Moonlight Shadow Ch. 01

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This story is part of an ongoing series. The chronological order of my stories is now listed in WifeWatchman’s biography.

Feedback and constructive criticism is very much appreciated, and I encourage feedback for ideas.

This story contains graphic scenes, language and actions that might be extremely offensive to some people. These scenes, words and actions are used only for the literary purposes of this story. The author does not condone murder, racial language, violence, rape or violence against women, and any depictions of any of these in this story should not be construed as acceptance of the above.

Part 1 – Prologue

“Officer down! Officer down!” came the call on Police Radio. “Officers under fire at MLK Park!”

“Do not approach MLK Park! I say again, do not approach MLK Park! Officers remain under fire! Situation is not resolved!” came another call.

“Block off all roads leading to MLK Park!” came another call, this time unmistakably Captain Teresa Croyle’s voice. “Secure all roads and access to the Park, but do not enter the Park!”

It was 12:30am, Friday, April 6th. MLK Park was on the southside, south of MLK Jr. Avenue that was the main road through the Tenderloin District. The park was not as large as Ronald Reagan Park, but had a 9-hole disc golf course and walkways and a playground. But it was well known that good and God-fearing people did not go into MLK Park after dark, when ‘the Powers of Evil were exalted’, as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote. Criminals ruled the night in the Park.

Captain Cindy Ross came up to Captain Teresa Croyle, who was at the ‘command post’ vehicle, a paddywagon that had been converted into the SpecOps’s vehicle, and carried radios with powerful transmitters as well as equipment, armor, and weapons. “What’s going on?” Ross asked. She was heavily armored and wearing a Police helmet, as was everyone else.

“As you know,” said Captain Croyle, “Vice got good intel on that big shipment of drugs that the gang NS-14 was bringing in. We moved in to interdict it, but they had a lot more people around the park than we expected, stationed in strategic places, and they’ve got M-4s and AK-47s.”

Croyle continued: “Up here near Jesse Jackson Avenue, at the entrance to the park, Patrolman Barker came under fire. He went down and was not moving, but he was behind the brick entrance signpost, so he had some cover. But they were shooting right at his position, so Detective McGhillie drove his car right up to the edge of the road, then low-crawled to Barker and pulled him into the drainage ditch by the side of the road. They’re relatively safe now, and we’re covering them with fire if the perps try to go after them, but McGhillie radioed in that he was hit on the arm, and Barker is wounded in the leg and his chest armor was impacted.”

“Shit.” said Ross. “He’ll have cracked ribs at the least.”

“We have the park surrounded; the bastards are not going anywhere.” said Croyle. “But they’re firing at anything that moves, and they’ve shot up McGhillie’s car; the lightbar was destroyed, and you can hear the impact of the bullets on the side right now as they’re still firing at it. The car engine went out a minute ago, too.”

“Do we have any infrared drones, so maybe we can spot these shooters and return fire?” asked Cindy.

“Myron Milton is working that.” said Croyle, pointing at Milton who was 30 feet behind them. “But he’s not listening to me. He’s on the radio with someone else.”

“Who?– oh, never mind.” said Ross as she heard the helicopter roar as it passed over her head, having come in from the north. “Commander Troy, in the Cobra, with the revolver. Nothing but net.”

“Like the guy said in the Beetlejuice movie…” Croyle replied. “It’s showtime…”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“Six bogeys on the east side, behind the big oak tree.” radioed Myron as he got the infrared picture from the drone flying overhead. “Three marmaris escort more behind the MLK statue, two further south behind the restroom pavilion.”

“Roger that. Any civilians?” I asked.

“Negative.” said Myron. “Park is evacuated. Only bogeys inside, Police on the perimeter.”

“Roger that.” I said. “Tell everyone to duck, I’m going in.”

“They’re shooting at the drone!” Myron said. “Taking evasive action!” He had the drone peel off and fly west, to my right as I came in from the north. My own IR goggles were enough, however.

I saw flashes of light; the perps were firing at the Cobra. That made it easy for me; I aimed at the points of light and pressed the button to fire, raking the enemy positions behind the statue with real machine gun fire. Then I turned and fired at the perps behind the oak tree.

“Drop your weapons and surrender!” I said over the loudspeaker that was attached to the gunship. “This is your last warning. Surrender now.” I saw in my IR goggles that most of the perps were doing so. The ones under the pavilion were being more stubborn. A burst of fire at them changed their suppositions.

“They’re coming out!” I heard on the radio. “Hold your fire, they’re surrendering!” It was Captain Croyle’s voice. As I pulled the chopper up to a higher altitude, I heard the commotion on the radio as Police Officers swarmed the Park, taking suspects and the evidence of drugs, cash, and weapons into custody. Myron gave me the ‘all clear’, and I flew the Cobra back to County Airport as Police and medical personnel reached McGhillie and Barker, and evacuated them to University Hospital.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I am not sure who called her, but Becca Larrington was at the Hospital when I arrived. Her mother and one of her friends was with her, and Becca was trying not to cry… and was failing.

Cindy Ross came up to me, and we went down the hallway so that we could talk. “McGhillie was shot in the upper left arm, but it looks like he’ll be okay. Admiral Cordell wants to keep him overnight to run antibiotics into him and for observation. Barker took two bullets to the right thigh, as well as his chest armor taking several shots. They took him into surgery, and Dr. Morgan is operating now.”

“How were they wounded?” I asked.

“I don’t know.” said Cindy. “You’ll have to ask Captain Croyle that.”

“And she is prepared to answer you, sir.” said Teresa, coming down the hallway to us, still wearing her ‘black’ uniform and armor. “I’m not sure on Barker. It looks like he went forward to set up to cover more of us going in, and got hit at an angle. We knew the perps were next to the statue, making the buy, but we didn’t know they had an ambush prepared from the edges.”

“You think it was an ambush?” I asked. “Or just lookouts?”

“Sir,” Teresa said, “if it was lookouts, I would think the people near the statue would’ve run and taken cover, or begin shoot at each other. These guys did not; they took defensive positions and began shooting at the Police on the perimeter. I think they knew, or strongly suspected, that we were coming, and set the whole thing up as an ambush.”

I nodded. “Good observations.” I said. “How many arrests?”

“First,” said Cindy, “three of them are dead, another badly wounded and in surgery now. You lit them up hard, sir. We made twelve more arrests. All of them Hispanic, all of them with NS-14 tattoos on their arms.”

“Definitely a set-up for an ambush, then.” I said. “Why else would they be buying drugs from themselves?” Both my Angels nodded in understanding.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“He’s going to be okay, Becca.” I said as I went into the waiting room, Teresa behind me. I sat down beside Becca. “You can go see him in a few minutes.”

“He… he could’ve died!” Becca said, beginning to cry again. “I know he was saving someone… but Kathy died saving someone…” I glanced up at Teresa, who was watching marmaris escort bayan me.

“But he didn’t.” I said. “I know this is tough for you, and right after losing your sister. But he did a brave thing tonight.”

“I know he was saving another Police Officer’s life,” said Becca, “but I wish the people I love would stop being so brave. I don’t want to lose him, too!”

I wasn’t sure what to say about this. Teresa obviously wasn’t either. Fortunately, Joanne Warner and her husband Seth had just come in, and had heard what she said.

“Let me talk to her a minute.” Seth said. I got up and he sat down next to Becca. “Hi Becca, I’m Seth Warner, Joanne’s husband. I know how you feel.”

“How can you know how I feel?” Becca said, warily and almost angrily.

“Because I watched a building explode with my wife inside it.” said Seth. (Author’s note: ‘Women’s Work’, Ch. 03.) “She went in to arrest some wanted criminals. One of them was my mother, another was my sister, another was your sister’s friend and the Iron Crowbar’s sister. My mother saved my wife’s life, but died herself.”

“I’m sorry about your mom.” said Becca. “So doesn’t it scare you that your wife might not come home alive?”

“Yes.” said Seth. “I live with it every single minute of my life. But I know that Joanne is doing what she was meant to do, and what she loves doing. And so is your fiancé Roy. And Captain Croyle, and Commander Troy. It’s tough on our families. And that’s why we have to support them with everything we have. Roy does what he does because he knows you’re behind him, and he needs you supporting him. Just as Joanne needs me supporting her.”

Becca nodded, then said “Where do they find the courage… to leave their loved ones, and face death?” Seth looked up at me. And I did have the answer for that one.

“Becca, we do what we do because it’s what we do.” I said. “And we don’t go around expecting to die; we expect to live, and to win. Captain Croyle went into that warehouse and rescued my daughter knowing she had a chance to save her and to live. She did not expect to die, though she knew she might.”

“My sister knew she wasn’t going to live.” Becca said, somewhat sullenly.

“And she made the supreme sacrifice for another person.” I replied. “She was brave, and showed the goodness inside her. I know you’re grieving for her, because she’s gone from out here but is still there inside your heart. But she would want you to be there for Roy, to help him recover.”

Becca then said “And this could happen again!”

“Not likely.” said Joanne, who had come up beside Seth. “Most Police Officers don’t ever get wounded, and those who do usually only get wounded once. The TCPD has only had one line-of-duty death in 30 years.” I noticed Teresa quietly exiting the waiting room, so that her example of six Purple Orders would not be remembered at this moment.

“Becca,” I said, “you just gotta love Roy while you’ve got him. You gotta love him like there’s no such thing as a broken heart”

“Hey!” Joanne said brightly, “someone could write a country song about that.” Everyone laughed, even Becca. I could see in her eyes she was getting better.

Dr. Cordell appeared, and told us what room Roy was in. “He needs to rest, but I would imagine seeing his lovely young fiancée would make him feel a lot better… but not for too long, okay?”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I peeked my head in the door of the room, seeing Roy McGhillie trying to get comfortable in the bed.

“Hey,” I said, “someone wants to talk to you about learning to duck.” I then got out of the way and let Becca go in.

Roy smiled brightly. “Hey, Beautiful!” he said. “Come over here.” Becca all but ran to him, tears flowing down her cheeks. I closed the door and went back down the hallway, where Teresa was waiting for me.

“How do you know I wasn’t expecting to die?” she asked. “I really was, you know.”

“No escort marmaris you weren’t.” I said. “I know, because I know the measure of your soul. You might’ve been willing to die, might’ve even hoped to die on Christmas Eve… but you dived into that pit expecting to live.” Teresa gave me that inscrutable look she sometimes gets, but she did not debate further with me over what we both knew to be true.

“By the way,” I said, “Joanne is right that most Officers have zero or one Purple Order. Those that have more get desk duty. Those that have six get chained to their desks.”

“We’ll see about that!” Teresa replied. “Set those brackets up right, sir.” I just laughed.

Part 2 – The Crime Scene

“This is Bettina Wurtzburg, KXTC Fox Two News!” shouted the lovely redheaded reporterette at 7:00am, Friday, April 6th, from in front of City Hall. “Social groups are demanding that Commander Donald Troy be suspended without pay and that a full investigation of his actions be made after a Police raid gone wrong last night!”

Bettina began: “Last night the Town I really had beaten the Chief to County Airport and the Cobra by scant minutes…

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“The trees that whisper in the evening, Carried away by a moonlight shadow.

Sing a song of sorrow and grieving, Carried away by a moonlight shadow.

All she saw was a silhouette of a gun, Far away on the other side.

He was shot six times by a man on the run, And she couldn’t find how to push through.”

— Mike Oldfield, ‘Moonlight Shadow’

Ronald Reagan Park borders the River in the northwest corner of Town. A flat field runs east-west along the southern border of the park, and there are playgrounds and pavilions dotting the landscape, with intersecting crosswalks and walking paths. To the north rises a hill, which was left wooded. Walking paths and part of the disc golf course meander through there. The park then extends north along the River, with open areas that get a bit marshy after heavy rains; that land could not really be developed, so the County took over the land and more of the disc golf course was installed there.

It was where the woods met that northern finger of land that a man’s body had been found. The area was cordoned off, and the trails to the area closed, and the Police Officers from 3d shift that had responded to the call had done a good job of not marring the crime scene; one Officer had approached from the side to check if the man was alive, and had approached the body carefully in doing so.

The dead man was lying face down, facing east, to our right as we looked at it from the trail to the south from which we’d approached. He was wearing a beige trenchcoat not unlike my own, brown slacks, brown socks and brown loafers whose soles were showing age. He was also wearing a fedora-like hat (nope, no Tilley hat), white collared shirt, and an extraordinarily ugly tie, white with red and brown criss-cross stripes.

“White man, late 20s or early 30s.” said Jerome Davis as he and I squatted on our knees at the body’s right side, using towels beneath us to prevent making too many marks on the ground, and keeping our clothes clean. “Shot six times in the chest, abdomen and almost in the neck up here. No wallet or any ID in his pockets, but the tag in his hat says ‘J. Cialis’ and a phone number. He… what the heck?”

“Those footprints?” I asked. A steady line of footprints were going west in the soft ground.

“Yes sir.” said Jerome. “They’re going left, towards the River, and he’s facing right, looking away from the River.” Jerome then impressed me by carefully examining the bottoms of the man’s shoes, then examining the footprints.

“Sir!” Davis all but shouted. “I think these prints were made by those shoes on the man’s feet.” I observed and reached the same conclusion. Cindy was listening, and instructed the Crime Lab people that had just arrived to get all that into evidence.

“So how in the world did he do that?” asked Jerome. “Walked backwards, turned around, and dropped dead. There’s no prints showing he turned or pivoted. Indentations on the ground where he fell forward.”

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