Retreat, a Police Novel by Ronald Schunk
Another round screamed into the police car and impacted, shattering the passenger side window. Fine cracks radiated out from the neat round hole. The bullet continued into the space occupied shortly before by Deputy Constable Sam Basro and bouncing off the windshield pillar, glanced down and to the left, burying itself in the packed earth and stone of the gravel road.
Sam squeezed tighter to the driverís side , kneeling behind the open door and trying to keep the engine block and tire between the source of the bullets.
He reached down to his belt and slipped the velcro holding his walkie talkie in its nylon sheath and brought it up to his lips while squeezing the transmit button.
"District 20, I'm under fire, I need backup, NOW!"
Another round punched through the passenger door to glance off the dashboard after plowing a furrow six inches long.
"Unit calling District 20, I can't read you, you are broken, please 10-9 your traffic." The voice of the dispatcher sounded tinny and too far away.
"Shit" yelled Sam, dropping the WT to the ground. He swore again and this time directed it to the useless radio. "I should have bought a better radio!" Reserves in the County provided their own equipment, and as Sam did, occasionally their patrol cars. The WT had been fine where he worked before coming to Retreat, but now, he was so damn far from the repeater tower the dispatcher couldnít pick him up.
He backed up and made a grab for the mike hooked onto the car console. The mike that was attached to the twenty-watt county radio in the trunk. The radio that always worked no matter what damn hollow he was in or hill he was behind.
He plastered himself to the seat, reached under the wheel and jerked the mike off the hook. The radio immediately stopped scanning all the county frequencies and locked onto the main dispatch channel for District 20.
"District 20, unit 20-303, Iím taking fire, need backup immediately" he shouted..
The radio worked this time and the emergency tones hit his ears like a blessing from Church as the dispatcher called out any available help. She already knew his location since he had made a traffic stop only moments before.
"Attention all cars all departments, attention all cars all departments. Unit 20-303 is being fired on one half-mile north of State Route Ninety on Locust Pike. I repeat unit 20-303 is being fired on one half-mile north of State Route Ninety on Locust Pike. All responding units identify".
"20-16 responding from Madden."
"Unit 20-12 responding from Key Truck Stop, e.t.a. five minutes."
"This is KSP 20-433 responding from the I".
Sam was never happier than when the three units working in the County gave their positions and estimated times of arrival. He knew they werenít holding back on the cars, and he knew the Chevy Caprice LT1 engines were screaming their horsepower cries as tires spun and concrete caught hell. Hopefully he could hold out until backup arrived. He also figured they were so close because they had automatically started towards his last known location when the chase first started. It was something that he would do being in their place. Cover your buddies butt.
Two more rounds impacted the passenger door and their arrival was echoed by a shotgun blast that tore out one of the headlights. Pellets bounced off the hood and pinged off the lightbar while the strobes lit the scene with evenly timed red and blue flashes. It was like a dance floor in a Newport bar, but he sure wasnít dancing. The front take down and the manual spot formed a cone of high intensity Arctic white light that bathed the stopped Camaro which had been the focus of his attention until the gunfire started.
Sam immediately held his hand and arm up, angled the semi-automatic toward the source of the fire and squeezed off five fast rounds, the first three taking out what was left of the window, the other two speeding out into the brush at the edge of Locust Pike.
He forced himself to grab a quick breath and popped his hand up again to fire three more rounds. One of the hot brass casings hit the prisoner cage mesh and bounced back onto his hand causing him to flinch.
Pulling his hand down, he backed up and put his body behind the rear wheel well and stopped again. Donít let him know where you are he thought. Keep them guessing.
The shotgun boomed, this time aimed at the lightbar. The shot went high and the pellets whined off into the misty night air, trailing small vapor trails behind them. It was strange how your field of view narrowed and picked up things like that. Iíd heard of it happening, but never saw it before.
Once again, only this time deliberately, Sam rose from behind the trunk lid with the pistol out in front of him. He took a quick look toward the tree line and dropped back down.
Something white was partially visible behind the thin trees.
Its position told him it had to be the shooter with the handgun. He quickly thrust himself up once again this time firing the last four rounds in his fifteen round magazine. The white spot which was a shirt partially covered by a leather jacket disappeared as the rounds impacted the sparse trees.
With only one round left in the weapon, Sam ducked back down at the same time reaching for a spare magazine in the pouch on his gun belt. In one smooth motion as he spun left and started to squat, his thumb hit the eject button and the spent magazine slid out of the gun and started to fall. He brought his left hand up and fed the new magazine into the weapon. He slammed the heel of his left hand into the base of the magazine to make sure it was seated firmly in position.
Damn, he thought, Iím sure glad I practiced that move so much at the range.
He was ready again and grabbed another quick breath. This time he slid right and took a quick peek around the bumper to see if the white spot was still there.
It was gone! That meant the shooter had moved and he didnít know where, but the other guy knew where he was. He could swing and sprint for the other side of the road and although there was concealment there was no cover. And he knew the difference thanks again to training. He had to stay behind the car. It was the only safe place.
The Smith and Wesson in his hand was a comforting weight as he squatted on his heels and listened to the darkness.
He heard nothing. Not a whisper of cloth on brush, a footstep, or even the sound of a shotgun being recharged. Nothing at all. The bulletproof vest pinched a fold in his stomach between itself and his gun belt, but this was one time he appreciated it, which he normally didnít. A vest was a cumbersome thing to wear, hot in summer, heavy all the time and uncomfortable. A lot of cops didnít wear them because of that, but he really appreciated it now. He was glad his wife made him promise to wear it whenever he worked the road. The next generation of vests were a lot lighter, but made your pocket a lot lighter at around eight hundred dollars a pop.
Maybe they had given up. Maybe one of my shots had hit one of them. Maybe, mabye. That wasnít good enough, he thought.
Suddenly, he heard approaching sirens. The mist on the road and in the trees muffled the sound, but he knew backup was almost here.
Sam duck-walked toward the front of the car, shutting his door in the process. He still had the bulk of the engine and front tires to shield him, and his sixth sense had kicked in and he was sure the shooters were gone.
Sixth sense or not he didnít jump up, but peered around the front bumper, expecting to see the fatal black hole that was the barrel of the shotgun. He raised his weapon out in front and took shuffling little steps, one at a time, as he eased around the corner of the car. He was prepared to go one on one.
His caution, although correct, was wasted. There was no one to be seen.
Still he waited. His flashlight was within easy reach where it lay on the gravel road and he quickly picked it up. The spots illuminated the Camaro and he gave it a closer look.
Both doors were wide open and inviting, but it was an invitation he wasnít prepared to take. Either one of the shooters could be lying in the front or back seat just waiting to take him out, or there could be a third person hiding there that he hadnít seen.
The siren sound hit him in the back like a blast of warm air on a cold winter day as the first car arrived and slid to a stop on the gravel behind Samís cruiser. Without the dampness in the air the car would have brought a choking cloud of dust to obscure everything in the area.
Trooper Brad Wentworth opened his door and called out to Sam.
"Sam, you ok?"
"Yeah, Iím ok, but watch your ass. I donít know where the shooters are yet."
Wentworth took up a position alongside his car. He laid both arms over the hood with the palm of one hand gripping the other which held his forty-five-caliber semi-auto.
"Ok Sam, Iíve got your right side covered" he said as his eyes quickly scanned both sides of the Camaro and settled on the scrub woods to the right.
"Stand by one Brad, Iím going to check out the car."
"Watch yourself" Brad said.
Sam stepped to the left and backed up as he closed in on the car. The wider his arc of approach, the safer he was going to be. His training had proved long ago that "slicing the pie" allowed him to see someone around a corner before he could be seen, and although this was a car, the principle was the same. His weapon was covering the empty
drivers seat and what could be behind it.
"Ok," he yelled, "anybody in the back seat, throw your weapon out. Do it now!"
There was no response and he continued side stepping to the left as the area behind the seat came into view. He flicked on his Streamlite and held it with his left hand, the beam pointing at the same spot as the muzzle of his gun.
He took two more steps to the left and the light brought an empty back seat into view.
"All clear in the car" he shouted back to Brad. He could now hear more sirens in the distance.
Brad shifted his attention back to the scrub wood along the road. He wasnít sure the shooters werenít still there. The angle was off so if they were, they still couldnít get a clear shot at Sam as he turned back from the Camaro.
"Brad, hit the woods with your spot" he called as he shifted his light and weapon in that direction. He brought himself up against the side of the Camaro and held aim on the woodline.
The Trooper released the two handed hold on his weapon, reached in through the open window, and directed his spotlight towards the woods, working it slowly left to right, trying to turn the night into day.
Two tense minutes passed until the other backup units arrived. They added their spot and alley lights to the search. The lights turned the scrub into stark relief. Both Deputy Sheriffs took up similar positions as Brad and monitored the woods with their weapons ready.
Still there was no movement, no sound. Several tense minutes later, Sam dropped the safety on his semi-auto.
"Well," Sam said as he lowered his flashlight and slid his weapon back into its holster, "looks like they got away."
They searched the car and found nothing. Sam called dispatch to advise they were all ok and found the dispatcher had already run a license check on the car. The plates came back as being stolen two days before in Northern Kentucky near Cincinnati. They had been taken from a car in a parking lot at a financial firm along Interstate 275. Sam then requested a registration by VIN, Vehicle Id Number, but that would take a little longer.
"Drew a blank there guys," he said. He didnít need to tell them why. They heard the broadcast on their own radios. "Maybe the VIN check will turn up something.
"Well, looking at the area, and thinking about it, it seems that it may have been a setup. After all, this is pretty much in the middle of nowhere", Brad said. "The road dead ends at the River."
Sam looked at him and remembered the past few minutes.
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Copyright R.Schunk 3/14/2000