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Nothing is Free

 Paula Sophia Schonauer
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 Paula Sophia Schonauer
Nothing is Free
by Paula Sophia Schonauer  FollowFollow
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Paula Sophia Schonauer likes to ride motorcycles, trying to find Zen on the back roads of Oklahoma. She almost made it once, but a curve threw...read more her off balance.
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Nothing is Free
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OFFICER LARRY MICHAELS  had been trolling the streets for prostitutes for about an hour, but he hadn’t had much luck. A strong north wind had turned a beautiful late October afternoon into a chilly evening. The girls had gone away, all but one, and she was standing on the corner of 29th and South Robinson outside an auto parts store, hugging her breasts, legs glued together for warmth. She huddled against the wind, wearing a beige halter top beneath a wispy purple blouse, black spandex tights decorated with Mickey Mouse faces, and a pair of white high heels. Her dirty blonde hair betrayed a lack of hygiene, but her face was still young and pretty.

She smiled at Michaels as he drove by in his assigned police van, a great big white whale of a vehicle with a light bar on top and POLICE plastered on the side. It was a Ford E350 with an extra long cargo area big enough to transport up to ten people.

He pulled into the parking lot of the Stop-n-Go across the street. When he walked into the store the latest clerk, a heavy-set Hispanic woman, complained to Michaels, “You see that whore? The little bitch been working the corner all day.”

She wore heavy black eyeliner, thick red lipstick, and layers of makeup, but the pock-marks on her face were still noticeable. She had teased her hair up high, stalagmite bangs bent forward at the ends like a greedy claw springing from her forehead.

     “Nice hair…”  He read her name tag. “Rosa.”

     Rosa wore a low-cut black t-shirt beneath her blue smock, and her large breasts stretched the seams of the thin cotton fabric.
“How you doing, hero?” she chirped, puckering her lips, trying hard to look demure.

She couldn’t quite pull it off, not for Michaels’ taste, anyway. To him, she looked like a cartoon pig dressed in drag, but her overt sexuality excited him unexpectedly. He imagined plunging his face into her milk chocolate cleavage.

“Life’s a bitch, Rosa,” he replied.

He walked over to the soda pop dispenser, filled a 32 ounce cup with ice and Coca-Cola. He grabbed a box of Good-n-Plenty and laid the items on the counter. “How much?”

“You know, it’s on the house,” she said.

Michaels knew it was free, but since Rosa was new, he needed to make sure she was cool about it.

“Thanks.”

Another customer walked up to the counter with a bag of corn chips and a bottle of Diet Coke. He was a young white guy with slicked back hair wearing a fancy black suit over a dark blue shirt, a matching blue tie with a swirl of intertwined red and white stripes.



“Must be nice,” the guy sassed.

Michaels turned to face him. “What?”

The young man stepped back, maintaining a sneer on his face. “Sorry, officer, I don’t mean to offend. I was just pointing out how great it is to be a police officer in our fair city, all the free stuff you get.”

Michaels hated these young, fashionable dudes who thought they were oh so wise. “Nothing’s free,” he said.

The man nodded. “Yep, you’re right. I’ll bet Rosa here will want something from you someday. And one of these days, you’ll have to pay up.”

Rosa winked, lowered her left shoulder coyly. “Yes,” she said. “Come to my house. I treat you like a man.”

Michaels fished through his pockets and brought out a handful of dollar bills and coins. “Here,” he said. “Take this.”

Rosa raised her hands, palms out. “Oh no, officer, my boss told me no charge for police.”

“Fine, have it your way.”

Michaels took his Coke and candy and left the store. He heard laughter trailing behind him.

There was a black BMW two-door coup parked in front of the store. On a hunch, he walked behind the car and saw a dealer’s tag in back, one of those special license plates used by dealership employees when they drive the new demo models. When the suave young dude walked out of the store, Michaels was waiting for him, leaning against the BMW.

“Hey,” the guy said.

Michaels ran his hand over the smooth front fender, leaving finger print smears. “Looks like you get some perks, too,” he said. “Must be nice to wear fancy clothes, drive a fancy car…”

The young man lost his smirk. “Don’t lean against my car.”

“I bet you live in a nice, fancy house, or a nice fancy condo. Yeah, that’s it, a condo.”

“So what if I do?”

“Just pointing out how things are, that’s all.” Michaels stood up straight, hand resting on the butt of his holstered weapon, a Glock 21 .45 caliber semi-auto. “What do you do for a living, Mister?”

“The name’s Burton,” he said. “I work in auto sales. I’m a finance manager.”

“Oh, that’s so interesting,” Michaels said. He walked to the rear of the BMW, pointed at the dealer’s tag. “So, this car, it doesn’t belong to you?”

Burton pressed a button on his remote keyless-entry toggle. The car alarm beeped twice. He walked to the driver’s side door, opened it and sat down. Michaels walked up and stuck his knee next to the interior of the door, preventing Burton from closing it. He leaned toward Burton’s left ear.

“Don’t fuck with me about my perks when you got perks of your own.”

Burton’s hands gripped the steering wheel, knuckles white. He swallowed hard. “Yes sir,” he said.

“Good, you’re smarter than you look.”

Burton slammed the door, revved the engine, and backed out of his parking space a little too fast. When he turned out of the parking lot into the street, the tires squealed, sending the BMW into a fishtail.

If he hadn’t been driving the van he might have given chase, stopped Burton and wrote him a ticket. As it was, it would take him too long to back the van out of his parking space, maneuver into the street and get going fast enough to catch up to the pretty boy. He hated that van, regarding it as a mark of shame, a symbol of his rookie status. It was the vehicle assigned to the officer with the lowest seniority on the shift.



The van did have a few advantages, though. For one thing, the driver of the van was the designated drunk unit with the primary responsibility to answer drunk calls and transport combative suspects or mental patients when needed. The designated drunk unit didn’t have to respond to traffic accidents and wasn’t expected to do a lot of traffic enforcement, which gave Michaels more time to cruise his district looking for more lucrative activity: prostitutes, pimps, drug dealers. Trouble was, they could see him coming a mile away.


Rosa tapped on the storefront glass and waved at him, clapping her hands. Michaels waved back with his right hand, a lone middle finger extended. He smiled like it was a joke. Rosa pointed at her wrist, mouthed the words, “What time?”

He looked across the street. The whore was gone. Either she had packed it in like the rest of her colleagues, or she’d scored a trick. If she’d been picked up, she’d be back out there in fifteen, maybe twenty minutes. Michaels decided to cruise the strip, wanting to see if anyone else was intrepid enough to brave the cold air.

The stretch between 29th and 44th on South Robinson was a long, flat two lanes festooned with pawn shops, a Harley Davidson dealership, several bars including the Snug Club, Trueloves, and a Mexican dive called El Divorcio, not to mention the notorious Twilight Motel near 33rd street. The strip was also home to half a dozen Stop-n-Robs and a few sleazy apartment complexes. Lantern Park, a neglected relic of a city park, languished across the street from the Twilight. The overgrown foliage and the dilapidated picnic pavilion provided ample cover for quickie sex, dope deals and ditching stolen cars.

It was quiet, too quiet. Michaels marveled at how the weather impacted criminal activity, driving it indoors, underground, and out of sight, making South Robinson seem almost respectable despite its rough edges: old bungalows needing new paint and new roof jobs, gang graffiti here and there on what had been blank brick walls, one too many shot-out street lights. It wasn’t the circus it could be, and that fact made Michaels a little antsy. He didn’t like being idle. For the first time in months, even the police radio was quiet. He clicked his mic to make sure it still worked.

“Wagon-2, do you have traffic?” the dispatcher responded.

“Negative,” Michaels replied. He checked the time. It was only seven o’clock.

When he drove past the Twilight Motel, a guy ran toward the street, waving him down. The guy was middle-aged, balding, and fairly well-to-do with a nice pair of slacks, a white button-up shirt. He’d loosened his tie, the collar uneven.

“Officer, officer,” he pleaded. “I want to report a crime.”

Michaels was glad to have something to do, and he wondered if the guy might be an uptown fat cat come down to slum with the rats.

“What’s the problem, sir?”

The guy waved him into the parking lot of the motel complex, a traditional horseshoe pattern of three interlinked buildings, a cement-filled swimming pool in the middle with the manager’s office at the open end. The buildings had been constructed with old fashioned red brick, rod-iron railings hailing back to a bygone era.

The Twilight wasn’t really a motel, not anymore. Most of the rooms were occupied by semi-permanent residents, most of whom were people one step away from homelessness and prostitutes who used the place for business. The so-called manager just collected the money, probably took a bonus here and there for not calling the police.

“I’ve been robbed, officer.”

The guy didn’t look hurt. No blood stains on his white shirt, nothing torn. He pointed at the open door of room seventeen.

“I was staying in there when someone came in and took my money.”

Michaels parked the van, got out and walked into the motel room. The door had no damage, no sign of forced entry. The bed was still made, the television on but badly tuned, a lot of visual snow and static hiss. A strip of wallpaper bent down near the far corner of the room. The once light green carpet had a dark swath leading from the door to the bathroom, and there was a heavy smell of mold.

“Were you in the room when this happened?”

“I was taking a shower.”

Michaels walked into the bathroom. No fog on the mirrors, no wet foot prints on the red tile floor, the towels still folded.

“I mean, I was going to the bathroom.”

“Did the suspect have a weapon?”

The guy hesitated. “Not that I know of.”

“Did he threaten to beat you up?”

The guy put his hands on his hips and paused thoughtfully. “Okay, so I wasn’t robbed.”

Michaels stared at the man. The guy got emotional, trying to choke back tears. “I was meeting a girl, a blind date. We were supposed to have sex, but she just left me here by myself.”

“How much did you pay her?”

A tear squeezed past the guy’s right eyelid, trickled down his cheek. “What are you implying officer?”

Michaels had had enough of this game. “I’m not implying anything. How much did you pay her?”

The guy looked down. “Fifty dollars.”

Michaels suppressed a laugh. “Fifty? Shit…”

“What? Is that too much?”

“Twenty’s too much, around here, anyway.”

“I know. I know,” the guy whined. “She told me she was going to get change, that she’d be right back.”

“Okay, now we’re making progress. What’s your name?”

“Wilcox.”

“Mr. Wilcox, did she promise to do something for that fifty dollars?”
Wilcox blubbered. He wiped his eyes and mouth. “She was supposed to give me a blowjob. My wife won’t give me a blowjob. I just wanted to see how it felt, that’s all.”

“And now you want to make a police report? You want me to arrest her?”

Wilcox set his jaw, blinking back tears. “Yes, I do.”

Michaels had had calls like this before. Now, it was time to have fun.

“Okay, sir. Please place your hands behind your back, thumbs pointed upward.”

He retrieved a pair of handcuffs from the back of his utility belt. He made a point of sliding the clasp through the lock, the series of clicks sounding a lot like a rattlesnake’s tail.

“Am I being arrested?”

“Yes sir, for offering to engage in a lewd act.”

“But I… but we… didn’t…”

“You want her to go to jail, don’t you?”

Wilcox wiped his brow. Despite the cold air, he was sweating. “Officer?”

“If you want me to arrest her, I have to arrest you. You two came together to have illicit sex, Mr. Wilcox. You do know prostitution is a crime in the state of Oklahoma?”

Wilcox slumped forward. “Yes, officer, I’m sorry. I’ll never do it again.” He sat down on the bed, face in his hands. “Please don’t take me to jail.”

Michaels forced the handcuff clasp through the lock again and again. Wilcox shuddered at the sound. “Tell me what she looks like.”

“She’s young, maybe seventeen or eighteen. She had blonde hair and Mickey Mouse tights.”

“Good.”

He replaced the handcuffs in his utility belt and walked out the door.
Wilcox followed him. “But officer, what about the report?”

“You’re kidding, right?”

Wilcox started rummaging through his pockets and walked toward a blue Buick Century. A bumper sticker on the passenger side read, “In case of rapture, this car will be unmanned.”

Michaels tossed a couple pieces of Good-n-Plenty into his mouth, bit down through the sweet candy shell to taste the slivers of licorice inside.

“Go home Mr. Wilcox,” he said. “And pray for forgiveness.”

Wilcox paused, a frown on his face. Then he nodded to himself, got in the car, and left the motel.

Michaels, newly energized, got back in the van, determined to find the girl with the Mickey Mouse spandex. He didn’t have to look long. After he pulled back onto Robinson, dispatch made a general broadcast, “All officers, SW 29th and Robinson. Calling party reports a prostitute working the corner: white female, blond hair, young, maybe eighteen or nineteen years of age, wearing a purple shirt and black print pants.”

“That’s my girl,” Michaels crooned to himself. He snatched the mic.

“Wagon-2, dispatch. I’m in the area. I’ll check it.”

When Michaels returned to the Stop-n-Go, the girl was still there. Rosa stood out front shouting at her, the girl shouting back. At one point it looked like Rosa was going to march over to the girl and kick her ass, but it wouldn’t have been much of a fight. Rosa had at least a hundred pounds on the prostitute and one hell of a mean streak to boot. It would have been fun to hang back, let the women get into a scrap, but here it was, time to pay up for all the free coffee, the free sodas and candy bars, time to do his job. He parked the van between the women. Rosa’s attitude changed in a flicker. She bounded up to the van before Michaels could open the door.

“Hi there, Mr. Officer. Back too soon.”

Michaels laughed. “Yes,” he said. “Back too soon.”

From his vantage point, he could see down Rosa’s cleavage clear to the lacy red bra that barely contained her breasts. He saw the edge of her areola, and she noticed him looking. She turned left and right like a model. “You like?”

Michaels opened the door, pushing Rosa backwards. “Get back in the store,” he said in his best business voice. “I’ll take care of your little friend here.”

“Yes, Mr. Michael. You so handsome.”

Despite his professed lack of interest, Michaels felt his cheeks get warm as he wondered what Rosa would be like in bed. If he tapped that, then the guys on his shift would razz him forever. Rosa didn’t seem like the discreet type. She’d be bragging about netting a young cop to anyone who’d listen.

Michaels approached the prostitute. She had one hand on her hip, face tilted, curls of hair concealing half her face.

“I don’t need no five-oh giving me shit.” She shook her head when she talked, chin wagging slightly. She pointed her chin at the store. “That bitch is crazy.”

Michaels laughed. “No argument here.”

The girl moved her head backwards in mock surprise. She had a long, thin neck. She glanced at her left wrist, but there wasn’t a watch there. “I ain’t got no time for this shit.”

Michaels tried to act aloof, but he felt charmed by the girl’s attitude, her youthfulness. She might be seventeen or eighteen, but she looked fifteen. He opened the back doors of the van, the detention insert.

“Get in.”

The girl made a show of planting her feet in the ground, pouting. Michaels wrapped his arms around her belly just below her breasts. She was light, maybe a hundred pounds but not much more. He carried her over to the van despite her kicking and protests. Then he hoisted her onto the platform near the rear bumper, pushing her inside. She had to bend at the waist to avoid hitting her head on the center beam of the detention insert.

“Watch your head,” he said, a deliberate second too late.

The girl turned around, hands balled into tiny fists, lips tight with rage. She tried to jump out of the van, but Michaels was too quick with the door. She struggled against it for a moment while Michaels let her think she was stronger than she was before letting the iron latches click home. She beat on the stainless steel interior for a few minutes but to no avail. Michaels climbed into the driver’s seat and drove the van to a dark corner of the Stop-n-Go parking lot.

“Where you taking me? You ain’t got shit on me.” Her words echoed off the stainless steel detention insert.  

Michaels turned on the FM radio, tuned the dial to one of the public radio stations, KCSC out of Edmond. Good, he realized, they were playing opera. He cranked the volume, letting it reverberate through the van, muffling the girl’s protests. He didn’t like opera, didn’t know a thing about it, but the music was so opposite the girl’s style, it had to be torture. He blared the opera until the girl got quiet.

He grabbed a field interview card. “What’s your name?”

He turned on a light in the back of the van so he could watch her through a window between the front seats. He angled the rearview mirror so he didn’t have to turn around to see her.

The girl stared at the floor of the insert. “Easter,” she mumbled.

Michaels didn’t understand. “What?”

“Easter.”

Michaels had to wonder. Was this a street name?

“Bullshit.”

“That’s my name, officer, Easter Renee. My daddy named me that because I was born on Easter.” Her streetwise style of speech had wilted away, and she sounded like any small town Oklahoma girl all of a sudden.

“Okay, so what’s your last name?”

The girl hesitated. “You won’t believe me, officer.”

“Tell me.”

“My name is Easter Renee Sunday, except now I spell it with an e instead of a y.”

“Like an ice cream sundae? Why?”

Easter giggled. “Because I’m so sweet.”

Michaels had to laugh. This was turning out to be a pretty cool shift, and this Easter chick wasn’t the run-of-the-mill street girl. Well, at least so far.

“How old are you?”

“Nineteen?”

“No way.”

“Yes way,” she protested. “I’m really nineteen. I graduated from Thomas High School last year.”

“You actually graduated high school? Then why are you on the street?”

Michaels stared at Easter in the rear view mirror. She bit her fingernails. She glanced at the mirror where the reflection of their gazes met. Their stares lingered for a long, uncomfortable moment until Michaels looked away as Easter began to smile.

“You’re just a whore.”  

After that he tried to stay professional, obtaining her statistical data: date-of-birth, home address, height, weight, and eye color. He cleared his throat, picked up the microphone and switched the police radio to channel 15, the crime information unit.

“Wagon-2 to Unit 800, standing by.”

There was a long pause, then a female voice, “Wagon-2, you’re number two.” That meant he was second in line.

He waited, his nervousness growing.

“Why do you hustle?” he blurted.

“Because, I’m bored,” she said as though she was indeed bored.

“Do you have any kids?”

“Nope!”

“Do you need the money?”

“Nope. Just doing it for kicks, that’s all.”

Michaels had heard about young women going on the hustle for fun. He’d seen an episode about it on the Maury Povich show.

“What? This is fun? AIDS, drugs, getting the shit kicked out of you?”

“No, it ain’t like that,” she snapped. “Well, yeah, sometimes it is, but not if you’re smart.”

Michaels didn’t understand. “What do you think is going to happen? Do you think Richard Gere is going come and sweep your ass away so you’ll live happily ever after? Give me a fucking break.”

Easter frowned. “Fuck you!”

There was another period of silence. Then, finally, a voice crackled over the radio. “Go ahead, Wagon-2.”

“10-4,” Michaels responded. “I need to run a subject for city and county warrants, information bulletins, NCIC and tracer. White female, name: Easter Renee Sundae,” and then he spelled it.

“You’re kidding?” came back the response.

“Not this time.”

Easter leaned closer to the window, looming larger in the rearview mirror. “What’s that for?”

“I’m checking to see if you have any warrants.”

She scooted back to the rear of the detention insert and tried to open the door. “There’s no handles or anything.”

“Duh…” He laughed, louder this time. “This is a police vehicle. Hello?”

“Fuck you.”

Michaels laughed even more.

“I’m going to jail, ain’t I?”

“Quite possibly…”

Easter scooted back toward the window, a thoughtful look on her face. “No, I don’t have any warrants.”

“Wagon-2,” the voice from Unit 800 called. “She’s clear, but city warrants are down. She is in records, though. The last name Sundae is an alias. Her real name is Easter Renee Galloway, the same date of birth.”

Easter stuck her tongue at Michaels’ reflection. “See? I told you. I am nineteen.”

She seemed a little giddy, a glow of triumph on her face. Their eyes met again, and she winked at him. “You’re a nice looking guy. You look pretty macho in that uniform.”

Michaels broke the gaze yet again, and he felt a wave of nervous anticipation. His mouth went dry. “How much do you cost?”

“Why? Do you want a trick?”

“No, I don’t pay for pussy,” he sneered. “I’m just curious to see what a girl like you thinks she’s worth.”

“Oh, it depends. I got a hundred dollars for a blow job, once, but I never do it for less than twenty.”

“How’d you end up here in Oklahoma City, on South Robinson Avenue? Some of these girls will take two bucks for a hand job. You’re overpriced for this area.”

Easter laughed. “Well, I guess I’ll take that as a compliment.” She reclined against the wall of the insert, stretched her long, skinny legs. “I usually work truck stops, but I got dumped here last night. I’m just trying to make enough money to move on.” She lifted the front of her halter top and pulled out a handmade cigarette. She had a lighter tucked in her panty line. “You mind if I smoke?”

Michaels responded absentmindedly. “Sure, go ahead.”

He’d never let anyone smoke in the back of his vehicle before. He couldn’t stand the lingering smell. She lit the cigarette. Too bad it smelled like tobacco, not marijuana.

“What time is it?” she asked.

Michaels looked at the dashboard clock. “Seven-twenty.”

“Shit,” Easter said, exhaling smoke. “It’s getting late, too cold for another john. Guess I’ll have to pack it in for the night.”

“Okay,” Michaels said. “I’ll let you out.” He opened his door, started to exit the van.

Easter frowned in the rearview mirror. “Please, Mr. Officer, please give me a ride to my room.”

Michaels shut the door and placed the van into gear. “Where do you need to go?”

“I’m staying at that place called The Twilight. It’s not far from here.”
Michaels nodded and laughed. “Room seventeen, right?”

Easter was taken aback and scooted away from the window. “How’d you know that?”

It felt to Michaels like he’d regained the upper hand, but he laid the cards on the table anyway. “Oh, nothing. I ran into one of your clients earlier tonight, some bald dude. Ring a bell?”

She laughed, scooting toward the window, getting as close to Michaels as she could. “He called the police, didn’t he?”

Michaels smiled a response into the mirror.

“That sorry son-of-a-bitch, he was so nervous he couldn’t come. I worked that bastard for fifteen minutes, then he had the nerve to demand a refund. He paid me fifty bucks. I collected my shit and got the hell out of there. He was creepy.”  

“Hmm, great fun, huh? The guy could have been a serial killer. You know they can’t get a nut unless they torture and kill someone?” As soon as he said it, he wished he’d checked the guy more thoroughly instead of just fucking with him.

“Oh,” Easter said. She looked down, frowning.

Michaels grabbed the mic and told dispatch he was transporting a subject from the disturbance back to 33rd and South Robinson, “Starting mileage…” He read the odometer, “1.1.3.2.9.”

Easter remained silent for the short ride back to the motel. When they arrived, Michaels recited the ending mileage, “1.1.3.3.0.”

“Please park the van in the alley. I don’t want people to see me being dropped off by the police. They might think I’m a snitch.”

He drove the van into an alley just north of the motel. An adjacent breezeway connected the alley to the motel’s courtyard parking lot. Back there, it was pretty dark. The street light had been shot out ages ago.

“Yeah, let me out right here.”

Michaels got out of the van. The cold air embraced him, calming the throb of desire building in his groin. He opened the back doors, the detention insert. Because they were on a slight incline, the heavy door wanted to swing closed. Michaels took a bungee cord that had been wrapped around the door handle and hooked it to the van’s outer left door to keep it open. He stepped back as Easter climbed out of the insert and down onto the broken asphalt in the alley.

They stood face to face. Easter was at least a foot and a half shorter than him, a hundred pounds lighter. He looked down at her, and she gazed up at him, a come-hither look. She reached out and stroked the bulge in Michaels’ pants. He couldn’t move. The cheap thrill weakened his stance. He felt his knees buckle.

“Well, uh, do you want me to take care of that?”

Michaels didn’t give consent nor did he deter her advance. She climbed into the van, coaxed him into a seated position near the back of the detention insert. He unfastened his Sam Brown utility belt, letting it fall behind him, careful to keep his gun out of Easter’s reach. After that, she unbuttoned his pants, unzipped them and stuck her cold hand down into his underwear. He twisted away from her grasp, but she let her hand linger against his thigh until their body temperatures equalized. Then, she started to massage him.

He groaned, abandoning his better judgment, and she pushed on his chest as he scooted backward, letting her have a better angle with which to pleasure him. The whole world faded away, condensed down to a micro dot of intense, compressed pleasure. He was about to do his version of the big bang when something clamped down on his penis, his scrotum compressed in a tight vice.

“What the…?”

The pain came slightly after the surprise, but when it came, it came in a great big explosive flash of heat.

“Oww! Ahh!”

His scream echoed off the stainless steel walls of the detention insert. Involuntarily, he curled into a fetal position. The vice let loose, and he lay there on his back screaming and cursing, paralyzed by the pain.

“You fucking asshole!” Easter snarled. “You macho motherfuckin’ asshole. You’re just like my dad.”

“Ahhh!”

“You self righteous pervert.”

Easter slammed the detention insert closed, then the two back doors. She went around front, turned on the FM radio and cranked the volume. She tuned the dial to a Hip Hop station, pressed the power lock button and shut the door.

It took awhile before Michaels comprehended what had happened. The bitch locked him in the back of the van. Holy shit!

“Goddamn bitch! Fucking slut!”

He flailed inside the detention insert, bashed his fists against the cold steel walls. He couldn’t believe this was happening, and he didn’t know what to do. Luckily, he had enough room to refasten his pants. The Sam Brown belt was still there along with his weapon and handheld radio. All he had to do was call for help. But as his rational mind returned, he started to realize he would have a good bit of explaining to do. He was bound to get fired. His whole future crumbled to dust, his whole life had dwindled down to a stupid thoughtless moment.

Through the loud Hip Hop beat, the unintelligible lyrics, he heard a radio call. “Wagon-2, 10-90?”

It was a welfare check, a routine procedure done by dispatch when they hadn’t communicated with an officer for a set time. He turned on his handheld radio. He was on the verge of responding, but he didn’t know what to say, didn’t know how he’d explain the loud music in the background. The stress of the situation rendered him helpless, and he sat there head in hands unable to make a decision.

“Lincoln 450, dispatch, what was Wagon-2’s last known location?”

Shit, it was a lieutenant, the Vice Unit lieutenant. He hadn’t figured the undercover guys would be in the area. Maybe they saw the whole thing, sitting there snickering in the shadows. Maybe this had been a sting operation. Holy shit! He was fucked.

Dispatch responded, a certain amount of uncharacteristic stress in her voice. The radio clicked as officers were trying to get on the air. One of the transmissions had a siren in the background.

“Lincoln 450, Wagon-2’s last known twenty is 33rd and South Robinson.”

Michaels pressed the transmission button on his handheld but he received a non-acknowledgement tone. The transmission didn’t go through. Perhaps the steel walls were blocking the signal. Perhaps the proximity to the van’s main radio scrambled the receiver. He stared at his weapon, considered shooting his way out of the van. But the projectiles…

“Dispatch, I’ve located the vehicle. Slow everyone down,” Lincoln 450 advised.

There was pounding on the back door, someone shouting, “Hey, anyone in there?”

The door to the detention insert opened. It was Lieutenant Virtue, the Vice supervisor. He had a shock of white hair, dark bushy eyebrows, a handlebar mustache and a maniacal smile. He was a legend on the force, having been through the ringer at least half a dozen times: shot through the head, sued after a questionable shooting, fired and then reinstated. His file at internal affairs must have been encyclopedic.

“You okay, rook?” he shouted.

Michaels nodded.

“Lincoln 450 headquarters. 10-22 anyone else. Wagon-2’s okay.”

Virtue extended a hand. Michaels grasped it, scooting along the floor of the insert oh so carefully. His groin hurt, and the pain swelled into his abdomen. All he wanted to do was stay curled up in a fetal position. Virtue gently coaxed him through the door, out into the shadowy night.

An unmarked police vehicle drove into the alley, and two figures stepped out of the car. They ambled toward Virtue, smirking and laughing, one of them smoking a cigarette, face lit in an eerie red glow. It must have been all too obvious what Michaels had been doing, and he braced himself for a reprimand.

Virtue put an arm around Michaels’ shoulder, jostling him with affection.

“Hey kid,” he said. “Ever consider working undercover?”

Also by Paula Sophia Schonauer

1 comments

Discussion

  2 years ago
I really enjoyed this. A good procedural with plenty of gritty personalities and questionable decisions.
 

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