Assassin Rebuild is the working title of a book I have been working on for a couple of years. The first iteration was an introspective from the point of view of the killer. I like the idea of researching how to actually commit crimes and getting away with it. A little dark for me, but I figured what the hell. When it was complete, I had some friends read it. They had two reactions. The first was to openly question whether they should continue to invite me and my wife over for drinks – I took that as a compliment. The second thing they point out was that there was no conflict. It was missing an antagonist to the murders. I slapped myself in the head and went right to work. I invented two detectives. Good ones. My plan was to write the story in a way that, at the end, had the reader cheering for the murderer, and hoping the cops failed. After 5 or 6 chapters of writing I realized that I liked my new characters. And, more importantly, they could star in more novels. Unless they turned out to be the bad guys in their first appearance. Ugh. And reusable detectives, hell a reusable crime fighting team, is attractive. John Sanford (left hand by left ear, right hand by ear, belt slightly at the waist) mastered the reusable detective. So now the book Assassin is trying to save the detective with out compromising the rest of the story. Still hard.
Anyway, there is lots of action and suspense in Assassin (still just a working title – there are already several books called Assassin). I am presenting here a little snippet of the lives of the cops that I hope survive the book.
Detective Schmidt open the door to Captain Benny’s office without knocking. Unheard of. “Elmo is down. Motorbike accident. Tom and I are headed there now.”
Captain Benny shouted to the retreating detective, “Fucking Go. Let me know how the fuck he is.”
Schmidt and Ludlow sprinted flat out through the hallways of the precinct building, slammed through the doors, and ran for Ludlow’s Challenger. Schmidt had a cell phone pushed into his ear. Tom yelled at him, “Where am I going? Where am I going?”
Dennis shouted, “I-5 south,” and reached into the glove compartment, put the cop light on the dash, and plugged it into the cigarette lighter. Tom ran the car fast and was at the entrance to the I-5 is 3 minutes. The black Dodge was running at over 100 MPH before it came off of the entrance ramp. Traffic was moderate and Tom drove the big V8 hard, weaving through traffic like a glory-bound running back in a PAC 10 conference final.
“Shit. Shit. Take Florin Rd. East on Florin.”
The exit was coming up fast. Tom braked hard and veered off the freeway. He barley slowed before taking the cloverleaf onto Florin.
Dennis shouted at him, “Fuckin move this piece of shit.” He listed to the phone some more. “Fuck, fuck, fuck. He got hit by a train. That’s bad man.”
“Where am I going?”
“Go North on Power Inn Rd. That’s the next major intersection after Stockton Blvd.” He look at his partner. “They are telling me he is getting last rites. Father Anthony is there.” Tom swore, and focused on traffic.
Although no one from Chrysler was present, and neither cop was thinking along such lines, the run from the police station on Freeport Blvd to the scene of the accident, where the Union Pacific tracks crossed Elder Creek Rd took 14 minutes. This was pretty decent, given the distance of 12 miles. Chrysler would have loved to have recorded the run with several high definition cameras. It would have made exceptional stock footage for years of Challenger adverts. The way Tom squeezed between a bus and a Fiat 500 at more than 80 MPH in the city was a thing of beauty. But the detectives were not showing off. They were trying desperately to get to the scene of a fallen comrade before he drew his last breath.
Tom took the right hand turn onto Elder Creek from Power Inn fast enough that Dennis was not sure they would make it. The soft performance tires loudly complained, but were up to the task. About 1700 feet east they could see the tell-tales signs of the accident. A freight train was stopped across the road. Neither the engines, nor the end of the train were in sight. In front of the tracks, on Edler Creek Rd, was half a dozen marked cop cars, two CHiP motorcycles and two ambulances, some cops and a tight clot of bystanders. Tom powered the last quarter of a mile to the scene and both detectives jumped out.
One of the motorcycle cops, seeing the flashing red light in the front window, and suspecting the cops arriving knew the injured cop personally, trotted over to give them the news.
“Hi. I’m MacDougall. He’s not dead. Not yet, anyway. The paras are working on him. It’s pretty bad.”
“Where is he?”, Tom asked?
“He’s over there. The medics are trying to stabilize him before the move him. There is water-shaker over there that called it in.” He pointed to the priest. “He sure as hell saved this guy. Pulled him off the tracks. Mostly.” Dennis and Tom walked over.
“Father Anthony.” They shook hands. “You called this in?”
“What happened? How did you come on it?”
The priest paused and collected his thoughts. “Actually, I saw it happen. I was following Detective Lamble – Elmo. I saw him in another part of town and was following him. I wanted to talk to him about a computer. I could have called, but I saw him on his bike and I just…” His voice trailed off, and he looked around aimlessly. “Anyway, it’s kind of silly. I thought maybe he was headed to a coffee shop and we could talk. I need a new computer, I think. So I followed him.” His voice got just a little more focused. “He seemed to be driving okay. Not overly fast, I would guess. Then he came around that corner,” pointing back to Power Inn Road, “without slowing down at all. He as all over the place. He looked like he was trying to regain control. He finally hit the curb, over there,” pointing to the north side of Elder Creek Road, “and crashed. On the tracks.”
The priest looked a little shocked, now that he had said it out loud. “I drove up to see what I could do. He was kinda unconscious. I used his cell phone to call 911. The 911 operator was talking me through some basic stuff – is he talking, is he breathing, is he bleeding… I don’t know. Stuff like that. Anyway, all of a sudden I realize there is a train coming. It was not going too fast, so I was thinking it would stop. I thought the train should stop, you know. So Elmo would not have to be moved. But it kept coming. Finally, I had no choice. I grabbed him and pulled him away, but his leg was caught… I couldn’t pull hard enough. I got him out of the way, but the train hit him. Took his leg off.”
There was some stunned silence. The two detectives knew things were very bad. Getting your leg cut off by the steel wheels of a freight train engine against the steel tracks was never good. Ever. They headed over to where the paramedics were working on Elmo. Two were desperately trying to stem the flow of blood coursing from the stump of his left leg. The leg was severed right at the knee. It looked to Dennis that one was actually cauterizing veins, or vessels, or whatever, while the other paramedic was clamping larger ones. A third was working on Elmo’s right arm that was pretty messed up. Tom looked around and saw a fourth medic furiously working under one of the train cars. Prepping the leg.
Over the next five minutes, Elmo needed manual pulmonary resuscitation twice, was pumped with adrenaline once for shock and was given the electro-paddles twice. The paramedics worked incredibly fast, but in a coordinated manner. A few minutes later, without any apparent signal between them, the two of them began to move Elmo to one of the ambulances, and were gone without a word to anyone.
Dennis looked around and found what he was looking for. The train engineer and conductor were talking to two cops. He nudged Tom and they walked over.
“… whistle three times. He did not hear it, I guess. He had his face close to the bikers. Then, at the last second, just as I think I’m gonna run both of them over, he looks up, gets all scared and jumps back. He grabbed the biker and yanked him off the tracks. I actually thought maybe he had him clear. You know, you don’t feel anything – no bump, no noise – when you run over a leg. But Harry here stuck his head out, looked back and saw that we had tagged him. Son of a bitch. And of course we tagged the bike. Took us about, oh, 800 feet to stop. We ran back.”
Tom interrupted the interview. “Does the train have an on-board video camera?”
The engineer replied, “Yes. It would have activated as soon as I went to emergency braking.”
“Let’s see it.”
“You can’t. Not yet. It’s not accessible to us. Tamper proof. We will need someone from the company to come out – on their way, already – and extract the video.”
The paramedic under the train stuck an arm out and handed about 18” of lower leg and a foot, still in a boot and presumably a sock, to the other one. The paramedic removed the boot and sock, leaving the leg and foot oddly, disturbingly, naked. To Dennis, it already look gray. The leg, with the foot, went into an ice filled clear plastic bag, and the two paramedic jogged to the other ambulance. Jogged, not ran. Certainly they did not sprint. Like, they knew the leg was too fucked up to be reattached, but that was not their call. Their job was to get the amputated appendage to a real doctor, and not make assumptions about what kind of shape it was in. But probably anyone with any common sense would know that particular shin-bone was never going to be connected to any knee-bone ever again. And so there was really no point in risking their own necks on the way in. Fast. Lights and sirens for sure. But not breakneck speed like the first meat wagon that was carrying about 95% of Elmo.
Dennis and Tom knew there was no point in rushing over to the hospital. Not yet. Elmo would be in surgery for hours. They headed back over to talk to the priest, but they were intercepted by one of the uniforms. “Sorry guys. You can’t talk to the Father. I should have stopped you earlier, but, you know. I know this guy was a co-worker.”
Dennis interjected, “Is. Is a co-worker, dipshit. Not was. Is. And he is a friend of ours.”
“Is. Yeah. That’s what I meant. Look, Lamble is in pretty bad shape. Honestly, I can say for sure that he’s gonna make it. I need to investigate. So, until I get a statement from my witness – my witness who is apparently your confessor, he’s off-limits. Okay?”
The detectives knew the uniform was right. They walked up the tracks to where motorcycle lay, or rather to where the largest collection of parts of bike was located. After being tumbled along the tracks for 800 feet, there was almost nothing left that marked the pile of pipes and engine parts as a Honda motorcycle. It seemed impossible that anything useful would be discovered from the wreckage; there was nothing really to see there. The two of them walked, in unusual silence back towards Elder Creek, and the two of them slowly walked back towards Power Inn. Out of habit, they each took one side of the road, noting the tell tale signs of the last 1000 feet of travel.
Tom stopped and crouched. “Hey Dennis. Come here.” They peered at the tiny spot on the asphalt. Tom got down on his knees and moved his face within an inch of the spot without touching it. He smelled. “Brake fluid. It’s fresh.” They stood up and back away a foot.
Dennis thought for a moment. “I am pretty damn sure that Elmo’s bike has hydraulic front brakes, but mechanical rear brakes. So that means he lost his front brake. That would be bad. Sure as shit.” They continued walking West on Elder Creek Road. Along the way they found a more drops of brake fluid. On Power Inn Road, a few dozen feet south of the intersection, they found a pretty good spray of the fluid.
“That’s where it blew, I guess.”