twitched in unison and then separately. Her black nose wrinkled as she turned slowly.

She knew where Hank was. She could smell him and she could hear his heart hammering against his ribs. Celeste was playing; she wanted to get him to break from his hiding place. Jesus, even as a werewolf, she was beautiful.

Celeste dropped back down to all fours and dropped to the road behind the Porsche. She would charge him any second.

Hank bit down on the trunk release button. The trunk clicked open a few inches. Celeste turned to check for an ambush. Hank leveled the tranq gun and pulled the trigger.

Celeste turned back toward the hiss of the CO2 cartridge just as the dart struck her in the right side of her furry neck. She howled and charged, but she dropped after three halting steps.

Hank heard the growl from behind him. He flattened himself to the ground and had the sense of something just passing over his back. He heard the clack of empty jaws slamming together where his neck would have been.

“Aw, crap, two of them,” Hank screamed as he rolled to his left and pointed the Desert Eagle at the Porsche and pulled the trigger until the automatic was out of bullets.

Two of the hot brass casings had ejected and ricocheted off of a small tree and down the open neck of Hank’s shirt. They burned white hot against his neck and chest, but Hank ignored the pain, reloaded the traq gun, and jumped to his feet.

The second werewolf was flat against the road. Hank had never meant to hit it. He just wanted the boom of the .50 caliber and the sound of breaking glass to give him a few seconds to get a fresh dart in the gun.

The second werewolf leaped from the ground. Hank pulled the trigger. He didn’t hear the hiss of the dart and the whump of it hitting its intended target. He was momentarily deaf from emptying the Desert Eagle into his Porsche. Hank did feel the jarring thump as the werewolf hit him square in the middle of his chest.

Hank went down in a jumble of biting, snapping werewolf. It was trying to tear his throat out, but missed on the first two tries. The third try would have been perfect, but the werewolf collapsed on top of Hank fast asleep.

He wanted to rest. He had the wind knocked out of him and his ribs were killing him, but Hank had only a couple more minutes before the first werewolf would begin to come around.

Hank got plastic cable ties out of a bag in the Porsche’s floor safe. He got to work quickly, and, when he was done, he had two hog tied werewolves. He finished just as the first werewolf started to twitch and stir.

He still wasn’t going to put them in the Porsche and take them to the house. They were far too heavy and they could still bite Hell out of him. They’d be safe out here until dawn when they would turn back into Celeste and most likely her Mom.

Sarah was a handsome woman for a 45-year-old, but Hank didn’t want to see her turn back into his naked mother-in-law.

Hank saw the damage to the Porsche was cosmetic. He tossed the key on the ground where Celeste could see it in the morning. Celeste and Sarah would shrink back to normal size when they changed, and the plastic ties would slip right off.

“God damn,” Hank said to the thinner of the twitching werewolves on the ground. “I hate it when your family visits.”

The End

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