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Chapter 29: Skid Row Carnage

Out on patrol. Another scorcher, another dozen or so assaults, another half-dozen burglaries, and it’s all just another night on the job for Midwatch in Central Division. Did you notice how everybody at roll call was calling me Dani? I guess Ruiz was telling the truth: I’m officially one of them, now. It feels damned good.

“Where to, Dani?”

“The Big Lot. I want to see if Ricky’s there, or if he’s hiding out somewhere.”

“If the cartel’s after his ass, he’d better be hiding out.”

“Maybe he’ll come to us for help?”

“What? Do you mean like witness protection?”

“Oh, God! I’d slit my fucking wrists if they made a deal with that piece of shit! My tax money paying for his new life?”

“I wouldn’t let you do that, but I agree with what you mean. Whatever he’s doing; we have to be damned careful. Remember what John and Angelo said: he’ll be out for blood.”

“Our blood.”

“Exactly. So let’s not give him any opportunities.”

“Roger that. We’ll come in on foot, through the alley. If he’s there, we’ll see him before he sees us.”

“Don’t be so sure. If he thinks someone’s out to get him, then he’ll probably be using lookouts.”

He’s right. If they’re junkies, then we shouldn’t have a problem. But if they’re some of his boys, then we might. There’s no telling how they’ll react. I mean, as far as Ricky’s concerned, we got his cousin killed. In fact, he got his cousin killed, but I’m pretty sure he won’t see it that way. Who knows what kind of orders he’s given his people?

“If he’s using junkies for lookouts, we’ll just tell them to get lost. After everything that’s happened lately, they won’t want to fuck with us. But if he’s using his own guys, they could be armed. If the Zetas are looking for him, then you can bet they will be. We’ll hook them up and search them first.”

“Roger that. Do you want to use any additional units?”

That would be the smart thing to do. It’s also the right thing to do. But if Ricky’s as unhinged as John and Angelo suggested he might be, I don’t want to put anybody else in harm’s way unless I absolutely have to. I felt like shit the other night when the SWAT team went after those two gunners on our information, and they’re SWAT! Patrol doesn’t get machineguns, bulletproof shields, and ten million hours of tactical training. Still, Ruiz said everybody wants to get in on our capers. I don’t want to freeze them out.

“We’ll recon the situation first. If there are a lot of guys there, we’ll get some backup. But I’d rather do this without dragging anyone else in. I think we can handle it. But watch your back. I don’t want either of us getting any more stitches.”

“Not this time.”

“All right. Let’s do it.”

This is just a recon for now. But it could turn into some serious shit in a hurry. With everything that’s happened in just a few weeks, I can’t get a read on Ricky. I can’t figure out what he’s thinking or what he’s going to do next. I just know he’s furious. He’s never faced a serious challenge before this. He must think his whole world’s falling apart. I sincerely hope it is. Putting him out of business would be a serious improvement around here. And hey, what part of the city is more in need of a serious improvement than skid row?

The north entrance to the alley just west of the Big Lot. I want to get this over with as fast as we can. I don’t want to get too focused on Ricky. There’s a limitless amount of shit going on out here, and we’re responsible for the busiest sector in the division. I don’t want the assholes in the rest of the sector to think we’re giving them a free pass. They’d definitely take advantage of it.

“Park it here, Dani?”

“Under the streetlight. Otherwise, our patrol car is going to end up at a recycling plant in the industrial district.”

“It wouldn’t be the first one.”

He’s not making that up. When I first got here, they warned me about that. These fucking zombies will strip anything if they can cart it to the recyclers and melt it down for cash. Even a police car.

“What do you see, Harper?”

“Nothing. The alley’s empty.”

“So much for the lookouts. Let’s move up.”

He’s right. There are usually a few junkies right here at the mouth of the alley. Why aren’t they here? As long as there’s dope for sale, there are junkies. It doesn’t matter who happens to be selling it. This is definitely weird.

“Dani! Check this out!”

“What have you got?


“Son of a bitch!”

Harper’s right! The place is fucking empty! Even most of the cars are gone! Yeah, it’s early for this place, but still!

“Hey, Dani! Take a look at this. What the hell is it?”

I was right: we did miss a few things while we were gone. It looks like somebody at the city actually listened to us! Hooray!

“That, partner, is an abatement sign! I guess they listened to us over at City Hall.”

“I guess so. What have we got? ‘No drugs, alcohol, or criminal activity is permitted on these premises. Anyone found in violation of any laws, codes, or ordnances is subject to arrest.’ Do you really think the place is empty because of that?”

“Not a chance. But it’s a step in the right direction.”

“So they’re abating the property?”

“It’s the first step. They must’ve warned the owner. The city gives those signs out to the property owners. He put those up to show he’s trying to do something about the problem.”

“It’s not much of a solution.”

“It’s not supposed to be. In the beginning, the property owners always try to shut down the abatement by spending as little money as possible. It never works, but they try anyway.”

“I guess we won’t be spending a lot of time here tonight.”

“It sure doesn’t look like it. Take a good look, Harper: did you ever think you’d see this place cleared out at night?”

“Not in a million years. The old-timers say this place has been dope central since the 1980s.”

“I believe it. Remember this. It looks like we might actually have made a difference.”

“Who would’ve ever thought it?”

“It won’t happen too many times in your career, so enjoy it while it lasts. Let’s go find someplace where we haven’t made one yet.”

Well, what do you know? It’s working. It’s actually working! If we can shut this place down, then we can move on to the next one. Shut them down one at a time. Death by a thousand cuts for the dope dealers. We’ll never stop the dope traffic, but we might just be able to put a real dent in it. Now that would be something!

Back on patrol, heading down 7th Street. My God, it’s fucking hot! It’s almost sundown, and it’s still at least 110 degrees out here! It almost hurts to breathe! This heatwave has already set a record, and they say it isn’t going to let up anytime soon. In fact, tomorrow is supposed to be the hottest day this week. It’s a wonder the whole damned place hasn’t gone completely ape shit! I wonder how many people out here have died from it? They’ve talked about heat-related deaths on the news for over a week, but they never mention the homeless. I guess they don’t count. That’s pretty fucked up.

“Sixteen Central, violent male mental, 5th Street and Republic Avenue, male black, six feet, two hundred fifty pounds, on the sidewalk, attacking passersby. Sixteen Central, handle code two high. Sixteen Central, acknowledge.”

That didn’t take too long! What was it I just said about people going ape shit?

“Sixteen Central, roger. En route.”

“Are you sure you’re up to this, Dani? This could be a fight.”

“I’m ready. I feel fine. I’m sure we’ve got a sergeant en route, too. If this guy goes ballistic, then we don’t take chances. We light him up.”

“The Taser’s ready.”

“If the sergeant gets there in time, he’ll probably want to handle the Taser. They think we’ve got enough use of force incidents for one DP.”

“Fine by me.”

“But if it doesn’t work, you’ll have to break his jaw or smash his head against a wall. You’re good at that.”

“Thanks a lot. Almost there.”

“Isn’t that where Goren and Signolo got that guy selling PCP a week ago?”

“Halfway down the block, yeah.”

Great! This guy might be a duster instead of a psycho! Didn’t we get enough from the last one? It took four of us and Lieutenant Hagan’s punch to put him down! Foaming at the mouth crazy, superhuman strength, and absolutely no sense of pain! Don’t you just love dusters?

“Harper, if this turns out to be another duster…”

“I was thinking the same thing. Is anybody else clear? Can we get some backup?”

According to the computer, we don’t have anybody clear. All of the Nightwatch units are busy, and so are our Midwatch guys. Shit! If it’s this busy already, then we might end up going on Tac Alert. We could be here all night. And the other divisions aren’t going to be happy about us poaching their units to work in Central. At the rate things are going, this could turn into one wild night.

“Sixty Central, show me en route to the call at 5th and Republic.”

There’s our sergeant: Sergeant Alfaro. That’s definitely not a good thing. I know how he acted when he came to that one call of ours. He’s a weasel, and the last thing we need out here is a weasel with three stripes.

“Good news, Harper! Sergeant Do-Nothing is on his way!”

“Let’s give him a chance. The lieutenant chewed his ass out pretty good. Maybe he’s turned over a new leaf?”

“How the hell can you be so goddamned positive about everything?”

“I’m sitting right next to you. How could I not be?”

He’s not being sarcastic. He means that. Harper, you just earned yourself something special when we get home. I’ve got an especially hot little blue outfit that I think you’re going to love! Almost as much as I’m going to love wearing it for you!

“There it is, Dani! And we’ve got a unit already there.”

“Who is it? Do you know?”

“Car 881? That’s Forty-Four. Signolo and Goren.”

That figures. They made that PCP arrest, so they probably thought the same as I did: we might have a duster on our hands. Smart guys!

“Sixteen Central, we’re code six on our call. Do you have an ETA for Sixty Central?”

“Sixteen Central, stand by.”

With our luck, Sergeant Alfaro’s been hiding out over at Heller Plaza. It’ll take him fifteen minutes to get here. Hey, where the hell is our suspect? From the comments in the call, he should stand out like a sore thumb. Even in this place.

“Dani! South sidewalk!”

“I see him!”

Oh, hell! He’s fucking huge! And he’s definitely nuts, all right! Signolo and Goren are trying to herd him away from the people on the sidewalk, but there must be thirty people standing around! That’s skid row for you: the looniest of the loonies always attract a crowd!

“Harper, grab the Taser! We might not be able to wait for the sergeant!”

“Right with you!”

With all those people standing around like fucking idiots, there’s really no good place to deploy on this guy and zap him. We need to help Goren and Signolo get him cornered. But if he’s dusted, that’s probably going to piss him off even more. God, I hate fucking dusters!

“Harper, keep him away from those people on the sidewalk!”

“What are you going to do?”

“Try to get his attention!”

“With the way he’s screaming? He can’t even hear you!”

“We have to try. Once you get those people back, get ready to light him up.”

“You got it. Watch yourself!”

If I can get him to come toward me, then they can move those people back. I can move to his right, and then he’s up against the wall. We can light him up there without worrying about bystanders. Tasers aren’t the most accurate things in the world, and we need those darts to get a good spread for it to work. Otherwise, we’re just wasting electricity. Not to mention the fact that a Taser only fires two shots before it’s empty.

“Hey! Over here! You! Over here, asshole!”

It looks like blind rage. Oh, he’s dusted, all right! Fuck!

“Signolo! Try to move him against the wall!”

“Watch yourself, Dani! He’s fucking dusted!”

“That’s what I think! Are you sure?”

“That’s what these guys told us! He’s been screaming like that since we got here!”

Which means they probably saw him smoking that shit. Great! My first day back after getting my ass busted up, and I’ve got a fight with a duster! It never rains, but it sure as hell pours!

“Over here! Yes, you! Just calm down! Bring your ass over here! Yes! Over here!”

Yeah, bring your ass over here so we can light it up with fifty thousand volts!

“Harper! Get ready!”

“Just get him to move a little further toward you!”

What’s that? Another police car. The sergeant’s here. Damn! It’s his call now. I just hope he doesn’t fuck it up. Alfaro’s got less time on the job than me. He probably doesn’t have a lot of experience with dusters. He sure as hell didn’t help out with the last one!

“Sergeant! Over here! Watch out for this guy! He’s dusted!”

“Are you sure?”

“Sure enough! Can’t you hear him screaming?”

Yeah, like the idiot from the other night? Remember? Doesn’t thins look familiar? Jesus Christ!

“OK, we’ll assume he’s dusted. What’s the plan?”

Oh, I’m starting to get a really sick feeling about this! He doesn’t have a fucking clue!

“We get him clear of those people on the sidewalk and light him up!”

“There’s no need for that, Lynott. Let’s try to talk him down, first.”

Oh, God! That’s exactly what I was afraid of! Is he not seeing the same shit we are? This guy is completely out of his mind! His brain has been turned into fucking green Jell-O! He’s flailing around like a maniac! Does the Sarge really think he’s going to talk him down?

“Hey, buddy. What’s the problem here? Can we talk about this?”

Oh, this definitely doesn’t bode well! He’s walking right toward the suspect!

“Come on, guy. Let’s just all take it easy. No one’s going to hurt you. We just need you to calm down.”

“Sarge, don’t get too close to him!”

“It’s all right. Stay where you are, Lynott. Everybody stay back! We can talk him down! Hey! Why don’t we go over here and talk about this? There’s no problem. We just want to talk to you.”

He can’t be more than fifteen feet away from this guy! He’s out of his goddamned mind!

“Sarge, you’re getting way too close!”

“Just take it easy, Lynott. I’ve got this.”

Is he insane? He’s got this? Shit! He’s almost within arm’s reach of this lunatic! He’s going to get his balls ripped off!

“Sarge, you need to back away now!

“I said stand down, Lynott. All of you, stand down. I’ve got this. Harper, put that Taser away.”

Stand down? Is he seeing what we’re seeing?

“Come on, buddy. Let’s all just take it easy. Look, we need to take it down a notch, so…”

Oh, shit! Is he going to try to cuff this guy? Don’t show him those cuffs, Sarge! Please! If he sees handcuffs, he’s going to fucking flip out!

“I’m just going to put these on you…”

No! Jesus Christ, no! Don’t do it!

“Here, just give me your hand. I’m going to put these on you.”

“Don’t do it, Sarge!”

He’s trying to close in on this guy! Is he out of his fucking mind? That duster’s going to freak out! The second the Sarge touches him, he’s going to fucking flip!

“Sergeant Alfaro! Back away! Now! For God’s sake!”

“Sergeant Alfaro! Listen to her! Don’t get too close!”

See? Signolo knows he’s too close! Why the hell doesn’t he see it? He’s going to get himself killed!

“Sergeant! Get away from him! You’re too close! He’s going to grab you!”

“Shut up, Lynott! I’ve got this! Hey, buddy? It’s OK. There’s no problem here. Just give me your hand. I’m going to put these handcuffs on you. It’s no problem. Just to be safe, OK?”

Oh, fuck! There he goes! He flipped! The duster fucking flipped! He’s got the Sarge!

“Help! Somebody help!”


“Oh my God! I need help!”

Jesus! He’s got the Sarge in a fucking bear hug! As big as he is, he’ll fucking crush his ass to death!

“Harper! Taser! Light him up!”

“I can’t! I’ve got no shot!”

“Fuck! Forget the Taser! Just grab his ass!”

We’ve got to get that asshole off of the Sarge before he kills him! Shit! He took him down to the ground! The Sarge hit hard! He might be hurt! God damn it, we’ve got to dive in now!

“Harper, grab his arm!”

Oh, Jesus! The Sarge is fucking losing it! He’s too scared to defend himself! And our fucking duster is clawing at his face! He’s going to rip his eyes out!

“Sarge! Cover your face! Everybody! Get his arms away from the sergeant! Pin his fucking arms!”

I’ve got one arm and Harper’s got the other! But this guy is fucking strong as hell!
“Harper, pull him back! Somebody get this asshole around the neck! Pull him back! Sergeant! Get the fuck out of there!”

“Get him off me! Get him off me!”

“Cover your face, Sarge!”

Fuck! He’s trying to push this idiot away! This guy’s a hundred pounds heavier than him, and he’s fucking dusted! No way is that going to work!

“Signolo! Give us a hand! Goren! Stay back with the Taser! Take the shot when you’ve got it!”

“Roger that! Harper, give me your Taser!”

“Take it!”

With three of us wrestling with this guy and the Sarge on the ground underneath him, there’s no fucking shot! God damn! It’s like fighting with fucking Godzilla!

“Sarge! Get the fuck out of there! Now! Crawl! Crawl, God damn it!”

Idiot! He’s not listening! And this fucking duster’s screaming and scratching at him like a maniac! The Sarge is too scared to wiggle out from under him! He’s still trying to push him away! Fucking useless idiot! We’ve got to do something or this guy’s going to fuck him up good! We can’t do a contact shot! It’ll go right through him and hit the Sarge!

“Signolo! Grab his right arm! Take over for me!”

“What are you going to do?”

“Choke his fucking ass out!”

I know they hate it and we’re almost never supposed to do it, but if we don’t get Sergeant Alfaro out of there fast, he’s fucked! OK, Signolo’s got the arm! Good work! I can let go and go for the chokehold! Do it by the numbers! Palm slap to the forehead to expose his neck, and wrap my arm around it! Lock up the wrist and squeeze like shit! Got him!

“Say goodnight, motherfucker!”

Oh, hell! He’s not giving up! Choking out a duster isn’t easy! Their blood pressure is so high; squeezing the arteries closed is next to impossible!

“Harper! Roll him! Roll him over!”

“You’ll be caught!”

“You have to get the Sarge out of there! Do it!”

Now I just need to hang on for dear fucking life!

“Now! Roll his ass!”

It’s working! They’ve got a space for Alfaro to get out! Now I just have to make sure I don’t get pinned underneath this guy! Fuck! Alfaro’s still not getting out! He’s too scared to move! Stupid motherfucker! He’s going to get us both killed!

“Harper! Signolo! Drag his ass out of there!”

“Drag the Sarge?”

“Yes! Damn it, Signolo! Drag his ass out of there!”

Signolo can’t get to him! Thank God for Harper! He’s got the Sarge clear!

“Goren! When I let go, you zap this motherfucker!”

“I’ve got the shot! Get clear, Dani!”

Roll! Fast! Get clear! That’s it! Now we’ve got him!

“Now! Light him up!”

I heard the Taser fire! Did it get him? I need to back further! Yes! Nice shot, Goren! Solid chest hits! He’s going down!

“Keep it up, Goren! Drain the fucker if you have to!”

“Roger that! Cover him on the sides! I need officers on the sides in case he runs!”

“I got him on your right! Signolo, take his left! Harper, get the Sarge clear!”

He’s down on one knee! The Taser’s taking the fight out of him! It’s working! Jesus, he’s screaming even worse than before! It’s like fucking fingernails on a blackboard! Shut the fuck up, would you? Just go down!

“Harper! Signolo! Stand by to move in and grab his arms! You get his arms and I’ll cuff him! Then we’ll bind his ankles!”

“Roger that, Dani!”

“We’re ready!”

“Wait for it! Wait…he’s down! He’s down! Cut the Taser! Move in! Move in!”

Now we’ve got him! That’s it, guys! Get his arms behind his back! Nice! I’m not taking any chances with this guy! I’m putting two sets of cuffs on his wrists! I’ve heard about dusters breaking handcuffs, and this guy’s fucking Godzilla! There’s the first! Hurry! Get the second pair on! Hurry! Yes! That’s it! He’s fucking cuffed!

“He’s cuffed! I’ve got his head! Signolo! Bind his ankles! That’s it! One more wrap…that’s it! That’s it! His legs are bound! Lock it off! Lock it off! Good job, guys! Just hold him down for a…fuck!

A shot! I heard…what the hell? Who fired a Taser? Who fired while we were cuffing this guy?

“Goren! Cease fire! Cease fire!”

“It wasn’t me, Dani!”

“Well, who the fuck…”

Oh, I don’t fucking believe it! It’s Sergeant Alfaro! He zapped the guy! We had him cuffed and hogtied and he fucking zapped the guy! Oh, fuck! He aimed it right at the guy’s fucking face! Jesus Christ! He shot the guy in the face with a Taser! One of the darts is stuck in the guy’s upper lip! Is he out of his fucking mind?

“Sarge! Cut the Taser! Shut it off! Shut it off, God damn it!”

The stupid fuck isn’t listening! He’s still running the juice! He could kill this guy with a shot like that! Is this shit really happening?

“Harper! Disarm him! Take that fucking Taser! Hurry!”

“Give me that thing! Crazy bastard! You almost hit Dani! What the fuck were you thinking, Sarge?”

“He was…”

“He was what? We had him! He’s fucking cuffed and hogtied! Jesus, you lit his ass up with three of us hanging onto him? Are you fucking crazy?”

I’d better bring Harper down before he talks himself into a suspension. Not that I don’t agree with every fucking word he said, mind you.

“Ease down, Harper! It’s over! Everyone’s all right. I’m OK. Thanks for that. Good job.”

“Sorry, Dani. I just…”

“You don’t have to explain. I probably would’ve said the exact same thing.”

“What a fucking idiot!”

“I guess not everyone on Midwatch is as sharp as I thought.”

Thank God Goren and Signolo are. We’d have been totally fucked without their help. They jumped right in, didn’t flinch, they did everything they were supposed to do. They’re damned good cops. Which is more than I can say for our idiot sergeant!

“Thanks, guys. Outstanding job. You really saved our asses on this one.”

“It was a team effort, Dani. Well, most of the team, anyway.”

“Right there with you, Signolo. What the hell is wrong with that guy?”

“Good question! I had no idea he was such a fucking dork! How is he even a sergeant? Did he really shoot that guy in the face?”

“Yeah, fifty thousand volts right into his face! God, I can’t even think about how much that must’ve hurt!”

“Tell me about it!”

I see Goren can’t believe what happened any more than we can. He’s just shaking his head in disbelief! Yeah, I can relate!

“Hey, Dani? Make sure the report shows I didn’t do that!”

“You got it, Goren. It wasn’t on you. Thanks again. Great shot with the Taser, too.”

“Yeah, unlike some people!”

And he shoots Sergeant Alfaro the death look while he says that. I don’t blame him. I’ve seen a lot of crazy shit in my day, but this one takes the cake! He shot a handcuffed, hogtied suspect in the face with a Taser at point-blank range! Oh, I don’t envy the sergeant who gets stuck writing this use-of-force report!

“Go easy on him, Goren. I think he’s traumatized.”

“He’s lucky he’s not dead! Did you see what he did?”

“Yeah, I saw it. I think we all did. Are you guys good to transport the suspect?”

“Yeah. I think he’s done for the day. I just about drained this fucking thing on him.”

That much juice and I’d be flattened for a week! I can’t believe that guy’s still moving!

“You guys handle the transport. Call for an additional unit to follow you back to the station in case this guy goes off again. We’ll get Sergeant Gellar out here to clean up this mess. I don’t think Sergeant Alfaro’s going to be of any use.”

“Are you going to tell him about the chokehold?”

“What chokehold?”

“Got you. Thanks for the assist. You and Harper.”

Seeing as the guy didn’t lose consciousness, I don’t really consider it a chokehold. I just hope Sergeant Gellar sees it the same way. Chokeholds are deadly force. There’s a mountain of paperwork when you use one.

“Sixteen Central, have Forty Central meet us at our location code two high.”

“Sixteen Central, roger. Forty Central is en route.”

I wonder how he’s going to take it when I tell him how Sergeant Alfaro fucked up out there? I’ll bet he won’t be happy about it.

“Nice work, Harper.”

“That guy was strong as hell! He was worse than the last one! I thought he was going to throw me right off!”

“That’s a duster for you. He could probably lift you with one hand.”

“What about you?”

“Me? He could probably lift me with one finger.”

“That’s not what I mean. Are you OK?”

“Yeah. My shoulder’s still a little sore, but I’m all right.”

“Way to take control out there, partner. Once again, I’m impressed.”

“Thanks. Now, about that chokehold…”

“What chokehold? I didn’t see any chokehold.”

“Good man. I can always count on you.”

“Damn right. Uh, Dani? I think we’re going to need another sergeant here. Ours is a little…”

“Way ahead of you, Harper. I’ve got Sergeant Gellar on the way. Where’s super cop?”

“Sitting in his car. I think he’s looking for a change of underwear.”

After what I saw out there, I wouldn’t be surprised if he carries extra shorts in his gear bag. He probably goes through a few every shift.

“At least he can do no harm in there. Did you get your Taser back?”

“Yeah, but it’s drained. We’re going to need another one. Hey, Dani? I know I’m not the world’s greatest expert on the Taser, but is it authorized to shoot a guy in the face with one?”

Is he kidding? One doesn’t have to be an expert on our policy to know the answer to that one!

“No, it isn’t. Neither is leaving it running because you’re too scared to shut it off. This is going to be a fucking mess.”

“I’ll let you handle it, then.”

“You’re a real sweetheart, you know that?”

Harper may be a boot, but even he knows that dumping a total cluster fuck use-of-force incident into your sergeant’s lap is not the way to become his favorite officer on the watch.

“Here comes the boss, Dani.”

“I guess I’m up. Don’t enjoy my pain too much, OK?”

“I’ll do what I can. Since no one’s within earshot, can I tell you how much I adore you right now?”

“You may. And if we were alone, I’d kiss you. Just saying.”

Jesus! Sergeant Alfaro’s still sitting in his fucking car! The senior sergeant on the watch shows up and he doesn’t even get out of his car? I think he really is traumatized! Oh, well. Time to break the bad news to Sergeant Gellar.

“Lynott! What happened? Are you all right?”

“I’m fine, sir. Thanks for asking.”

“Why do you need me here?”

“We need a sergeant, sir.”

“You’ve got a sergeant. I heard Sixty show at scene.”

Maybe I should’ve put that in a different way?

“Yeah, he’s here, but we don’t exactly have a sergeant, sir.”

That look of utter pain on his face tells me he knows where this is going. I’d laugh if I didn’t know how he’s going to hit the roof when he hears about this.

“What happened, Lynott?”

“Our suspect was dusted, sir. Goren and Signolo helped us subdue the guy, but it wasn’t easy. The guy was huge, sir. He was worse than the one at the station the other night.”

“Did anyone get hurt?”

“No, sir. We’re all fine. I didn’t even pop a stitch.”

“What about Chris?”


“Sergeant Alfaro.”

Oh, yeah. I’d forgotten his first name. That should tell you how much contact we’ve had with him since I got to Midwatch.

“Yeah, about him. He kind of…well…”

“He choked, didn’t he?”

“Big time, sir. Massively big time.”

“Define ‘big time’ Lynott.”

“Well, I guess he doesn’t have a lot of experience with dusters, sir.”

“I appreciate your trying not to shred the sergeant, but just spit it out. What happened?”

Well, he asked!

“The suspect was out of control, Sarge. He was screaming at the top of his lungs, totally incoherent. He was violent and attacking anyone who got near him. We tried to move him over against the wall so we could get a clear shot with the Taser. And it was working, sir. Goren and Signolo got the bystanders out of harm’s way, and I was trying to distract the suspect so he’d move further away from the crowd.”

“I still haven’t heard what Sergeant Alfaro did yet.”

“Yes, sir. I was getting to that.”

“Pick up the pace, Lynott. What did he do?”

“He told us all to back off, Sarge. He said he could talk the guy down.”

And the look of utter disbelief comes across Sergeant Gellar’s face. Yeah, just like the look we all had on our faces!

“Are you telling me he tried to talk a psycho duster down?”

“Yes, sir. I told him the guy was dusted. I mean, a potted plant could see that the guy was completely dusted, but he insisted on trying to reason with him.”

“He tried to reason with a lunatic who was out of his mind on PCP?”

“Yes, sir. He insisted on it.”

“And I take it that didn’t work out too well?”

“No, sir. Sergeant Alfaro kept moving closer to the suspect, and…”

And the look of disbelief turns into a look of horror! No wonder Harper wanted me to break the news to him!

“He closed in with a goddamned duster?”

“Yes, sir. We told him not to, but he…insisted, sir.”

“And he got too goddamned close, didn’t he?”

“Yes, sir. Way too close. That’s when the suspect lunged at him. He got him in a bear hug and took him to the ground.”

“Jesus! Was he hurt?”

“I don’t think so, sir. Not too badly, at any rate. We all jumped in, but the suspect was almost impossible to control. He was strong like you wouldn’t believe. We finally managed to pin his arms and roll him back.”

“And Sergeant Alfaro got out?”

See? This just keeps getting worse by the second!

“No, sir. He just kind of…freaked out. Harper had to drag him out from under the suspect. After that, we zapped the guy. That put him down.”

“Who fired?”

“I had Goren take Harper’s Taser. He was the designated shooter, sir.”

“So you zapped him, and that was it?”

“Well…not exactly, sir.”

“You’re fucking killing me with this shit, Lynott! Just spit it out! What aren’t you telling me?”

“OK, sir. But remember: you asked for it.”

“And I’m about to regret it, aren’t I?”

“Yes, sir. I think so. After we got the suspect cuffed and Harper and Signolo bound his legs with a hobble, Sergeant Alfaro ran up to the suspect and shot him with a Taser.”

Wait for it!

“Are you shitting me, Lynott? He zapped a cuffed, bound suspect while you guys were still holding onto him?”

“Yes, sir. But it gets worse.”

“Worse? It gets worse?”

“I’m afraid so. He shot him in the face, sir. From about two feet away. He almost hit me. I saw one of the darts lodge in the suspect’s upper lip. I don’t know where the other one hit, but I know it hit him. He took the full jolt, sir. Right in the face.”

“Chris did what?

“He lit up the guy’s face, sir. Shot him point-blank with the Taser from about two feet away.”

“Are you fucking shitting me?”

“No, sir. It’s a good thing the guy was dusted, though. Fifty thousand volts? The pain probably would’ve killed him otherwise.”

Give it a second or two to sink in. I can just see the horror taking over Sergeant Gellar’s brain. See, this is why I’m not a sergeant: I couldn’t handle a fucked-up caper like this any better than he’s doing right now.

“And you picked me to dump this goddamned cluster fuck on?”

There it is. Yeah, I was waiting for that.

“Well, you’re our sergeant, sir. The only other sergeant on the watch is…uh…I think he’s traumatized, sir. Big time.”

“Traumatized? What the hell do you mean ‘traumatized?’”

“He’s in kind of a…vegetative state, sir. He hasn’t moved since he got back in his car.”

“Jesus Christ! What a goddamned mess!”

“Yes, sir. He’s been sitting in there since Harper disarmed him.”

“Harper disarmed Sergeant Alfaro?”

“Yes, sir. I told him to do it. He had to. Sergeant Alfaro wouldn’t shut off the Taser. He kept his finger on the trigger even after I told him to cease fire. I don’t think he could hear me. His brain wasn’t exactly…I was afraid that if we didn’t disarm him, the suspect might have been killed, sir.”

“This is not fucking happening to me!”

Oh, yes it is! See what you get for taking the sergeant’s exam?

“I’m a little worried about Sergeant Alfaro, sir. He looks…frozen. I think he might be in some kind of a coma. Do you want to talk to him?”

“No, I don’t want to talk to him! But now I have to talk to him! Jesus Christ!”
“Yes, sir. I don’t envy you, sir.”

“But you’re having a big fucking laugh at my expense, aren’t you?”

Well, I might be grinning a little bit. That’s all. OK, I admit it: inside, I’m laughing my ass off! It does kind of make up for the doctor’s note.

“Command’s a bitch, sir.”

“She’s not the only one, Lynott. Is there anything else? Any more horrors you want to dump on me?”

“There is one thing, sir. When we were rolling the suspect off of Sergeant Alfaro, I used what – to the untrained eye – might have looked like a chokehold.”

“You fucking choked him out?”

“Well, technically, it wasn’t really a chokehold, sir. He never passed out.”

“I don’t want to hear it! Where’s the suspect now?”

“Forty-Four took him back to the station. We didn’t think it was a good idea to bring EMS out here. They can have him checked out at the station. He’s still got one of the darts lodged in his face, sir.”

“All right, I’ll meet them over there. You two get the hell out of here. Go back to work. Jesus!”

“Roger that, sir. Let us know if you need anything.”

“And you’re sure no one else got hurt?”

“Besides the suspect? No, sir. We’re all fine. I think Sergeant Alfaro’s OK, too. Physically, I mean. There’s still that whole ‘coma’ thing, though.”

“Get lost, Lynott!”

“Getting lost, sir.”

I don’t think we’ll be seeing much of Sergeant Alfaro next DP. I think he’s about to have a close encounter with a desk job. That’s probably for the best, don’t you think?

Back on patrol, driving through the heart of skid row. Well, the doctor at the jail infirmary confirmed that our guy was dusted. When I was a boot, the old-timers told me about what it was like in the 1980s when PCP was all the rage. In some divisions, there was a call every day about some crazy motherfucker running down the street, stark naked and screaming his head off. They told me stories about dusters ripping the Taser darts out of their chests, throwing four officers off of them like they were a bunch of rag dolls, and one story about a duster that they threw in the holding tank handcuffed. The crazy son of a bitch got his hands out from behind his back, and then he chewed off the ratchet end of the handcuff! He was trying to chew his way out of the handcuffs! Jesus! That hurts my teeth just thinking about it! Why in the name of God would anyone smoke that shit? That’s not getting high! That’s destroying your brain and your body in one shot! Chemical suicide!

“Dani, have you handled a lot of dusters in your career?”

“Fortunately, no. PCP fell out of favor before my time, but it’s still around, as you saw.”

“So it’s pretty rare, now?”

“In the Emerald City, yes. But it’s still going strong in other places. I went to a narcotics training seminar a few years back, and they had cops from all around the country. I learned that what’s popular here isn’t what’s popular elsewhere.”

“How so?”

“They had cops from the southeast who said all they see is crystal meth. They make that shit by the truckload down in Dixie. Northwest states? Lots of LSD and magic mushrooms, if you can believe it. They had three guys from Baltimore who said the city’s overrun with heroin. Oxycodone is giving the whole damned country fits. They’ve got doctors handing out that shit like jellybeans at Easter. And crack cocaine is still popular just about everywhere.”

“Different tastes for different reasons, huh?”

“I guess so. And with the opioid crisis, you’ve got more and more people turning to heroin because they can’t afford the pharmaceutical shit. I read that a lot of doctors won’t prescribe opioids anymore because they’re afraid of the DEA. And now we’ve got legal weed to deal with, too.”

“I read that, too. I wonder what it’ll be like when they end up legalizing everything?”

“The truth? I think the whole world is going to turn into skid row. Just one giant, continuous maze of streets and alleys and run-down buildings and half a billion homeless zombies roaming the countryside, stoned out of their minds.”

“That would make our job exciting.”

“What? It’s not exciting enough already?”

I hope we’re both retired and living in northern Alaska by the time that happens. God, the whole goddamned country on legalized drugs! Talk about a nightmare!

“Harper! Up ahead! We’ve got a fight! On the sidewalk in front of the mission!”

“I see it! One of them’s got a knife!”

“Make that both of them! Call it in!”

“Sixteen Central, show us code six on an ADW in progress in front of the St. Francis Mission! Two male suspects, both armed with knives! Requesting backup!”

Jesus! A knife fight in front of a house of God! What’s wrong with this picture?

“Harper, you break left. Go for cover right over there. I’ll call them out. Guns out and be ready!”

“Got it. Watch yourself!

You’re damned right I will! I do not plan to get stabbed tonight!

“Hey! You two! Police! Stop where you are! Drop the knives! Now!”

And they’re either deaf, or they’re ignoring me!

“I said drop the fucking knives! Now! Do it!”

“This ain’t none of your business, cop!”

“Like hell it isn’t! I’ve got a gun! You’ve got a knife! Do you want to get shot? Drop the knives! Both of you!”

“Hey, asshole! Do as she says! You come at us with that thing and you’re going to get shot!”

We’ve definitely got the drop on them. Now that they see Harper over there, they know there’s nowhere for them to go. Come on, guys! Don’t be fucking idiots! We’ve got guns, you’ve got knives! You can’t win!

“Last chance! Drop the goddamned knives!”

Good! They’ve got some sense after all! They’re dropping the knives!

“Kick them into the street! Both of you! Do it!”

Nice! Now we just have to cuff them before they try anything else!

“Drop to your knees! Both of you!”

They’re focused on me, so Harper should cuff them. God, I hope they don’t decide to spin on him! This is a bad spot, tactically speaking. If I have to shoot, Harper’s going to be in the line of fire. In this place, there’s no way to avoid it unless we get more units here, and we don’t have time. There’s too many people around. We have to hook these guys up fast! Oh, shit! I used both of my cuffs on that duster!

“Harper, cuff them both! I’ve got you covered!”

“Put your hands behind your back! Both of you! Don’t move unless I say so!”

They’re both pissed, but they’re cooperating. Good. One’s cuffed. With their knives in the street, maybe they don’t feel so brave anymore. There’s the other one. Thank you, God! Nice and easy, just the way it should be. I guess we were overdue for a break.

“Dani, they’re cuffed!”

“Good, because I don’t have any left. I’ll get their weapons.”

I wonder what started this one? Was it the heat, or something more befitting a knife fight in public?

“What the hell were you guys fighting about?”

“He fucked up my friend!”

“Hey, fuck you, asshole! That motherfucker was talking shit!”

“Fuck you! You want to finish this? Let’s go!”

They’re both cuffed, and they still want to kill each other! There’s definitely no place like this place.

“All right, guys! Knock it off! What do you mean, he fucked up your friend?”

“He done beat the shit out of him for no reason!”

“I had a reason, motherfucker! Ain’t nobody talks to me like that!”

“Enough! Where’s this friend of yours?”

“He’s over there! He’s all fucked up, thanks to this motherfucker!”

It looks like Harper’s already found him. That guy on the ground? Is that blood on his shirt?

“Dani! We’ve got a situation, here!”

“What’s up? Oh, Jesus!

When he said “fucked up,” he wasn’t kidding! This guy’s lost an eye! His fucking eye’s gone!

“Harper, get EMS fast! Hey, can you hear me? What happened? Did that guy over there do this to you?”

“He tore my eye out, Senior! He tore my goddamned eye out!”


“He hit me with a knife!”

Holy shit! This guy’s bleeding all over the place! And that big string of tissue coming out of his eye socket? That must have been attached to his eye! Oh, God! That is fucking disgusting! I think I’m going to puke!


“EMS is en route. Hey, buddy? Where’s your eye? Where is it?”

“I got it right here.”

“What are you talking about? Right where?”

“Right here, sir.”

“Uh, Dani? Are you seeing this?”

Holy fucking shit! He’s got his goddamned eye in his pocket! Oh my God! Look at that shit! He’s holding his fucking eye in his hand! In his goddamned hand! God, it looks like it’s staring right at me! I think I’m going to be sick! Fucking gross!

“Uh, you hang onto that, buddy. Dani, are you OK?”

“I’ll let you know after I puke!”

“Yeah, eye wounds are nasty shit. I saw one in Iraq.”

“You was in Iraq, officer?”

“Yes, sir. Marine Corps.”

“Good man! I was in the Navy. I was on the Carney.”

“Seriously? That’s an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, isn’t it?”

“You know your ships, sir. That’s right. The Carney’s a good ship, sir. Damned good ship.”

“Good man. You just hold tight, Navy. The ambulance is on its way.”

Jesus Christ! He’s talking to Harper about ships and Navy shit like they’re having a couple of fucking beers! How can he be so calm? His goddamned eye is in his fucking hand! Who the fuck can do that? What kind of people are these? What fucking planet is this?

“Can they fix my eye, sir?”

“I don’t know, Navy. I hope so.”

“Why’d he have to do me like that, sir?”

“I don’t know. Which one was it?”

“The white dude. He didn’t have to do me like that! I didn’t mean no evil to him! It’s just the liquor talkin’ is all!”

Thank God he’s drunk! I don’t even want to think about what that must feel like! Jesus! His whole fucking eye’s ripped out, and he’s got it in his fucking hand! I’m going to puke! I swear, I’m going to puke any second now! Where’s the guy who did it? Oh, he’s going away for a long fucking time!

“Hey, you! Yeah, you in the baseball cap! You’re going to jail!”

“For what?”

“Gee, I don’t know! ADW? Fucking mayhem, maybe?”

“Mayhem? What the fuck’s mayhem?”

“That! You see that shit? You see what you did to his eye? That’s fucking mayhem!”

“Oh, that ain’t nothing, lady!”

“Nothing? Are you fucking kidding me? You think this is nothing? You sliced out his goddamned eye!”

“So what? He’s got another one.”

What did he just say? That’s it! It’s official! This place is totally fucking insane! This asshole honestly thinks it’s no big deal to slice out a guy’s eye because he’s still got another one! And he means it! This place is one hundred percent lunatic central!

“I hope they put you away for life! God knows you deserve it!”

“For that shit? Come on, officer! That’s maybe…what? A year? Two at most.”

“Do you honestly think ripping a guy’s eye out is a two-year hit? Jesus! What do you think warrants life?”

“Not this! This is rinky-dink shit! Don’t go giving me that ‘life’ bullshit! That ain’t never going to happen!”

And the worst part of it is: he’s right! They’ll probably give him five or six years, and then he’ll be right back out here, ripping some other guy’s eye out!

“How about we gouge out your fucking eye and see how much you think it’s worth!”

“What for? I didn’t do nothing!”

This guy is beyond insane! He honestly doesn’t get it! He doesn’t get it at all!

“You blinded that guy in one eye!”

“Big fucking deal! He’ll get over it.”

I can’t take this asshole anymore!

“Harper! Get me the fuck away from this asshole before I kill him!”

“You heard her! On your feet! Get in the car!”

“What for?”

“So we can take you to jail!”

“For real? You guys were serious about that?”

“Dani! Now I want to kill him!”

I can’t wait until this one goes to trial. I want to see the look on the judge’s face when he starts talking this shit. If that doesn’t get him life without parole, then there is absolutely zero fucking justice left in the world! None at all!

“Dani, we’ve got EMS!”

I don’t know what they’re going to do for this guy. God, he’s got an empty hole where his eye should be! And he’s got God only knows what hanging out of the socket! I can take just about any kind of gory, bloody, disgusting shit there is, but there’s something about torn-up eyes that just makes me want to puke my guts out! I don’t think I’m unusual, either. Harper’s right: there’s just something about eye wounds!

“Officers! What have you got?”

“A real nasty one. Someone cut this guy’s eye out with a knife.”


“See for yourselves.”

I wonder how often paramedics see shit like this? And I wonder how they treat guys like this without puking their guts out?

“Oh, yeah. That’s a bad one, all right.”

“He’s got the eye in his pocket.”

“You’re kidding, right?”

“Nope. Hey, Navy guy! Show them!”

“Right here, sir.”

“Jesus! Well, at least you saved it. Good job.”

How the hell can they be so nonchalant about this? It’s a fucking eyeball, for God’s sake! It’s a fucking human eyeball and he’s holding it in his fucking hand!

“Can you fix it, sir?”

“We can’t, but maybe the doctors can. We’ll take care of that eye for you. We don’t want to damage it.”

Is he kidding? I think it’s already pretty fucking damaged! And they’re not even flinching! Look at that! Jesus fucking Christ! You’d think he just handed them an orange!

“Come on, pal. Let’s get you into the ambulance.”

Oh, look! Harper’s going to go say goodbye to his new friend! How can he even look at that guy’s face? There’s a giant fucking hole where his eye should be!

“Guys? Take good care of him, will you? He told me he’s a Navy veteran.”

“Will do, officer.”

That’s Harper for you: once a Marine, always a Marine. God, what is that string of shit hanging out of that guy’s eye socket? Do I even want to know? I don’t think I’m ever going to wear eyeliner again! The thought of anything getting near my eye after seeing that shit? Oh, yuck!

“Hey guys? Can they really fix that shit?”

“Probably not, ma’am. If it was still attached to the nerve, maybe. But that’s completely severed. It probably didn’t do it any good sitting in his pocket, either. But hey, you never know.”

“Have you ever seen one like this before?”

“Oh, sure. You’d be amazed what some people manage to do to their eyes.”

“Do me a favor: never tell me!”

“It’s a deal. Did you get the guy that did it?”

“Yeah, he’s in custody.”

“Good deal. We’ll take it from here. Have a better one.”

Is he kidding? After that, anything has to be a better one!

Central Station. End of watch. Well, we kept our eye-slasher and released the other guy. It turns out he really was defending the victim. Sort of. I guess they take the “an eye for an eye” rule literally out here. I think I’m going to have nightmares about severed eyes for the next few days. That was quite probably the sickest, most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen in my life! Of course, tomorrow might just top it. That’s kind of the way it works on skid row.

There’s Sergeant Hendrickson at the Watch Commander’s desk. Eating what passes for dinner on Graveyard, I guess.

“Sergeant Hendrickson, are you sitting in for the Watch Commander?”

“Right now, I am. Are you guys done?”

“Finished. We handed in the rest of the reports already.”

“I heard you had a duster. Two in one week? That must’ve been fun.”

“It was an experience.”

“What about your ADW suspect?”

“We should have booked him for mayhem, but the lieutenant said book him for ADW and ask for the additional filing.”

“Mayhem? Did the victim lose a body part?”

“Yes, sir. I’m trying not to think about it.”

“It was an eye, sir. Dani had a little trouble processing it.”

Harper seems totally unfazed by that shit. I don’t know how that’s possible, but it’s true. It must be a Marine thing.

“An eye? Harper, are you telling me the victim lost an eye?”

“Yes, sir. The suspect slashed him across the face with a knife and cut it out. There was this long string of tissue hanging out of the eye socket. The guy had the severed eye in his pocket. He showed it to us. We couldn’t exactly book it as evidence, sir. But he definitely showed it to us, sir. We can vouch for it.”

“Harper, do you see I’m trying to eat, here?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And you thought I’d want to hear your shit about severed eyes and strings of tissue hanging out of the guy’s eye socket?”

“I thought you might be interested, sir.”

“You’re worse than my kid, do you know that? He likes to make people sick, too.”

“I thought it was kind of cool, sir.”

“You’re a deeply disturbed person, Harper.”

“Does that mean you don’t want to hear about it, sir?”

“Not while I’m eating, no.”

“How about after that, sir?”

“You know, the only reason I’m not killing you right now is because you’re a fellow Marine.”

“Yes, sir.”

OK, I guess it’s not a Marine thing. Harper must’ve seen too many slasher films when he was a kid.

“Get the fuck out of here and let me eat my dinner in peace. You two are end of watch. Go home.”

“Will do, sir. Are you sure you don’t want to hear about the eye?”

“Lynott, get your boot out of my face before I shoot him. Can you do that for me?”

“Yes, sir. Come on, Harper.”

“Hey, Lynott? Glad to see you’re fit as a fiddle and raring to go.”

Yeah, that’s not going away anytime soon, is it?

“Harper, tell him some more about the severed eye. You know, it looked kind of like what you’re eating, Sarge.”

“Get the fuck out of my office! Both of you! Leave!”

Hey, I was doing him a favor! Did you see his dinner? That shit on his plate didn’t look fit for human consumption!

Home at last! Busy night. I was afraid that fighting with that duster would fuck up my shoulder again, but it didn’t. Thank heaven for small miracles. What’s really weird is that this is the first night in years that I didn’t come home alone. I have to say, I really like it. And Harper doesn’t seem to mind my messy apartment.

“I owe you for today, Harper.”

“How so?”

“When we were wrestling with that duster, I was a little bit afraid you’d get all overprotective on me. But you didn’t. I really appreciate that.”

“Dani, I trust you. I know you know what you’re doing. And this isn’t going to change the way we work together. There’s no way I’d let that happen.”

Good, because that’s exactly what I was afraid might happen. To be honest, I was feeling a little overprotective of him. He’s as gung-ho as they come, and he’s not afraid to take big risks. But the last thing I want to do is fuck up the partnership. And now I know that isn’t going to happen. This really was a good decision. I just wish I’d made it sooner.

“I’m glad you said that, because I don’t want you to think you have to baby me. You don’t.”

“I know. And I meant what I said: that was impressive, the way you took charge back there. You knew exactly what to do – as usual.”

“Do you think everybody else felt that way? Some guys don’t like taking orders from a woman.”

“Dani, nobody thinks of you that way. Not in this division. They all know you’re a great cop. That’s why they listen to you. It’s just like in combat: when there’s a crisis, the best Marine steps up and, if necessary, assumes command. They do what has to be done. The mission comes first. Just like at that little riot the other night. Everyone knew you were the best cop out there, so they did exactly as you said. And it all worked out fine.”

“I don’t know. I don’t think I was the best cop out there. Sergeant Alfaro just seemed so…masterful! I’ve got to tell you, I was seriously impressed! I think he should be in charge of everything from now on. I really trust him.”

“I’ll tell him you said that.”

“Don’t you dare! Christ, he might actually believe it!”

“Hey, it might do wonders for his confidence. He might actually become the super cop he’s always dreamed of being. Maybe that’s all it would take?”

“Harper, all of the witches in Salem couldn’t cast a spell that powerful!”

“Well, you’re a witch, right? Maybe you should give it a try?”

“Why not? Ippity pippity bippity bop! Turn Sergeant Alfaro into a real cop!”

“Did it work?”

“Not a chance.”

“Well, it was worth a try.”

My apologies to any and all real witches who were offended by my irreverent attempt at a spell. My magical training began and ended with Disney films, and I never saw the Harry Potter series. Sue me.

“Hey, Harper, there’s something I’ve been wanting to do all night.”

“What’s that?”

“Kiss the crap out of you. Do you mind?”

“Not at all. I’ve been wanting to do that to you, too.”

“Then let’s not waste any more time.”

God, he is one damned good kisser! I was right: I got me the pick of the litter!

“I was thinking about how nice it was to come home after work and have someone besides Zephyr with me.”

“Pretty great, huh? As long as it’s you.”

“You say the nicest things, Harper.”

“I mean it.”

“So do I. So how about you help me get out of these boots and combat pants and into something a bit more interesting?”

“Exactly how interesting?”

“You haven’t seen my lingerie collection. I’ve got a few good ones. But you’ll have to show me your list so I can add to them.”

“My list?”

“Oh, please! Every guy in the world has a list of all the naughty lingerie he wants to see his girlfriend wearing. Don’t tell me you don’t have one, too!”

“Well, when you put it that way.”

“Got any other lists you want to show me?”

“Such as?”

“Come on, Harper! You know what I mean! Things you want us to do together.”

“Oh, I can put together a few lists!”

“Good, because I definitely want to see them. And don’t worry. I’m flexible. In more ways than one, as a matter of fact.”

“You’re going to kill me with that kind of talk, you know that?”

“Kill you? Not a chance, mister! But maybe I can make you scream like you make me scream? Shall we give it a try?”

“Let’s give it more than just a try.”

“Wait there. I’ll be right back.”

This is definitely how we should cap off a great shift! It sure beats pizza and TV with a sarcastic cat. Don’t get me wrong: I still love Zephyr. He just can’t make me scream the way Harper does. Oh, shit! Did that ever sound wrong!

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