Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Powder Burn Flash # 62 - Cormac Brown

If Twelve Were Nine

When it’s ninety-nine degrees in the shade, this is no time to wear green windbreakers, but they have to keep theirs on. Because this is when things tend to get confusing and confusion is bad in this business, because that’s when people get killed. As sunny and obnoxiously bright as it outside, it’s almost the exact opposite inside the hallways of this apartment building in Phoenix .

Aaron hates the way these jackets rustle and make noise, anybody with decent ears can hear them coming and he silently breaks off from the pack, like the wolf that knows that the rest of the pack are going on a futile hunt. No one notices as they are too pumped up and too distracted by the dimness.

They let loose clipped whispers in frustration-

“What are these, twenty-watt bulbs?”

“The building’s superintendent should be fired, the numbers are all jumbled up and-“

“Shhhh! There, two doors down.”

Two go to the left side of the door and two stay on the right. Two more come up with a heavy object and they hit the door-


…twice and they pull clear, as the lock gives way and the door splinters open.

“Maricopa Sheriff’s Department! Get your hands up!”

To the left of the threshold, a pokes through high and another to the right comes juts through low. The apartment is barely brighter than the hallway, though now the green jackets with yellow lettering are visible on the male and female deputies for the city of Phoenix . With their guns out, they make their way across the dimness and search for suspects, yet they’re careful not to get in each other’s crossfire.

They quickly check the rather large living room and its adjacent closets. As they enter the kitchen, they come across a man who seems oblivious to them. He leisurely chews on a bowl of granola and as a gun points at him from across the table, he tilts his head, barely registering it.

“Put the spoon down, slowly. Put your hands up” Delia, the deputy in charge says slowly.

He complies, though he looks both surprised and baffled. Two more deputies have already broken off to search the bathroom and they yell “clear!” as they find it empty. Delia motions the man towards the kitchen floor. Two other deputies handcuff him and search him for weapons.

The man in the kitchen does not seem to match the suspect that they are looking for. He is average in size and the description of the suspect is more like an overweight boxer. The suspect has tattoos from the neck down like an American version of a Yakuza member and what skin this man has exposed from his tank top, suggest he has no ink on him at all. His hair color is different from the suspect’s, as is his face. He has on glasses and the suspect allegedly doesn’t wear any.

One more deputy breaks off to help the first two sweep the bedrooms. “Clear!” comes the first shout after about the first two minutes and the “all clear!” comes after three more minutes.

The prostrate man cranes his neck slowly and groans “did you check the apartment number?” One of the deputies runs to the front of the apartment and sees the number “twelve” on the door.

Embarrassed the second deputy mutters “shit” and uncuffs the prostrate man. The deputies rush out of there, fearing that they’ve already tipped off the real suspect and he might’ve fled.

The man gets up. He rubs his sore wrists, eats another spoonful of granola and gets a small backpack out from a cabinet. He quietly slides open the kitchen window, tosses the backpack out of the window and follows it, some seven feet down.

“Don’t be stupid! Slowly toss the backpack to your right!” Aaron yells at him. He does as he is told and Aaron stops just short, behind him.

“Put your hands on your head and spread your legs.”

Aaron keeps the gun trained on him as pats him down. He tells the other deputies that he has secured the suspect in the alley east of the building via his radio handset.

Aaron says “get down on your knees” and the man complies. “Now lay flat, facedown on the ground.”

Aaron handcuffs him and waits for the others. Delia comes out, followed by the other deputies and they all look as shocked as she is.

“What the hell are you doing? Are you crazy?”

“No, check the picture of the suspect again, this is Barry Rose.”

Delia looks the picture over, then the man lying cuffed on the ground.

“They could be cousins. Where are the tats? The hair color is wrong, the weight is wrong, he’s got on glasses.”

Aaron hands a bandana over to one of the deputies and says “John, wet this up with that garden hose.”

John dampens it, wrings it out a little and hands it back to Aaron. Aaron rubs the wet bandana across the prostrate man’s back and like magic, tattoos appear.

“Movie stars use makeup to cover their ink all the time. Anyone can lose fifty pounds, especially if they get liposuction to go with their plastic surgery and just because it says “Miss Clairol” on the box, doesn’t mean that a man can’t use it. As far as the glasses? Don’t tell me that you can’t tell Clark Kent from Superman.”

John and another deputy take Barry Rose away. Delia whispers “how did you know?”

Aaron whispers back, “I didn’t. I saw that all the apartment numbers on the door were in the wrong order and figured it out from there.”

Delia looks Aaron in the eye and says firmly “just the same, don’t break off like that without telling me. You’re lucky that nothing serious happened. Understood?”

Aaron nods and mumbles “yeah.”

Delia taps Aaron in the jaw with playful right cross and back slaps him.

“Well done.”

Bio: "Cormac Brown" is my pen name. I'm an up-and-slumming writer in the city of Saint Francis , and I'm following in the footsteps of Hammett...minus the TB and working for the Pinkerton Agency. A couple of stories that I've stapled and stitched together can be found at http://cormacwrites.blogspot.com


r2 said...

Very cool story. I liked it alot.

Writeprocrastinator said...


Thanks much.