Another Big Bust

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Chapter One

Swing Shift Surprise

The night was dark, only a sliver of moon in the sky over Durham, North Carolina, but temperatures were pleasant for mid April. My white helmet rested on my head, my clear goggles covered my eyes, and my Harley-Davidson Electra Glide police motorcycle vibrated between my legs as I rode about my beat. The only part of me not jiggling was my breasts. I’d strapped my 38DD’s into a zipper-front reinforced sports bra with two-inch wide shoulder straps. The contraption was as tight and confining as a straight jacket—or so I imagined—but it got the job done. I was working the swing shift tonight, and the last thing I needed was my own body getting in the way.

The swing shift ran from 5:00 PM to 2:00 AM. On weekends, the shift was always a busy one for the police department, prime time for bad date drama, bar fights, and drunk drivers. At least the shift was never boring. It would be even more fun if the captain would let me implement the new ideas I’d had for field sobriety tests, including requiring suspects to play a game of Twister. What better way to tell if someone was drunk than by testing their balance, and checking whether they could remember their colors and distinguish between their hands and feet?

My beat, District Four, formed a rough horseshoe shape around an unincorporated area known as Research Triangle Park, home to many pharmaceutical and biomedical research companies. The beat was bordered on the north by the Highway 147, on the west by Chapel Hill, and on the east by Raleigh. On the south, both my beat and the Durham city limits ended at the Chatham County border. Chatham County comprised smaller towns, and was overseen primarily by the sheriff’s department rather than municipal police departments.  

It was nearing 2:00 AM, with clear skies, only an occasional car on the roads, and just seven minutes left in my shift. Then I could go home to my comfy bed and my condescending cat. I’d tried to take an afternoon nap before my shift but my biorhythms wouldn’t have it. At best, I’d dozed for ten minutes or so. Good thing I’d downed a cup of coffee during my midnight break or I’d be too tired to function.

As I motored along the highway, tall, dark forests on both sides, a late flight on approach to the RDU airport raised my gaze to the skies. The plane quickly left my field of vision, but the twinkling stars remained. Though I had zero vocal talent, the beautiful, starry night nonetheless inspired me. “When You Wish Upon a Star” would be the perfect choice, wouldn’t it? I opened my mouth to sing, but got only the first word out when—whap!—an errant moth entered my throat at 50 mph. The initial sting on impact was bad enough, but now the papery bug was gagging me, too. Hwak-hwak-hwak!

I pulled to the side of the road, braked to a stop, and coughed up the moth like my cat coughing up a hairball. Lovely, huh? Such were the hazards of serving as a motorcycle cop, though the situation was far worse for the poor moth than it was for me. A rider expects to get a few bugs in the teeth. Mesmerized by the brilliance of my headlight, the moth had likely had no inkling of its approaching demise. Maybe it had been wishing on a star, too, only the star turned out to be my high-beam. Rest in peace, little bug.

I grabbed my water bottle from the holder on my handlebars, slugged back a mouthful, and gargled to loosen any insect remnants. Dispatch came over the radio, summoning officers to a nearby biker bar to break up a fight. Ugh. My bed and my cat would have to wait a little longer. No doubt I’d be tied up until well after my shift. But if I wanted to work regular hours, I should’ve taken a desk job instead of training to become a police officer. I expelled the water onto the grassy shoulder of the road and pressed the button on my shoulder-mounted radio. “Unit M2 responding.”

Lights flashing and siren wailing, I pulled into the dimly lit parking lot of Rockers, a seedy dive named after the British term for motorcycle riders. Rockers sat in an older part of District 4, near an industrial area on the outskirts of town. A row of motorcycles stood in a haphazard line at the front of the lot, while a handful of pickup trucks, SUVs, and cheaper model sports cars were scattered about the parking spot. The place catered to a male customer base, as evidenced by the neon beer signs and the big screen televisions visible through the windows, all tuned to sporting events. A semi-circle of Neanderthals had formed around two bloody men throwing punches at each other in the parking lot. The cavemen cheered them on, hooting and hollering, not one of them making any attempt to stop the carnage. This brawl was their Saturday evening entertainment. Why would they want to stop it? 

Leaving my lights flashing, I screeched to a stop, hopped off my bike, and whipped my Taser from my utility belt. I rushed over and stopped just short of the melee. “Break it up!” I shouted. “Now!”

Neither combatant made any attempt to stop fighting, nor did they even glance my way. It was no surprise. After all, my lights and siren had already announced the arrival of law enforcement. If that hadn’t been enough to separate the two, it was going to take more drastic measures. Problem was, I couldn’t Taser them both at once, and I wasn’t sure which of the guys I should target first. I had no idea who’d started the fight, and I didn’t want to give either of them an unfair advantage. He might decide to land another punch or a strategic kick while his opponent was being zapped.

I swapped my Taser for my pepper spray, which would render the two similarly incapacitated. Equal justice. “Back off!” I hollered, motioning for the crowd to retreat. Just like the brawlers, they ignored me, none wanting to give up the vantage points they’d pushed and shoved each other to attain. Some would become collateral damage but, hey, they’d been warned and would have no one to blame but themselves. Besides, these guys reeked of beer and B.O. A dose of pepper spray might actually freshen up the parking lot.

My goggles would protect my eyes, but my nose and mouth were exposed. I pressed my lips together, took a deep breath, and held it as I pushed the button. Psshhhh! The air filled with an acrid scent and the cries of men who could no longer see or breathe. Should’ve backed off like I told you to.

“Fuck-ck-ck!” one of the fighters cried, his curse descending into a cough that threated to break a few ribs. He wrapped his arms around his torso as if to hold himself together.

The other wailed and summoned mucus up from the deepest depths of his lungs before bending forward with his hands on his knees and spitting the blob out on the pavement with a revolting splat.

The one who was coughing seemed more debilitated by the spray, so I figured I had a little more time before he’d come around. I’d take care of the other first. Still holding my breath, I fanned my face, exchanged the spray for a pair of cuffs, and rushed the man who was bent over. I shoved him from behind and he fell forward onto the pavement, skidding on his palms until he fell fully flat, making himself easier for me to handle. Before he could figure out what was happening, I had a knee in his back and his arms yanked up behind him. A couple of clicks later and he was cuffed.

He turned his head, scraping his already bloody nose on the pavement, and glared at me with his one visible eye. It was a green eye. A bloodshot and watery eye. But a familiar eye. The man’s hair was mostly a dull gray now, but it might have once been brown. His left hand bore three circular scars. The scars were familiar, too, the result of a dog bite.

My heart revved to a thousand rpms. Could it be? After all these years?