Prevention Force

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Chapter 9

Spoct and Healy patrol the Neighborhood of Play in their flying chrome convertible. She says, “I’m just saying it’s strange. That’s all.”

“That’s the nature of statistics. You’re always playing the percentages.”

“That 3% has to come from somewhere.”

“You’re still on that? The department considers the matter closed.”

“When I close a case, I like it to be 100% closed.”

“Nothing is 100%. Even when a light bulb is off, a small number of atoms are still emitting light. So technically, even when it’s off, it’s still a little bit on.”

“That’s crazy.”

“Welcome to reality.”

“Ain’t it a bloody shame?”

They fly past Martin Luther King Ice Skating Rink. Loudspeakers blare Holly Jolly Christmas. The smell of food cart veggieburgers fills the air. Children scream, laugh, and fall on their bums. Some ride ice bicycles, others float a foot above the surface on air skates.

Spoct spots a father carrying a toddler on his shoulders. “He should be careful. You never know when a patch of ice is going to jump out of nowhere.”

“You worry too much. They do a good job clearing it.” City crews walk the pathways, melting the eight inches that fell overnight with powerful flame throwers mounted on their backs.

A voice breaks out over the car radio. “Bank robbery in progress. All units report to Eastman Savings and Loan on Chestnut.”

Spoct chuckles and replies, “Very funny, Garcia. Stopping kidding around.”

“This isn’t a joke.”

Partners look at each other.

Spoct cries, “Fryin’ frijoles!,” and barks.

Liels punches the car into screeched acceleration. “This can’t be happening.”

The timing is perfect. They turn the curve, and the bank is right there, a block away. Two figures covered head to toe in spandex run out. One wielding what looks like an old fashioned machine gun.

Healy says, “I can’t believe what I’m seeing.”

The robbers jump into the waiting VW van covered in brightly colored paintings of daisies, peace signs, and the words FLOWER POWER and LOVE.

Spoct is giddy. “Rubber tires! I finally get a chance to use the stop tape!”

The van peels out, leaving a dirty cloud of petroleum exhaust, and heads straight towards Spoct & Healy.

“This is like taking candy from a baby.” Spoct tracks them on dashboard radar. “Locked on target.” He presses a button. The missile fires out the front of the convertible and lands right in the path of the van, spreading a mass of ribbons over the road surface. The vehicle swerves to avoid it, but drives right over the curls of tape, which stick to the tires, tangle, and wrap around the axles, becoming hopelessly bound up. The van only gets several yards before the wheels lock, and it skids to a stop. Smoke rises from the wheel wells where the tape burns from friction.

On the rear bumper is a sticker,

I ❤ Rochester

from back before the city changed its name in honor of Susan B. Anthony.

The doors burst open, and three fugitives take off running in separate directions.

The passenger sprints fast in a serpentine path. He is tall with a body builder physique. His muscular arm rapid-fires the machine gun into the sky.

Liesl says, “Bullets? Really? Now I’ve seen it all.”

Spoct says,”A hippy van? Now, antique weapons? Who are these guys?”

“Maybe they’re time travelers from the 1970s.”

Several police cruisers have the street closed off. Smoob is closest to the gunman, fifty feet away. She stands in the middle of the road encased in a clear plastic tube. The gun fires directly at her, and the bullets bounce off like water from a hose. He turns the machine gun towards Healy, who holds a blanket of wrap in front of herself. The blanket stops the slugs and they drop and clink at her feet.

Smoob fires a shoulder bazooka which throws a cellophane tarp over the assailant. The bullets punch long bumps in the sheet as it catches the stream.

Hatch shoots a second wrapper over him, which forces him down to his knees. Under the covers the sound is deafening and the metal rains on him. He stops firing. Struggles to stand.

Healy and Spoct pile on third and fourth blankets. The weight flattens him down to the ground. Man and weapon are sealed securely, looking like a freshly wrapped action figure.

Hatch throws off his tube and runs to the man to cut a hole for him to breath. He pulls off the mask and waves away the stink of alcohol from his breath. Hatch yells to Spoct, “I’ve got him. Go!”

Spoct takes off like a rocket after the driver, who is heading for MLK fountain.

Hatch says to the action figure. “No, you did not bring a gun into my house.”

The man has nothing to add but a sorry, almost childlike, look.

Spoct quickly catches up to number two, an average-sized man, half way down the long ramp leading to the waterfall. The K9 leaps, knocks him down, and in one graceful chomp clamps something to his back. As the man starts to get up, the device telescopes out two rods, which each telescope out two more rods. Before he can rise off his hands and knees, he is trapped insided a custom-built cell.

Smoob arrives, saying, “Nice jump.”

“Not bad for 58 in dog years.” He sloppily licks the man’s grimacing face.

“Get off of me you mangy mutt!,” he says slurring his words.

Smoob reprimands him. “Hey, show some respect for the uniform.”

The man quiets down, and Spoct goes back to licking him, which he endures grudgingly.

Healy pursues the third robber down Monroe Ave, a short stocky man lugging a heavy duffel bag. She gets into her stride. He looks back to see her gaining on him and ditches the bag, spilling thousands of bills onto the street, increasing his clip considerably.

Healy doesn’t slow down for the money but presses on with a determined look. He knocks over a green garbage bin to impede her. Garbage spills onto her feet.

She cries out in surprise but hurdles over it, and sticks to him with a vengeance. She grits her teeth and runs harder. “You’re not getting away so you might as well stop.”

“You stop, lady.” He runs into an alley and jumps a wooden fence with impressive skill.

Healy follows and scales the fence too.

Going down Marshall Street he starts to gain distance, until he comes to the park. He slips on the dog poop covered grass, and tumbles, rolling into more poop.

Healy catches up to him, but when she hits the grass she goes into a long slide. They are both covered in muck and slipping around trying to get up.

The man rises.

She yells, “Let’s talk about this.”

He laughs. “Oh yeah, I heard that one before.” He runs up the pedestrian bridge, leaving sloppy tracks behind, heading towards the ABVI Goodwill.

Healy stands, but doesn’t chase him. She takes a deep slow breath to relax and collect her thoughts. She watches him run on the covered overpass like a frantic rat through a maze as she calmly pulls a silver whistle from her belt. She blows into, but it is too dirty. She cleans it on her shirt. Trains it on him. When he reaches the peak of the bridge she blows it. It makes a high pitched squeal.

The sound goes in his ear, and he drops dead asleep in his tracks. His momentum carries him into a roll down the ramp, stopping hard at the concrete wall at the bottom.

She walks over. Looks at him snoring deeply. Puts her whistle back on her belt. She presses a button, and in a minute her car shows up, driving itself down Clinton Ave to meet her at the end of the bridge. She pulls the robber’s mask off, winces at the smell of tequila, and takes a picture of his face. His information comes on the computer. She drags him to the car, and struggles to lift him over the side, and dump him into the back seat. She presses another button and a clear bubble seals him in.

Spoct arrives. “Nice collar.”

“Thanks.”

“I never saw you run like that.”

“Not bad for 53. I whistled him.”

“I can see that.” He smiles a long toothy dog grin. “Works every time.” The sleeper appears to be having a pleasant dream. “Another satisfied customer.”

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