Friday, November 16, 2012

NaNoWriMo Day 16

Detective Hartwig was in a car in a parking lot kitty corner diagonally from the Alpha Upsilon Mu house, scoping out the place, keeping on high alert for any movement of Higgins. All he needed to do was reassure Thibodeaux that Higgins was still in his room and give the thumbs up for the task force to move in. Hartwig sipped on a large styrofoam cup of coffee and worked on a large crossword puzzle. He struggled to stay awake, but he, too, had an intuition about the bust.


Hartwig didn't like the location. Sure, it was easy to swoop down on because it was so open and exposed, but it also left many avenues for escape and the men needed to act fast because being in the open greatly reduced stealth potential. But he had confidence in Thibodeaux, who Hartwig admitted was more of a consummate professional than he was. Such were the benefits of youth and careerism. Thibodeaux's star was rising. Hartwig was merely biding his time for the next 18 months or so until retirement.


Crow was down the street, at a sorority house, working his way with his bike and his bags, towards the AUM house, out of sight, digging around in a dumpster, knee deep in garbage. Even the sororities drank a lot of beer, Crow thought. Not nearly as much as the guys -- the ladies preferred energy drink mixers with rum and vodka -- the garbage revealed much -- it had its own narrative arc. Crow was in a daydream, enjoying the crisp fall air, the blue sky with wisps of cirrus clouds stretching out like cotton candy. It was warm in the dumpster. The black bags absorbed solar energy. Out of sight, deep in the dumpster, Crow was in his own world, oblivious.


The music was loud in Higgins's room. Many of the other brothers at the AUM house had their music blaring, competing and doing their level best to drown out the racket of the other. You either learned to sleep through the racket, wore earplugs, or slept only during quiet hours if you wanted any rest. Three or four guys hung around outside, in the front lawn, tossing a football around, open beers on a picnic table.


So many different microcosms, each circulating their own energies, the fluid and ever-shifting dynamics of a psyche, a relationship, a family, social network, community, and ecosystem. Most of the exchanges of energy are done unconsciously, the intertwining, connection and sharing mere happenstance, but inevitable. Thus it was inevitable so many worlds would collide, some through force of will, others merely by chance.


The entire task force, including weapons and equipment, fit into a microbus, painted white, government plates the only hint of its occupants or intentions. There was the smell of grease, metal, and the sweet tang of cologne and deodorant. The men stared blankly ahead, plastic visors on their helmets raised up to reduce condensation. It was only about five minutes to the frat house.


Higgins jumped in alarm when a neighbor knocked on his door. It was Jim, from next door, who wanted to borrow one of Higgins's rap CDs to download to his hard drive. When he returned to his seat at his desk, he stopped, leaned back for a moment, hands interlaced behind his head, and stretched, feeling the pull and ache from his abdominals, which he'd worked out the day before.


"Fuck this shit," Higgins said to himself. "I need a break." He reached into the bottom drawer of his desk and pulled out the two handguns he had stashed there, a 9mm Glock with fully-loaded clip and another clip rubber-banded closed, fully-loaded as well, along with a .357 magnum. Although he had grown up in Midwest middle class sustenance in a safe Chicago suburb, Higgins fancied himself street wise. He'd only fired his guns at tin cans out in the country. Aiming was more difficult than he thought, and he still winced at the recoil. But at his desk, the weekend's outlay of drugs before him and a fully-loaded arsenal in his lap, Higgins had delusions of grandeur, of defending his sacred turf, of being invincible, young, and strong. He stood, crossed his arms, pistol in each hand, and then quickly drew on his reflection in the mirror.


"Bam! Got you, motherfucker!"


The break was over. He set the guns on a shelf above his desk and went back to work, weighing and bagging, bouncing his head in time to the reptile backbeat blaring forth from the speakers, the bass so loud he could feel it in his sternum.


Hartwig nodded at the bus driver as he passed by his car. This was the go-ahead. The bus pulled in the back of the frat house. Crow looked up from his place inside the dumpster next door, anticipating a garbage truck when he heard the rumble of a diesel engine. He stood in alarm as the armed men piled out of the mini-bus. Crow noticed the leader, Thibodeaux, motion with his fingers for two men on either side of the building. He left the front open. Hartwig and another patrol car had that covered in the unlikely event of an escape in that direction. Higgins would have to cover a lot of area indoors for that avenue of escape.


Thibodeaux tried the back door. It was locked. Two men stood on either side of a battering ram, and with practiced coordination, swung the ram and quickly brought the door down.


Higgins felt, more than heard, the slam of the door. He was overcome by a panic. Something inside him, some inner sense of preservation not blunted by regular drugs and drinking, and the loud music, told him something was wrong. Higgins grabbed the guns in each hand and looked out the window. He didn't see anything unusual, no flashing lights or officers. He was unaware of the two officers just underneath.


Then he heard, out in the hallway, one of his housemates yell, "What the fuck?" Another slam. Higgins felt it through the floor. His hands shook uncontrollably.


"Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit," Higgins repeated, checking to make sure the safety was off on his guns. Some wack motherfucker must have learned about my stash, he thought. All his blood seemed to rush to his head. He could hear his heart beat, a heavy thrushing in his ears. He blinked repeatedly, staring wide-eyed at the door.

Even Thibodeaux knew he'd lost the element of surprise, but they were at door number 8 quickly and hadn't seen it open. They knew their quarry was inside. A few of the housemates stuck their heads out of doors to see the cattle rush of commotion, but quickly retreated when they saw the officers.


Higgins didn't even wait to hear a voice. He fired three times as soon as he heard a knock on the door. One of the shots passed through the drywall and into the thigh of an officer second in line. The second shot was low, and went into the floor. But the third shot went through the top center of the door and directly into the center of Thibodeaux's temple, killing the lead officer instantly, He fell with a thud into the door.


Officers outside, hearing shots fired, ducked down further, their arms raised, ready to retaliate, but their first concern was to avoid being caught in a crossfire. They were trained to only fire when they had a target in sight. The officer in the hallway screamed out in pain. Thibodeaux's body blocked the door. One of the three unhurt officers moved quickly to drag Thibodeaux out of the way.


When Higgins heard the screaming, he thought he'd hit the lone person who'd come after his stash.


"You'd better back the fuck up, motherfucker, and get your sorry ass good 'n gone," he said. "I got my shit aimed right at your ass if'n you come any further."


One of the officers heard Higgins, but could not make out what he said. He announced, "Open up. Police. Surrender now with your hands up."


Suddenly, Higgins knew a bad situation, one requiring him to most likely have to skip for awhile, maybe for good, was now far, far worse. He'd fired his gun at officers of the law. Even if he got away, there would be a manhunt and serious jail time.


But even after realizing the hopelessness of the situation, some mechanism of survival, even after facing such futility, kicked into overdrive. Higgins knew the door was out, and that return fire was imminent. He looked at the sliding glass windows. There was stool right beneath it. He launched himself, and in two quick strides, leaped, and dove shoulder first into the window.


As he landed on the grass, he tried to rise to his feet, but he was tangled in venetian blinds. He looked around, and noticed the two officers on the side of the building. They stood quickly and drew their weapons on him.


"Drop your weapon! Drop your weapon!" one yelled.


Higgins was too shocked to comply. When he shook his leg to try and break free of a blind, an officer opened fire. The bullet hit Higgins in the neck. He continued to try and run, but as breath escaped him, as he choked on his blood and bile, he fell to the ground, looking up to notice the horsehair clouds and then the buzzing fade into oblivion.



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