That First Terrifying Night

Moon against the Belt of Venus
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It was a clear, full moon, night.  The stars were visible, and vibrant as they could only be when viewed from the country side in the mountains.  A warm, yet cool night, one of the wildly unusual things that happened regularly in those lost and lonely mountains of South Park.  feeling almost as if I was was in a dream state.   The one thing I had worked so hard for.  I had volunteered, studied, taken the tests, worked toward my ultimate goal.  I had raised my right hand and sworn that oath before God and community, so similar to the others I’ve sworn yet slightly different.   Now here I was was, the first night on my own, trusted to make  decisions that could have an effect or impact on peoples lives.  Such an intoxicating yet intimidating  duty and responsibility.  Was I ready for it?

I was patrolling the Forest Service areas and campgrounds.  Relegated to an ancient vehicle, that had lord only knew how many miles on it.  It was the designated Reserve, and prisoner transport vehicle.  Most of the equipment on it worked, but just barely.  The spotlights had long ago developed a short that no one seemed to be able to, or cared to fix.  The radio worked, depending on where you were in the county.  The old beast was capable of speed if you were courageous or foolish (often times one and the same thing) enough.  My stated mission was “be seen, in as many camp grounds as possible”.  The purpose  was to let people know that we were out there, and actively enforcing the law.   It’s known as proactive policing, or crime prevention. 

I was driving slowly around the Tarryall Reservoir when the radio crackled to life.  Alert tones echoed in the car, and a short message followed.  “Jefferson Como Fire, respond to a report of bon fire at 123456 Fictitious Rd. in the Buffalo subdivision.”  Nothing really for me to mess with, I had better stick with what I was assigned to do.  The County had been on fire bans for some time now, and it had been well publicized.   The Fire Department had authority to issue tickets for violations of the fire ban.  Usually all they had to do was inform the people of the ban, and extinguish the fire.  The Fire Department very seldom had any troubles.

I listened to the radio as all the volunteers responded to the radio call, picking out call signs I knew.  After a short while, I heard two fire truck call out on scene.  With in a few minutes, the radio crackled back to life. 

“Fairplay, 751, we need a Deputy out here, this subject is being uncooperative, and has ordered us off his property.” 

“751, 10-4, break 104, 10-20.” (104 was my supervisor for the evening, and dispatch wanted to know what his location was)

“Fairplay, 104 I’m in Placer Valley.”  dam he’s a long way away.

“104, 10-4; uhh 132, 10-20.” Oh shit that’s me.

“Fairplay, 132, I’m at Tarryall Reservoir.”

“132, 10-4 your the closest, please respond to 123456 Fictitious Rd. to assist the Fire Department.”

“Fairplay 132, 10-4 I’ll be 10-76”.   Alright, a little something to liven things up.  I bet as soon as I get there this person will mellow out and let the Fire Department do what they do best.  I’ll probably have to write a ticket or something, at minimum file a report,  no big deal.

As the crow flies, it was probably only about 5 miles or less from where I was.  But being out in the country, and mountains though, meant the roads I had to travel to get there, make it  closeer to 10 miles, all dirt, twisting turning, up and down.  I wasn’t going to be making any kind of time, that’s for sure.  It’s no wonder that old car was in such bad shape, the first part of the most direct route, should have been labeled four wheel drive only.  I was in a mid 80’s model Chevy Impala, and dragging bottom more times than I care to count.

While I was in-route, the Fire Department started calling me direct, asking for an ETA.  At one point, they even said, “You might want to pick it up a little, this guys not too pleasant”.  Holy shit, what the heck do they have going on?  I kicked up the speed, as much as I dared, couldn’t do much good if I didn’t get there.  The Fire Department started asking for an ETA a little more frequently.  Evidently 104 noticed the worry in their voice. 

“Fairplay 104, I’ll be 10-76 also.”  I was surprisingly relieved to here that.

As I pulled up to the scene, I noticed the two fire trucks and a whole bunch of  the Volunteer's private vehicles on the side of the road.   As a matter of fact, they pretty much had all the locations across from this driveway occupied.  I could see a person standing in the driveway.   I parked a pretty good distance from the driveway because of it, and tried to turn a  spot light on this guy so I could see him clearly, (aw shit it doesn’t work, that’s right).  I walked up toward the fire chief, saying hello to all the guys and gals I knew, which was pretty much all of them.

“Hey Eric, this guys been drinking, and was pretty aggressive with us.” the Fire Chief said.  “ he made us all leave his property, and a short time ago, he came walking down his driveway.  He’s just been standing there watching us the ever since.  You know, I think he has something behind his leg, he keeps his hand back there, but I don’t know what it is.”

“Ok, let me go talk with him and see what his problem is.”  I started walking across the dirt road, it just happened to be on a little bit of an angle, because I had to park so far away.  Now did I mention there was a full moon?  Yea, one of those that’s real big and bright.  It shone it’s strangely luminescent glow on the area, along with casting the weird shadows that accompany such a moon.  As I walked across toward this guy, he turned a little more to face me.  I noticed that he was in an almost fighting stance, similar to what I call my interview stance.  Left side forward slightly, right side (gun hand) back slightly.  The hair on the back of my neck started to prickle just a little (what an understatement).

Suddenly, he stepped back with his right foot, and brought his right hand up from it’s concealed position.   As his hand raised, I caught the glint of the moons light off the barrel of a shotgun. (Holy Shit) Next thing I knew I was looking over the barrel on my gun, lining up the sites.  I have no memory what so-ever of the act of drawing my gun, but there it was.  “Sheriff’s Department PUT THE GUN DOWN”.  The only sound I register right then is the scuff and grate of feet running to get behind the security of the fire truck and my patrol car.  (Oh great, at least they are under cover, I’m stuck out here in the middle of the road, but their safe.)

“Who the hell are you”?  he said in that all to familiar thick and slurred speech of a person who has been drinking heavily.  The barrel of that shotgun, looked like a freaking howitzer  as it leveled at me.

“Sheriff’s Department, PUT THE GUN DOWN, DO IT NOW”.

“I don’t know you, who the hell are you, and what right do you have coming out here harassing me”.

“Sheriff’s Department, PUT THE GUN DOWN”. (Oh shit, I’m going to end up shooting this guy).  Right about then, the flood of information that traveled through my mind is impossible for some one who has never been there to understand.  All that classroom training, constitutional law, statutory law. everything came flying at my consciousness.  (Did I do something wrong, do I have justification. Crap I’m going to get sued, and probably lose everything I have.  I’m too young for this crap.) A virtual check list of case law and statutory law flashed in front of my eyes, in a millisecond.  (Shit, it’s better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.)

In thick heavily slurred speech, he said “You put yours down, and I’ll put mine down”.

(What the hell) “Sheriff’s Department, put the gun down, do it now.” I needed to figure this guy out. Something was off here, and I better get this right, his life, my life, and maybe a few others depends on it.

Too be continued!!!!!!!

Note:  Specific names, such as streets and addresses, along with any names other than mine used in these stories have been changed to protect identities of the innocent or accused.  This story is based on actual events in my life. 
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forsythia said...

Aint fair leavin' us out in the dark like that with that stranger.

jena isle said...

Hey, yes it isn't fair, you've left us in the dark, holding the on , give us the rest of the story, Eric.

the walking man said...

Actually Eric, the spotlights are an easy fix. Did hundreds of them as a cop car mechanic.

This tale has a certain feel to it. The rookie protagonist is really supported well by the prose. Whether intentionally done or not it has a "right" feel to it.

Keep it coming!

Not The Rockefellers said...

That's just good storytelling.The internal dialog really puts me right there.I can't wait for the next installment. Love that line "it's better to be judged by twelve than carried by six."

peace - Rene

confused said...

Ah Jeeeeezz a mini I will have to wait...:))))

Eric S. said...

@ Forsythia, LOL, sorry about that, I couldn't resist.

@ Jena, Nothing like building up the tension, and then leaving every one hanging huh. hehehe.

@ The Walking Man, Thanks, Yea I learned how to fix them later in life, but I was young and dumb, obviously. So many mistakes made, so much that could have happened.

@ Not The Rockerfellers, why thank you. I was trying to figure out how to show the thoughts. That is one of my favorite lines from firearms training.

@ Confuses, LOL, sorry about that, more will be along soon.

Lilly's Life said...

Eric that was brilliant - but now I want to know what happens next. You really built up the suspense well and then...we dont know what happens. It certainly was a teaser but we will all be back for more. Personally I would have run for cover behind the fire truck too!

SusieScrapper said...

i loved it so far, can't wait to read more. you're very good!!

June Saville said...

Talk about leaving you on the edge of your chair!
June in Oz

Liara Covert said...

Now, that is suspense for you! At this point readers with a vivid imagination might believe you now have bionic limbs as the result of similar encounters in your past. Look forward to the next stage of this cliff hanger.

tashabud said...

You were one brave soul, Eric. I could feel the tension and all the psychological emotions going on. I love all the internal conversations. I can see that has to actually happen in situations like that. Were you nervous and shouting as you were telling the guy to put his gun down? Or were you calm and collected? I was on edge during the confrontation scenes. Can't wait to read the next installment.


Eric S. said...

@ Lilly, Thanks, sorry for the teaser, but I couldn't resist. I was in a playful mood when I wrote this. I had just finished watching one of those TV shows that leave you hanging, and thought, AH what a thing to try. LOL More to come soon, I just about have it finished.

@ Susie, Hey girl, thanks for stopping by. Thanks for the compliment too, and I'll see you on Plurk.

@ June, Sorry about that, Like I said to Lilly, I was in a bit of a playful mood.

@ Liara, LOL, no no bionic attachments. I was kind of mean though huh, leaving every one hanging.

@ Tasha, Bravery? not so sure, Foolish definitely. The emotional bombardment, and the internal conversation was sooooooooo wild. I thought I was shouting, but the firemen that were there told me they could not believe how calm I was. All of my senses were on edge, and heightened beyond belief.

The next installment is coming up SOON. Thanks.

Tara R. said...

You stop it right there?! Quite a cliffhanger you have going. I'll be back for sure.

Eric S. said...

Sorry about that Tara, I was feeling mischievous. I posted part 2 just as I received your comment. Welcome and come back as often as you want, just make yourself at home.

soulMerlin said...

Really gripping...I'm now moving on to part 2

"(Shit, it’s better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.)"

Great Line!! :)


Eric S. said...

Henry, thank you indeed. I do like that line, it was told to me by one of my academy instructors. It stuck with me ever since. I'm glad you liked the story.


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