Graveyard Shift … 0246 hours

Thanksgiving Eve.

Weather … clear/full moon

Location … Abandoned factory Hwy 666

Victim … Unknown/TBD

Suspect … Unknown/TBD

“Caller reports seeing light, possibly flashlights, inside the abandoned factory on Hwy 666.”

“10-4. I’ll check it out.”

Radio crackles.

“I’m close, 2012. I’ll meet you there.”

“10-4, 2027.”

Cracked asphalt drive.

Tall weeds pushing through jagged openings.

Brick consumed by vegetation.

Still air.

Owl hoots in distance.

Rats scurry through honeysuckle.

Lopsided door. One rusty hinge.

Concrete floor.

Broken glass.

Fallen wood and metal.

Office.

More glass. Shattered.

A hallway to the right.

Break room.

Spider webs.

A painted sign.

SHIPPING and RECEIVING

Double doors on left.

Machinery.

Tall, and short.

Fat, and skinny.

Steel dinosaurs.

Rust and oil stains.

Mouse on metal table.

Roaches.

The size of gumdrops.

Flashlight in distance.

Quiet.

Eerie.

Guns pointed.

Slowly.

Shards of glass.

Crunching and cracking beneath shiny shoes.

Stop.

Listening.

Light, unmoving.

Ease forward.

Water drips from above.

Plop … plop … plop.

Owl hoots.

Flashlight, closer.

Heart, pounding.

Sweat at hairline.

Open doorway.

Warehouse.

Light beam.

I to the right.

He to the left.

“Police!”

Nothing.

Owl hoots.

Closer.

Light unwavering from floor.

“Police!”

Silence.

Water dripping. Rats scurrying. Owl hooting.

Heart, beating like a drum.

Far away train whistle.

A man.

Overturned chair.

Dirt floor.

Dress shirt.

Jeans.

Tennis shoes.

Flashlight.

Paper.

“I love you, dear wife. ”

“I’m sorry I failed you and our beautiful little girls.”

“Tell them I love them too.”

“This is the only way.”

“Always remember the good days.”

0342 hours.

Cause of death … possible suicide.

Weapon … shotgun.

Victim … unknown due to extent of injuries.

Next of kin … a wife and daughters … somewhere.

Owl hoots.


*Images by Maryland photographer Sunday Kaminski.

Factory.
Massive, abandoned.
Machinery. Metal, dinosaurs.
Tangled debris. Ceiling, leaking.
Dark.

Footsteps.
Flashlights. Shadows.
Graffiti. Glass, broken.
Odors, chemicals. Water, drips.
Echoes.

Hallway.
Leather, squeaking.
Keys. Rattling, jingling.
Vest, hot. Nerves, raw.
Anxious.

There,
Hanging, swinging.
Body. Blue, bloated.
Rafter, rope, loops, neck.
Dead.

Shoes.
Deep blue.
Color of depression.
Kids. Choking game, again.
Funeral.

 

“10-4, it’s a structure.

Fully involved.

A real hot one, too.

Send fire units to my location.”

Standby.

“Someone’s coming toward me.”

Please, you’ve got to help him.

“Help who, ma’am?”

The old man.

He’s in there.

I tried.

But it was too hot.

He’s trapped.

Screams.

A bedroom.

“His room?”

Yes.

Please hurry.

Heat and flames.

A fireplace,

times ten-thousand.

Smoke.

Thick.

Heavy.

Choking.

Eyes,

Burning.

Get low!

Crawl.

Glass.

Smoldering carpet.

Hot embers.

A doorway.

So hot.

Can’t breathe.

A little further.

Ashes.

Heat.

Too intense.

TV.

Melted.

Smoke boiling and billowing.

Can’t see.

Hands burning.

Wheelchair.

Caught,

on bed frame.

A crutch.

Out of reach.

A foot.

A leg.

Trapped!

Pull and tug.

Pull,

Harder!

Fire.

Crackling.

Popping.

Something falls.

Crash!

Hallway.

Dragging.

Straining.

Pulling.

Muscles,

Screaming.

Can’t see.

Sweating.

Burning.

Heart,

pounding.

No air.

Pulling.

Dizzy.

Can’t breathe.

No strength.

Can’t breath.

Almost there.

Can’t…breathe…

Moonlight.

A touch.

Strong hands.

Gloved hands.

Pulling.

Dragging.

Helping.

Cool night air.

Deep breaths.

Firefighters.

Oxygen.

“Yes, I’m okay.”

A few burns.

Not too bad.

Yes,

the coroner’s on the way

“I tried,

I really did.

But he was already gone.”

Please don't shoot my daddy

“Help me!

Please, help me.”

“He’s got my kids…And…Oh, God…He’s got a gun!

Hel…” BOOM!

Silence.

“All units. Hostage situation.

212 Shady Lane.

Weapons involved.

Shots fired.”

Three cars.

High speed parade.

Blue lights.

Sirens.

Sun, dipping behind trees.

Sharp, hairpin curves.

Shadows stretched across cracked pavement.

There, that’s the driveway.

Tractor-shaped mailbox

Atop dented and crooked metal pole.

Long path.

Two dirt ruts splitting a sea of gangly weeds and wildflowers.

Single file.

Lights off.

Sirens off.

Stop.

Engines off.

Weapons drawn.

Breezes pushing and pulling dry, brittle grasses.

Me to the right.

One to the left.

One in the middle.

Far away thunder.

Trees sway, gently.

Leaves flutter, dance, and turn belly up.

Raindrops tip-tapping on tin roof.

First one, then another and another.

Tap, tap, tap.

Glass shatters.

Crack!

A scream.

“No!”

Front porch.

Door opens.

Three pistols aim.

Boy runs out.

Twelve-years-old?

Crying.

“He’s got my sister…and my Mama!”

“And he’s got a gun.”

Shivering.

Tears.

SWAT?

Call for backup?

Dogs?

BOOM!

Screaming.

Lot’s of screaming.

Wood splintering.

Thuds and thumps.

Struggle. Fighting.

BOOM!

No time.

Prepare to enter.

Child in car.

“Please don’t shoot my Daddy…”

There, coming outside.

Man, wild-eyed.

No shirt.

Faded jeans.

Barefoot.

Shotgun.

Three voices.

In unison.

“Put down the gun! Put it down, now!”

Shotgun waving.

Finger in trigger guard.

Three pistols pointed.

Squeezing.

Shotgun to chin.

Take chance.

Sneaking to side.

“I’ll kill myself!”

Closer.

One pleading. Begging. “Put down the gun.”

“I’m not going to jail!”

Woman crying. “Please, no…”

Sobbing.

Children, crying.

“No, Daddy. Please, no.”

Closer.

“Nothing to live for.”

Still closer.

“I want to die.”

Shotgun swaying.

Hands tremble.

“Go away.”

In doorway.

Woman and young girl.

“I’m taking them with me.”

Now!

Tackle.

Fighting.

Struggle for weapon.

Strong.

Really strong.

Alcohol.

Eyes, glassy.

Pupils, tiny.

Cursing.

Spitting.

Biting.

So strong.

Shirt torn.

Elbow bleeding.

Hand bitten, bleeding.

Handcuffs click.

Growl—raspy, vicious, feral.

Thrashing.

Screaming.

Jail.

Methamphetamine.

Suicide.

Mother, drug addiction.

Child Protective Services.

Children—foster homes.

Family…destroyed.

Meth…

Hold on Frank

 

Door askew

One rusted hinge.

Wedge of sunlight

Peeking through.

Beretta in hand.

“I heard a shot.”

“Is he in there?”

“Stay back, please.”

Standing to side.

Breathing heavy.

I said,

“Frank?”

No answer.

Sweat trickles.

Heart pounds.

“Frank, you okay?”

Silence.

Flies buzz.

Darting in and out.

Deep breath.

Quick peek.

Maglight low.

Head high.

Minimum target.

Blood spatter.

Lots of it.

Frank on floor, sitting.

Shotgun in lap, upright.

“Frank, you okay?”

Useless words.

“Is Daddy all right?”

“Go back in the house.

I’ll be there in a minute.”

Hand over mouth, sobbing. “Okay.”

Squeeze through door.

Holster weapon.

Not needed.

Face, gone.

Friends since high school.

Twenty years, or more.

“Why, Frank?

Great kids.

Great wife.

Nice house.

Good job.

Wonderful life.”

Silence.

Radio crackles.

“Send M.E. and rescue.”

“No particular order.”

Doesn’t matter.

Suddenly…

Chest moves.

A wet breath, from somewhere.

Finger twitches, slightly.

“Frank?”

Another jerky, unbelievable breath.

“Hold on, Frank.”

“Help’s on the way.”

Frantically grab radio.

“Tell rescue to hurry!”

“Victim is alive.”

“Repeat. Victim is alive.”

Sit on floor.

Holding Frank’s hand.

Sirens getting closer.

“Hey, Frank. Remember when we…”

Silence and tears

“Help me, please!”

“Yes, he has a gun. My shotgun…”

“Please, he’s all I have.”

“He’s seventeen.”

“Yes, it’s loaded.”

“Please, do something!”

“In the living room, sitting on the floor.”

“The far wall, next to the sofa.”

“Wait here. We’ll work it out.”

“Please…”

“He’s all I have…”

A turn of the knob.

Gentle push against wood.

Hinges groan.

Warm air brushes my cheek.

Quiet.

Soft mechanical hum…refrigerator.

“Mark?”

Nothing.

A step inside.

“Mark?”

Soft sobbing.

Agony.

Turn the corner.

“Mark, it’s me.”

“Leave me alone.”

“Let’s talk for a minute.”

“Go away.”

“You don’t understand.”

“Maybe I do.”

Another step.

Shotgun barrel beneath quivering chin.

Back against wall.

Shells scattered on floor.

Tears.

Another step.

Eyes turn toward me.

I sit beside him.

Backs against the wall.

Waiting, in silence.

Finger trembling against steel.

“Want to talk about it?”

Silence and tears.

Finally…

“You know how he is.”

“Yes…I do.”

“He was my boss for a long time.”

“How’d you stand it?”

“I couldn’t, at first.”

“But I understood it was hard for him, too.”

“When your mom died.”

“But I miss her.”

“He misses her, too, Mark.”

“You need each other.”

“He hates me.”

“No, he misses his wife.”

“I want her to come home.”

“Mark, I’m really nervous about that gun.”

Silence and tears.

I hold out my hand.

A slow surrender.

A hug.

A long hug.

Emotions spill.

Sky opens.

A flood.

An earthquake.

Torrential rains.

Heartbreak.

Loneliness.

Fear.

Sadness.

A long, gut-wrenching hug.

Storm slowly subsides.

“You ready?”

A nod.

A walk outside.

Father and son together.

Silence and tears.

A family again.

For two short weeks.

No chance to talk.

Not that time.

A father’s silence and tears.

“He was a good son.”

“He missed his mom.”

“I tried, I really did.”

“I know you did.”

“I was a good father.”

“Yes you were.”

“The best.”

A faraway look.

I sit beside him.

Backs against the wall.

Waiting.

Silence and tears.

“Want to talk about it?”

“Not really.”

“You know, I’m really nervous about that gun.”

Silence and tears.

A soft mechanical hum…refrigerator.

“I’m here for you, you know.”

“And I’ve got all day.”

“A lifetime, actually.”

“Whatever it takes.”

“Whatever you need.”

Silence and tears.”

Two weeks…

Four weeks…

Then…

Never-ending silence.

No more tears…

A soft mechanical hum…refrigerator.

*This piece is re-posted at the request of a reader. I hope it helps.

File:London Polizei-Einsatz.gif

“Man with a gun.”

“He has hostages.”

“A female and three children.”

“Shots fired.”

“10-4. I’m en route.”

Farmhouse

Yelling

Cursing

Glass breaking

Thumps

Bangs

A scream

Kids crying

One peeking outside

A teenager

BOOM!

Shotgun blast

Window up

Teen pulled to safety

Hide

Sirens

Far away

Backup coming

A look inside

Woman and two small children

Huddled together

Beside bed

BOOM!

Hole in door

Man at window

Tall

Muscular

Wild-eyed

No shirt

Sweating

Nervous

Sees police car

BOOM!

Out on porch

Shotgun

Barefoot

Dirty jeans

Yelling

Cursing

“Go away”

“I’ll kill them!”

“All of them”

Doesn’t see me

Eight feet away

Around corner

Aims at police car

Boom!

Run

Tackle

Secure gun

Handcuff

Children crying

Woman crying

“Daddy!”

“Please don’t take him away!”

“He’s my husband”

“I love him”

“He’ll be okay”

“Just too much alcohol”

“That’s all”

“Please, let him go”

“He wouldn’t hurt us”

Hair tangled

“I promise”

Lip bleeding

“He would never hurt us”

“Please…”

Bruised cheek

More tears

“He means well”

“A lot on his mind”

“It was my fault”

Bruises on arms

“Please…”

“We need him”

 *Farmhouse photo by Sunday Kaminski

Dead bodies and pink deputies

“Hurry, an SUV just jumped the guardrail.”

“Yes, it went airborne. Must’ve flown twenty- or thirty-feet straight up.”

“Uh huh. Hit a tree and then fell down into the ravine.”

“Must’ve been doing ninety or better when it hit the barrier.”

“One of the men is in the top of the tree—”

“No, he’s not moving—”

“That’s right…and I can another one on the riverbank.”

“The car was packed.”

I’d say at least five people were inside.”

“Upside down, now.”

“No, no one is moving.”

“It doesn’t look good.”

“Please hurry.”

A beep, then radio noises in the background.

One-sided conversation.

Then…

“Okay, I’m sending an officer right now.”

Long, slow day.

Four hours, two tickets.

Hot sun.

Hazy.

Cloudless.

Bored.

Radio crackles.

“10-4, running radar, but I’m close. I’ll take the call.”

“Rescue is en route?”

“I’m on the way.”

Tires spin.

Gravel tossed.

Rubber grips pavement.

A squeal.

Engine roars.

Lights flickering and flashing.

Siren screaming.

Scenery a blur.

Traffic backing up.

Pass on shoulder.

People out.

Some looking, some running.

Broken guardrail.

Smashed concrete.

“Stand back!”

A peek over.

Tree top.

Broken branches.

Clothing and papers.

And a body.

“Send me some help!”

One-hundred feet below.

Crumpled metal.

Twisted steel.

And more mangled humans.

More sirens.

Climb down.

Three deputies.

Steep.

Rocky.

Snakes.

Insects.

Thick brush.

Briars and thorns.

Slip.

Slide.

Push through greenery.

Two steps forward.

One back.

Wading against the tide.

Wreckage.

Overturned.

Top flattened.

Glass broken.

One under…dead.

Two to the right…dead.

One inside…dead

Broken and motionless limbs.

All dead.

Souls departed.

The climb out.

Passing rescue workers.

Straight up.

More pushing.

More brambles.

More cuts.

More brush.

A look around.

A very close look around.

All around…

An ocean of…poison ivy.

Neck deep poison ivy.

As far as the eye could see…

POISON IVY!

Three officers.

Three highly allergic officers.

Three bottles of Calamine lotion.

Seven long days…

Itching.

Scratching.

Calamine-painted pink deputies.

From head to toe.

And everywhere in between.

Everywhere…

The fire page 193

10-4, it’s a structure.

Fully involved.

A real hot one too.

Send fire units to my location.

Standby.

Someone’s running toward me.

Please, you’ve got to help him.

Help who, ma’am?

The old man.

He’s in there.

I tried.

But it was too hot.

He’s trapped.

Screaming.

His bedroom.

Heat and flames

A fireplace

Times ten-thousand

Smoke

Thick

Heavy

Choking

Eyes

Burning

Get low!

Crawl

Glass

Flaming carpet

Hot embers

A doorway

So hot

Can’t breathe

A little further

Furniture

Ashes

The heat

Too intense

TV

Melted

Smoke boiling and billowing

Can’t see

Hands burning

Wheelchair

Caught on bed frame

A crutch

Out of reach

A foot

A leg

Trapped!

Pull and tug

Pull

Harder!

Fire

Crackling and popping

Something falls

Two hands

Back down hallway

Dragging

Straining

Pulling

Muscles screaming

Can’t see

Sweating

Burning

Heart pounding

No air

Pulling

Dizzy

Can’t breath

No strength

Can’t breath

Almost there

Can’t breath!

Moonlight

A touch

Strong hands

Gloved hands

Pulling

Dragging

Helping

Cool night air

Deep breaths

Firefighters

Oxygen

Yes, I’m okay

A few burns

Not too bad

Yes

The coroner’s on  the way

I tried

I really did

But he was already gone.

Life in prison:

Never so alone

Ashamed

Depressed

Anxious.

Strip-searched

Man after man

A number now

Prisoner after prisoner.

One by one

For all to see

Arms outstretched

Humiliation.

Men

Many frightened

Pretending

Showing no fear.

Long, dark, damp concrete hallways

Steel bars and doors

Stale air and emotions

Never a ray of sunlight.

Voices

Thunderous voices

Shrieking, howling, shouting

Everywhere.

Never-ending chatter

Never-ending clatter

Never-ending loneliness

Never-ending despair.

Never alone

But always alone

Sitting

Staring.

Thinking

Dreaming

Hoping

Regretting.

Kneeling

Prayers unanswered

Forgiveness

Doubtful.

Never silent

Deafening

The hollering and shouting

The clanging and banging.

Chains rattling

Doors slamming

Whistles and bells

Endlessly.

Time

Stopped

Days become weeks

Weeks become months.

An eternity

A lifetime of agony

Living inside their minds

An endless nightmare.

At least I could go home

At the end of the day.

Unwind

Take off the uniform

The badge

Thinking

Staring

Nightmares

Of bars and concrete

Of broken lives and hearts

Only to awaken

To begin another day

In their world.