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Rock Bottom

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You are cordially invited to ride-along with a dead man. Fasten your seatbelt. It's going to be a bumpy ride.

Thriller / Mystery
Quintin Peterson
Age Rating:

A Thriller

The unmarked police vehicle sped away from the bloody crime scene into the night, AC/DC’s Highway to Hell blaring from the radio perpetually tuned to Classic Rock 105.9. The hurtling black Crown Vic equipped with the Police Interceptor Package and permeated with the acrid aromas of blood and sweat turned off Chesapeake Street, SE onto Southern Avenue on two wheels and burned rubber when the other two tires finally returned to the asphalt. His dirty blonde hair matted to his feverish head by cold perspiration, the right sides of his gray polyester sport coat, button-down powder blue shirt, body armor, underwear and blue jeans wet, warm and sticky and stained a deep burgundy, the undercover narcotics officer flew like a bat out of hell. His mouth and throat filled with the metal-like taste of his own blood, his mind on the satchel stuffed with cash and crack rocks resting on the front passenger seat, Detective Moe Bundy made his getaway.

One hand gripping the steering wheel and the other pressed hard against the oozing bullet wound in the right side of his neck, his bloodshot eyes stinging from the saline-rich sweat flowing from his furrowed forehead and constantly blinking, Moe fought not only to maintain control of the careening car, but to simply remain conscious. Blood-drenched and woozy, he struggled to focus. Like a trucker who had been on the road for far too long or a drunk driver, he fought second by second to keep his eyes open and his vehicle on the roadway. Regardless, he was dying for just one hit of one of those big, fat rocks beckoning to him from the satchel on the seat next to him; ached for it deep in the pit of his belly.

Moe had polished off a pint of Smirnoff’s and hit his last rock in his unmarked police cruiser just moments before he walked into apartment 202 of the building on Condon Terrace and opened fire on “The Devil” and his crew. His high had worn off long ago, 5 minutes or more. An eternity. And the numbness brought on by shock coupled with the charge of the crack cocaine seemed to be wearing off. Along with the throbbing in his neck he felt with each heartbeat, twinges of pain were now encroaching. But now definitely wasn’t the time to take a hit and chase away the pain. Damn it! He had to keep his head, plot his next move, he had to concentrate!

Severely handicapped by massive blood loss, he made a Herculean effort moment to moment to focus. His eyes watering, constantly blinking, and swiftly closing to slits and then opening wide, he struggled to decide, Right or left onto Wheeler Road? Right. At the last second, he slammed on the brakes and yanked the steering wheel hard over, tires screeching as he whipped right onto Wheeler Road, out of the District and into Southern Maryland. He stood on the accelerator pedal, still fleeing when no one was chasing him, leaving a trail of smoke and burned rubber as he fishtailed up the road, bobbing and weaving through traffic. He had to put distance between him and the bloodbath he’d left behind on Condon Terrace, but more importantly, he needed immediate medical attention, though he had no idea where to get it off the books. His squeeze Sizzle would know. All he had to do was get to her.

The job Sizzle laid out for him was supposed to have been a cakewalk, but the robbery of drug dealer Marcus “The Devil” Delaney had gone horribly awry. Typical. This fiasco was another fine mess his self-serving side piece had gotten him into; yet another precarious predicament. But, as always, Moe chalked it up to bad luck, not bad planning.

Moe Bundy had been kickin’ it with Sizzle for about a year, ever since he’d made her acquaintance at the Ragin’ Cajun Supper Club up on Mount Olivet Road, an eternally dark and smoky Ptomaine Domain specializing in so-so pseudo Cajun cuisine and outstanding authentic pole dancing.

The night he met her, Moe was sitting at a table in the back of the club when he raised his bottle of Budweiser to his lips, but stopped in mid-drink when he caught sight of the luscious and leggy scantily clad beauty strutting out onto center stage on three-inch stiletto pumps. Curvaceous and caramel colored; she stood five feet, six inches tall, and weighed about 120 pounds. Her hair was long, lush and dark, her breasts ample and firm, her stomach flat, and her legs shapely and strong. He couldn’t put his finger on her race. Brazilian? Pacific Islander? East Asian? Middle Eastern? (Much later in their affiliation, she had told him that her father was a Seminole Indian and her mother was Sri Lankan. Once he researched Sri Lanka on the Internet to learn where the hell it was, her extraordinary beauty made sense to him then.)

The young honey’s age was questionable. Her fake ID said she was 21, and she looked it, but that’s how old one legally had to be to strip. But the truth was she could have been anywhere between 15 and 22. Moe didn’t let that bother him though: he wanted her. And what Moe wanted, Moe got. He had no qualms about being a bad man and cheating on his wife to get what he wanted, so he didn’t let the possibility that Sizzle was underage hold him back. It didn’t really matter; bad is bad…and he’d already done worse. And if being bad was all it took to get next to the fresh and tender stripper, he didn’t want to be good.

“Gentlemen,” said a baritone announcer with a mic inside of a booth, “Please put your hands together and give a warm welcome to our newest dancer, the red hot and smokin’… Sizzle! Yes! If she was a car, she’d be a showroom fresh little red Corvette!”

Holding but not drinking from his bottle of beer, Moe left his Marlboro smoldering in the ashtray, mesmerized as Sizzle, nimble and lithe, alternately had sex with the pole center stage, then moved closer to the oglers hanging close to the periphery of the stage, her garter filling with lengthwise folded one dollar bills, gyrating and then posing her way all the way through the pulsating rhythms of Nasty Girl, a song written by Prince for his protégé girl group Vanity 6.

Sizzle didn’t reveal to Moe that her real name was Rachel Young until about six months into their relationship, which began the night they’d met. Their first, and many subsequent dates, cost him $200 and the price of a dime bag of weed, a bottle of Moët champagne and a room at a cheap motel on New York Avenue, NE. But in a month or so when their relationship blossomed, he rented her an apartment on the 4100 block of Georgia Avenue, NW, across the street from the Foxy Playground where she also danced whenever she needed some more quick and easy cash. After that he no longer had to put cash on the barrelhead…at least not every time he stopped by. It came out cheaper for him in the short run…but not in the long run when he started dabbling in cocaine with her and graduated to crack a month later.

Moe had thought snorting cocaine and having marathon sex with Sizzle was the pinnacle, but powder paled by comparison to rock. Inhaling the pungent smoke of the far more potent crack provided an immediate, euphoric rush. He’d let Sizzle hit the glass pipe first. When she gave him the nod, he’d hit the pipe and then she’d mount him as he lay on his back holding the intoxicating vapor deep in his lungs for as long as he could, exhaling the cool smoke slowly as she rode him like a Preakness jockey. And on and on into the night, stopping briefly now and again as needed to reload rocks into their ubiquitous singed glass pipe and inhaling the acrid vapors to refresh their insatiable lust. It was heaven. The crack all by itself was almost better than sex, but Sizzle had skills like no other woman he’d ever encountered, especially his timid spouse Martha, with whom he had grown up with in Crofton, Maryland and who had been his Arundel High School sweetheart. Sizzle was magnificent. The one-two punch of Sizzle and smoke had Moe twisted.

* * *

Moe swerved to avoid a white Chevy Tahoe that seemed to come out of nowhere and stood on the horn. He swore under his breath. Classic Rock 105.9 broadcast the Eagle’s Life in the Fast Lane as, fighting to keep his watery and blinking eyes open; Moe Bundy sped away up Wheeler Road.

* * *

Even when Moe eventually became strapped for cash to pay the mortgage on his home in the suburbs, the rent for his lust nest on Georgia Avenue, the utility bills at both places, his car notes, food, formula and diapers for baby Moe, and his pudgy, white bread wife’s Pilates classes, he always found a way to cover it all plus the price of heaven…until the overtime money he was making dried up. Without it, he was close to hitting rock bottom and being on skid row. Regardless, he kept on a good face at work and at home, for the most part, and continued to make solid drug busts and excuse his long absences from home by claiming to his wife that he was working overtime to fight the good fight in the War on Drugs. He was a frontline soldier and all hands were needed on deck. And it worked. Even when he hit a rough patch and his police powers were revoked and he was placed on non-contact status and working day work at the Property Division, his wife Martha had been none the wiser.

Moe’s suspension came as the result of a stupid move he’d made after bingeing on Crack and working for three days straight. His mind muddled, he had left behind his notebook at a Crack house where he’d served arrest and search warrants. When he realized his mistake an hour later, he returned but could not find it. Later that night, streetwalker Zenaida Austin, his confidential informant for the raid, was found tortured and murdered in a cheap motel on New York Avenue, his notebook left at the gory scene. Distraught and remorseful, Moe confessed his mistake to Detective Dave Crawford.

It wasn’t Dave who ratted him out. On the contrary, Superintendent of Detectives Ray McCann was advised by Commander of Homicide Branch Jed Cullinane that Moe’s notebook was found at the motel room murder scene. McCann had then informed Moe’s boss, Lt. “Blackjack Zack” Braxton. Blackjack Zack in turn revoked Moe’s police powers and placed him on limited duty, non-contact status while the Internal Affairs Division (IAD) investigated the matter. As Blackjack Zack so eloquently put it, “Whether you blundered and accidentally left your notebook at the crack house, left it there intentionally to surreptitiously pass on the identity of your CI for the raid to a third party, or chopped Zenaida Austin to pieces personally, it is evident that you are responsible for that young woman’s death. An Internal Affairs investigation of the matter is warranted to determine if your act was one of criminal intent or merely gross negligence. And if, God forbid, the press gets wind of this and this mess gets out, the fact that we investigated this matter will not only help the department defend itself if the victim’s survivors file a lawsuit against the department, but against an allegation that the department doesn’t protect witnesses and informants. Hell, it’s hard enough to get people to come forward for fear of their lives and your actions have made it that much harder.”

Moe weathered the storm. IAD detectives determined that he had been exhausted from working overtime fighting the War on Drugs in the weeks prior to the unfortunate incident and had merely made a mistake when he left his notebook at the crack house. He was reinstated to full duty status, with only a reprimand placed in his personnel file, which would be removed after one year, provided he kept his nose clean during that time period.

The beauty of being placed on limited duty though was his non-contact assignment in the Property Division: he stole dozens of seized handguns slated for destruction and sold or traded them on the street for crack. The downside was that months after he worked there, ballistics in nonfatal shootings and murders all over the city were being traced back to guns that had supposedly been melted down at a smelting plant in Baltimore, Maryland and turned into manhole covers. IAD was all over it, looking at everyone who worked there prior to the scheduled destruction date of the firearms in question, and the Chief of Police had ordered new security measures be implemented, including the installation of additional video cameras throughout the Property Division.

Yeah, it was a real hustle coming up with all his other expenses and the price of heaven. But that was cool. All that really mattered to him was a handful of crack rocks and Sizzle and a few hours to enjoy them. He was flying high and never feared hitting rock bottom.

His cash flow problems generated by his and Sizzle’s drug addiction dictated a series of desperate acts to make ends meet that, if the good times were to continue to roll, were inevitable. Although he had thought up a few on his own, Sizzle had been the mastermind of most of their moves, including the debacle on Condon Terrace. It was she who suggested that he short the cash and product he seized during drug busts, pocket the difference, and place into evidence less than half of what was actually confiscated. So far, not one of the defendants had complained and even if one did, it would be the word of a scum sucking drug dealer against the word of a decorated and celebrated narcotics officer. In fact, he had the best arrest record in the Narcotics and Special Investigations Division.

The thought of his sterling reputation among his peers in law enforcement caused Moe to involuntarily stick out his chest with pride for an instant, but he was immediately jolted back to the stark reality of his present dire situation, bleeding profusely from the neck and fleeing from a multiple-murder scene in an unmarked police car.

Classic Rock 105.9 broadcast ZZ Top’s Me So Stupid as he whipped the rumbling Crown Vic left off of Wheeler Road onto St. Barnabas Road and then decided it was best that he slow his roll so he wouldn’t draw attention to himself. He eased up off the gas and cruised slightly above the posted speed limit. No worries. At this speed, he should rendezvous with Sizzle on the parking lot of the Arbor View Apartment complex on Brinkley Road in Temple Hills, Maryland in about ten minutes or so, traffic permitting. She’d know what to do…

* * *

Sizzle had known what to do when drug runner Blinky Felder bragged to her about his standing in notorious drug dealer Marcus “The Devil” Delaney’s organization and blabbed the man’s entire operation. “The Devil” had a hell of a set up.

Delaney had a fleet of candy trucks operating all over D.C., but they dispensed more than just goodies for the kids, the drivers also sold crack. He also had a fleet of “pizza delivery” vehicles operating all over the city, complete with fake roof signs declaring, “Mama Mia’s Pizza.” The “pizza deliverymen” carried empty insulated pizza cases to customers’ homes and delivered significant orders of crack cocaine.

In different neighborhoods all over town, he had apartments where he transacted business personally, picking up cash and dropping off product. Sizzle learned the time and the place for tonight’s business on Condon Terrace, as well as how many people would likely be there. Yeah, that dummy told Sizzle everything and then Sizzle told Moe.


Yeah, Sizzle had given him the lowdown on The Devil’s operation and his rep didn’t scare Moe one bit.

Marcus Delaney had gotten his well-deserved street name the instant he torched Francisco “Big Boy” Longus a couple of years back. Everybody knew the story, but Delaney had gotten away with the gruesome murder because witnesses were too terrified to finger him.

Big Boy had been ducking Delaney for some time because Delaney had discovered that Big Boy had been dealing on Delaney’s turf. Big Boy was as nervous as a hooker in church. No, scared shitless was more accurate. He kept moving around, never spending more than a few hours at any one place. If he kept moving, he was sure, Delaney wouldn’t find him. He also changed cars frequently. The night Big Boy got burned; he was going to borrow his boy Pee Wee’s car, a rusted, blue 1970 Chevy Nova.

After looking the area over carefully for a while, Big Boy exited Pee Wee’s place located in the Barry Farm public housing project and walked briskly to the Nova, key in hand. He unlocked the door, but before he could climb into the car and squeeze behind the steering wheel, someone behind him yelled, “Hey, muthafucka!”

Big Boy spun around and stood face to face with Marcus Delaney, who held a…mayonnaise jar…filled with liquid. A burning rag, which was soaked with the liquid, hung from a hole cut into the lid of the jar. Big Boy’s eyes widened in terror when he realized what Delaney was holding.

Delaney whispered, “Just so you know, your boy Pee Wee dimed you out for an eight ball of crack. Welcome to hell!”

With all of his might, Delaney hurled the incendiary device at Big Boy’s forehead, making sure that the glass would shatter and cover the fat boy’s nappy head and bovine shoulders.

The Mega Molotov Cocktail was Delaney’s Special Blend of gasoline, soap chips, and Joy dishwashing liquid. It was perfection. Delaney swore by it. “Accept no substitutes,” he always said.

The fat boy instantly burst into flames. Big Boy, a huge fireball lighting the night, wailed like a banshee as he ran blindly, bouncing off of parked cars and utility poles, and falling and getting up and running and falling and getting up and running until he disappeared out of sight around a corner and all that remained were his diminishing screams.

All the while, Delaney laughed raucously.

Those who observed the horror exclaimed: “Daaamn!” “Oh, shit!” “He set that mu-fu on fire!” “He’s the devil!”

Delaney didn’t give a damn who witnessed it because he knew not one of them would have the nerve to tell Five-O what they had seen. Whether Big Boy Longus lived or died, it didn’t matter to Delaney; he had made his meaning plain:


Moe was annoyed by a slow moving silver colored Lincoln Continental in front of him and stood on the horn. He took advantage of the Crown Vic P71’s 4.6 L Modular V8 and whipped around the luxury car, passed it on the left, and then abruptly whipped back into the right lane in front of the Lincoln, cutting it off and forcing its operator to brake to avoid a collision.

The sights and sounds of the swaying Lincoln’s screeching brakes and smoking tires behind him, Classic Rock 105.9 still broadcasting ZZ Top’s Me So Stupid as his bloodshot eyes watered, constantly blinked, and swiftly closed to slits and then opened wide, Moe Bundy sped away down St. Barnabas Road.

* * *

Yeah, that stupid-ass Blinky’s info had been dead on and Moe had fearlessly gone up against The Devil and his minions. The only trouble Moe encountered couldn’t have been foreseen; it had just been bad luck. Moe had made a big mistake when he believed that all five of the men he’d shot were dead. One wasn’t. While Moe frantically removed rubber-banded stacks of filthy and wrinkled $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, and $100 bills from one gym bag and stuffed them into another gym bag containing a large quantity of packaged crack, The Devil shot him in the neck while he wasn’t looking. Moe instantly drew his service handgun and shot the dirty bastard in the forehead. He then quickly moved to him and kicked the shiny gat from Delaney’s dead hand.

Funny thing was Moe thought he recognized The Devil’s gun. Could it be? Yes. That nickel-plated Colt .45 semiautomatic handgun with the cracked ornate Ivory grip was unmistakable; it was one of the guns he had stolen from the Property Division and sold on the street for Crack a few months back. Son of a bitch. Imagine that. Sizzle would get a kick out of that one! Moe had laughed aloud right there in the room full of bloody corpses.

Like he always said, “Never underestimate the power of bad luck.”

* * *

Classic Rock 105.9 broadcast Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze as Moe whipped the growling Crown Vic off of St. Barnabas Road right onto Hagan Road, bobbing and weaving through the traffic. It wouldn’t be long now; he’d be reunited with Sizzle soon and everything would be alright.

His squeeze Sizzle would get him medical attention, he’d clean up the police cruiser, and they could play with their money naked on the king size bed in the lust nest and smoke crack and screw to their hearts’ content and then he could take Moe Junior and the missus on a trip to Disney World next week, like he’d promised…

* * *

Jimi still belting and strumming Purple Haze, his neck throbbing beneath his hand, Detective Moe Bundy, blood-drenched, woozy, and cold like in the dead of winter even though it was summertime, turned off Hagan Road right onto Temple Hill Road. He traveled a short distance and then turned right onto Fisher Road, and navigated the winding road a while and then made a left onto Brinkley Road. Finally, he turned left into the Arbor View Apartments complex. He drove to the back of the parking lot to a poorly lit area, pulled next to a dumpster, and put the cruiser in park. His left hand fell from the steering wheel to his wet lap. Shivering, Moe rested his head against the headrest, closed his bloodshot eyes, and sighed. He’d made it.

Pale as Dracula, his teeth clicking like castanets, his eyes watering, constantly blinking, and swiftly closing to slits and then opening wide, Moe spotted Sizzle dressed in a black mini skirt and red tube top walking toward the police cruiser and he smiled a weak smile, teeth stained with thick, frothy blood. Everything would be alright now.

As soon as Sizzle reached the police cruiser, she snatched opened the driver’s door and eyeballed him unsympathetically.

Eyes half-closed and wandering, Moe gurgled, “Siz-zle, hel-help…”

As though she were far away, Moe heard her say, “Put away your gun, Blinky. The Devil and his boys saved us the trouble. Grab the bag off the front seat and let’s get out of here!”

His squeeze Sizzle slammed the door in his face and Blinky Felder, armed with a semiautomatic handgun and wearing a Redskins jersey and half-wearing baggy stonewashed jeans hanging far beneath his skinny ass, quickly opened the passenger door and grabbed the satchel from the shotgun seat. Moe tried to go for his service handgun in the holster on his left hip, but his arm would not move. Blinky smirked at him and slammed the door.

His bloodshot eyes watering and constantly blinking, his vision blurred by stinging teardrops, Moe watched helplessly as his precious squeeze, her luscious ass filling out her miniskirt nicely, her stilettos clicking on the pavement like cat claws; and Blinky, holding up his sagging jeans with one hand and carrying in the other the bag containing all of Moe’s hopes and dreams, ran away together back the way the girl of his nightmares had come. He moaned.

Moe felt like he was falling, falling…

Classic Rock 105.9 broadcast Three Dog Night’s Mama Told Me (Not to Come) as Detective Moe Bundy, blood-drenched and woozy and unable to move, his vision blurred by stinging tears, watched Sizzle and Blinky run off into the night and disappear around the corner of one of the apartment complex’s many buildings. The narcotics officer’s cold white hand stained with streaks of burgundy finally fell from the bullet wound in the right side of his neck. His bloodshot eyes watered and constantly blinked, closed to slits, opened wide, and then closed.

The End

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