Author: Robert Beech
I’d been on the force a couple of weeks when I started doing night patrol. Night patrol is a rite of passage that all the newbies go through. It’s where you get to see what lies beneath the façade and see the city for what it really is. Night is when the parks change, when kids and moms with strollers give way to drug dealers and bad guys with guns, and sometimes something worse. Sometimes we were the something worse.
My supervisor was Sergeant Joe, a tough, black skinned woman with a scar that ran from the corner of her mouth up to her ear. I’d never gotten up the nerve to ask her how she got it. About 2 AM, a call came in about a disturbance in the park and we went over to check it out.
There were no kids playing loud music or smoking joints, no signs of a gang-fight or a fistfight, or anything. A complete non-event.
There was a black sedan pulled over to the curb by the bridge. I walked slowly around it and shone my flashlight in the window. Nobody inside. No signs of drugs in the backseat, no bloody handprints on the car. I thought of jimmying the trunk to see if there was a body inside, but couldn’t think of a good excuse to do it.
I was walking back towards the squad car when I heard a rustling by the path that leads down to the river. I shone my flashlight over to see what was making the noise. Pretty soon a dog walked out of the woods. I started to head back to the squad car and then stopped. I knew that dog. It was one of ours, from the K-9 unit. The only problem was the dog had died a couple of days ago. Then I realized who the person with the dog was. It was the dog’s partner, Bobby. He and his dog had both been killed in a shootout in the park. At least that’s what they told us.
“Hello, Jimmy,” he said, and I saw then that the left side of his face had been eaten away by something.
I didn’t walk back to the squad car, I ran.
“Joe,” I screamed. “Get us out of here. Now.”
“It’s Jimmy and his dog,” I shouted. “We’ve got to get out of here, now.”
And then it was too late. Jimmy had caught up to me and was hammering on the window with his fists. The glass shattered, and Jimmy reached in, trying to yank the door open. Finally Joe put the car into motion. Jimmy hung onto the door, forcing his head in through the broken window. Joe began swerving the car, trying to shake Jimmy loose, but he hung on. Finally, she floored it, aiming for one of bridge’s pillars, I think. Whatever she was trying for didn’t work and we plunged off the side of the bridge.
They found the car the next morning. I don’t know how they explained the lack of any bodies. Maybe they didn’t explain it. Strange things happen sometimes.
There’s been a real drop in crime over the last year. The drug dealers and bad guys with guns have pretty much disappeared from the park. Of course, so have any law-abiding folks. Word has got around. You don’t go in the park after dark. Not in this neighborhood. We’re still here though, me and Joe and Jimmy and his dog, and all the rest of us. Keeping things safe. We’re the night patrol.