I heard the girl cry out.
At least that’s what I told myself. In the dense still night air there were no sounds at all as I paused near the outside corner of a dark warehouse.
The hunt was on and it made my pulse quicken. My blood warmed, throwing off the chill, an ancient genetic reaction preparing the hunter for the fight to come.
I moved then, creeping along the rear brick wall. The structure was large and I had no idea yet where to penetrate. Then a few yards further on I saw a broken window in the moonlight, down low so it must lead into a basement. Not an ideal entry point but it would have to do.
It was not easy making it inside, the window still had shards of glass clinging stubbornly to its frame and the drop turned out to be at least four feet into total blackness. But that made it all the more challenging.
Taking out the two tools I carried with me at all times—a small powerful LED flashlight and my gun—I carefully threaded my way through a maze of rusty discarded odds and ends and found a stairs.
One of the most valuable things I learned in the military was how to tamp down the adrenaline rush so my hands didn’t shake, but not enough to wash away the thrill pushing me on. It probably took five minutes to navigate up and through the darkened main building full of trash and debris where I spotted a dim glow of light in an office. But I wasn’t timing it, I am a predator hunting another predator and now I could smell my quarry.
The glass windows of the office were miraculously intact though smeared with years of dust and grime, making it difficult to see inside. The final few feet before you spring you always expect the target to sense you and it is the most intensely stimulating part of the hunt. As it turned out this one didn’t have a clue, he was too busy doing some unspeakable things to his own trophy.
I paused in the half open doorway. The girl was tied to a metal chair, her clothes shredded by some sharp instrument, revealing her naked body. He had been fondling her as she struggled and moaned, talking to her quietly, telling her what he was about to do. As I got within a few feet he suddenly stood and forced himself into her mouth.
I considered just shooting him in the back of the head right then, but that would have been too easy, I wanted him to know it was coming, so I purposely kicked the door to get his attention. In this instant of confrontation you never know what will happen and that is also part of the thrill. I had my Smith & Wesson Model 586 .357 Magnum out and pointed. It is a relatively archaic weapon these days, since it only has six shots and is quite heavy and bulky, but besides its immense stopping power, it has one overwhelming advantage: as a revolver it will never jam—an extremely useful attribute in a moment like this.
When he turned I was rewarded with his eyes widening in fear. They call these particular kinds of men predators, they only prey on the weak and helpless, and when confronted by a true predator like myself, resort immediately to whining and pleading and begging.
The twelve year old captive girl was almost as wide eyed as her abductor, crying continuously, wondering what was going on. I put a finger to my lips for her to be quiet.
“Close your eyes honey,” I told her gently but firmly and as soon as she did I shot him through the head.
I serve as judge, jury, and executioner.
There was an assortment of knives lying about so I put one in his hand. Then I cut the girl loose and covered her with a disturbingly dirty blanket and carried her shaking and sobbing out to my car where I called for backup and an ambulance.
As soon as the first patrol car arrived I handed the girl over to them and drove off in my black Dodge Charger before the reporters and news vans arrived. One of the most important parts of my job is to stay out of the limelight…
“He did it again! He goddamn shot another suspect and killed him,” a man says in an office high overlooking the city which sits next to a river. The room is illuminated only by a solitary desk lamp valiantly holding off the encroaching night. The speaker is wearing a white dress shirt with rolled up sleeves and necktie askew, all carefully arranged to make one think he is hard working.
“The girl is safe and the ‘suspect’ was responsible for raping and murdering at least three young girls,” the other man in the room, sitting comfortably behind a large ornate desk in an elegant pinstriped suit that was contrasted nicely by his silver hair, says with matter-of-factness. “And there is of course the minor fact that he was caught in the act“, he adds in a tone tinged with sarcasm.
“We don’t know that! He never got a trial,” the man in the white shirt replies as he stomps around the room. “Wolinski goes too far! This is the third fatal shooting this year we know of. The man is out of control. He needs to be reined in. He needs to be brought up on charges!”
“You know Wolinski is untouchable?” the man in the suit says with the inflection of a question at the end, but is in fact stating a truth that the other man already knows.
“Mayor, with all due respect, this shit is going to come back to haunt us some day,” the man in the white shirt advises more quietly.
The man behind the desk, the Mayor, makes a mental note to look into finding another candidate for District Attorney this time around. Although the DA is an elected office, his political machine controls all secondary positions and whoever he taps will win. He clearly made a mistake the last election, this guy obviously doesn’t have the stomach for what has to be done. He will have to be dumped…
Wolinski is forced to drive through the downtown area to get to his ‘home’, a cheap motel next to the Interstate just inside the city limits, and in so doing stops for a traffic light in what would be called the ‘tenderloin’ district. Several hookers are gathered on the corner and eye him hungrily, waiting to see if he will call one of them over.
He is still amped up from the excitement and suddenly doesn’t feel like going home. He feels his chest constrict and his heart beat faster at the sight of the prostitutes. He makes a U-turn and heads south, enjoying the Charger’s big V-8 hemi engine reverberating off the valley of buildings.
When he comes to the bridge, a quaint metal suspension structure over a hundred years old, he doesn’t even hesitate but keeps his foot down on the gas. Crossing the bridge is almost like crossing the Rubicon. The river it spans not only marks the boundary of Wolinski’s city, but the state as well.
The river represents the North and South divide going back to the Civil War. On the north side is Wolinski’s city: industrialized, Catholic run and morally conservative,—even to the point that all liquor stores were controlled by the state and only open limited hours and never on Sundays. On the south side it is all rednecks and hillbillies. Liquor flows freely, gambling is routine, prostitution and drugs are readily available, and the criminal element reins—all controlled by the Mob.
Crime always attempts to move back and forth over that artificial barrier. Citizens seeking illegitimate activity venture south and criminals seeking new targets and easy profits move north. The two bordering cities consequently are never on good terms and never cooperate. Wolinski would not be welcome here and in fact if he got caught there would be more than hell to pay—cops snooping on the wrong side of the river had been known to disappear in the muddy fast flowing current of the river divide.
He pulls over on a side street and stows his revolver and badge in an armored compartment in the car’s trunk. He retains only an untraceable Beretta .380 pistol that fits in the palm of his hand. He then drives a few more blocks to an area bounded on one side by the high flood wall that holds off the river in storm season.
There are ten or so street walkers out so he parks and studies them, looking for the right one. Quickly though, a tall lanky black girl with frizzed hair walks over. Despite the chill she wears shorts and a tight red knit tube top that clearly displays small breasts with rock hard nipples.
“Hey baby, you lookin’ for a date?” she asks in a mix of southern drawl and ghetto speak.
Wolinski likes her instantly. He likes her aggressiveness and her lean body. But he knows that skinny frame is probably the result of a crack habit. Without warning she reaches in the window and caresses his cheek—something no hooker had ever done before.
“I’m Denise and you’s sure a big fella. I bet you can show a girl a good time,” she smiles as she leans in towards him.
She is so aggressive and different and fast, some warning bells go off in his brain and he thinks for a second she is about to mug him. He fingers the trigger on the Beretta, which he has ready in his left hand where she can’t see it from outside. He makes up his mind quickly to test her.
“Get in honey.” And in a flash she runs around and slides into the passenger seat like a cat. Before anything else can happen Wolinski drives off fast into the darkness.
“You ain’t no cop is you baby?” she reaches over and puts her hand between his legs to see if he will protest. When Wolinski leaves it there she relaxes.
He stops at a well lit liquor store.
“Come on honey,” he isn’t about to leave her alone in his car.
“Get whatever you want,” he tells her as he grabs two bottles of Seagram’s Seven, a six pack of 7-Up, and some cigarettes and rolling papers.
The hooker looks around briefly but then whispers in his ear, “If you’s buying I could use a little somethin’ somethin’.”
Wolinski pays for his fun, ignoring the looks from the Pakistani clerk, and walks her out the door, carefully looking around to make sure no one is waiting for him. They get back in the Dodge and he pulls away.
“Where do we get your stuff?” he asks her and is rewarded with an ear to ear smile from her big mouth.
“Take a right up here, go down two blocks and then pull into an alley on the left,” she tells him and again he has to be on guard in case she has someone waiting to ambush him.
A few yards into the alley she tells him to stop and a black face materializes out of the darkness. Denise yells at the man and is recognized. Wolinski hands her some twenties and tells her to get him a bag of weed along with her crack.
“You sure is generous baby,” she says as they wait for the dealer to return with the goods.
“You be a good girl and there’s plenty more where that came from,” he informs her. Eventually they will come to the same impasse that plagues every criminal undertaking: mutual trust—and he will have to buy hers if he wants to actually sleep the next few days.
“I likes the sound of that. Don’t worry baby you be in good hands,” she says and then fondles him knowingly with a disarming smile.
After they get the dope she directs him to a motel next to the Interstate—the same highway that Wolinski lives next to, only on the other side of the bridge. It looks like it caters to weary truckers and is reasonably clean. He pays the clerk an extra twenty for a room on the second floor in the rear, well away from the road and noise.
Wolinski lets her go down on him for a pleasurable while and then they fuck like bunnies until they’re both exhausted. She is lean but not overly skinny, long legs and firm breasts and amazingly soft skin—just the way he likes it. Wolinski believes some black women have the softest skin on earth and that’s why he seeks them out. This one has probably has not been a crack whore for very long because she stills looks so fine.
Denise busies herself with cleaning up and then takes a hit from her crack pipe while he pours himself a stiff drink.
“You’s a little too good to be true,” she comments as she exhales.
Wolinski rolls a joint and then lights up before answering.
“I could say the same thing about you honey. I hope no one’s waiting up for you cause we might be here a while,” he tells her finally.
“I ain’t got no place to be ‘cept here with you baby,” she drawls sweetly as she sits next to him and offers her pipe which Wolinski refuses with a wave of his hand, preferring to stick with the pot.
They smoke and drink and make small talk for a while. Denise claims she is from Mississippi and he thinks it might be true and then it might not, you never could tell with these girls.
“What’s your real name?” he always wants to know this, it is a challenge. He hates calling any girl he is intimate with by some fake name.
She gives him a hard look.
“Just your first name. I don’t care about any other shit.”
“Deja. My momma named me Deja.”
“Then what the fuck are you calling yourself Denise for? Deja, that’s a beautiful name!” he says excitedly, he is getting pretty high but deep down he means it.
“Thanks baby. You can call me Deja if you like then.” she sits cross legged on the bed next to him and takes another hit. “What do I call you sweetie?”
“Ski. Just call me Ski.”
It isn’t long before he is ready to fuck her again. There is something about her that really turns him on—most probably the fact that she is a cheap whore that will do anything while actually having a bit of personality. With hookers there is never any question about what will happen as far as the sex went, some were better than others of course, but being able to converse with one was rare. Her pussy is even better the second time around.
Later Wolinski leans back as the effects of the booze and pot wash over him. Deja is lying next to him, completely out of it by then. He falls into a melancholy and reflective mood. The cheerful, and by all observation sweet girl, will probably soon turn ugly and die young either by murder or from an overdose or some disease. It will be an incredible waste.
Slowly he is transported back to another time he ventured across that bridge…
Before I can tell you about the bridge I suppose I should tell you what led me there. It was a long and circuitous route. First though, I remember a movie I liked a lot called ‘Savages’ about some pot growers and the Mexican drug cartel. One line stuck in my mind. One of the main characters, named Ophelia, and played by Blake Lively, narrated a lot of the film. At the beginning she says: ‘Just because I’m telling you this story… doesn’t mean I’m alive at the end of it.’ So, my dear readers, I will issue you the same warning…
How many times I’ve fought my way up the ladder.
In 1979 when I was a freshman in high school I was at the bottom. I went to a poor Catholic school. We didn’t have a football team since there wasn’t any land for a field. There was a basketball team, but I was too chunky for that, and with my strange Polish name I was pretty much a social outcast.
My first greeting upon entering those hallowed halls of high school was “Hey, hey there’s Woolshit.” Of course they were referring to me. Wolinski was pretty easy to say, but it wasn’t Johnson or Thompson or anything considered ‘normal’.
I ignored them for a while, but the taunts continued so the one thing I learned pretty quickly enough was not to take shit from anybody. Even at the tender age of 14 I knew I had to make a stand and it had to be in front of everyone. I went crazy on that little punk that called me names, pummeling him in a frenzy of fists. It was a crude amateurish attempt that in reality had little power in itself, but the fanatical manner in which it was carried out had the necessary effect. After that not only the bullies and white trash but the in kids steered clear of me—all because they were more than a little afraid of me. These days that kind of behavior would have gotten me suspended and sent to therapy, but back then it was overlooked.
Those four years of high school went by in a blur. I was too shy, because I thought I was ugly (and my reputation for being crazy didn’t help), to ask out any girls. All I could think about was getting out. I bided my time working odd jobs and scraping together cash to buy an old Ford and tinker with it. In my senior year an Army recruiter came by the school and I saw my opportunity. Without telling a soul, including my parents, I enlisted and left for basic training the day after graduation.
In the Army in 1983 I found myself back at the bottom again—a boot camp recruit with a shaved head. To make matters worse I was in terrible physical condition, not having exercised or played sports a day in my young life. It was a hard, painful road over the next six months, but I got into shape.
The Army found I had some mechanical skills so after basic training sent me to advanced weapons school. Yeah, that’s right, weapons training—the Army sent you where the Army needed you. It would turn out to be the most fateful event in my life, steering me down a road I would walk until now.
I spent four years practicing killing people while lolling around bases in the U.S. in the worst possible time for a soldier: peacetime. But at least nobody cared about my social standing or my name in the Army, everyone just called me ‘Ski’. Even had a couple of buddies with whom I sat around drinking and waiting to get out after our four years were up. It seemed a repeat of high school except there were the occasional girls that someone was always introducing to me. Then the Army offered a $5,000 bonus to stay in and somehow I reenlisted.
It was more money than I ever saw in my life and certainly more than my parents ever saw. I bought my first actual functioning car. Then I promptly got shipped out as my reward. Actually, though, it was rewarding—and the best thing that happened to me in my life so far.
My first overseas deployment was to Panama in 1989. I had never been out of the country and grew up in cold weather so the steaming jungle climate was a shock, but I eventually got used to it. My unit was there to protect the Panama Canal, but my main task was to train the locals in advanced weaponry.
While I was in South America the ‘War on Drugs’ swung into full steam and a whole little series of hot spots sprung up and soon my particular brand of shooting skills were put to use in Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru. In a little known series of military ‘incursions’ we were supposed to assist the local cops in tracking down and bringing drug lords to justice, but in reality we did all the work. It quickly became clear these drug guys were just bribing their way out of jail as fast as we could nail them, so the tactics changed—I became a hunter.
It was then I learned another important lesson: sometimes you get orders that are best left undocumented. One day a man in plain clothes dropped out of a chopper in the middle of the jungle and asked if I was open to taking a more active role in eliminating the drug lords. When I nodded he explained that there would be nothing in writing—to protect everyone involved—and I should simply do what was necessary to relieve this drug menace from my country. When I looked at him questioningly he just said that they weren’t looking for any prisoners or wasteful and expensive trials.
It was then I felt as if I came out of the wilderness. All my life I had been coasting along in meaningless activities—if you could glorify them enough to even call them that. It was in the jungles that I found my true life. I had acclimated to the tropical environment and learned my how to bend it to the necessary mission profile. I became the most dangerous predator in the jungle.
Mostly I led a team that raided remote jungle drug labs and executed the bosses on the spot and then we burned the camp and drugs. Sometimes I was a sniper, getting them from afar when we didn’t have enough men to go in force against much larger numbers of hostiles.
Being a sniper in the jungle was not a pleasant experience. You had to deal with a thousand different varieties of nasty biting insects while waiting for what was often hours to get the kill shot. But when the time came it was the best feeling of accomplishment ever. The M24 Sniper Weapon System was the military version of the Remington 700 rifle, M24 being the model name assigned by the United States Army after adoption as their standard sniper rifle in 1988. It was a precision tool, but sturdy, made for jungle use with its indestructible fiberglass stock.
After centering the target in the glass-etched reticule through the Leupold Ultra M3A 10×42mm 10 power scope, and squeezing the sensitive hair trigger, a 7.62×51mm NATO M118 Match Grade cartridge left the 416R stainless steel barrel at a muzzle velocity of 2,580 feet per second. By the time the target heard the shot he was already dead.
Finally I had found my calling, honing my skills as a hunter of men. I was in seventh heaven. I went steadily up through the ranks to Sergeant, leading my own teams right out front. I would have stayed in the Army forever—or at least till I hit retirement age. But then some bleeding heart pussy amongst us ratted out the operation to some liberal Congressman and the Army had to cover its ass and suddenly I found myself discharged and sent back to the States where I faded into anonymity before anyone could question me about the Army’s activities in South America.
Landing back in civilian life in 1992 was a rude awakening. The thrill of the hunt and kill was gone and it hurt like a drug withdrawal. I did the only thing I could think of—I joined the police.
I found myself back at the bottom rung of the ladder yet again—a shaved head boot recruit on probation. At least this time I was more than tough enough to breeze through the police academy. My only real worry was passing the psychological screening since I knew I had been out on the very edge of what passed for civilized in a polite society. So I read some books on the subject and gave the answers they wanted to hear.
After graduation I landed on my ass with a thud in a patrol car with my training officer: Sgt Robert Parker. I say that because my days consisted of staying on my ass. Parker avoided conflict, danger, and risk with a formidable passion I had never seen in any man including cowards, pacifists, and conscientious objectors. Parker would not respond to any radio call hinting at even the slightest risk of danger to himself.
“Y’all need to learn the best way to retire out of this job is to stay alive, and the best way to stay alive is to stay out of trouble,” he drawled the first time I got in the cruiser with him. Parker was in his fifties with longish unkempt graying hair and carrying about 40 pounds too much on his belly. If he ever did attempt to chase somebody down he probably would have keeled over from a heart attack.
Time after time we’d hear some call on the radio of shots fired or man with a knife or burglary or robbery in progress and Parker would just grunt, “Don’t worry somebody will handle it.”
After weeks of this I couldn’t figure out how Parker kept his job. He was the antithesis of what any organization would call a good employee: fat, sloppy and lazy. Wasn’t the watch commander keeping an eye on this guy? Didn’t the officers in charge monitor his performance—or complete lack thereof?
Then I found out Sgt Parker was probably the luckiest son of a bitch cop alive. One day while we were parked hidden down his favorite alley, a radio call went out about a robbery in progress with shots fired not 30 yards away on the street in front of us. As usual we didn’t budge, but wouldn’t you know the suspect came running around the corner, looking over his shoulder as he fired wildly and ran smack into our patrol car headfirst, knocking himself silly! All Parker had to do was supervise as I got out and put the cuffs on the guy.
Later back at the district station I was regaled with previous examples of similar actions by bitter cops:
Parker in a 7-11 getting a cold drink out of the fridge when several thugs entered and proceeded to rob the place. Parker simply walked up behind them and took them into custody.
Parker sitting in his car in the shade one hot afternoon when a major drug deal goes down not thirty feet in front of him—the participants apparently not noticing the squad car with their eyes towards the bright sun.
And on and on… No wonder he still had a job, Sgt Parker logged more arrests by doing nothing, than some guys who risked their lives every day…
Wolinski soon drifts off in a drunken stupor. He is rudely awakened by the morning sun and rouses Deja out of the bed to get coffee and some food. As he takes a cold shower he ponders whether the hooker will actually return, after all working girls are not exactly known for loyalty or responsibility. But lo and behold she does come back with hot coffee and donuts—not his first choice but beggars can’t be choosers. As he wolfs down a chocolate covered cake donut Deja takes a shower, a good sign he thinks that at least she is clean. Later they repeat the day over again—fucking, drinking, smoking pot and crack cocaine, and for dinner there is delivered pizza.
Later the black girl slips out to replenish their supply of whiskey and drugs. He entrusts her with over two hundred dollars, but is too high to worry about it much. Once again she returns with the goods and he is very much surprised at this—a hooker who is not a low life, how can this be? This makes her all the more attractive. He reaches for her gently and before she gets lost in her crack infused delirium, they have slow smoldering sex.
Later as Deja’s head rests on his shoulder and his hand cups her breast she gently prods him about his line of work and Wolinski realizes he never finished the story about the bridge. But then the thought strikes him: who was he telling that story to?
Jesus I hope it wasn’t Deja! I can’t afford to tell her I’m a cop. But damn it who was I telling it to? Myself? Are the liquor and marijuana finally taking their toll? I can’t remember if I was talking out loud…