The Thousand Words

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Chapter 39

Exactly seventeen minutes later I received a text from Bruno. The team was two blocks over getting ready to enter the house. I texted back saying I had seen no movement on the first or second floor other than when the two individuals who kidnapped Jane came out. I quickly added the possibility everyone was in the basement. I wasn’t certain but wanted to give him as much information as possible. I didn’t want to see any officer getting hurt or killed due to my lack of action. Bruno thanked me with a quick text to be ready in about five minutes and to let him know if I saw any additional activity in the house.

Nothing happened for a full ten minutes. The street and house were completely quiet with no movement at all. Even the wind had stopped which caused the entire neighborhood to appear frozen in time. The only sound was my heart racing in my chest, getting ready for action. Just as I had begun to wonder if there was a problem, all hell broke loose.

In what must have been a well-coordinated and rehearsed plan, several independent actions happened simultaneously. First off, multiple police vehicles silently converged on the house from all different directions. There were two armored strike vehicles leading the charge followed by numerous police vehicles, both marked and unmarked. A dozen or so police officers in body armor got out and ran to surround the house, half of which gathered near the front door. At the same time, a couple officers on foot emerged from between two homes farther up the block. They set up for long range support carrying longer rifles which were aimed at the windows of the house.

I also saw a couple officers in various locations with binoculars and radios. Those officers would be used as spotters watching the events unfold. The one located closest to me looked over and gave me a thumbs up indicating it was going down soon and he knew that I was there. It was one of my dad’s coworkers I met at the funerals. I nodded back my appreciation and he went back to work.

Once everyone was in place, the neighborhood went completely still for a heartbeat to ensure everyone was in position and ready to go. The entire team must have been given a silent command through their headsets, since they all exploded at the same time. The front door was smashed in allowing the officers to invade the house. I had wondered before if the forced entry was necessary as it appeared to be unlocked before. I quickly chastised myself for questioning their methods.

As the chaos unfolded, I was taking as many pictures of the house, officers, and the surrounding area as fast as the equipment would let me. Having something to do was actually a bit of relief and prevented me from running into the house in a vain attempt to help.

It seemed like an eternity since the officers had entered, but nothing was happening where I could see. Then a few moments later, the staccato of gunfire echoed out from the open doors of the house. First a few pops, then a barrage of gunfire. From my vantage point, I could see nothing other than the muzzle flashes from inside. As quickly as it had started, the gunfire ceased.

From behind one of the curtains on the first floor, I saw some frantic movement. It appeared to be a bunch of people who were moving fast. In an instant, the curtains were torn down and the window opened, allowing four individuals to jump out and scatter in different directions. I took a few more pictures and then simply watched the events unfold in front of me out of pure curiosity.

Two of the individuals were instantly tackled by officers who stayed outside when the incursion started in case of this exact situation. The other two started running down the street in my general direction. Neither appeared to have any weapons and were simply making an attempt to escape. One of the spotters watching the action dropped his binoculars and took off after them giving chase, falling in directly behind both of them.

Unwilling to let anyone go who may be involved in all of this or have vital information, I opened my car door and took off in support.

“I am on your six, officer,” I screamed out to the spotter up ahead, letting him know it was me who was behind him helping give chase. I reached into my jacket pocket grabbing my dad’s gun. It felt foreign and comfortable at the same time. I was not used to holding a gun in situations like this but its perceived protection was appreciated.

All three of them were a good thirty yards in front of me but I was gaining quickly. The two criminals split in different directions, one going left down an alley and the other turning right. They instinctively knew splitting up was the best possibility for escape. The officer in front of me followed the one to the left, yelling and pointing for me to follow the one going right.

When I made the turn down the alley, I had closed the gap to about twenty yards. The training for the Flying Pig Marathon had finally paid off. I was unsure what I would do when I caught up to him. I was hoping intuition and reaction would take over. The person I was chasing made a quick right between two houses, dumping over a full garbage can in an effort to slow me down. I carefully hurdled over the can, chasing the subject to the backyard of the house.

When I rounded the corner, I was startled to find no sign of the person I was chasing. They had maybe had a four or five-second head start but they seemed to have simply vanished. I stopped in my tracks and quickly surveyed the scene, looking where he may have gone. Left, right and forward were all completely empty. Only one option remained. I quickly spun around and crouched as I turned, only to be tackled by the very person who I was chasing. It was a crushing blow. The gun was knocked out of my hands and fell into the darkness.

I was getting punched in my side by the person who was on top of me. Each connection sent a spark of pain through my chest. I started flailing my arm and legs attempting to get the attacking man off of me. A solid blow to the left side of his head did the trick. Scrambling up to my feet, I steadied myself for the next attack. There was no thought of the flight response. I was committed to fighting.

We circled each other in the darkness of the backyard. The ground was mainly dirt and empty of any obstacles, so we had nothing in our way. Growing up my dad had insisted on teaching me self-defense in order to protect myself. They had never before been useful other than a few scrapes with fellow classmates during after school encounters. My skills were rusty, but I was ready and focused.

After a few fake attacks and feints, my attacker lunged at me attempting to tackle me once again for a few blows. I dodged to the side, kicking out his legs as he passed, forcing him down to the ground. He came up quickly throwing some hastily grabbed dirt into my face. Instinctively, I turned my head and put my hands up in front of my eyes as a block. It was a mistake. I knew it right away but would make the same error every time. He charged again, knocking me over on the ground next to the fence from the house behind.

It was then he connected with a heavy blow to the side of my left face for which I saw stars. My head exploded with pain. I had never been hit so hard in all of my life and didn’t know it was even possible. Thinking he most likely kicked me instead of using his fists, I scrambled to the right expecting another hard blow. My quick maneuver must have worked, since the next kick glanced off of the side of my arm.

As I crawled against the fence, I felt the familiar shape of the gun which had been jarred from my hand at the beginning of the fight. Picking it up, I dove to the right out of harm’s way and spun around to face my attacker once again. Even in the darkness, he had noticed the gun was now pointed directly at his center mass. He froze and slowly brought his hands above his head.

“Lay down on the ground. Now!” I screamed at him. “I will shoot you.”

My attacker slowly made his way to the ground and put his hands on his head. I backed away a couple of yards while still keeping the gun pointed directly at him. The police officers had no idea where we were at, so my only option was to yell for help. After a minute a couple of officers carrying flashlights rounded the corner with their weapons drawn, sweeping back and forth from the attacker laying down on the ground and me standing over him. In the darkness, I couldn’t blame them for being confused. I quickly dropped the gun and raised my hands while I dropped to the ground defenselessly. The last thing I wanted to add to my list of firsts was to be shot.

An officer was quickly on top of me cuffing my hands behind my back. Neither officer was familiar, so my attempts to let them know my name and what I was doing there were unsuccessful. Fortunately, as I was being led out from behind the house, the spotter who I had followed was there and called over to the cops.

“It might not look it, but he is one of ours. I’ll take him.” He smiled at me which was half apologetic for me being placed in cuffs and half thankful I was able to catch the one he couldn’t chase himself. He undid my cuffs and then sat me down on the curb, shining the light in my face.

“You have one heck of a bruise on the side of your face. Do you need medical attention?” he asked, making sure I didn’t have a concussion from the blow.

“Not now. What I need is to find out if they found Jane.” There was time to heal later.

“My radio broke during my scuffle with the runner I chased.” He looked exactly the same when I first saw him running after the suspect. His struggle must not have been much at all. “I haven’t heard any updates. Let’s head back to the area and see what we can find out. By the way, I’m Detective Michael Frawn in case you don’t remember. Your dad was a great man.”

“I know,” I said, both lying about knowing his name and agreeing about my dad. “Thanks for getting me out of those cuffs. Hopefully, this is the last time I will be in them for something other than by choice.”

He laughed out loud and handed me my gun back. “Put the weapon away and make sure no one sees it when we get back to the house.”

We walked slowly back towards the house. My head was pounding something fierce and my equilibrium was slightly off, so I didn’t complain. I was eager to find out what happened, but the last thing I needed was to pass out in front of half of the police force. My pride simply wouldn’t allow it.

We paused a hundred yards away from the house next to a group of uniformed officers. There appeared to be a flurry of activity still happening. “Wait here,” the detective said as he walked over to the house. I stood by myself anxiously waiting for some sight of what happened. Three separate ambulances pulled up to the house next to the original police vehicles which led the assault. A number of paramedics streamed into the house along with a couple of stretchers.

A few minutes later one of the stretchers was carried out of the house along with three paramedics providing help. The person on the stretcher was hard to see from this distance, but they were small in size, not matching anyone I saw enter the house. It appeared to be Jane. My heart sank hoping both it was and wasn’t her at the same time. I wanted desperately for her to be found but not wanting her to be harmed at all.

I started walking towards the house, but one of the nearby officers told me to stop and said I was told to wait here. The ambulance with Jane possibly aboard immediately left with the lights flashing and siren blaring. All I could do was hope and wait for the best.

After a few minutes, the familiar shape of Bruno walked out of the house and headed in my direction. I hadn’t seen him enter the house. He must have done so when I was chasing one of the escapers. He walked directly over at me and got a big smile when he saw my face.

“I remember telling you to stay in the car,” he asked me most likely knowing what had happened. “That is going to be a wicked bruise and black eye. Let’s go get you some medical attention.” He grabbed my arm to support me and started leading me to one of the ambulances.

“Screw any help,” I said standing my ground. “What happened? What aren’t you telling me?”

“I am simply making sure you are not hurt. You look a little wobbly on your feet and I haven’t seen swelling pop up so damn quickly.”

I raised my hand to the left side of my face and it was swollen and tender to the touch. Pain radiated through my head once again, but I didn’t care. I simply looked at Bruno and waited for him to talk.

“Preliminary information has four bad guys killed with another two wounded and six arrested for a total of an even dozen. One officer was grazed with return fire but is going to be fine. Maybe three or four stitches needed. To be honest, you look worse than he does.”

“What about Jane? Was she there? Is she all right?” I asked fearing the worst since he hadn’t mentioned anything about her.

“She was there in the basement with everyone else, just like you thought. It seems she was drugged. She is unconscious but the medics said it was not an overdose or anything similar. Jane appears to simply be sleeping. Maybe knocked out to keep her from fighting or trying to escape. You know Jane. She probably tried taking all of them on.”

Bruno took a few breaths to calm himself down. He was probably as relieved as I was.

“We did it, Alex. We rescued Jane.”

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